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April, 2014

Volume Three Hundred Eighty-Four

Apr. 28, 2014     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksThis weekend we again wondered why there isn't a regular PGA TOUR stop in San Francisco? The LPGA stopped in this week for the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and Lake Merced Golf Club reminded us that Frisco's courses are just so darn cool and photogenic. You have awesome elevation changes, monster ball-eating cypress trees, and the marine layer dropping in from time to time to lend an air of mystery. Honestly, Lake Merced made the TPC Louisiana look just a little plain.

But we digress, let's hit the links.

Cobra Bio Cell+ Driver Review

Apr. 25, 2014     By     Comments (8)

Cobra BioCell Plus HeroThough I've been quietly admiring Cobra's recent woods from afar, I didn't expect a whole lot from the Bio Cell+ driver when I signed on to do this review. The S9-1 and S2 scream my name every time I walk by the used club rack at my local big-box stores, and the L5V and ZL Encore were some of the few composite drivers that didn't make me want to stuff my ears with Play-Doh, but I had never actually put a Cobra golf club in my bag.

"Had" being the operative word there.

My interest in Cobra waned a bit after their spinoff from Acushnet (and thus Titleist) and subsequent purchase by Puma, though I'm realizing now that was a mistake. Cobra was one of the first OEMs to jump on the adjustable hosel bandwagon, which you can find in nearly all of the woods and hybrids they make.

They've also gone all-in on offering an assortment of colors, moving past "ghosting" to personalization, surely thanks in no small part to Rickie Fowler's fondness for orange.

But the changes this year aren't just esthetic. Cobra has introduced multi-material construction to go along with their E9 forged faces, which they say should give golfers maximum distance and straighter drives.

Let's dive in.

Is 2014 the Year of Mr. Nobody?

Apr. 24, 2014     By     Comments (2)

Thrash TalkIf you are a steady golf fan you surely share my opinion that 2014 is off to a slow start. We're already at the end of April, and most of the tournaments have been won by guys we've hardly heard about prior. Sure, Bubba won the Masters again, but outside of him and Jason Day winning the Match Play, I am relatively unfamiliar with any of the other winners.

Matt Jones in Houston, yup, never heard much about him before. Jimmy Walker with two wins in 2014, I mean I have heard of him before, but I can't say I really know much about him. Russell Henley, I watched him play on the Web.com tour, and it is great to see someone like him carry on that success to the PGA Tour but I really don't know much about him. Same with Steven Bowditch. Kevin Stadler, without his famous Dad I am not sure I would know much about him as well. The PGA Tour is being taken over by unknowns, a parade of Mr. Nobody.

TaylorMade Adds to the SLDR Line-up, New Gear from Adidas

Apr. 23, 2014     By     Comments (1)

Bag DropMark your calendars folks, we are at eight months now since TaylorMade launched the SLDR line of clubs and they still haven't come out with a replacement that will give you another 30 yards. All joking aside, that is a long time for a company that was releasing four drivers a year at one point. However, that isn't to say that the company hasn't added or tweaked the SLDR line at all, because they have. When the club first came out in August 2013, it came in a 460 cc head and a few months later they added to that with a smaller 430 cc head. The company has now made a few more adjustments; first, TaylorMade is bringing back the white crown, which they seemed to have abandoned for a bit as well as introducing a new mini (260 cc) version of the SLDR.

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New Balls from Volvik

Apr. 22, 2014     By     Comments (0)

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)

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)

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 (2)

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)

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:

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