Retro Blog Entry No.6 – Golf equipment news Jan 2014, 1-year ago

Notes from my Jan 2014 notebook.

1. Check out the “Vessel” (not sure why, they do custom golf bags but I wrote down that it was a cool online app – hmmm)

2. In the NEWS:  During the beginning of the year, golf technology (on Morning Drive & in Golf Digest etc.) stories seemed to be all about Adjustability in drivers and hybrids.  For irons, it was all about thinner and hotter faces.

(Note to self) I wonder if this really is all about game improvement or if there’s a little bit of deliberate engineering with less material (which translates into less costs and maybe better profit margins in addition to game improvement potential.  I mean, golf club manufacturers churn out way too many new clubs they need some way to keep the price and innovation equation working…no?).  Whatever the case, things like Tungsten are being added to the club faces and Adams Golf introduced something called Pure Effect.

So many choices.  More to digest and factor in – but even Leadbetter now says there is no excuse for even amateur golfers not getting the right equipment that perfectly fits their body and play.  I would just add, once you’ve gotten a few lessons under your belt to make it worth the investment.

Also, there was a lot of talk about who will anchor the golf world now that Tiger is/was out of the picture for the time being.

(2015 Add-on Note – I guess that’s worked itself out – at the time there was still a lot of speculation on Rory.  My time’s have changed haven’t they?)

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Thanks for the Future Memories, Winter Golf Practice & ZZ Top

I haven’t had a chance to write in a while what with all the holiday stuff going on.  But now that I’ve had a chance to reflect and give thanks for all the many wonderful things in my life including stumbling upon golf in earnest a couple years ago and being able to pursue it to the best of my ability and life/work balance but with deliberate seriousness and purpose over the last 12 months in particular.  All told – compared to where I was just 5 years ago, on many levels, I’m an incredibly fortunate guy.  Funny how life seems to just plod along and then suddenly it’s like it changed on a dime.

I mean, I must say that I have improved in all the areas of the game that I’ve focused on over the months – from pitching and chipping to putting most recently and mixing in other learnings about equipment and stuff and getting more regular with practice routines and even writing this diary.  It’s a ton more than I was doing oh just 18 months ago and even if the needle isn’t moving with the kind of alacrity I would want – it’s still moving in the right direction.

Good "Ole Shazzam

Good “Ole Shazzam

And I’ve got nothing but time so – Shazzam! – I’ll take it, not too shabby! and I guess I’m setting myself up to double down next year and really get serious.  Maybe I’ll even get an instructor finally – but by then I can participate in my instruction versus just being a dunce.  Paul Azinger says you need to actively ask for help from your instructor otherwise they won’t know how to guide you.

So there are a couple of things I’m thinking about and need to say.  One is, even though we’re in the rainy season  – and thank goodness we’re getting a good dousing right now in the San Francisco Bay area  – the weather is temperate enough for me to still squeeze in putting practice (and eventually driving range and instructor) thru the winter.  Even so, the sun light is scarce so I’m finding myself reverting to at-home off-range practice routines.  There are a ton of things I can do in the backyard especially for my short game like using a chipping matt and chipping net and stuff.

SKLZ Chipping net

The Batter’s Box for Pitch Alignment Fixes

Backyard Chip Practice Net

Backyard Chip Practice Net

I just bought a 3-hole chipping net from SKILZ that I put out in the backyard some 15 yards from a practice mat with 2-level grass and practice really short chips or imaginary bump-and-runs from that distance.  My mat has alignment lines so I can practice getting into the right stance and adjust my posture and foot positions based on how I’m missing the batter’s box of the chipping net.  I find this one is better than just the regular round chipping net with a bull’s eye center.  Having a net hole dead-center and then 1 panned left and right within a square box like this SKILZ one does (and I’m NOT trying to push this brand or anything but I’m just sayin’), let’s you think like a pitcher or a basketball player at the foul-shot line.  You can make your adjustments based on how and where you missed.  It’s uncanny how I can dial into the right club face angle, foot position and all after about 6 billion tries.  Oh – and I use the spongy balls or whiffle balls instead of real golf balls so I do take out my neighbors or my windows – right?  Just a friendly neighborhood golfer tip for anyone looking for cheap backyard practice drills.  After a few dozen sunsets of that, you might feel like the sun is shining so bright that you’ll need a pair of “Cheap Sun Glasses” – haha, that’s for all you ZZ Top fans out there. ,n

Classic Rock ZZ Top

Classic Rock ZZ Top

Two, I realized I have a ton of blog entries from earlier this year and I started panning thru them.  Silly me, I often write random musings about golf stuff and practice into one of those composition black and white notebooks about golf when I’m commuting by light rail into work or when I’m watching golf on TV – and often the writings will make their way onto WordPress but often not.  So I have a couple dozen entries that I’ll be posting under retrospective entries over the coming days – unless I forget to do it or something.

I’ve also taken to reading more golf literature and delving into its history.  I taped a show on Arnie that I’m hoping to watch this weekend.  And I stumbled across a new golf channel (we recently switched cable providers) called the Back9 that has shows like the Wandering Golfer (which is kinda neat) and some others (some not so neat IMHO) that just makes me feel like, even though this sport is in a severe ebb due to a confluence of economic demographic and other macro-cultural factors, this game is growing new roots in more vibrant and pervasive ways – that points to an exciting future at every level.

Back9 Network

Back9 Network

And for that, I give a ton a thanks and thanks to you all for putting up with me.

Svgolfer_over.

Practice + Data Makes Perfect: Golf Technology for Your SmartPhone featured in Wall Street Journal

So yesterday we were talking about some of the lackluster programs coming out of the PGA to help grow game enthusiasm.

I mentioned that the industry is having a hard time reaching some core constituents including working-age enthusiasts like myself who are brand new to the game (nobody messages to me at all – it’s all about the college kids or the old geezer) and another cohort, mentioned in this article – called the “lapsed” golfer.  This guy or gal played before, lost time to do it, now has a mortgage and a couple kids and wants to get back but just can’t find the groove again.

The article is a decent read which you can find here:

Wall Street Journal Golf Gadget Article

wsj_tech

WSJ Tech Article on Golf

Although it opens up by describing the challenges today’s ‘lapsed’ golfer faces when trying to get back into the sport, it spends more time reviewing some newer digital technologies that are meant to help the amateur golfer improve his/her game…..wait for it ….. AT HOME.

So you know I had to read on.  Some tech (no plug intended) was already mentioned here at the SiliconValleyGolfer…. like the Zepp glove gadget but all the products are worth mentioning so I’ll list them below.  Happy gadgeting.

wsj_golfgadgets

WSJ Cover Photo

Last noteworthy note.  Although technology is coming a long way to help us fans improve both on and off the course for a lot less money and with access to a lot more information (Big Data comes to Golfing I guess) – the article made a good observation. … Nothing replaces the human eye and the ability for what was unfortunately referred to as “the antiquated human golf instructor” (yikes – but i think that image does prevail in the industry today if only for the non-avid fans) to combine disparate pieces of player visual data in order to provide a custom recommendation for improvement.  Mentioning the average price tag of $100/lesson underscored another fundamental gate-keeper to bringing new converts into the fold.

And now – the LIST.

  • SwingByte – Swing Analyzer and more……

Swingbyte

  • Golf Glossary – a good iOS app for learning all things “golf terms” as if trying to connect with the ball wasn’t hard enough.

CNET Golf Glossary

  • Arccos Golf – Big Data meets improving your game by sticking sensors on your clubs and measuring everything.
arccoss

Arccoss

Improve Your Swing App from Arccos

  • Garmin Golf Watch – a smart golf map with swing improvement and more

Digital Golf Tools form Garmin

garmin

Garmin

  • Nike 360 – another great course golf map that SVGolfer discovered.  

Nike has a Great Map & More App

nikegolf

Nike 360

Why the WSJ article missed this popular app as well – I don’t know.

  • GolfLogix – another popular swing analyzer (rated #1 according to them)

Golflogix

Last advice:: punch in the term ‘golf’ on your smartphone and download some free apps or games.  I’m still a big fan of the fun virtual golf game  GLGolfLite.  And I learn a lot while playing it – stuff like how to factor in a break, or picking the right club – in a game like environment.  

SVG-over and out.

 

 

GPS Aerial Course Strategy App for iPhone – VPAR

This is an interesting free app that helps you strategize your course play like Tiger.  I have not downloaded yet but was impressed by their website.

Could be worth a gander.  Although, is it me or will there come a point where we just have too much technology and it’s removed human intuition from the equation?

Not sure.  Happy checking out.

VPAR iPhone Course Mapping App

 

iPhone Golf App

Knowledge is power, Knowledge is confidence

This Innovation is Wow and Not So Obvious – Trackman

Trackman!! da da dada da da dada da – Trackman!!

So if you have 5K sitting around and you want to see how each one of your strikes spin and land the golf ball …AND … you also want to get great 3D metrics visual analysis (HD and all) of your trajectory, roll and all that stuff – then this is worth checking out.

BAM!! BOOF!! ZWAPPooo!!

“Why aren’t these guys working with SVGolfer to set something up for local communities to host at-home golf parties or even compete virtually worldwide a la Virtual Wolrd Golf Tour?” [SVGolfer sidenote/note to self]. The possibilities are endless. Like, Golfsmith could host virtual tour competitions complete with stats to local neighborhood amateurs.

 

Again – this is pretty cool – but underscores just how exclusive this golf world can be and how it once was (and often still belongs to) a class that ruled during the Great Gatsby era – meaning it was never intended for the masses. Did I say that? So let me add – IMHO. And let me also add that this is part of the reason why the industry (sans Tiger) is facing such upheaval and turmoil and can’t seem to find it way out of a viewership and future-golfer’s slump.

It’s gotten so bad – case in point – that some muni and local golf holes are now offering Soccergolf or Footgolf to stay solvent. It just not right.

And we haven’t really begun to face the other challenges including how hard it is to move from humble practitioner to apprentice status and,at a macro level the growing costs of playing and the possibility of longer drought cycle’s and higher operational costs.

But all this aside – this is pretty cool.

http://blog.trackmangolf.com/

Day One – Decision Points Jan 01 To be a Serious Golfer

To commit or not to commit. Decide to go for a heart-felt life-long dream or at least what feels like one versus not-rocking the boat, steady freddy, play it conservative.

Is this a time to think like a dot-comer again now that it’s half time? Is it really about following your bliss still? Or is it time to put someone else first – or something else first? Or can you do both? If you plan it right?

To go for the Champions Tour or not? And if you go for it – what’s the time line?

Well – I think I’ll go forit – for many reasons – least of which I’ll regret it if I don’t try – just like everything else and at the very least it’ll force me to improve my game and get to a place where I feel good about it.

So, I’ll do it. I’ll begin stepping in the direction of playing in the Champions Tour somehwere between now and five years from now, preferably within 2-4, we’ll have to get tht down.

So step 1 is to set up a routine and goals and reading materials for 2014.