Anyone who has either played golf with me or follows this blog knows I am a TERRIBLE putter. The SKLZ putting arc was too big and bulky. After spending way too much money at the PGA Superstore they took pity on me and gave me a rewards coupon. I decided to spend the money on a putting aid.
The Tour Gate training aid is designed to help you work on the classic gate drill. It is not overly complicated. You put two tees in the ground and dont let the putter hit the tees. The problem for me is I never get the tees straight. I also dont make them wide enough or I make them too wide. I spend more time setting up the drill than I do actually practicing. The Tour Gate makes set up simple. Its got 8 holes to place your tees. A set of wider ones to make it easier or for larger club heads. Its also got a little cut out to place the ball.
Keep it simple stupid
I hate to say this about something so simple but I love it. Like I said earlier the set up for the drill is a huge pain in the butt. I almost never did it. As soon as I started I could feel a difference right away. I was able to find the middle of the club much more consistently. The ball rolled better and didnt seem to stop. Putts I thought would come up short kept rolling into the bottom of the cup. My stroke got les wristy and much more controlled. I was able to really figure out my path and how to keep it straight. I loved the fact that if I set up putt with not enough break or too much break all I had to do was remove one tee and pivot the tool. Its not the most sturdy feeling tool but it doesnt need to be. It feels like it will last. For 10 dollars I can honestly afford to have it break.
Did it work?
In my first round since working with the Tour Gate I walked away with 28 putts. That is a whopping 5 strokes below my average. In my second round since I used it, the putts went up one to 29. I am hitting better putts. I am finding the center of the face more often. It is disgusting how simple the tool is but its beautiful how easy it is to use.
I love everything about this training aid. Its small so I can throw it in the bag and not worry. The only other thing it needs is two tees which I can almost guarantee every golfer has in their bag. The results I am seeing are incredible. I have actually gotten some compliments on my putting stroke. One putter rep said ” Wow, you got a nice little stroke” another golf pro at a course saw me drain 4 straight and said “Do you even need to practice?” .The results are great. For 10 dollars what do you have to lose?
On my most recent trip to the PGA Superstore I got hands on the new Mizuno MP-18 line. I got to hit all 3 models with Nippon Modus Tour 120.
The blade has a classic look. It has the thin top line better players like but it wasnt too intimidating. I was expecting to look down and see a butter knife but I was surprised. The blade didnt look like a JPX EZ iron but it wasnt razor thin. I hit 5 shots and came away impressed. It wasnt as hard to hit as I thought. When hit perfectly you wont find anything that feels better. The problem is when you dont hit it well. It hurts like hell. The ball launched low and produced some good spin numbers.
The Mizuno demo iron is a 6 iron. I normally hit my iron 170 yards. A perfectly struck shot with the MP 18 went 170. It didnt add yards. The big problem is when I mishit my irons the shot goes 165. The mishit with the MP 18 goes 160. They also wernt the easiet clubs to hit straight. I know its usually the golfer not the club but a cut turned into a slice and a draw turned into a hook. The distance and accuracy loss is expected with a blade. To be fair, I’m not exactly the guy for the blade market.
MP 18 SC
Going into the testing i thought these would probably be my favorite. After 2 swings I knew they were going to be my favorite. The ball flew high and straight. Well struck shots felt like the blade. Mishits didnt hurt as much but they also did a good job of letting you know you didnt hit it perfectly. I was able to tell where I mishit it. A few times I knew I was hitting it off the toe and the ball marks on the face confirmed it.
Again the demo was a 6 iron and well hit shots traveled a whopping 173 on average. The mishit is where this club truly shined. On mishits I lost fewer than 5 yards. The club was very workable. When I wanted to hit a cut I was able to do that .When I wanted to hit a draw I was able to do that as well. Workability can affect (effect?) forgiveness but that wasnt the case here.
MP 18 MMC
You may recall from this post that MMC stands for Multi Material Composition. To many Mizuno purists putting anything other than carbon steel in an MP iron is like wearing a black belt with brown shoes. It shouldnt ever be done. If anyone feels that way I challenge them to go hit the MP 18 MMC. The MMC keeps the traditional MP feel that people are used to. Where it really shines is in its ability to hit the ball high, straight, and with a ton of spin. The 6 iron didnt hit the ball noticeably further than my current clubs but they did launch higher. Mishits flew high and straight as well. If you think youre not good enough for an MP club but want that soft Mizuno feel, the MMC may be what you want.
The MP 18 line has taken an already great series of clubs and made it better. My favorite feature is the care Mizuno has taken to make sure you can set these up as a combo set. They all feel the same. They all look the same and with the different heights you get between the clubs it allows you to play with that as well. I would probably play a 4 and 5 iron in the MMC with a SC 6-PW. Between the MP 18 and the JPX 900 lines, getting the world famous Mizuno softnesss in a forgiving package shouldnt be difficult.
Lets take our first look at Game Golf. Gam egolf is a golf stat tracker. Each club gets a tracker that attaches to the back of the club. You touch this on a receiver that attaches to your belt. The system tracks how far you hit each club as well as strokes gained and lost. It seems pretty easy and I cant wait to get it on the course to give it a run.
Be on the look out for the full review coming soon!
I hadnt planned on a review of these grips this early on. It was going great early on. I enjoyed everything about these grips. The colors were great and the feel was great.
A sign of trouble
A couple of weeks ago I noticed the grips were feeling a little slick. A couple of quick wipes with a damp towel and they seemed to regain their tackiness. It was great. I made a note to write up how quickly they got slick but I was going to give them credit for being easy cleaning. They did a great job of holding up to the humidity and not getting slick in damp hands.
You cant be serious!
It was June 10th when I had the grips installed. I couldnt get over how awesome they looked on the Hogans. I wasnt thrilled about having to get new grips because I really liked the No1 grips I had on them before. Those grips came on a preowned set of shafts but still lasted me a year. I spent 2 weeks deciding on a grip. I had it down to 2 grips and I decided to go with the S- Tech.
Today I reached my breaking point with the grips. On my 8 iron I noticed the grip felt a little weird. I looked down at my glove to see if it had torn. There wasnt anything weird on the glove. When I looked at the grip, I was amazed that the grip had already started to show some major wear. It was shocking . It hadnt even been 2 months and the grips had a big wear spot right under my thumb. I understand grips wear out. Honestly I do. I dont expect them to last years. I know they wont. Grips should be able to handle my meager practice and playing schedule. I only practice twice a week and hit around 50 balls. Hell the last 2 weeks Ive been under the weather and havent been out much. Its absurd. I expected better from a brand like Superstroke. If this isnt a one off they should remove these grips from the market.
At this point I have to give the grips a failing grade. I would be upset if a cheap knock off grip didnt last 2 months let alone a major manufacturers grip.
A few weeks ago I gave a preview of the Srixon Q Star Tour golf ball. My initial thoughts can be read here. Srixon has slowly been killing it in the golf ball market for years. Their tour ball is the Z Star and is a great golf ball. My search for a cheaper urethane golf ball led me to the Q Star tour. This year my favorite inexpensive urethane ball, the E5, was discountinued. This is why I have needed to find a new golf ball. I have reviewed the Callaway Chrome Soft and the Top Flite Gamer Tour. I thought I found a winner but the Q Star Tour was released and hits at the price point I like.
The Q Star Tour is a 3 piece ball. The urethane cover has 324 dimples and has Srixon’s special SpinSkin coating. The core compression comes in at 75. Compare this to the Chrome Soft at 65, the Top Flite Gamer Tour at around 80, and the Pro v1x in the high 90’s
The first thing anyone tells you to do with a new golf ball is take it to the putting green and see if you like how it feels. In my past reviews I have said my preference on feel is for the ball to be soft. When looking for a urethane covered golf balls finding a soft feel can be difficult. This golf ball feels really nice of the putter face. It is a solid feeling ball. As the compression ratings show its not as soft as the Chrome Soft but right on par with the Top Flite. I have said it before but I dont believe the ball makes the ball roll further or shorter. I think the ball rolled true and fell in the hole just as easily as any others.
Short Game Performance
For me this is the most important part of a golf ball. Its the reason I prefer to play urethane. If I play a non urethane I can not be as aggressive as I like. The Q Star Tour spun more like the Chrome Soft than the Top Flite. From any situation it was a hop and a stop. The performance was incredible. I couldnt believe how much spin I was generating. In all honesty it was just as good as any other ball if not better .That includes the Chrome Soft, Gamer Tour, and Pro V1x. The feeling the ball produced was just as good as it was off the putter. Firm but still soft enough.
Iron distances were right on par with what I expected them to be. My 8 iron was going 155 with this ball just like all the others. On the green this ball danced like none of the others. I hit a shot that landed 3 feet behind the flag and spun back 10 feet. To some they may like this but for me it left me with a much longer putt than the hop and skip would have. To me its a negative but to others it may be a positive. I didnt feel I was able to control when I backed it up 10 feet if I wanted. If I could control it it may not be so bad. The feeling off the face was very nice. A nice soft feeling. The ball produced a lower ball flight than I thought. This could also be part of the reason the ball spun so much when it hit the ground. The lower ball flight and the high level of spin the ball produced led to backing it up a few feet.
I couldnt believe how high this ball flew. Half way through testing I got a new driver and wanted to make sure things were not flawed so I took out a Chromesoft and a Top Flite. Considering how low the irons flew I was very surprised to watch this ball fly as high as it did. It didn’t fly as high as the Chromesoft but it was much higher than the Top Flite. As far as the distance was concerned, It was a few yards shorter on some shots and a few yards longer on others. Off the center of the face it felt great. Like the other parts said, It was firmer than the Chrome Soft but right on par with the Top Flite.
Overall I like this ball. It is a contender for the ball that goes into ball pocket. At $30 a dozen it matches the price of the E5 I used to play. The ball is a little more expensive but it does seem to have a lot better durability than the Top Flite. If youre like me the price point is perfect. The performance is great as well. If you want Tour ball performance without the tour ball price I cant think of a better ball than this one!