Equipment

July 20, 2013 - 2:53pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Lee Westwood at the Open Championship
Getty Images
Lee Westwood, the Open Championship 54-hole leader, is one of many players with a 2-iron in his arsenal this week.

Because it's always played on links courses, the Open Championship prompts the players to make more club changes than any other event on the calendar.

Here's a quick overview of some of the club selections at Muirfield from Sports Marketing Surveys, the company that tallies the clubs in each player's bag at the start of every European Tour event. These stats are from the full field that teed off Thursday:

--Two players didn't even have a driver in their bag.

--Among the 156 players, there were 66 hybrids, 66 utility irons and 39 2-irons. 

--53 players didn't have a 3-iron. 

--There were 506 wedges – that figures out to 3.24 wedges per player.

--15 players were using a long or belly putter. 

This week is an anomaly because of the course conditions, but I wouldn't have expected to see the same number of utility irons as hybrid clubs, even though Ernie Els won the 2012 Open with three Callaway utility irons in his bag.

The popularity of these is utility irons shows that companies like Callaway, Titleist and, most recently, Ping were definitely onto something when they decided to create a new generation of utility irons. On the flip side, it's also interesting to see so many players going without a 3-iron on a course that requires so many low, penetrating shots.

 

Hybrids vs. utility irons at Open Championship
July 18, 2013 - 9:43am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Dustin Johnson
adidas Golf
Dustin Johnson at the adidas Golf, "Weather the Storm," event before the start of the Open Championship.
Before the start of the 142nd Open Championship at Muirfield, the folks at adidas Golf held an event called, "Weather the storm," where Dustin Johnson and Martin Laird faced a tough test at the North Berwick course in Scotland. 
 
The point of the event was to put the new adidas GORE-TEX outerwear to the test under the most difficult and brutal of conditions.
 
 
Here's the release from adidas Golf:
 
To kick off golf's The Open Championship at Muifield in Scotland, well-known for its variety of weather conditions, adidas Golf executed an all-weather event of Hollywood proportions. The event was in celebration of adidas Golf's new line of weather wear featuring GORE-TEX, and -- appropriately -- pitted golf stars Dustin Johnson and Martin Laird against the elements in a stormy closest-to-the-hole competition during what was actually a sunny Scottish evening.
 
adidas Golf utilized a high-tech weather machine to create weather elements to showcase the strength and versatility of their new GORE-TEX outerwear, and each player spun a wheel to determine what "weather" their counterparts would encounter. Laird kicked off the event as Johnson spun the wheel to determine what weather condition he received for his first shot; DJ purposely stopped it at ‘The Perfect Storm’. The duo continued to take turns for several rounds, until the last round was selected by the adidas Golf Facebook audience. Johnson weathered the storm in a sudden-death overtime and both Tour players walked away completely dry under their new adidas Golf GORE-TEX outwear.
 
A large crowd gathered to watch these two Tour Professionals fighting the toughest of weather conditions on a 225 yard shot, and a total of 5,000 pounds was donated to a local charity of choice in North Berwick. The full press release can be viewed below my signature.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
 
adidas Golf holds 'weather the storm' event in Scotland
July 16, 2013 - 7:19pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Odyssey White Damascus #1 putter
Ian Poulter via Twitter
Ian Poulter has chosen an Odyssey White Damascus #1 putter, which features an unusual face insert.

The great Ian Poulter putter audition is over – and the winner is an Odyssey White Damascus #1 blade.

''My putter is selected for the week,'' Poulter said on Twitter Tuesday from Scotland, where he is playing the British Open. ''It is an Odyssey White Damascus. Rolling it very nice. Testing over for now.''

Never heard of it? That's because it's not available in the United States, or many other places, at least not yet. 

Odyssey is showing it off in Japan this summer, and it apparently will be available at retail in Japan this fall. It's an Anser-style blade with an unsual face insert containing an inner urethane layer and an outer layer of Damascus steel for soft yet solid feel upon impact. 

Damascus steel is popular in Asia, and is created by melting materials such as iron and charcoal with steel pieces to create a metal that is hard yet also flexible. It has been used for 1,000 years or so from India to the Middle East to Japan to create long-bladed weapons with rare strength and eye-catching design patterns. As you can see, the sole of Poulter's putter has a cool-looking white sword.

The White Damascus blade is listed on www.rakuten.co.jp, a big Japanese online retailer, which says the putter comes in 33-, 34- and 35-inch models with a silver PVD finish. The price before tax is listed at 17,800 yen, which works out to about $180.

Poulter, of course announced last week that he was retiring his Odyssey White Hot XG #7 putter, the one with which he putted so well at the 2012 Ryder Cup. He solicited new putters to try out via social media, and received quite a few. 

Poulter also used Twitter to announce some other changes to his bag this week. He's carrying a Cobra AMP Cell 2-hybrid that he says carries 240 yards, along with a 3-iron and 4-iron instead of higher-lofted hybrids. He's also got new 56- and 62-degree Titleist Vokey wedges ''for extra spin.'' These newbies join his incumbent Cobra ZL Encore driver and Amp Cell 3-wood.

''A lot of you are thinking I've changed too many clubs. Every club in the bag I have used before. Even putter shape I've used before,'' he tweeted, adding the hashtag #Relax.

 

Ian Poulter picks a putter
Nike Hyperadapt Storm-FIT jacket
Courtesy of Nike Golf
The new Hyperadapt Storm-FIT Jacket from Nike Golf features an impenetrable outer layer for protection combined with the stretch capabilities of a sweater for increased range of motion.

With the world's best players convening at Muirfield this week, a lot of us have the British Open – and British Open weather – on our minds. 

That also includes Nike Golf, which is rolling out its new Hyperadapt Storm-FIT Jacket. This brand-new jacket features an impenetrable outer layer for protection, the company says, combined with the stretch capabilities of a sweater for increased range of motion.

Nike's designers worked closely with some of the company's staff players, including Paul Casey, who wore the jacket last month at the Irish Open, which he won during a week of sunshine, heavy downpours and winds gusting up to 35 mph. Casey and other Nike players are outfitted with the new jackets at Muirfield this week.

''Inspired by our athletes who demand the best in performance, our team set to work to create a jacket built to change the way golfers feel in unfavorable weather conditions,'' said Vice President of Global Golf Apparel Merritt Richardson. ''We are always working to minimize distractions. From reducing sound to enhancing stretch, the Hyperadapt Storm-FIT jacket is the ultimate in protection and performance.''

With no-sew technology throughout the garment's inner layer, designers minimized the potential for chafing. They also added a four-way stretch system to the shoulders and arms that maximizes mobility and eliminates restrictions during the swing. This woven, stretch knit laminate combination reduces noise during the swing and, the company says, provides a sweater-like feel for comfort and protection. 

''Often, athletes will add a size to their rain jackets because they don't want to feel restricted by the fabric,'' said Richardson. ''This leads to a distracting, oversized jacket that is not optimal for competitive play. The Hyperadapt jacket eliminates this issue by providing athletes the protection they need without sacrificing the performance benefits of a stretch pullover.''

Outiffted with adjustable cuffs, the new Hyperadapt jacket is breathable and, Nike says, seam-sealed for 100 percent waterproof protection.

It is available at retail now. Half Zip versions retail for $240, and come in Black, Cool Grey and Game Royal. The Full Zip models retail for $280 and come in Black, Cool Grey, Game Royal and Armory Slate.

 

 

Nike Golf Hyperadapt Storm-FIT Jacket heightens flexibility and protection
July 15, 2013 - 10:43pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Hammacher-Schlemmer hovercraft golf cart
Hammacher-Schlemmer
The hovercraft golf cart is perfect for anyone in search of a head-turning way to levitate around the links.

Jammed in my usual stack of junk mail today was a catalog from gadgeteer extraordinaire Hammacher Schlemmer. And on the cover – a golf cart hovercraft.

Yes, a golf cart hovercraft like the one Bubba Watson zooms around in on YouTube, and the ones soon to be available for rent at Windy Knoll Golf Club in Ohio – one that you can buy for your own self.

''This is the golf cart that glides over sand traps and water hazards on a cushion of air as easily as it does over fairways and the rough,'' the Hammacher Schlemmer website says. ''Powered by a 65-hp twin-cylinder Hirth engine, its nine-blade axial-flow ducted fan propels the craft up to 45 mph and 9" off the ground without harming grass, allowing immediate crossing of a pond or stream to follow-up a cross-water shot. 

''The fan's streamlined design minimizes noise, speeds up an 18-hole outing, and conveys four passengers beneath a lift-up roof and two golf bags in an open rear compartment,'' it adds, though I'm not sure why they'd make one that could hold four people but only two bags.

Anyway, the site says the hovercraft's ''low-profile, aerodynamic design minimizes air drag to maximize stability in crosswinds while its innovative skirt system employs individually handmade segments to provide optimal anti-plow and -scoop performance. The craft's fiberglass composite and urethane foam composite hull meets United States Coast Guard standards for reliable hovering over water.''

The hovercraft weighs 600 pounds when sitting unloaded on the ground. And it retails for a mere $58,000 – pretty expensive for a golf cart, but a bargain for anyone in search of a head-turning way to levitate around the links, or anywhere else for that matter.

If you're interested, check it out here. But remember, I call shotgun.

 

Buy your own hovercraft golf cart
July 9, 2013 - 9:02am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Appalachian Leather Works, golf, yardage book
Appalachian Leather Works
Appalachian Leather Works is producing high-quality scorecard holders, yardage book covers and more.
Every now and again you come across a special golf accessory. It's one that every golfer could use, but not many have (unless you're playing at the Tour level).
 
Before we detail this accessory, take a few seconds to think about this question: How do you store your scorecard during a round of golf?
 
The answer to that question probably varies from one of the following: the steering wheel on a golf cart; the scorecard holder on a push-cart; the scorecard pocket in your golf bag; or, in my case, your back pocket.
 
There's no question that all of those are great options for storing your scorecard. But, if you're like me -- particularly when playing golf on those dog days of summer -- you might find that scorecard looking more like oatmeal by the end of a round. Maybe this is an issue that plagues only me, but I also find that I go through multiple pencils over the course of the round because they somehow fall out of my pocket.
 
So what's the solution?
 
A man by the name of Chris Ashley is glad we asked.
 
Ashley, a United States Air Force veteran, is the founder of a company called Appalachian Leather Works based in North Carolina. Appalachian Leather Works produces beautiful, high-quality yardage books, scorecard holders, head covers and cash covers made from a variety of materials, including leather, gator, ostrich and stingray. 
 
Obviously, not all recreational golfers take their game seriously enough to need a yardage book holder (those who are serious enough will love Ashley's offerings). But, everyone can use a scorecard holder, which easily fits your scorecard, has a pencil holder and is the perfect size to slip in and out of your back pocket with ease.
 
The best part about Appalachian Leather Works is that its great products won't break the bank. Prices range from as little as $42 to as much as $120 -- a small price to pay for a great accessory that will probably last you for life.
 
So how did it all get started?
 
"I have a collection of yardage books from courses I've played throughout the years, and I've always wanted to buy a yardage book cover to use while walking the course," Ashley said. "However, the ones I liked were really out of my price range. And then there are the cheapies that I wouldn't trust to even play 18 holes, so I thought, 'Hey, I'm a pretty creative guy. I'll just make one.' So I did. After I finished mine, I realized that people like two things: quality and at a fair price.
 
"I may also have a sick addiction to putters," Ashley added. "I'm at the point that I can admit that today. So let's just say that I have a few putters and I wanted to make some quality putter covers made out of leather for them. After tinkering with that for a few weeks I had the design that I liked and so I began making putter covers for friends and family to try out. After rave reviews we started the site and it has grown from there."
 
Appalachian Leather Works officially opened for business in February 2013. 
 
"It seems like it was so long ago since it began," admits Ashley. "A lot has been improved upon and new products added as we believe that a golfer somewhere may want it. We have always strived to be one of the most customizable golf accessories companies out there. With all of our options offered online, we have taken several custom orders for jobs for things that range from embroidery for golf events or business outings to custom stamping on the new executive line of leather products."
 
Even with customization, the turnaround time for products produced by Appalachian Leather Works is incredibly impressive -- just about 10 business days for yardage books, scorecard holders and cash covers and about 10-14 days for putter and wood covers.
 
"Everything is made by hand," Ashley said. "For yardage book covers, cash covers and scorecard holders, we hand-cut each piece of quality Hermann Oak leather, then dye each piece of leather by hand. After it dries, we assemble the item by hand, punch the holes, and hand-stitch. The stitching is where the most time is spent, but it is the most important in the piece's durability. Each piece is finished with a burnished edge and then applied with Aussie leather conditioner to help seal out moisture for hot days on the course. These pieces take anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete."
 
Attention to detail is what truly makes Appalachian Leather Works so special. Ashley, you could say, is well-versed in attention to detail -- while in the Air Force (and also a Firefighter/EMT in Tucson, Ariz.), he was on the Air Force Shooting team where he won the 2005 Armed Forces Skeet Shooting Championship. 
 
Now, Ashley resides in North Carolina with his wife, Jill, and two boys, Brett and Grant. Ashley is balancing the growth of Appalachian Leather Works while also studying Economics and Mathematics at Appalachian State University.
 
"Jill is a Registered Nurse and wonderful wife for letting me have my addiction to golf," said Ashley. 
 
For now, Ashley's work is available through his website, www.appleatherworks.com.
 
"We do have future plans to expand our yardage book covers and scorecard holders into golf courses," he said. "We are working on including new designs and more options in both our putter covers and wood covers. The future changes for the putter covers will include options for leather stripes instead of the current ribbon or even genuine gator stripes as an option. We also take custom orders of many types; all someone has to do is email us (through the website) and we will do our best to bring their idea to life."
 
If you're looking for a fantastic, high-quality accessory that any golfer in your life -- including you -- can use for years to come, Appalachian Leather Works has just what you're looking for... even if you didn't know it until now.
 
You can also check out Appalachian Leather Works on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, @AppLeatherWorks.
 
You can follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
 
 
Appalachian Leather Works: Great accessories every golfer could use
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