2013 was quite a year for Hooked On Golf Blog and me, Tony Korologos. This article is part one of two (part two tomorrow), looking back at 2013 from at HOG viewpoint.
Ah the beginning of a new year and the hopes that my short game would improve. There’s always 2014…
Rory McIlory switched to Nike Golf. Personal issues, business issues, and perhaps the equipment switch would contribute to a less-than-satisfying year on the course for Rory.
Attended the PGA Show for the billionth time. Orlando hates me and my body. Had a great time seeing the new gear, meeting old golf friends and battling in the Battle of the Golf Blogs.
February I posted a bunch of golf videos from the PGA Merchandise Show.
Asher Golf’s James Roundy, a local friend, passed. Sad.
The Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour traveled to Bogota, Colombia. What a fantastic trip! I got to play golf with Web.com Tour star Kevin Foley in the Web.com Tour Colombia Championship Pro-Am. Kevin would later gain his PGA Tour card for 2014! He must have learned from my dual chicken wing granny over the top swing.
While in Colombia I played golf at La Cima Golf Course, 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains. Wow. Ball go far.
Met Web.com Tour player Dusty Fielding. Nice kid.
A fun blog post was “Filtering Out the Noise: Golf Social Networking’s Top 10 Overused Status Updates.”
I reviewed the Cobra Amp Cell driver.
Bubba’s Hover was the video rage. Bubba Watson released a golf cart hovercraft!
Of course, April is Masters month. Not a month is busier for me or HOG. Lots of Masters related articles. Adam Scott won the Masters in dramatic fashion. Angel Cabrera hit what I consider the shot of the year with his approach on the final hole to about two feet. That shot resulted in a birdie to tie Adam Scott and force a playoff.
I reviewed the Cobra Amp Cell irons.
Ecco Golf came out with hybrid wingtip shoes. Some of the coolest crossover shoes ever.
Tiger Woods won THE PLAYERS (always write “The Players” in ALL CAPS, it is what they do). Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods had a little tiff which the media went into a feeding frenzy over. Sergio eventually apologized for some not-so-nice comments.
HOG poll results told us that Delta Airlines is the worst airline for golf travel.
Good thing Adam Scott won the Masters when he did. The USGA and R&A announced the ban on anchored golf clubs, beginning January 1st, 2016. Bye bye belly.
Eric/Tom sent in some great fan mail, calling me an “asshole who sucks at golf and couldn’t break 100” all because of a golf bag I reviewed. Thanks Eric/Tom!
I fell down a volcano and suffered volcanic road rash. Thankfully my Nikon survived.
I played in the Salt Lake Amateur golf tournament. I was right in the mix through 27 holes until my back went out on the 10th tee. I finished, but the last nine was not pretty. Bugger. Kill me.
HOG readers voted Southwest Airlines as the best airline for golf travel by a landslide.
I reviewed a very cool book: An American Caddie in St. Andrews: Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the Old Course.
Posted an article on golf CHEATERS. That’s what sandbaggers are.
Justin Rose won the U.S. Open in amazing fashion. That was one of the best ball striking displays I’ve ever seen.
On June 30, I boarded an airplane bound for St. Andrews, Scotland.
Lately there are small golf ball companies popping up which compete directly with the big boys. One great example is THE BALL.
THE BALL is a new golf ball which can be found at www.ineedtheball.com. This golf ball stands toe-to-toe with any premium golf ball on the market with regards to distance and short game control.
THE BALL is a three piece (three layer) golf ball. Each layer features materials and properties which contribute to the ball’s performance.
The core is the first layer. The core is the largest layer, in the center of the ball. This layer contains Tungsten, chemical element 74, a hard steel-gray metal. The core is primarily responsible for the distance and compression of the ball.
Layer two is the mantle layer. The mantle layer construction promotes high initial velocity (ball speed) and a low launch angle with lower spin. The low launch angle and lower spin promote longer distance off the driver.
The outer layer is known as the cover. The cover of THE BALL is made from cast urethane, the same material found on the cover of 90% of the premium golf balls on the market. The cover is responsible for the spin of the ball and the control it has in the short game.
THE BALL – Layers
There are 318 dimples on the cover of the ball. The dimples promote lift and help the ball carry farther and straighter.
Driver spin is 2745 revolutions per minute (RPM), lower than the leading brand (they say “leading brand.” I’d guess they mean the Titleist ProV1), which his 3022. Lower driver spin is good.
Carry for THE BALL is 266 yards compared to 263.
Carry + Rollout for THE BALL is 277 compared to 272 for the leading brand.
Short game spin with the ball is 7410 RPM’s compared to 7500.
On The Course
Specs and techie stuff aside, how is this ball on the course, where performance really counts? I’ve played every premium ball known to man and this ball has no weaknesses compared to any of them. In fact, it outshines many premium brands for my game in the distance department.
Two weeks ago (before it snowed) I played a couple of rounds in some very cold and wet conditions. We’re talking low 40’s and even upper 30’s toward the end of the round. In these cold conditions golf balls go much shorter as the ball does not compress easily. That was not the case for me and THE BALL. In fact, I was pleasantly amazed that I was out-driving my regular distances by 20 to even 40 yards!
Case in point was the 468 yard 2nd hole at my home course, the toughest hole on the course. Normally my drives end up around the 200 yard marker, give or take 10 yards. My yearly average approach is about 275. With a nice solid drive I found THE BALL way up the fairway at the 160 mark. Ding ding ding! Winner. Much more fun to hit 8-iron into a green than a 4-iron.
The Ball – click to zoom
300+ yard drive in the cold? I couldn’t believe it. But by the time the round was done, I believed it. Same case on the 15th hole, the hardest hole on the back. Normally once again I’m looking at a 5-6 iron approach on this tough hole. Instead, I was at the 150 marker debating a 9 or 8-iron.
Distance isn’t the only strong point of THE BALL. I found the feel to be fantastic around the greens, even for my very mediocre short game. I had nice control on short shots inside 100 yards and especially chipping and pitching. THE BALL feels great off the putter too, easy to control distance.
At a retail price of $34.99, THE BALL clocks in at $10-20 less than premium brand name golf balls.
THE BALL is golf’s equivalent to a car that costs as much as a Honda, but outperforms a Porsche.
Little Tikes Golf Set
Having blogged about golf since before people knew what blogs were, and having reviewed 100’s of different golf clubs, I have to say this review was one of the funnest. I have never encountered such a great minimalistic set of clubs which was also so useful and versatile, until now. Testing out the clubs has been great. Working on the review along side my one-year-old Seve was fabulous. Let’s take a look at the Little Tikes Golf Set.
Little Tikes Golf Set Overview
The Little Tikes Golf Set is a beginner’s set of clubs which comes complete with an iron, putter, putting green, three balls, golf hole and even a tee. Though the set is designed for beginners, even low single digit handicappers like myself can benefit from the forgiveness, feel and versatility of these clubs.
The Little Tikes iron is groundbreaking. This is two clubs in one, at least. There is a club face on each side of the head, meaning the club could be played right or left-handed. From a business perspective this is great. The manufacturer doesn’t need to spend a bunch of money and time building two sets of irons, right and left-handed. From a player perspective the versatility is great. Think of all those times you’ve had to turn over your 7-iron to hit a backward shot. No need now.
Iron plays both ways…
The control I have with the iron is great. I’m able to produce low or high shots and working the ball either direction is a breeze.
Like a Bull’s Eye putter, the Little Tikes is a straight blade which can be played right or left-handed. The shorter shaft is great. It helps me get set properly with my eyes over the ball. I can really see the line well in that position, mostly because my face is about 18 inches from the ground.
Putter at address…
The way this putter rolls the rock is fantastic. The ball rolls true, even on shag carpet.
The feel of this putter is like butter while the audible feedback the putter produces helps with feel and confidence.
The golf balls included with the Little Tikes give the Titleist ProV1 a run for its money. These are two layer balls but they feel so soft you’d think they were a 3-5 layer.
The core of the ball is made up primarily of oxygen (since it is hollow), which helps increase distance with the long clubs but still gives a soft feel in the short game. The hollow core also helps increase the golf ball’s “moment of inertia” or MOI. This helps the ball fly truer and straighter. The dimple pattern helps give the ball lift while reducing side-spin and increasing accuracy.
Despite having such great distance, the ball produces a TON of backspin with the iron. When hitting full iron shots from the TV room to the guest room, I’ve actually backed it up several times. It is like having Phil Micklespin. I do find that I need to be careful. Sometimes I can produce too much backspin and the ball sucks away from the target. 3/4 shots work well, or I’ll just fly it past the pin and suck it back.
The included green and tee with the Little Tikes Golf Set provides a nice practice area which is also portable. That portability comes in handy when taking Seve to grandpa’s house or moving the course from the TV room to his bedroom.
The tee, built into the green, is a bit high for my taste. I find sometimes I pop up my shots. Seve doesn’t have a problem with the tee height though. He’s able to tee it high and let it fly.
Little Tikes Golf Set
In my reviews I try to play devil’s advocate and point out some areas which could be improved.
As I mentioned above, the tee is a little high for me. An adjustable tee would be great.
I have found the durability of the balls to be a little on the soft side. After a few solid short iron shots I can see areas in the golf ball’s cover which are showing signs of wear. I do realize though, that in order to produce such high spin and short game performance, the cover needs to be soft. It is a tradeoff and I’m fine with giving up a little durablity for performance.
If you’re shopping for a beginner golf set, and I mean BEGINNER, the Little Tikes Golf Set is a great option. The clubs and balls are solid offerings which are very versatile and work for righties or lefties, or little kids who we’re not exactly sure which one they are.
Check out the Hooked On Golf Blog Little Tikes Golf Set photo album.
I’m excited about the latest golf equipment submitted for review here at Hooked On Golf Blog, the Little Tikes golf set.
This set comes with two clubs (really 4 as both clubs can be played left or right handed), as well as some golf balls, tee and a putting green. The design of the iron is quite groundbreaking, with the same loft on both sides.
I’ve just started the review process. Stay tuned for my full review, which I’ll post after I’ve put the set through the rigorous HOG test battery.
For now, check out the HOG Little Tikes photo gallery.
Looking for a great golf Christmas gift? Check out the 3UP golf ball bag, in Christmas red. It is like a little Santa gift bag full of goodies a golfer will really love. Those goodies are 12 high performance golf balls, as good as a ProV1 or any other more expensive name brand ball.
Holiday 3UP Golf Ball Bag
Wondering about the performance of this golf ball? Check out the Hooked On Golf Blog 3UP golf ball review.
For more on the holiday packaging read the 3UP press release over at HogWire.biz.