Over the course of a given year, I'm able to get an up close look at some incredible golf gear. Periodically, I like to compile a product round-up of some of my favorites.
Here's a peek at a list of items I've had the opportunity to test in the last couple of months that you may want to consider for your own game -- everything from clubs, to gadgets to apparel and more.
Let's break them down by product type.
TactiCool BAMF: You've never seen a golf bag like this one.
The BAMF (abbreviation for words that are NSFW) bag by TactiCool is an incredibly functional golf bag with a nod to our military. Available in Stealth Black, Coyote Brown, or Olive Drab, the BAMF bags utilize a MOLLE webbing system that allows you to attach as many or as little accessories you want.
TactiCool's Expeditionary Mode BAMF bag comes preloaded with accessories for your sunglasses, smartphone, water bottle, and more.
"We knew it was an excellent way to change out and customize parts and pieces, and we knew enough people with some kind of tactical background who also had other hobbies," said Jake Richmond, TactiCool's Chief Brand Officer, an Air Force veteran. "The tactical sensibility naturally includes the compulsion to customize your own 'loadout,' so when you combine that with other hobbies, it was clear to us that we weren't the only ones who would appreciate a MOLLE golf bag."
Another beautiful thing about this bag? You're not limited to just the sweet accessory offerings from TactiCool.
"We want our customers to know they can buy accessories from any MOLLE gear manufacturer, and it'll fit on their BAMF bag," Richmond said. "In other words, we're liberators, not monopolizers."
Added Chris Holland, TactiCool's founding partner and also an Air Force veteran: "The goal was to create something that empowered people to make their own loadout, instead of enslaving them to our little cult of products and forcing them to buy accessories from us. Buy the bag, then buy a pouch here, a patch there, and its all up to you."
If you're looking for a bag that's extra cool and like nothing anyone else has (for now), this is the bag for you.
Learn more at www.tacticoolcac.com.
Canoos: If there's a better crossover shoe for the summer, I have yet to see it. In a word, Canoos are "awesome." They're the type of shoe I never knew I wanted, never knew existed and -- now -- not sure I'd want to live with out.
The concept is brilliant. These are high-quality boat shoes with built in soft spikes on the sole. The soft spikes underneath are relatively short, which I love. There's plenty of traction on the course, but when you where them off the course, you don't feel as though you're wearing golf spikes.
You can wear them on the course, to the beach, out to dinner, with shorts, with slacks, with jeans -- whatever.
Quality golf shoes are expensive. Quality boat shoes are expensive. With Canoos, it's as if you're getting both for the price of one. Price: $150. You can learn more at www.canoos.com.
Ecco Speed Hybrid: When it comes to fashion these days, we're seeing lots of "throwback" gear -- a new spin/twist on an older look. Or, in the case of the Ecco Speed Hybrid, a new and improved spin on a throwback look.
The best way I can describe the Ecco Speed Hybrid is that they look like an old-school sneaker. But the technology behind this killer Ecco offering makes it way better than that old-school sneaker sitting in the back of your closet.
Ecco describes it like this: An outsole with molded traction bars combined with groundbreaking E-DTS® hybrid technology provides enhanced stability throughout your swing. The breathable leather uppers have Ecco's unique HYDROMAX™ treatment, which has water repellant characteristics.
Trying to save space in your luggage? With that sneaker look, these are fantastic to wear through the airport and then straight to the course when you land. Price: $180. us.shop.ecco.com.
PUMA Ignite Spikeless: An argument could be made that these are the most comfortable golf shoes ever created. They're light and they fit and feel like your favorite pair of slippers.
Even when you wear these shoes for the first time, there's no "stiffness" whatsoever. It's as if they're already been broken in for you.
A "running performance foam" was used to give these shoes incredible cushioning. Along with the comfort, they look great too. Price: $120. www.puma.com.
Fore Ewe Knitted Headcovers: Another example of that "throwback" look in golf, Fore Ewe knitted headcovers will let you add some spice to your golf bag with a nod to the past.
Mary Jackley, an avid knitter from Minnesota, is the mastermind behind Fore Ewe. All of Fore Ewe's yarn is skein dyed to make sure the colors are rich and consistent. Since June 2012, Jackley says she has designed and sold over 11,000 headcovers.
My favorite thing about Jackley's business is the fact that -- along with her catalogue of beautiful offerings -- she gives you, the customer, the ability to design your headcovers with the colors and patterns you want. And the turnaround time is amazing -- usually 2-3 weeks.
Overall, these are just beautiful, beautiful headcovers. Price: Starting at $35 and up depending on club and custom options. www.foreewe.com.
Headgear Golf Leather Headcovers: Again, for me, it's all about customization these days. With companies like Headgear Golf, you can get the same level of customization as your favorite Tour pro.
Headgear Golf carefully cuts and manually stitches only the highest quality leather hides and line the inside with soft fleece for easy slip on and off. A double elastic pinch keeps the snug fit.
Headgear Golf has a bunch of stock offerings that are spectacular, but you can really make it personal with a custom design -- your favorite colors, the colors of your favorite sports team, etc. Price: $39 and up. www.headgeargolf.com.
TaylorMade M2 3-wood: This club goes long... and straight. What more can you ask of a fairway wood? I suppose it's "look." When it comes to "look" I'm not sure anything tops what TaylorMade has done with its M1 and M2 offerings. They're just gorgeous to look at with the Carbon Composite Crown.
The sound upon contact is phenomenal. It just pops right off the clubface and is as solid a sounding club as I've ever hit.
The best part of the M2 fairway woods? They're not going to break the bank, ringing in at $249. www.taylormadegolf.com.
Wilson Staff C200 Irons: Looks aren't everything when it comes to golf clubs. It's all about performance. Luckily for Wilson Staff, the companies new C200 irons have both attributes going for it -- they're gorgeous, they're easy to hit and they're long.
Categorized as "crossover" irons, the C200s are made for the player seeking a midsize head shape and moderate offset with the type of distances you don't get from traditional irons. Wilson Staff's proprietary FLX Face Technology minimizes the contact points between the body and the thin face. These minimized contact points -- combined with a series of Power Holes around the entire perimeter of the face -- maximize face flex upon impact, resulting in increased ball speed and distance.
They're easy to swing and provide what every golfer is looking for: forgiveness on mishits. Price: $799.99 (steel 4-PW, GW). www.wilson.com.
APPAREL & ACCESSORIES:
Holderness and Bourne: When it comes to golf polos (starting at $88), Holderness and Bourne aren't looking to recreate the wheel. These are just classic, timeless polos made with modern fabrics that are lightweight and move with your body instead of getting stuck while swinging.
And when I say they're not "looking to recreate the wheel" I simply mean that this isn't "trendy" stuff. It's beautiful apparel that stands the test of time. It's all class.
The same goes for Holderness and Bourne's accessories. I was able to test out their Ouimet Scorecard & Passport Cover ($90); The Travis Valuables Case ($65); and The Crosby Shoe Bag ($125). Each of those accessories comes in three colorways: Annapolis Blue, British Khaki, or Nantucket Red.
The accessories all feature a premium water-resistant cotton duck canvas exterior, while the Ouimet Scorecard & Passport Cover and Crosby Shoe Bag also include pebble grain leather, a premium polished nickel zipper and blue bengal stripe oxford cloth interior.
Unlike a lot of valuables cases/pouches out there, the Travis Valuables case is long and easily accommodates today's bigger smartphones. It's thin design also makes it easy to slip in and out of the bag.
For more information, check out www.holdernessandbourne.com.
Galvin Green: The same apparel that has been used to outfit European Ryder Cup teams, Galvin Green prides itself on making the types of garments that do not interfere with your golf swing.
With its VENTIL8 line, Galvin Green uses materials that transport moisture and excess heat away from your body twice as quickly as conventional offerings that come in polyester. The material disperses perspiration and moisture over a larger area, which allows it to evaporate faster.
As has been the theme here with apparel, we're all about ultimate comfort on hot summer days. This is the epitome of what Galvin Green offers with its VENTIL8 polos and trousers. They're light and they don't stick to you. What more can you ask for?
For more information, visit www.galvingreen.com.
Lululemon: If you've heard of this Canadian brand, it's likely because of its high-quality yoga gear. You may also think of it as a brand mostly for women.
If that's all you thought, please think again, because you're missing out... big time.
Lululemon also makes a bunch of great gear for men. And it's not just for yoga or working out. They have clothing for the golf course too -- polos, shorts and pants.
I tried out the Evolution Polo ($88). It is the lightest polo I've ever worn. Lululemon describes it as: A sweat-wicking, four-way stretch, and engineered to feel like your favorite broken-in tee.
They're not kidding. It feels just like a broken-in tee and there's nothing better than that feeling when you're spending a hot summer's day on the course. The shirts are a bit form-fitting, so if you like a little more room, go up a size.
For shorts, I tried out the Commission Short QWICK CHINO ($88) and the Works Short ($88). The pants included the ABC ($128) and the Commission Urbanite Swift ($128). Both the shorts and the pants include a stretch material that make them feel more like a pair of lightweight sweatpants than more golf-course/boardroom appropriate attire.
Being 100 percent honest, the ABC pants are the most comfortable pants I've ever worn. And on the golf course, they're just perfect. The back pockets are the ideal size for a yardage book or scorecard.
Speaking of which, I was recently on the road for the Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by KitchenAid, as well as the PGA Professional Championship. You know when you get a new car and you don't realize how many people drive that car until you're driving it yourself? The same can be said for the Lululemon ABC pants. I had no idea how many golfers wore them until I had them on myself.
The bottom line is this: Lululemon is no longer just for the ladies. Guys -- you don't know what you're missing if you don't try them out.
Find them at www.lululemon.com.
Kentwool socks: Are you more of a walker, or the type that takes a cart when playing a round of golf?
Either way, Kentwool makes the perfect sock for you. Why socks don't seem like a big deal to many is beyond me. Golf is uncomfortable enough with everything you face on the course. Your feet shouldn't be a part of that equation.
Kentwool socks, made in the USA, are constructed with 58 percent Merino Wool, 31 percent Nylon, 9 percent Stretch Polyester and 2 percent Spandex. The best part about the socks? They have a blister-free guarantee.
For more information, visit www.kentwool.com.
Devereux: I'd classify Devereux as a luxury golf brand without sacrificing comfort. Devereux's polos (65 percent Pima Cotton and 35 percent Polyester) have a touch-of-class look to them.
The thin material on the polos make them exceptionally comfortable and perfect for those hot and humid days on the course.
The same goes for Devereux's short, which are 90 percent Polyester and 10 percent Spandex.
Overall, it's an apparel brand for when you need to be a little more dressed up.
For more, check out www.dvrxgolf.com.
Garmin Approach X40: I have a confession to make... Since smartphones these days are practically attached to our person at all times, I figured it had eliminated my need for a watch.
Now, however, technology has turned toward the enhanced development of "wearables." Picking up on that trend is Garmin with its Approach X40 band. It's not just a watch. It's not just a golf GPS preloaded with over 40,000 golf courses. It also measures your shot distance, tracks stats such as putts per round, greens and fairways hit, is a digital scorecard and -- when connected to your computer or smartphone -- allows you to review your scorecard and round.
In addition to all of that -- and what separates the Approach X40 from its competition -- is its fitness tracking capabilities. It counts your steps, measures your heart rate, tracks your sleep, allows you to set fitness goals and more.
This is a golf watch that you never have to take off... except to charge, which you'll only need to do every 5 days in activity mode, or every 10 days in GPS mode.
Oh, and for good measure -- when synced with your smartphone, you can have text messages and call alerts sent to your wrist.
For more, visit www.garmin.com.
Golf Pride Tour SNSR Putter grips: Putting is all about feel and that starts with the grip you're cradling in your hands.
Golf Pride's Tour SNSR putter grips -- available in two styles and two sizes -- promote light grip pressure in the hands for superior control.
The counter of the grip encourages a more consistent, repeatable putting stroke. We can all use more consistency on the greens.
Visit www.golfpride.com to learn more.