Volume Three Hundred Eighty-Five

Holmes bounces back from brain surgery, Aguilar scores from downtown, and winter’s effects on golf are slow to melt away.

Hittin' the LinksIf you live in the Northeast or Midwest of the U.S., your courses are probably just starting to perk back up following one of the harshest winters in recent memory. Here in central Ohio, putts are finally starting to roll without hopping left and right off unhealed aeration holes. But the courses are hurting in more ways than just being behind in maintenance. Between rain and cool weather in April, rounds are down at both public and private courses. On a 60 degree weekend day, one popular private club reportedly had a “wide open” tee sheet. Normally in April or May, you would need to make a tee time a week in advance.

Every day, lost rounds mean thousands of dollars of revenue lost from greens fees and food and beverage sales at each course, revenue that is unlikely to be made up since the season will only last so long. That’s not good for golf or golfers. So do your part and go play some golf.

But first, let’s hit the links.

TaylorMade 2014 Tour Preferred MC Review

After going missing for a couple of years, the Tour Preferred line of irons are back. Read on to see if they are really worthy of that name.

Over the last couple of years there has been no company that puts out more products than TaylorMade. It seems that every time you blink an eye they have a new driver, wood or set of irons that is suppose to add another 15 or 20 yards to your game via different technologies that are built into the clubs.

That’s all well and good, and during that time, they’ve done a great job marketing to the weekend warrior but at some point, it seemed like they lost touch with the more serious golfer. This year, that tune has changed and the company has brought back their “Tour Preferred” line of irons. The line has three different models; the first is their muscle back or MB model and is for the best of players. On the other end of the spectrum of the Tour Preferred line are the CB’s. These clubs, as you can tell by the name, have a cavity back and have a much larger foot print. In the middle, there are the muscle cavity or MCs.  These clubs combine ideas from the two sets around them to produce a club with a slight cavity, a smaller shape, and thin top lines in a package that also has some of the technology that’s missing from the MBs.

Read on to find out if TaylorMade’s newest irons are as good as they’d have you believe or if they are just another club that will be replaced in a few short months.

Volume Three Hundred Eighty-Four

Despite being sidelined with a back injury, Tiger Woods still manages to hit the links like no one else.

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

Cobra wows with it newest colorful tour-level driver.

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?

Many of the winners in the 2014 PGA Tour season are unknowns to even the most regular golf fans.

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

TaylorMade shrinks the SLDR and brings back the white crown while Adidas debuts new shoes.

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.

New Balls from Volvik

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.

Volume Three Hundred Eighty-Three

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

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!