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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Sometimes everything just comes together

That’s meant in a positive way, I have to add. Until last week I wasn’t really happy with my game lately. After a long time (more than two years) I really kick-started my golf again in April/May when I returned from the UK and joined a club near Frankfurt.

The idea was to play as often as possible and as a consequence, improve as much as possible. Obviously I was looking to decrease my handicap quite a bit this year. #Project12!

But it turned out to be much more complex. As the club fees around Frankfurt are quite expensive, I concentrated on playing many rounds on the weekend. I neglected practise and range sessions, never set my foot on a chipping green or practise bunker. Overall goal was to have fun on the course – which I really had. Don’t get me wrong, I truly enjoyed the year so far, the rounds, the people I met and tournaments I played. Just the numbers were not to come down unfortunately.

This had to change! I already mentioned in another post that I scheduled in a Trackman session with a pro in order to improve on details and get rid of that dirty hook. Currently I have absolutely no confidence playing with all my woods. On one day everything works fine, straight and long, the next day all balls end up in the rough or in the woods – be it driver, 3-wood or hybrid. And I have no idea what I did wrong, which is never good.

I was pretty mad about it over the last weeks and started to think about re-activating my 3- and 2-iron of my old set. A word and a blow, I’ve put these two clubs back in the bag, went to the course, had two lousy shots with them in the beginning and then everything was a pure pleasure, at least for my skill level.

On a short 9-hole course (5 par-3s, 4 par-4s) I shot a +4, four bogeys, rest pars. And guess what: I think about going back to my 2-iron on a permanent basis. It feels awesome and is much easier to hit than most would anticipate. In my case, I really can recommend giving it a try. Sure, not every set offers a 2-iron and usually the guys will tell you a hybrid is much easier to hit, but in my case this wasn’t true at all. A shot with a hybrid is much more comparable to a drive than an iron shot and as I’m pretty good in my iron play, the 2-iron was the easiest alternative, at least for tee shots.

So in case you’re playing well with irons, but you’re struggling with all woods in your bag, it might be a good idea to go with a 2-iron to get some length out of your shots, at least to try out!

I will re-activate and (re-grip) my whole set of old clubs now in order to have something in the background which could help my play and give confidence in case something goes wrong again with the woods. Long-term obviously I try to get rid of that nasty curve with the woods and will focus on shooting straight and long again – which is the reason I bought these bloody expensive Titleist clubs in the first place!

Maybe I should get myself a 1-iron… anybody with some experience?

Quick course update of the Garmin Approach S2

It’s over a year ago that I bought my Garmin Approach S2 golf GPS watch. I mean I have plenty of watches but this one has so much functionality which I really love. It had GPS data for 30,000 golf courses around the world already stored when I bought it and just today I made a quick 15-minute update: new courses, new GPS data, new course layout, etc. – easy as that.

After the installation of the Garmin Express application it was a simple plug and install process, very easy to handle. I guess once a year is enough for an update of course material.

There is no round in which I don’t wear the watch, I literally wouldn’t leave the house to go golfing without this device. The GPS information it provides is truly inevitable. It’s a complete different way of golfing: go to your ball, check the yardage (front of the green, middle of the green, back of the green), check for specialties such as wind and then chose a club, do your normal swing and there you are: on the green (well, theoretically). But it seriously totally changes your game and takes out the guessing and unclarity of exact distance to the target. Just a simple glance on the watch which displays all relevant data (even layup distances) and there you go.

I don’t want to praise it too much, but after a while you feel you can’t play without it anymore. Truly a great device that I’m happy about having bought it. Definitely recommend it!

Update: I just finished the course update installation. Apparently there is not enough space on the device to store all world-wide courses anymore. Therefore I had to pick 2 out of 3 packages that I liked to have installed. I chose “Americas” and “Europe, Middle East, Africa” and had to delete “Asia, Australia, Oceania”. So next time I’m traveling to Australia, could please someone remind me to install that again? Thanks! #FirstWorldProblems

Extensive Trackman session booked

Every tour player does it regularly and I couldn’t resist anymore. Just like Davis Love III in this picture, I booked some time with a pro for an extensive Trackman session.

For the ones who don’t know, Trackman is a radar device which analyses golf swings seconds after a shot. It instantly tells the user details about the swing speed, plane angle, club face angle at impact, spin rate and indicates the ball flight providing information on distance, trajectory and spin.

All very useful information for players to improve on details within the swing process. Be it hand rotation, level of the swing plane, speed or just overall coordination. Sure, these are just numbers and everybody has to interpret these for himself, but with the support of an experienced pro I believe players are able to adjust their swing for the better, with less trial and error, instead relying on numbers as a matter of fact. I’m really very excited about this!

As a frequent reader you might know that I’m playing a constant draw which from time to time (or more often unfortunately) comes out as a hook. To avoid this I booked two hours with Robert Schmalfuß today, a young PGA pro based in Friedberg, north of Frankfurt. Apparently he’s a Hank Haney Associate Pro (whatever that encompasses), Healthy Swing instructor, golf physio coach and generally knowledgeable in terms of using high-tech to support the practice sessions, be it the Trackman system for the long shots or the Zenio device for putting.

Something I’m looking forward to also is the video recording of my swing. Yes I could do that myself, but I want to rely more on a high-speed camera showing exactly my wrist action at impact, swing plane and a comparison to the “ideal swing”. I think I’m one of the visual learners and once I see my problems on screen I might be able to address them more properly.

Can’t wait for my high-tech golf practice session, have to wait until September though – this guy is pretty booked out! And I will let you know afterwards how it was and whether you should do it as well! #Project12

Continue reading Extensive Trackman session booked

Vice Golf Alemão Edition, for the FIFA World Cup addicts amongst you!

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I recently came across this cool thing: Vice Golf created two nice limited sets of golf balls – the German team and an international team. So for those of you who currently can’t decide what’s more important, football or golf, why not go golfing with football players’ heads printed on golf balls – a fair compromise I reckon :)

If you like the idea, check out the International Edition here.

Today I’m checking out these little white beasts!

I got myself a treat and was convinced by some of my golf buddies to check out Vice Golf balls. Look and feel is excellent, quality is supposed to be equal to other brand names and the cost-benefit-ratio is unbeatable, even compared to my usual lakeballs. I’ll give it a try today.

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Look what I found in my mailbox today! #vicegolf

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What they lack however is a golficiency logo on the side…

The team at my new home club, GC Bachgrund, plays Vice as well in their league games. Let’s see how my game can benefit from it… #Project12