DROP THE BOX By Barry Goldstein, PGA
Along with a poor and weak grip, one of the biggest mistakes I see many of my students make is having bad posture at address. This means they're in a slumped, slouched and unathletic position from their neck down. Odds are, these students have wrongly been told to keep their head down through the swing, which means they bury their chin into their chest, and the back is rounded, and the shoulders are squeezed together. As a result, this makes swinging the club properly much more difficult, and the likely result is excessive lifting and dropping of the arms and hands. And in many cases, because the body can't make a good turn and shift away from the ball on the backswing, a reverse pivot occurs.
When I see this, I immediately make my students aware of their bad setup. Sometimes, if it's severe enough, I'll place a sleeve of balls or a golf glove on their upper back and neck. In no way do we want that to be able to sit there! I often joke with students who mimic this position that I could place a pizza on their upper back, and it would stay in place. That's no good either! We want to be more upright so the sleeve of balls can't stay in place on your upper back.
The goal in your setup (with virtually any club) is to feel tall, upright and athletic. You should feel as though you're looking at the ball with a tall, proud chin. Or, think of it this way: I like to encourage my students to "see the ball with the bottom of their eyes." This helps you keep your head in alignment with your spine.
As for your knees, they ought to be slightly flexed, and any lean forward toward the ball should be a tilt from the hips. It's always better to miss too upright with your posture than too slumped and slouched. Your weight should be over your shoelaces, not hung out on your tippy toes. Lastly, feel as though you have a grapefruit under your chin at address. This will help you avoid slouching your back and chin. Just remember, don't squeeze the grapefruit and make juice! Try this, and I bet your drives will be longer and straighter, and your irons more precise, too.2013 looks to keep going where 2012 left off, as far as golf balls are concerned. Colored models are still gaining popularity, as are a slew of soft-core/soft-cover models that not only feel great, but fly a long way. In addition, some popular models got tweaked and fine-tuned to perform even better than before. That said, golf ball fitting has become popular, as it not only helps Tour players find the right ball, but all abilities, as well.
Key Feature: The B330 features a larger core and softer cover, not to mention Dual Dimple Technology, which offers superior aerodynamics and enhanced performance in the wind. The softer B330-S spins a little more. 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 eSeries
Key Feature: Each of the three balls (e5, e6 and e7) caters specifically to certain players. The two-piece e5 is a distance ball at heart, but has a high-spin Urethane cover for short shots. The three-piece e6 is a super-soft multilayer ball with a durable Surlyn cover, and the three-piece e7 is a distance ball for every type of player. Who It's For: Bridgestone is making great strides in golf ball fitting. There's an eSeries ball for just about everyone. Specs: e5 is a two-piece, Urethane cover; e6 and e7 are both three-piece designs with Surlyn covers. bridgestonegolf.com | $27 Bridgestone B330-RX & B330-RXS
Key Feature: Features a 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. The RXS model has even higher spin for those who need more control around the green. Who It's For: Golfers who swing less than 105 mph. Specs: Three-piece, Urethane cover. The RXS is the softer of the two. bridgestonegolf.com | $45 Callaway Hex Hot
Key Feature: The new Hex Hot has a Fast Tech inner mantle for more distance, and the Trionomer cover promotes lower driver spin, again, for more distance. Put it this way, it's the longest Callaway ball we've ever hit. Who It's For: Golfers who want a multilayer distance ball and who like the look, feel and performance of HEX-shaped dimple patterns. Specs: Three-piece, Trionomer cover. callawaygolf.com | $27 Callaway Hex Hot Pro
Key Feature: Three-piece construction with a DuPont HPF Mantle that not only adds driver distance, but also provides some extra feel around the greens. Who It's For: Golfers who want big distance from their golf ball with some added spin on short shots. Basically, it's a lot like the HEX Hot, but with extra control. Specs: Three-piece, Trionomer cover. callawaygolf.com | $28 Callaway Hex Black Tour
Key Feature: Callaway's most highly engineered Tour-level ball. 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 short and full shots. Who It's For: Phil Mickelson uses it. If you desire a high-performance ball with exceptional distance, here ya go. Specs: Five-piece design, HEX aerodynamics. callawaygolf.com | $46 Chromax Metallic
Key Feature: The high-visibility metallic finish is a feast for the eyes! The cover, which is translucent, shows a reflective inner layer that encompasses the soft- compression core, resulting in the most unique-looking ball out there. Who It's For: Golfers who want a soft-feeling distance ball that's really quite easy to see and cool lookin'. Specs: Two-piece, not counting the metallic inner coating. It also has a translucent Surlyn cover and two-piece core. chromaxgolf.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. And full shots feel soft and fly with a long and high trajectory. Who It's For: Eco-concerned golfers who appreciate recyclable stuff. (The ball itself is recyclable.) Specs: Made of 100% recyclable material; it can be traded in for new ones at a discounted price. dixongolf.com | $40 Dixon Fire
Key Feature: A recyclable cast Urethane cover, "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 One RZN & One RZN X
Key Feature: The soft RZN core promotes high distance, this time in a model for amateurs who want higher ball speed off the clubface. The X model is for penetrating distance, whereas the standard One RZN has some added control. Who It's For: Big-hitting amateurs who want Tour-like distance in a ball with a soft core. Specs: Three-piece golf balls, both with Nike's new RZN core material. nikegolf.com | $29 Nike 20XI-S & 20XI-X
Key Feature: The new 20XI-S and 20XI-X balls both have more distance at the core, thanks to a new RZN material that Nike claims is faster and lighter than rubber. There are two models: the X for more distance and the S for greater spin around the greens. Who It's For: Golfers who want Tour-level performance in either the spin or distance variety. Specs: Four-piece construction with new RZN cores; 360-dimple pattern. nikegolf.com | $45 Polara XD
Key Feature: The XD has an asymmetrical dimple pattern that self-corrects hooks and slices by up to 50%. 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 construction. polaragolf.com | $30 Rife E Motion
Key Feature: The E Motion is a 3-piece high-performance ball with a progressive Dual Motion Core and 392-dimple pattern. That aside, if you haven't heard of RIFE's balls, you're missing out. They're really great. Who It's For: Golfers who want solid performance from a very durable cover. And by the way, it's not only durable, but also exceptionally long off the tee. Specs: 3-piece construction, Surlyn with Aeroblend cover. rifeputters.com | $18 Rife V Motion
Key Feature: Three-piece, cast Urethane-covered, Tour-level golf ball for the optimal blend of distance and spin. The 318-dimple pattern is designed to reduce drag and improve carry distance for longer shots. Who It's For: Seriously, folks, these new balls by Rife are fantastic, and we bet it's only a matter of time before more golfers take notice. They're that good. Nice price, too. Specs: Three-piece construction, 318-dimple pattern, cast Urethane cover. rifeputters.com | $32 Srixon Soft Feel
Key Feature: This soft-feeling ball from Srixon is designed to launch the ball high with low spin for maximum distance and control. Its soft core is ideal for golfers with less than 100 mph swingspeeds. Srixon also claims the ball has a higher MOI, meaning greater accuracy on off-center hits. Who It's For: Golfers with moderate to slow swings, who want to get every ounce of distance they can muster. Specs: Two-piece with a soft, smooth feel. srixon.com | $19 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 swingspeeds. 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 swingspeeds (less than 105 mph), but demand the precision of a Tour-quality ball. Specs: Available in white and Tour Yellow. srixon.com | $29 Taylormade Lethal
Key Feature: The new Lethal has a 5-piece construction and a seamless 332-dimple pattern for what TaylorMade says is its most wind-defying golf ball. Oh, yeah, it also has the type of greenside spin that Tour professionals demand. What more could you want? It's the "ultimate Tour-performance golf ball," says TaylorMade (and us). Who It's For: Better players who want improved distance and control without giving up much-needed control on shorter shots around the green. Specs: Five-piece, 332-dimple pattern, Urethane cover. taylormadegolf.com | $45 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 Titleist NPro V1 & Pro V1x
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. Who It's For: This year's balls have been refined for even greater distance and durability. Really? How much better can these balls get? We're impressed (as always). 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 Volvik ProBismuth
Key Feature: he new ProBismuth from Volvik is a three-piece, high-performance golf ball with a soft Z-1 cover for enhanced feel and playability on shorter shots. Who It's For: Mid- to low-handicappers who want a solid blend of control and distance in a ball that has a soft, silky feel both off the tee and with iron shots. With such spin around the green, you'd swear they had a Urethane cover. Specs: Three-piece construction, soft Zirconiuim cover, 446-dimple pattern, Bismuth-infused core. volvikgolfusa.com | $32 Volvik Crystal 3-Piece
Key Feature: The popular colored-ball brand has made its way into the high-performance market with the new Crystal 3-Piece. The two-piece low-compression core and translucent cover combine for big distance with woods and added spin with iron and wedge shots. It also has a very, very soft feel, which we love. Who It's For: All player types who want better performance from a line of balls that come in four different colors. Specs: Three-piece construction in four colors: green, yellow, orange and pink; also available in a rainbow pack or yellow/orange. volvikgolfusa.com | $32 Volvik Vista iv
Key Feature: Four-piece construction designed for Tour-level performance. This equates to big drives with minimal spin and greater spin on shorter shots. (Yes, it's possible to do, folks. That's what four layers are for.) Who It's For: Go