Bunker’s Dozen, May 2006

Was Lefty’s great month of April enough to overtake Tiger in the latest Bunker’s Dozen?

The month of April is in the books, and boy did it fly by! The first major championships have come and gone for the main professional tours, and they left us with some great memories. Phil Mickelson won his second green jacket in three years, and Karrie Webb defeated Lorena Ochoa in a playoff at the Kraft Nabisco. Other than that, it was just another solid month for golf fans worldwide.

The Bunker’s Dozen is back for another month, and business has definitely picked up in the golf world. The list has changed quite a bit, but there are still some familiar faces as well. Without further ado, here is the latest Bunker’s Dozen.

TaylorMade TP Red/TP Black Ball Review

A challenger to the throne that Titleist built? TaylorMade, surprisingly, has more than this: they have a potential successor.

Taylormade TP Ball SleevesTitleist has ruled the “premium ball” roost since, well, since there was a roost to be ruled. In the pre-Tiger era, I remember seeing advertisements that said “The last 47 U.S. Opens have been won with a Titleist ball” (or something like that). Eventually, Tiger and his Nike R&D chums managed to put a stop to that streak, but Titleist still owns darn near 85% of the premium ball market, leaving Callaway, Nike, Bridgestone, and others to pick up the scraps.

Today, a new player officially enters the market: TaylorMade. We covered the launch of TaylorMade’s “Tour Preferred” line of golf balls in several articles (here, here, here, and here), and since then we’ve been playing with both the TP Red and the TP Black.

Here, finally, are our exhaustive thoughts on the newest challenger to the throne the Pro V1 built.

Cleveland HiBore Driver Review

The Cleveland HiBore is a radically shaped driver that boasts, for perhaps the first time in the age of the titanium driver, a sweet spot that perfectly lines up with the center of gravity.

Clveland HiBore SoleCleveland’s HALO Hybrid is one of the more unique hybrids to hit the market. Featuring a “scooped back” design, the HALO succeeded at getting the ball in the air with a good amount of spin. Consumers voted with their wallets, and the HALO is the third-best selling hybrid at retail.

Cleveland, spurred on by the success of the HALO, has forged forward with the scoop-back design with the HiBore driver. The HiBore driver not only features the same dome-less crown as the HALO, but also the wider stance and lower center of gravity (CG). These changes, Cleveland says, marries the location of the CG with the center of the clubface, resulting in a super-long, super-forgiving clubhead.

Sun Mountain RainFlex Pullover Review

Truly a unique product, Sun Mountian’s RainFlex delivers much needed protection from the elements when you’re enjoying golf in the rain.

Sun Mountain LogoKeeping dry on the golf course is important in many parts of the country all the time and in all parts of the country some of the time. Sure, you may have been blessed to live somewhere with very little precipitation, but the Pacific Northwest in not such a place.

They say that if you’re not prepared for the rain in Washington, well, you’ll be wet more often than dry. We’ve grown accustomed to playing golf in the rain, though not without the aid of technology. More than even Starbucks, Gore-Tex™ and other waterproof materials get us through the days.

TPC of Sawgrass Renovation Pictures

The TPC of Sawgrass is undergoing a massive renovation. If you weren’t sure how massive, these pictures should demonstrate to you quite clearly how massive it truly is!

 18th Hole @ TPC SawgrassNot long after Stephen Ames putted out on the 72nd hole to win the 2006 Players Championship, bulldozers rumbled onto the famed course and tore down fairways, greens, and even the clubhouse. It’s all part of a massive renovation to bring the facility up to world-renowned status.

The fairways renovation includes removing the topsoil, adding extensive irrigation and fresh sand. Five fairways (1, 2, 4, 5, and 9) have already been completed. Every green on the course is having a subsurface mechanical drainage system instealled which will serve two purposes: to hydrate the greens during dry weather and to quite literally suck the water out in wet conditions. These changes should make the course more playable in worse conditions and put a halt to the extensive rain delays the Players Championship – which moves to May in 2007 – regularly sees in its current March calendar slot.

Handicap, Slope, and a Side Bet or Two

Understanding a course’s slope rating, calculating your anti-handicaps, and a little knowledge can go a long way towards winning a few more bets.

The Numbers GameDave Koster has the week off, so I’m filling in for him. This week, we’ll be talking about handicaps, course ratings, and slope, as well as how you can take this knowledge to improve your odds of winning a few more bets. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you know how to calculate your own handicap index. If you don’t, read the appropriately titled “What’s Your Handicap?” and come back. I’ll wait.

Bank of America Colonial Preview

Kenny Perry hopes to rebound well from his knee surgery and become only the second man to win back to back titles at the Colonial.

Bank of America ColonialThis weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the Bank of America Colonial, arguably one of the most prestigious tournaments on the PGA Tour. This tournament is currently the longest running event the PGA Tour has played at the same course, starting in 1946 as the Colonial Invitational with Ben Hogan as the inaugural winner.

Ben Hogan won four more times at this event after his first in ’46, and the clubhouse features a Ben Hogan Trophy Room to honor his legacy as well as a statue of him on the 18th green. Ben Hogan is also the only back-to-back winner of the event and at one point in time owned nearly every record in this tournament.

Weekend Struggles

Some of the big guns simply aren’t putting tournaments away on the weekends.

Thrash TalkThis past weekend at the Byron Nelson Championship, Adam Scott had a share of the lead going into the final round. Needless to say, the young Aussie didn’t hang on to that lead, enabling Brett Wetterich the opportunity to pick up his first career PGA Tour victory. Wetterich took advantage of the situation en route to victory, but I saw it as more “Adam Scott letdown” than “Wetterich surge.”

The Byron Nelson Championship was just another situation where a top-tier golfer had a weekend letdown. It has happened all too often over the past couple months. The top golfers in the world are supposed to dominate on Saturday and Sunday. That’s more often than not the way they earned that top ranking. That hasn’t been the case this year.

Etonic: Regaining a Foothold In Golf

That Etonic is back in the golf shoe game in a big way can only be beneficial for many players. After all, if the shoe fits…

Bag DropFor decades, beginning in the 1950s, Etonic was the Avis of golf shoes to FootJoy’s Hertz. Both were based in Massachusetts, both sprung from that area’s strong heritage in shoe making, and both transitioned from street shoes to become golf shoe specialists. Together they dominated the market.