Testing Fairway Woods at the Miles of Golf Cluboratory

There’s lots of buzz this year about fairway woods because of some significant breakthrough technology.  “Make friends with the new breed … before someone decides these clubs are too long and need extra scrutiny,” was the zippy line in the morning NYTimes that got us out of the arm chairs and over to see Brent Norton at the Miles of Golf Cluboratory.

First, what ARE fairway woods, exactly?

Around for a long time, they are often called “fairway metals” these days.  Designed for maximum distance off the tee or fairway, they have over time given ground somewhat to hybrids.  This year, big changes in the engineering of these clubs have made for faster swings, easier hitting, longer distance.
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We took tested fairway woods at the Cluboratory.
Here’s how a typical club testing goes:

What to Expect
Bring along your old club that you’re considering replacing.  Plan to spend 45 minutes to an hour and hit about 75 balls.  Fee for club testing is $25, fully refundable if you make a purchase.  Making an appointment is always a good idea.

Get-Acquainted Conversation
What we’re looking for, our game, our current clubs, anything helpful in defining the mission – just tell it like it is.
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Club Technology – Explanations and Examples
The conversation with Brent touches on fairway woods vs hybrids; loft and spin; club playability for women’s slower swing speeds; new technology/engineering, particularly the Adams Speedline Fast 12 and Taylormade Rocketballz Fairway Wood.  You’ll get as much technical info as you want.

Getting Ready
We hit some warm up shots while Brent gathered seven clubs for us to test.
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Trying Them Out
The Cluboratory has a sweet, peaceful glow in the morning sun, but make no mistake, Brent is hard at work.  He hands us clubs, watches, analyzes, gives us another.  We hit with our old club too, making comparisons.  Brent knows more about my swing in 5 minutes than I know in 5 years.  It’s a team effort – my swing, his knowledge; together we’ll narrow the selection down to the club that works.

The Good Feeling
You’ll know it when you hit it – which is why it’s so valuable to test clubs in the Cluboratory.  It’s not always the latest and greatest technology that works.  It’s the one that generates confidence and consistency for YOU.

Thanks, Brent!

Buying Your First Set of Golf Clubs

Does my tennis-loving friend Janet play with a wooden racket like Bjorn Borg in the 1970’s?  Not for a minute. So after a couple of weeks using Borg-era golf clubs in her beginner lessons, she was eager to find out what new clubs could do for a beginner.

What should you consider before purchasing that first set of golf clubs? What’s the process at Miles of Golf? What did Janet find out?

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Evaluate your level of interest and dedication before you set foot in a golf shop

  • Do you have personal golf goals, however rudimentary? Playing in retirement or making a team, joining a league, playing with a spouse, learning golf for business – these are good beginner golf goals.
  • Will you be taking lessons and practicing?
  • Do you have time to practice and play?
  • What budget do you have in mind?

Check, check, check, said Janet. So she set up a time to meet Pete Farner, Miles of Golf Club Fitter. Here’s how it went…

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Off to the Cluboratory – Private, Sheltered, Filled with Clubs
The Cluboratory at Miles of Golf is equipped with state-of-the-art ball launch monitors to satisfy the needs of high-level players who come from all over the area. But hear this, it’s also a comfortable place where a beginner can work one-on-one with an expert who has experience fitting ALL LEVELS of players.

Intros & Insights
Janet and Pete spend several minutes talking about goals, skill, and budget.

Warm Up
While Janet loosens up with a 7 iron, Pete gathers some clubs that he wants her to try.
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Try, This … And This … And Let’s Try This One Again
After several minutes with one 7 iron, Pete substitutes another and then another. He’s looking at length and lie angle. They try a shorter shaft and revert to a longer one. By process of elimination and examination, two clubs are obvious favorites. Janet is a beginner (consistency-challenged!) yet there are obvious standouts.

Tech Talk
Pete explains the benefits of perimeter weighting of the club head, and the trampoline effect of the thinner face of cavity backed heads. This sounds hard, but he’s a master explainer. And let’s not forget the things a graphite shaft can do for our golf games!
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“I’ve Seen It All”
The vibe of the session is low-key and comfortable. No pressure to hit a stellar shot, no cringing when one goes wild – Pete’s seen lots of golfers with many levels of “skill.”

Back to the Favorites – And Then to THE Favorite
More hitting with the two 7-irons that Pete and Janet have zeroed in on. More discussion. One club is identified, and the set it comes in is well within the budget.

Into the Shop and Out the Door
Janet meets her new bag of clubs, the Square Two Lady Bliss Full Set, everything from putter to driver. The fitting with Pete costs $25, but it is refunded because she purchased clubs. She doesn’t forget a range card with $10 – that’s a Miles of Golf Women’s Club benefit, so if you haven’t asked for one, do it!
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Long-Term Planning
Janet’s clubs are a suitable for learners and designed especially for women. In a few years, she’ll consider more advanced clubs. Right now, as a beginner, she can concentrate on lessons, learning and practice, assured that she has technology on her side. The latest clubs make golf so much easier – and that makes it fun-ner!

PS. Bjorn Borg won 4 Wimbledon’s with his beloved Donnay Allwood.

Considering New Clubs – 8 Questions

Get out your golf bag and ask some questions

Pre-season is the perfect time to give our golf gear a critical once over.  Pull out the golf bag; think back to last season; think ahead to the coming year.  We’ve put together 8 basic questions to consider – just a conversation between you and your clubs.
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Maybe your “team” of clubs did the job last season or maybe you’ll be making some changes. The new clubs for recreational players are lighter, bigger, more forgiving – and more fun – than ever. Talk with a professional club fitter who can assess your game and your clubs, and tell you about all about new options. Test some new gear at the Miles of Golf Cluboratory. And when the weather warms up, you’ll be ready to hit the links.
Thanks to the Miles of Golf staff for sharing their expertise.

  1. When did you last replace your grips? Worn grips make us hold the club too tightly, leading to forearm stress and a host of bad swing things. A fresh grip provides traction, allowing you hold the club lightly – and correctly. Replace your grips every year, especially if they look shiny.

  2. Do you carry a club that just doesn’t work, that you dread using? Dread is never a good swing thought. How about that 3 wood? Many golfers hit their 5 and 7 wood farther AND more consistently. Maybe some of the clubs you carry no longer deserve to be on the team.

  3. Do many of your clubs go the same distance? Slower swing speeds often see very little yardage gaps in stronger lofted clubs (3 wood, 5 wood, 3,4,5,6 irons).

  4. How old is your driver? More than 5 years? Retire it, says Stina Sternberg at Golf Digest. New technology will bring a new level of enjoyment and performance to the tee.

  5. Are your shafts right for you? If you are using steel shafts, you’d better be young and strong. Graphite’s flexibility rewards the slower swinging player (women) with improved feel, distance and performance.

  6. Blades vs. cavity back irons? A blade has a smaller sweet spot, requiring more accuracy, and is generally played by the low handicapper. A cavity back iron is more forgiving, its weight is lower on the club to get the ball up in the air, and distributed around the perimeter to create a larger sweet spot.

  7. How about hybrids? They combine the best traits of fairway woods and long irons, and for most players they are easy to hit, go high and go straight. They have brought a new level of fun to the fairway – and the rough. Read more.

  8. Is a fully configured set of clubs for you? Manufacturers have put a lot of research into making golf easier for the newer player. They offer sets fully configured with the woods, hybrids and irons all designed to work together for players with slower swing speeds. These sets are very popular with women.

If you are in the market for new golf equipment, schedule some time at the Cluboratory at Miles of Golf. Bring your old clubs, test some new ones. The $25 fee is refundable with a purchase. Read here about testing clubs at the Cluboratory.

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Master Mentor – Gayle Champagne

Gayle Champagne, centerGayle Champagne started playing golf to avoid answering the phone.  On Friday afternoons the guys at the ad agency would ask, “Gayle, would you cover my calls?” as they headed for the course with a client. Pretty soon Gayle was out there too.  (That’s Gayle sitting between Carolin Dick and me).
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She REALLY took to the sport, organizing trips up north for dozens of women at a time, landing a job at Golf For Women magazine, becoming an expert on the pleasures and perils of business golf.  She’s been involved with the American Junior Golf Association for 16 years and is currently President of the Board of Directors of that national nonprofit. That’s in addition to her full time job at Self Magazine! This is a woman who gives to golf!
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I met Gayle the year I started playing golf – before I had golf shoes OR a golf swing.  She hit a ball 90 yards over a little patch of wetland and I thought she was a golf goddess.  What really stuck with me though, was the way she inspired a new player, with just the right blend of humor and helpfulness.  I so appreciated the time she spent with me.

Whenever I play with Gayle I get inspired.  So with summer on the wane, I’ve made a pledge – to get out there and play with some new golfers, to pass on those good golf feelings.
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Once again, Gayle, thanks!

Test Golf Clubs at the Cluboratory

My driver and I picked up this spring where we’d left off last fall – the slice into the woods, the less-than-lovable loft, a seed of doubt.  After 4 years of togetherness, I dreamed of a new driver in my hands and an improved trajectory for my balls.
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The best way to select a new driver is to test golf clubs – and Miles of Golf Cluboratory is a place to do just that.  Testing is where the customer finds the club she likes.  Fitting is where the specifications of that club – loft, flex of shaft shaft length, etc. – are determined to be correct for her and her unique swing.  Today I’m interested in the testing phase.

The CluBORatory
The Cluboratory (think “laBORatory” with a British accent) is a sheltered, 2-bay area at Miles of Golf where a golfer can try the latest clubs under the guidance of a trained club fitter.  It faces onto the range where the full trajectory of the ball can be seen, a sort of “field of dreams” where everything seems possible.

Getting Started
My visit begins at the Miles of Golf shop counter where I fill out a Player Data Sheet – basic info like current clubs, average score, common ball flight.  I meet my club fitter, Allen Dante, and we head to the Cluboratory.  After a brief chat about my goals, he lines up several drivers for me to try.
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In the Swing of Things
I’ve brought along my current driver and hit a few balls to warm up.  Then on to the demos, the first of which is not for me. Allen watches my swing, hands me another and stands back to observe.  He makes an adjustment to a third club and after a few swings, I’m in love.  Face tape shows a good contact point and confirms what I can feel – this club fits my particular swing. I try out a few more drivers, but none quite replicates that all-is-right-in-the-world feeling of the 3rd demo driver.

At this point, I’ve hit about 50 balls, spent about 35 minutes and have an interesting prospect in front of me – a club I might not have walked in and selected in the shop.  Allen makes a note of it on my Player Data Sheet and we call it a day.  I want to think about my prospective purchase – and indeed I do, with every subsequent swing of my old driver!
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If I return to Miles of Golf to buy the club, the store staff can refer to my data sheet, produce the right club and credit the Cluboratory testing fee toward my purchase price.

About Testing Clubs at the Cluboratory

  • Bring along your current club(s)
  • Bring along a friend too if you’d like
  • Plan to hit about 50 balls over 30 – 45 minutes
  • It’s first-come, first-served – and less busy on weekdays
  • Testing clubs costs $25 and is refundable with the purchase of new clubs

After TESTING new irons and woods, FITTING is a logical next step.  Clubs are precisely fit to the golfer and her swing.  Loft, flex of shaft, shaft length, etc are examined.  There is a  $25  fee to be fit for woods and $75 to be fit for irons, both of which are refundable with purchase of clubs.  Miles of Golf is one of the largest custom club fitting golf shops in the country and has been recognized for its expertise.  Read more about club fitting.