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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

TaylorMade Burner SuperFast vs. TaylorMade R9 SuperTri

                    Burner SuperFast              R9 SuperTri

When you first pick up the TaylorMade Burner SuperFast driver you immediately notice that it is extremely light. So light, in fact, that it is 14 grams lighter than the TaylorMade Burner 2009 driver. Now, 14 grams is not very much, .03125 lbs actually, but when you compare this to other drivers the difference is astounding! With this difference in weight comes more speed in your swing, which equals longer distance on your drives. Not only is the club lighter, it is more aerodynamic as well. Take a look at the picture and you can see the cone shaped head which helps increase your club head speed by reducing drag throughout the different phases of your swing. These two changes help increase your swing speed without added effort.

Ok, enough about all of the technical mumbo-jumbo, let’s get down to brass tacks here. How did the club hit? Amazing! All of the time that the TaylorMade engineers spent in designing one of the easiest clubs to swing has paid off. It feels like swinging a feather; a feather that was rocketing my golf ball down the range!

My biggest concern was accuracy with the TaylorMade Burner SuperFast driver. I was worried that all of this new swing speed would result in my ball being a rocket without a guidance chip; out of control. It was actually the complete opposite. Now, you must remember that I am nowhere near being a professional golfer (golf is my favorite hobby) but I sure felt like one. I was swinging very hard and the ball was going very straight. I felt like I needed a guy behind me yelling “GET IN THE HOLE!!” after the TaylorMade Burner SuperFast driver sent my golf ball into orbit.

But the best part about the TaylorMade Burner SuperFast is not only the increased swing speed, but the forgiveness the club gives you. The reason? The Burner SuperFast does not require a ton of spin on the ball to make it go further. So if you don’t get your wrists through in time or if you’re too early, there will not be excessive spin which causes slices and hooks. Thus, your miss-hits will not be as pronounced as they would have been.

Unfortunately for the TaylorMade Burner SuperFast, I was comparing it to the TaylorMade R9 SuperTri. I hit the Burner SuperFast first because I wanted to save the best for last. And to my surprise, I actually hit the Burner SuperFast the same as I hit the TaylorMade R9 SuperTri. The difference that you notice right away when you switch from the Burner SuperFast to the R9 SuperTri is, of course, the weight. I preferred the weight of the R9 SuperTri over the Burner SuperFast, but the adjustability of the Moveable Weight Technology (MWT) and the Flight Control Technology (FTC) are what make the club a little bit heavier. It is the first time that MWT and FTC have been incorporated in the same 460cc head. With these technologies, the TaylorMade R9 SuperTri superb adjustability and forgiveness.

When I hit the TaylorMade R9 SuperTri I was crushing the ball. I thought they were surpassing the Burner SuperFast drives, but they weren’t. I was actually hitting them about the same distance. The one drawback of hitting the SuperTri was the fact that I was more inaccurate than I was with the Burner SuperFast. This fact surprised me. Even after tinkering with all of the adjustments, I was still fairly erratic with the SuperTri. I think that if I were to spend a great deal of time with the SuperTri and get all of the config-changes where I need them to be I would be more accurate. But the fact is, when you are testing a club at the range, you don’t have that kind of time to adjust and re-adjust the weights.

So let’s get to the results…

Looks------------R9 SuperTri
Feel--------------Burner SuperFast
Shaft-------------Burner SuperFast
Accuracy---------Burner SuperFast
Forgiveness------Burner SuperFast
Sound------------R9 SuperTri
Config-Change---R9 SuperTri
Trajectory--------R9 SuperTri
Cost-------------Burner SuperFast

Winner----------TaylorMade Burner SuperFast

This was a close call for me. The sound and the config-change on the R9 SuperTri are unmatchable. They have a comparable distance, but I saw a few of the Burner SuperFast’s going past the R9’s on several occasions. The two deal breakers are the fact that I was drastically more accurate with the Burner SuperFast and the fact that the Burner SuperFast is much less expensive. Being a cost efficient golfer, which I will proudly say I am, I would choose the Burner SuperFast. But being a golf enthusiast and wanting the best driver I can find, I would still choose the Burner SuperFast.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Golf Equipment Review: Callaway’s 2010 Diablo Edge Hybrids

After reviewing the Callaway Diablo Edge Irons, I was so impressed with their tremendous playability that I decided to review the entire line up of 2010 Callaway Diablo Edge products; fairway woods, hybrids, and driver.

Hybrids are continuing to expand their popularity among all levels of golfers. Why? They are so much easier to hit than the long irons they replace. Because hybrids have much more body than even cavity back irons, the center of gravity can be moved low and deep in the club head. This results in a higher and more powerful ball flight than a conventional iron can produce; especially with lower swing speeds. Of course pros have the power and mechanics to hit 2 and 3 irons successfully, but even these top level golfers are increasingly switching to hybrids. If you haven’t experimented with hybrids, you are missing a huge opportunity to improve your game.

The Diablo Edge Hybrid uses Vertical CG Optimization to achieve the highest MOI of any Callaway steel hybrid that they’ve ever produced. By thinning the crown by 30%, Callaway has lowered the CG (center of gravity) to a position that most amateurs will benefit from; lower on the club face. This is especially important when the ball is on a tight-lie surface like the fairway. There is nothing worse than hitting a really nice drive that settles on the short grass, and then proceeding to blade your approach or layup shot because you just didn’t have the confidence (or right equipment) to go down after the shot aggressively. With the Callaway Diablo Edge Hybrid in hand, you should feel the self-assurance you need to play your best. From the beautiful look at set up, through the solid sound at impact, the Edge Hybrid is a joy to hit!

The Diablo Edge Hybrid has an offset hosel that makes squaring the face at impact much easier than it would be with a traditional design hybrid.

Callaway uses their Variable Face Thickness (VFT) Technology to ensure that all areas of the face are optimized. Now I’m not going to tell you that this guarantees great results from poor hits, but I am going to say that the consequences of miss-hits are minimized. The typical toe and heel shots that I still (unfortunately) regularly make, produced acceptable results; slightly less distance with better-than-I-deserved lines of flight. When striking a ball poorly, you can’t ask for much more than that.

Callaway Diablo Edge Hybrids:
3 Hybrid 21 degrees
4 Hybrid 24 degrees
5 Hybrid 27 degrees
6 Hybrid 30 degrees
Available with Light (A), Regular, and Stiff flexes.

Callaway Diablo Edge Tour Hybrids:
(The Tour model has less offset in the hosel which allows better players the ability to work the ball more easily)
2 Tour Hybrid 18 degrees
3 Tour Hybrid 21 degrees
4 Tour Hybrid 24 degrees
Available in Regular, Stiff and X-Stiff flexes

OK. Enough of the specifications. How did they perform when tested?

I preferred the Tour Hybrids because they felt a bit more solid, with a lower more boring ball-flight. Their sound was a little lower pitch which I happen to prefer; very small differences I admit.

Shot after shot, the 3 and 4 Tour Hybrids performed magnificently! The contact felt solidly powerful and the 210 yard practice green suddenly looked a whole lot closer. Confidence building results! Just what I want in any club.

The distance-gap between clubs was precise which leads me to consider adding a 5 hybrid to fill the void between my 5 iron and my Diablo Edge Tour 4 Hybrid. For those who struggle with long and mid-long iron play, a full set (3, 4, 5, & 6) of Diablo Edge Hybrids would, without a doubt, be an incredible boost to the enjoyment level of your golf game.

You can’t go wrong with either model of Callaway hybrid. Just choose which one fits what you are trying to accomplish with your game; Choose the Diablo Edge Hybrid if you want maximum playability and forgiveness , or try the Diablo Edge Tour Hybrid if your main goal is workability and long, powerful, piercing ball-flight. Both worlds sound pretty good don’t they?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Want to Cure Your Slice? Don’t Just Apply a Golf Band-Aid, Change Your Swing Path

Are you among the majority of golfers who struggle with slicing? Don’t just adjust your aim to play your slice, eliminate it.

There are numerous fixes we could explore, but we will focus on the Back-Foot-Back Drill because it is highly effective. If this drill straightens your shot, you won’t have to search any further or purchase new equipment. Just shoot straighter and score lower!

Here’s what you do: Take a 7-iron and address the ball with a narrower-than-usual stance. Take your back foot and shift it directly backward so that it is 12 inches behind your front foot. You may feel awkward at first, but take a normal swing while focusing on an inside-to-outside swing path. Make sure you release your arms through impact to promote a squaring of the clubface.

There are several potential reasons for slicing the ball; poor grip, improper alignment, wrong shaft flex, or outside-to-inside swing path. The Back-Foot-Back Drill makes it virtually impossible to cut across the ball from the outside. It is an exaggerated position that lets you feel how an inside-to-outside swing path feels. If you perform this drill regularly, you can ingrain the inside-to-outside path that eliminates slicing and enables you to hit straight shots or even draw the ball if desired. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Golf Equipment Review: Callaway’s 2010 Diablo Edge Irons

I feel compelled to write a review on the 2010 Callaway Diablo Edge Irons. Why? They have revitalized my game to the point that I can’t wait for my next round! I can’t think of another golf equipment purchase that has excited me as much as these super-forgiving irons.

I have to admit that the first thing that drew me to the Diablo Edge irons was their looks; the angular/geometric cavity opening looks great, not overly gimmicky. The dark red color and slick logo work well, and the dulled chrome finish ties the whole look together. They are just plain good-looking! There’s nothing wrong with beauty as long as there is performance behind those good looks, right?

Well, after one test drive on the range, performance was no longer a concern. After a short warm-up, my first easy 9-iron shot flew higher than my normal trajectory and landed just short of the 150 yard marker. Now understand my normal 9-iron averages around 130 yards. And that’s with my game ball, not the range balls used in this Diablo Edge trial. I quickly checked the sole of the iron to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently grabbed an 8 or 7 iron. Sure enough; 9-iron it was. A dozen shots later and warmed-up, I was peppering the 150 yard marker with shot after shot while imagining the short birdie putts they would have followed had I been playing a round.

My next pleasant surprise was the consistency of performance right up through the 5-iron and then into the 4 and 3 hybrids that round out the standard set. After bouncing several 3-hybrids off of the 200 yard practice green, I made up my mind to own this super-game-improvement set.

Halfway through the first round with my new irons, I hit a horrible tee shot on a short par-3 with a large pond lurking in front of the green. The way the impact felt, I was sure I would be witnessing an ugly splash-down seconds later. To my surprise (and relief) the ball bounced twice and rested on the fringe! I couldn’t believe the results, especially after investigating the damning evidence on the tee; my divot was almost entirely inside the still-in-the-ground tee. I re-enacted the crime by placing the 8-iron back into the divot it had just created. To my amazement, it proved the ball was struck by only the slimmest margin of the club’s toe. I had used 1/10 of the club face and got 95% of my expected distance. Incredible!

What’s the technology behind the performance? Callaway studied amateur golfers and identified their tendency of striking the ball lower on the club face than low-handicappers who are more adept at aggressively attacking and pinching the ball with a steeper angle of attack. So, they lowered the center of gravity and resulting sweet-spot to the area of the face that mid and high-handicappers use; the lower third. The sole shape is also designed to lessen the effects of both thin and heavy shots.

The lofts are stronger than average irons which produces longer shots. But long isn’t the only goal, accuracy and high trajectory also help approach shots hold the green. Compare the following lofts to your current or prospective iron sets:
·         3 iron 19 degrees
·         4 iron 22 degrees
·         5 iron 25 degrees
·         6 iron 28 degrees
·         7 iron 32 degrees
·         8 iron 36 degrees
·         9 iron 40 degrees
·         PW 44 degrees
·         SW 54 degrees
·         LW 59 degrees

3 hybrid 21 degrees
·         4 hybrid 24 degrees
·         5 hybrid 27 degrees
·         6 hybrid 30 degrees

The Callaway Diablo Edge irons are available in steel shafts and graphite shafts. The all-irons steel shafted set is $599.99. The six irons and two hybrids set goes for $699.99 with steel shafts and $799.99 with graphite.

These irons are classified as super-game-improvement, meaning maximum help for us amateurs that need it. But low-handicappers should also give these powerful and ultra-forgiving irons a try. If they can get past the classification, they just might find that they too will shave strokes, and really, that’s what it’s all about.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Putting Tip: Think Distance and Speed Control on Longer Putts

Let’s simplify putting into three basic elements; line,speed, and equipment (Let's leave putters out of the equation for now, and focus on line and speed). Golfers tend to concentrate on line more than distance, especially on breaking putts. But, does it make sense to practice that way? Read on and consider a different way of prioritizing your focus.

Did you know that professional golfers make no more than 50% of their 6 footers? If it seems like they make a lot more than that, it’s probably because the golfers we watch on TV are generally the ones on or near the leader board and are therefore the players who are hot that week. If you average in the entire field, you would see about half of their 6 foot putts missed. So, if you are practicing longer putts, do so with the intention of improving your distance control, not just making them. If you are expecting to roll in a high percentage of 16 footers, you will only dent your confidence. That doesn’t help anything. Instead, try the putting drill below and build your technique, touch and confidence.

Here's what to do; place 4 tees in the green in increments of 8 feet. Putt from one location to each of the tees. Putt one ball to 8’, the next to 16’, another to 24’, and finally one to 32’. Putt one ball only to each tee. This duplicates real golf more effectively; we rarely get two putts of the same distance one after the other. Next, repeat the sequence in reverse; putt to 24’, 16’, then to 8’. Or, mix it up. Just make sure each putt is a different distance. You will soon get a feel for the take-away distance required for each putt length.

The longer the putt, the more you should focus on distance control. Let’s face it, the odds of making a 40+ foot putt are slim. Long putts that are a fraction of a degree off-line will not threaten the hole. So, even though direction is important, there is more potential variance in distance. How many times have you putted too long or too short by 6 feet or more? That’s the stuff 3-putts are made of. Work on distance/speed control and significantly reduce those round-ruiners!

Monday, April 5, 2010

I want my Tiger back

Looking back on these last few months of Tiger’s self-inflicted humiliation, I am struck at how completely transformed his image has become. Many celebrities have their reputations tarnished through their own failings, but few downward spirals have started from the height of Tiger’s. And few scandals have been so utterly comprehensive; Tiger’s lack of moral judgment has been sliced, diced, and pureed. There seems to be nothing new to dissect, until that is, the newest mistress appears as if scheduled.
Truthfully, I’m bored with the drama. My interest lies in a different place. I find my mind wandering back a decade or so, and a lot closer to home than Tiger’s clinic or Augusta.

I’m not real big on celebrities-as-role-models. In fact, I am generally anti-celebrities-as-role-models. They are just humans, and humans have frailties and worse. But, Tiger seemed different. A solid upbringing with an extremely disciplined dad who groomed Tiger with military precision. It was the perfect example of immense talent, combined with an ideal environment, combined with an off-the-chart work ethic; the perfect storm for any endeavor, the perfect example of how to achieve one’s very best. An example I confidently espoused at my own dinner table with my own child.

My daughter showed promise as a junior golfer. She picked up a little junior club at 4 years old a smacked the ball high in the air and seemingly too far for a little girl. We started knocking it around in the backyard and at ranges and she just got better and better. Soon she was on the course, refusing to hit from the “girls” tees. As a pre-teen she started getting lessons from local professionals. At the same time, Tiger was wowing the world; in 2002 he was winning his second Masters in two years (the youngest golfer in history to win 7 majors), my daughter was 11. She was excited about Tiger and loosely followed him like young kids do. I bought her Tiger’s large instructional book, “How I Play Golf.” I read the lessons, she looked at the pictures, we were both happy with “our Tiger.” Talent, resources, hard work were the unbeatable formula.

None of these three factors has changed with Tiger (that we know of), but the role model thing has been damaged more than anyone could have imagined pre-SUV crash. What do I say to my daughter now? At 19 she already knows the world has its ugly side and celebrities are more often infamous than famous. Of course I’ve known this for a very long time, but this one bothers me in a place I can’t quite reach.

Tiger was the kid who did it right and got rewarded beyond our imagination. His was a dad’s ideal example of the ideal athlete.

Now, selfishly, I want that example back. I want to be able to lean on the virtues I preached to my daughter; talent, resources, hard work. I want to be able to use an actual human as the example. I want to root for historical performances without having to add morality clauses. I want this for the golf memories my daughter and I shared. I want my Tiger back, or at least what he once stood for.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Golf Fuel

As golfers, we’re always trying to improve and find an edge; something that leads to shaving a stroke here or a stroke there. So we work on our various tools of the trade; our swing technique, our course management strategy, our flexibility, and of course, our golf equipment. But, how about nutrition? Since golf is not a running sport, it’s easy to underestimate the demands it places on your body.

Golf takes a lot longer to play than just about any other sport. Even marathon runners are on their third celebratory beer by the time we’re done with 18 holes.

Golf has not only the physical demands of walking and swinging, but also thinking. Even though the brain weighs roughly 2% of your body weight, it uses about 25% of the body’s glycogen supply. So without fuel, you are weaker, less coordinated, and you don’t think as well as the game requires.

Ever notice the frequency of late round blow-up holes? Now, to be fair, those could come from the notorious thought process of, “All I have to do is par the last three holes and I’ll have my lowest round ever!” But chances are your late round blow-up has a lot to do with your muscles and brain running on empty.

The goal is to keep your blood sugar level as steady as possible. You’ll want to eat quality food/fuel every 2 hours. So, you’ll want to eat at the beginning of each round; either on the way to the course or no later than the second or third hole. Make a commitment to eat something of substance every 4 to 5 holes after that.

What to eat? Think quality not quantity. What you need to do is power-snack. Heavy, fatty, or extremely sugary snacks are not good. Stick with fruit, nuts (almonds are my favorite), nutrition bars and lots of water; dehydration is also a very important concern, especially in warmer weather. Drink at least four 16 oz. bottles of water per round. More if you’re sweating.

Now you’re eating like golf is the physically demanding sport that it is.

Last word: Don’t forget that golf is a mental game to a very high degree. So keep your brain fueled with good nutrition and don’t ever, EVER think “All I have to do on these last three holes is…”