Sunday, 3 April 2011

181 - Bitten By The Bug...

Well, it has been five months since I updated this little corner of the web, the reason being it has been five months since I even looked at my bats (other than to move them out of the way when trying to get to stuff in the spare room that is). All that changed today though.

My lovely, lovely fiancée bought me a lesson at a local driving range for Christmas. Bag of balls, hour lesson, tea and coffee – all very civilised. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it but I’ll hold my hands up and admit I enjoyed it a lot more than I should.

The day started with mission Gok Wan would have loved, picking the perfect outfit to wear for such an auspicious occasion. I forgot just how much kit I have bought over the last couple of years. 20 minutes later I was bedecked in white Oakley polo, black Oakley pants and an ace Puma jumper (below). I looked the part if nothing else.

Time to dust off the bats (literally). I took my driver, 5 iron, 7 iron and 52* wedge – a pretty varied selection for the Pro to assess me on I thought.

I removed the massive, fluffy kangaroo head cover from my driver incidentally, replacing it with the standard Mizuno one. Big coward.

Richie and me arrived at a shoddy looking site that looked like it was in serious need of a makeover.

We learned later from the Pro that the place had just been taken over and had been stripped ahead of a complete renovation and expansion planned in the next couple of months.

The accommodation may have been poor but the instruction was very good. The Pro recorded my swing as I went through my paces with the 7 iron and spotted immediately why I sliced the ball so much and why my distance is restricted. Apparently I have noisy hands and an active left foot. 5 minutes of instruction later I was bombing balls straight and true. Result.

I spent the next hour watching the ball mostly sail where I wanted it. I wasn’t completely cured but I was hitting the ball straighter, further and more consistently. That hour has just rekindled my desire to play and improve, I’ve definitely been bitten by the bug again…

Monday, 25 October 2010

180 - Oh So Right...

The regular reader of this crappy little blog will know that I have a thing for Mizuno. For me they are a perfect blend of technology and design yet don’t fall into the trap of appealing to the club captain at the local private course. I like the fact that they aren’t as popular as the likes of TaylorMade, Callaway and Ping, makes me feel smug owning a set.

I realise that by getting all smug and elitist about my gear plunges me into the depths of golf snobbery, something I rant about often on these pages. Yeah, I can be a hypocrite as well as a bit of a pompous bastard. Anyway, I digress, Mizuno are my current object of desire and their new range is trouser tighteningly good.

The JPX800 and JPX800Pro are latest in a long line of great looking ‘game improver’ clubs from Mizuno that work as well as they look. Mizuno made their name by producing beautiful grain flow forged blades and the new MP53 and MP63’s continue this tradition with ease. It is fair to say the new high end clubs so pretty they could be on a teenager’s bedroom wall.

Winged Skull...The new MP-630 range of drivers and fairway woods aren’t quite as stunning at the new clubs but what they lose in looks they make up in performance. Mizuno have honed the Hot Metal face technology to make the new big sticks the furthest and straightest ever produced by the company.

MX-700 hybrid is now joined by an all new direct long iron replacement in the shape of the MP Fli-Hi designed to fit the shape and flight characteristics of the other clubs in the MP range. The all new MP-630 CLK compliments the rest of the 630 range of woods to complete the hybrid line up.

Another area where Mizuno traditionally excel is in wedges. The Japanese company are famed for producing buttery soft feeling chippers that provide plenty of spin and feel around the green. The latest offerings include the updated MP T-11 with its quad cut grooves and the JPX Series wedges designed to complement the rest of the JPX range.

Also available are two different ranges of putters, the traditional MP range and the more contemporary Line 90 range. Mizuno decided to produce their own putters after working closely with Bettinardi in the past and now offer something for everyone. The MP’s come in three classic shapes while the Line 90 employ five designs names after volcanoes!

Finally there is the new range of limited edition Aerolite X bags (above) which come in a number of loud designs and colours. One thing is for certain about this range, you will not be missed on the course, definitely one for all the Ian Poulter wannabes out there.

Overall I think that Mizuno have got it spot on once again. Their equipment is primarily designed to work on the course but they have the knack of making their kit look so good. The new blades are stunning, the putters a revelation and the bags an eye opener. Why don’t all the other manufacturers get it this right more often?

Friday, 22 October 2010

179 - Manga Ads And Sk8erboi Bags...

I’ve been looking at Mizuno’s new marketing and I’m a little confused. Their latest adverts depict a Manga-like, cartoon character playing like a hero with their stunning new JPX800 clubs. The advert is very cool, really interesting and will make no sense to anyone over 40 which is a risk seeing as this is probably Mizuno’s core market.

Kudos for the Japanese wand maker for having the stones to fly in the face of convention and produce a marketing campaign that doesn’t feel like it has been bought off the shelf from an expensive London advertising agency; I’m just worried that it may be money wasted.

Mizuno look like they are trying to tap into and actively encourage the emerging young golfers market which can only be a good thing in my opinion. Making golf cool will draw in the next generation of Ryder Cup stars and might even force a bit of change in the local clubs.

Manga...I believe that the sooner the stuffy Pringle Set lose their overbearing control over golf the better as some of the hoops that new players need to jump through to play on a half decent course are too much like hard work.

I have a niggling doubt about this advertising campaign though. I doubt that enough kids will see the adverts and be persuaded that far from being a game played by fat, middle-aged men in BMW’s, golf is actually a really enjoyable sport that requires skill, mental toughness and stamina. I think Mizuno agree which is why they have a secret weapon; a new bag!

Actually it is a range of Limited Edition Aerolite X bags that look like they have been designed by Avril Lavigne and Tony Hawk. They are very loud, very colourful and almost guaranteed to cause a heart attack on the first tee at Private Members only courses up and down the country.

The change of direction in terms of advertising and producing more ‘yoof’ oriented equipment gets my hearty seal of approval, I just hope that Mizuno don’t alienate its core demographic and get its fingers burnt as a result.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

178 - It's Yer Money I'm After Baby...

After the last article about my mate having around £200 to spend on his new obsession I got thinking about what he could buy if money were no option. I realise that there is probably no limit to how much that could be spent so I decided to have a poke around my favourite online emporium; to see what my mate could get without a lottery win.

Driver: TaylorMade R9 SuperTri TP - £340. This driver, which combines Moveable Weight Technology and Flight Control Technology with 3 moveable weights in a 460cc head, marking the ultimate unification of TaylorMade’s major driver technologies with maximum size to deliver enormous distance and forgiveness from the tee on the golf course

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade R9 TP Fairway Wood - £215. This fairway wood has a new classically shaped clubhead, similar to the R9 Driver, which looks fantastic at address, and with TaylorMade Flight Control Technology, you can change the club into 8 different positions to optimise your performance on the golf course.

Y3I...Hybrid: TaylorMade Rescue TP 2009 - £165. A shot into the rough can be saved with this essential addition to your golf bag. With an extremely low centre of gravity for an easy launch, and Ultra Thin Wall technology for greater weight distribution, this is a club every golfer needs to recover from a misplaced tee shot.

Clubs: Yonex Golf 3I Nanospeed (right) - £783. By incorporating the Isometric Face and 3D Power Weight system across the iron set, these irons now offer a greater sweet spot and substantially increased forgiveness from the clubface. The long irons feature an innovative wide cavity and long sole which pushes the centre of gravity deeper into the club head for a higher launch. In contrast, the centre of gravity is progressively shifted closer to the club face across the mid and short irons to provide a more accurate feel and enhanced distance control.

Wedges: Callaway Golf X Series Jaws Wedge (below) - £85 each. This astounding wedge benefits from aggressively-sized MACK Daddy Grooves, which have been designed with maximum conforming width and depth grooves to give you shot-stopping control and spin, and enable you to take aim from virtually any lie on the golf course.

Putter: TaylorMade TP Agsi Kia Ma Putter - £225. This marvellous putter is 100% milled from 304 stainless steel to ensure every detail is rendered beautifully and perfectly; has adjustable Micro-Moveable weights to change the putters’ weight and customise the feel to suit your preference; and an AGSI+ Titallium face insert to negate backspin and promote forward spin to provide great roll and control, as well as a soft and solid feel.

Jaws...Bag: TaylorMade TMX T2 Cart Bag 2010 - £180. A total of 10 pockets, including dual accessory pockets and a velour-lined valuables pocket, give this bag space to store everything you could possibly need on the golf course, from spare golf clothing to a number of golf balls in case your round doesn’t go quite to plan! With a golf towel clip, integrated golf umbrella sleeve, and Fast Action Snap Technology accessory compatible, this magnificent golf bag ensures your golf accessories are always within easy reach.

Trolley: Clicgear Cart Trolley Version 3.0 - £180. Clicgear offers a full sized three wheel golf pushcart that glides smoothly down the fairway and yet still folds up incredibly small. At only 13 x 15 and 24 when folded, it won’t take over your car trunk or garage.

Balls: TaylorMade Penta TP Dozen Golf Balls - £35 per dozen. This is the first Tour golf ball to feature 5 solid layers, with each layer engineered to optimise performance in five key shot categories that skilled golfers need. The 5 layers of Penta TP golf ball include the core, inner mantle, middle mantle, outer mantle and cover, and each of these plays a critical role in optimising the performance of each of the five key shots.

So there you have it, driver, fairway wood, hybrid, clubs, wedges (x2), putter, bag and ball. Total for that admittedly pretty awesome kit? A whopping £2,293! That doesn’t include clothing, an electric trolley, rangefinder/GPS or a brolley!!! My friend’s £200 looks even more pitiful now.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

177 - Starting All Over Again...

I received a text from a mate last night asking what clubs I owned as he was thinking of taking up golf. I was excited naturally – another lost soul to trudge around a muddy field with, both of us aiming with perfection but settling for a decent lie in the rough or a favourable bounce on a frozen green.

I explained to him that what he should do is get a budget and then buy the best he can afford. I asked him how much he was hoping to spend and was told he would go up to around £200. I know in his head this sounded like a substantial amount but we all know that it is a pittance in the real world of golf.

I told him he would struggle with such a small budget as he needs a driver (or fairway wood), a utility club/hybrid, a half set, a wedge, a putter, a bag, a trolley and a pair of shoes for starters. I know he could probably save a few quid by ditching the hybrid, wedge and trolley but it is still a lot of equipment without a lot of cash.

Sexy...I suggested a starter or a second hand set would probably be the way to go until he committed to the game whereupon he could invest in some serious golf porn.

A quick look on eBay shows all manner of clubs in various conditions and a few starter sets from companies I’d never heard of (although I did see a set from Wilson which ticked all the boxes).

He asked for some club suggestions so he could do some ‘window shopping’ so I sent him links to some of the wilder super game improver clubs.

He was impressed by the Nike SQ Machspeed, the Callaway Diablo and TaylorMade’s new Burner set (in fact he commented that the clubs looked too good to use – a good sign?)

If he gets into the game he will no doubt be looking at a set of super game improver clubs unless he is a bit stupid and buys a set of blades like I, erm, did. In my defence, they were the most forgiving blades that Mizuno produced at the time with a cavity back, great workability and movie star good looks. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

I might see if I can get my mate on board the Mizuno Express too. The Japanese club wizards have just brought out the stunning looking JPX800 aimed at the high handicap player which would be perfect for him. Another member of the Mizuno Mafia would be more than welcome.

Monday, 18 October 2010

176 - Big Winners...

So the Ryder Cup was eventually won by Europe. Well done Monty and the boys, you did the continent proud (well most of you – yeah I’m looking at you Molinari brothers – grrr). Not trying to sound too cheesy here but the big winner in my opinion was the game of golf itself.

When Celtic Manor was chosen as the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup a lot of eyebrows were raised. Was Europe playing into the hands of the USA by selecting a course with a distinctly American feel to it? Surely it would have been more beneficial to select a gnarled Links course that the American’s would struggle with?

I hindsight Celtic Manor was a fantastic choice as it gave both teams the opportunity to win making it a contest worth watching…once the rain had stopped, obviously. It was a brilliant idea to hold a major sporting event in Britain in October, brilliant idea. The torrential rain on Friday meant that the competition finished on Monday – the first time this has happened in its history.

Winner...Some of the golf that was played was stunning, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rickie Fowler and of course Tiger Woods played brilliant shots at various times throughout the weekend.

Woods produced a vintage round on Monday to remind us all why he has been the world number one for so long.

After all the games, all the drives, approach shots and putts the competition came down to the final game on the final day (but not quite the final hole). Graham McDowell (above) held his nerve, Hunter Mahan fluffed his lines and the trophy returned to Europe with a hole to spare.

Queue scenes of elation in South Wales echoed around Europe by golf fans and new converts alike. Twitter was throbbing with messages starting “I don’t usually like golf but…” as none golfers got caught up in the emotion and excitement of the spectacle taking place at Celtic Manor.

Colin Montgomerie was humble and reserved as the celebrations started; Corey Pavin looked on the verge of tears. The passion and excitement of the final day did so much good for the game, especially here in Europe, we love winners in Europe!!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

175 - Kanga-cool...

When I first started this blog I wrote about designing my own little logo after seeing a Titleist advert showing how different Tour players mark their Pro V1’s (the point they were trying to make was that with so many players using their balls they had to mark them so there was no confusion – clever and smug, I approve).

I came up with some initial designs and eventually settled on my own stylized little kangaroo. The kangaroo incidentally comes from a nickname I got in college years ago so I thought it would be as good a thing as any to use for my logo seeing as it was quite unusual.

With my little stick figure ‘roo designed and refined I started drawing it on my golf balls. The problem is, golf balls have dimples and I don’t have a template or guide so getting the logo on the ball means me drawing it freehand which invariably means it goes all wobbly.

No, the only option is to get someone else to put the logo on for me which means looking to the professionals.

A quick look on the Internet shows there are lots of companies that will print text or images onto a golf ball for a relatively small charge.

Thankfully there is usually a wide choice of balls to select from too so I’m not going to be lumbered with my little logo plastered on something that is effectively a plastic covered stone or something that has all the flight characteristics of a house brick.

I asked my brother-in-law who is an all round smart arse when it comes to design to transfer my logo from a back of a napkin scribble into something that a printing company can use. After a couple of hours he had whipped up my professional looking little logo (above). I’m genuinely impressed!

Now that I have my design I intend to get it put on a box of Srixon AD333’s as soon as possible. I’m also getting it put on a couple of polo shirts too; there is a company that will embroider it onto an Adidas Climacool and a Nike Dri-Fit for a couple of quid extra.

Give it a couple of weeks and I’m going to look the part…or an utter, utter cock.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

174 - Square One...

I made my return to golf tonight after a 3-month lay off when I popped along to the driving range at Aintree after work. I was looking forward to swinging the wrenches after such a long gap but as soon as I picked up a club I realized all was not well.

Going on the wise and sage advice from Golf Whine Monthly, I took a number of clubs to allow me to practice a variety of shots instead of just bombing little yellow balls up the range off the face of my driver. With that in mind I took my 3 wood, hybrid, 7 iron and 58* wedge – suitably varied methinks.

The thing I love about my 3 wood is that it has a stiff shaft and is a lot more consistent than my driver. Unfortunately the only thing consistent about my performance with the 3 wood today was its inconsistency (isn’t that a shit cliché? I feel ashamed.)

Consistent...For every good shot I dragged out of my Mizuno F-60 (left) there were two or three that veered violently towards the fence to the right confirming that my battle with the newbie slice was far from over in fact you could say I was losing the war – badly.

It was a similar story with my hybrid. I did my research before buying the Mizuno MX Fli-Hi, all the reviewers creamed over the clubs forgiveness and performance. I must have a warped one as I struggle to get the thing to do anything remotely useful.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, my 7 iron worked beautifully. Going back to the reviews, the word often used when describing the feel of the clubs is ‘buttery’ and I now know what they mean. Catch the ball just right and it glides through the air effortlessly.

I finished the session with a few chip shots, simulating the little approach shots from around 50 yards. The 58* wedge wasn’t perfect for this as it launched the ball higher than the distance it travelled down the range. The ball flew delightfully into the air before coming down covered in snow and landing a few feet away.

I trudged out of the driving range and slumped in my car, I was knackered, frustrated and annoyed. Despite all the practice I had put in over the last 18 months it seems that the 12 weeks lay off has done for me. I’m now back to square one. Maybe it is time for some professional help…

Friday, 13 August 2010

173 - A Win/Win...

Check me out; I’m a big winner!!! I buy a fair bit of stuff from and they have a monthly competition where you can submit a review from one of your purchases and if it is good enough you win £100 in vouchers for their site. I submitted a review and it was good enough!

I wrote on here recently about the excellent Oakley Squares sunglasses that look great and work superbly. That article was pretty much the review I sent in to onlinegolf, which as it turns out, they loved. Kerching! I’m a ton up boys and girls.

I write on this blog all the time but it never actually occurred to me that my fevered rantings could make any money (or vouchers in this case). Never the less I’m now reaping the rewards of my literary ability (either that or it was a slow review month at

Micro...So, I’ve now got a 100 nuggets burning a hole in my pocket, well actually I haven’t, I’ve spent them already! You know me, I’m a sucker for shiny, new things so I was straight onto the website, perusing all the lovely, lovely gear they had to offer.

What would it be? A Ralph Lauren polo shirt or two? How about some sexy Galvin Green waterproof goodness? Oooh, what about a bit of technological pornography in the shape of either a Bushnell range finder or a Garmin GPS system? With so much on offer I made the obvious choice, a trolley.

Now I know that a trolley doesn’t sound the most glamorous of purchases (especially when you hear it isn’t even electric) but it something that I really need. I could make do without another polo shirt or another waterproof and to me using rangefinders or a GPS system is simply cheating. No, a trolley it is.

As we speak there is a fabulous Sun Mountain Micro Golf Cart (above) winging its way to me. This little four-wheeled beast is, according to the reviews, fantastic so I took the plunge and ordered it. Expect a full review once I get my sweaty little paws on it.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

172 - An Unfortunate Sight...

I mentioned in a previous post that I now have a beautiful Kangaroo from Daphne’s adorning my Mizuno driver. My lovely, lovely fiancée highlighted the fact that if the cover isn’t turned the right way the cute image is completely shattered (below)!!!