Monday, March 8, 2021

Getting Ready For A New Season!

Well, the weather has been getting a bit nicer here in Colorado; and it's time to start putting things together for the new golf season. The question is, have we given consideration to what equipment we are putting in the bag? Like many of us, some of you may not be planning on gaming new clubs this year. This is understandable considering the cost of new equipment these days.  Well then, if you're not considering new clubs, are your tried and trusted older clubs in good enough shape to face this year's golf season? What needs to be accomplished to ensure your clubs are ready to go? 

The first place to start is where the connection between the human and the golf club begins. In a previous post to this blog, we described in great detail the ordeal of replacing grips so we won't get too much into the details of the physical aspects of grip replacement. But a great starting place in the determination of whether your clubs are ready to go is the grips. Are they getting a bit shinny and slick? If so, you might consider a small investment into new grips - something you can do it yourself if you have enough bandaids lying around... However, if you think you might be able to salvage your existing grips, you might want to try a good bathing of the grips. This might bring some tack back into them. Another thing the old-timers used to do, especially if you are playing cords, is a very light sanding of the grip with some very light sandpaper. Cords love to get roughed up a bit. 

The next recommendation comes from personal experience. If you play forged irons, and you played them for more than one or two seasons - It may be time to get the lofts and lies checked to see if they are still in spec. Yes, lofts and lies are set at the factory or by your fitter but they can be worked out of spec, especially if you are a range rat pounding them into submission on the mats. If you are a fairly consistent striker of the ball and all of a sudden you find that you are toeing or healing your iron shots, it may be time for checking the lofts and lies of your clubs. Lofts and lies can easily be taken care of at any professional golf shop or clubhouse where there is a guy known as a fitter. The cost isn't all that expensive and having your clubs back in your spec will make the game a lot more enjoyable. 

A couple of final comments on getting and keeping your clubs in good shape include examining your groves, cleaning your clubs, and periodic polishing to keep them in great shape. Have you ever join a group or another individual and noticed that you couldn't see the face of their clubs. What was your impression? Do you think the club works as efficiently as it should when it's covered in muck? Probably not. To extend the life of a golf club you must maintain it. Have you ever played with guys that have a couple of clubs in their bags that they have been gaming for over 20 years? Imagine, 20-year-old clubs well maintain and cared for, what a return on investment. With the cost of equipment these days, why would not want to care for the equipment that you own? 

Hopefully, we've presented a couple of useful ideas for getting your golf bag in shape for the new season. May the 2021 golf year be your best golfing year ever... Until next time - Hit um well!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Make Your Clubs Feel New Again!

Since my last trip to the golf course, the weather has been rather cold and snowy. With not much to do because of Covid, one spends a great deal of time online visiting club reviews and researching new equipment. There sure is a lot of eye candy out there! 

Well, I keep my clubs back in our home office... I just appreciate having them around. The old blades are starting to look a little tattered with the worn grips from hours of time at the practice range and my net setup outback. Even my newer set of clubs are starting to look a little tired. And yes, I started thinking about replacing one or the other set of clubs, all because they aren't new any longer. They still perform well however and I think I was just looking at all the nice neat new stuff! Not because any new equipment is really going to improve my game much. So, I got to thinking about why I was even looking at new equipment. "Isn't there something I could do to make the equipment that I currently own new and exciting again?" The answer is certainly yes... So I began a quest to make my old stuff look and feel new again! 

The first thing I did was give all of my clubs a thorough cleaning. I'm not talking about setting my clubs in a bucket of water and hoping they come clean. I'm talking toothbrush clean! This gave me a chance to really examine my clubs up close and personal to make sure every grove looks its best and is its sharpest. I even polished them for the first time in some time. Then I set them aside for a day or two... Mistake. I went right back to club reviews... 

This time however I started watching reviews on club refreshing, including grip maintenance and replacement. Grip replacement is something I use to do religiously! Yearly as a matter of fact. Easy enough, I ordered new grips, not just any grips, grips that I had wished I'd bought when I originally ordered my clubs and never had put on even with other grip changes (I'm a bit cheap at times I guess). I've always loved cords and that's what I ordered. 

It took a better part of a week for the new grips to get here and this gave me a chance to get all my regripping equipment put together, including a new hook-bladed razor knife for cutting the grips off my clubs Be careful with razors my mother use to tell me! There's a story here that I might share in a moment... 

The day the new grips arrived was like Christmas! Twenty-six new grips, a thirty pack of grip tapes, and some solvent - what more could a boy ask for! Now it's been a while since I've done my own regripping, done lots in the past but it's been a while. I still have my technique and everything, but it's been a while... and my new hook-bladed razor knife, well it's new. The last thing my wife said to me before I got started was and quote "Bob, you should wear gloves while working with that knife!", to which I totally ignored. Bad mistake, I should have listened. With the first cut to remove the first grip, I managed to slice my finger to the bone. I totally don't know how my finger got in the way of that knife? Anyway, the next thing I did was to humbly run into my wife's women's cave with my hand spewing blood and politely asked if she could help me out with a couple bandaids!

The moral of the story is - always listen to your wife and, always wear gloves when cutting off grips!

Once I got patched up, I continued and think I regrip every club we own. Yes, including the wife's clubs and yes, with a sliced-up finger. 

So, where was I? Oh yes, making my clubs feel fresh and new again... I can honestly say that all the work and enjoyment of refreshing my golf clubs have worked in giving me a fresh opinion of the equipment I already own. I don't think either set of my clubs is going anywhere except the golf course for some time to come. The look and feel of my equipment are great. I saved a ton of money and appreciate what I already have more than ever. Until next time... Don't attempt to cut your finger off and try a refresh instead of giving in to that urge to buy new equipment. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Make A Change Instead Of A Large Purchase - That IS The Question

I have been struggling with consistency with my driver for about six months now. What I'm struggling with most is locating the center of the club. The difficultly lies in not having a good feel for where the head of the club is in relation to body movement and rotation. I just don't have any feel for the clubhead. Actually, this has been going on ever since I was fitted for a new 46-inch driver. 

Rather than going into the name brand of the driver, I'll just list the physical characteristic of the problem child (I don't want anyone to think it is the manufacture's fault or that I think it's a bad driver). I think the problem lies in the fit of the club to the operator. I've always had my driver fit at exactly 45-inches at 9 degrees and D8 for as long as I can remember. In my excitement to get a new driver, I was convinced that a 46-inch driver might provide a little more distance. I'm not convinced that this true any longer. But hey, I got a great price on this piece of experiment. Anyway, the specs on the longer driver are as follows: 

        - 46-inch shaft 

        - 59-gram weight UST Helium Stiff Shaft

        - 460 composite head

        - Lamkin Crossline Superlite Grip

        - Swing weight D2 (I think? I could not prove it with the feeling I get. Horrible! Way too lite. I should weigh it for myself, just to know the real numbers) 

What I'm finding is that on occasion, when I find the middle of the club I can carry this club about 275 yards (about 5 yards longer than my old dependable driver) but the dispersion consists of pull hooks, push draws, and in an attempt to control it - fades! With my old 45-inch titanium-headed Cobra driver, my stock shot was about a 3-yard draw. My old Cobra always just felt great, an old friend and someone I could depend on. But now, with the longer and lighter driver, I find myself pulling a 2-iron or a 3-wood when one or the other is in the bag due to the poor performance with the driver. I've tried a couple of other drivers recently and true them when set to my old spec. It's not the driver, it's the fit and the inability of the operator to adjust to the increased length and lighter weight.


I really don't want to buy another driver this year! But riding the Dragon with this driver is not fun! Since I sold the old Cobra I'm thinking of modifying what might be a super driver in someone else's bag! Looking at my options here, I could cut down the 46 by an inch but this would make the club swing weight even lighter. For every quarter inch I take off the shaft I'm reducing swing weight by about 2 swing weights, making this an even more unwieldy monster! The big issue here is, I'm looking at having to add 16-20 grams of weight to the bottom of a club that has no adjustable weight port on the bottom of a 460 head - just to get it back to the original swing weight. Ouch! Can I put that much lead tape on the bottom of the club? It would be a messy-looking mutt, to say the least. 

Rather than using the lead tape, I probably should pull the head and go the weight insert route. I could also probably find a super, super light grip to reduce bottom-weight requirements.  Looks like this money-saving idea of mine is turning into a project! The only saving grace to the project is, I have all the equipment to do it. I can do all the work myself but do I want to? I just don't want to invest another $300-500 dollars on a new driver! I don't know what the expense and time requirement of sending it to the manufacturer for a refit is, but this might be an option as well. 

I guess there is a moral to this story. Don't get caught up in the latest and greatest trend. It will cost you money and enjoyment of the game. I should have gone with what works for me, not the recommendation on the fitter who worked with me for a couple hours. Let me know what you think? 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Novo's Golf Adventures: Review of the Top Flite Gamer Golf Ball

Novo's Golf Adventures: Review of the Top Flite Gamer Golf Ball: The Top Flite Gamer golf ball is marketed to provide a good distance with the driver, feel soft off the wedges with a decent spin around the...

Do Muscle-back Irons Have Relevance Today?

Although my gamer irons have the name Mizuno affixed to them, they are not bladed muscle-back irons. While still a forged iron, my Mizuno's are packed with distance, forgiveness, and technology.  While not the longest irons they are a modern golfer's iron.

Flashback, imagine that your only options in golf equipment are a huge cavity back offset iron or a hunk of metal at the end of a stick - referred to as the blade or muscle-back,. Which way would you go in selecting a club? For me, it's the muscle-back blade that holds all the beauty and memories of rounds past. 

My old Golfsmith IR 600b Muscle-back Irons / Circa 2005

With all the advancements in technology in golf, why would anyone want to play a bladed iron? I still own a set of blades from about 15 years ago. They are a complete set of 3-GW irons with very traditional lofts. The six iron is 32 degrees with little to no offset to give you a proper example. I've seen modern clubs where the 8 iron had as much loft. When I compare my blades with my Mizuno JPX 900 Forged irons, the blades seem tiny! The sweet spot on the blades is somewhat of a mystery to me when I'm not on my game. But still...

There is something special about blades, almost romantic. If you've ever played blades and you managed to find them out of the middle, you know there is no greater feeling. And the clubs themselves are so damn sexy. Nothing compares to a new shiny bladed iron, nothing! 

So, my question at the onset is, "Do bladed muscle-back irons have relevance in today's golfing world?". Perhaps I can make a case for blades in the world of farther, faster, crazy distance and technology. 

The simple bladed iron is the Purest's answer to a world gone mad. It requires mastery at a pace that today's modern golfer may not have time for. But there's hope... The bladed iron when played well offers the ability to work the ball with a bit more ease than the modern high-tech iron. While it may be a bit intimidating to play a blade, what it offers above all else is consistency, both in distance and dispersion. It may not go as far as today's powerful clubs, but what you don't get is the surprising jump in the distance that modern clubs sometimes give you. And who cares if you can hit a strong lofted 8 iron 180 yards if goes out of bounds or flying over the green. I know for a fact that the distance between each of my bladed irons carries about 10 yards of distance give or take a couple of yards. With my modern cavity back clubs, the ball can jump as far as 20 yards or more at times. I consider the loft and presumed weakness of my blades a consistent friend... When playing with my modern irons, I still have bladed wedges in the bottom end of my bag for this very reason! 

So, do blades have a place in the modern game of golf? I advocate they do! I think a lot of golfers would benefit from using them, at least in the bottom end of the bag, say GW thru at least 8 iron where they are easier to manage. I'm sure the consistency of the blade would bring down some handicaps. Another place that blades could offer some game improvement is on the practice range. Learning to find the center of a blade would improve many a swing. 

Once again, I'll drag out my old and trusted blades for another golf season. They'll probably see a good portion of my play this year. I'm trying to embrace the modern club, but my heart still pulls me to the blade. In preparation for a new season on the links, new grips are going on the worn blades. Still beautiful even with the scars of battle throughout the years. 

Review of the Top Flite Gamer Golf Ball

The Top Flite Gamer golf ball is marketed to provide a good distance with the driver, feel soft off the wedges with a decent spin around the greens. In addition, this ball is said to have excellent durability, unlike the previous model ball. The ball is advertised as a premium golf ball competitor at a price point the average golfer will enjoy and can afford. 

Looking at the construction of the golf ball, we can see that it is a three-piece golf ball consisting of an outer soft isomer cover over an enter layer Dupont HPF mantle to reduce driver and long-iron spin, and a low compression high energy core to create a soft feel and create distance. A unique feature of the ball is the outer cover dimple within a dimple design, an aerodynamic design stated to enhance carry distance (see picture below). Overall, it is a great looking golf ball. 

Let me start out this review by saying I have no monetary interest in Top Flight, i.e., I'm not sponsored by anyone. What led to this review is that several years back I played what I believe was the original Gamer. That ball fit my game perfectly giving great distance and a soft enough feel around the greens. Then the manufacture of the ball changed and while the Gamer retained a soft feel, it did lose its distance characteristics. I switched over to a different ball, playing different versions of the Titleist Pro V. An expensive venture, to say the least. I also experimented with varying versions of Srixon's offerings. As a matter of fact, the Srixon Z Star up to this point in time is probably one of my favorites. Still in the bag and still a bit expensive for a guy on a budget. 

Based upon other favorable reviews, I played my first full round with this new Gamer ball today to gauge for myself this golf ball's merits. I found that drives were consistent in both distance and accuracy when compared to my current golf ball. It felt good off my long and short irons, wedges, and what struck me the most was how soft it felt off the putter. I had a really nice time with this ball on the greens with its soft feel. As a matter of fact, around the greens is where I enjoyed this ball the most. It has a good spin when chipping and is workable as well. Off the putter, the ball feels like butter and rolls consistently toward where it is sent. 

For a durability test, I used the greenside bunker where I hit 10 shots with the same ball. All I can say is, I was impressed! The cover of the ball experienced only minor scuffing. Nothing that would cause me to take the ball out of play. So yes, this ball is durable in my opinion.

To sum it up -This is a great golf ball for the price point!  Forget price point, this is just an all around great golf ball for the average golfer. You can't beat it, especially when you consider the cost of other competitor's three and four-piece golf balls. I think I've found my new gamer! 

At the time of this review, one major retailer was selling two boxes of 12 golf balls for around $32.00 dollars. Normally, you'll pay somewhere in the neighborhood $23.00 dollars for a box of 12. I think you can find a good deal on these balls on Amazon as well. 

 If you are looking for a new gamer you might want to check it out. The Top Flite Gamer a solid performing golf ball!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Stop Trying To Hole Putts!

- Do This Instead... Stop trying to hole putts. Isn't that what you're meant to do? Well, yes and no. When you're putting your goal should be for the ball to go in the hole. But here's the thing... 

Have you ever hit a putt that you thought was perfect but for some reason, the ball didn't fall in? So what happened -- didn't you try hard enough? Maybe if you tried a bit harder the ball would have gone in. 

Obviously, that's stupid thinking. But when I watch a lot of people putting, they are trying really hard! I'm not pointing fingers either, because recently I've been guilty of this too. Everyone knows with putting that there's luck involved. You can hit a perfect putt and the ball may not go in. You can hit a putt that you swear was going to miss and it goes in. So why do we steer putts? 

When you watch the pros on T.V, very rarely do you see them steer putts. They put a nice stroke on the ball, hold their finish, and watch the outcome. But most "average" golfers stroke the ball, never hold their finish, and are trying to guide the ball into the hole with their putter and body. Or in other words, trying too hard. 

Look, when you putt you shouldn't overemphasize that you are trying to hole the putt. You shouldn't say things like "I need to hole this" or "come on, try really hard to hole this". That sort of thinking creates tension. And when you're tense while putting, for some reason the ball does not fall in. Instead, here's what you should do. 

Pick a line and pace for each putt and focus on hitting the putt along the line you've chosen with good speed, then let the outcome take care of itself. Instead of trying to hole the putt, you should be trying to do the task of putting as well as you can. Then, again, let the outcome take care of itself. 

What I'm talking about is focus. Focus on something you can control, e.g. your putting routine, your putting stroke, your mental attitude, your line, your speed. Don't focus on something you can't control, i.e. trying to hole the ball. Do this the next time you putt and you will hole more putts without trying. 

The concepts of tension and focus relate to every shot you play. For example,  if you're overly tense and steering your putts, you're more than likely going to be overly tense on your drives, your iron shots, your pitch shots, your chip shots, bunker shots, etc. 

If as you're reading this and thinking about your golf game, you may see yourself steering your shots and feeling tense at the end of your swings, then this is a major problem for you. And the only way you're going to improve your golf game is by learning how to hit shots with ONLY the necessary amount of tension. 

The Excessive Tension Test 

If after your shots you feel really tense or are moving your body around trying to steer the ball, then you've swung with too much tension. You will never enjoy playing golf or play up to your true potential if you continue to do that.