OnCore Golf – ELIXR

It’s an exciting time about 25 minutes from my house for Buffalo, NY based golf ball brand OnCore Golf. They are about 36 hours away from the release of their first Tour-level golf ball called the ELIXR. A golf ball with an interesting name seeing that the definition of the word elixir is “a magical potion”. Bearing this is mind the moniker just might be very appropriate.

I finally met the guys (Bret Blakely and Steve Coulton) this year while down in Orlando for the PGA Merchandise Show. While having a couple of cocktails in the lobby area of the Hyatt Regency we started to talk a little about the ELIXR. This is a golf ball that was crowd-sourced… meaning they reached out to the golfing public to see what they wanted in a golf ball. Personally speaking, I spent a fair amount of time on the phone with Steve Coulton one particular day and I gave him my opinion on what a golf ball should be.

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New from OnCore Golf… the ELIXR

Recently, OnCore Golf sent out a press release which I will share with you and then I will talk about my findings in my brief time spent playing the ELIXR.

We’re undoubtedly excited about the ELIXR™ release on Wednesday, March 1, and we want you to be just as excited as we are about our new tour ball.

Preorders have closed for ELIXR™, but you can pick up your boxes from our online store or your local pro shop. See who carries OnCore products with our pro shop locater.

Why are we so pumped about this new ball? It goes without saying, but ELIXR™ is our best ball to date, so we’re thrilled to see outperform the competition.

So, what makes ELIXR™ so special?

·       Perimeter weighting from high density particles in the mantle layer increases the moment of inertia and reduces spin.

·       ELIXR’s spin decay has been reduced to allow for more backspin that carries the ball further. This is one of the reasons ELIXR™ outperforms competition in overall performance and stability in flight.

·       The thickness and softness of the urethane cover contributes to the control and feel into and around green in conjunction with the ball’s perimeter weighting.

·       ELIXR™ continues to impress every player that touches our new ball. Most players have said ELIXR™ is as good or better than any ball they’ve played.

We know you’ll love playing the course with ELIXR™ when the ball debuts Wednesday and we’re excited to hear your feedback on our newest ball.

Thank you for being part of the OnCore family,
The Team at OnCore

While discussing golf and specifically OnCore I was handed one of the new magic bullets. If there was one thing that I would do before leaving Florida it would be to put the ELIXR in play and get an early insight as to what it was like. After all, the above quoted text from OnCore Golf makes the ELIXR sound very appealing. Especially the perimeter weighting which of course is something that we have seen done to make golf clubs (irons) more forgiving.

I would test the ELIXR on a course that had good conditions and greens that were firm and typical of a design from the 1920’s. I was immediately impressed with the feel and flight of the ELIXR. On my old blog I did a review on their Avant golf ball and I was not shy about saying that while I really, really liked the Avant I hated everything about their MA – 1.0 golf ball. The ELIXR has a 85 compression rating and if there was such a thing as a soft feeling 85 compression golf ball than the ELIXR is it. The ball carried, and held it’s line very well with no variance. More to the point, I felt like I just had hit a golf ball with a 60 compression. I didn’t see any signs of spin as there was no ballooning and the ballflight was piercing. Every tee shot was identical in terms of flight and feel. Regarding distance, I would suggest that at the very least it was equal to or a bit longer than my “gamer” (Pro V1).

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A look at the alignment aid.

When it came to swings with irons again I found myself very impressed with the feel emitted by the ELIXR at impact. I would say that it fell in between what I’ve come to find with say the Avant and the Titleist Pro V1. Coming off of my Titleist 710 AP2 irons it was like butter. Of course, some of that is the irons right? I found that the flight very desirable as the ELIXR went out, carried but the descent angle is when the magic started to happen. Where other balls being tested were inconsistent at holding the greens the ELIXR’s exit trajectory was such that it came in sort of steep and stopped after one hop. I was really impressed with it’s drop and stop characteristics.

I had a very high GIR percentage so I wasn’t able to test the ELIXR’s  greenside capabilities when it truly mattered. But what I did do was drop an ELIXR around a couple of greens to see what it did. This part of the testing was inconclusive due to daylight constraints. But it does seem promising. When it came to rolling putts with the ELIXR I loved the alignment aid and the ball does feel great off of the putter face. There was no “wobble” as indicated by watching the roll/alignment aid. So I would conclude that the ELIXR rolls true.

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Hit a 5 iron into this 202 yard Par 3. Stopped 4 feet from the hole. Ball mark was 15 inches from ball. Control.

(I never finished the round with the ELIXR. Unfortunately, after piping a drive down the fairway and hitting a real nice second shot on a Par 5 I watched two guys drive over to my golf ball and unceremoniously pick it up. I never said a word as I felt like the Easter Bunny who dropped an egg and a happy child found it. Maybe it was good marketing for OnCore too.)

About a week and a half ago I visited their HQ located at The Innovation Center on Ellicott Street in Buffalo. I was in the area and wanted to follow up with Steve. Incidentally, I also ended up talking to Director of Business and Player Development Brian McGahey (formerly of Nike Golf) about the ELIXR and I saw a television spot that will be airing on The Golf Channel. I will say this. Guys, you have come a long way since the MA – 1.0 and the ELIXR just may be magical. It was suggested that maybe I could trade in the Titleist hat that I was wearing for an OnCore Golf hat and maybe the time has come. #BeMoreWithOnCore #OnCoreFamily

Until The Next Tee!

Retractions, Apologies and Rickie

Seeing that I haven’t written an editorial lately I thought that for a change I would partake in such an endeavor. In fact, it has been some time and there has been a few “stirs” in the world of golf lately. So where does one begin?

I suppose that we could start with Tiger Woods. There is no doubt that Tiger is a shell of his former self but more to the point his age and the years of hardcore torque on his body has taken its toll. When it came time for Tiger to tee it up in Dubai at the Dubai Desert Classic he did. But as soon as he teed it up the stories started to emerge through his agent that Woods had back spasms Thursday night. The next day after posting a 77 he would withdraw. With an injury like back spasms it’s difficult to sit in a chair let alone play golf. So it’s no doubt that he would be in tough to score. I mean I played all 18 holes in a Mini-Tour event (Moonlight Tour in Orlando) with gout and that was no picnic. It was sheer misery, so I can’t imagine being Tiger the golfer he is (or was) and trying to compete at that level. That level that all of his adoring fans and Tiger himself have come to expect. Of course there was his “Missed Cut” at The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in lovely San Diego prior to Dubai and his withdrawal from the field at The Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. It came out real recently through news outlets that even legend Jack Nicklaus is “puzzled” about Woods’ status. Is he what he once was?

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Tiger’s… back? (Photo Credit: Golf Digest)

Well American golfer Pat Perez caused a stir when he made the statement on a show on SiriusXM PGA Tour radio show that Tiger “can’t beat anybody”. “The guy shot 77 (in Dubai). That guy can’t shoot 77,” Perez said. “What does he do the next day? Ah, my back’s gone. He knows he can’t beat anybody! I told you! He’s not going to come out and play, and play poorly.” If the casual golf fan were to read that exchange one might contend that he was calling Tiger a “faker”. Maybe Tiger is injured that bad, maybe Tiger has lost his game or maybe he is faking. All that I know is Perez would later retract the statement and say that he’s a “Tiger Fan” and wanted nothing more than to see Tiger start winning again on Tour. Perez would get lambasted and later make reference to knowing how it must have felt to be Fuzzy Zoeller. Remember the infamous “Zoeller Backlash of 1997″? In case you forgot, Fuzzy Zoeller suggested that for the Champions Dinner maybe Tiger would order “fried chicken”. A statement that would cost Zoeller endorsement deals. I guess my point is if you’re going to speak your mind on something think before you say it. If it happens to be inflammatory then be prepared to “stick to your guns” and don’t fumble around trying to retract what you said.

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Pat Perez (Photo Credit: Golf Digest)

Which reminds me. When did so many professional golfers (men) get so damn “catty”? You hear it now… guys calling out other players about faking, or guys calling out other players after they withdraw when they receive sponsors exemptions. Like Grayson Murray did about Bryson DeChambeau when the latter withdrew after 28 holes at Riviera. The “Tweet” on Twitter was passive-aggressive and if Grayson is going to call out Bryson then call him out by name because the suggestion “Hey @PGATOUR there should be a rule if you get a sponsor invite and withdraw after 28 holes you’re not allowed any other invites rest of year” was pretty specific. Grayson, with all due respect worry about yourself and focus on making cuts (he missed it at Riviera). I’ll give Grayson credit where it’s due and he never retracted the statement. I respect that. Without looking at the fact that a ton of players withdrew from that tournament (the weather was abysmal), that Grayson talked crap about Bryson the bigger news was that Dustin Johnson won The Genesis Open and with it the #1 ranking in the OGWR. DJ has spent a ton of time putting and with his ability to just overpower a golf course I think we are only seeing the beginning. What DJ could do is just scary to think about and I said on my old blog that when he won his first Major… it would open the floodgates. Consider them opened. But getting back to DeChambeau. I have seen this guy get “trolled” on Instagram by teenagers wanting “money matches” stating that he “sucks”. But recently he did a little trolling of the USGA himself. As most know DeChambeau uses (or used) a side-saddle style of putting. However, a tournament a month ago the USGA informed him that his putter wasn’t conforming. So Bryson switched to a conforming model of putter. Ultimately though the USGA didn’t like the method. He stated that the USGA was “not a good organization” and that he could be quoted as saying such. After a myriad of USGA debacles (the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open) who wouldn’t be inclined to agree with him? Regardless of putting method there is no doubt  that the kid is struggling on the greens. The question is this. Legitimate gripe or blame-shifting?

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Hey USGA… what’s the deal with side-saddle? DeChambeau (Photo Credit: USGA)

So Rickie Fowler can’t “close” eh?! This week was the first stop of the “Florida Swing” and PGA National Resort and Spa is home to “The Bear Trap” and The Honda Classic. I love the Florida Swing because that means that we are that much closer to driving down Magnolia Lane and The Masters. This weekend saw Rickie Fowler win and end a lengthy drought of not winning on the PGA Tour (last one in 2015). Apparently, there was or is a knock on Fowler that he cannot close out tournaments. Today, he closed out a victory by four shots to best the field. There were some struggles for Fowler today but his putter bailed him out. What is the lesson here kids? At any rate Fowler winning is such a great thing. Yes it ends a drought and yes he closed out a tournament but I think Rickie what’s more important is that Rickie is just so good for the game. He’s a good young man and he apologized over social media to his fans for not signing autographs after his Saturday round. This would not happen after the victory signing autographs for his fans after dark. The apology was classy and the signing today was pure class. Well done Rickie and congratulations on today’s win.

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OMG… I closed it out. (Photo Credit: Golf Channel)

I guess there is one thing to take from this. Yes the game has its share of “blowhards” and it’s share of “entitled trash talkers” but for every one of them you have a Rickie Fowler, a Justin Thomas, a Jordan Spieth or a Christina Kim. Good people who are great for the game.

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Christina Kim and me at Orange Tree (I know the grammar is bad but… it rhymed)

Until The Next Tee!

 

 

Video – 2017 Callaway Golf

Earlier this week, I took the time to write a review on the Callaway Golf Epic (Epic Sub Zero) driver. This past January I made sure to take a swing by the Callaway Golf booth at Demo Day to see what all of the hype was about. If you read my review Epic was everything that I thought it would be and more… fully living up to its moniker. I only wish I could have gotten onto a launch monitor while there for some hard data.

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Epic was… epic!

While I was at it, I made sure to put some swings in with the new Steelhead XR irons. In 2016, I was not crazy about the XR irons as “hot” as they were. The improvement on the Steelhead irons over the prior year was unreal. I wish I would have seen and made swings with the Steelhead XR Pro irons. Truth be told, I never saw them until after I interviewed  David Neville Senior Director of Brand Management for Callaway Golf. Hopefully the opportunity to swing the Steelhead XR Pro irons will arise.

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An upgrade over 2016?

Below is a video (click the link) that I recorded right after I made swings at Demo Day.

First impressions of 2017 Callaway Golf from PGA Show Demo Day

Review – Callaway Golf Epic (Driver) w/ Video

Callaway Golf… have they ever come a long way since vintner and textile innovator Ely Callaway became involved with golf. Having initially invested in a brand called Hickory Stick USA it was later re-branded as Callaway Hickory Stick USA  Mr. Callaway purchased half ownership of the former in 1982. By the time 1984 rolled around Mr. Callaway would purchase the company in full launching Callaway Golf as we now know it today. In 1991, golfers saw the release of the Big Bertha driver a game changer named after the massive artillery piece created by the Germans during World War I. Long-distance bombs! Here we are decades and generations of Big Bertha and Great Big Bertha later. With 2017 the golf industry has seen the launch of the Callaway Golf Great Big Bertha Epic (Epic Sub Zero) driver.

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Jailbreak Technology.

 

My experience with the Epic driver goes back to a cold day in late December. I was about 3 hours from in a little place called St. Thomas, Ontario visiting a golf shop that i had been meaning to go to for the longest time. It was then that I heard someone say “I know that guy” and it was Callaway Golf Area Rep Brent McClung. Of course, we exchanged pleasantries and then he asked me if I wanted to see something. Being the “gear head” (and responsible golf writer) that I am I said of course. This was when I would see parts of the 2017 product range from Callaway Golf. But the Epic I was immediately drawn towards with its carbon composite crown, Project X HAZRDUS shaft and sharp green accents (which reminded me of RAZR Fit Xtreme). I was blown away by how terrific it looked in the address position. So having been won over by the aesthetics of it Brent showed me the cut away and that was when I first saw their “Jailbreak Technology”. I knew that due to the embargo period I couldn’t Tweet a pic of it but asked anyways. No pictures were taken. But I knew that I was beyond intrigued and had to swing the Epic. Anything that looked that good and set up so well I had to swing… and wanted to swing right there that day.

So a month passes and the day finally came. Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge which to me is the “crown jewel” of the PGA Merchandise Show. The Epic was very high on my “Must Swing List” especially considering I had a time arranged to meet with David Neville Senior Director Brand Management for Callaway Golf during show week.  In advance of the meeting I made sure to make a few passes at the Callaway Golf booth just so I knew what it was like in advance. But more on that later. Before continuing on I just want to give a little bit of background information on The Epic and Epic Sub Zero drivers.

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Sole view of the Sub Zero.

GBB Epic – The 460CC Epic driver features what Callaway Golf calls “Jailbreak Technology” which is innovative technology that “changes how the head and face behave at impact to promote more speed across a larger area of the face for increased average distance. Innovative combination of titanium Exo-Cage and triaxial carbon crown (lightest ever in a Callaway driver) and sole create unprecedented forgiveness in a high-launch, low-spin design”. The Epic driver also features a redesigned track which originally seen in the 2014 edition of Great Big Bertha. The Epic driver also claims to have faster head speeds due to the company’s upgraded aerodynamics featuring Callaway’s proprietary Speed Step” which can be seen on the leading edge of the crown. Premium shaft options are endless with the likes of HZRDUS T800, Aldila Rogue M*AX, Mitsubishi Diamana and Fujikura Pro Green all being available for no up-charge. As to be expected Epic also features their OptiFit shaft adapter which allows golfers and fitters to find their optimal configuration. Standard lofts come in 9, 10 and a high trajectory 13.5 degree model. Standard length is 45.5″ and Epic has a swingweight of D-3 which allows for feeling the head through impact.

GBB Epic Sub Zero – “The GBB Epic Sub Zero Driver is a true paradigm shift: a powerful, low-spinning Tour-level driver that’s also incredibly forgiving — an unheard of combination. Its high-speed / low-spin characteristics make it particularly appealing to Tour pros, yet it’s so exceptionally forgiving and easy to launch that a wide range of players will want to play Epic Sub Zero.” While the GBB Epic Sub Zero features the same Jailbreak Technology and the same “Exo-Cage Construction” and streamlined aerodynamics what GBB Epic Sub Zero does not have the same is the sliding track on the trailing edge. Instead the trailing edge is “clean” and there are two interchangeable weights (12g and 2g) to allow golfers the ability to tinker with trajectory and spin rates. For lower spin, golfers would want to place the 12g weight in the front. Stock shaft offerings again are the Aldila Rogue M*AX, Fujikura Pro Green and Project X HZRDUS T800. The head size is 460CC and Sub Zero comes in two loft options (9* and 10.5*) and come in the same standard 45.5″. The swingweight is different however in that it comes in at a slightly heavier D-4.

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The GBB Epic Sub Zero. Jailbreak and the forward weight screw.

So now that I’ve dispensed with the technical jargon what exactly happened when I got to swing the GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero drivers?

The weather at Demo Day this year might have been the best conditions that I have seen there in my 5 years attending the show. Totally clear and sunny with the temperature being in the mid-70’s. A day which was absolutely perfect!! As far as geography on the 360* range at Orange County National the Callaway demonstration area was in a position that had a helping wind slightly over the right shoulder. Upon picking up the GBB Epic I was immediately reminded of the first time in December. The club felt great in my hands and I couldn’t wait to make swings. So I warmed up with a few passes with a Mack Daddy wedge and some swings with the new Steelhead XR irons.

GBB Epic – Warmed up nicely, I switched to the GBB Epic. To reiterate,  I love the look of the Epic in the address position. The carbon-composite crown shimmers in the sunlight and the glossy black head and black face seemingly blend together while the “Speed Step” on the leading edge is not intrusive. I found the overall footprint pleasing although I thought that the was a little on the bigger side (but not like Big Bertha Fusion). The pairing of the PX HZRDUS makes Epic look “mean”. A gorgeous driver. I would make swings with the 9* head with all of the settings “stock”. My first swing resulted in a drive that just went straight and long. It was definitely a tee shot that I would take on any driving hole on any golf course in the world. The ball flight was a little higher than I prefer but not in a way where it was ballooning and that was proven with the descent angle. I did see some nice rollout on the tail-end of my drives. It seems to me that all that GBB Epic wanted to do was hit high, long drives which is what it was designed for in the first place. Shot-shaping can definitely be achieved. Acoustically, the GBB Epic was “muted” but the feeling was “hot and sharp” and ever so solid. With the GBB Epic I don’t recollect a single shot that was a low hook (my miss) or anything that was a slice. Perhaps, this speaks volumes of its forgiveness.

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One of the many stock shaft offerings. Project X HZRDUS.

GBB Epic Sub Zero  – Picking up the Sub Zero I immediately felt a degree of comfort. I really did like… and prefer the smaller footprint. This was a club that I really was looking forward to swinging because it boasts everything that I look for in a driver. I must say that Callaway designers did an “utterly fantastic” job in hiding this 460CC head in a chassis that appears to be smaller (430-440CC). The Sub Zero for whatever reason had a much better feel in my opinion and I figured that it was the slight difference in swing weight. I am and always have been picky about feeling a club through impact and this driver fit that need. I used the Sub Zero in its neutral settings again with a 9* driver. I observed a lower ball flight with a flatter trajectory. All of the launch conditions and trajectory were “spot-on” as far as what eyes like to see. You can really feel this driver kick through impact and I attribute that to the D-4 swingweight. This driver performed magnificently and again no low hooks or slices. Controlled little draws and cuts on command. The Sub Zero is a very workable, forgiving driver “that packs a lot of low-spin punch”. Have you ever looked at a driver and imagined what it would sound and feel like? I have and the Sub Zero was everything that I envisioned it to be.

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A sole view of the GBB Epic Sub Zero.

In closing, I would love to spend some course time with the GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero drivers from Callaway Golf. These are high=performance drivers that deliver performance in every way that a golfer would want. Great shaft options, great looks and seemingly perfect flight characteristics. If you’re in the market for a new driver this golf season give the Epic a look. The Epic is very well-deserving of its name and is simply…epic.

David Neville explaining the tech in the GBB Epic drivers

Until The Next Tee!

Forte Golf

It’s amazing how worldwide the golf industry has become. We see products of all kinds from every corner of the globe. These products cover the full gamut of golf. From golf bags, to golf clubs and of course golf balls.Some products are even from “Down Under” like independent golf ball company Forte Golf.

Forte Golf is a company that was started out by a group of lovers of the game of golf. Being passionate about the game of golf (like so many of us) their love became addiction. With addiction comes practice, more play and with any sort of luck… improvement. While the group of golfers knew what equipment to play the mystery was playing the right ball. They were of the opinion that the balls in the industry were designed for Tour players and that the masses pick their golf ball based on what the Tour players play. So they set out to design and create a golf ball of their own to rival the “big boys” of the industry. Starting out with themselves leading them to tracking a variety of players’ data (which ranged from swing speed, hole-by-hole score, posture, and ball used). When the dust finally settled 2 years later the team at Forte compiled a list of what golfers looked for in a golf ball basing this on data points collected from their research.Ultimately, the goal of the team at Forte Golf want to “reawaken” the passion for golf for those that play this game.

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Two offerings from Forte Golf

How did we get to the testing? Well, the answer is short. I received an e-mail from someone (Laurie) over at Forte Golf who asked me if I would like to try their golf balls. Of course, I would not decline the offer as I like to shed light on any company willing to let me test their products. Besides, I have a history of testing golf balls from independent golf ball companies. So, I was informed that I would receive a sample package and I waited… eager to see what the company had in mind. So the parcel arrived from Taiwan and I opened it up eager to see the contents. Inside were a dozen each of two of their models. The first model was a 3-piece offering called the Tour Performance S while. the second model was a 6-piece offering called the Apex 6. Ironically, Forte sent me the two balls that I was the most curious about. Below is some background information on each of their golf balls as taken from literature at the Forte Golf website.

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All set for “The Dungeon”.

Tour Performance S – This golf ball is aimed towards the “Advanced Player”. This particular golfer is one who “demands premium urethane covers ball at all skill levels. Increased short game spin control without sacrificing tee shot distance”. The Tour Performance S features 

  1. P.R.B. High-Energy Core: The low compression core that provides super-soft feel and lower spin rate of the tee.
  2. Ultra-Soft HPF Resin: An extremely thin layer of resin that perfectly blends the core with its cast urethane cover.
  3. Cast Urethane Cover: Along with an exclusive patented polyurethane formula that provides excellent spin control around the green along with incredible soft feel.

Manufactured with industry leading material and our unique urethane formulation. Tour Performance S is your ultimate control ball.”

(Honestly, the above features are something that I personally look for when putting a golf ball into play)

Apex 6 – This golf ball is also targeted towards the “Advanced Player” and in particular to those with a higher swing speed. “Ideal for players who demands the best or nothing. Underneath the cast urethane cover is the world’s first 6 piece golf ball! It guarantees to outperform the competition in all aspect.” Features of the Apex 6 are outlined below.

  1. P.R.B. High-Energy Core: The high energy core with super-soft and low compression leads to ultimate distance with low spin off the tee.
  2. Soft HPF Resin: The first mantle layer is made by soft and lightning reaction formula for the improved touch and feel.
  3. Mid-Soft HPF Resin: The energy transfer layer is a perfect combination of the first and third layers characteristics.
  4. Toughness HPF Resin: Offering extraordinary control, the third layer has the greatest flexibility and strength. 
  5. Surlyn Lonomer Resin: Resin that is used to aid generating greater spin control around the green.
  6. Cast Urethane Cover: Along with an exclusive patented polyurethane formula that provides excellent spin control around the green along with incredible soft feel.

 

(Forte Golf had me hooked with all of the above stated information)

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A look on the respective “alignment aids”

So I set out to testing. Initially, due to the winter season all of my testing started down in “The Dungeon” (my basement practice studio… it’s cold, damp and dark).

Putting – I started with putting because this is an important and intimate part of the game. I started to make putts and I really liked the feel of both golf balls. The Tour Performance S (TPS) is said to be an “ultra-soft” golf ball and that did in fact translate when it came to putting. The Tour Performance S is void of an alignment aid per se but I used the part of the golf ball where it’s model name is emblazoned on the side. I observed no wobble and the ball rolled true on the Big Moss (Augusta) putting mat downstairs. When it came to the putting of the Apex 6 I observed no difference in feel (both have cast urethane covers) but what I immediately liked better was the obvious putting alignment aid. It just had a cleaner look while I was over the ball. The Apex 6 rolled true as one might expect.

Chipping/Pitching – Again, this is a part of the game that I feel is intimate. After all the stroke (chipping in particular) is just a little bit bigger than the putting stroke. I would gather baseline information by hitting chips and pitches onto the surface to the Big Moss. The Tour Performance S has very nice greenside spin characteristics based on early observations. I noticed that the Tour Performance S had no problem with “applying the brakes”. The Apex 6 was more of the same… the ball stops (but remember folks the strike that you put on a golf ball plays a big part of acquiring short game spin… accelerate through the ball). What I thought was an eyebrow raiser was that I preferred the feel of the Apex 6. I honestly thought that since I love a very soft golf ball the TPS would be the preference. It wasn’t. I would start taking bigger swings with my pitching wedge downstairs hitting now into my practice net. With these “bigger swings” I really liked the feel of both golf balls yet if I had to lean in one direction it would have been the Apex 6… which again surprised me.

Full Swing – We had some decent golf weather (please take with a grain of salt) here in Niagara Falls. I took the opportunity to play 9-holes on New Year’s Day which was a balmy +4*C at tee off (38*F). Not the ideal time to play new balls for the purposes of testing but still it gave me an idea of what I was dealing with. Without elaborating too much on this particular instance both models of golf ball tested very well. Off of the tee both balls fared well with an edge going to the TPS and I figured that had to do with the temperatures. Iron shots yielded the better feel (Titleist 710 AP2) but the better spin on the sometimes thawed greens did point to the Apex 6. However, that said I had a few approach shots where the TPS outperformed the Apex 6. Driver distance I would suggest was very even in the cold as was distance with irons.

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In the hole.

However, the testing would continue as I traded the cold north for the “sunny south” of Florida during PGA Show week. I used this opportunity to put the Forte Golf offerings to good use. My testing would begin around the putting green of a course called Wedgewood Golf Course. I also happened to be putting the finishing touches on a putter testing for the Lateral Line L2 MAXX MOI. As I went through my short game practice I started to observe that (for my liking) the Apex 6 was the better performer by the slimmest of margins. They were pretty equal to each other when it came to pitches/chips that were into level or hole locations that were on an uphill slope. But for the chips that were to holes on a downslope the Apex 6 performed better. The TPS released and appeared to have spin less from the Bermuda grass than the Apex 6. The Apex 6 just looked like it had more spin out of the turf and it’s release wasn’t “as drastic”. When it came to full swing results in “season-like conditions” I found that the Apex 6 was a tad longer than the TPS while the control of the Apex 6 was a little more superior. I should note that the durability of both balls was very good with no cuts appearing on the cover of either one.

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The Forte Golf Tour Performance S was a real solid performer.

Quite honestly, both golf balls tested well but with these results comes a little bit of concern. This is something that I brought up in recent correspondence with Laurie. Actually, my concern is more of a concern with them in mind. The price point. When it comes to the price Forte Golf does what a few other of the independent golf ball company’s do… discounts for quantity. The more that you order from them the less per dozen. If you were to order just one dozen golf balls the TPS is listed at $48.99/doz ($37.55 USD) which puts them right where some of the “industry giants” have golf balls with similar designs. The Apex 6 on the other hand is more expensive starting at $76.99/doz. These prices are reflected in AUD (Australian Dollars). At the time of writing $76.99 AUD is equal to $59 USD which has them well above most if not all others on the market including Titleist Pro V1. My other concern is the claim that the Apex 6 is the first 6-piece golf ball on the market. In 2014, Maxfli introduced the U/6 golf ball which is also a 6-piece design. I e-mailed my concerns on pricing and the message was relayed to the others.But the crew at Forte Golf believes that the price is “justifiable” as it relates to its performance on the greens.

I’m not the judge and nor am I the jury. I believe that the golf balls brought to us by Forte Golf are very good performers. They tested very well in all aspects of the game. But the question is this… will the average golf consumer be willing to spend extra on the Apex 6 no matter how good it is? That’s not for me to decide. All of this said… I would have no problem putting the Tour Performance S into play.

 

Until The Next Tee!

 

DuoTrac Gen i1

In an article that I wrote earlier this week (What I Learned) I touched on the fact that technology in the golf industry is very “en vogue”. The advances in technology in regards to the golf industry has gotten absolutely mind-blowing. Whether it’s GPS units, laser rangefinders or wearable technology that allows you to measure a variety of metrics like Driving Distance, Greens Hit and Putts Per Round technology has made the game more interactive and in some cases technology has made for a real learning tool for golfers and instructors alike.

When it comes to the game of golf, technology has developed a real penchant for supplying golfers a wealth of information when it comes to vital information like spin rates, distance and launch angle. Information that is necessary to every golfer that takes the game “serious” (it’s a relative term). We all love to know how far we hit each shot. As we go through the bag this becomes vital for “gapping” purposes. There is never a time when we want a 30 yard difference from “Club A” to “Club B” so technology comes to the rescue again and through the use of “Doppler” (commonly used radar by meteorologists) launch monitors have quickly become the norm. Launch monitors have their big players in the industry and with those big players comes big price tags. Launch monitors can cost anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands. For most (myself included) the budget isn’t there for even one of the “lower end” launch monitor/simulator options. So there has been a major hole in the launch monitor game. A very affordable monitor for the masses. DuoTrac has and is continuing to work on a solution.

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Holly G. from Golf Marketing Services addressing the media.

I was invited to attend a luncheon the Wednesday of the PGA Show by Holly Geoghegan and Irlianna Samsara of Golf Marketing Services. There was going to be a special announcement at this time by Jason Koo  CEO of DuoTrac (Coach Labs) who is also the developer of a 4D Motion Sensor that measures Hip Sway etc. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Koo at his booth the year prior at the show. The announcement also featured a special guest and most football fans may know him from FOX Sports (Curt Menefee). The announcement was for a new and exciting device from DuoTrac called the “GEN i1”.

The GEN i1 is a launch monitor that is unlike others in the industry. Instead of having a system that’s pretty involved (wires, laptops etc) you have a launch monitor that is in the form of a golf ball. As a matter of fact the GEN i1 is being touted as the “World’s First True Intelligent Golf Ball” this golf ball is like nothing else that I’ve seen on the market. As Mr. Koo and his team explained through his presentation the golf ball has a “chip” inside that will measure everything from putting and how the ball starts to roll (it’s rotation) to face angle. Data is relayed in real-time to your device. There’s going to be an app for iOS and Android formats. Not only will GEN i1 give you this valuable information but it will also have the capability to give you a full game experience and data like ball speed, launch angle, back spin, carry distance and smash factor. That is an absolute plethora of information from a small device.

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Curt Menefee of FOX Sports introducing the GEN i1. CEO Jason Koo to his left.

Remember when I alluded to DuoTrac and Mr. Koo finding a real sweet spot or niche in the market? When this product is released it will be retailing for $139 USD which of course is a fraction of the cost when compared to other options in the industry. For $139 you will receive 2 GEN i1 golf balls, a USB Charger Cable and a Charging Base. To give you a rough idea of what the ball feels like… I would say that it has the same feel and weight as a regular golf ball (range ball) and when I think about I would compare the ball to what you would find at a Top Golf facility. As time wears on I am curious about its durability.

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The GEN i1 in it’s charging station. (Photo Credit: DuoTrac.com)

When the GEN i1 becomes available this summer, you will be able to set up a practice net and play “golf” in your backyard or during the winter months from the comfort of your house or garage. Full swing, short game and putting measurements. It sounds perfect! What more could you need? Combine your net with a putting mat from a company like Big Moss and you have yourself a private “golf course”. I am excited about this product and I hope that it does exactly what it says. I hope to test and review this product and when/if this happens I’ll be more than happy to post my findings.

Until The Next Tee!

Review – The Heights at Cleveland Heights

On my recent trip to Florida for the recent PGA Show I took the time to have a little bit of R&R and more time to work on my game. Avoiding the hustle and bustle of golf courses in the Orlando/Kissimmee area was good decision. It’s the peak season for golf in the “Sunshine State” but then you factor in thousands of migratory golf industry types into the equation and the courses become pretty congested. This year, I took time away from the beaten track of International Drive and stayed with family (Bobbi and Joe) in Plant City, FL which is a mere 45 minutes away from Orlando (as long as you hit a certain exit by a certain time). Once the show wrapped up I had a few products that I wanted to test for my site. Golf balls from Srixon, Forte Golf, and OnCore Golf. Well, there is only one way to test new product and that’s to play golf.

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Product Testing (Forte, Srixon, OnCore and Titleist)

Located in Lakeland, FL is an area of the city called Cleveland Heights. The area itself is void of trailer parks and is an area of Lakeland that is established. Looking for a place to play golf that was close to “Bobbi and Joe’s” I took to Google and searched for golf courses. Admittedly, I did this prior to driving down as well. “The Heights” was a course that really intrigued me. And to be totally frank I don’t know why. perhaps it was the award that it won in the “Lakeland Ledger” (newspaper). So I took a chance and drove out to the course. No tee time.. it was later in the day and honestly it’s a big “no-no” in my books.

The Heights is a 27-hole facility that is run by the City of Lakeland which puts it into the category of a “muni”. While many “munis” leave you feeling a little uninspired as you pull up The Heights was a total opposite. The clubhouse and lot area has terrific curb appeal and it’s a clubhouse (20,000 sq ft) that looks more like a semi-private club with it’s “Spanish-style”estancia styling which was renovated in 2001. Once the vision of Cleveland real estate magnate H.A. Stahl the course was hit hard by The Great Depression. The city of Lakeland would intervene after the taxes fell behind and later took over the property. Originally, The Heights was an 18-hole layout but in the 1980’s they added a third nine making it into the 27-hole facility that it is today. Before I continue, I should add that The Heights also features a full-length driving range just past the practice green. There are lights there, so it makes me wonder if during certain times of the year the range is open for night practice.

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Stone Bridge

Check-in at the Pro Shop was very easy and the staff was very friendly and they were very pleased to accommodate my desire to play. When I played I could not believe the rates. For nine holes it was $11.99 USD which is unheard of especially considering the time of the year. Did I mention that it included a riding cart? The Pro Shop staff engaged in conversation and were not eager to push me out the door. They made me feel welcome and relaxed. So off I went to practice on the range and the range balls are of a good quality. Having concluded my practice on the range and putting green  I was greeted by the starter who said that it was quiet and I could go wherever I liked. I asked him which was the nicest to look at and without hesitation he said the Azalea Course (known as “A” Course). So I teed off… a par 4 gentle dogleg with a berm about 100 yards out from the elevated green adorned with a lovely old stone bridge. My first thoughts looking out from that tee was that I could not believe this was a muni for less than $12. The beauty never went away. The 2nd hole was a 202 yd Par 3 and the backdrop behind the green was gorgeous.

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The Par 4 Third Hole “Azalea Course”

As far as aesthetics went I absolutely loved the Par 4 3rd hole. A cute slight dogleg left. In a way, the tee box and oaks dressed in Spanish Moss with a little creek running along its length reminded me of something from Augusta National. I don’t know why but it just did. I won’t give a hole by hole narrative as I think the point has been made that it is a very nice golf course on the eyes. If there was one negative I guess it was the greens. They were long but it was late in the day and Bermuda grows like wildfire so it’s not fault. A couple of the greens looked like they were under repair and there were plenty of ball marks not fixed. An epidemic that haunts muni and private courses alike. Make a mark… take pride.. walk up to it and fix it like the guys and gals on Tour. Oh and there was the guy that grabbed my OnCore Elixr as I was driving up to my shot on the Par 5 8th. I watched him actually grab it and never said anything. Casual golf right? I felt like the Easter Bunny I dropped an egg and someone found it.

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Roseate Spoonbill

 

The natural beauty and splendor of this golf course never faded. There was a bit of wildlife out there too as I saw Roseate Spoonbills, Kingfishers, Sandhill Cranes the usual Ibis and Egrets. Perhaps it was the way that the sun was setting but as I was driving down the cart path towards number 4 (spread out from the hole prior) the way that the Spanish Moss hung in the trees with the setting sun behind was something right out of what I picture when I think of Florida golf. The evening was captivating and the 9th hole was an uphill Par 3 to finish out.

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Setting sun through Spanish Moss

Ladies and gentlemen, if you find yourself in the Lakeland area looking to play some golf in a relaxed atmosphere on a beautiful course with a tight budget. Give The Heights at Cleveland Heights a look. I look forward to seeing the “B” and “C” course the next time around. It’s beautiful.

Until The Next Tee!