I have always been wary of using a practice golf net. Outdoors, in the garden say, I am always a little concerned about hitting a driver or long iron straight through the netting and hearing that horrible shattering sound as it shoots through my neighbour’s window. And don’t even get me started on indoors! As someone who has known the occasional hosel rocket or two, especially when chipping, I just imagine a ball missing the net altogether and heading merrily towards the TV 🙁
Of course, there are some really good models out there. I wrote about the net return before and to me it is still about as good as you can get in terms of home practice nets. However, it does take up space and certainly isn’t the cheapest net out there (although is, in my opinion, still a really good deal in terms of value for money.)
So Augusta is over for another year and as usual, there were plenty of talking points. Here are the top five things I took home from this years event, in no particular order.
Augusta National is a Hard Course!
Every year around Masters time, a couple of posts will appear on the various internet forums. These vary slightly but boil down to what an ‘average’ golfer’ would score round Augusta in Sunday tournament conditions. Opinions will differ wildly, probably until someone compares someone else to Hitler, then the thread gets closed down, but I have yet to see the definitive answer because, well obviously enough, there isn’t one.
Accuracy Matters-that’s the slogan on the cover of Golfbuddy’s LR5 rangefinder and the better you get at golf, the more it becomes important. When I was happy to break 100 it was probably enough to know which direction the green was! I exaggerate (slightly-you should have seen me spraying it all over the course!) but once you get at least semi-serious about golf, knowing how far it is to hazards, lay-ups greens and bunkers does make a tangible difference to your score.
The short Version
I was tempted to say something like ‘A great budget rangefinder’ but realised that this is a lazy way to describe the LR5-it implies cheap and adequate, but not great. The reality is, this is very good piece of kit. Robust, easy to use and accurate at an attractive price. For most golfers, getting a more expensive option is going to be a matter of choice (which is fine) but not necessity because this type of rangfinder is perfect for almost all of us.
Playing blades is a controversial topic. Some say they are the only way to learn to play the game whereas others claim that it’s the last thing any golfer should do.
This can leave the average golfer pretty confused. Obviously when you look at something like the new Callaway muscle back and compare it to a super game improvement iron the difference is huge. All that technology must help right? And then you see the bags of the PGA tour players-they aren’t all playing blades are they? So what is the average golfer doing with the shiny muscle back in his bag?
The same thing is true in the forums- do a quick search on golfwrx and you’ll find hundreds of threads about blades versus cavity backs, beginners playing blades, low handicap players playing super game improvement irons and so on.
Unfortunately, a lot of this is simply based on opinions of people who don’t play blades ever. To me, there are two big questions. Firstly, why would you actually want to play blades? And secondly, what difference will blades actually make your score?
Why Would Anyone Want to Play blades?
Me talking about blades might seem a bit strange. After all, I’ve written fairly extensively about the single length irons I use. As much as I do like single length, I change the clubs my bag about as often as I change my socks!
With the current year-round version of golf, it is hard to say when one season ends and another begins, but now seems like as good a time as any to take stock of what has happened in 2017. I don’t want to run through a play-by-play of everything from this year (I will only forget half of it anyway!) but I have been thinking quite a lot about one question:
Just who is the best golfer in the world right now?
Of course, there is going to be a lot of personal opinion in this choice. We all have our favourites after all. And really, I have only been thinking about men’s golf which is crazy when you consider the amount of talent on the women’s tours. As one reader (Cliff) rightly pointed out, Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko should be in the discussion for a start.
We all know golfers are cool under pressure, never show their emotions and are a million miles away from the club-throwing, 5 putting tantrums and mental flaws of the average hacker. I mean, you would never see a pga pro losing it, would you? Or a complete miss hit from those superlative ballstrikers? Actually, yes, you would.
If you have ever felt that those guys on the tv are simply machines calculating their way around the course, hopefully this article will set your mind at rest. Sure, it might not make you any better, but it goes to show that anyone can have a bad day at the office (or on the course!)
Before we get carried away, remember that these guys are truly, amazingly good. It is easy to see a pro 5 putt and think “Even I wouldn’t do that“, conveniently forgetting just how slick those greens are and how different it is getting the job done with millions on the line and thousands of people watching (plus millions more on tv.)
Actually, I am amazed that there are so few complete disasters on tour. I am a reasonable golfer and quite often hit one out of bounds as soon as a couple of people are watching me tee off in competition. I can also happily three putt for two feet when anything at all is on the line.
The USGA and the R and A have just released a proposal for various rule changes that they would like to implement from 2019. While some are seeing these ideas as a triumph for common sense, they have also been criticized for changing the way the game is going to be played by some or not changing it enough from others!
If you are a bit confused as to what the fuss is really all about, don’t worry. Here are the main proposals as well as my take on what is really going on. If you have any reaction to the new rules or ideas for other rule changes, I would love to hear from you so please feel free to drop a comment in the box below.
Of course, you might just be wondering why it is necessary to change the rules at all. After all, golf has always been about ‘playing it as you find it’ right? Of course, it really isn’t that simple and in all honesty, there can’t be many people who actually understand the rules completely. Making things simpler has actually become a necessity and this idea is the basis of the proposed reforms.
As I have said before (and more than once!) a rangefinder might just be the easiest way to shave a couple of shots off a round and is certainly a pretty good way of reducing frustration and having more fun on the course. It is also a time saver which is (or should be) a consideration for all golfers. Tech is improving all the time and things have already moved on since the last time we tested. So what are the best options for a new rangefinder in 2018? Is it worth shelling out for a new model? Here are the top contenders in 2018.
First things first, why bother with a range finder at all? We have talked about this quite a bit on fairwayfirstgolf.com, for example here and here. Personally, the more I play, the more I appreciate what it can do for any golfer. Of course, it can’t guarantee a pure strike, but it takes a huge element of uncertainty out of the game. You know for absolute certain just how far you need to hit it. This is very liberating and lets you concentrate on putting your best swing on the ball.
So all you need to do is go out and pick up a rangefinder and you are good to go on the golf course, right? Not so fast.
Not all rangefinders are equal-everyone’s needs are different
We are all looking to score better on the golf course. Whether you are trying to break 100 or actually looking to score under par, cutting shots is probably at the top of your list of priorities. Of course, everyone has advice, from the club pro down to that guy you bumped into last week who has never actually played! The thing is, all this well-meaning advice can lead to more confusion than anything else. In fact, it might even make you score worse! don’t panic, we are here to help:) Here are seven things that you can do right now to help you to a new lower score.
EDIT: This review has been up here for something approaching three years now and hopefully has helped a lot of golfers decide if single length irons are a good fit for them. It seems like a good time to give you my latest thoughts on Pinhawk single length (yes, and dual length;) ) irons and have a look at what has changed over the last couple of years.
Ok, so perhaps the best place to start is the TL:DR version: These are still great irons at a great price and everything I say in the article about them holds true. I have used them a lot of the last few years and they do exactly what they say on the tin-make for a simple, consistent set up and swing. In fact, I recently gave one of my sets to a 22 handicapper who told my how easy h found them to be and that he was having a lot of fun with them. For complete transparency, he did say that he was struggling in the bunkers with the sandwedge, but firstly, he is a 22 handicapper and secondly I personally don’t like the set sandwedge in the bunkers either (something about the weight/sole design I think) but do love it as an ’11 (or 12?) iron.
So what’s new? Perhaps the biggest change has been the introduction of single length hybrids. This is a real game changer simply because a lot of golfers aren’t going to get a single length 4 or 5 iron (maybe even a 6) high enough to do what it needs to do. The possibility of blending hybrids and irons all with the same specs is really good and will work well for so many golfers.
There are also single length woods now in the pinhawk range. I haven’t tried these yet and really they aren’t on my radar currently. Do I think they will be useful? Almost certainly, but I don’t think they will be a revolution in the same way that irons/hybrids can be.
There is one more thing that has got me a bit exited, although I don’t know if it will great or perhaps not so much and this is the announcement by Value golf that thy will be bringing out a dual length set (called vertex.) I don’t know a lot about this for the moment, but I am following it with interest.
So that’s it. I was going to redo a full review, but really, nothing has changed in terms of the way I feel about these clubs or the results I get. In short, still a quality set of single length irons at a really good price from a company I love.
As I have mentioned several times on this site, I like single length irons, both in theory and in practice. The new Cobra set and the Sterling single length are getting plenty of attention, which is great but the most affordable option (and the one I have used myself) seems to be a little more under the radar. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a test set of the new version of the Pinhawk single length irons from Value Golf and decided to take them for a thorough workout in the simulator. The results were very interesting and should give a lot of food for thought to anyone considering single length irons.
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