GPS or laser rangefinder – that is the question

Decades ago, life was easy. Golf life, too. There were distance poles on the side of the fairway, indicating 100, 150 and 200 meters or yards. It was measured towards the front of the green and you would add a good portion to the green center or the flag, whatever you were aiming for.

In between poles you would either roughly estimate or pace out manually. These measures were of course very rough but fine for most golfers nonetheless for hundred years.

Then modern technology hit the golf course as well. Nowadays it’s common to ask for exact distances, and when I say “exactly”, I mean exactly. A margin of three meters doesn’t seem to be OK anymore – you need exact figures.

I couldn’t resist myself either, as you can imagine, so in the end I use both a laser and a GPS device. But let me explain what I think of both devices and what I believe these are targeted at. Because not every style of player would be equally happy with both devices.

Generally I truly appreciate the technology that made its way to golf as well. I also believe that, correctly used, it can drastically improve your game. But it does require some thought process and less ego—yes, I’m talking to you, middle aged male golfer.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we:

Continue reading GPS or laser rangefinder – that is the question

New clubs deserve new balls, gloves and a bag

As you might have read here, I’m the proud owner of a new awesome set of irons. I ordered my dream clubs, the Titleist CB, they were custom made to my exact configuration and finally delivered to my doorstep last week.

I have one round already in the books with them and they feel and perform just fantastic. Enough reason to treat myself with some other golf goods to really kick off the progress in the 2019 season. It’s just fair to accompany new clubs with new balls, a new glove and put them in a new bag.

Balls

For years I played NIKE PD Soft and really liked them. I had access to various Titleist products as well and used VICE in different versions, too. Both are good balls even though I have to say I don’t seriously recognize a huge difference between brands if you stay in one category, meaning comparing soft with soft with soft.

I really like the VICE Pro, especially its soft outer shell which supposedly creates more spin around the green, which I appreciate. In other characteristics I reckon this ball is pretty comparable to the Titleist ProV, but with a much smaller price tag. Buying ProVs is somewhat unnecessary not being a single handicapper I think. Staying in the Titleist brand and preferring softer feel, it was a no-brainer to go test the new Titleist Tour Soft ball. So far a very good ball indeed.

Since the latest MyGolfSpy ball test which created quite some stir in the industry, everyone knows from an independent source that soft balls are actually slow balls, meaning distance will suffer once you change from a hard ball to a soft ball. Doesn’t sound like rocket science, does it. However distance has never been a problem for me, I’m not after the next 20 meters, what I’m after is consistent ball flight and distance and a soft touch within 80 meters around the hole.

Glove

Not for the first time I ordered some new FootJoy CabrettaSof gloves, a hand-made Cabretta leather product which I love. It just feels more natural to me compared to the overly technical synthetic gloves I clearly used and tested as well. Feel is everything and I do believe I will stick with this model for a while – it’s just that you can’t buy it in every golf or pro shop.

Bag

Coming to the bag. I already own some Titleist bags; the latest two additions are currently in constant rotation, depending on reason I’m heading to the course. For training I prefer a light-weight carry bag as I don’t use a trolley on the range. For a round of golf I use a tidy 14-way cart bag with bigger pockets. This ends up in packing and un-packing golf sticks on a weekly basis, which is annoying to say the least.

Now I bought a Titleist hybrid bag. As the name suggests, it’s a hybrid between carry and cart bag. You are able to carry it, it stands properly just like any other carry bag, but it offers both more storage room and a 14-way divider at the top. I guess this is what I waited for so long from Titleist. No more early morning re-packing in the garage. Yay!

Apparel

That’s it as far as equipment goes. I couldn’t resist the other day to buy another FootJoy Chill Out Pullover with club logo on the chest. I really like FootJoy products, next to all the NIKE polos, trousers and shorts I have in my golf drawers. “Play good, look good!” If you don’t play well, don’t be bothered to spend too much on looking good and invest in some training sessions instead.

And before you ask, no it’s not yet Christmas time.

I got myself some new clubs. Titleist CB

Look at these shiny babies! Aren’t they pretty?!

I treated myself with a great new set of irons recently. A set which I was thinking about getting for years!

You might know I’m quite an Acushnet fanboy and loved my Titleist 712 AP2 for years. But then when I played less (which I think is usually the case when you get a child) I thought about trying some new irons which would fall more into the game improvement category. Jordan Spieth plays AP2s on tour and I thought weekend golfers should stick to the equipment they are supposed to use, not want they want to use.

So I moved away from my beloved Titleist irons and I believed that this was a smart move to look for something in the mass market category: Bigger head, massive sole, forgiving on all edges, graphite shaft and ready to swing the ball with less speed and still get decent distance. But distance was never an issue. Truth be told, I got fitted to the PING G400, played them for 2 years but somehow it didn’t click. Apparently they were just not for me.

If you know PING’s fitting system, you are aware of their color code system. I was recommended a Blue set, while in hindsight I strongly believe it should have been a Black for me. So already standing over the ball, it felt weird to me.

So it was about time to change something. I lacked feel around the greens, missed the forged feel of full iron shots and I also couldn’t get used to the annoying sound it produced with every shot. In other words, I wasn’t happy with them and knew we had to part ways soon.

I bought the PINGs concentrating on playability and consistency, willing to bear the ugly chunkiness of these clubs. Now it was time for something else, for something I always wanted, always strived for but didn’t go for because I believed it wasn’t for me: another set of Titleist players irons. One set I couldn’t get out of my head was Titleist’s CBs, the friendlier brother to the butter knife muscle backs MBs.

Always admiring these clubs from an esthetic standpoint, I never really considered them seriously: Small face, thin top line, thin sole, only little help around the edges and behind the small sweet spot. So it looks like it’s not for weekend golfers per se, but I wanted to give it a shot. I desperately wanted it. When I saw the mid-2019 announcement how the next generation of 620 CBs will look like in 2020, I had to buy the old 718 CBs, I just had to because they are so damn pretty. Have to admit that the weak Pound to the Euro played its part as well.

What followed after this thought was a complicated search for the right setting. I did some extensive research on shaft flexes and weight, and I want you to benefit from this process as well. So this thought process is what led to my setting:

In the AP2 I played a ProjectX 5.5 shaft with a stock Tour Velvet grip. The grip wasn’t perfect but fine. The 5.5 rifle shaft (with a 5.0 FCM) was a tad too stiff for me and ProjectX shafts generally create a more low ball flight due to their stiffer tip section. Also, the 5.5 shaft was more on the heavy side compared to the weight of the club head. With that I lacked the feel for the position of the head at the end of my shaft during the swing.

So I wanted something lighter and something that would still create a penetrating ball flight but a fraction higher than what I was used to. I had to look for another shaft manufacturer and found the perfect setup with KBS. It’s impossible to compare apples and oranges and stiff doesn’t equal stiff, but leaving all shaft section flexes aside, the KBS equivalent to the ProjectX 5.5 seems to be the KBS Tour Stiff (similar FCM: Frequency Coefficient Matching, a system based on cycle per minute (CPM) data from golf shaft oscillation tests.) This would come in a very similar shaft weight though – would certainly launch higher but wouldn’t improve the weight issue. I could go down some grams with the regular shaft or the regular+, but that wouldn’t be stiff enough for my swing characteristic. To cut a long story short, I found the perfect setup with the KBS Tour 90 Stiff.

It’s lighter than my old, lighter than regular KBS Tours, still maintain enough stiffness and create a higher ball flight with a kick in the tip section. It would loose distance due to the higher launch but would gain something back through the kick. This paired with the most beautiful forged club head on the market and the same forgiveness as in the Titleist 716 AP2, I just couldn’t go wrong.

In terms of grip I wanted to try the Golf Pride New Decade MultiCompound with its hybrid approach to cotton and rubber and I have to say it’s been great so far.

This much for setting. I had everything exclusively made for me, bought the set from 2-iron to PW and will stick to my Bob Vokey wedges, the Scotty Cameron putter and the PING G400 driver, woods and hybrid. I can say it’s a dream set come true. Maybe someday updated with the recent Titleist woods and hybrid models, but for now I’m happy with what I got from PING. I don’t use woods and hybrids much anyway—I’m more the 2-iron kind of guy.

On Sunday I took them out for the first time, had a quick range session and immediately played a tournament with them. Luckily everything felt and behaved just as expected. Happy me!

Just when you think you got it…

Last week I had such a great practice session, that I posted on Facebook that I was super happy where my game was heading. Small adjustments to grip and stance and the ball flight got much higher and—more importantly—much straighter.

That was one week ago. Yesterday I played a tournament at Golf Club Nahetal in central Germany. That was the first round after my little adjustments. On the range everything went pretty well, one or two shots off, but the vast majority was straight as I wanted them to be.

Then on the course, I don’t know why, I fell back to old habits I guess. Hooks, thins and really bad shots had been the outcome throughout the whole rubbish round. Some nice pars, one birdie but dozens of stupid shots as well. Still came out at 5th in the tournament but I hated the round nonetheless.

I’m not saying it’s my clubs’ fault but for some reason I’m really bad with metal woods of all sorts. I play PING’s G400 driver, 3-wood, 5-wood and hybrid. And all are making problems. Again, not the clubs’ fault but apparently I just can’t adjust to the swing necessary for woods shots.

Which is why I’m seriously considering to bring my old 2001 Taylor Made set back to the game!

Why, you will ask. I really liked this set, once re-gripped it and the good thing about it: it features a 3- and even a 2-iron. This may sound intimidating to some of you but as a driving iron, I really can recommend it if you struggle with woods. For me it worked perfectly in the past. Got down to a 16 handicap just using irons. That I’m still at 14 says it all I guess…

With (long) irons shot shaping is easier, getting the ball airborne in the first place is much easier and with a good swing you have decent length as well. Sure, no driver length, but putting the ball in the fairway on every damn hole really makes the difference in the long run. As least when you count strokes.

I will let you know how that goes. I’m still curious myself. Wish me luck. Or I might just get some pro sessions in.

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.

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

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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

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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.