The new sticks…

I just wanted to let you guys know that I quite recently bought a new set of clubs. You might be aware that I used to be a huge Acushnet fanboy and that I owned everything from Titleist, Scotty Cameron, Bob Vokey, FootJoy, etc. (Well, no Pinnacle to be fair). But I realised I have to move on. Which I did.

I got fitted for a complete set of the PING G400 range and couldn’t resist to order.

So far, my experiences are a bit so-so. These are great clubs, but I guess I have to adapt to the following:

  1. Graphite shafts. Never had those in irons before.
  2. Cast irons. Was used to forged so far.
  3. Chunky looks. I will get used to the wider sole and the brushed material.
  4. Distances. Are completely off, notable longer but unfamiliar.
  5. 0.75° upright. Yeah, that’s a toughie to be honest, completely new stance, especially for pitches
  6. PW, UW, SW, LW same range as irons. No such thing as the Vokey feel around the green unfortunately, but easy for full shots.

Other than that, they are damn good. Can’t wait to sport them next year to get me down to a new all-time low handicap… Fingers crossed.

Friday after-work practice session. #ping #g400 #project12 #break80

A post shared by Golficiency (@golficiency) on

So, this is what’s in my bag for 2018:

  • Driver: PING G400, Alta CB stiff, 10.5°
  • 3 Wood: PING G400, Alta CB stiff, 14.5°
  • 5 Wood: PING G400, Alta CB stiff, 17.5°
  • Hybrid 3: PING G400, Alta CB stiff, 19°
  • Irons: PING G400, Alta CB stiff, 4-PW, UW, SW, LW
  • Putter: Scotty Cameron California Del Mar

And yes, I know that’s 15 clubs… #shhhh

TaylorMade is teasing their new range of clubs… again!

It feels like yesterday that…

There are some constants in this world: a day has 24 hours, the sun comes up every day and TaylorMade release way too much stuff!

This of course is just my opinion, but I can’t really trust a company which brings out new clubs at this machine gun speed and then tries to make a point that it’s much better than their last edition.

We all know that the golf technology is extremely brought to its limits and unless there are no rule changes we won’t see major and dramatic changes. Here a yard, there a yard. Here a meter, there a meter.

I understand the companies spend so much on Marketing because this is a big business. Yes there will be consolidation in the market, Nike Golf and alike, but why is it necessary to over-flood golfers with new sticks. All those who bought the 2016 gear, will now have “the old stuff”.

Not very likely that every 2016 M1/2 owner will move and immediately jump on the 2017 edition. But what’s left behind is the bad feeling that others have newer equipment.

My petition to the world: Don’t always buy the newest equipment, don’t fool yourself that you’re only hacking because of non-optimal clubs. Instead, if your clubs are not older than 5 years or so, invest in some training sessions with your pro of choice. You don’t always need the newest, you need those clubs which best fit your swing and which put you in the fairway – every single time. And maybe it’s your swing, that’s a bit rusty, not the clubs.

In case your game is spot on, your GIR rate is beyond 75%, your putts cap at 30, and your clubs are more than 5 years old, in that case I actually do believe you should try out some new gear. And put it on the Santa wishlist…

10% off Knitcap Gold Edition head covers

Please remember to be quick if you want to get your hands on some fancy and unique golf club head covers! Knitcap is kind enough granting Golficiency readers an extra rebate! Create your own colour setting and have them hand-knitted just for you!

10% extra discount for golf edition head covers (valid until 15 Feb 2016). Go shopping!

Code: golficiency

Bring more colour into play. The Knitcap interview

Haufen_04

Usually when people purchase new golf clubs, they come with standard club head covers. Why shouldn’t they, you buy the clubs off the rack, of course they come with a standard package and style, obviously depending on what brand and particular model you went for. You can change club head loft, lie and shaft flex how much you want, as long as you don’t go crazy with the colour of the bag, a new set of golf clubs pretty much looks like the other. Isn’t it at least a bit strange that on the one hand we dress in fancy, colourful clothes, think twice what to wear on the course to look decent and show off a bit and then at the same time sport off-the-shelf clubs and standard club head covers?

knitcap_logoFor those who want to stand out a little more or have a distinct taste in terms of style, colour or appearance in general, Oliver Volkmuth and Matthias Schneider founded Knitcap, a Germany-based company producing trendy club head covers, which look very different from what you are used to: they created a fully customisable bobble hat for golf clubs.

Golficiency’s Alexander Rose had the chance to discuss some details around the product and the company with Oliver (35), co-founder and managing director of Knitcap.

Golficiency: Oliver, could you briefly describe what Knitcap actually is and what products you offer?
Oliver Volkmuth: Knitcap is a product and a brand at the same time and as the word already implies it’s more or less a “knitted cap” for golf clubs. We offer individually designed and hand knitted club head covers and clients can choose between three sizes (driver, fairway wood, hybrid), three patterns and 12 colours. So everyone who’s good at maths can calculate the possibilities you have.

What customizing options do you provide and what choices do the purchasers have?
We offer two different product lines, or editions—the “Silver Edition” and the “Gold Edition”. The Silver Edition is ready to order as we have produced our best sellers on stock. The Gold Edition offers the possibility to assemble colour combinations according to everyone’s wishes and taste. You may also have initials, numbers or labels attached to the club covers and in the end you will get your one of a kind.

What initially made you create knitted club head covers in the first place? A jolly mood or a concrete feel for demand?
It’s not the typical story about two guys getting drunk and come up with the idea to knit head covers for golf clubs—although it would be a cooler story to tell that we were bored of our daily jobs in the IT business, where you never have the satisfying feeling to hold “your produced product” in your hands after one day of work. We wanted to do something “real”. And it didn’t take long until we stumbled over all these silly and inconvenient head covers you can see on the golf courses all over Germany. We were fed up with these ridiculous plush animals! We are grown men and don’t want to be remembered as the dude on the course with the plush peacock on his driver! That’s definitely not cool at all.

Looking back at the recent months, what has been the customer feedback so far?
The feedback is great. People love our product. They are excited about the colours and also the quality. We often receive photos of their self-designed head cover compilations which is awesome. Many customers buy our head covers as a present and thank us afterwards for the real surprise. When you look at the negligible number of complaints you can see that we only have few related to the quality. Sometimes you can get a ladder but we offer a convenient repair service and this problem is quickly fixed again. The majority of our customers are really happy that they can get an individually designed head cover fitted to their needs and personal style.

As you say “handcrafted”, how should we picture the manufacturing process? A number of grannies in a room, sitting together, knitting golf club head covers according to customers’ orders?
Yes that’s not so far off. We employ some elderly ladies who love to knit and were more than happy when we offered them the opportunity to knit something else than the 50th pair of socks or a jumper which the grandkids won’t want to wear anyway, and to get paid for. So this is a win-win situation for all; the grannies, our customers and the grandkids now being freed from having to wear itchy knitted things.

What are your distribution channels and what is your main target group?
We have an online shop where customers can create own individual “knitcaps” with a configurator. That’s really fantastic as it’s possible to see how it will look like once finished. Regarding target group, there are different types of customers. Mainly we have the individual golfer who is not affected by the latest trends and wants to have equipment and accessories that are handy, stylish, from high quality and protect their clubs at the same time. But there are also some older golfers who get nostalgic feelings as they are reminded of the time when they started to play golf.

When you look back at what you have achieved so far, what is it you are most proud of?
It’s a fantastic feeling to see that our employed ladies are happy to feel needed again and to improve their pensions with one of their favourite activity—knitting. Also we are proud that we have established a sunstainable product in our “green” sport.

Last but not least, as an outlook, what do you think you could venture in as a next step, do you already have specific plans how to grow the business in 2016?
That’s a very good question. We want to expand our market share in the European countries. Germany only has 650,000 golfers and of course not every German golfer wants to have a knitcap, so we want to become known in England, France, Spain and Italy as well.

Oliver, thank you very much for the interview.

So, in case you want to stand out of the crowd, buy a neat present for a keen golfer or you want to match your own bobble hat, you might want to consider personalised Knitcaps in the future. And speaking of win-win situations, Golficiency readers are granted a special 10% discount for your Knitcap Gold Edition order via their online stores (valid until 15 Feb 2016).

Redeem your rebate with the code: golficiency

knitcap_discount_700

IOMIC Sticky 2.3 re-gripping session

In case you know me personally, you know I’m picky with stuff—from an esthetics standpoint. I like everything genuine and I like color matching. And I don’t like things that don’t work.

Maybe that’s the reason I’m still keeping playing my oldest set of clubs back from 2001 sometimes. They look fantastic, very slim, almost blade-like just with a decent cavity back, they play great and they look pretty OK for their age. Point is, they still have their stock grips on them! For 15 years now. This had to change!

I bought some white IOMIC Sticky grips on the internet, I always wanted to try them. Not because of the IO flow, but because of the sticky-ish, fairly soft material. So I got myself the grips, some tape and a sharp knife, and started to work that out.

One have to admit, it looks pretty easy on Youtube, but when you try it, at least the first one is quite tricky to accomplish. But the learning curve is steep and so it took me two evenings to get nine clubs re-gripped. Three on day one, the rest the following day – as I said, steep learning curve.

I’m pretty proud of myself. I’ve never done this before and I really believe I can take out those clubs for a test round soon. I’m not saying this was easy-peasy nor that I will do this again with other golf sets in the future but I can say it was a very good experience and I can’t wait to check them out on the course.

Tackling the heat

It might look like I’ve been to the UAE again but actually I haven’t since February. The next trip to Dubai is on the agenda for early next year but what we are currently faced with is a very similar thing: immense heat! Not only the desert in the Middle East offers temperatures of more than 35°C!

IMG_8784

Central Europe is burning currently! Just yesterday Germany broke the all-time heat record with not less than 40.8°C. And even if this is not really dramatic in UAE’s terms, it’s pretty special for Europe, at least central Europe.

I have to admit I’m one of these guys loving the sun, sunshine, heat and everything what comes with it. But for sure there are those who can’t bear anything plus 30°C. And that’s fair enough, everyone has a different feel to heat and bears it on his own way. But even those who like the heat have to admit that everything’s getting a bit trickier, more difficult and sometimes even more dangerous when temperatures reach 35-ish degrees and you are outside doing sports activity.

Last week I played what some would call desert golf, but not because of the course layout, but because the mercury reached the 40°C mark and playing golf for hours is quite special in these circumstances.

On Thursday afternoon I played the Deutsche Börse annual golf tournament and we experienced roughly 36°C throughout the round. On Saturday a tournament at my home club was on during which we had humid 40°C and played not less than 6 hours with basically no shade at all.

So what can you do when you are at the course and have to (or want to) play in such hot conditions? Well it starts with the preparation. Here are some important tips:

Things to check
  • Check the weather app on your smart phone the day before. Only when you realize it’s getting hot early you can act accordingly and be well prepared.
Things to wear
  • Bring at least one cap, better two. When they are white, even better. Dark caps store the heat more than lighter ones.
  • Even when it’s your not your style, think about wearing a bucket hat or another hat that covers not only your head but the neck and ears as well at the same time.
  • Wear sunglasses at all times.
  • Sun protection (high) is obvious and should be re-applied at least once during the round. Make sure it’s water proof – you will sweat a lot.
  • When possible try to wear light colors; white shirt, beige or white shorts, etc.
  • Walk in comfortable shoes; in most cases your feet will swallow up in that heat. When your shoes are just about right, you will definitely feel them hurt afterwards.
  • Bring clothes to change; probably another shirt for during the round but definitely a complete set (including underwear) for after you had a well deserved cold shower.
Things to bring with you
  • Drink enough (water)!! I can’t emphasize enough on this! It’s absolutely crucial to stay hydrated at all times. Don’t start drinking when you feel thirsty, start early, drink regularly and possibly mix with a juice or a soft drink. You need the hydration, you need the sugar to stay energized and you wouldn’t want to wait too long before you listen to your body reacting to a certain deficiency symptom. So carry enough water or drinks with you! On a complete round of golf in that heat I can easily drink 5 liters without going to pee. The body needs the hydration and you shouldn’t ignore that. The cooler the better I’d say. Some put water bottles in the ice box over night. During the round it will gradually melt but will stay cold enough to refresh you for a while. Stop the drinks cart as often as you can in order to stock up.
  • Bring an umbrella, not for the unlikely rain but to create your own little mobile sun roof when you attach it to your trolley. Point taken you wouldn’t want to hold an umbrella in that heat for a long time but in case you can attach it to your bag (or trolley), you should do it.
  • Bring one extra towel; one for the clubs, one for you, i.e. you will need to dry for face, your arms, your head and most important, your hands from time to time. In order to avoid any peeling effect you wouldn’t want to use that dirty part of the towel that you just used to clean your sandwedge a minute earlier.
  • Speaking of towels, on this weekend we were handed wet and ice cold towels to wrap around the neck, cool down the head or wipe the face or arms. That was the first time I had to do that but I really appreciated someone brought that up; this was very helpful and helped to stay cool for a while.

If you stick to these easy rules then playing golf in the heat is no big deal at all. If you can use a cart, if not try to stay energized for as long as possible.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive. Do you have any tips that I missed or do you have a story to share how you tend to stay in shape in extreme heat, then please share with us in the comments section below.

With all that you should be good to go for the next round of golf in the central European heat or even the desert swing in the Middle East. Inshallah.

A new laser rangefinder to further improve the game

image2

Today I hit the range with a goal. The initial idea was to just go 18 holes today and then head back home. But I reconsidered and thought I do some very useful stuff for a change.

So I packed my clubs, left my trolley at home and made my way to the club in order to do some serious training. Usually I combine a quick range session and some chipping/putting with a common round of golf. No question I look forward to the round and need the range session just for a warm-up. I think it’s fair to say that I rarely just go practicing rather than playing.

Today was one of these days though!

Very recently I got a new golf toy in my hands. And to give you a quick background, usually I use a Garmin GPS watch on the course for my measurements. I’m playing a 15 handicap so the accuracy was absolutely fine for me. Goal is to get the ball on the green, 2 metres or 5 metres next to the pin, I didn’t care.

Well, I should! Putting is currently not my strength and every stroke that I can save is well played. More and more players these days use these golf lasers, or DMDs (Distance Measurement Devices) as you call them. Some of my golf mates use them for nearly every shot. I don’t think that’s necessary but I started to understand why DMDs can in some cases really be much better than GPS devices like my watch.

(1) is the accuracy: once the device tells you the flag is 148 metres away, you most likely use another club than if your GPS tells you the green centre is at 140.

(2) is the flexibility as you not only have the chance to measure the distance to the (front and back of the) green or a layup distance but also measure the distance to a bunker, a water hazard, a tree, a dogleg, etc. You just get so many more options to play save, because you can trust the yardage and then the only thing is to trust your swing too.

image1

Laser rangefinders are not new to the market, brands like Bushnell have sold their products for quite a while now but as I said I never saw any value in it as I was pretty happy with my GPS watch. What I learned today is that a laser rangefinder can really benefit the game.

On the range, I was able to precisely choose my targets, pins for example, and then practice on hitting clean shots to come up as close as possible. Usually I just focus on being straight but since earlier today I might change my range behaviour because I felt this really makes sense: you act the same being on the course, why should we practice different from what we need.

So, if you ask me, I’m sold. I’ll now carry my new toy with me on all rounds to come. And by the way, the device is super easy to use. It just needs two buttons and some minutes to get used to it. It features a pin seeker system which automatically detects that you’re trying to measure a pin and gives exact distances.

I have to admit that I have very little comparison but I can absolutely recommend the GolfLaser brand. Design is slick, it’s not super heavy, works correct and the price is much less than most of the big brands as you just order via their website. Give it a try.

By the way, just yesterday I saw an article on the internet that the pro tours might think about allowing DMDs during pro tournaments. Currently they are just allowed in private rounds, amateur tournaments or the practice days of pro tourneys. This might change soon and we potentially see Rory, Tiger and Bubba use their tool during whole of Thursday through Sunday. The Senior Tours will start making a move already this year.

More information:

Your chance to win a dozen Golficiency balls

Nike Golficiency BallsThe 2015 golf season is just around the corner and at Golficiency we thought we should be generous to our readers and supporters. We can’t give away expensive attire or golf clubs but we have plenty of balls for our friends and followers.

You have three chances to win a dozen brand new, high quality Nike PD Soft balls for the professional touch around the greens in these social networks:

The winners will be contacted till the end of March.

Good luck and have a great 2015 golf season!

The new Titleist 915 family

I like the Titleist brand and everything what comes with it. Although I fully endorse their product range, I’m not buying anything new to the market just because it’s out there. I guess it’s common sense that golf products don’t differ that much anymore from others and the rest is just marketing.

My Titleist clubs are 3 years old (710 irons, 910 metals) and I’m overly happy with it—therefore no need to buy some new sticks at all for quite a while. But the guys on tour sometimes literally jump on new products, be it because they are after some further yards to hit or because their sponsor contract makes them change every time the brand has something new out.

This actually doesn’t happen too often with Titleist but competitors like TaylorMade release new stuff every month you could argue. You are just used to a new name or number of a product and bought into their story they sold you, and then suddenly ‘boom’, a new technique, a new story, a new product with a new price tag.

Let me say to you, don’t buy anything that golf brands try to market. Work on your swing, this is mostly the more important and long-term alternative to buying new clubs.

This video is about the collaboration of club manufacturers and pro players, as this is a very interesting field of work anyway!

Continue reading The new Titleist 915 family

You need a lot of balls to play like I do… The Vice Golf interview

Generally players around the world are used to buy brand new golf balls for their private rounds, no matter how good their game is. A fairly costly procedure for the weekend golfers as most of them won’t finish their round with exactly that ball they started with, directly correlated to the number of hazards on the course obviously.

drive_front

Then someone discovered that scuba divers could be the solution to all that as they realised that hundreds if not thousands of balls lie at the bottom of the water hazards, ponds and lakes out there. It became business model to quite a number of companies lifting these balls, clean them, sort them and sell them again to the more cost sensitive customer. As you can imagine some of these balls were almost new, others have been lying down there for years. So effectively playing lake balls is like wearing second hand clothes, without trying them on.

Think about this when your group partner next time says something like he would never ever play anything else than Titleist balls – he might actually refer to 5-year old Titleist lake balls he just bought for a third of the original price.

For sure there are cheap ball companies as well, but for good reason very few people adopted playing with these. Golfers who strive for getting better in this game, who spend thousands for the right sticks, who pay thousands a year for a club membership… who would play with sub-optimal balls? So on the lower end of the price range the market was bleeding out due to lacking quality and missing customers’ trust.

cap_white_slide1

And then there are companies like Vice Golf, providing the golf ball market with affordable high-quality balls. Golficiency’s Alexander Rose spoke to Ingo Düllmann and Rainer Stöckl at Vice Golf and discussed their business model, strategy and targeted client base of this aspiring Germany-based golf ball company.

Golficiency: First of all thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, that’s much appreciated. Vice has managed to tap the toe into the golf ball market by providing high-quality balls for reasonable prices. How exactly do you manage that?

Vice Golf: Our brand succeeds by avoiding the middleman and selling exclusively via our own website (www.vicegolf.com). In addition, our customers receive further price advantages through larger packaging units as well as cutting out unnecessary PGA world class player sponsoring. For spontaneous buyers, there are also smaller trial units available.

There is quite some competition in the golf ball market. Brands like Titleist have a huge stake on pro tours, others dominate the club players market. What does Vice envisage in terms of market share in let’s say one and five years and how do you want to achieve that goal?

In contrast to traditional golf brands such as Titleist we are positioning our brand by collaborating with hip, high-quality, and design-oriented brands. In addition, we also focus on limited editions with individualized logo. Our aim is to make golf young and cool again. Regarding our stake in the market we will try our best and grow as fast as possible.

What is your typical target customer?

Golfers from all ages with a sense for design, focus on high quality, performance and a need for a great deal!

The team at my home club is playing Vice balls across the board. Do you envisage to treat this customer class differently? Or in other words, do you prefer competitive golfers as clients or more the weekend golfers as the ones who effectively lose more balls than others?

We love both, but in the end we sell high quality performance products which should be used also on a competitive basis.

Vice extended their product range over the last months in terms of colours, features and prices and as well offers personalization. What new products or services can the consumer expect in the near future?

Unfortunately I cannot tell you too much on this matter, but we will expand into other product categories and additionally will come out with a new ball model for 2015.

Your target client base is obviously international. What has been done exactly to attract golfers abroad to use Vice balls instead of their usual suspects? And how has the general international perception been so far?

Obviously we offer a great product for a great price. Besides that we focus on our customers’ needs. Well-designed products of the best quality available for a bargain – in comparison to what you would normally pay. Customization is also a big deal and we are proud to make this process as easy as 1,2,3. The perception in other countries was amazing! We are very happy to see that our brand also is appreciated in almost every country in Europe and also in Australia!

Vice is a Germany-based company. How is that an advantage or disadvantage, or how does this play a role in your distribution and marketing channels?

We engineer and design all our products in Munich, Germany. We pay attention to every detail and do not launch products before they are really finished! This probably is slowing us down a bit but we are proud to say that all of our products are tested until perfection is reached. Probably it’s the world class beer at the Oktoberfest (beerfest) and the beautiful golf courses which inspire us most and lead to our claim: EMBRACE YOUR VICE!

Thanks for the interview.

For more information please see http://www.vicegolf.com