TEE-FLIP DRILL By Jeff Johnson, PGA
How much of a descending blow do you need? Now that you know you need to clip the ball first before you make contact with the ground, how steep should you be?
To get started, try the tee-flip drill. Take a tee, and place it in front of the ball (toward the target). Push it into the ground so it's snug and does not pop out too easily. From this position, make a swing! If you execute the proper downswing, you not only should hit the tee, but also be able to pop the tee out of the ground.
Practice this drill anytime you feel as though you're hitting it too fat or too thin. You'll quickly be on your way toward making crisper contact.
2012 is a year of surprises. Conservative Titleist has debuted a colored ball with high numbers, Bridgestone has tweaked its Dual Dimple Technology, and TaylorMade has reinvented the Penta into a three-piece version. But what we like the most is how affordable urethane-covered balls have gotten. This year, you can play great balls and not worry about losing one. Okay, you can still worry about losing one.
Key Feature: The new B330 features a larger core and softer cover, not to mention Dual Dimple Technology, which offers superior aerodynamics and enhanced performance in the wind. Who It's For: Pro swinging golfers with speeds over 105 mph. Players who like to bust shots through the wind. Specs: 330 Dual Dimple Technology, urethane cover, dual-mantle design for reduced spin and higher launch with driver and irons. bridgestonegolf.com | $45 Bridgestone B330-S
Key Feature: New for 2012 is Dual Dimple Technology, a larger core and a softer cover than the previous B330-S model. The Dual Dimple cover has optimized its aerodynamics and results in greater overall distance and more consistency in the wind. Its dual-mantle construction will fuel 105+ mph swing speeds with more distance and better wind piercing. Who It's For: Better players who swing faster than 105 mph and crave Tour-quality spin on their approach shots. Specs: Four-piece, urethane cover, 330 dual dimples. bridgestonegolf.com | $45 Bridgestone B330-RXS
Key Feature: Boasting a softer urethane cover than its B330 cousin, this ball was engineered for swing speeds that measure under 105 mph. Who It's For: Spin and distance junkies. Its soft core results in longer, straighter shots, and its reengineered mantle reduces spin for greater accuracy off the tee and with long irons. Like extra greenside spin control? The B330-RXS has you covered. Specs: Three-piece, urethane cover, 330 Dual Dimple Technology. Check out the RX for a slight difference. bridgestonegolf.com | $45 Bridgestone B330-RX
Key Feature: Features a new mantle layer and Dual Dimple Technology for longer distance, better accuracy and optimized greenside performance. The softer urethane cover allows slower-swinging players to achieve great greenside spin and the newly formulated mantle layer reduces spin for longer drives. Who It's For: Golfers who swing less than 105 mph. Specs: Three-piece, urethane cover that's slightly firmer than its B330-RXS cousin. bridgestonegolf.com | $45 Callaway Hex Chrome
Key Feature: Callaway engineers say that the HEX Chrome is the best three-piece ball the company has ever made, and for $36, it's definitely one of the most affordable. Look for a low-compression core called s-Tech, which helps reduce spin off the tee and add it around the greens. Who It's For: Golfers with moderate swing speeds (approximately 90-100 mph) who want a responsive ball but don't want to spend a ton for it. Specs: Three-piece, DuraSpin cover technology and improved HEX Aerodynamics. callawaygolf.com | $36 Callaway Hex Black Tour
Key Feature: Callaway's most highly engineered Tour ball ever. Innovative dual-core construction, durable cover material called DuraSpin and HEX Aerodynamics all combine to create a ball with optimum "spin separation" or rather the difference between how the ball spins on full and short shots. Who It's For: Let's put it this way: Phil Mickelson plays it. If you desire a high-performance ball with exceptional distance control, then it's for you. Specs: Five pieces, HEX Aerodynamics. callawaygolf.com | $46 Callaway HX Diablo
Key Feature: Its proprietary, resilient core and ultralow compression complement the thin ionomer cover that helps keep driver spin low to maximize distance. It's long and soft—and everyone likes that combination. Its HEX Aerodynamic design reduces drag. It felt like balls just flew forever Who It's For: Golfers who want to hit it longer, but don't want to buy premium balls. Specs: Two-piece ball with a thin ionomer cover and HEX Aerodynamics. callawaygolf.com | $20 Callaway HX Diablo Tour
Key Feature: Its core is firmer at the outer edges and softer in the center, helping tee shots fly longer with less spin, and approach shots have more spin for better stopping power. Hard not to like a ball that performs like a premium offering but costs little. Who It's For: Golfers seeking a Tour-style ball for less than $20. Specs: This three-piece ball sports an ionomer cover with HEX Aerodynamics in its dimples. callawaygolf.com | $20 Dixon Earth
Key Feature: The world's first eco-friendly golf ball made of recyclable material, the Earth also is a venerable distance ball with exceptional durability. All full shots feel soft and fly with a long and high trajectory. Who It's For: Eco-concerned golfers who appreciate recyclable stuff. Specs: Made of 100 percent recyclable material, and can be traded in for new ones at a discounted price. dixongolf.com | $40 Dixon Fire
Key Feature: A recyclable cast urethane core, "energy-intensifying mantle" and "high-intensity green core with ignite technology." Maybe we were just having a good day, but these things may be the longest balls we've ever hit. These quality balls fly a mile and spin like crazy around the greens. Who It's For: Golfers who swing faster than 90 mph. Also for golfers who don't mind paying $6/ball. Specs: This multilayer eco-friendly ball has 318 dimples and an Elastodynamic urethane cover. dixongolf.com | $75 Nike 20XI
Key Feature: Proprietary technology includes resin, a neutralized polymer in the core that's faster and lighter, for longer distance, straighter flight and more controlled shots. Designers have increased wedge and short-iron spin where you want more, and decreased driver spin where you don't. Who It's For: The 20XI-X is for golfers wanting Tour-level distance; the 20XI-S for those seeking Tour-level spin. Specs: Four-piece ball with resin core and soft cover with 360 dimples. nikegolf.com | $55 Polara XD
Key Feature: The XD has an asymmetrical dimple pattern that self-corrects hooks and slices by up to 50%. Unlike last year's offering, these balls can be used with lower-lofted drivers. Who It's For: Golfers who want to hit it straight and far and don't want to compete in USGA-sanctioned events. (Polaras don't conform to the rules.) These self-correcting balls can now be used with drivers with lofts of 9_¡ to 10.5_¡. The XDS version spins more than the XD. Specs: Two-piece; look for the three-piece XDS. polaragolf.com | $30 Srixon JR-Star
Key Feature: A soft, durable and affordable ball for junior golfers? What a great idea. Made specifically for kids with 50-70 mph swing speeds and who could use some added lift, the JR-Star's 2-piece construction is all a budding superstar needs to learn the fundamentals of the game. Who It's For: New juniors who are just starting to play. Competitive juniors will want a firmer ball, but for those just learning the game, this ball is perfect. Specs: Two-piece, lightweight and soft as can be. And get this...they float! srixon.com | $17 Srixon Z-Star
Key Feature: Its urethane cover is very soft, so you get added spin control without sacrificing distance. Also, it pierces through the wind–thanks to its core and aerodynamic dimple design–so more shots go where you aim them. Easy to stop on approach shots, but doesn't spin much off the tee. That equals big drives. Who It's For: Folks who want Tour-level performance. Specs: Three-piece ball with new urethane cover and 324 dimples, available in pure white and Tour yellow. Look for a four-piece Z-Star XV version, too. srixon.com | $45 Srixon Z-Star SL
Key Feature: STAR performance technology. What's that? Spin, Trajectory, Acceleration and Responsiveness. Srixon has combined all four so this ball performs well for golfers with midrange swing speeds. The result is a Tour-caliber ball with a high launch angle and exceptional greenside spin. Who It's For: Folks who don't possess Tour-level swing speeds (less than 105 mph), but demand the precision of a Tour-quality ball. Specs: Available in white and Tour Yellow. srixon.com | $45 Taylormade Penta TP3
Key Feature: Boasting the same urethane cover as the TP5, the Penta TP3 has three (as opposed to five) layers and rings at a very reasonable price. TaylorMade engineers optimized the core, mantle and cover materials, all of which helped lower spin on drives while increasing it on mid- to long irons. Who It's For: Golfers who can benefit from a ball that spins more on mid- to long irons. Low-handicappers looking to play a urethane ball at an attractive price. Specs: Urethane cover, three-piece. taylormadegolf.com | $35 Taylormade Penta TP5
Key Feature: This new and improved five-layer ball features a 28% lower core compression. That equates to lower driver spin (and, hence, longer shots), and a softer feel around the greens. Who It's For: Developed for Tour pros, the TP5 can be played by golfers of all abilities. Of course, better players will really notice the benefits of its multiple layers. Specs: Urethane cover and a five-layer construction that's engineered to improve performance on every shot, from tee to green. taylormadegolf.com | $46 Taylormade RocketBallz
Key Feature: Constructed for mid-handicappers who want to hit the ball a long way, spin it (but not too much) around the greens and generate higher ball speed off the clubface. As TaylorMade says, the "ball speed gains come from a proprietary REACT core technology and new SPEEDMANTLE for increased velocity." Who It's For: This midrange ball has many of the qualities of a premium ball, but at half the price. Despite not being a urethane cover, it still felt remarkably soft. Specs: Three-piece, ionomer cover with SPEEDMANTLE. taylormadegolf.com | $27 Titleist DT SoLo
Key Feature: Titleist has made the softest DT yet. How'd they do it? By making a crazy soft core and surrounding it with an aerodynamic cover constructed from two soft Surlyn ionomers. Who It's For: Golfers who like a soft-compression ball that yields long shots with both woods and irons (not to mention control from anywhere on the course...including around the greens). Specs: 392-icosahedral-dimple design boasts five different dimple sizes. Available in white and optic yellow. titleist.com | $20 Titleist NXT Tour
Key Feature: Engineered for longer distance, the new three-piece NXT Tour has a large dual core and a smaller, soft center. Coupled with a higher-volume outer layer, this new version of an old favorite goes a mile. Who It's For: Golfers looking for a blend of big distance and decent spin on approach shots, but not in the market for a premium ball. The Tour S version is a low-compression version of the Tour. Specs: 302-dimple design, Fusablend cover. Its NXT Tour S version comes in an optic yellow option. titleist.com | $32 Titleist Pro V1
Key Feature: Delivers increased spin control and a more consistent flight, thanks to a ZG process core technology, responsive ionomeric casing layer, urethane elastomer cover and dimple design. It's still the standard by which all other premium balls are measured. Who It's For: Any player wanting outstanding feel, distance and durability. Specs: Three-piece ball with urethane elastomer cover, bearing a spherically tiled 352-tetrahedral-dimple design. The four-piece Pro V1x produces less spin on full shots. titleist.com | $58 Titleist Velocity
Key Feature: Titleist has implemented something they call LSX core technology to produce the fastest solid core of any of the co