Spring has arrived, which means golf season is right around the corner – if it hasn’t started already – for many around the country.
As usual, there’s a bunch of new gear, apparel and gadgets that have hit the market since last season.
We’ve had a chance to test some of it out. Here’s part 1 of our first product round up for 2017, where we identify nine of the new toys you’re going to want to get your hands on.
Bushnell Pro X2 Laser Rangefinder
What we like: Do you remember when carrying a rangefinder was like carrying a pair of binoculars? They were effective to be sure, but they were bulky and who wants additional weight in their golf bag, especially if they’re carrying? For years, Bushnell – the granddaddy of golf rangefinders – have been finding ways to pack a massive punch in a much smaller package.
With the new Pro X2, the folks at Bushnell have knocked it out of the park yet again. This rangefinder is just three inches tall and four inches wide. It weighs 8 ounces. Eight ounces! Wondering what you’re sacrificing for the small size? Absolutely nothing. This thing is loaded with features, including the Slope Switch Technology -- which factors in elevation changes; Bushnell’s patented PinSeeker with Jolt Technology – which makes the device vibrate once its locked in on the target. With its Dual Display Technology, golfers can toggle between either a bright, red, vivid display or a sharp, black display for personal preference, or for easier viewing depending on the day’s weather conditions.
The ease of use is what we really love about the Pro X2.
Bolle Bolt Photo V3 Golf Sunglasses
What we like: I don't know about you, but when the sun is shining on the golf course, I like to wear sunglasses. The issue, however, is finding a pair of shades that feel as though you aren't wearing any at all. When you look down at your golf ball, you don't want to be looking at the nose pads on the sunglasses. You also don't want a pair of sunglasses that are going to slide down your nose when you look down.
With Bolle's Bolt offering, you get a light, stylish pair of sunglasses that don't get in the way and can be worn anywhere. Furthermore, thanks to the interchangeable lenses, you can wear them in any conditions for any activity.
Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver
What we like: This is far and away the hottest driver in the golf streets for 2017.
The phrase "game changer" is quite often overused when it comes to golf equipment... but not in the case of the GBB Epic. Its name says it all.
What makes the Epic a game changer is something called, "Jailbreak technology," which Callaway describes as a technology that "changes how the head and face behave at impact to promote more speed across a larger area of the face."
That results in more distance. But every driver claims more distance, you say. In my test run with the Epic, I averaged 12 yards more than with my previous gamer. That's right -- "previous." The Epic is now the gamer.
While I'm of the camp that firmly believes you drive for show and putt for dough, let me just say this about the Epic: With its length and forgiveness, the facts are the facts. You're going to be hitting shorter clubs into the green, which will result in shorter putts.
Does that sound like something that interests you?
Oh, and here’s what Henrik Stenson thinks of his Epic driver:
Loudmouth MLB pants and shorts
Price: $105-$130 pants; $85-$110 shorts
What we like: Golfers know – if you’re looking to make a fashion statement on the course, just log on to the Loudmouth website and load up your closet.
Maybe you can’t pull off all the wild designs, but surely you can get behind a design made specifically for your favorite Major League Baseball team, right? Opening Day is just around the corner for the 2017 season and you can show your pride in the form of team-inspired pants or shorts from Loudmouth.
Aside from golf, these duds are also great for a trip to the ballpark. The cotton-spandex fabric blend offers breathable comfort and flexibility
Carnoustie Sportswear 1/4-zip Vardon Pullover
What we like: Every golfer has a favorite 1/4-zip. It's a staple.
This high-end offering from Carnoustie is lightweight, which makes it the perfect item to always have in your golf bag... if you aren't already wearing it on the course.
Particularly this time of year, you want to have an extra layer to take to the course, but you don't want bulk that's going to interfere with your swing. The Vardon Pullover, available in five colorways, is just what you need.
What we like: Golf hats. Can you ever truly have enough of them?
Imperial has been making them since 1916 -- they know what they're doing. Just like golf equipment has been taken to the next level thanks to technology, so has headwear. And Imperial is right at the forefront in that regard.
Take its Watership Collection, for example.
"Sleek hat designs that enhance sun protection and blend technical innovation with traditional marine quality," David Shaffer, director of marketing at Imperial Headwear, told us.
Imperial also has a bunch of offerings for the upcoming U.S. Open at Erin Hills. The company's best-selling headwear is from its "Tailgate Collection." That headwear displays state maps and flags on the front and sometimes a combination of the two in team colors. "Our Tailgate Collection is a state pride themed line of headwear," Shaffer said. "Anybody who wants to show their loyalty on game day, at a party, or any other day of the week will enjoy this new collection of preppy caps. It's a perfect way to show your team spirit."
PUMA TITANTOUR IGNITE DISC Golf Shoes
What we like: Over the last several years, PUMA has produced some of the most stylish, most comfortable offerings of golf shoes on the market. Add the TITANTOUR IGNITE DISC to that list.
Utilizing its proprietary DISC technology, there are no laces to worry about on these shoes. The Laceless Disc Closure System provides "a fully custom fit with a micro-adjusting reel system that quickly adjusts to your foot for a secure fit and unrivaled comfort."
With so many "athletic fitting" golf shoes available, I know a lot of people who shy away from a more premium shoe, concerned that they may be too stiff. Trust me, shoe technology has come a long, long way. You don't have to sacrifice comfort for style. The Ignite Foam makes it feel like you're walking on pillows.
Dormie Workshop headcover
Price: $80 and up
What we like: Manufacturer headcovers have improved immensely over the last several years. However, if you're looking to put a personal touch on your driver, fairway woods, hybrids or putter, you need to check out the team at Dormie Workshop from Nova Scotia, Canada.
Ever notice how when you buy a new car you suddenly see that same car on the road all the time? It's the same with a driver if you're an avid golfer. Everyone seems to be playing the newest driver and they've got the same headcover as you. Be different. Dormie Workshop offers a wide range of premium leather headcovers that can even be customized and personalized so that your choice of club protection is truly one of a kind.
Have fun with the design and make a statement on the course in the process.
Snell Golf My Tour golf balls
What we like: Snell is one of the most well-known independent ball makers on the market today, producing a premium golf ball at an affordable price. The 3-piece, tour caliber golf ball, Snell says, is engineered to provide outstanding tee to green performance, with a mission to enhance scoring for golfers of all skill levels.
Since "feel" is vital to golfers, the Snell My Tour gets high marks. It's low compression provides that soft feel you want around the greens without sacrificing distance off the tee.
You really can't beat the price for the quality and performance of the Snell offerings.