REVIEW – SkyCaddie SX400 GPS

Many thanks go out to Tracy Nackel from TEN Marketing and PR for giving me the opportunity to test and review the SkyCaddie SX400. Thank-you Tracy!!

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The Set-Up

The SkyCaddie SX400 comes to us from SkyGolf. SkyGolf, is the “#1-Rated and Most-Trusted Rangefinder in Golf” and is a company that specializes in developing technology that’s designed to help golfers play better golf and have more fun while doing so. SkyGolf’s objective is to help golfers play better golf by providing them with the best information available.

In the case of the SkyCaddie SX400 this is accomplished in many ways. Built off of the chassis of its predecessor the award-winning SX500, the SX400 is a smaller, more compact version. Where the SX500 was a little bit on the “bigger side” the SX400 is smaller with a touchscreen size of 4″. The display is touted by SkyGolf as being “brilliant” and responsive. The design is sleek, rugged, durable and is water-resistant. The graphics are full HD and the unit features Wi-Fi connectivity, which means, you don’t need a cord to upload courses or upload system updates to your device. All you need is a Wi-Fi signal.

The SX400 comes with over 35,000 pre-loaded golf courses and includes a bunch of great features. Here’s a brief summary of the features.

  1. Dynamic HoleVue – Dynamic HoleVue automatically re-orients the entire golf hole from your position to the green as you progress from the tee. So if you’re you’re on the next fairway, you’ll be provided with true and accurate distances to the green.
  2. IntelliGreen Technology – This displays the exact shape of the green and automatically rotates to match your angle of approach.
  3. Dynamic RangeVue – Multiple yardage arcs that overlay fairway landing areas and greens that allow golfers to select the best club for the required shot.
  4. IntelliGreen Pro – This feature provides golfers accurate details of the green. It will display false front, mounds, tiers of the green, and contours. **Note that this feature is only on select courses.
  5. Dynamic RangeVue with Club Ranges – Allows you to learn quickly how far you hit each club. “Customize RangeVue® by entering your club yardages. Then as you play, you will see your club range next to the RangeVue ring on every part of the course for much-improved shot-making to fairways, layups, and greens”
  6. Digital Scoring – Easily enter your score and keep track of important stats like fairways hit, greens hit and track where your misses were off of the tee.

 

The Transition

I was excited to receive this product for testing and review. When I received the press release for the SX400 I was very intrigued because of all of the features listed above. More importantly, when I have used devices in the past it was typically in the form of a laser rangefinder. I always felt that the point and shoot versatility of a laser rangefinder, therefore, I have long thought that a rangefinder was the way to go. So, coming into this testing the SX400 was at a disadvantage.IMG_20191121_155912556 Upon opening the package, I really liked the appearance of the box, especially in terms of “curb appeal” in Pro Shops and other retail locations. The box for the SX400 will stand out in cabinets and cases. The bold contrast of black, white, and chartreuse green is guaranteed to be seen by those browsing for similar products.

Opening the box, everything you need is there. Instructions, the recommended charging cord, a cloth for cleaning the screen, and plenty of charge on the battery to get you started if you’re taking it right to the golf course. More on the battery in a bit.

The device itself feels great in the hand, personally speaking, I really liked the beveled edges. My thumb sort of just rests on one edge and the SX400 just sort of cradles itself in between my thumb and index finger. If I were to give it one piece of constructive criticism as far as the design goes, maybe a rubberized coating along the sides. Just to give an extra feeling of security in your hands.

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A look at HoleVue.

The display itself, I feel is the real attraction and the star of the SX400. SkyGolf touts it as being “brilliant” and it is that. I find that the display is vivid and very eye-pleasing. The hazards, bunkers, and tee boxes all appear on the display in front of you just as it appears on the course as you look down the fairway.

I feel it’s important to note that some courses only have a feature called QuickVue. Courses with QuickVue aren’t quite as detailed as courses with HoleVue. Meaning that while you still get the general shape of the hole it and all of the important yardages. However, it will not display features like water hazards, trees, and the target cursor cannot be moved. Don’t fret though, if you click on the little eye icon on the bottom-right side of the screen and go to the “list view” it will tell you how far away you are from certain course features (hazards, gulleys, and bunkers).

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What the QuickVue looks like. There’s a water hazard where the jagged line is.

Getting the SX400 ready for your round is quite easy. Type the golf course that you’re looking for into the search bar and let the device work its magic. Upon downloading the course, you will receive pertinent information. For example, I played at a course in Zephyrhills, Florida called Southport Springs. Before heading out from where I was staying I downloaded the golf course. It gave me pertinent information such as their physical address, whether it had a driving range or not, the telephone number for the facility, and which features it had as far as the SX400 was concerned (HoleVue, IntelliGreen etc). Another cool feature upon downloading the golf course is that you can go into “Demo” and scout the golf course. I devised a gameplan before arriving at the golf course. I knew exactly which club I was going to use where and when. I’ve also used it to simulate rounds of golf during range sessions. Nothing beats good scouting and good preparation.

The battery life of the SkyCaddie SX400 has been phenomenal. In fact, when I first started testing this product I never charged the SX400. As it sits right now, it’s holding at 34% and it has been used in some very cold weather (albeit 9-hole rounds) and 18-holes in Florida. I’ve played 72-holes without charging, the SX400 is very efficient.

The SX400 fits perfectly into any golf cart cup holder and travels really well while on the golf course. In fact, much better than its bigger sibling the SX500. I held the SX500 at the PGA Show and I was surprised by how bulky it was. I could envision hitting a bump while riding on a cart and having the SX500 fly out of the cart. Not the case with the SX400. Not to mention if you walk it fits nicely in your back pocket (if you wanted to carry it there). Generally, we already have a cell phone connected to us somehow. So why would we want more potential bulk? The SX400 beats its bigger sibling.

 

The Finish

I really could go on boasting about how great the SX400 has been throughout testing. I love the versatility of the SX400 and with features like HoleVue, IntelliGreen, and the vivid display there is nothing to dislike about it. The SkyCaddie SX400 has superior battery life and has lasted longer than any other wearable GPS device that I’ve tested to date. If I have a choice of a rangefinder or the SX400, I’m using the SkyCaddie SX400 every time.

In terms of a golf score on a hole, the SkyCaddie SX400 is a sure Eagle. The SkyCaddie SX400 is a “sure bet” to win awards from other publications. If you’re looking for a handheld golf GPS this season look no further.

For more information on the SX400 and other products from SkyGolf please visit SkyGolf.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

The Premier Golf League – Will You Watch?

Here’s a pretty simple question. With details slowly beginning to emerge about the Premier Golf League, will you watch?

Make no bones about it, this league has an uphill climb and there are a plethora of obstacles that stand in its way. Including but not limited to…

  1. It’s always hard being the “new kid on the block”. Golf is, generally speaking, closed-minded to new things and ideas.
  2. Not long ago PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan delivered an ultimatum. It essentially went like this. Play in the Premier Golf League and you lose membership on the PGA TOUR.
  3. The Premier Golf League really focuses on the term “premier” in defining who’s invited to play in this league.
  4. Make no mistake, geopolitics is going to play a part in this to a certain degree.

And the list could really go on, but for the sake of word count, I’ll refrain from continuing. So, I’ll just touch on these points. Before starting, I just want to look at the proposed format.

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The league is set to launch in January 2022. The PGL will feature 48 players competing among 12 four-person teams. If this sounds familiar, it might. This is similar to how Formula 1 racing is done. There will be 18, 54-hole tournaments with purses of $10 million each and no cuts. The events will be played on four continents: 10 in the U.S., four in Asia (including one in the Middle East), three in Europe and one in Australia. An interesting format, that might work. The events would run from January to August and would not get in the way of Major championships.

I really hate bringing politics into any conversation, especially when it relates to sports. But it can’t be overlooked in this case. Like it or not, geopolitics will play a part in whether this league takes off or not. Let us look at the origins of where a lot of the financial backing for the PGL is coming from. Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been a “powder keg” and a serious source of malcontent in the “Western Hemisphere”.  From the way that Saudi Arabia handles human rights, the way that they treat women, to the case of the 2018 murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi there are many political reasons why many golf viewers wouldn’t support the Premier Golf League.

In 2019, there was a backlash when the European Tour teed it up to play the Saudi International. Many golf fans and observers felt that in light of the current events that were going on then, they should have canceled the stop. I for one thought about this briefly, also I was against the Turkish Airlines Open as well in light of the “genocide-like” attacks on the Kurdish people in late 2019 that were taking place at the time.

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Could Phil end up playing in the PGL?

A few decades ago, there was another new golf tour that tried to emerge. As I recollect, it was called the “Pro Golf Tour”. There were a couple of wealthy backers that backed that venture. Their names were Bill Gates and Donald Trump. It never really got off of the ground. But just because you’re a new kid on the block doesn’t mean that nobody will be interested. This is partially where the Premier Golf League has a chance to get the leg up on the PGA TOUR. Enforce the little things. The pace of play, make the players accountable and bring some freshness to an otherwise stale sport to watch on television. Which gives me another thought. Television broadcasting rights. Who gets it? Would it be pay-per-view? Pay-per-view would be suicide. GOLFTV? That almost seems like the obvious choice.

Jay Monahan announced the ultimatum, play there (PGL) and you’re no longer a PGA TOUR member. In almost a way that a kidnapper holds someone for ransom. I applaud him for showing some semblance of a backbone, but maybe if he had shown some against his players the PGA TOUR wouldn’t be a mess. Here’s the thing though. At the end of the day, the players are independent contractors and they have the right to play when and where they want. There’s no union here. Another small point, what is the European Tour’s stance on the Premier Golf League? They’re pretty forward-thinking and I could envision some sort of collaboration there.

Guys that would bolt, as it stands right now would be able to play events like The Open, The Masters, The U.S. Open (unless their respective organizations/committee were to get involved in strong-arming the players as well) with the PGA Championship being the only one that’s sort of murky. While some players from the PGA TOUR are open to it, others are not. Rory McIlroy came out and to paraphrase said that he “wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of history”. I wonder what the context of “history” was. Conversely, you can’t help but feel that Phil Mickelson would be all over it. He played in the Saudi International instead of the WM Phoenix Open. That too was a sort of “black-eye”. What about Patrick Reed? Has he refuted the notion?

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Rory is a strong no.

With Rory debunking playing in the PGL, who are the organizers trying to attract? Obviously the elite and the best of the best. We know that Tiger Woods has been approached. Ultimately, they need 48-players who need to commit to every event on the schedule to make this format work. Rory, in a way, sort of alluded to this when he said this earlier this week.

“The more I’ve thought about it, the more I don’t like it,”. “The one thing as a professional golfer in my position that I value is the fact that I have autonomy and freedom over everything that I do. If you go and play this other golf league, you’re not going to have that choice.”

Golf has never really been a sport where open-minds win. In fact, golf and golf fans can be quite closed-minded. There’s a massive feeling out process right now. So many details have yet to come to the forefront. As it stands right now. The Premier Golf League. Would you watch?

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

SIK Putters Staff Professional Bryson DeChambeau captures Top 5 Finish at Genesis Invitational and WGC – Mexico Championship

Say what you will. Love him or hate him, Bryson DeChambeau has had consecutive Top-5 finishes two weeks in a row. DeChambeau finished with a share of 5th Place at the Genesis Open and this week lost by one at the WGC-Mexico Championship. SIK Putters playing a vital role.

Thanks to Joe Wieczorek from The Media Group for sharing this release. Please read for more details on putters from SIK Golf (Study In Kinematics).

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

PINELLAS PARK, FL) – SIK Golf, (S)TUDY (I)N (K)INEMATICS, announced today that PGA Tour Staff Professional, Bryson DeChambeau, captured a T-5th Place Finish on the PGA Tour this past weekend at The Genesis Invitational held at the Riviera Country Club in Palisades, CA.

Bryson DeChambeau, commonly referred to as “The Professor” and “The Mad Scientist”, is probably best known for his unorthodox set of irons that are all the same length, but what most people don’t know is that he’s captured all five of his PGA TOUR victories, and in excess of $14 Million Dollars in earnings, using a SIK putter!
DeChambeau fired rounds of 68, 70, 69 and 69 to finish at 8 under par for the tournament and grab his second Top 10 of the 2020 season as well as a paycheck for $318,990.00. He is currently ranked 16th in The Official World Golf Rankings.
“We’d like to congratulate Bryson on his Top 5 at The Genesis Invitational,” said, SIK Golf’s COO, Marc Cerio. “Bryson found out about SIK’s Descending Loft Technology in his rookie season on the PGA Tour. When he saw the data on the Quintic Ball Roll System with a SIK putter in his hands, he was instantly hooked. We’re very proud to have him on our Staff and we’re excited to see what the rest of the 2020 season holds for him.”
About SIK Golf’s Descending Loft Technology™
Descending Loft Technology™ is SIK Golf’s patented putter face technology. They have four flat surfaces that are milled into their putter face. Each plane descends in loft by 1° from the top of the face to the bottom of the face. When your shaft is pressed at impact the ball contact will be higher on the face, same is true in reverse. DLT delivers consistent launch angles from putt to putt which lead to more consistent and predictable rolls.
The DLT planar face is superiorly unique amongst its’ peers. Custom putters from SIK Golf not only ensure individualization, they truly “Change the Way You Roll”. It is a literal game-changer for players and duffers alike.
SIK Golf’s mission is to make you a better putter, not just sell you one.

For more information about SIK Golf, visit www.sikgolf.com.

“First Impressions” Review – Callaway Golf MAVRIK Driver

About two weeks before the 2020 PGA Show I wrote an article that speculated about what the MAVRIK (and MAVRIK Sub Zero drivers might be like. That article can be seen here MAVRIK Speculation. In that article, it was my assertion when I had asked one simple question towards the end. It read like this…

Is MAVRIK “Rogue-like” with Flash Face Technology?

At the 2020 PGA Show, I would answer that question at Demo Day.

As far as I’m concerned, the Epic Flash (EF) was near perfection. It featured pretty good looks, a powerful sound at impact, and the ballflight was long and strong. It was a runner-up for the “Top Driver” Teezy Award in 2019. So the MAVRIK had pretty big shoes to fill.

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The Set-Up

When looking at the MAVRIK family of drivers head-to-head against the last couple of drivers that Callaway Golf has produced there are some similarities. Technologies like their long-standing “OptiFit Hosel” and “Jailbreak Technology” come to mind. Introduced in 2019 “Flash Face Technology” returns. Flash Face Technology, was the incorporation of using A.I (Artificial Intelligence) in determining the perfect face to match the rest of the design. Using A.I expedites the process of developing prototypes. In fact, A.I allowed Callaway Golf R&D to come up with 15,000 prototypes in 2019.

For 2020, Callaway Golf developed Flash Face SS20. This new face promotes higher ball speeds across a larger surface area. Callaway Golf used “FS2S titanium, an extremely strong material that’s 6 grams lighter than traditional titanium” which further aids in providing optimal speed and forgiveness. T2C Triaxial Carbon Crown is a very lightweight carbon fiber. The weight savings in employing something like a lighter carbon fiber allows engineers to place more weight in more strategic places. Like low and back, to help with forgiveness and allow for the easier launch of the golf ball. A couple of grams doesn’t sound like much. But in terms of R&D with golf equipment, It translates to a lot of weight.

The MAVRIK is offered in three heads. The MAVRIK, MAVRIK Sub Zero, and the MAVRIK MAX. The Sub Zero features two interchangeable weights to fine-tune your trajectory, whereas the MAX is their easiest to swing and is the most-forgiving of the line-up . The MAX also features two interchangeable weights, but the difference is that they are adjustable for forgiveness or to make it very draw-biased.

There are three stock shafts offered with the MAVRIK line-up.

  1. UST HELIUM BLACK – 40g
  2. PROJECT X EVEN FLOW RIPTIDE – 40g/50g/60g
  3. ALDILA ROGUE WHITE 130 MSI – 60g/70g

Shafts are very important, and choosing the right one is absolutely vital as you will see.

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The Transition

I visited the Callaway Golf booth a little bit later in the day at Demo Day. By the time that I had gotten there, it was pretty quiet and I had no issue stepping in and making swings. The wind at their booth was blowing hard from left to right.

I really liked the overall looks of MAVRIK. MAVRIK features an orange/white color scheme reminiscent of the X2 Hot. The crown looks sharp because of the carbon fiber crown and it glimmered in the Florida sunshine. The orange and white accents are tastefully done on the trailing edge and look smart. The “Chevron” alignment aid on the leading edge of the crown is typically there and gone is the white line “a third” of the way back as there was on EF (I never did understand it. Maybe to frame the golf ball?). In all, the crown is relatively clean. Flipping it over, consumers are going to notice the MAVRIK on the racks in stores. MAVRIK is bold in block lettering, while the white “pin-stripes” on the sole makes MAVRIK look fast, while it sits still.

The drivers that I tested at Demo Day were the MAVRIK and MAVRIK Sub Zero variants. At the time, I was not aware of the MAX version. I opted to go with 60-gram Stiff flex shafts in both heads using both the Aldila Rogue and the PX Even Flow RipTide. I won’t lie to you. It was a struggle.

The MAVRIK looks real nice in the address position and I noticed one thing right away on the first pass. The sound is definitely different in comparison to EF. With the EF you knew when you made square contact. There was some “sound” to it. Not overly so in my opinion but just enough to let you know that the ball was “hit”. The MAVRIK is more muted. Depending on the golfer, this might be preferred. My first several swings were a mixed bag of results. Some penetrated and went straight. Others were quite wayward (high and right) Maybe it was me getting tired, maybe it was the wind, or maybe it was a combination of both. I was perplexed. At one point, I thought that Callaway Golf made a mistake with MAVRIK.

Before walking away, I re-visited a couple of other clubs that I put swings on with and then went back to the driver. Unknowingly, I grabbed a MAVRIK Sub Zero with an X-Stiff Aldila Rogue in 70-grams. It wasn’t until afterward that I realized my “mistake”. The first swing was met with a feeling of force and power. The golf ball flew straight. It was an eye-opener. I teed up another golf ball and it was more of the same. The feel and acoustics of the head at impact was powerful, hot, and muted. Not in a “ho-hum” kind of way just sort of surprising. You know that you put a good swing on with it,  but the muted acoustics hid the fact that the golf ball was traveling a long way. Swing after swing produced the same kind of ballflight that I look for in a driver. The reality is that MAVRIK produced some fantastic results with a wind that was not complimentary.

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The Finish

It’s amazing. By accident, the MAVRIK went from “zero” to “hero”. I would love an extended on-course look at this driver. There might be a degree of truth to my assertion that it’s “Rogue-like”. But, it’s far better than Rogue.

Getting the proper shaft is vital no matter the club or manufacturer. This “First Impression” made that abundantly clear. The mistake that I made in accidentally grabbing a heavier, more stout shaft ended up being a saving grace. It took some work and a mistake to find the right combination. I’m glad that had happened.

The net result is that MAVRIK is a “stick” that provides a lot of pop, albeit in an understated way. It’s muted. Think of it as a stealthy assassin. You may not hear it but when it sneaks up on you and is unleashed it “kills”. MAVRIK is easy to launch and is a head that offers lower spin. The MAVRIK driver found its way into the Teezy Awards discussion for “Top Driver”.

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Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

 

 

Club Champion Recorded Over 100,000 Appointments in 2019

Custom Club Fitter Hit Impressive Milestone Amid Rapid Growth

 

Willowbrook, IL — Tour-level fittings are an experience like no other — just ask the tens of thousands of custom-fit Club Champion customers who dialed their game in with the fitter last year. Over 100,000 appointments were recorded from January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019.

“We had a great year in terms of growth,” said Nick Sherburne, Club Champion founder. “We added two dozen new stores, over 70 new employees and of course, our appointment and revenue numbers grew alongside those other successes.”

Recognized as the top fitter, builder, and retailer of the best brands in golf, Club Champion stands out in a niche market. Their dynamic vision has catapulted them to be ranked as the #1 specialty fitter according to Golf Datatech, the golf industry’s market share monitor. They’ve also been ranked as a Top 100 Club Fitter by Golf Digest every year since the inception of the list, and they do more fitting volume than any other fitter in the country. The company’s thorough processes and attention to detail set them apart from the competition.

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“We offer a service that every serious golfer can benefit from,” said Sherburne. “Our business model works because the service works – we can show measurable improvements for our customers, and that translates to happy golfers and a higher demand for what we do.”

Each store conducts an average of 500-1500 fittings per year, with many stores surpassing that.  Their Tour-quality fitting experience is sought after by golfers of every skill level, and their fitting studios service nearly every major golf market in the country.

Unlike traditional retailers that carry inventory and face significant price pressure, Club Champion fits and builds unique, custom clubs for their customers. Because their product is custom, they don’t compete against web-based retailers on price. As a result, the company is one of the fastest-growing retailers in golf with 2019 overall revenue growth up almost 50%. Expanding from just eight locations six years ago, the company currently has 70 retail studios with plans to open another 12 in 2020.

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According to Club Champion CEO Joe Lee, “By 2015, we had proven our new store concept as well as the ability to open multiple locations in a market. It was time to roll out Club Champion nationally. We knew the concept worked and that there was measurable demand, so we’ve been opening new locations at an accelerated pace since.”

The typical studio footprint is approximately 3,000 square feet and includes a minimum of two fitting bays equipped with TrackMan launch monitors, a SAM PuttLab, a build shop and features an extensive equipment wall with more choices than any other retail chain. Lee says, “The shaft wall, coupled with our expert fitters, is where a lot of the magic happens.”

Club Champion’s brand-agnostic approach has helped them succeed in a market that’s heavily influenced by brand advertisements. Because they focus on the golfer and not the manufacturer, they’re able to give each customer a unique and informative experience that delivers real results on the course. A Golf Digest study found that eight out of nine Club Champion custom-fit golfers lowered their scores by as much as six strokes per round and added an average of 21 yards off the tee. A similar study by GOLF Magazine found an average of 15 yards with Club Champion-fitted irons.

Better-Results

Lee believes in the Club Champion method and the results it garners. “Other people sell golf clubs, we sell improvement,” he said. “We not only solve equipment problems, but we show and explain why each particular piece of equipment (shaft, head, and grip) works for their unique swing.”

For more information about custom club fitting and Club Champion’s process, please visit clubchampiongolf.com.