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New Balls from Volvik

Apr. 22, 2014     By     Comments (0)

They may not be a household name yet, but with their new White Color balls, Volvik is hoping to make it into your bag.

Bag DropMost golfers know Titleist as the "number one ball in golf," and sort of as a spin off of that, Bridgestone has deemed themselves to be the "number one ball fitter in golf." However, there is another "number one" ball in golf, and those are made by Volvik, "the number one colored ball in golf." While Volvik balls haven't yet found their way into the bags of too many male golfers, they have a huge share of the market in the ladies game and have many LPGA players in their stable. That is starting to change as of late as the company has added both Craig Stadler and Tim Petrovic to their list of players, as the former became the first player to use a green ball at the Masters just a couple of weeks ago.

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Volume Three Hundred Eighty-Three

Apr. 21, 2014     By     Comments (0)

We have some tasty leftovers from the Masters and a few fresh tidbits.

Hittin' the LinksHarbour Town Golf Links is a good choice for the week after the Masters. Instead of the miles-long and beautifully manicured Augusta National, we get a slightly shorter, but still lovely tract that seems to burrow through the trees rather than part them with a sea of impossible green.

While the pros play most shots above the trees, the course seems to beg for low shots that bend this way and that to avoid trees, water, and alligators. While Augusta National requires precision shots into the green so that one actually has a chance to make the putt, at Harbour Town players must make precision shots into the fairway, just to have a shot at the green. Of course, the greens at Augusta are much more difficult and faster, the field is far deeper and more talented, the audience is immense, and the stakes are career changing. So it's not at all the same, but it is cool in its own right.

Let's hit the links.

Volume Three Hundred Eighty-Two

Apr. 14, 2014     By     Comments (0)

Now even more Bubbalicious...

Hittin' the LinksWhat a week Augusta gave us! The weather cooperated to provide fast, firm greens and all the pageantry that Augusta National promises every year.

The field too gave us a great show. In one of the most wide open Masters in years, a 20-year-old rookie could easily have won, but so could have any of several players in their fifties. Early on Sunday, it looked like youth would prevail, but it was 35-year-old Bubba Watson who took the honor. Watson made some minor history himself by becoming the fastest to his second jacket, winning it in just his second attempt after his initial win. Dare we now call him "Double Bubba."

Let's hit the Masters-ful links!

The Analytics Revolution is Coming

Apr. 10, 2014     By     Comments (1)

How statistics born in other sports are permeating the golf world.

Thrash TalkIn February, nerds, statisticians, sports fans, and nerd-statistician-sports fans gathered in Boston, Massachusetts for the MIT Sloan Sports Analystics Conference. Since its establishment in 2006 by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, the conference has grown to feature athletes, media members, and statisticians from across the sports landscape.

Sean Foley, swing instructor to Tiger Woods, has been a vocal leader when it comes to the marriage of science and golf. He spoke at the conference alongside golf statistician Mark Broadie. One of the most outspoken adopters of TrackMan, an advanced launch monitor that uses Doppler radar to track ball flight and impact characteristics, Foley also coaches Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan, and is so busy that he recently had to turn away Luke Donald.

Analytics have revolutionized the way fans watch, talk about, and consume baseball and basketball, and now that's finally coming to golf. Let's dive in.

2014 Masters Preview and Staff Predictions

Apr. 9, 2014     By     Comments (2)

It is hard to believe that the Masters is already here, and we here at The Sand Trap are ready for the first major of 2014. Let's see what the staff expects to happen at Augusta.

Thrash TalkHello Friends, it is time for the 2014 Masters. The start to 2014 has left many of The Sand Trap staff confused about who to pick as a winner at Augusta. In a typical year, most of the staff goes with Tiger, but after the recent announcement that he will not play, many of us are left looking elsewhere for a winner. I think this makes the 2014 a complete toss up. There is no dominant player in the game now who you can point too and say they are guaranteed to be there on Sunday afternoon.

The 2013 winner Adam Scott looked very strong at Bay Hill until the final round where he let Matt Every slip past him. Rory had one slip away in 2014 at the Honda, which was positive to see him playing well again, but bad in the sense that he still hasn't found his way into the winners circle other than in Australia. This makes our job as predictors tough, because we need to dig through the stats to find that special player that will have the magic at this seasons first major.

With that lets look and see how the staff predicts this years event:

TaylorMade Tour Preferred CB Irons Review

Apr. 8, 2014     By     Comments (0)

TaylorMade's flagship amateur irons have been updated for 2014, and we take them for a spin.

TaylorMade TP Irons 2014 CB HeroThe Tour Preferred CB irons are, I suppose, the spiritual successors to the RocketBladez Tour irons that I reviewed a year ago. They're another cast set of irons with TaylorMade's Speed Pocket technology (a polymer-filled slot cut out of the sole) that TM is hoping will appeal to a mass audience as well as the occasional better player. Ideally, these are a spectrum-spanning set of irons.

You might not expect it, but these have already made it into the bags of PGA Tour players and weekend hackers alike. Let's see if they should earn a spot in your bag.

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Volume Three Hundred Eighty-One

Apr. 7, 2014     By     Comments (1)

Major season has begun, and is there any better week than Masters' week?

Hittin' the LinksThe azaleas must be blooming. Are you ready for plenty of Condoleezza sightings and to hear "A tradition unlike any other" about a ka-zillion times this week? It will all be worth it come Sunday and the most famous back nine in all of golf.

The weather this week in Augusta looks good after Monday. With a little luck we might get treated to a hard and fast Augusta National, which is almost always to most exciting setup. We'll be watching coverage all week, and DVRing the Par Three Contest and opening rounds. Cannot wait!

But first, let's hit the links.

TaylorMade SLDR Fairway and Rescue Review

Apr. 4, 2014     By     Comments (2)

Do the SLDR Fairway and Rescue live up to the hype of the SLDR Driver? And what' s with this low-forward center of gravity concept anyway?

The TaylorMade SLDR FairwayOne of the most hyped family of clubs currently out there is the SLDR from TaylorMade. First came the driver with its signature movable weight that (yes) slides toward the toe or heel to adjust ball flight. This was not a new idea, as Mizuno and others had used a slide-able weight in the past. No, the real breakthrough technology in the SLDR family is the low-and-forward center of gravity (CG). And unlike the slider weight, the low-and-forward CG is found throughout the line, including in the fairway and rescue woods.

TaylorMade claims that the low-and-forward CG will let many players increase loft to achieve a higher launch with lower spin to promote maximum distance. This is a tantalizing prospect. In most parts of the U.S., golf remains an aerial game. Bandon Dunes and other truly firm and fast courses aside, players are almost always better off getting maximum carry rather than trying to run the ball along the fairway. Higher shots will land softer, giving us a better chance to hold the green and less chance of it running into trouble.

The SLDR Rescue looks all business at address.

There is no denying that SLDRs are generating a lot of buzz. You can spot the chrome accent all over every PGA Tour broadcast, and probably at your club, as well. The rumor is that several manufacturers will be moving weight forward and low in upcoming models. Will this be the next big thing? Let's take a look.

TaylorMade JetSpeed Driver Review

Apr. 3, 2014     By     Comments (3)

TaylorMade tries to step up their game with the release of their latest driver, named JetSpeed, I take it for a spin to see how it performs.

JetSpeedIn the past couple of years TaylorMade launched one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns the golf industry has ever seen around a unique club named Rocketballz. The Rocketballz line was a very popular line of drivers and fairway woods. Hoping to continue on the excitement TaylorMade released Rocketballz-ier line called RBZ Stage 2. The Stage 2 line was not nearly as popular as the original, and so once again TaylorMade decided to change it up with the JetSpeed line of woods.

The audience for the JetSpeed is average golfers for whom the excitement of the movable weight technology in the SLDR line does not tickle their fancy. I was the reviewer for the SLDR driver and I was very excited about the distance gains from the SLDR driver but I was unable to hit it straight. So when the opportunity to hit the JetSpeed came along I jumped at the opportunity.

Let's take a look at how the JetSpeed stacks up.

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