Steve's Product Reviews
Check out the golf stuff below, I give my view on the golf products and gear available to the discerning golfer today!
We Golf....GPS Golf on your Mobile Phone!!
Turn your mobile into a personal caddie!!
If you have a Java enabled mobile phone (Midp 2.0 or higher) or a Blackberry (software ver 4.5.0 or newer) then check out the easiest way to get distance information out on the course. I (and Pete Graydon) have already done all the hard work for you in mapping the course......all you have to do is download the course to your phone and that's it! Once downloaded, you do not need to connect to the internet to use the mapped course, as you walk around the course, your phone tells you the yardage to the various logged points on your phone display. If you are lying on the beach in Ibiza, switch your phone on and it will tell you that you are 1,587,520 yards to the 18th green!! Personally, I would use a driver from there!!
....and not only that......it works on any golf course!! Once
you have mapped the course (as little as 15 mins work online) download it and
away you go. You will never have to buy another strokesaver booklet again!
I have a couple of copies of the software here at the
Club (£39.95), or you can order online direct with WE Golf using the
A Premium Range Golf Umbrella
An umbrella that retails at over £30???... this had to be seen...so I asked
Umbrella Heaven for a sample to review and this is it!! Typically, the umbrella
arrived a day or so later...and the rains stopped for 2 weeks! All I need to do
then, is buy 26 a year and we will have the perfect golfing year! Mmn that would
not be a bad investment of £900!
Umbrella Heaven are a local based company in Leighton Buzzard, which
specialises in the design and development of various umbrellas. They emailed me
with the claim " we have just developed what we believe is the strongest
umbrella in the world".....well I reckon the best place to test that out is
Known as a multivent umbrella, it has a distinctive shape, a really solid
fibreglass frame, by which I mean the central rod AND the support spans and a
solid wood pistolgrip handle. None of your cheapy plastic handles on here!! The
umbrella is really solid. You immediately have a sense that you are dealing with
quality, not a £5 throwaway that will turn inside out and bend at the merest
waft of breeze. The multivent system allows winds to pass through the umbrella,
preventing the inside out blowouts that we have all seen on a golf course. The
vents also make it so much easier to hang onto in high winds as the air is not
trapped under the canopy.
The canopy itself is in three sections and each section is attached to its
adjacent section and the frame as well. The total span when fully opened is
approx 4 feet, so it provides plenty of cover underneath for even the larger
units in the Club Membership!! The fibreglass frame makes it surprisingly light
as well, which is another consideration when you are adding it to you bag weight
to carry around the course! Available in Black or Navy, it is not going to win
fashion design awards, but what you want is something to keep you dry!
The strongest umbrella in the world? Well I suppose I could test it to
destruction to find out....I have used it in some seriously strong winds here
now at Chalgrave and it has stood up to the test. All in all, it is a Ronseal
Umbrella....it does exactly what it says on the tin! Well made, very very
strong, big enough to keep you and your clubs dry, easy to keep under control in
the high winds....why on earth would I want to test this to destruction???? It
is a damn good umbrella and it's staying on my bag! So there you are...when you
are asked what you want for your birthday/Christmas etc etc...and you say
anything golf...and then groan when someone gives you 50 golfballs from the
cheap shops that you wouldn't even use for practice....tell them you want a
multivent golf umbrella from Umbrella Heaven. You might feel that £35 for an
umbrella is a lot of dosh....but this one, I reckon, is actually worth
Phone umbrellaheaven.com on 01525
382938 quoting discount code CHAL03/09 for a discount down to £27.99 up to the
end of March 2009!
The Zen Oracle Putter.....a
training aid or a genuine top quality putter?? Well the website cites
Tour Pro Stuart Appleby going from rank 156 to top 10 on the US tour
putting stats.....and the list of tour pros using the Zen is lot
longer than a gimmie putt ..and the hugely respected Golf Digest USA
gave it two "hot product 2008" awards so there must be something going
Probably unique in the
putter market, the design of the mallet putter, with a precision cut
golf ball sized hole in the head just behind the face, incorporates a
training aid system. The Oracle website,
www.zenoracle.co.uk has a whole range of training exercises
designed to improve and control your putting stroke, to develop a
smoother and more consistent stroke.
So that was the pre delivery
hype....did it live up to it??
Looks?? Well my preference
would be for the blade style which has the same face but does not have
the training "hole" of the mallet head, and again the website, or even
picturing the mallet head without all the back bit....mmmmmnn now that
is a really nice looking putter!
The grip is fabulous,
soft and easy to grip, with some clear markings that make it easy to get
exactly the same hand and finger positions every time you use it.
Despite the size of the
mallet head (compared to my own Odyssey blade) the putter feels very
light. At impact on the putting stroke, it feels really positive
and sets the ball nicely onto a roll.
So as a putter in game use,
it certainly ticks all the boxes in terms of looks and feel and I think
that it would quickly give you a lot of confidence in use.
As a training aid, my first
reaction was "another gimmick".... and then I tried it out. Oh yes! Now
that is such a brilliant concept and you can see why they have patented
it. If the concept of the 2 Ball putter helps you to visualise the line
of the putter before and after impact, this lets you actually see it
For example, put a ball in
the head "hole" and another in front of the blade. Smooth backwards
stroke and then impact and smooth follow through, accelerating slightly
through impact for a putt from within 10 feet _ the "scoring zone". We
all want to hole putts from there at even half the ratio of the Pros!!!
The ball in front of the blade is struck as normal, and the ball IN the
head releases smoothly on exactly the same line (if the stroke was
smooth and straight) and follows the first ball into the hole about 6"
Get it wrong, ie de-celerate
through impact and the head ball catches on the underside of the putter
as it slows down, and rolls nowhere. Slightly off line with the stroke,
the first ball might catch the edge of the hole and drop in, but the
head ball rolls past the outside edge. You actually see what happens,
rather than visualise what should have happened. Practice this a few
times, concentrating on making sure that the stroke accelerates through
impact with a full follow through and very quickly you can see the
improvement to the putting stroke and the consistency at impact. Scared
of those 2 foot "almost" gimmies?? This drill totally eliminates the
short, sharp stab at the ball.
This is just one drill of many. The only problem I
had was that I had to keep running back inside to read the website to
work out the next drill and then back out onto the putting green.....but
I solved that problem as well. I took the putter to work and practiced
in the office in front of the computer all day!!! Damn.... that office
carpet is fast!!!
Well I thought it was going to be
difficult....after all how many ways can you review a golf bag?
And then it arrived.
The "YES" Tour Bag. 9.5" Top, with individual
sections for every club to the maximum of 14. Perhaps Woosie should have had
this bag, then he wouldn't have to worry about counting them up!! The "YES"
bag is never going to be a shy retiring type, resplendent in bright yellow
and a solid black background, just to make it stand out that little bit
First thoughts, after the "wow, look at that"
had subsided, were that something as big as that was going to be heavy, and
I didn't have an electric trolley anywhere near posh enough to do it
justice. What I really needed, was a caddy in white boiler suit and my name
emblazoned across the back!
I tried hard to find one, but to no avail, so I
carried it myself. It is unbelievably light, and I would say it is probably
very little different in overall weight to my own carry bag which has a
stand fitted to it. The "Yes" doesn't need a stand, find a flat bit of
ground, plonk it down and it stands there proudly!! If its windy, or the
ground is sloping, well do what pro caddies do, lie it on its front, leaving
the "YES" logo for everyone else to admire and get on with the game.
Whichever angle you put it, the clubs slide in
and out with no tangles. No embarrassing 4 clubs come up when you tug
So the operational and aesthetic aspects are all
superb. What about the rest of it? Pockets galore, and unless you are really
careful, the cavernous zipped areas could end up breaking your back as you
can lose so much stuff in there!! I arrived at the first tee and it started
to rain, so I nipped back to the clubhouse, grabbed my waterproofs, and by
the time I got back it had stopped. No rolling stuff into the smallest
possible package and then wedging it into a small side pocket, zips
bursting....just unzip the front, fold in half, zip back up again!!
Pockets galore, and lots of space in all of
them. The zips, and the zippers are all great quality and the bag itself is
made from a quality soft pvc coated material, so it wipes clean with ease
and is virtually totally waterproof. The top section, for when it rains,
well anyone with a chunky driver will tell you that you can never get the
covers on properly with one in the bag....except you can with the "YES" and
with plenty of room to spare. Get 4" added to your driver shaft...it will
So can I find anything to criticise??? Well two
of the pockets are labelled: "Cooler Pocket" and "Valuables Pocket". Well
this bag attracts a lot of attention, so perhaps it is not the best idea to
label the pocket where you keep your keys and wallet!!! So I hatched a
cunning plan and hid my wallet in one of the other seven pockets
instead. Then I thought that the "criminal mind" would expect me to do just
that, so I went with a double bluff and put the wallet back in the valuables
pocket on the basis that it would be the last place they looked!!
A few holes after I started, in the sunshine, I
felt thirsty, so again back to the bag, unzip the handy insulated cooler
pocket and out came the still chilled drink. Actually, just buy warm
drinks, the "YES" bag is so cool it will chill them itself!!!
brand that springs instantly to mind and to be honest, I had never heard of
them before. They are part of the new breed of golf manufacturers and my
initial impression was that they were going to be one of the
“copy/imitation” merchants with a club that looks strangely similar to a
Callaway or a Nike at 1/3rd of the price.
Wrong, BIG TIME! Orka are custom fit club makers, who believe that golf
clubs should be made to fit the golfer as perfectly as possible. However, to
make the products as accessible as possible to all golfers, as well as the
latest technology in the clubs themselves, they use the latest web
technology to enable you to custom build, custom fit clubs online. I had a
long and detailed conversation with them about what clubs I use at the
moment (TaylorMade Hybrids), shafts, swing speeds, grips etc. and just a
couple of days later, the Orka KII Hybrids arrived.
two to try out. The 17 degree and 20 degree lofts with custom fitted shaft
lengths using the Aldila VS Proto 80 stiff shafts.
impressions were excellent. The clubs look damn good!! Fabulous shaped head,
not looking oversized, just sleek and ready to do the business. The
Clubheads are weighted, with removeable weights which presumably will
provide you with differing ball flights in terms of trajectories and shape.
clubhead feels heavy and others who “test swung” them thought the same.
After hitting a few balls with them, I want more weight on all my clubs!!
They feel wonderfully solid through impact, the ball fizzing off the
clubface and off into the distance. Clearly the time spent getting the right
shaft, the right grip and the right weight distribution in the clubhead is
well worth it. They look fabulous in the bag, with modern, bright headcovers
and then they perform the way you want them to.
purists might rue the loss of the long iron to the new breed of Hybrids, but
the game is there to be enjoyed. The Orka’s add a new dimension to your
game. The confidence gained from them is worth another club in the bag and
those long par 4’s and the reachable par 5’s look so much more inviting now.
verdict? Well they are staying in my bag. Taylor and Made can stay in the
garage. That pretty much sums it up I reckon!
Chalgrave Manor Golf Club
Handicap 8.8 playing 9
The new Ping Rhapsody
Ladies Driver in a nice pink/purple hue....well it looks so good in
the bag with its head cover on!!!
And then you take it out
and use it. Wow! Dead straight, longer and so easy to hit. The shaft
was a nice easy flex, not too whippy and the 14 degree loft just
makes the ball rise so easily.
I found that I needed to
return to a more conventional tee height, rather than the extra long
tees I have been using with my current driver, but once I had got
that bit sorted out then the ball just flew off the clubface.
My club, Chalgrave
Manor, is an undulating course and has a number of holes where the
tee shot is semi blind or has a carry over a low undulation to the
fairway. With this club, the confidence factor that the ball is
going to fly long, high and straight just adds a new dimension to
In my first round with
it, our midweek Ladies 9 Hole evening competition, I breezed round
with 19 stableford points....they may say "drive for show and putt
for dough"....but the game is a lot easier from 15 yards further
down the fairway and sitting in the middle of it!!!
My current driver is the
Nike SQ and the bright yellow and huge driver head cover stand out,
not always for the right reasons!!!
The Rhapsody looks are
typically Ping, with the "hologram" effect ball on top of the driver
head to make sure you are squared up to the sweet spot, but the
colours are clearly a new concept that is coming to the fore in
women's golf.....at this rate we will all need 5 different colour
sets of clubs to match the clothing, shoes, bags and trolleys!!!!
With my surname of
Woods, the nickname at my club is inevitably "Tiger". Well watch out
Chalgrave, as Tiger is longer and stronger!!!