Equipment

January 30, 2017 - 2:14pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
putter, refinishing, restoration
Ken Hissam
Thinking of ditching that old putter you love because it's seen better days? You might want to consider simply having that trusty flatstick refinished instead.

Ask any serious golfer -- no matter the ability -- which club of the 14 in their respective bags is the most difficult to replace and you'll likely get the same answer from the large majority: the putter.

We all have a love-hate relationship with the flatstick. Sometimes it gets put in timeout (as if it's the putter's fault we're missing those testy knee-knockers), but for many, we seem to always turn back to old reliable.

But what happens when that beloved putter is in rough shape? Maybe it's dinged up, rusty, whatever.

If you're thinking it's time to ditch it for a new, prettier model, you might want to think again.

Did you know you can actually bring back the beauty of that putter you love that's seen better days and have it looking better than ever?

If you're wondering how that's possible, you may want to take the time to learn a little about a gentleman from North Carolina named Ken Hissam.

Hissam is a self-described "putter geek." He says his first memories of playing the game are on the putting green. He comes from a family where both parents were golf nuts. His mother, 90 years old now, still plays twice a week.

Growing up, Hissam recalls his parents hiring a caddie to babysit him while they played. Hissam and the caddies spent all that time on a putting green. And that's where he fell in love with the game... and putters.

"Out of all the clubs in one's bag, there's a special bond with a putter," he said. "A putter can bring you out of trouble after three horrendous shots or make you look like a complete idiot after just one. Clubs may come and go, but everyone keeps that one putter that won their club championship, a high school match, was their father's or grandfather's or just pulled them out of a 3-way press on the 18th. Mine is a McGregor IMG 5 my dad had that he gave to me when I was only 11. He passed away a few years ago and once I pulled that putter out of my bag, all the memories came flooding back about my dad and when we played. My dad was the best putter of the ball I had ever seen. I wanted to see the putter how he saw it all those years ago. I wanted to see it like it was new when he picked it up in the pro shop... That started my quest."

Hissam owns Kickstand Putters, which specializes in putter restoration and refinishing for a fraction of what you would pay for new putter. Basically, he can do to your putter what he did to the one his dad gave him as an 11-year-old boy.

So why refinish an old putter instead of dropping $300+ on a new one, off the rack?

"There's something about a great putter that keeps you going back," Hissam said. "It knows you and you know it. There's a history with the putter and if you get a new one you have to go through the courting process again."

Hissam can take an old, beat-up putter, remove the nicks and dings and refinish it with both the finish (black oxide, nickel, black PVD, raw stainless or raw carbon steel) and paint fill of your choosing.

"It's essentially turning your old favorite brand new again," he said. "There are basically two types of putters I work on: carbon and stainless steel. Stainless is more durable, as it will tolerate the elements a lot better that carbon. Carbon will rust over time because of the low nickel and chrome content. Some of the carbon putters that readers will be familiar with are the early Scotty Cameron's like the 'Art of Putting' series or the 'Studio Design' series. The 'Pro Platinum' series is also carbon, but it's plated. The best advice is to keep the headcover on it and keep it dry. Another bit of advice is to keep it in your hands and not in the air -- meaning don't throw it!"

The key to Hissam's ability to bring that old putter back to life is all in the preparation.

"Sanding, polishing and buffing," he said. "You have to make the putter look worse during the process in order for it look better. The right equipment is essential. The polishers and buffers you get at the Home Depot or Lowes won't cut it. I use my friend's shop which has all the industrial sanders and polishers."

For some golfers, it isn't a stretch to say they treat their putter like a newborn. When it's shipped off to Hissam for restoration, he treats it the same.

"When I first talk to the owner, I set expectations up front," said Hissam, who doesn't take payment until a customer is happy with the finished product. "For example, if there are really bad dings in the face, then we may not be able to save the milling. I share that with the owner. But, I can re-mill the face as well for an additional charge. I let them know the timeframe that they should expect their putter completed. Sometimes, I'll send them photos of the work right after polishing when the putter is ready for black oxide or PVD. Next, I will send them photos of the putter when it's completely restored for their approval. I learned early on that it's all about customer service, communication and exceeding the customers expectations."

Hissam also restores wedges and iron sets.

Here's a look at some of Hissam's work, before and after:

The art of refinishing or restoring a putter
September 2, 2016 - 8:32am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Golf gear
ClubGlove/Callaway
The best season for golf -- the fall season -- is just around the corner. Here's a look at 12 items you'll want to put on your golf wish-list.

For a lot of us around the country, summer is winding down.

That means one thing: Prime golf season is just around the corner. Sure, you’ll still get those occasionally blistering hot days, but for the most part, the fall season is when everything is the most comfortable and the courses are in the best shape.

Chances are you’ve been playing golf for several months at this point and – if you’ve been doing it right – you’re probably playing your best golf.

Why not take a closer look at a bunch of items that could help you look your best, play your best and get around traveling with ease to that late-season golf getaway?

CLOTHING: 

Yoga Smoga: If you’re not familiar with Yoga Smoga, think “high-end workout clothes.” For the golfer, you might ask, “what does that have to do with me?” Well, Yoga Smoga recently released a “Golf Inspired” line of clothing that includes polo shirts, shorts and pants.

The polo shirts, known as the “Montauk,” utilizes Yoga Smoga’s newest proprietary fabric development, Sona Pique, with high-end functional details, a modern athletic fit and advanced bonded touches.

The polo shirts ($150) are incredibly light and there’s none of that undesired “sticking” during a round on a hot day at the course. It’s like wearing a polo that feels like you’re wearing nothing at all.

The pants (Newport, $185) and the shorts (Pentagon, $155) are both made from 4-way stretch D’OR 1024 fabric that allows for a full-range of motion with engineered recovery. They’re anti-microbial and sweat-wicking features make them the ultimate multipurpose pants and shorts.

The sweat-wicking on Yoga Smoga’s bottoms are key for a golfer. We’ve all been there, playing in the heat, wearing cotton or other materials, that put our undesirable sweat marks out there as visible as an electronic billboard in the middle of Times Square. That doesn’t happen with Yoga Smoga.

While the offerings look to be on the pricey side, just remember: You get what you pay for. The comfort and style are second to none and they’re going to last you a long time.

All of Yoga Smoga’s golf-inspired offerings can be worn on the golf course, in the clubhouse or for a night out on the town… or even to the gym.

For more information, visit www.yogasmoga.com.

18 Greens Apparel: Over the last couple of years, 18 Greens Apparel has become one of my favorite companies in the golf business.

Owner Doug Timmons – a PGA Professional – has created some of the sharpest tops and bottoms you’ll find roaming the fairways today. But, best of all, the comfort level is off the charts.

The shorts and pants from 18 Greens feature a casual fit with built-in casual water technology. The 4-way stretch material is water and wrinkle-resistant. The Heathered textured fabric is also a step away from your run of the mill slacks.

These are the lightest, thinnest pants ($75) and shorts ($65) I've ever worn. Timmons got the idea for the materials when he thought up a way to combine his love of boarder shorts with his passion for golf. Incidentally, your 18 Greens shorts -- with mesh inner lining on the pockets -- can also double up as boarder shorts if you want to go from the course to the ocean.

Timmons also recently released arguably the coolest golf belt ($39.50) on the market today recently with his "Aiming Fluid Belt." The buckle is so much more than just a buckle. It's also a 2.5 oz stainless steel flask with a custom holster that keeps it in place between swings... or swigs.

To check out all 18 Greens Apparel has to offer, check out www.18greens.com.

Southern Tide: This southern-prep style of clothing has been making waves in the golf world lately, as it’s worn by Wesley Bryan of Bryan Brothers golf trick-shot fame, who recently earned a performance promotion onto the PGA Tour for winning three times this season on the Web.com Tour.

Southern Tide’s T3 Collection, includes the Admiral Packable 1/4-zip Pullover ($99.50). It can literally be folded small enough to fit into your back pocket – perfect to bring along while spectating a golf tournament, or for a round in the fall when there might be just a little chill in the air.

The Technical Club shorts ($87.50) feature a quick-dry fabric and hint of stretch keep you comfortable all day. The material is paper thin and light as a feather.

Southern Tide’s Driver Stripe Performance Polo shirts ($85) don’t just look good, but also add some great benefits thanks to the fabrics used. With UV protection, moisture-wicking technology and open sleeves, this polo is made from soft jersey fabric that feels fantastic.

For more information, visit www.southerntide.com.

Bradley Allan: A newcomer to golf apparel, Bradley Allan is making a splash with polos, sweaters and pullovers, pants, shorts and accessories.

For the purpose of this review, we tried out the Pilot Polo ($79) made from Pima cotton/Polyester. The color ways offered on the polos are refined, which give them sophistication – it’s all class, you’re not going to get anything loud with Bradley Allan.

The tailored fit allows you to look just as good with the polo tucked or untucked (perfect to wear with your favorite dress pants, shorts, or even jeans). If you decide to get one for yourself, I recommend ordering one size up because of the tailored fit.

To check out all of Bradley Allan’s apparel, visit www.bradley-allan.com.

EQUIPMENT:

Callaway Apex Irons Black: These, quite arguably, could be the sharpest-looking set of irons ever made.

Callaway took its wildly popular Apex irons and simply made up a black set that looks tremendous at address with the black-white contrast from club to golf ball.

It’s not all about the looks with these irons, however. Using its industry-leading, category-defining 360 Face Cup technology, Callaway gives the player exceptional, consistent ball speed across the face and playability in a forged players iron.

The Satin Black PVD finish turns heads. You can get more personal with your iron set, selecting from a long list of premium shaft and grip options at no upcharge.

And we’ve added a sleek all black look with a Satin Black PVD finish and premium shaft options, with a vast no upcharge list to customize your set.

Thanks to the black finish, these Apex irons from Callaway ($1,299, steel) are the most distinctive looking I’ve ever seen. They look great, they feel great and they’re wonderfully forgiving for a player’s iron with such a small cavity.

For more information, visit www.callawaygolf.com.

TaylorMade TPX golf balls: Golfers want two things when it comes to a golf ball -- maximum distance and maximum control. No big deal, right? Well, it's not quite that easy. The golf ball -- not everyone realizes -- is the single most important piece of equipment you use on the course. It's pretty simple to understand why when you think about it: It's the only piece of equipment you use for each and every shot.

TaylorMade has delivered in a big way with its new Tour Preferred X golf ball ($47.99/dozen). The cast urethane cover on the X is now slightly thicker for more greenside control, and the ball's five-layer construction delivers lower spin with the driver and irons. With a compression of 87, players can expect a ball that feels firmer than the Tour Preferred, and they can also expect less spin and lower launch conditions on full iron shots with the X compared to its stable mate.

Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia all have the ball in play on the PGA Tour.

The Tour Preferred X does everything it advertises. Your going to get your distance without sacrificing that all-important feel around the greens.

For more information, visit www.taylormadegolf.com.

LUGGAGE/GADGETS/ACCESSORIES/FITNESS:

Club Glove TRS Ballistic: If you spend a good amount of time on the road traveling for work – and hopefully sneaking in some golf along the way – you know how important it is to have some quality luggage.

When it comes to quality luggage, especially in the golf world, it doesn’t get any better than Club Glove’s TRS Ballistic line ($2,248.00 for a three-piece ensemble). The TRS Ballistic luggage debuted in 2011, but underwent a big-time upgrade for 2016.

“We wanted to come up with a more traditional style luggage that would be able to withstand the rigors of travelling on the PGA Tour,” said Club Glove President, Jeff Herold. “Our original duffels, though incredibly well built, with an almost military style were wonderful for our exclusive niche of clients; however, we needed to come up with something that appeared a little more mainstream in terms of style and appeal to the frequent traveler.”

Club Glove’s Train Reaction System allows travelers to connect their rolling luggage with straps in a perfectly balanced train, providing an effortless and almost weightless movement around airports and cities.

"The reason I went with more traditional structured luggage is that because people were asking," Herold told PGA.com. "I got into the design world there. I design everything. I pencil drew it out and made prototypes. It's been refined to what you see now. We were the first ever to create the Train Reaction System. It balances and rolls all your pieces together at a 45-degree angle. Now we have adjustable straps, so you can tighten or loosen the connecting strap and it allows one to raise or lower the retractable angle for your height."

One of my favorite features of the luggage is the positioning of its zipper for the main compartment. Traditionally, you find the zippers for luggage either right down the middle or on the far edges. With the TRS Ballistic luggage, the zippers are almost “indented” into a looped shape, which means no more having to stuff items in and pushing down with all your might to zip the bag shut.

Each piece also includes packing modules for nearly wrinkle-free clothing organization, which also save space.

"PGA Tour players are all trending toward the TRS Ballistic and the more traditionally structured luggage, it caught on immediately," Herold said. "We have a list of names on the site -- everyone from Rory McIlroy to Bubba Watson -- that use our gear. We had all four major winners and all Olympic medal winners use our new TRS Ballistic this year. We're the heavyweight champions of luggage.

"It's a unique category, the travel side of golf. It's one of the only pieces in the game handled by more people than the actual user. We've gotten really good at handling and creating products that can take a beating." 

Visit www.clubglove.com for more information.

Bushnell Neo iON: Remember years ago when golf GPS devices started popping up and how they were pretty much the coolest thing in the world?

What wasn’t cool, however, were two things in particular: They were expensive and pretty much ALL they did was give yardages (you couldn’t use it for a watch off the course, etc.); Also, you usually had to pay for a yearly subscription (also not cheap).

Thankfully, technology has gotten better and that has benefitted the golfer in a big way both in cost and practicality.

Enter the NEO iON ($199) from Bushnell – a company that has long set the standard in golf measuring devices. The NEO iON is a wearable offering that comes preloaded with 35,000+ courses in 30 countries around the world. You can actually play three full rounds between charges too.

On the course, the NEO iON will give you yardages to the front, middle and back of the green, as well as distances to hazards and layup yardages.

If you’re walking the course, there’s even a built-in pedometer so you can track your steps.

Set the device to golf mode five minutes before your tee time and the NEO iON will automatically recognize the course you’re at, which makes it simple to use.

Another cool feature that I tested was the NEO iON’s “Tee Time” mode. You can actually plug in your tee time up to seven days in advance. Once you’re at the course that day, the device will automatically flip into golf mode seven minutes before your scheduled tee time.

Off the course, which is a huge value-add, the NEO iON can also serve as your everyday watch, displaying time, day of the week and day of the month.

The perfect accessory for when you’re sneaking out of the office for an emergency nine with its Inspector Gadget-like features.

To learn more, visit www.bushnellgolf.com.

TRX FOR GOLF BUNDLE: If you take your game seriously – or you’re really about fitness – TRX is something you should really consider.

It’s basically a full gym, full-body workout that you can take anywhere.

The Rip Trainer (which includes a workout guide) is for those looking to strengthen the core. With its resistance cord system, the Rip Trainer allows you to develop core strength, explosive power, flexibility and endurance -- all important to get the most out of your game.

The TRX Pro Suspension Training Kit ($249.95) includes a suspension anchor, door anchor, Xtender, mesh carry back, wrench and pro wristband. The entire kit can be set up virtually anywhere. And, free on the TRX website, you can look through hundreds of exercises to try with your kit.

The greatest aspect of the TRX is its portability. You can take it anywhere – even pack it in with your luggage if you’re headed out for a business trip since it takes very little space.

With the TRX, you don’t need to find the time to make a trip to the gym anymore.

For more information, find TRX online at www.trxtraining.com.

T.I.N. Box Partners: I’ve said many times in this space that one of my favorite aspects of the golf industry these days are the products available to the public that make you feel like you’re getting the experience that seemed to be reserved for touring professionals for so many years.

That description fits “T.I.N. Box Partners” to a T.

Specializing in customizable yardage-book covers, T.I.N. Box Partners can create an exceptional accessory for you, or make for an amazing gift for the golfer in your life.

Not all of us use yardage books, but this product can also make for the ultimate scorecard holder.

T.I.N. Box Partners are creating the official yardage book covers for Ryder Cup USA this year – and you can purchase that very cover. Or, if you want to get personal, you can choose from thousands of designs to be sewn onto the cover that bring out your personality, you can use initials, your name – pretty much whatever you can imagine, they can create.

The inside of the yardage book cover is no exception. Words of wisdom, names of loved ones, etc., can be etched into the high-grade leather.

T.I.N. Box Partners’ customer service is second to none. They walk the customer through every step of the process, routinely sending sample proofs of your desired design to insure that it is perfect when it arrives at your doorstep. The only thing that will surprise you when it arrives is the fact that the quality is even higher in hand than what you see on the website.

From start to finish, your yardage book cover will take approximately 30-40 days. Again – this is an unbelievable gift for the golfer in your life.

T.I.N. Box Partners yardage book covers start at $49 and go up from there based on levels of customization.

For more information, visit www.tinboxpartners.com.

Waterfield Bolt Backpack: As someone who travels, I’m always in search of the perfect bag to store my laptop, iPad, camera and other stuff. I take all of those electronics with me even if I’m going on a golf trip.

The reason? I love taking photos on special courses I get to play. I think I took about 1,200 total on a trip to Bandon Dunes a couple of years back. Even more fun than taking the photos is settling down at the end of the day before bed and looking through them on the laptop or iPad.

Well, it’s taken years, but I think I may have just discovered the perfect bag for all this and more in the Bolt Backpack from Waterfield ($329).

Made from a durable waxed canvas material with premium full-grain leather accents, the Bolt gets better -- character -- with age. It features two padded compartments -- one for a laptop, one for tablet -- both easily accessible through a separate waterproof zipper for easy access at airport security. There's an additional waterproof zipper to access main compartment contents. There are also two open-topped, interior hand pockets for storing chargers, cords, pens, etc.; Two exterior side pockets for water bottle or other quick-access items; a front zippered pocket with rain-guard flap for stashing sensitive documents; Two additional front pockets with leather tabs and magnetic closures; an anti-sweat mesh cushion also slides over rolling suitcase handle for breezing through airports; the ergonomically-designed straps distribute weight evenly; and the thick, leather bottom boot provides structure and enhances water-resistance and longevity.

There's also plenty of room within the bag for a pair of shoes and an extra outfit should you need it (maybe some golf clothes and shoes to slip in upon arrival so you can change on the fly to the course?).

On a recent 2-day trip to New York City, this was the only bag I packed for clothes and electronics. It made getting around so much easier.

You can learn more about all Waterfield has to offer at www.sfbags.com.

Orbitkey: Maybe this isn’t a big deal to a lot of people, but it’s a big deal to me. When I’m out on the golf course, there are a few items I keep in a valuables pouch that’s easily accessible in my golf bag. Those items are typically my watch, cell phone, wallet and keys.

The keys, my friends, are the biggest pain in the you know what to keep in there. Over the course of the round, they naturally move around. They scratch up my phone, put nasty scratches on my wallet and – basically – get in the way of my wallet when I’m trying to grab it to pay for a drink or snack on the course.

A few weeks ago, however, I stumbled upon a company called “Orbitkey” which changed all of that. Rather than having all your keys on a keychain dangling around everywhere, Orbitkey created a slim loop – available in leather or rubber – that houses up to seven keys, stacking them.

When you need one of the keys, you then open the Orbitkey similar to the way a Swiss Army knife works. You open the key you need while all the other’s stay in place.

What makes the Orbitkey even cooler is that it offers a couple of well-thought-out accessories that will prove to be very helpful – a bottle opener and a USB drive.

Now instead of all those keys messing up my valuables pouch and the valuables in it, I have everything I need packaged in something that’s roughly the size of a stick of lip-gloss.

Leather Orbitkey’s are available for $39.95 and the rubber version sells for $29.95. Both are available in a variety of colors.

Visit www.orbitkey.com for more information. 

12 items you’ll want to try for the Fall golf season
PGA Fashion and Demo Experience
PGA of America
Wednesday was the final day of the 2016 PGA Fashion and Demo Experience

By John Asay
Special to PGA.com

It was a busy final day on the 2016 PGA Fashion & Demo Experience trade show floor Wednesday, as PGA professionals were wrapping up business with the over 250 vendors in attendance.

Starting with the Demo Day at Cascata on Monday and the Golf Fashion Show Tuesday at The Venetian, things were hopping. PGA professionals and industry leaders were able to view the latest in new equipment, technology, training aids, fashion and accessories.

Since the show is targeted toward PGA professionals, there’s a lot of behind the scenes vendors that contribute to making your golf experience outstanding.

Sometimes your first impression of a golf course is in the pro shop. If you're wowed, there's a good chance it's because of a company called ProCraft Heritage Creations. Their expertise is in designing and building the finest golf shops in the world. From start to finish, every section is designed to honor the game of golf. They boast of a 39 percent increase in sales after a remodel and their notable clients include Pinehurst, Pebble Beach Golf links, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and Oakmont Country Club.

Golf courses has a lot of accessories and supplies that are needed on the course. Flags and flagsticks, course signage, club and ball washers, tee markers, hole cutters, driving range yardage markers, bag drop off racks, tee signs with yardage, ropes and stakes and even the dreaded OB markers. You might be curious, range balls are $4.95 per dozen, 2 1/4 inch wooden tees are $10 per 500. Easy Picker Golf Products can supply most everything you need to equip your course.

RELATED: Complete PGA Fashion and Demo Show coverage

PGA professionals are always looking for a way to be more profitable. Night Eagle Golf may have the answers. Their aim is to extend the golf game into the evening with a memorable golf event. They have a complete lineup of LED lit golf balls, tee box markers, hole markers, pitch and putt flags and wrist bands.

Dormie Workshop provides hand-crafted, genuine leather, totally customizable headcovers. Conceived by PGA Canada members and brothers Jeff and Todd Bishop, these headcovers shout class. Design anything you like in any colors and the brothers Todd will create it.

Varick promises the next generation of golf balls. This unique ball features a fancy design in both metallic or bright colors. They had their ball tested and compared to Titleist ProV1x and Srixon, and came out favorable compared to these two popular brands. As they say, “You can have all the bling with no compromises in performance.”

Another product I had never seen was made by SlideBelts. Inspired by an ancient accessory, there are no holes in the belt, instead a plastic strip, think electrical tie, guaranteeing a perfect fit every time. Secured by a ratchet buckle, these belts won’t pull your belt hole like regular belts. Since the buckles and belts are interchangeable, there will always be a color to match your golf shirt.

There's always room for a novelty item. FootWedgePro’s wedge 58 degrees and the toe resembles the toes on your foot with the grooved flat big toe that serves as a putter. Don’t forget the bottle opener on the bottom of the club. Company Motto, “Putt your best foot forward.” 

PGA Fashion and Demo Experience: Products you should know from Wednesday
<div class="breadcrumb"><a href="/home">Home</a> » Equipment</div>