The 2018 Masters Tournament

Well… here we are. Masters Week is here and players in the field have started playing practice rounds with several having been through the course in previous weeks. With the ever entertaining Par 3 Contest coming up Wednesday I thought that it might be fun to prognosticate the tournament. Before continuing, I just wanted to take a few seconds to talk about the annual Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals.

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Photo Credit: thestar.com

 

The Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals are held at Augusta National and features boys and Girls in 4 different age categories. These junior golfers ranging in ages 7-15 are good and can make golfers many years their elder look silly in these three major aspects of the golf game. I just wanted to wave my flag (Canadian) real fast and congratulate the winner of the Girls 10-11 age group. The winner was Vanessa Borovilos of Toronto, Ontario Canada. Congratulations Vanessa!!!

So The Masters. I’m still waiting to walk these hallowed grounds. It’s something that I really feel that I’ll be able to experience one day… preferably while I’m relatively young still and able-bodied. I just want to see if it smells like I’ve always imagined it to. I remember when I first had that thought. It was 2002, and I was in the hospital recovering from a serious illness where doctor’s thought I had Spinal Meningitis. But, as I recovered in the hospital I was watching The Masters (won by Tiger Woods) I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of the course. Those fully bloomed dogwood and azaleas. The pine straw nestled amongst the base of the towering pines. I thought that I could smell the golf course. At this point, I wasn’t even interested in golf but the rest is history.

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So the other day my dear friend in Ireland (Teresa) was asking for tips about The Masters. Someone asked what kind of tips she was looking for and she said that she wanted to place a few bets. So I made a suggestion as did several others. Which brings me to this piece. i thought it would be fun breaking down the field based on the Vegas odds. I’ll take my picks from the following categories and out of them… pick a winner and a darkhorse. Below are the odds breakdowns.

  • 10/1 to 20/1
  • 21/1 to 50/1
  • 51/1 to 99/1
  • 100/1 to 150/1
  • 175/1 to 250/1
  • 300/1 to 500/1
  • 600/1 to 1000/1

10/1 to 20/1 – The favorites! For any fans or gamblers placing wagers these are the “sure bets”. In a group that consists of the “new” Tiger, Spieth, Thomas and Dustin Johnson I like Bubba Watson. He already owns two titles at Augusta National but I’ve said all over social media that he’s a confident Bubba and not to mention that he’s putting real well, he’s long and more importantly has a wild imagination. I pick Bubba here but I see Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar hanging around.

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21/1 to 50/1 – In a group that features Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and defending champion Sergio Garcia there’s a name at 50/1 that is real intriguing. Also, for those betting it may be worthwhile to place a buck or two here. That guy… Patrick Reed. It’s a matter of time before the unflappable Reed breaks through for a Major title. It could happen this week.

51/1 to 99/1 – Well it would be “en vogue” to pick Ian Poulter out of this group. But I think he’s played his heart out to get to Magnolia Lane. Does he run out of gas after this miraculous run that he’s been on. He’ll make the cut but won’t be there at the end.  There are plenty of intriguing names here and I really would like to see a Bryson DeChambeau jacket presentation come Sunday. His approach to the game is as interesting as his 66/1 odds. At 70/1 I pick Australian Marc Leishman. The Aussie is grossly underrated.

100/1 to 150/1 – Kevin Kisner leads this group of golfers and sits at 100/1. but when I look up and down this category the man from Thailand grabs my attention. Kiradech Aphibarnrat at 125/1. He doesn’t play much in North America but has garnered more attention after his play during the WGC Dell Match Play.  wonder what his “Champions Dinner” would be like.

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175/1 to 250/1 – Now we’re really starting to get into the longshots although many would contend that any one after 50/1 is a longshot. Shubhankar Sharma is another one of those international players that introduced himself to North America earlier this year. He did so after playing extremely well at the WGC Mexico event which consequently got him his Masters invite. The emerging European Tour star has played some tremendous golf this year so on a whim I’ll take Sharma at 175/1 over Patton Kizzire and Si Woo Kim.

300/1 to 500/1 – Not exactly a ton of names in the last two groups to choose from. But these are names that would be fun for placing a $20 bet. Oh the golf clubs I could but or the upgrades to my website. Sure there are the household bills that could be paid… but what fun is that? Fred Couples always excites at The Masters but at 400/1 I’ll pick Wesley Bryan.

600/1 to 1000/1 – The longest of longshots. Here we see a few guys that are amateurs or a bit “long in the tooth”. Steely eyed, grizzled veteran Bernhard Langer is bold. He plays pretty good golf however I’ll pick another Champions Tour player here. Vijay Singh has won this season on the “senior circuit” and I can see the native of Fiji playing golf this weekend.

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So my pick to win The Masters out of the above picks. My pick to win the 2018 Masters Tournament is none other than Patrick Reed. His name is just jumping out at me and his game is trending in the right direction. Patrick, just don’t win the Par 3 Contest.

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Until The Next Tee!!

REVIEW – Skechers GO GOLF Focus 2

As we go through life we come to realize that certain things belong together. For example what is peanut butter without jelly? You think of one with the other… almost instinctively. Another example for instance could be peas and carrots… which of course “Forrest Gump” pointed out to all of us. When I think of other things that go together it’s hard not to see how a company like Skechers wouldn’t be involved in the golf footwear industry.

Skechers USA is a leader in the footwear industry to the tune of $3.5 billion in global sales per year. It’s important to note that Skechers have two different categories in which they produce shoes for. The first is their Lifestyle Division while the second is their Performance Division. The latter is the umbrella which the GO GOLF product range falls under. While their focus over the years has been on  running shoes it totally makes sense for a brand like Skechers USA to be involved in the golf industry. A sport where it’s athletes spend countless hours on their feet. Combining their decades of research and development when it comes to the science of the foot and footwear coupled with input from their elite athletes Skechers knows exactly what a golf shoe should be. Some of the athletes that wear the brand include Brooke Henderson and Belen Mozo of the LPGA Tour, Matt Kuchar and Wesley Bryan of the PGA Tour and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Colin Montgomerie.

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In the past, I’ve had the chance to review a couple different models of shoes from the Skechers GO GOLF line-up. For this ability I have to thank Laurent Sirois who is the Marketing Coordinator and Brand Lead (Performance Division) at Skechers. I had the chance to go through the range of golf shoes with him at the Skechers booth during the PGA Show in Orlando and the variety of shoes in the product range is massive. While we were at it I also had the opportunity to have a look at the golf shoes slated to come out in 2018. Just a little bit of a heads up here… the 2018 line-up looks awesome! As we went through the 2017 range of shoes my eyes really gravitated towards the GO GOLF Focus 2 shoe. So it was decided that I would test and review a pair of the GO GOLF Focus 2 shoes.

The GO GOLF Focus 2 golf shoe is the go-to golf shoe for PGA Tour member Wesley Bryan and is a shoe that received a ton of input from fellow PGA Tour player Russell Knox in its development and creation. The goal was to design a shoe that makes the golfer feel “confident and solid” while on the golf course. As we look at the features of the Focus 2 golf shoe from Skechers Golf we have to start with the upper. The upper portion of the shoe is waterproof and breathable which can be attributed to their patented “Outdry” technology. The fit of the Focus 2 is what Skechers refers to as its “Dynamic Upper Fit” design which secures your foot. As you flip the shoe over to the side you’ll notice that the shoe has a sleek, low-profile to its design which ensures that you’re in contact with the ground at all times throughout the action of the golf swing. Adding to the stability of the Focus 2 golf shoe is a TPU constructed outsole cradle. Comfort is at a premium in these golf shoes as one might expect. This is in large part to their patented “Resamax” cushioned insole and their lightweight “5Gen” cushioning. The Focus 2 golf shoe is a spiked design that features replaceable “Softspikes”.

I’ve had the opportunity to do significant testing of the Focus 2 and the conditions for testing were as varied as possible. Having had numerous range sessions both indoors and outdoors. Rounds of golf were played where the conditions were very wet and sloppy.  Then there were conditions on other occasions where the conditions were a “polar opposite” of the afore-mentioned.  If I learned one thing from testing a prior model (Bionic 2) I knew that the chances were very unlikely that I would make the waterproof feature fail. Much like the Bionic 2 golf shoe the toe area has a seemingly seamless design. It was what I thought would be a glaring weak point the last time around. As expected, the durability of this design never came into question and as it sits right now the Focus 2 shoes are as waterproof as the day that I unboxed the shoes. It’s a good thing that the spikes are replaceable because the uppers will outlast the spikes. Speaking of the unboxing.

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A quality that I look for when selecting shoes (golf or otherwise) is “out of the box comfort”. The Focus 2 golf shoes are definitely great when it comes to out of the box comfort. The upper is supple and there is no need to have a “break-in” period when it comes to the Focus 2 from Skechers. Wearing the Focus 2 golf shoes for extended periods of time were easy and that hasn’t changed over the long-run. Other shoes have become “sloppy” over time to the point where it effected the comfort and wearability of the shoe (this did happen with Bionic 2). The Focus 2 has the same support resulting in comfort as they had on day one. The Focus 2 will not fatigue your feet orlegs either as they weigh a little more than 14 ounces per shoe.

The performance of the Focus 2 golf shoes is second to none and it’s easy to understand why these are the “go to” shoes for Russell Knox and Wesley Bryan. These golf shoes flat-out perform and the secret isn’t simply just the Softspikes that they employ. Much can be said of the outsole and the variable spike pattern used. It’s easy to keep your feet planted and load up the trailing side without having any slippage regardless of turf conditions. Another integral component to the performance of the Focus 2 shoes is what Skechers did with the inside of the upper. It’s a relatively minor detail but imprtant to point out. There are (what I assume to be) silicon dots along the heel. Much like what you find in golf pants inside of the waistband which helps to keep shirts tucked in. I found that these just secured the foot even more inside of the upper adding to the stability and overall performance of the Focus 2.

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Overall, if you’re in the market for a new pair of golf shoes have a look at the Skechers GO GOLF Focus 2 shoes. They are aesthetically appealing as they are a shoe that appears athletic. I love the 3D graphics that bear the Skechers branding (“S”).  These are a comfortable pair of golf shoes that you can wear for 18 holes right out of the box in any conditions. The Focus 2 provides great support, supreme durability and superior traction. For more information on the Focus 2 golf shoes please head over to www.skechers.com 

Until The Next Tee!!

REVIEW – Bridgestone Golf Tour B Golf Balls

Until recently I had limited to no experience with golf balls from Bridgestone Golf. All of this changed recently when I sold the house and started packing for the move. While cleaning out my golf room I stumbled upon a dozen Bridgestone Golf Tour B330 golf balls that I acquired a couple of years from the PGA Show. So I thought that I would put them to good use and do some testing. My intentions at the time was to do write a review.

Then one night on Twitter I posted a picture of the aforementioned golf balls and was contacted by an unknown member of the social media team from Bridgestone Golf. The individual and I started to talk and I was then asked if I would be interested in testing a new line of golf balls that have yet to be released. Of course I had to say yes. After all we are talking about an opportunity to test a golf ball that not many others have played as of yet. So a few days later an envelope arrived from Bridgestone Golf and in it was a sample pack of the new TourB golf ball range.

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With the launch of the new TourB line-up from Bridgestone Golf comes four different golf balls that intend to hit various demographics in the golf market. With this new line-up there is a golf ball for most types of golfer. The TourB offers two golf balls that are geared towards those players who average lower scores (note the wording). These golf balls are the TourB X and Tour B XS. For golfers who average scores that are considered to be low to mid-range the TourB RX and TourB RXS are the “recommended” golf balls. Below is a breakdown of each of their characteristics and in bold my testing observations.

TourB X – The TourB X is a golf ball that is designed to give those that shoot lower scores a combination where feel and accuracy are at a premium. The enhanced feel is a result of a softer cover that stems from “SlipRes Technology”. Meanwhile, the enhanced accuracy is a by-product of the lower spin created by the “gradation core construction”. Not to mention higher initial ball speed and reduced spin with the driver. Bridgestone’s “Dual Dimple” pattern delivers more distance and roll. “Seamless Cover Technology” (SCT) also adds to the accuracy while delivering a more consistent ballflight along with more distance.

The new TourB X is a golf ball that I am extremely excited about. The feel off of the driver is one where you feel like you’re really compressing the golf ball and this holds true throughout the golf bag. The cover is indeed durable but I hit a cart path or something that scarred my tester. Instead of pulling the ball out of play I continued to play with it. To the naked eye the scuffing never affected the performance of the ball. I was astonished with the sheer length of this golf ball. The TourB X consistently produced long drives and there is definitely something to the gradation core construction. It seemed like that the B X was always hitting the middle of the fairway or landing on the GIR. Yesterday on very firm greens this was the ball that ran the least on approach shots into the green. The Tour B X was a champion in strong winds… seemingly cutting through the air being unaffected. Greenside it was a very admirable performer that was very consistent. The TourB X has been put into play recently by Bridgestone Golf staffer Bryson DeChambeau.

TourB XS – The TourB XS is a golf ball designed to deliver enhanced feel and distance for golfers who tend to score lower. Feel and distance are the characteristics that the TourB XS delivers. The TourB XS features the same “SlipRes Technology” as seen in the TourB X. A softer cover means more feel for all shots from the driver to the green. Less drag created by Dual Dimple technology and less drag created by a more efficient trajectory equals more distance.  The cover on the TourB XS also features a seamless construction creating more consistency from a balanced dimple pattern.

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The TourB XS was a fun golf ball to play. It’s a long golf ball that was consistently a touch longer than the TourB X. This was the case seen throughout the golf bag. Perhaps all of the man hours spent by Bridgestone Golf’s R&D team investigating the dimple pattern was well-rewarded. The feel of the TourB XS I felt was equally as good as the TourB X however I felt a slight difference on shorter shots (putting and chipping) where the TourB XS felt just a little more… firm?? The cover is durable as this golf ball has seen a decent number of golf holes played with nary a blemish. In the wind the XS cheated the wind and the ball was seemingly unaffected. The Tour B XS definitely gets my nod of approval. The TourB XS was put in play by Bridgestone Golf staffer Matt Kuchar at the President’s Cup.

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TourB RX – For golfers that don’t post consistently low scores the TourB RX is built for you. If you’re a golfer with a swing speed that isn’t described as Tour-like then the RX is definitely worth a look. First and foremost the TourB RX is designed to be a distance golf ball with the addition of enhanced accuracy. This extra distance is the result of similar technologies found in the “Tour-level” golf balls in the family. “SlipRes” cover technology, a gradational compression core, “Dual Dimple” pattern and “Seamless Cover Technology” are all present. The SlipRes cover yields more friction at impact which leads to more spin.

My findings with the TourB RX weren’t that far off from what I saw with the TourB X. It’s a long golf ball and it is an accurate one at that. If anything it might have felt more firm with the driver but maybe it’s just how I was feeling during the testing process. That said, the RX is a good all-around performer with no blemishes or weaknesses to speak of. I really liked what this ball did from a ballflight standpoint with the flight maybe being a touch higher than it’s TourB X counterpart. This ball is built on a similar chassis that was the Tour B330-RX which had a cult-like following. Remember when I said I had minimal experience with Bridgestone Golf? I did use the B330-RX and I feel that the replacement to the original RX model is an upgrade. I would suggest better length and more control. Greenside it might have spun less than the Tour-level balls and this fact was noticed on firmer greens in particular. The runout was a little more yet it was still consistent and predictable. The TourB RX is also offered with a highly visible yellow cover as well.

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TourB RXS – This is the golf ball that is the heir to the B330-RXS throne. A golf ball designed with more distance and feel in mind. Technologies are the same across the board where the RXS features all of the technologies as stated above in the other three models. “SlipRes” cover, “Dual Dimple” pattern, gradational compression core and “Seamless Cover Technology” are all found here.

 

When it came to the testing of the TourB RXS it was conducted at the same time as all of the other golf balls in the line-up. The TourB RXS was as you might suspect a great performer like the rest of its brethren. Durable and solid around the greens. I felt that the RXS had a higher ballflight than the rest of the stable and maybe it’s because this golf ball might be a tad more “spinnier”. From a length standpoint I felt that it was a little shorter than the TourB RX again leading to me believing that the spin rates of the RXS were higher than it’s RX counterpart. In no way am I suggesting that this ball is inferior because it simply is not. I thought it performed better around the green and let’s face it… if a golf ball is going to help us it would be around the greens when greens in regulation are scarce. The TourB RXS was very admirable in all facets of the game. The TourB RXS is also offered with the high visible yellow.

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The bottom line with this golf ball range from Bridgestone Golf is that there is not one weak offering in this line-up. This stable of balls from Bridgestone Golf is terrific throughout. If I had to pick one I am definitely leaning towards the TourB XS. I just preferred the all-around performance and feel of the TourB XS . When it comes to selecting one of these golf balls from the TourB range consider a few things. Firstly, there is no difference in the cost of the TourB from one to another. The suggested retail price for all of the TourB offerings is $44.99 USD. Putting the price aside focus on your game and what you need help with to improve your scores. Do you prefer more feel or more distance? Say you prefer feel what’s the next important variable. If you say distance then you know that your baseline for selection is the TourB XS. Personally I love that Bridgestone Golf made it this way for golfers to select a golf ball. It makes it easier. One other thought. If you go to the Bridgestone Golf Fitting Guide they can definitely get you on your way to selecting the correct golf ball for your game. I used the Fitting Guide out of curiosity and for me it recommended the TourB XS. For me it would be my second choice. Go ahead and join the “TourB Revolution”. #DareToBridgestone