PGA Show Attention Grabbers

Each year at the PGA Merchandise Show with its 1,000 exhibitors and thousands of products we look for a few items to highlight for our readers. Here are a few that grabbed our attention as we walked the 10 miles of aisles in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. There are no clubs or balls in this listing…that will come later as we complete our testing and reviews.

Bermuda Sands—Finding good looking, reasonably priced golf shirts is sometimes difficult so take a look at Bermuda Sands, it’s a great brand to consider. For example there’s the Elite polo for $60 with a sophisticated subtle stripe, self-collar and three button placket. This one looks equally at home on or off the course.

Golf Pride–MCC ALIGN grip ($10.99) is best reminder grip we have seen. It has a raised ridge with a firmer feel flanked by channels down the back of this cord/rubber all-weather model. Though grips to facilitate proper hand position have been around for a long time the combination of the already popular MCC hybrid grip and alignment aid is a real winner.

Zero Friction—The DistancePro GPS Glove is the convenient combination of a glove which, we wear anyway, and a distance measuring device. We like the lightweight and 400 hours battery life of the GPS plus the fact the glove is one-size-fits-all. Two gloves and the DistancePro GPS unit which is switchable between the two list for $129.95.

New Balance—The NBG2004 is an athletic-style cleated golf shoe with a great look and lots of features such as two year guaranteed waterproof upper, New Balance’s proven comfortable REVLite midsole and a wider area for your toes to help with balance while swinging. Three color combinations of white/red, black/green and grey/blue available at $99.95.

SkyCaddie—At last someone has put a GPS rangefinder and shot tracking watch together with a mobile app for Bluetooth connection to your smartphone. For $349.95 the SkyCaddie LINX GT has those features plus comes preloaded with thousands of courses and, if you choose, it can use data from smart tags, one of which comes in the package.

Under Armour Sunglasses—There are hundreds of sunglasses on the market but we were drawn to the UA Igniter 2.0 which happens to have a very nice feature not found on competing brands…an adjustable nose pad. It doesn’t maybe sound like much but just a seemly small touch like that can make all the difference in fit, comfort and wearablity. Polarized, super light titanium self-adjusting frames for $144.99.

Sun Mountain—Known for their high quality, functional outerwear, golf and travel bags and push carts new for 2017 is the Speed Cart GT which folds down to only 37” x 16” x 13” at weight just over 17 pounds. The bag bracket is a new design to better hold golf stand bags plus there’s a new mobile phone slot and it comes with umbrella holder, scorecard holder and padded storage tray for $209.99.

P2 Putter Grips–Golfers talk a lot about putter grips, mostly about size or sometimes about feel, but perhaps most important is really the position of the hands in relation to the shaft. P2, based in Ireland, did lots of testing to come up with a design that forces the hands and wrists upward slightly, i.e. more arched, by positioning the shaft towards the bottom of the grip. The new Tour model ($35) is 50% lighter and the tacky feel is excellent.

ECCO-The new CAGE PRO model’s outsole doesn’t use cleats but does use their SPYDR-GRIP that takes advantage of pivot point for gripping. The BOA closure is both comfortable and helps to make for a perfect fit that helps performance. Waterproof with the textile upper bonded with a custom polyurethane. A choice of either black or white for $230.

 

Images courtesy of the manufacturers

 

Learn How to Achieve the Ben Hogan Waggle

By JORDAN FULLER

As a student of golf for over 25 years, I have seen hundreds of golfers in pursuit of the perfect swing.

If there’s one thing my experience has taught me, it is that there are a few common roadblocks that inhibit most golfers from reaching their potential. A perfect example of this is the “static address” – the idea that you must be motionless while standing over the ball before you start your swing.

Professional golfers have proven that the dynamic address, or “waggle”, can result in cleaner impacts resulting in superior range and accuracy. This tutorial will help you understand the motion of the waggle and how to use it to optimize your golf game.

Introducing The “Waggle”

There have been several golfers on the PGA Tour who have employed the waggle: Sergio Garcia, Jason Dufner, and one of the greats of the game, Ben Hogan. It is used while approaching and addressing the ball before the backswing begins, and is designed to help you visualize your backswing, resulting in a more fluid motion.

Should You Use The Waggle?

The waggle is a simple tool designed to help golfers of any experience level improve their drives, fairway play or short game. You should try the waggle if you:

Are too rigid over the ball before your swing begins

Have trouble bending your knees at address or lock your arms during your swing

Rotate at the hips during your swing

Do not finish your backswing at the same point every time you swing

If you are unsure whether or not you meet these criteria, try recording yourself with a camera the next time you’re at the driving range. If you cannot reliably predict where your next shot will land, you might try the waggle to help improve your consistency.

How To Waggle

The waggle is an easy motion designed to relax you and take your mind off of your swing, so don’t overthink it.

There are two criteria for a successful waggle:

Keep shifting your weight from foot to foot at regular intervals

Keep the club head in motion, practicing the initial part of your backswing

Follow the step-by-step instructions below, and you will be waggling like a pro in no time.

Step 1: Address the Ball

The waggle is a dynamic golf stance which will have you moving from the moment you address your ball to the moment you hit it. Begin by addressing your ball with your current golf stance.

Step 2: Be Dynamic

Once you are properly set up in address, begin shifting your weight from foot to foot while keeping your head, torso, arms and feet in the same positions.

If your club head is moving with respect to your ball during this step, you are moving too much.

Do not shift your entire weight from foot to foot – imagine splitting it 80/20 as you shift your weight from one direction to the other. The purpose of this is to get you accustomed to the weight shift in your backswing, and to create a rhythm prior to your swing.

Pro Tip:

Some golfers like to lift their feet while waggling. This isn’t necessary, but it may help you feel more comfortable. Try out both options (lifting your feet or keeping them planted) and see which works best for you.

The best way to visualize this movement is to think of tennis players receiving a serve. Before a serve, you will see them swaying from side to side to cover as much ground as possible. You do not need to sway in this fashion, but you do want to create a rhythm.

Step 3: Practice Your Backswing

Once you have created a rhythm for your backswing, pull the head of the club back approximately a quarter of the way into your backswing using only your wrists.

If you are right-handed, this motion should occur while you are shifting your weight to your right foot. The reverse is applicable for lefties. The club head should never reach higher than your knees during this step. An ideal waggle will keep the club head off of the ground at all times, so make sure that you begin and end each waggle before or above your ball.

Pro Tip:

If you are unsure whether or not you are doing this right, pay attention to the index finger on your dominant hand. The first knuckle (the knuckle you knock on doors with) should be directly over the ball at all times, even while you are drawing back the club head.

If your index finger’s knuckle is not hovering over the ball, you are using your arms instead of your wrists to lift the club. This will result in inconsistent backswings and inaccurate shots.

Step 4: Imagine Your Backswing

Once you have mastered the steps above, use each lifting motion to imagine where your club will go when you begin your backswing. If the motion is inconsistent or you feel that one waggle was more powerful than others, do not be afraid to step back and try again from the beginning.

The point of the waggle is to relax your body prior to each and every shot, increasing your consistency regardless of your swing’s technical ability.

Step 5: The Final Address

By this step you should:

Be shifting your weight from foot to foot at regular intervals

Be lifting your club head, practicing your backswing

Have regular waggle intervals in preparation for your shot

Once you are comfortable in this stance, have picked out your target and are satisfied with the beginning of your backswing, momentarily address your ball one final time by placing the club just behind it, resting on the ground. As soon as your club touches the ground, initiate your backswing and strike the ball.

In Summary: The Waggle

I hope you have enjoyed reading this tutorial on the waggle. I have found that it is an incredible tool for beginners since the entire golfing world is constantly pushing the idea of “the perfect swing”.

Look at the pros on the PGA TOUR today and tell me which swings are identical. I think it’s better to find a swing style that fits your needs. The waggle is a great tool for relaxing even the tensest golfers to help them build consistency, distance and accuracy into their game with a very minor change to their stance. Try out the steps outlined above and see if it helps you with your game!

Note: Jordan Fuller is a golf advocate who loves to teach beginners on the weekend. Passionate about everything golf, it is after seeing beginners always make the same mistakes that he decided to create an universal source of knowledge on golf, called Golf Influence.

 

 

 

 

10 Rounds with the L2 MOI MAXX Putter

A putter with lots of forgiveness, a large sweet spot and high resistance to twisting puts you on the road to making more putts since impacting the ball even a little off center, as we all know happens fairly often, can easily mean a missed putt.

Enter the L2 MOI MAXX putter the most recent model from Lateral Line Putters LLC. where forgiveness, a big sweet spot and high MOI are the whole idea.

Taking the L2 from the shipping box you notice right away the weight—it’s heavy–in fact the head weight is 620 grams. Contrast that with a “normal” putter with a head weight of around 350 grams makes the L2 more than 250 grams heavier and, as far as we know, the heftiest putter on the market. Designer and company president John Ambrose says a putter such as the L2 with a head of over one and one-third pounds makes for a smoother stroke and more putts going in the hole.

Not only does the head break the upper weight limit it is also physically huge—measuring a full six and one-quarter inches from heel to toe compared to putters we are more used to with heads such as the classic modern blade that are a little over four inches. The extra-large center shafted head due to its size (and weight) also exhibits a sweet spot Ambrose says is eight times that of most other putters, a full three and on-half inches wide.

On the course the dual alignment lines on the head visually bracket the ball so aiming is relatively easy and because the L2 has a flat sole along with the heavy head, it actually stands up by itself on the green. It is possible therefore to align the L2 while in the address position then, leaving it standing, to walk behind the line and make a final adjustment. The putter grip is extra-long with a square cross section which complements aiming by putting the hands in the proper placement.

But the grip size has another purpose as well. As Ambrose puts it, “By adding a 200 gram, 16-inch grip to the L2, we moved the stroke motion feel past the hands and wrists and into the arms and shoulders. This allows for a smooth, pendulum motion and discourages the yips.”

After ten rounds on several different courses, all with Bermuda greens and speeds ranging from medium to very quick, we got used to the feel of the L2 which is decidedly different than a “normal” putter. Hitting a seriously off line putt almost never occurred both because of the effect alignment lines and the fact virtually wherever the ball struck the face it rolled with a solid impact. The weight of the head meant the putter was always on line when the stroke finished.

As advertised the L2 is forgiving, perhaps the most forgiving we have ever tested though admittedly that’s a subjective judgement. What is without question though, if you are having problems making solid contact, beset by the “twitches” or still looking for a replacement for your banned belly or broomstick there could be some distinct benefits from this putter.

Negatives: Some may find distance control difficult because the hit is so solid with so much mass behind it. We found on downhill (particularly downhill side hill putts) and on fast greens getting the proper speed could be problematic. The flat sole, while aiding alignment, sometimes catches the grass when putting from Bermuda fringe into the grain. And as long as we are picking nits, the large square grip caused comment from everyone who tried it, not necessarily negative comments but it does take some getting used to. Finally, one players opined that carrying the extra weight L2 for a full 18 holes would be like putting three more clubs in the bag. As I said, picking nits.

Recommendation: If you need help with making solidly impacted online putts the L2 MOI MAXX could very well be the answer. The price is $169 at L2putters.com and shipping is included in the price.

It’s Furyk vs. Bjorn

By ED TRAVIS

The selection of Jim Furyk as captain of the U.S. squad is the latest in the run up to the 2018 Ryder Cup to be played against the European team captained by Thomas Bjorn over the Le Golf National in Guyancourt, France, a suburb of Paris.

Comparing the two captains is an interesting exercise though it probably doesn’t offer any significant insight as to who will win the 42nd playing for Samuel Ryder’s trophy.

Bjorn, from Denmark, has been a stalwart of the European PGA Tour counting 15 wins in his career though has never won on this country in 116 starts and his best finishes in majors have been ties for second, twice in the British Open and once in the PGA Championship. At the age of 45 he has played on three winning Ryder Cup teams – 1997, 2002 and 2014 – and has the reputation of being very vocal with his opinions, sometimes to his detriment. In addition Bjorn has been a vice-captain for the Euros on four occasions including their loss last year at Hazeltine.

The Dane’s overall record 3-4-2 in Ryder Cup play is less than eye-popping but then neither is Furyk’s at 10-20-4.

Furyk has lots of Ryder Cup experience having been a member of nine squads, two of which (1999 and 2008) won.

At Hazeltine this past fall Furyk was one of Davis Love III’s vice captains but Furyk’s best Ryder Cup moment was undoubtedly his singles match on Sunday against Sergio Garcia in 1999. Ben Crenshaw’s team overcame a four point deficit the final day achieving an unlikely victory with Furyk’s 4 and 3 win over Sergio Garcia being a highlight.

At 46 years of age Furyk is still an active member of the PGA Tour giving him current knowledge of the younger players and the Pennsylvania native can still really play. At this writing he is 37th in the world ranking points and last year at the Travelers Championship shot 58 in the final round–the lowest score ever on the PGA Tour. He has won 17 times on Tour including the 2003 U.S. Open and to go with his 58 in 2013 became the sixth player to shoot a 59.

As far as a successful defense, it’s worth noting the last time an American team was able to do it was 1993 which coincidentally was the last time they won outside of the U.S.

If you are looking for early form 21 months out there aren’t any overwhelming nor outstanding factors except for perhaps one thing. The decisive 2016 win by Team USA over Team Europe 17 to 11 probably saved the Ryder Cup from a loss of interest by fans here in America as well as potentially a loss of player enthusiasm. After all, it’s tough to get up for a team that had lost eight of the last ten Cups.

“Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated”

“Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.” So said Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company President and CEO Scott Walker in a press release announcing a company restructuring. The voluntary action aimed at cutting costs and streamlining operations included the layoff of most of the company employees, approximately 30, according to a copyrighted story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Steve Kaskovich.

Walker continued in the press release, “While our organization does not look the same today as it did in 2016, we are confident that the changes we are making will make us a stronger and better company in the future.”

The release stated that at present Ben Hogan has not declared bankruptcy nor have any lenders foreclosed on outstanding debt.

In 2015 the iconic Ben Hogan brand was reintroduced at the PGA Merchandise Show with a new iron model, the Ft. Worth 15, by the new Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company LLC after having been off the market since 2008 with Terry Koehler as president and CEO. Koehler had negotiated a licensing agreement for the name with clothier Perry Ellis who had purchased the brand from Callaway Golf in 2012. Perry Ellis continues to make and market apparel under the Ben Hogan name. Koehler formerly worked for Ben Hogan in his original company was also president and CEO of Eidolon Wedge Company.

Walker replaced Koehler as president and CEO of the Fort Worth, Tex. based operation in August 2016.

Three different iron models, one wedge model and one hybrid model are currently in their catalog.

A check of OEM’s scheduled to exhibit at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando starting Jan. 24 showed Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company as not having contracted for display booth space but meeting room space off the main floor has been reserved.

The original Ben Hogan Company was started by Ben Hogan in 1953 to manufacture clubs to his exacting specifications and quickly gained the reputation of the ultimate “player’s irons.” Hogan died in 1997 at the age of 84 having sold his interest in the manufacturer some years earlier.

Keep Your Head Still…or Maybe Not

“Keep your head down. Keep your head still” are perhaps the most often heard bits of swing advice to recreational golfers from their playing partners. The trouble is, both admonishments are wrong and attempting to keep the head still especially with the chin firmly pressed downward can result in poor ball contact, a loss of distance and control.

The “head down” problem is a function of the setup position but easily fixed by correctly addressing the ball with the chin up and the derriere pushed out slightly so your weight is balanced and you’re in an athletic position…think of a shortstop preparing for the crack of the bat.

The “head still” is a little harder to fix since if the head does move, how much is OK and how much is not? Teaching professionals will tell you that the head moving slightly (maybe 2 inches?) towards the right on the backswing is correct. On the downswing the head moves back to the starting point and when the club actually hits the ball the head is moving slightly back to the right again which is described as “staying behind the ball.”

The amount of head movement and in what sequence is difficult to learn even with the help of an instructor but now there is some new technology called the PowerPlane to give you the feedback you need.

PowerPlane is simple to use, just attach the hat clip above your left ear (assuming a right handed swing), place the sensor on the clip (it’s magnetic) and set up to a ball with the PowerPlane unit parallel to the line of the shot.

If your head is out of position at address or if it goes too far in either direction during the swing the unit beeps.

We tested it and it works actually showing two of the testers they were set up too far forward at address meaning they effectively were positioning themselves for a reverse pivot. It also quickly showed there was a lot of movement on the downswing by the single digit handicap tester, sending him back to the pro shop for more range balls.

We like that the PowerPlane was equally good if you are having problems with head movement during you putting stroke or when chipping. The sound of the beep is particularly telltale for the lookup before impact either with a putter or wedge.

Negatives: Some may feel the price of $189 is a little expensive.

Recommendation: If you have conquered the problems caused by keeping your head down toward your chest and need help for fat and thin shots plus want more distance from better contact the PowerPlane can go a long way to solving the problem. For additional technical information and to purchase visit PowerPlaneGolf.net. Included in the purchase price is free shipping and a PowerPlane hat and there’s a 30-day money back guarantee.