The latest equipment, training aids, gear and apparel to get ahead of the game.
Tim Auman and Jeremy Bell.
On the Fly
Drones are the new buzz in course technology.
There’s lots of buzz in Millsboro, Del., not only about the new Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, The Peninsula, or the Schell Brothers gated waterfront community where it resides. The other buzz is overhead from a GoPro equipped drone that is being used to provide some spectacular images and flyovers of both places.
We were first introduced to these flying interlopers while previewing The Peninsula late last fall. Billing itself as the Pebble Beach of the East, it may not quite live up to that lofty praise, but it’s certainly among the area’s most scenic and challenging layouts. Of course, that’s just the view from ground level. While perched on the 17th tee, we had our first encounter with a drone, and then several holes later, with the drone’s operator, Tim Auman. To our amazement, he proceeded to show us some of the aerial views of the holes we just played.
Auman and Schell Brothers marketing colleague Jeremy Bell are the two responsible for flying and maintaining the drones. At the end of 2013, we got a strong push from our company’s owner, Chris Schell, to look into how we can use drones as a marketing tool, and as a technology that can really put us ahead of other builders in terms of supplying information to our customers, Auman says. The quadcopter, or drone, has been a great fit for us to show off the area and communities we build in. It does a phenomenal job of giving viewers an image of where the community is in the surrounding area, and how the community lays out in that space. It’s a blend of that really high up aerial photography and on-the-ground photography you’d get with a crane or a jib.
For an investment of a few thousand dollars, this technology is replacing the expensive use of helicopters and aerial rigs that can be 10 times the cost for a single usage. But like any new technology, there is a learning curve and kinks to be worked out. We’ve either crashed and/or upgraded our drone several times over the past year and a half, Auman says. That’s the reality of this technology, is that it’s changing so fast there’s a bit of a race going on between companies to release better equipment every few months.
The quality of the drone footage is also surprising, given the initial cost investment. The advances in camera technology, especially with the smaller, more rugged formats, make for Hollywood-quality visuals. Aerial footage and drone footage feel more cinematic, says Auman. The Peninsula’s head golf pro, Michael Neider, has used the drones for more than just the course flyover mapping. Another area we have used drones for is golf events, Neider says. We have filmed some parts of tournaments and participants get a kick out of seeing the drone. It creates a unique perception of the event.
Experience the drone flyover of The Peninsula by visiting www.peninsula-delaware.com/golf.
The latest trends hitting the tees.
Fresh from the annual PGA Merchandise Show held in Orlando in January, here’s the hottest golf fashion to help you play well and look good from head-to-toe.
Oakley PRIZM Golf Radarlock Path Sunglasses
Since playing conditions change, so should your eyewear. Oakley’s Switchlock Technology lets you change lenses to keep up with changing light. With high-definition optics and 100 percent UVA protection, they are lightweight, yet durable. These shades make for the optimal levels of performance, comfort and style. $240, www.oakley.com.
GolfBuddy BB5 GPS Band
The new GolfBuddy BB5 brings some fashion flair to the golf GPS world, combining innovativefeatures and a sleek design that can be worn on and off the course. The device comes pre-loaded with just about every course in the world, providing a player with the distance to the front, center and back of the green. The BB5 has a 13-hour battery life in golf mode, a full three weeks in watch mode, and a choice of seven different interchangeable color bands. $299.99, www.golfbuddyglobal.com.
Nike Adjustable Golf Visor
Who could make visors cool again? Chip Kelly? Nope. Michelle Wie approached Nike to design old school, ultra-wide brim visors—a fashion statement with an added sun protection benefit. She will be sporting this retro and feminine look as she defends her title in the U.S. Women’s Open in Lancaster, Pa. $20, www.nikegolf.com.
True Game Changer Hybrid Shoe
TRUE linkswear has upped its game yet again for 2015. We loved the comfort of last year’s TRUE lyt model, but not the shoe’s performance in wet conditions. With this year’s game changer hybrid design, a new P-Motion Technology adds even more comfort, while a more aggressive tread creates a significant improvement in traction. The TRUE game changer pro model is the first spiked shoe the company has offered, but in a seriously comfortable footprint. All its shoes follow the zero drop philosophy—the shoes are level from heel to toe. The game changer hybrid looks great, feels comfortable and performs well. TRUE linkswear is a company that gets it. $150, www.truelinkswear.com.
Nexbelt X-Factor Model Belt
‘X’ marks the spot for one of the coolest belt offerings from Nexbelt, the company with the “no-holes” approach. Besides looking cool—Jim Furyk has been seen sporting the X-model on tour—the X-Factor offers a performance and comfort advantage—a PreciseFit system that provides a more personalized belt adjustment with its patented ratcheting system. But really, it just looks cool. $55.99, www.nexbelt.com.
Vineyard Vines Halyard Performance Jersey ¼-Zip
Vineyard Vines’ new golf line is a perfect match for golfers—think performance preppy. The new Performance Jersey ¼-Zip looks good on the course or off, and takes the chill off those early morning rounds with a 100 percent polyester material, a zippered chest pocket and rib trim on the cuffs and hem. $118, www.vineyardvines.com.
Galvin Green August Trousers
Looking good when the weather gets bad is what Galvin Green products are all about. Its August rain pants are constructed from Gore-Tex Paclite Technology fabric, an ultralight trouser that keeps foul weather at bay. Special features include waterproof leg zippers, Velcro hem width adjusters and an elasticated waist. $244, www.trendygolfusa.com.
Kentwool Tour Profile Socks (Bubba Green, Limited Edition)
Bubba Watson’s visit caused quite a stir at the Kentwool booth at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show. He wore these comfortable socks when he won the Masters in 2012 and 2014, and they felt just as good on my high-handicapper feet. The superfine Merino wool makes for a sockless feel and a blister-free walk around 18 holes. Before you try them, they are just a pair of socks. After you try them, they are your new standard for all future socks. $19.95, www.kentwool.com.
Lizzie Driver Spring And Summer 2015 Golf Collection
Women are bringing their own fashion touches to the game of golf after years of having to choose from the same polo and khakis options as men. Karen Preston and Lorrie Forgatch founded the Lizzie Driver Company in 2011 when they noticed that women’s golf wear was just not flattering. Their line of performance fashion works in golf or casual settings, and their new collection offers dozens of coordinated looks. You’ll see many women professionals sporting LD wear when the U.S. Women’s Open starts play in Lancaster, Pa., in July. $98-$136, www.lizziedriver.com.
It’s In The Bag
Golf bags are often an afterthought in one’s golf game arsenal. But your bag guards two of your most precious golfing commodities: your clubs and your back. Faced with an array of choices, golfers are often forced to buy multiple bags based on the way they like to play. Fortunately, many manufacturers are now offering a hybrid bag, which is light enough to carry and stand on its own, but that offers all the storage and extra club protection a cart bag offers. Here are two of the best.
Datrek Go Lite Pro Stand Bag
Datrek’s new Go Lite Pro Stand Bag weighs in at just over 5 pounds. The bag has a 14-way mesh padded organizer top with full-length individual dividers and an ergonomic handle on top of the bag. The Go Lite Pro offers plenty of storage with five pockets, including an oversized ball pocket. There’s also a large fleece-lined pocket to protect your valuables. Even with all that space, the ergonomic padded double shoulder strap and hip pad make walking the course less of a workout. The Go Lite Pro comes in 10 different color schemes ranging from conservative to flashy. $160, www.datrek.com.
Sun Mountain H2no 14-Way Stand Bag
Sun Mountain is well known for its protective clothing and outerwear, and the same waterproof technology is featured in the H2NO line of bags. Your equipment will stay dry in the H2NO 14-way, protected by individual, full-length dividers and a matching rain hood. The stand bag offers a 10.5-inch, 14-way top with a newer flared opening for easier club retrieval. Weighing in at just over 5 pounds, the bag offers an Auto-Fit Dual Strap System that is easy to adjust and is easy to get on and off. The bag includes five storage pockets, a valuables pocket and a full-length clothing pocket. The bag also is designed with a cart-friendly bottom with locking legs. $300, www.sunmountain.com.
Summer may be here, but it’s never too early to start thinking about winter.
Tour Links Nine-Foot Training Aid Putting Range
The expression “putt for dough” should tell you just how important that aspect of the game is, so naturally it should be the centerpiece of your in-home practice setup. There are very expensive indoor/outdoor putting systems, and there are flimsy, bad carpet options. One of the best putting solutions we found in the middle of those two extremes is the Tour Links Nine-Foot Training Aid. The unit is simple to set up, comes with many useful features and is made with a high-quality polypropylene turf. A string guide helps train your eye and your putting stroke, while teaching aids like break strips, easy grab pin, cup reducer and movable standing pad make for a variety of training options. Tour Links also provides many other size and format options to fit your space. $448, www.tourlinks.net.
Rukket Portable Driving Range
The Wilmington, Del., based Rukket Sports continues to impress with its nets and practice tools, offering options that are portable, easy to set up, durable and affordable. The RukkNet Portable Driving Range includes RukkNet (with a chipping attachment) and a portable three-turf hitting mat. The surfaces mimic tee turf, rough and the fairway. The net is sturdy and well designed with a no-skid base and a ball rollback feature. It sets up in seconds, and has you practicing indoors in no time. There are much more expensive options on the market that don’t offer all the features of this package. $229, www.rukket.com.
No Room At Home?
Steve Graves Sr. may have the title of “chief fun officer” at Malvern, Pa.’s Play-A-Round Golf, but his indoor facility also appeals to serious players. Play-A-Round Golf utilizes high-end PGA Tour simulators featured on the Golf Channel. With specially marked golf balls, the simulators can even track the precise shape of your shot. Two on-site professionals can provide lessons and other fitness and teaching services. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their own pro, if need be. For the cost of a municipal course green fee, customers can play there year-round, playing 18 holes at courses like Sawgrass, Pebble Beach and The Old Course. The facility is popular with groups that head outdoors during the warmer months, then move inside when the weather is bad. “Most of our business comes from regular players and groups who come in to play, bring some beer or wine, maybe a pizza or a cheesesteak from nearby, and just enjoy the camaraderie,” Graves says. Fees are $40/hour weekdays, $45/hour weekends. 245 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, Pa., (610) 725-9155, www.playaroundgolf.net.
For more Tee Tech, visit www.mainlinetoday.com.