July-August 2011

The latest in golf equipment, instruction, training aids, apparel & more

ACCESSORIES BOXGROOVE If you've ever wanted to play a private course but just couldn't get on, you may have finally found your "in." A new service called Boxgroove affords its members a chance to play on private courses all over America. As of May 2011, 357 private courses in 45 states are participating, including Moon Valley CC (Phoenix), Riverview (Redding, Calif.), The International (Bolton, Mass.) and Red Rock (Las Vegas, shown). Standard and value memberships available. For more information, visit boxgroove.com.

BLACK WIDOW The firmer, tacky Black Widow Tour Silk grip ($3.39/grip) is designed with an aggressive textured velvet pattern and gained its inspiration from Softspikes. We're big fans of the bold look, in either white or black, plus the firmer feel is something better players will appreciate. Comes in a standard size. bwgrips.com UST MAMIYA UST Mamiya's new standard-sized Comp DV ($5.99/grip) features dual-compound pattern that not only helps to add traction, but also works to line up your fingers on the grip. There are a lot of textures going on, all carefully designed for different parts of the hands. Plus, it just looks plain cool. ustmamiya.com WINN GRIPS Winn Grips' new 5LF-Hero ($8.49/grip) features WinnLite grip technology, which not only makes your club lighter but makes it easier to swing faster, too. What we liked the most, however, was that proceeds from the sales of it go to the Troops First Foundation. All in all, it's a win-win for Winn. winngrips.com LAMKIN The popular Perma-Wrap Classic ($7.95) from Lamkin is now available in white. Made with the company's 3GEN material, an advanced rubber compound that creates a natural, secure grip, the Perma-Wrap Classic is durable, extremely tacky and helps keep the club in position with very light tension. lamkingrips.com GOLF PRIDE

Golf Pride's new VDR grip ($4.99) has variable-depth pressure for excellent shock absorption and a tacky, weather-resistant feel. We like the pattern that resembles fingers wrapping around the grip, not to mention its velvety feel. golfpride.com

SHARPO Sharpro's new 3CAT grip ($4.99 cord, $3.99 noncord) provides the security of a velvet cord and the soft, tacky feel of a wrap. The addition of anti-torsion bars, made from higher-density rubber, positioned at the top half of the grip to work in conjunction with the soft cord, creates unrivaled control for golfers. sharprogrip.com

SHAFTS

MIURA It's not every day that a new set of irons is introduced by Miura. But when they are released, it's cause for industry watchers to perk up. The Japanese manufacturer introduced their forged, game-enhancement Passing Point 9003 ($225/iron) irons on April 1, and they're no joke. The elegantly shaped cavity-back irons feature a wider sole, which will appeal to all players, and a progressive offset. Just the sticks golfers seeking a higher trajectory will love. Comes in 4-iron through GW in right-hand only. miuragolf.com

ADAMS GOLF Designed for better players who crave a more pene-trating ballflight, Adams Golf's new Idea Pro a12 irons ($899-$1,099) feature low CGs and forged 8620 carbon steel heads with thin top lines. These handsome sticks also have a triple-milled head (face, grooves and cavity) and progressive heel-toe weighting for more forgiveness in the longer irons. Comes with KBS Tour steel shafts. 4-GW. Right-hand only. adamsgolf.com

TITLEIST Any new offering from Titleist is worth mentioning, especially when it comes from wedge guru Bob Vokey. This spring saw the release of his new 200 Series wedges ($140) in the company's Wedgeworks lineup. The new clubs feature a classic head shape with a high toe peak and a soft trailing edge, something that Vokey says "keeps the club from getting stuck in the turf." With a bright brushed-chrome finish, the wedges come in a variety of loft/lie combos (46_¡-60_¡) and feature Spin Milled Condition of Competition grooves that comply with the USGA wedge ruling. vokey.com

WHAT'S IN A BAG

SUN MOUNTAIN Can't carry your bag for 18 holes without collapsing? Consider Sun Mountain's Swift ZG ($199). The bag, which used to be the Swift X, recently got a new addition–the hip belt from the company's Zero-G bag. The added support closes with a Velcro strap and allows the bag to feel nearly weightless by transferring the majority of weight off one's shoulders. Need more motivation to carry your bag? Research says that you'll burn more than 1,400 calories walking 18 holes! sunmountain.com

BAG BOY Bag Boy's new XLT-15 Cart Bag ($160) features a Clip-Lok organizer top that's designed to hold clubs in place so they don't clang into one another. The 11-way organizer top features 15 individual Clip-Loks that allow the user to snap the club shaft into place. Also features an external putter well, eight pockets, external tee holders and hidden umbrella sleeve. Great idea! Weighs seven pounds, offered in seven color combos. bagboy.com.

CLEVELAND The new Hybrid ($170) stand bag from Cleveland features a 14-way top and full-length club dividers, plus 10 strategically placed pockets. But look harder and you'll notice a few nifty features like a Velcro strip for your glove or putter cover, a rangefinder pocket, a trunk handle, tee sleeves and an oversized towel ring. It's the MacGyver of golf bags. Weighs 5.9 pounds and comes in three color combinations. cleveland.com

ACCESSORIES

FOOTJOY Featuring a proprietary waterproofing system called ECL (Extreme Comfort Leather), the DryJoys Tour ($170) from FootJoy guarantee that no water will penetrate your shoes for at least two years. But that's not all these ultracomfortable and supportive new kicks feature. Look for full-leather linings, a polyurethane foot bed for super cushioned comfort and Cyclone cleats that grab the ground and won't let go. Comes in eight different color options, including White Smooth/Brown Gator (shown). footjoy.com

ASHWORTH Looking for a golf shoe that won't look out of place in the clubhouse? Consider Ashworth's new Cardiff shoe ($120). Its molded rubber (and spikeless) sole combine with tumbled leathers and rich suede accents to take the Cardiff from the course to the clubhouse and beyond. Available in navy, white and black. ashworthgolf.com

ROYAL COLLECTION USA As some of you know, Sonartec has been rebranded as Royal Collection USA, and the Japanese company recently released the JP104 series of woods. The driver ($440) features a driving cavity, strong CG and variable-face thickness for a thicker, circular sweet spot; the fairway woods ($250) have a shallow, wide profile for added forgiveness; the stainless-steel JP104 hybrid's ($220) wider sweet spot makes it easy to escape the toughest lies; and JP104FH hybrids ($250) launch the ball like a fairway wood but with the control of a hybrid. We're glad to see these clubs back on the market. They're for better players, and solid ballstrikers will see a big payoff when they make pure contact. royalcollectionusa.com

COBRA GOLF

On the heels of last year's white ZL Driver, Cobra Golf introduces its white S3 Driver ($475). Like its black S3 cousin, the new, limited-edition driver features E9 Face Technology, which increases its sweet spot by 30%. It also affords better players the ability to alter their ballflight and shape via its Adjustable Flight Technology. Comes with an all-white Aldila RIP Beta shaft and white Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2G grip. Available in lofts of 9.5_¡ (S-flex) and 10.5_¡ (S- and R-flexes); 9.5_¡ in left-handed. cobragolf.com

BOLLE The new Zander ($100) frames from Bolle feature something the company calls "EagleVision." What's that? A technology that optimizes contrast in the green portion of the spectrum and results in an enhanced view of green nuances. Just the thing golfers need to see better on the links. But that's not the only feature the golf-specific Zander boasts. Note the semi-rimless lens. That provides unobstructed views when addressing the ball. Smart. bolle.comSmart. bolle.com

TECH CORNER

SKYCADDIE The SkyCaddie SGX ($399) from SkyGolf supports SkyCaddie's database of courses offering Inter-active HoleVue, which enables the golfer to know the distance to any point on a hole. Another cool feature is SkyCaddie's SGX SmartClub Technology. What's that? SmartClub Tags that are located at the butt-end of the grip inform the golfer if a club is left behind, and track the geolocation and distances of each shot, while eliminating the distraction of manual entry. skygolf.com

CELESTRON Two new GPS models manufactured by Celestron, the CoursePro ($99) and CoursePro Elite ($149, shown), have recently hit the market. How do they differ? The CoursePro holds 50 courses; the Pro Elite, 100. The Elite also features scorecard data and analysis, hazard maps and the ability to create a new course. Both models come in two different color combinations and include a mini USB cable, belt clip, carry pouch and AC adapter. celestrongolf.com

JRG Senior GT Instruction Editor Jeff Ritter has released the JRG iPhone application, a free download that provides access to sample HD instructional content, Jeff's top YouTube video lessons, hours of radio interviews and loads of bonus material. Viewers also can purchase up to 50 other high-definition instructional videos from full-swing, chipping, pitching, bunker-play and putting catalogs. To download, visit the iTunes App store and search "Jeff Ritter Golf."

SRIXON Not sure which of the 84 configurations you should dial in on your Srixon Z-Star driver? The company's new Srixon WeatherFIT app (free) for iPhones and iPads is here to help. It provides you with an accurate four-day weather forecast to help you select the proper face angle and weight settings for varying conditions. It even tells you which ball to play, Tour Yellow or Pure White. Available at the iTunes App Store.

PUTTERS

NEVER COMPROMISE Remember the sweet Gambler series that Never Compromise introduced earlier this year? Well, they're back with another flashy, high-end offering called "Dinero" ($299+). While the Gambler series featured Vegas-inspired artwork on the sole and hosel, the 303 stainless-steel Dinero boasts global currency symbols like the $, £, ¥ and €. What do we think of them? They're money baby, money. Custom options available include grips, paint fill, length and lie. nevercompromise.com

PIRETTI The Texas-based Piretti Golf has released two new putters. The 365-gram Matera ($285) is designed for players who like a wider profile, but don't like to look at the lines of a deep pocket in the flange of the putterhead. Comes in a PVD black finish and a single or triple sight line or a sight dot. Like the Matera, the blade-style Potenza ($285) is milled from a solid billet of 11L17 carbon steel. The Potenza has a flow neck with half shaft of offset preferred with this style head. We're big fans of this young boutique company, and it's great to see more new models after last year's sweet debut lineup. piretti.com

TAYLORMADE This Est 79 series ($100), a handsome new value line of putters from TaylorMade boasts four blades and two mallets and are made from 303 stainless steel. Weighing a healthy 345 grams, they come in three lengths (33", 34" and 35") and feature a Surlyn PURE ROLL insert for a soft feel and true roll. Quality-looking stuff at a discount price. Nice! taylormadegolf.com

YES! GOLF When Yes! Golf filed for bankruptcy last December, fans of their C-Groove putter line worried that they'd never be able to pick up one of the company's flatsticks again. Fortunately Adams Golf purchased the company in an auction a month later. So if you're in the market for one of their eight putter models (three new putters are debuting, including the Christina, shown), rest assured. They're available for immediate shipment anywhere in the U.S. yesgolf.com

PUTTER TRAINING AIDS

The game's best putters often stick a tee in the green and putt to it. This helps narrow their focus to a small point and makes the hole look that much bigger when they play. But the creators of Dead Center Putting ($10) say that doesn't help ingrain good speed control. So they've developed a new training aid that does. Simply place the DCP's insert ring in a golf hole and add either the beginner disk or the advanced disk to change the width of the opening. You can change the shape of the disk to alter which angle your putt approaches it from, so you can then lag putts at the proper speed. deadcenterputting.com

While video swing analysis has become de rigueur among instructors, putting analysis has mostly been relegated to high-end fitting studios. The folks at PuttingShark ($379) hope to change that. Their new portable putting analyzer and simulator records and measures one's putting stroke–clubface angle, swing path, angle of attack, club speed and sweet spot deviation–so you know exactly what kind of contact you're making. Simply connect it to your computer and start draining putts from everywhere. puttingshark.com

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