There’s a lot of equipment behind stars like Tiger Woods playing at the Australian Open this weekend. But this is about your time on the fairways. So here’s some great gear to help slice strokes off your score.
The Belly Putter
This list features a number of tech toys that Giz has long been a fan of. We also had a chat with the man behind Australian Golf Digest magazine’s equipment reviews, Deputy Editor Brad Clifton.
He says the most controversial piece of gear in golf right now has to be the belly putter. Available from a variety of club makers, belly putters have an extended handle that touches your stomach. They create a third pivot point, a little like the broomstick putters that connect with your chin. Says Brad, "some players are saying it’s a legalised way of cheating as you’ve got another balance point. It’s still legal and being used by players on tour, and they’re starting to filter down into use by club golfers." But is it against the spirit of the game? We’ll let you decide. One thing’s for sure, this crazy argon laser putter sure is!
Photo on right by Jim Rogash/Getty Images. Phil Mickelson carries his belly putter as he walks across the 13th green during the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 3, 2011 in Norton, Massachusetts. Top photo by David Cannon/Getty Images.
The Range Finder
Range finders are now the most popular gadget in amateur golf. They help you avoid obstacles and show the distance to the pin – even where the pin is on the green: left, back, front, etc. They remove the second guessing.
The SkyCaddie SGX is an example of a GPS range finder. It supports a huge list of Australian courses (30,000 worldwide maps are preloaded), has a 3-inch colour display, and costs around $325. The other type of range finder: lasers baby, pew pew. Laser range finders look like binoculars (or single lens monoculars), are more accurate and don’t have to download maps. Which is better? It’s like comparing Android phones with the iPhone. It’s all about personal preference.
Bonus tip: These days, there are also GPS systems that let you order drinks and food from the club house. The Club Car Visage is one of those – it even has a feature where golf club owners can automatically turn off the golf cart’s engine when you’re too close to a water hazard.
The Golf BallPlayers are always looking for an edge in hitting the ball better and further.
Pro choice: You can’t go wrong with the Titleist Pro V1. Built for tour performance, they’ve long been a popular choice with golfing aficionados.
Night owl’s choice: We love the Twilight Tracer Light-Up Golf Ball. It lights up on impact, sending your shot streaking across the sky. A pack of 3 costs around US$30.
Cheat’s choice: When all else fails, try a remote-controlled Golf Ball like the ProActive Incred-A-Ball (you might need to search eBay). Just make sure your friends don’t see you with the controller.
Corner office choice: The Floppy indoor golf ball. They’re made from a soft core and woven outer shell, but still feel like a real golf ball so you can practice inside. US$10 for a pack of three or US$35 for a dozen.
Tiger Woods: My Swing is an iPhone app that helps your golf game by recording a video of your swing and analysing where you’re going wrong. It identifies the key primary positions of your swing and lets you visualise it. Another option is the V1 Golf App, available for Android as well as iPhone.
The SensoGlove ($US89) measures how much pressure you’re gripping the club with, beeping if you exceed your target hold at any point during the swing. Just make sure to remove it before you take out your 18-over-par performance on your golf cart with your pitching wedge.
Brands like Callaway and Adidas do a great job with breathable, high performance clothing (and incidentally Loudmouth and Fade are pretty fashionable, too, if you’re looking for a Christmas present). But our tip to stay cool: the Misty Mate Deluxe Personal Mist Air Cooler (US$26 at Amazon). The portable mister produces an ultrafine mist that’ll help you stay cool throughout the Summer.
In the end, only practice will help you beat the bogies. And thankfully there’s a wealth of practice gear around if you can’t make it to your local club, driving range of indoor/virtual golf centre. Putting aids like the Robocup Golf Ball Return Robot and Practice Green Putt Returner (both US$45) make great gifts, and the Backyard Driving Range Machine ($250; pictured) looks like a blast, too.
Personally, I’m waiting for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 and its Xbox 360 Kinect support. That counts as practice, right?