The first thing I’m doing after cashing that winning Powerball ticket is getting a golf simulator for my home. (All right, if I win Powerball, golf simulators for all my homes.)
There are a lot of companies in the golf-simulator business, and simulators, little mini-theaters into which you hit balls to a screen showing a simulated course, are getting more realistic than ever. My first stop would be X Golf. The graphics are good, like all the best simulators, but the reason I like it is the X Plate. If your shot ends up on an uneven lie on the simulator screen, the X Plate tilts to accommodate the lie. One problem with hitting balls off of mats at a range is that you get only level lies. That’s not how it is in real life.
With X Golf, you play shots off downhill, uphill and side-hill lies, the kind of shots you should practice but never do because, well, you don’t have anywhere to do it. Now you can. It’s a great idea that is well executed. The X Golf simulators are priced between $45,000 and $60,000. So I’m stocking up on Powerball tickets.
I wasn’t all that surprised when I saw the newest Adams drivers had white heads, not unlike the TaylorMade drivers that made that color famous. TaylorMade bought out Adams and is still supporting the line. Before the show, I played three rounds with the Adams Speedline Super S driver ($299 suggested retail), and I was sold. The Super S (which is adjustable for loft) and the new Adams three-metal are in my starting lineup. The shape of the new Super S driver is similar to my earlier model, but there’s a little more bounce in its step. That may be due to the velocity slot on the sole, as the company claims, but all I know is that it seemed like I picked up a few yards. I also found the three-metal easier to hit, and my shots had higher trajectories, than what I was using. I was impressed.
Before hybrids, there were driving irons. Now that I’ve hit the Callaway X Utility driving iron ($199), I’m not sure driving irons aren’t a better idea than hybrids. Maybe that’s just because I’ve never found a hybrid I totally loved. But the X Utility has a nice look -- it actually seems small after a decade of oversized woods. Even better, I found it pretty easy to hit. The X Utility comes in three lofts -- 18, 21 and 24 degrees. I’m glad Callaway resurrected the category.
One of the better demonstrations I watched on the PGA Merchandise Show floor was the Clicgear Rovic, a three-wheeled pull cart that folds into a stunning small package. I half expected it to turn into a Transformer or maybe a Camaro. It folds, or unfolds, in two easy moves, and you’ve got a three-wheel cart with a handle. The 3.5 Plus model ($219) weighs 18 pounds and is easy to lift into or out of a car trunk.
I like the name -- Mobile Warming (kind of a pun on global warming) -- as much as I like the concept. Mobile Warming makes vests, jackets, gloves, mittens and assorted items such as cart seats and back wraps that come with battery-operated heated linings. Obviously, the heated gear would be just as good to wear to a cold-weather football game as to wear when playing golf on a chilly day. But Mobile Warming’s stuff solves the problem of trying to play cold-weather golf while wearing bulky layers of clothing. One heated garment is good enough, and your swing isn’t restricted. The battery life depends upon the temperature setting. It’s a great idea that is well-executed.
SkyCaddie has a whole new series of offerings to its superb line of rangefinders. The SGX, Breeze, Goimme, Aire and Voice are all smaller, less complex versions of the full-size SkyCaddie, which is the equivalent of a digital yardage book. The new models are priced according to function (www.SkyCaddie.com). The Aire, for instance, is compact and basically provides the yardage to the green in big block numbers. SkyCaddie also came out with a watch that gives yardages, while the Voice is a small disc that clips to your hat or belt and speaks the yardage with the press of a button.
An even more interesting wrinkle from SkyCaddie is SkyPro, a tiny device that attaches to your shaft and provides data from your swing for analysis. Once collected, it transfers your swing data to your smartphone via an app -- clubhead speed, swing path, rotation, face angle, position at impact, tempo and more. You can watch a computer model of your swing. It also has swing drills and tips from Hank Haney and Michael Breed of Golf Channel, so you can address and correct your swing flaws.
You’ll laugh at this one, just as I did. Fortune cookies for golfers? Get serious. When you see Golfer’s Fortune Cookies, and the authentic container they’re packaged in (like an order of fried rice from your favorite take-out joint), remember that it’s not a gag gift. In fact, it makes you wish the last outing you played in had given you one of those instead of another divot-fixer and bag of short tees. Here’s one fortune I got in a sample: “Playing golf is like raising kids, you keep thinking you’ll do better next time.” The cookies come from GolfGifts.com, which also offers another outing gift, the Lawn Wind Spinner. They’re little golf carts mounted on sticks with different characters driving and colorful wheels that spin in the wind. At least it’s original.