July 15, 2013 - 10:43pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Hammacher-Schlemmer hovercraft golf cart
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,
"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
July 9, 2013 - 12:33am
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
TaylorMade SLDR driver
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The SLDR driver from TaylorMade gets its name from the sliding weight on the sole.

The new product introductions, or at least sneak peeks, continue their relentless pace this week as TaylorMade shows off its latest creation. At the John Deere Classic and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, the company is giving its staff players their first look at a brand-new driver known as the SLDR (''slider.'')

The club, as you can see in the photos, gets its name from the sliding weight on the sole. Golfers can slide the weight along a rail to easily create the specific draw or fade bias they desire. Recent TaylorMade drivers like the R1 are adjusted by using a wrench to screw weight ports in and out of the head.

One area in which the SLDR is similar to some of its TaylorMade kin such as the RBZ Stage 2 is its adjustable hosel, which golfers can use to select their loft. 

Another thing that stands out on first look is that the SLDR also features a black crown. TaylorMade, of course, recently came out with a black-crowned R1 driver after making nothing but white-headed models for the last couple of years. There's no indication yet as to whether a white-crowned SLDR might be in the works as well.

In any case, the initial reaction to the new driver is quite positive. Boo Weekley tweeted that ''it's awesome,'' while Lucas Glover described it as ''#sillygood.'' And TaylorMade's Dave Cordero said the company brought 20 SLDR heads to the John Deere Classic on Monday, and they were all spoken for by day's end.


TaylorMade unveils SLDR driver that adjusts easily
July 8, 2013 - 8:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Ian Poulter at the 2012 Ryder Cup
Getty Images
The Odyssey White Hot XG #7 putter that Ian Poulter used to such great effect at the 2012 Ryder Cup is headed for Poulter's trophy case.

It's the end of an era – Ian Poulter is retiring the putter he used to fuel Europe's shocking comeback victory against the United States at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

''I am sacking my putter, I will use a new putter at the Open,'' Poulter tweeted on Sunday about the Odyssey White Hot XG #7 that he says ''needs a rest in my trophy cabinet.''

Poulter stressed that it's not the putter's fault that he's underperformed this season – he's yet to win on the PGA Tour, has two top-10 finishes and is 87th in the FedExCup points.

''I'm not blaming the putter, I'm saying I want to use a new one,'' he explained on Twitter. ''Every time I change, I've had big success with a new look. Just some times you just need to look down on something new.''

As every golf fan in America most likely remembers all too well, Europe was looking down and out on Saturday afternoon at Medinah before Poulter and Rory McIlroy rallied against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson in the afternoon four-balls to pull out an unlikely 1-hole victory on the 18th green. And though McIlroy made a crucial birdie on the 13th hole to begin the turnaround, Poulter transformed defeat into triumph by making birdie putts on each of the last five holes – including a 12-foot sidehiller on the final green to clinch a full point that would prove crucial.

That turnaround victory made the Saturday night score 10-6, and gave Europe just the glimmer of hope it needed to mount its record-setting Sunday rally. Poulter won his singles match on Sunday to go a team-leading 4-0-0 for the week as Europe pulled off the 14/5-13.5 shocker.

After announcing his decision, Poulter invited equipment companies to send him putters to try out, and apparently he's getting quite a response. It'll be very curious to see what he turns up with next week at Muirfield – and how long it stays in the bag.

Meanwhile, Steve Stricker expressed sentiments no doubt shared by Poulter's opponents at Medinah and American golf fans everywhere.

"I wish you would've put that putter in your trophy cabinet before last years ryder cup!," he tweeted to Poulter, adding the hashtag # madeeverything."


Ian Poulter retires Ryder Cup-winning putter
July 8, 2013 - 12:50pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade Justin Rose Ghost spider Blade putter
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The limited-edition replicas of Justin Rose's Ghost Spider Blade putter include Rose's personal logo on the bottom and a red and yellow grip up top.

To commemorate Justin Rose's victory at the U.S. Open last month, TaylorMade is selling 99 exact replicas of his Ghost Spider Blade putter. 

Each of these limited-edition models is built to Rose's specs – they're 37 5/8 inches long, equipped with a black Ghost Tour shaft and a red Tour Only Counterbalanced grip with a yellow top. Every head is numbered and stamped with Rose's personal ''JR'' logo.

There are only 99 of them, TaylorMade says, because 99 is the number on Rose's Lethal golf ball. That number is on his ball, Rose says, because 9 is his wife's favorite number, so he doubled it to make 99 for extra-good luck.

You can order your putter from TaylorMade now. They cost $299.99, and are expected to be available on July 16.

TaylorMade calls the Ghost Spider Blade, which became available at retail last month, the most stable blade-style putter it's ever made. That's partly due to its construction, in which the vast majority of the head weight is positioned in the heel and toe.

In addition, the Spider Blade's head is counterbalanced with a 130-gram grip that's twice as heavy as a typical putter grip. Counterbalancing increases the stability of the club, making it easier to keep the head moving on your intended swing path.

The Spider Blade is available in two lengths, 35 inches and 38 inches. To properly use the Spider Blade, TaylorMade says, you should grip the club with two or three inches of the butt-end of the grip extended above your hands to provide the maximum benefit of counterbalancing. Therefore, the company explains, if you normally use a 35-inch putter, you should use a 38-inch Spider Blade; if you normally go with a 33-inch putter, you should use a 35-inch Spider Blade.

The Spider Blade also features a PureRoll Surlyn insert for a soft feel and smooth roll, and has a white leading edge and linear alignment aid in the cavity to make aiming easy. It carries a suggested retail price of $199.99.


TaylorMade offers replicas of Justin Rose's U.S. Open-winning putter
July 5, 2013 - 4:40pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Titleist Scotty Cameron Futura X mallet
Courtesy of Titleist
The Futura X mallet from Scotty Cameron combines a rear balance bar with deep heel-toe weights plus perimeter weighting under the face for balance and stability throughout the stroke.

The Futura X mallet from Scotty Cameron is new, but if you think it looks a familiar, you're right. It's the putter Adam Scott used to win the Masters.

Scott called his Futura X prototype ''the most stable putter I have ever played,'' and that's exactly what Cameron was shooting for as he and Scott worked together to refine the design. 

Precision milled from high-grade 6061 aluminum, the Futura X combines a rear balance bar with deep heel-toe weights plus perimeter weighting under the face. The resulting deep Center of Gravity provides stability throughout the stroke, Cameron says, while the perimeter weighting adds forgiveness and feel.

The Futura X contains four stainless heel-toe weights, two 20-gram weights on the rear balance bar and two adjustable sole weights (configured depending on the length) in the front corners of the putter under the face. The total headweight is 20 grams heavier than a standard Cameron Select putter, but because much of the weight is located behind the axis of the shaft and not directly under the golfer's hands, says Cameron, the putter feels stable but not heavy during the stroke.

''Futura X is what I call a 'force balanced' design,'' Cameron said. ''While the putter has a near-face balanced shaft configuration that would normally produce a slight toe hang, there's so much weight off the back of the putter that it forces the face to hang flat. The rear balance bar allows us to add considerable weight a fairly long distance away from the shaft axis, which is really what drives the high MOI [Moment of Inertia, essentially a measurement of stability].''

The Futura X will come in standard lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches -- as opposed to Scott's long model. A double-bend, stepless steel shaft with one shaft of offset provides a square, technical visual at address. 

The putter has a Frozen Titanium finish that helps reduce glare, two black sightlines and red cherry-dot weights in the sole and balance bar. It carries a suggested detail price of $375, will be available at retail on Aug. 1.


Titleist introduces Scotty Cameron Futura X mallet
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