Callaway Introduces upro mx+ GPS Rangefinder

Callaway’s new GPS now features ProMode giving users aerial photos and video flyovers of the course they are playing.

Bag DropIn the world of golf, there are two major categories when it comes to rangefinders: laser and GPS. Both types of units can be really good but neither is without fault ether. For instance, lasers are deadly accurate and can be used on any course, but if one suffers from shaky hands they can be a pain to use.

In addition, you have to have a clear line of sight to the target to get a reading. GPS range finders, on the other hand, don’t need that line of sight and all you have to do is look down at the unit for your yardage. Unfortunately, GPS presents new problems. Sometimes, a particular course is not available, you might not be able to get yardages to locations other than the center of the green, and the overall accuracy is diminished compared to a laser.

With the release of the upro mx+, Callaway is looking to alleviate many of the issues with GPS units.

2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club: Staff Predictions and Five Questions

The U.S. Open moves to the Olympic Club. Let’s see what the staff expects.

Thrash TalkThis year the U.S. Open comes just up the 280 freeway from me to the Olympic Club Lake Course. After the debacle at the 18th hole in 1998, the Olympic Club redid all 18 greens in order to get the USGA to come back and play the U.S. Open on Johnny Miller’s boyhood course. I went out a few months ago and rolled some balls on the 18th green and it is not nearly as bad as it was in 1998. The greens are actually not the typical poa annua found here on the west coast. This means they will be very fast and not as bumpy as everyone will be expecting.

The weather now does not look bad, the traditional San Francisco fog might clear out early and we should have some nice warm days with not a great deal of wind. This type of weather is not traditional for San Francisco this time of year. Let’s see what the rest of the Sand Trap staff expect for this year’s U.S. Open.

Callaway Hex Black Tour Golf Ball Review

The Hex Black Tour ball is Callaway’s best offering to date giving any player a solid option when looking for a premium ball.

Callaway Hex Black TourThe new Callaway Hex Black Tour ball hits all the marks to compete with the other premium balls on the market.

The premium ball market has been dominated by a certain company for – what seems like – an eternity. I was one of the many who followed along and used the newest ball that came out every year. That was, until last year.

I picked up a new ball (cough, Penta, cough) that felt just a bit better in nearly every aspect. What this did was open my eyes a bit more to the other balls on the market. One of those I tried was the Callaway Tour i(s). I hadn’t hit a Callaway ball in years and didn’t expect much. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. This is coming from a bit of a ball snob.

So when the new Hex Black Tours came on the market I eagerly wanted to give them a try and see what they had to offer. How did they compare to the #1 ball on tour and my current favored ball? Read on to find out.

Volume Three Hundred Seventeen

Dustin Johnson makes a triumphant return.

Hittin' the LinksDustin Johnson fans rejoice! With all the rumors swirling abound about his hiatus I am sure he is happy to have something else to talk about. With that win and a little shuffling the U.S. Open field is set, let the fun begin.

Welcome the Hittin’ the Links in this edition we begin with a marquee group, then find out who is retiring, and check out another young phenom. Also, we investigate who got into the U.S. Open last minute, take a peek at the U.S. Open website and do a wrap-up of the weeks events. Read on!

Bridgestone 2012 Tour B330 Series Ball Review

If you play golf, then Bridgestone’s probably got a ball for you. Read our thoughts on the premium B330 line.

Bridgestone 2012 B330 Ball HeroMany golfers might be surprised to know that, in terms of dollar market share, Bridgestone Golf has grown to become the number two golf ball in the industry. Bridgestone Golf began manufacturing its first golf balls on U.S. soil in 1990 under the Precept brand, and while it’s only been seven years since the Bridgestone Golf U.S. brand was launched, the company has been producing golf balls since 1935 and they are the number one golf ball producer in Japan.

Bridgestone’s goal is to design a golf ball for every level of player. This is not an easy task since there are so many variations of golf swings. Getting fit for the right ball is just as important as finding the right shaft, lie angle, or grip size. Bridgestone is not only innovating golf ball technology but how golfers get fit for their ball. One thing is for certain, they aren’t afraid to compare their results against their numerous competitors.

For the past couple years, Bridgestone has had teams of ball fitting specialists provide free fitting sessions for golfers around the country. During these sessions, golfers see how the ball they currently play stacks up against a Bridgestone ball. I’m sure their competitors have taken notice. It also doesn’t hurt to have some notable staff players, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, and Fred Couples, playing well and getting a lot of TV time.

“The Upset” Book Review

Jack Fleck’s Incredible Victory over Ben Hogan at the U.S. Open by Al Barkow.

The UpsetI think of myself as a little bit of a history buff, not because I am any good at history (in fact I got really poor grades in school for history), but simply because I love to learn about it. As we approach the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, Al Barkow decided to write a detailed account of the first U.S. Open held at the famed San Francisco layout. In 1955, a little-known man named Jack Fleck beat Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff that made ESPN’s list of the top 10 upsets of all time.

I found this book when I saw a preview in a magazine I was reading. As I enjoy reading books by Barkow, I was intrigued. If you have not heard of him, then I would recommend reading some of his work. He wrote a fantastic book on Sam Snead and a few others which focus on that time period. His claim to golfing fame was that he was the writer for the Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf and did some of the interviews of Ben Hogan while Hogan was promoting what was then called the Hogan Tour, which today is known as the Nationwide Tour (until 2013!).

TaylorMade RocketBallz Fairway Wood Review

TaylorMade’s RocketBallz Fairway woods are the talk of the golf world, not just for unorthodox name but also for boasting distance gains of at least 17 yards. Let’s see if RocketBallz lives up to the hype.

TaylorMade RocketBallz Fairway IconThe 2012 RocketBallz fairway wood line has received a majority of the buzz from the new products that have been released this year. TaylorMade has been advertising that the RocketBallz 3-wood is 17 yards longer than your current 3 wood. 17 yards longer? For a fairway wood? Really? When I attended a TaylorMade media day late last year I had heard the rumors of the line that would be replacing the popular Burner clubs. I thought the name “RocketBallz” was some insider joke and the actual name would be revealed during the presentation.

As we know that was not the case. RocketBallz was the name of the new line and the TaylorMade executives were proud of their new baby. They even took us outside and rolled out a carpet that was 17 yards long. The script on the carpet read, “This is how long you’re going to hit you new fairway wood”. They reported that 17 yards is what their lawyers told them they could legally claim. They hinted at players seeing gains of 20 yards and more. It was a big claim and truthfully I thought they had no chance of living up to it. In golf, a five yard gain is huge and I thought we had reached the limits to what we could do for making a club “hotter.”

But I may have been wrong, and TaylorMade claims to have re-engineered the fairway wood from the ground up to produce the hottest club in golf.

So, How Do I Get Better at Golf?

I get this question a bunch from fledgling golfers, it has really made me think what is the best answer?

Thrash TalkI was at a dinner party a few weeks ago and the conversation with a friend moved to golf. Inevitably, because I am a fairly serious golfer, new golfers will want to tell me stories of their first par or first birdie. I will listen and think back to when I started playing golf and when it was a big deal to finish the round with the same ball. That was always a big accomplishment when I started!

The friend will then start to tell me about their game and they will ask me, “so, how do I get better at golf?” The traditional answer is be find a local professional and start taking lessons, or go work on your short game. After years of answering friends this way I have stopped, mainly because I think that is wrong answer.

New Method Putters and TW ’13 Shoes from Nike

Nike introduces new golf shoes inspired by FREE technology as well as new members to the Method family.

Bag DropNike, still a relative new comer in the golf world, has made a name for themselves over the last decade or so by taking the time to research and develop their products properly. While not everything they have come out with has been the best looking, their products pack a lot of features and technology and the new shoes and putters from Nike are no exception.

This week we’re looking at some new models in each of those lines: the new Tiger Woods TW ’13 Nike Free-inspired shoes, and new putters in the Method line.