Golf Shoes – Cleated or Spikeless?

At the 2010 Masters Fred Couples sported golf shoes that looked alarmingly like sneakers and the world took notice. They alleviated his long-term back pain, he claimed. They looked so stylish, said everyone. And thus, spikeless golf shoes came walking into our lives.

Shopping for golf shoes? Here’s the lowdown on cleated vs. spikeless shoes.


CLEATED SHOES
Today’s soft spikes are designed to grab the turf and not let go. Through your weight shift, in the wet, on a slope – when the going gets tough cleats offer stability and confidence.

Benefits

  • Superior traction
  • Excellent stability in wet conditions including morning dew
  • Spikes can be changed – like new!

Drawbacks

  • Replacing spikes gets costly
  • Spikes clog with debris and have to be cleaned
  • No walking on hard surfaces
  • Heavier that spikeless shoes

SPIKELESS SHOES
Research and FitBits everywhere say that the average golfer walks 6-8 miles during a round. You’ll do your feet a favor by selecting a light, comfy shoe – and that’s often a spikeless style. Ditto if the day is dry, and the course is relatively flat. And the ease and convenience of wearing just one pair of shoes from home to course to clubhouse to home again – well, that’s big.

Spikeless Benefits:

  • Wear them on or off the course
  • Stylish
  • Spikes never need changing
  • Easily cleaned/don’t choke with debris
  • Cushioned comfort

Drawbacks:

  • Lugs cannot be changed
  • Less traction than soft spikes
  • Much less traction in wet conditions. Hello, Slip and slide.

The Takeaway
Rain or shine, ride or walk, a quick 9-and-dine or a competitive tournament – golf world is different every day. And the ideal footwear might be different every day too. So cleated vs. spikeless, can we just say, “l’ll take one of each”?

 

Finding the Putter that Fits

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Yes, the long drive that splits the fairway is a thing of beauty, and a perfect approach is satisfaction guaranteed. But it’s on the green where strokes are quickly won – and lost – and the tale of the golf day is told. In an even par round of golf 50% of the strokes are putts!

What type of putter compliments my particular stroke? Why do I miss putts the way I do?  What do I need to work on to improve? Good questions – and we got answers during a putter fitting with Ken Johns, Miles of Golf Putter Fitting Specialist. With SAM Lab technology and years of experience, Ken zeroed in on our putting particulars.

Everyone needs a putter that fits. Spend some minutes with an experienced club fitter who can expertly evaluate your physique, posture and stroke. Or go for a putter fitting session with state-of-the art technology that analyses the distinctive features of your stroke, identifies areas for improvement and suggests the putter best suited to your game.

GETTING FIT – A BASIC FIT
An experienced club fitter looks at height, arm length, posture at set-up, hands, grip and stroke to suggest a putter that fits well. The right putter is a confidence booster – and who doesn’t need some confidence around the cup?

GETTING FITTER – BEYOND THE BASICS WITH SAM LAB PUTTER FITTING
Sam Lab technology enables us to look closely at multiple variables in a golfer’s putting including face, path, rotation and tempo. Head style of a putter should compliment the golfer’s stroke and SAM Lab picks up vital info about stroke path and rotation that no natural eye can see. Am I swinging straight back and through or arcing? Am I always aiming – and missing left? Am I rotating the face too much? How about swing tempo? Sam Lab is a fountain of information.

A VISIT TO THE MILES OF GOLF CLUBORATORY FOR A SAM LAB PUTTER FITTING
One golfer, one experienced club fitter, one hour and the latest technology yielded the following personal putting info.

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  • Consistently aiming left of target
  • Set up too closed, leaning over too much
  • A straight back, straight through stroke
  • Too much rotation, opening and then closing the club face too much at impact
  • Too small a grip
  • A very slow and too long backswing
  • Good loft!
  • Plenty of info for future putting practice – personalized “putticulars”

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  • Odyssey 330 mallet, 33” with medium grip, 74 degree lie angle and 45 degree toe hang

How To Keep Your Golf Grips Dry

Grippy, not slippy!

June was remarkably rainy (4th rainiest on record in Ann Arbor area) and July is starting out distinctly damp.  Super-thick rough and rescheduled outings are facts of life this sodden summer – but wet golf grips, now there’s a problem we can do something about.
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A slippery grip is a lousy connection to the club. So, whether it’s the morning dew or an afternoon cloudburst, here are 7 tips to keep your grips nice and dry.

  1. Don’t be timid about the towels. Grab some extras and stow them IN YOUR BAG where they stay dry.
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  2. Keep off the (Wet) Grass. I always admire my savvy friends who never let the grip of an extra club lie on the wet, dewy grass.  They place it on a towel or prop it up on a tee while making their next shot.  Everyone should have golf-smart friends who lead by example.
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  3. Gloves galore. An extra glove or two in your bag is peace of mind.  If the glove you’re wearing gets wet, just swap it out.
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  4. Cover up. Most bags come with a rain cover.  Use it!  A cover keeps rain from seeping down into the depths of the bag, to those hard-to-dry places where your grips lie.
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  5. Invest in a golf umbrella and holder for your cart. This rig keeps the umbrella over your bag, keeping things dry.  Plus, you don’t have to put the umbrella down on the ground when you make a shot.
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  6. Look the part. I love the way the pros’ caddies keep a towel under the umbrella, hanging it from the spokes, high and dry and ready to give a grip a good rub.
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  7. Rain Gloves. For really wet conditions, get a hold of a pair of rain gloves.  Footjoy makes a nice pair and for about $20 you can really get a grip on your clubs and your game.

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GPS Devices and Rangefinders – Know Your Golf Game

My home course is familiar and friendly. On the 9th hole (if golf goddesses are smiling) I’ll lie two at the base of a steep little hill to the green – and my pitching wedge will get me there.I don’t know the exact distance, but experience has taught me what club to use – again and again.

This summer I’ve been using a rangefinder on this super-familiar course.Why bother?What’s the upside?

My 8 iron is my 100 yard club – I think.
Using a distance measuring device regularly helps determine the yardage of different clubs in your bag.It’s all about precision.Verify your thinking, dispel your misconceptions – pick the right club.

Practice using your distance measuring device.
Make it part of your routine.  Then, when you play an unfamiliar course you can use it easily and quickly.

Make a game of it
Before you take a reading, make a guess at the yardage.Get your partner involved, making a friendly game of yardage estimates.A nickel anyone?

Learn the differences:  Read “GPS Devices vs. Rangefinders
They are very different pieces of equipment and selecting one or the other can be complex and personal.Ease of use, accuracy, innovation, travel use, cost, annual fees, buzz factor – each device offers a mixed bag of pros and cons.

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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!

Golf Grips – What to Do, What to Know

The grip is our personal connection to our golf club – so why do we neglect and mistreat them?Grips that are ill-fitting or worn impact swing mechanics and ball path – and not in a good way.

Be smart about your grips – here are 4 questions to get you there – with special thanks to the always-informative Brent Norton, VP, Miles of Golf Shop Operations.

Do you clean and brush your grips regularly?
Dirt and hand oils cause natural degradation and make grips hard and slick.You want them tacky!Use hot soapy water on them to keep them clean.

Is your grip the right size?
A grip that’s too small promotes too quick hand rotation, resulting in a draw or hook.A grip that’s too big hinders or slows club rotation.Have your grip size assessed next time you get your grips replaced.

What about the style of a golf grip?
There are many styles of golf grips – and selecting one is a personal preference.The one that feels good to you is the one you want.

When do you need to replace your grips?
Materials age and wear with time and use.  If you play 4 times a week or more in hot, humid conditions you may need to replace grips every 6 months.  An infrequent golfer will want to consider regripping every 2 years.  A worn, hard, shiny grip makes us subconsciously hold the club too tightly.  Tight means tension, and tension means a host of bad things in the world of golf.
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Pay attention to your golf grips – they’ll pay you back with better play.

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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Range Finders vs. GPS Devices

Golf’s a game of shot-making, of course, but behind the shots there’s the decision-making. With the 2008 change to Rule 14-3b, distance-measuring devices are more and more common around the course. Making decisions is becoming easier.

Range finders and GPS devices are simple to use, accurate, light, durable — and helpful. But hold the similarities there. They are very different pieces of equipment and selecting one or the other can be complex and personal. Ease of use, accuracy, innovation, travel use, cost, annual fees, buzz factor – each device offers a mixed bag of pros and cons. Another decision for the golfer!

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RANGE FINDER
This is an optical device, part binoculars, part State Trooper’s speed gun, part 5th grade arithmetic exercise. Select and lock onto an object. The range finder shoots a laser, and by measuring how fast it travels to the target and back again, it determines distance.

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Upside of the Range Finder

  • Hassle-free – pop out of box, pop in battery, go.
  • Works on every course everywhere. Great for travel.
  • Measures distance to anything in line of sight – tree, face of bunker.
  • Pinpoint accuracy to the hole location, not just to front, middle and back of green.
  • Higher end models adjust distances based on changes of elevation (slope), giving readings of both straight distance and adjusted distance. Don’t guess about taking an extra club to that elevated green.
  • Can be used on the practice range.

Downside of the Range Finder

  • Requires a direct line of sight.
  • Needs an object to target. Sometimes hard to measure edges of hazards or bunkers.

GPS UNITS
Simply put, GPS devices talk to satellites. They pinpoint your exact location on Earth and use previously recorded locations on the course to tell you the distance to important locations such as the front of green. You download maps of specific courses into the GPS.

Upside of the GPS Unit

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  • Easy to use on course – walk up to ball, look at your GPS, see where you are.
  • You don’t have to see the target to know where it is. On a dog-leg, or in the woods? No worries.
  • Most courses are mapped.
  • Gives measurements like how far to carry the bunker in front of the green.
  • Gives rough outline of the green – helpful if course is unfamiliar.
  • Some have cool features, like Callaway’s uPro, which offers hole fly overs.

Downside of the GPS Unit

  • Doesn’t measure exact pin placement. Measures only front, middle, back of green.
  • Course maps must be downloaded. Most GPS units typically hold only a limited number of courses.
  • Just one vendor, Sky Caddy, has its own GPS mapping team (those guys with backpacks). Others purchase satellite maps or images and may not be as accurate.
  • Some require yearly fees for subscriptions.

Every owner of a distance-measuring device should know when to hold it and when to fold it. The new rule states “The Committee may make a Local Rule allowing players to use devices that measure or gauge distance only”. Most GAM events allow distance measuring devices. However, the PGA and the USGA have not adopted the same policy. Any model that features the slope feature will not be allowed regardless of the local rule.

There’s lots to learn about range finders and GPS devices. At Miles of Golf you can compare models such as Bushnell Tour V2, Nikon Lr550, as well as Sky Caddy, Golf Buddy and Callaway uPro. Talk to the staff about the fine points of each.