Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Home, Home at the Range

Fishers Glen Driving Range
4717 Fishers Lane
Philadelphia, Pa

Needing to shake some of the rust off my game, I headed over to Fisher Glen Driving Range in the Juniata section of Philadelphia. The range is at the end of Fishers Lane, a road that was closed off to through traffic when the driving range was constructed sometime in the late-1980s, early-1990s. Fishers Glen will not remind you of the pristine practice range at your local country club. It looks and feels more like the West Texas driving range operated by Roy McAvoy in the movie "Tin Cup." It cost $5 for a small bucket of 50 golf balls which where anything but range balls. The Muni Golfer found a wide assortment of used golf balls at his hitting disposal, including Titleists, Maxflis, Callaways, Nikes, Top-Flites and Wilson Ultras. The side nets that kept severely sliced or hooked balls from leaving the range were a bit tattered, but in the end, none of that mattered as Fishers Glen had golf balls, mats, plastic tees and a wide-open space where you could hit those golf balls.

I warmed up by stretching with my Speed Stik, then used it to take some looooong, sloooow swings. I then hit a 10 easy chips and pitches with my Momentus Short Game Wizard lob wedge. Feeling loosened up, I moved to my new Momentus Power Hitter and hit five tee shots. Because of the weight of this club, you are forced to take slower swings, which helps to build an even tempo. I was very impressed. The club didn't feel overly heavy and the ball went pretty straight. I then switched to my regular driver--a TaylorMade Burner--and trying to keep that same swing and tempo, hit five more tee shots. I was surprised how solidly I hit the ball. My tee shots were medium to high and either straight or with a slight fade. I kept switching from the Power Hitter to my TaylorMade driver after every five tee shots. By the third set of five with the Power Hitter, I was feeling just a bit in my lower back, a sure sign I haven't yet built up my golfing muscles in that area. And a couple of the tee shots had a slight fade on them. I finished with ten tee shots with my regular driver and hit five more wedge shots to cool down.

My initial impressions of the Power Hitter were positive. It definitely slows your swing down to a nice even tempo. I look forward to working with it on a more regular basis. And I also look forward to returning to Fishers Glen. It may not scream country club and luxury, but it definitely has that blue collar, muni golf atmosphere.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Season's First Nine

Juniata Golf Club
Philadelphia, Pa
Yards: 4805, Par: 66
Rating: 63.2, Slope: 106
Score: Practice Round
Date: April 19, 2008

I finally got out to the course for my first practice round of the season. The weather was beautiful; a warm, sunny day with a bit of wind. I played the front nine only since I didn't want to overdo the first time out. I carried 16 clubs in my bag since I picked up some new ones over the winter and wanted to test them out. I carried my two new Nickent hybrids which I picked up at the Victory Golf Show, a Solus sand wedge I bought at Golf Galaxy's TaylorMade-adidas night and a Dunlop Loco 7-Wood I bought at Walmart. I also played the new Bridgestone e6+ golf ball that I was sent to test as part of my membership in the PGA Tour Partners Club.

This was the first time I had played at Juniata Golf Club since it became independent from the Fairmount Park Commission. The conditions were surprisingly good and you could see visible evidence that they are working hard on making the course attractive. A new, larger office has been built in the clubhouse and you could see that further renovations were underway. The bridge over the Frankford Creek between holes 9 and 17 had been painted and a path of astroturf had been placed in the middle of the bridge to make it easier for walkers. Some tee boxes had been closed off to allow grass to regrow and the bunkers were filled with playable sand.

As for my game, I tended to strike the ball better than I thought I would, although I did tend to slightly thin some early tee shots. Those turned into pulls or hooks later in the round. My short game was fair, but touch around the green is always one of the last things to round into shape, and my putting was pretty consistent. I made two pars and only had one really bad hole--the uphill 6th, where I thinned a wedge well over the green on my third shot and ended up making a 7.

Overall, I was satisfied. It was good to once again be out walking the fairways, swinging my golf clubs, although my body is feeling it a bit today. I met up with three guys on the first tee--Mark, Ruben and Ken--and we all had a great time playing as a foursome. A couple of more practice rounds and a trips to the practice range and I'll be ready to go.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Test to Look Forward to and Something Heavy

The Muni Golfer is a member of the PGA Tour Partners Club and one of the perks of membership is being called on test different equipment from time-to-time. Yesterday, I received my latest test assignment: Bridgestone's new e6+ golf balls. As a tester, you are asked to play or use the assigned equipment as soon as possible, weather permitting. Once you have done that, you fill out a Product Test Report form, giving your review of this product. Using these reports from fellow testers, the product is later reviewed in the PGA Tour Partners magazine. I will give you an advanced peek of my review once my testing is complete.

I have also order the Power Hitter Driver from Momentus Golf. It is a hittable weighted practice driver that helps you obtain distance and accuracy off the tee. I order the 275 model, which has a 275 gram club head, combined with a 200 gram shaft. This model is designed for golfers with a club head speed between 85-110 mph. The Power Hitter is endorsed by Long Driving Champion Sean "The Beast" Fister, and is used on the practice range by a number of Tour Pros, most notably Vijay Singh. The Power Hitter also comes with a an instructional DVD, as well as a DVD of driving tips from Fister. As a bonus, Momentus is including the Short Game Wizard lob wedge, which has a 175 gram shaft and is designed to help you develop touch, control and accuracy with your wedges, bunker shots and short game. And they are legal to play with! While I probably replace my current Solus wedges with the Short Game Wizard, I will use it for practice.

In addition to the Power Hitter, I also ordered Momentus Golf's EEZ-READ, a small device that can be used to read the break on the greens. According to Momentus Golf's Web site, EEZ-READ is "a high accuracy 'bubble level' attached to a watchmaker's grade stainless steel disc that's sturdy enough to provide a quick reading of the green's contours, yet lightweight enough to carry in your pocket during play. It is intended to help golfers on putts with subtle or confusing breaks and works best on putts within 20 feet of the hole." While it is illegal to use in competition or in posted rounds, it will again be a help during practice rounds.

Friday, April 4, 2008

TaylorMade-adidas Night at Golf Galaxy

Thursday I attended a special TaylorMade-adidas night at the Golf Galaxy store in Mount Laurel, NJ. It was by special invitation-only event for members of Golf Galaxy's Advantage Club. It was the first such event I had attended and it was a blast. Upon entering, each Club member was given a goodie back with a small sleeve of TaylorMade's new Burner TP golf balls, as well as coupons with could be redeemed for Golf Galaxy gift cards based on the amount of TaylorMade-adidas golf equipment or apparel you purchased that evening. You also received a ticket and drawings were held throughout the two-hour event for TaylorMade-adidas gift cards and the grand prize, a golf ball signed by two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw. They also were offering free swing analysis, the opportunity to demo some of TaylorMade's newest clubs, free putter fittings and the chance to buy some TaylorMade clubs--such as the new Burner Tour Irons--that have yet to hit retail stores. While I passed on getting my swing analyzed and didn't try any of the new clubs, I did pick up a "slightly" used Solus 4.1 sand wedge, a TaylorMade Tour Visor, a TaylorMade and adidas golf glove, a sleeve of the new TaylorMade Burner golf balls, two TaylorMade Arrow golf grips and two Golf Pride DD2 grips.