For those of us who are somewhere between past our prime and shooting our ages, the reality starts to sink in. Your swing probably isn’t going to get any better. The putting stroke is more likely to get shakier instead of steadier. Moving up to a new set of tees probably isn’t going to keep your golf ball out of the woods and water.
But there’s always hope. New equipment can transform you from a “C” player in the Saturday captain’s choice into the club champion. That’s if you believe the ads during breaks on The Golf Channel. The truth is, better equipment and gear can’t turn Carl Spackler into Rory McIlroy.
But equipment can help. A driver that fits your swing can save several strokes for a high-handicapper and a critical few to a PGA Tour pro. The same is true with a putter that compensates for flaws or hides your weaknesses. That’s why Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus kept dozens of extra clubs in their garages.
Here’s a look at a few of the new clubs and one gadget that could shave a few strokes off your game:
· TaylorMade R15 drivers: Adjustable on the hosel and on the sole, you can change the weight (not legally once your round starts, but not many of us play strictly according to USGA rules). The goal of the 12 settings on the hosel is to increase your launch angle and keep your shots straighter. Weights in the sole improve the results of mishits. There’s no assurance you’ll play better. But if you’re struggling, you can experiment with your driver and find the best setting.
· Srixon Z545 and Z745 drivers: Not one of the top-selling driver makers in the United States, Srixon drivers target increase distance. A cup around the perimeter makes the club face more flexible, adding to club speed. A higher balance point shaft and a heavier club head combine to provide more distance. The higher balance point speeds up your swing. The heavier club head provides more energy on impact.
· Odyssey Tank Cruiser putter: You can adjust your putter to improve the other big problem area for most players. The Tank Cruiser offers three choices (10, 15 or 20 grams) to give you slightly different clubs. The company’s SuperStroke grip gives you a comfortable, confidence-lending feel on the putting surfaces. Odyssey estimates that 45 percent of owners will tinker with the weights after making an initial setting. Buy this and you can put your reserves in a garage sale.
· TaylorMade Spider Mallet putter: Yes, wielding a mallet putter is widely considered an admission you’ve got putting problems. So admit it and try this heavyweight problem solver. The Spider Mallet is so heavy; you have to use your big muscles to swing it, preventing the little muscles from twitching and yipping. Plus, the black chrome shaft is designed to make the putter more cohesive and promote a smoother pendulum stroke. It’s not a completely original attack to combat putting woes. But it’s worth a try.
· Search N Rescue Six-Pack Can Cooler: Maybe a new driver and a new putter won’t work, at least not immediately, but this new item can help when it’s time for some liquid relaxation. If nothing else, you won’t care so much about your errant shots. Holding six cans end-to-end, this foam-insulated cooler fits in your bag with your clubs and retriever. On the outside, it features the logo of your favorite MLB, NFL or college team. Forget the fancy $300 models. The Search N Rescue only costs about $25, more than you might pay for one six-pack from the beverage cart.