Getting back into the swing of the game after a long hiatus requires more than just a couple trips to the driving range. Even if you spent countless hours in the off-season gleaning tips from your favourite golf magazine on how to fix a slice, blast out of a bunker, or hit purer iron shots, merging your muscle memory with your mental agility can be as maddening as Sarbanes-Oxley. A quickie tune-up from a club pro may help bring back that old swing of yours, but don't settle for recapturing your old handicap. This spring, vow to shave a few points off your score. Upgrade your golf game the same way James Bond upgrades his spy game—with a cool arsenal of doodads that'll make you confident enough to pull on a Chianti red polo shirt at the next company tournament.
Ripping one down the fairway can be a spiritual experience with Ping's par five savior (The Rapture, $429). Company engineers paid the same attention to the driver's structural integrity as they would an 80-story skyscraper. A Cray Supercomputer was used to optimize the club head to assure the deepest possible impact. The resulting titanium web-shaped crown looks like it was cribbed from Spiderman's costume. Lightweight composite material was injected into the club's crown in place of discretionary titanium. Twenty grams of mass was repositioned, pushing the center of gravity lower and further back in the club head to improve launch trajectory. If you're holding off for fear of getting ragged on by your buddies with endless Spidey jokes, consider that two of the game's biggest boppers—Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera—have carried this mutant ball launcher in their bags.
Q: Who hit the longest, most Herculean drive in golf in the last couple of decades? A: If you guessed John Daly whose longest reported drive was a 440-yard whopper at Royal St. George's during a British Open practice round with Jack Nicklaus in 1993, you'd be off by more than a mile. After shanking a couple balls off the tee, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin blasted a ball into Earth's orbit in November of 2006. You want to hit 'em like Mikhail? For space age liftoff, try e21's equipment out for size. The Canadian golf equipment maker who dreamed up the billion-yard publicity stunt, manufactures clubs ($200-700) made of scandium, the same metal used in MiG jet fighters. While gravity should keep your shots carrying more earthly distances, the aeronautic friendly alloy with unique vibration dampening properties and a higher strength to weight ratio than steel, graphite, or titanium may add some pop to your swing. The company offers a promotion allowing golfers to test drive a 6-iron for $49.95.
Many golfers attack pins while sporting a chic TAG Heuer professional golf watch ($1,139) with a styling dimpled face and comfortable silicone strap. While the Swiss timepiece is money at its primary job, it doesn't give you any insight into your game other than a way to gauge how long it'll be before your round is done and you can head to the 19th hole. For a watch to aid your game, the Suunto G6 Golf Swing Monitor Watch SW800 ($330 dollars) is the one to consider. Its onboard wrist-top computer measures tempo, rhythm, backswing length, and speed each time you take a stroke. Also if you forgot to take a scorecard, no worries, this watch has got it covered. You can even use it to compile statistical data like greens in regulations or fairways hit. Crave even more complex data? Then opt for the G6 PRO ($440) that includes Suunto Golf Manager PC-software. (suunto.com)
The Segway x2 Golf ($6,175) is noiseless and more nimble than a golf cart thanks to LeanSteer technology and provides a real smooth ride over undulating greens. Thanks to buoyant low pressure tires, you don't have to worry about abiding by 90-degree rules or staying on the cart path. But the biggest plus of the self-balancing battery powered chariot that can scoot along at 19.2 km per hour is quicker play. Also you don't have to worry about dropping off your friends at their balls and then going to hunt for yours on the other side of the fairway. Like a cell phone, this solo-ride runs on lithium ion batteries and a full charge packs enough juice for 36 holes. (www.segway.com)
Impress your foursome by wondering aloud how far you are from the hole and then pull out a Garmin Golflogix GPS ($350), a satellite-based yardage whiz, and announce "well, I'm 181 yards from the back of the green and 162 from the front, so I'm going to go with my 5 iron." The sticker price includes one free course map download, but it would be wise to invest in the $29.95 yearly fee for unlimited access to the rapidly expanding library (golflogix.com).
Another way to upgrade your course management skill set is with Bushnell's Pinseeker line of laser rangefinders ($300-$450). The lightweight scopes take the guesswork out of figuring out slope reads and tell you how far you are from virtually any target on the course from bunkers, trees, and flagsticks to the beer cart girl. (bushnellgolf.com).
The last group on the tee are Zelocity's line of performance monitors ($300-$900). Just set one up next to you and take a swing. Thanks to integrated Doppler radar transceivers, they'll measure everything from club-head speed, carry distance, and ball velocity to launch angle and power transfer ratio. This scientific golf calculator is great for fitting clubs and training your swing, but it's even better for friendly wagers with your buddies. (zelocity.com)
This story first ran in the April issue of The Baystreet Bull
Copyright © Mike Dojc 2008