April 2013

Hot new gear you should have



What's the hottest new wedge you gotta have? We think it's Cleveland's new RTX wedges. The scoop behind the RTX design is "Rotex Milling," which in layman's terms combines a specially milled pattern that helps generate spin on open-faced shots and laser-milled grooves situated between the already spacious U grooves. The end result is incredible spin and control around the green, and that's just the stuff on the clubface. Other features include Cleveland's popular 588 wedge design, in both forged blade shapes and cast cavity-back designs. Safe to say, there's a model, finish and loft/bounce configuration for all player types. These are our favorite Cleveland wedges ever, and that's saying an awful lot. ($119, clevelandgolf.com )

NOW PLAYING TAYLORMADE R1 We tried it. We tinkered with it. We tried it again. We fell in love with it. The newest multi-adjustable R1 driver from TaylorMade has the stuff you'd come to expect from the leading driver company, with adjustable loft, lie and weight options in 168 combinations. Also, we like the new, more colorful crown design that helps you align the driver more easily at address. You're probably wondering, does the adjustability really work? Can you see measurable changes when adjusted? Our answer? Absolutely, you can. Lower-lofted settings fired the ball with piercing trajectories, and closed-face settings combated slices. It really does work, and when you dial in the right combination for your swing (it will take some trial and error), watch out" The driver also comes in TP and Super TP models (same clubhead, different shafts). ($399, taylormadegolf.com)

NOW PLAYING PING G25 IRONS If they're good enough for 18-time Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps (he's taking golf really seriously, now), then you should take notice. PING's new G25 irons are designed for maximum game improvement. But you wouldn't know it by the iron set's clean look. The stabilizing bars and CTP insert work together to maximize stability, lower the CG and increase the MOI for maximum forgiveness and distance. Yet, the sole is progressively designed and actually narrows with the shorter irons for some added versatility. Put it this way, the G25 is the best-looking set of game-improvement irons we've seen yet from PING–so good, that even better players may take notice and want that incredible forgiveness that comes with the whole set. ($699, ping.com)

BOCCIERI GOLF Jack Nicklaus is endorsing the Secret Grip, a rubber compound grip that's 40% heavier than a standard grip. There are 17 grams of tungsten in its butt end to backweight any club it's on. The theory is, this 92-gram grip will help slow down your hands through the swing and thus reduce shot dispersion. It changes the club's balance point, too, for more control and strength. It also extends a club's length by one inch. ($17, boccierigolf.com)

OGIO The problem with pull carts is trying to fit even just one of them into your car trunk, along with your clubs. They just have a huge footprint, even when collapsed. Enter OGIO's collapsible X4 Synergy Sport Cart, which easily folds up while keeping your clubs mounted on it for a tighter footprint. The 18-pound, four-wheel cart opens and closes in one step. It features a lightweight frame and effortlessly negotiates rough, uneven terrain. ($229, ogio.com)

GOLFSTR Golfstr promotes the theory that a straight leading arm during the backswing leads to straight shots with consistent ball contact. It's a clear plastic piece that securely straps over your leading arm's elbow to help keep it extended as you pull the club back. If you feel your bicep or forearm pull away from the plastic, expect a stray shot. The simple muscle memory it creates is a winning concept. At the very least, try playing a full round with it and see how it helps improve your impact. ($30, golfstr.com)

GREEN ACTIVE GOLF The Green Active Golf CS2 Putting System is a portable putting track that you can set up to be compatible with any putting stroke and putter. Essentially, you arrange a track via the path of your backstroke and forwardstroke, then putt away with your putter within the track. It trains you to be consistent, via muscle memory. ($99, greenactivegolf.com)

ERNEST SPORTS The Ernest Sports ES12 digital golf assistant is a portable launch monitor that provides you with valuable information. Take it to the range, set it up next to the ball, then swing. Via a Bluetooth connection, it sends your pertinent swing data to its smartphone app, so you instantly see shot distance, ball speed and more, right on your phone. New features include a club-gapping mode that tells you if the various lofts in your set are off. The app also works with video to help you analyze your swing. ($250, ernestsports.com)

RUKK NET The rock-solid Rukk Net is sturdy enough to withstand your tee shots–it contains two layers of netting, plus a steel frame–yet weighs just 14 pounds and collapses into a circular carrying tote bag. Remove it from the case, and it easily pops into shape for instant usage. It includes a hitting mat, plus a small chipping target that hangs inside the net, replete with target hole, so you can chip into it. The net is shaped so that the ball will roll right back to your feet. Best of all, it requires zero assembly. ($179, rukket.com)

GARMIN It appears to be a sleek wristwatch, but Garmin's Approach S3 watch allows you to measure shot distances. The touch screen lets you quickly position the pin location to find distances to any cup–while more than 30,000 courses are preloaded, you also get lifetime updates. Off the course, it's a cool alarm clock and full-featured sports watch that includes an odometer. The rugged unit is also waterproof. ($350, garmin.com)

SKY GOLF SkyPro is a clever new sensor that easily fastens to your club's shaft, then transmits instant swing data to your smartphone. Endorsed by Hank Haney, the product shows a wonderful 3D graphical view of your swing path–it captures 100,000 data points from address through impact–and lets you adjust the playback speed and viewpoint angle to see what your clubhead is doing through impact. It even offers built-in alerts to help you ID swing faults. ($200, skygolf.com)

SWING JACKET After disappearing from the market for six years–the company factory had burned to the ground, along with all of the dyes, molds and product–the Swing Jacket is back. Golfers who put on the vest learn quickly to repeat the core fundamentals of a simple, repeatable, efficient swing. The vest physically guides you through a connected, on-plane swing. You get instant, effective and visual feedback when you hit golf balls wearing it. ($120, swingjacket.com)

THE PILL The Pill looks as if it's the thick center slice of a golf ball, and it rolls on its side. Designed for practice on the green, you line it up on its side, aiming it where you think you should aim your putt. If your stroke is proper, you'll roll the Pill into the cup. If it's off even slightly, the Pill either will fall over or the degree of your miss will be exaggerated. Bottom line: It provides reliable feedback about your stroke plane. It also works from a sand trap, forcing you to make a proper stroke to land the Pill onto the green. ($13, thepillgolf.com)

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