Review: SkyPro

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

This is not your typical review. Instead of having a brief period to use the product I have had months with the SkyPro from late in the 2013 season.

This review was meant to be published back then but a lot if things got in the way. I’ll talk about how I felt about the SkyPro originally and I want to share what’s changed since then.

In 2013

I was initially very excited about using the SkyPro. I took it to the range the afternoon that I bought it. At the time I didn’t have an iPhone but I did have an iPad. Actually it was an iPad 2 with a somewhat bulky case.

One of the first things that you need to do whenever you start or switch clubs is to calibrate the device. This involves putting your phone or iPad on the club face, touching and holding the sides of the screen and then rotating it around you. Even with an iPad 2 and a bulky case the calibration worked flawlessly correctly identifying my club every time.

I then started to hit shots with it. It was very exciting to see the data coming back. There were all these new things to look at. Club shaft lean at address, etc. my swings typically had a couple if warnings and I started to address them I saw things happening. Ball flight started changing, distance, contact etc. It was pretty exciting.

But there was a downside. I didn’t really know how to change certain things or really understand waft they meant. I had no drills or resources to dig deeper. Overall though the device worked as advertised.

Later on there was a glitch. I got an iPod Touch (5th generation). This thing had trouble even connecting to the sky pro at all. In the end I stopped using it with the iPod and just stuck to the iPad.

Fast forward

to now. I have an iPhone 5s and it works great with it. But until recently I still had the same issues regarding really knowing what the different things meant. I didn’t want to create bad habits but I did want to make the right kind of changes.

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An update changes everything

It’s really amazing what an update can do. And the latest update to SkyPro app really makes things great. Along with some new practice modes and tools, the best thing is clear explanations of what each thing being tracked is, what different numbers mean and video explanations from Michael Breed.

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The result is a true SkyPro. It’s feedback that really helps you improve and change your swing for the better. As we all know Michael us an exceptional teacher on the Golf Fix. But he makes each element of the swing that SkyPro measures, not only understandable, but allows to see how and why to change.

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And this is what SkyPro really needed. This is what separates it from everything else. At the end of the day we want to get better. Understanding what to do and why in a clear way makes all the difference. Based on this latest update SkyPro has become my go to practice, training and learning aid. I have not yet tried the new putting feature, but that will come in a future review.

Zen Chili Rating for Sky Pro

5 Zens out of 5

• Immediate feedback you can use
• Groove make practice easy
• Michael Breed explains things clearly

5 Chilis out of 5

• Light, it does not affect club weight
• Easy to charge
• Connects to iPhone easily
• Calibration is easy on iPhone, but a little challenging on iPad
• Useful for full swing, and putting (to be reviewed later)

To learn more about the rating system click here.

Review: Powerchute

Powerchute
Powerchute

For the past month I’ve worked with a swing trainer called the Powerchute. I’ve given it an extensive test and the results are in.

What is the Powerchute?

It’s a swing training aid that aims to increase clubhead speed and lag, and improve timing and lag. In addition it strengthens the fast twitch muscles.

You attach the powerchute to your club and it becomes a small sail, that uses the wind created by your swing as the resistance you swing against. I was skeptical at first. I watched the videos on the website and Jack Nicklaus using it and I was still skeptical. It wasn’t until I took my first few swings with the powerchute, and then without it, that the wow factor hit me.

The first swing after you take the powerchute off your club is an amazing. The club feels lighter. The backswing feels normal, and then you start your downswing. My first swing without the Powerchute was so fast that it threw me almost off balance.

After using the Powerchute for a few months now, my old weakness: driving, has turned into a strength. Working with the powerchute daily has really helped with that trouble spot for me. I find that I’ve developed much better sequencing, even better lag, but more importantly I am able to use that lag properly. The resitance from the Powerchute has forced me to use my body and my hands properly to finish the swing correctly.

Over the last few months, the Powerchute has become my favorite swing trainer. I really enjoy heading down to the basement, where I have my golf practice area setup, to make some Powerchute swings. I feel that not only am I practicing solid fundamentals, but I am developing good golf fitness, and in the right muscles.

I can honestly say that the more I use the Powerchute, the more I want to use it. I’ve found new uses for it to help my game overall. It really is the only swing trainer I use now.

Golf Fitness

Now, to the fitness part of the powerchute. I’ve been told that the Powerchute, strengthens the fast twitch muscles that you use in the golf swing. These are the muscles needed to generate speed and power. The Powerchute achieves this by providing a plyometric workout. What are plyometrics? The following is from Wikipedia.

“Plyometrics (also known as “plyos”) is a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric exercises may also be referred to as explosive exercises.”

The golf swing is all about controlled explosive power. It requires finesse, touch, feel, and power. Plyometric training is a perfect fit for golf. A friend of mine trains using Kettle Bells to achieve this, and he happens to be a director of golf so I know that those are great exercies for golf.

I do find that the Powerchute provides a plyometric workout and a very good one at that. The faster you can swing with the powerchute, the more resistance you create, and the more you work out those fast twitch muscles.

Zen Chili Rating for Powerchute

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves power, lag. sequencing and fitness virtually automatically
•No need to think about it, swing it, feel it

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well made product that can take a beating. Ingeniously designed.

At first I found I struggled when I switched from Powerchute swings, to iron swings. They felt too fast. Over the past few months everything that’s gone into the driver has also gone in to improve my iron play.

Conclusion

The Powerchute has been amazing to work with. I was so skeptical at first, but it has improved my power with all clubs, my balance, and my fitness. I have zero hesitations about recommending it. It is worth every penny.  Check it out at: http://www.powerchutegolf.com/

Review: Mobitee (Android)

Mobitee is a golf GPS app available for Android and iOS devices that offers:

  • accurate distances
  • satellite views of the holes
  • fly overs
  • scoring for multiple players
  • club recommendations
  • No subscription fees

How does the application work in real life?

In order to start using Mobitee you need to create at least one golfer in the system.  The process is simple and painless and then you can start using the application.

On course Mobitee is an accurate GPS.  The target selector allows you to pick out any target and get the distance to it, in the same way that advanced gps units like the SkyCaddie SGX allow.

One of the nicest features of the application is a fly over of the hole.  It’s perfect for holes with blind shots.

As new courses are added, the application is automatically updated.  There is no need to manually download any courses, as they are downloaded automatically when you want to play them.

Overall, Mobitee is an excellent golf GPS.  It compares nicely to stand alone units.  While I can’t say that it is as accurate as something like a SkyCaddie,  it is accurate for most recreational use.  One glitch I ran into is that unlike traditional gps units, it’s best to turn off the setting for getting your location from wireless networks.  This setting can interefere with the performance of the gps and provide some wrong yardages.

Mobitee is priced at 24.90 for the full version.  A lite version is good for showing you up to the first 5 holes on each course.

One of my favorite uses for Mobitee is tournament or course preparation.  Because you can see each hole and move the pointers around you can plan your on course strategy.  It becomes like an interactive yardage book and it’s a lot of fun to do.  This way you can plan angles and shots into the greens and give yourself an opportunity to shoot a low score.

Mobitee has created a fun contest to win $250 just for downloading Mobitee Lite.

Mobitee Contest - Win $250

Review: BirdieBall Putting Green

If you’re a serious golfer, you want to be able to practice at home.  It’s not always easy to get to the golf course with all of the obligations we have on our lives.  It was with this thought in mind that I got a BirdieBall putting green.  I received it as a present from my parents, who know just how serious I take my golf.

I received the 13.5 x 9 ft green.  Although it would have been nice to get a bigger green for those long putts, I really don’t have the room for it.  The width at 4 feet allows me to comfortably hit putts to all three cups.

The green comes in three speeds, slow (9-10 on the stimp meter), medium (10-11 stimp) or fast (11-12 stimp).  Since most of the time I’m playing in real life on greens in the 10-11 stimp range, I opted for that one.  The nice thing about knowing how it stimps, is that it allows me to train in a solid frame of reference.  I can get good from various distances with a green speed I play on regularly.  Since I don’t often play fast greens, it didn’t make sense to get the faster green.

What I Like

The green is quite realistic in terms of speed.  It’s soft and springy like a real green, and it rolls out nicely.  Check out the video above to see the roll.  The surface is nice and textured and in fact you can add grain to it.  By brushing the green in one direction or the other you can actually make it faster or slower.  The green also comes with some foam inserts that allow you to create breaks in the green, from very subtle to severe.

What I don’t Like

The cups are too shallow.  If you’re putting on a hard surface, the ball will go in the hole and pop back out.  I usually end up putting the cup side over some carpet to soften the ball impact and so that it has less chance of popping out.

The other thing I don’t like is the cups themselves and the target flags.  The cups are a hard plastic and although they have some holes that are supposed to catch the ball, they often don’t.  The target flags are so light that if the green moves a tiny bit they fall.  They have no weight to them.  So I usually take out the cups and the flags and just putt to the holes.  It’s not a big problem, but they do ruin the feeling a bit.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a solid green.  With fixed cups (a bit deeper) and flags (a bit more weight to them, and not as flimsy), I would heartily recommend it.  It’s less expensive than other greens that are similar.  It has a much better feel and roll, then almost all other synthetic greens that I’ve been, so that is a huge plus.  All in all, it has some limitations, but I’m glad I have it because I can set it up how I want, as well knowing that I’m practicing to a speed I’ll encounter almost every round I play.

Review: Vharness

The Vharness is a swing trainer with the goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro.  The Vharness is endorsed by Rocco Mediate, who I think is a brilliant spokesperson for this product because of how well heconnects with average golfers.  He looks like a guy in your foursome.  But of course he has tremendous game.  His performance at Torrey Pines in the US Open made him a household name.  He plays what seems to be off the shelf game improvement clubs.  He doesn’t have the fluid easy motion of a Fred Couples, or the power of JB Holmes or Bubba Watson.  These reasons though make him ideal as a representative of this product because he, of all tour players, looks the most like an average Joe, and almost everybody can relate to him.

So does the Vharness achieve it’s lofty goal of teaching anyone to swing like a pro?  No, but it is an excellent swing trainer, and if used effectively especially with some guidance from an instructor it can really help the average golfer to feel their swing better.  Frankly I don’t think there is a single device that can teach anyone to swing like a pro.  Swinging like a pro requires coordination, talent, strength and flexibility.  Provided you have those things, with a good instructor and dedication you can learn to swing like a pro.  What I did find is that the Vharness can enable you to not only create a better swing, but really feel what it feels to swing better.

I have a number of swing trainers in my collection, and they all fulfill different purposes.  I’ve been using the Vharness for about a month.  I wanted to give it a full test before I wrote about it.  The Vharness is definitely different from my other swing trainers.  It gives me feedback that I never got from anywhere else and really helped me to understand and feel my swing better.  It almost acts as a sensation amplifier and you really feel what the club head, path and hands are doing.

One of the main objectives of the Vharness is to help you feel more connected. There are a number of ways to feel more connected that I’ve seen routinely taught. Most commonly is tucking a golf glove under one or both armpits depending on how you are trying to feel the connection. Recently we have been watching players like Sean O’Hair and Justin Rose tuck their sleeves into their armpits. Both are effective ways of feeling the connection.

The Vharness approaches this concept from a different point of view.  Instead of feeling the connection through your armpits as in the other techniques you keep it by by focusing on keeping the “vcords” taut.  As you do your body naturally becomes more connected.  It feels like it is a less tense way of feeling it.

Zen Chili Rating for The VHarness

5 Zens out of 5

• Improves several aspects of the golf swing almost automatically
• Provides great feedback and sense of connection
• Delivers results

5 Chilis out of 5

• Well constructed, should last for years
• Easy to use and works with all of your golf clubs
• Comes with a stylish carrying case

But the Vharness takes it a few steps further. It naturally creates more width in the swing and keeps your hands more in front of you preventing you from getting stuck.  One of my major flaws in my swing is getting stuck.  Working with the vharness, this is dramatically improved, and with it so has my distance and accuracy.  The great thing about it for me, is that it really worked with the things I’ve been learning and working on, and it provides excellent feedback.

When ordering the Vharness you’ll be asked some questions to have it properly sized for your your height and your clubs.  I find that it fits well on all clubs.  It is very easy to transfer from one club to the next and allows you to use it with all your clubs.  The more I use the Vharness the more I enjoy using it.  Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it too.

Learn more about it on their website.

Golf Course Review: Richter Park Golf Course

RP1

Richter Park is nestled in the hills of Danbury, CT.  It is within driving distance of New York City, but more likely played by the residents of Danbury, Fairfield County, and Westchester County.  A 6,744 yard layout from the back blue tees, Richter Park is not a monster in terms of length.  It is however, 6700 yards of great golf.  As the course winds around the hills it’s laid out on, elevation changes make club selection a somewhat tricky task.  Combine that with lightning fast, undulated greens (sometimes severely) and you get a fair but solid test of golf.  The slope of 133 seems low, as the course can certainly play more difficult than that.

RP2

Driving up Aunt Hack road toward the course, you pass the 9th hole on your right, then head into the parking lot.  The modest restaurant/bar and pro shop building set a welcome that can lull you into a sense of calm.  You’ll need that calm for the course as it it can quickly punish or reward you.  The course does lack a driving range which is it’s biggest drawback, as you need to have your A game if you want to score well here.  The practice putting green does however begin to prepare you for the test ahead.  It is fast and runs pretty close to the greens on the course.  It lacks many of the severe undulations you’ll face but you can at least get a sense of the speeds.  Richter Park has some of the fastest greens I’ve played in any public course Connecticut.  It’s not unusual to have your putt end off the green if you’re unlucky enough to leave yourself a speedy downhill putt.  On this course it is a must to leave your approach shots below the hole.

RP3

The course opens with a dog leg right par 4 down the hill into the valley.  Water is in play for long hitters down the right side of the fairway.  A fairway wood or driver (for the shorter hitters) leaves a fairly straightforward shot to the green.  Although not heavily protected, the bean shaped green is undulated and it pays to be in the right part of the green below the hole.  Two bunkers front left and front right guard the green from any shots that approach short and crooked.

Hole number two is a straightaway par 5 with water down the right side.  The kidney bean shaped green is surrounded by 4 large bunkers.  Richter Park has some of the nicest bunkers for a public course.  The sand is nice and white, and not too fluffy.  The hole is reachable in two by the longer hitters but beware those bunkers.  It can be easily played as a 3 shot par 5, and it’s nice to attack the pin with a wedge in your hand.

Hole number 3 is a short par 3 over water.  Club selection can be tricky depending on the wind.  The green is protected by water in front, and bunkers in the back left and back right.  The green is large, like many of the greens at Richter and slope quite a bit from back to front.

Hole number 4 is a challenging par 4.  The number 3 handicap hole is a dog leg right with a tricky drive.  Fairway bunkers on the left protect a wayward tee shot, but beware of going too far right and ending up out of bounds.  A flatter green is accessible after a good tee shot, but watch the winds as they can make club selection tricky.

Hole number 5 is a tough par 3 over water.  A three tiered green forces you to be on the right level if you want to have any chance of birdie on the hole.  When the pin is in the front of the green, you must be on the same level.  A putt from a tier up is almost impossible to stop and many players routinely putt off the green.

The sixth hole is a tricky par 4.  The ideal tee shot is roughly 220 yards up on the fairway right center.  Left is trouble as the fairway severely slopes left, and too long is trouble as well.  From the flat part of the fairway you’ll be left with roughly 175 yards to the green.  This is a tough hole, especially when the greens are really fast as you can’t run it up the fairway short of the hole.  A false front will leave you with a tough shot up to green if you’re unlucky enough to find it and roll down 10 to 20 yards below the level of the green.

The seventh hole requires a carry over water.  The carry is not severe but the dog leg right makes it a difficult hole to reach in two, as your second shot would be blind toward the well protected green.  The whole hole slopes to the left so any mishits that end up left can be in trouble.  Play it as a 3 shot hole and make accurate strikes and you can be rewarded with a birdie opportunity.

The 8th hole is a short par 4 that requires an iron off the tee to the an elevated fairway.  The green is fronted by a pond so don’t leave your second shot short.  It’s a fun and beautifully designed hole that will test your irons.

The 9th hole, with Aunt Hack Lane on your left is a short but uphill par 4.  The tee shot will land somewhere below the hole requiring a delicate shot to the putting surface up the hill.  The nearly heart shaped green is well protected with bunkers left, back and front right.

At the turn load up your favorite beverages and get a bite to eat.  Hamburgers, sandwiches and hot dogs with all the fixins’ are waiting by the 10th tee.

The tenth hole is a par 4, dog leg right.  A tee shot left center near the fairway bunker on the left should provide the ideal angle for your approach shot.  The green is severely sloped from back to front.  Do not go long.  Any putts left above the hole will have a hard time staying on the green.  You have been warned.  The green is elevated from the second shot influencing your club selection.

Hole number 11 is a down hill par 4.  The tee box is roughly 70 feet above the level of the fairway.  You’ve got plenty of options.  Bomb and it leave your self a short wedge, or play conservative and get it in the fairway with 150 yards or so left to the pin.  Either strategy can work well.  Just make sure that you hit the green and don’t leave it short, as a small pond protects the green.

Zen Chili Rating for Richter Park Golf Course

4 Zens out of 5

• Holes are beautiful to look at
• Challenging terrain with lots of hills, blind shots and elevation changes
•Very nice bunkers with excellent sand

4 Chilis out of 5

• Beautiful layout with fast undulating greens
• Challenging holes with risk/reward elements
• Lack of a driving range

The twelfth hole at Richter is a challenging par 5.  The tee shot and second shot are blind.  It is a green the long hitters can go for but it also has its risks.  The green is almost like an island green, flanked by water in front, right, and back.  Going for it in two requires a bit of courage, some luck, and solid strike.  For those not choosing to go for it in two, the third shot is still challenging.  A mid to short iron is all that will be left but the green is well protected.

The 13th hole is a short up hill par three and depending on what the wind is doing can be anything from a pitching wedge to a mid iron.  Bunkers front left and front right protect a undulating surface with a bit of a false front.

The 14th hole is a par 4 from an elevated tee.  The tee box is roughly 90 feet above the surface of the fairway.  Water on the right is reachable by long hitters.  A tee short of the water leaves a mid iron approach shot to a green guarded by bunkers front, left and back.

Hole number 15 is a dog leg right par 4 with a long pond guarding the right side of the fairway.  You can tee off with anything from a driver to an iron on this hole, but the smart play is usually a long iron or fairway wood down the left side of the fairway.  Your approach shot is to an elevated green guarded by deep bunkers front right and left.

The sixteenth hole is a long straight away par 5.  Trouble will find you if your tee shot finds the hazard along the right side of the hole.  Left center to center is your best route up to a wide green.  This hole offers a good opportunity for birdie if played well.

The seventeenth hole is a short par 3 from an elevated tee box.  The heavily bunkered green is wide and receptive.

The finishing hole is a dog leg right par 4.  The hole plays fairly long, with a good tee shot left center leaving a long iron or hybrid approach to a raised green.  Par on this hole is a good score.  Long hitters could bite off a bit of the corner leaving a shorter approach shot, but anything right is in trouble with no angle to green.

Conclusion:

Overall Richter Park is an excellent test of golf.  Fast undulating greens require accurate shots below the hole to have a good chance for birdies or pars.  The layout is tough and challenging with numerous blind shots and tricky approaches.  This is a course that rewards precision in ball striking as errant shots are easily and sometimes severely penalized.  The course is absolutely gorgeous in the fall with the foliage.

Website

Richter Park Golf Course

Rates:

GREENS FEES
WITH CART
Daily
$ 32
$ 50
Twilight
$ 20
$ 33
Juniors
(18 and younger)
(Monday – Thursday only)
$ 10
$ 28
(Carts available w/driving adult only)
Monday – Thursday
$ 23
$ 41
Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Holidays
$ 32
$ 50
Twilight
$ 20
$ 33
Monday – Thursday
$ 85
Carts complimentary
Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Holidays
$ 95
Carts complimentary
Twilight
$ 50
Carts complimentary
Seniors
Monday – Thursday
$ 65
Carts complimentary
Juniors
(up to 18 years)
(Monday – Thursday only)
$ 10
$ 28

Review: Tifosi Golf Sunglasses


I needed to get a new pair of golf sunglasses.  I was looking for stylish frames with lenses that perform.  I also wanted to be able to wear them away from the golf course and still look good.  I found a pair I liked at my local golf shop and decided to purchase them.

I bought the Tifosi Ventoux in the gunmetal color.  These sunglasses come with a hard case, a soft case and 3 sets of interchangeable lenses.  The hard case was important to me as I might keep them in the golf bag and didn’t want them to break.  The hard case is nice and light, but still sturdy enough to give me peace of mind that they won’t break while in there.

The sunglasses came with 3 interchangeable lenses: The GT (golf and tennis) lens, the EC (extreme contrast) and the AC (All Conditions Red).  So far I’ve only worn them with the golf and tennis lenses but I am quite impressed with the quality of the lenses and the frame.

I wear these sunglasses all the time playing golf, even when it’s not as bright.  They cut down on the glare and really help me saw the ball better off the club face and in the air.  The enhanced contrast is great for reading greens.

Another benefit I’ve found  is that these lenses don’t create any distortion.  I had another pair of golf sunglasses before, and while the contrast was great, the shape of the lens actually created some distortion.  The way the lens wrapped around my face and the eye was also a bit of a problem because when I putted, it was like looking through bifocals, except that instead of blurry and sharp areas, it was areas covered by the glasses and those not covered by the glasses.  That made putting difficult.  With these Tifosi sunglasses that issue is a thing of the past for me.

The glasses come with the interchangeable lenses, a hard case, and s soft cloth bag which also doubles as a polishing cloth.  For $60, they are an excellent deal and I’m very glad that I got them.  If you’re in need of some golf sunglasses, give these a chance, they won’t disappoint.

Tifosi Optics

A must read: “Straight down the middle” by Josh Karp

straightdownthemiddleLike many golfers I have my library of golf books. I’ve split my library into instructional books, mental game, and other.  Although this book falls into the category of other, I relate to its message because Josh’s journey through golf, in many ways, chronicles my journey.

It is amazing how golf connects to and reminds of every day life.  I know people who will play golf with potential business partners to see how they handle themselves on the course, as it is often a reflection of how they deal with adversity in life.

But the journey of improving your golf game can also have an impact on improving your life in general.  My life has changed as a result of playing golf.  I’m reminded of a quote “Whoever said golf and life are similar was wrong.  Golf is harder.”

Josh’s journey in which he learns to stop worrying and love his swing is a journey filled with ups and downs, meeting fascinating people, and making connections to things that on the surface seem unrelated to golf. But Zen and other disciplines have many similarities.  For me I always understood Zen to be about letting go.  It was about letting your body do what it does, instead of trying to control it with your conscious mind.  After all, a warrior who has to control his muscles consciously won’t last very long.  He will quickly be defeated by a foe with flow.

I love this quote from the inside cover of the book.

“Throughout the ages, the ancient arts of Zen and meditation have helped warriors prepare for battle,  brought philosophers to enlightenment, and opened the path to inner peace for countless practitioners.  Perhaps most importantly, however, these practices have allowed golfers to transcend their game and shave precious strokes off their handicap.”

I find that golf does indeed mirror many things in life.  Hard work pays off.  Tough rounds are interspersed with moments of glory, when we are in the moment and in the zone.  These highlights keep us wanting to come back to the course, to subject ourselves for what we know can be either bliss or frustration, and that’s half the fun.  You don’t know what you’re game is going to be like on any particular day.  You don’t know what your swing and your chipping or putting are doing that day until you get on the golf course and start hitting shots.

I said that my journey mirrors in many ways Josh’s journey.  I have not seen the people that he’s met but outside of golf I have been exposed to transformational techniques, and in many ways I’ve bridged the gap between them.  You can see part of that in the domain name of this website.  But the connections go deeper.  People who know me well, know that I am a bit of a philosopher and thinker.  It is partly why I created this website.  I wanted to write about what it takes to become a better golfer from a different perspective then almost everything else I see on the subject.  What I write about improvement is based on ideas, conversations and insights that germinate, then grow and develop, sometimes from the most unusual sources.  But like life, all things are connected.

I’m willing to try unconventional things to improve my game, and in that way Josh and I are very similar.  Get this book.  If any of what I wrote above connects with you at all, then you are going to love it.  He writes with a great wit and refreshing style. For me, this book is as close to a must read, as you will find.

Review: Georgia Peach (Augusta National) golf course for Dancin’ Dogg Optishot


Well the Masters coverage seems to be everywhere.  It kicks off the official Golf season for most of the country and it should be a very exciting event.

Most of us will never get a chance to play at Augusta National.  I heard a story that President Bill Clinton was in Augusta, GA one time, and decided he wanted to play the course.  So he drove out there, and somehow got on, but he quickly taken off the course and he wasn’t allowed to finish.  I don’t know if this story is true, but I do know that it’s near impossible to get on the course to play it. That and Cypress Point are probably two courses that golfers dream of playing due to their exclusivity and history.  I’ve personally dreamed of playing it every since I started to play golf.

Well, if you can’t play it for real, at least you can play it virtually.  The first Premium course for the Dancin’ Dogg golf simulator (read my review here), Georgia Peach has been released.  It is a faithful (as far as I can tell, since I’ve never been there) reproduction of Augusta National.  So now you can play the course from the back tees and play your own Masters tournament with up to 3 friends.

The course looks beautiful.  Below are some screen shots.  It is a full reproduction with all 18 holes and it is a joy to play.

Dancin’ Dogg did a beautiful job on this course reproducing all the flowers, and plants, and everything about the layout.  This add-on is totally worth the $49.95.  It’s a beautifully rendered course that really gives you the opportunity to play this historic layout.  Try setting the green speeds to Fast to get a sense of what it’s like to putt at the masters.

Zen Chili Rating for Georgia Peach (Augusta National) for Optishot

5 Zens out of 5

•Experience a historical and exclusive course
•Host your own “Masters” Tournament with Friends
•Explore Augusta National

5 Chilis out of 5

•Stunningly reproduced
.

Review: Penta TP Golf Ball

PentaToday I had the chance to play the Penta TP.  I bought two sleeves and headed out to meet some friends at Great River Golf Club in Milford, CT.

The Penta has 5 layers (thus the name), and each layer is supposed to make the ball react properly.

Layer 1: Feel

This layer is the urethane cover for high spin from shots of 100 and in.

Layer 2: Spin

The outer mantle layer is for delivering high spin with the short irons.

Layer 3: Control

Middle mantle layer prevents balooning for greater distance control between 140 and 170 yards.

Layer 4: Launch

Soft feel and high launch, low spin, provide ideal ideal conditions for long iron and hybrids to get the ball up in the air, land it with a steep descent angle requiring less spin to stop the ball.

Layer 5: Distance

Core is supposed to provide high launch low spin with the driver.

Putting Penta in play

I brought out the first two Pentas to putt with on the practice green.  Right away I knew I was going to like this ball for putting.  Feels great off the putter.  Not hard or clicky, and soft enough, but not too soft. It felt just right and all day I was controlling my putts well.

Throughout my round I also found the the spin layer to be very effective.  Shots from around 100 yards and in were stopping beautifully on the greens.  Partial wedges were easy to hit accurately and the feel was butter soft.

The control layer for mid irons was also really good.  I really did feel like I had good distance control in those critical distances from 140 to 170 and the ball also stopped nicely on the green with those mid irons.

The fourth layer, launch, was pretty good as well.  I did feel the launch was a bit high with the hybrid and long irons but then again I’m also dealing with softer shafts that tend to balloon the ball for me.  I’m not yet totally sold on this layer yet, but I’m willing to continue experimenting with Penta.

Layer 5, Distance.  This was actually the most disappointing layer for me.  I did feel like I lost some distance compared to other balls I’ve played with the driver.  However the other layers more than made up for this loss of distance.  I’m going to say that it was probably more a swing issue than the ball, but I’ll keep my eye on this and see if my distance with Penta improves.

If you’ve been reading this blog, than you know that I was recently fit by Bridgestone using their Ball Fitting Challenge.  They fit me into the B330.  While I liked the distance I got from the B330, the control was not like the Penta.  On all shots from 170 yards and in the Penta is my go to ball.  It performs so well in those areas that I can live with a shorter drive (but again that may be more a swing issue than the Penta).  Well done TaylorMade. This is an excellent ball.