Equipment

April 28, 2017 - 8:00am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
miura
Miura Golf
Miura wedges are about as premium as premium can get. If you're looking to dial in your short game, these are wedges you should certainly consider.

One thing I try to do before the start of every new golf season is to get my clubs tuned up -- new grips, check the lies and lofts and shafts.

Like most golfers, I struggle enough with my game that I don't need the equipment bringing me down.

The importance of a proper fitting cannot be understated. Without one, golfers are cheating themselves. For anyone who doesn't think they're good enough for a fitting, the truth is you're not good enough to not have one. It's an investment in lower scores and, at the end of the day, isn't that what all avid golfers are after?

As we all know, the most important part of your game is from 100 yards and in. Along with my recent tune-up, I was also in the market for some new wedges, hoping that just the right ones, along with all my hard work around the greens, will lead to lower scores.

During the tune-up a few weeks back, I was interested in learning more about a golf company out of Japan called "Miura."

RELATED: Best new drivers for 2017 | Best new irons | Best new putters

Among golf club aficionados, clubs produced by Miura are considered to be about the best a player can get his or her hands on.

Just a little background -- master craftsman Katsuhiro Miura hand crafts each of his clubs, one-by-one with his two sons in a factory every day. They're not mass produced and a special forging technique yields incredible feel, which is what sets Miura apart.

These aren't just golf clubs, they're pieces of art.

Since "feel" is put at such a premium by Miura, I was most interested in the company's black, forged wedges, made out of carbon Japanese steel.

Tom Spargo, a Golf Digest top-100 clubfitter in the country and a top-10 worldwide club-builder by the Golf Clubmakers Association, owns Spargo Golf in Cranston, R.I., which is where I was able to look into the wedges.

When I asked Spargo about his own club set up -- someone who works with the best of the best on a daily basis -- he didn't miss a beat.

"Miura," he told me.

When someone like Spargo, who makes a living out of knowing the ins and outs of all kinds of equipment tells you what he has in his own bag, there's probably a good reason for it.

Appearance-wise, they're about the prettiest wedges I've ever seen and that's because of its simplicity. It's a straightforward, sleek design with no gimmicky features that looks beautiful at address. While looks aren't everything, there's no doubt that there's a level of confidence a golfer has when he or she has equipment that looks good to the eye at address.

I looked at several Miura wedge models in Spargo's shop and -- for me -- nothing compared looks-wise to the Miura Black Forged. There's just something about that black clubhead that took it over the top for me.

Before ordering the wedges -- a 52-degree gap, 56-degree sand and 60-degree lob ($263/per) -- I was dialed in for a proper shaft, which ended up behing a True Temper, Dynamic Golf, S400. That particular shaft came in a Tour Issue black steel, which was just so sharp against the wedge heads.

After a quick turnaround -- roughly a week -- for the heads to arrive and be built with the shafts, I took the new wedges out to the range and to a large short-game area at my local course.

The feel was soft with a lot of feedback on full swings -- just what you want. The good shots felt tremendous, while the off-center hits made me what to get right to work on hitting the next good shot.

Around the greens from distances inside 50 yards I was amazed at my ability to control shots even out of the rough and even produce spin from not-so-spinny lies and the feel was second to no wedge I've ever hit before.

What got me so excited about these wedges around the green was my ability to lower my hands, move the club forward or back in my stance, open the face and simply swing without worrying about the club doing it's thing. It glided through the grass perfectly.

I can't wait to see how this all translates over the course of an entire season.  

Miura wedges: Works of art with unrivaled feel
March 23, 2017 - 8:30am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Bushnell
Bushnell
The Bushnell Pro X2 Laser Rangefinder.

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 
Price:
$499.99
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 
Price:
$169.99
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 
Price:
$499.99
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 
Price:
$106
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.


Imperial Headwear 
Price:
Varies
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
Price:
$160
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
Price:
$31.99/doz.
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. 

New golf season product round up, part 1
January 30, 2017 - 3:14pm
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
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