Saturday, October 29, 2005

Nike Slingshots: A Personal Review

I'm ending the season by treating myself to new Nike Slingshot irons (in steel shafts). I've just finished my second round with them, and the jury is still out.

You probably know the technology: investment-cast with a deep cavity back that is bridged from heel to toe by a "swoosh-shape" plate. The premise is that the plate positions the CG low, rearward and in the heel of long irons to facilitate squaring the club head at impact and to create a higher ball flight for long, soft-landing shots. Throughout the set, the flow weighting of the Slingback design shifts the CG incrementally higher, closer to the face, and towards the toe as it moves toward the short irons. This progression reduces the launch angle and increases the spin rate for the short irons, which helps prevent shots from ballooning while maintaining the ability to hold greens.

Although I had no good reason not to like my 4-5 year old Nike Pro-Combos, I decided to make the switch for three reasons:

1. My short irons were de-chromed and rusting.
2. Our pro is leaving and so the year-end clean-out deal was hard to turn down.
3. GolfReview.com had 77 reviews, and an average rating of 4.57 out of a possible 5.

The good news: the club seems to have more head-weighting, hence more feel of the clubhead; the upper edge is quite thick (like Callaways) which gives you the impression you're swinging a substantial weapon; as advertised, the short irons don't sail on me as my Pro-Combos tended to do.

The bad news: even though they look like they would be easy to line up or aim, my directional control has been very shaky. And, I'm very conflicted about giving up a forged "shot-maker" style of club for a "game-improvement" design.

The Zen question: did I make a prudent investment, given the age of my old clubs, or did I make an ego-driven decision to chase after the next new gimmick that will do the job of enhancing my game for me?

Time will tell.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Golf54 — A New Book

Pia Nilsson (Annika's long-time mentor) and Lynn Marriott (Golf Digest Top 50 Instructor) have just produced a new golf instructional book, Every Shot Must Have a Purpose, and it's the type of book I ascribe to... not one mechanical swing lesson throughout. The book is pure mental game, concise, to the point and very well done.

Nilsson and Marriott run golf clinics and they call their approach "Golf54," under the premise that shooting a 54 is possible (a birdie on every hole on a par 72 course).

They don't deal with swing mechanics for several very sensible reasons: they can't see your swing, so they can't make informed comments; there is no one right way to swing; and—most importantly—it is our head that gets in our way, not our body and our swing.

And so they devote the entire book to your thought processes. In doing so, they've pre-empted some things that I planned to say in future essays, and they've given me some new ideas that I will steal shamelessly (with credit given, of course).

You'll hear a lot from them about our poor practice habits ("scrape and hit another"), about mental preparation and visualization, and about some very Zen-like concepts... paying attention, staying in the moment, etc. If you want a preview, check their website at www.golf54.com.

It is a book that's right down our ally, and I recommend it highly.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Golf/Zen Novel

Just Out! The Hole of the Third Eye: A Fable of Golf, Zen, and Life.

Harry Morgan’s life — due to his own inertia and inattention — has bottomed out. Then he meets a strange old codger, Joseph, who is an enigma, possibly unbalanced, perhaps not even real, but who may have the secret of extraordinary golf. Harry presses him for help with his game, but Joseph insists that Harry first consider a series of other ideas: a strange mix of quantum physics, Eastern philosophy, and life questions.

Does Harry’s life heal? Does his handicap drop? Who is this strange old guy, anyway?




Bob Cullen (co-author of Golf is Not a Game of Perfect) calls it "a surprisingly warm and entertaining read."

Rebecca Dengler (Golf For Women Top 50 Instructor "...a story that is believable and applicable to anyone who has ever thought that golf is life (or life is golf) and who is looking for the best in both."

David Greenspan (CEO, The Chopra Center) "...in the spirit of Deepak Chopra's Golf for Enlightenment"

Betsy Rawls (LPGA Hall of Fame Member) "Life lessons — Hidden in golf lessons. Makes sense to me."

Check out the weekend-golfer.com blog for an independent review.

Or, better yet, visit the publisher's site to order.