Golf Equipment

Tortured by my first look at the FootJoy Icon golf shoes

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Categories: Golf ApparelGolf EquipmentGolf Gear

Today is July 22nd, 2009.  I should rename it to “FootJoy Day.”  Today it is all FootJoy, all the time.

I just finished telling someone how my back is so tweaked right now that I can’t even put shoes or socks on.  I’m bent over like the huchback with these severe, stabbing pains in my back due to my scoliosis.  I pushed the back too hard this weekend and now I’m paying the price.

A good kind of pain

So while I’m here suffering, sitting bent to the left at a 32 degree angle (the only angle which doesn’t result in extreme stabbing pain), the doorbell rings.  FedEx was here to deliver my latest shiny golf toys, a pair of FootJoy Icons.

This is great.  I get to “look” at these beautiful golf shoes and perhaps drool on them a bit if I can crawl across the room to them.  I won’t be able to try them out for at least a few days, when my back spasms subside.  When I do, I’ll be starting my evaluation and getting ready for an Icon reveiw.  Stay tuned.

Until then, I hope you enjoy a couple of pics of the Icons.  If you want to see a few more, I have about 10-15 in my Icon gallery too.

Review: 2009 Titleist ProV1 Golf Ball

Written by: Tony Korologos | Friday, July 10th, 2009
Categories: Golf BallsGolf EquipmentGolf GearReviews

2009 Titleist Pro V1 Golf BallAssignment: Play the new 2009 Titleist Pro V1 golf ball and write about it.  I think I can handle that, and it won’t suck.


Like the 2009 ProV1x, which I reviewed in this article, the new Titleist ProV1 has had some changes under the hood.  Actually many of the changes are outside the hood in the cover of the golf ball. Though they’ve been calling the cover “Urethane Elastomer” for some years now, it is definitely different than previous year’s models.  Is it better or worse?  We’ll see.

Three pieces/layers

The Pro V1 is a three piece/layer ball.

The first layer, in the center of the ball is called the core. The core is 1.55 inches in diameter and made of a material called Polybutadiene. Polybutadiene is a highly durable synthetic rubber commonly used for tires or coating electronic assemblies.

The core provides the general (soft) feel of this golf ball, as well as contributing to the distance the ball will travel.

Layer two is called the casing. The casing is .035 inches thick and made of Ionomer, a highly durable plastic/rubber.

The casing is what I’d call a “scoring” layer, providing spin and control on approach shots.

The third layer is the cover, the white part with the dimples.  The cover is made of Urethane Elastomer and is .030 inches thick.  The cover has five different types of dimples, of which there is a total of 392.  The dimples are arranged in a “icosahedral” pattern.

The dimples provide lift and keep the ball in the air and flying as straight as possible.

The cover is also a “scoring” layer, providing spin and control.  More of the short game spin and control is in the cover than in the casing.

How to identify the 2009 model Pro V1 versus older models

You’ve knocked your junk golf ball in the bushes and while searching for said junker, you’ve found a ProV1.  Congratulations on the upgrade.  But how do you know what model or year your new ProV1 is?

Every time Titleist comes out with a new model they change the text or decoration around the “Pro V1.” The current model’s decoration can be seen in the image to the right.

The 2009 model: < . – Pro V1 – . >
The 2008 model: < – Pro V1 – >

What is different from the 2008 models of the Pro V1?

The major change to this year’s model is the cover.  It feels more “rubbery.”

The new cover is more durable than the older model Pro V1’s.  That being said, this is a performance ball with a very thin cover which still chews up.

The way this ball chews up is a bit different than previous models.  Rather than shaving off parts of the cover completely, the grooves of the club can cut gashes into the surface.  Most of the time these are hardly visible, but some crisp wedge shots with square grooves can do some major damage.  That damage could be enough to effect the performance of the ball in flight or on the putting green.

No more seam

Another difference in the new model is the lack of a seam. In the “old days” we used to line up the seam on Pro V1’s and get more distance. I also liked to line the seam up and roll my putts with the line.

Staggered wave parting line (pictured right, accenting the wave) technology gets rid of the seam and covers more area of the ball with dimples. Dimples give the ball the proper “lift” and help the ball fly in the air better.

On the course


The first hole I played with the new ProV1 was at my airport course.  That hole is 393 yards from the blue tees, the tees I was playing that day.  I hit a very solid drive, which drew from the center to the left side of the fairway.  The pin was in the back of the green and when I hit it with my laser rangefinder, I was 63 yards away!  Wait a sec let me get out my calculator.  Back pin means add 10 yards, so the hole was playing 403.  I’m 63 yards out.  403-63=340.  I just hit the ProV1 (regular flavor), the ball touted for spin and not necessarily distance, 340 yards?  Wow.

Since that day I’ve confirmed the new ProV1 is noticeably longer than the old one for my swing.  In fact it may be longer for me than the new ProV1x, which really shouldn’t be the case.


The feel of this ball is as good as it has ever been for my painful golfer’s elbow granny swing.  The ball compresses well on the driver and feels great on iron shots.  I really like the feel of full wedges from say 80-140 yards out and I don’t get super spin, which is good.  The ball drops and doesn’t spin back too far.

Short game

Here’s where my confusion about the ProV1 and ProV1x gets deeper.  I get less spin with this year’s model on short game shots than models past.  The V1 is the “spin” ball and the V1x is the distance ball, right?  But in short game situations, I get more spin with the X than I do with the regular flavor.   Just to be clear, I’m not saying the regular flavor doesn’t spin.  It has plenty of spin and control around the greens and I’m very confident with my short game and a ProV1 at greenside.


The ProV1 rolls great on the greens.  I miss having a seam to line up, but I use their “AIM” technology to line up my putts.  Really, is painting arrows on a golf ball “technology”???  I digress.

My distance control with the V1 is as good as any golf ball.


Like my main critique was for the ProV1x, the cover of the ProV1 can have some gouging issues.

Wedges and shorter irons with clean (especially square) grooves can really carve up the surface of this ball.  Some very crisp full wedges can slice it up enough for me to want to take it out of play for fear of missing putts or having directional issues in the air.


The new ProV1 is a great golf ball and I’m confident in its performance when I have it in play.  At $58 a dozen I have to play them until I lose them so I deal with the occasional cover damage.

I wonder if Titleist got the ProV1 and ProV1x labels switched at the factory though.  I get more spin with the V1x and more distance with the V1!  Yet another mystery to my golf game.

SUMI-G Divot Tool

Written by: Tony Korologos | Friday, July 3rd, 2009
Categories: Golf AccessoriesGolf EquipmentGolf GearReviews

The SUMI-G divot tool is not for every golfer. For golfer’s on a budget, a cheap plastic divot tool will do. After all, we just want to make more putts and have better greens. But for the discerning golfer, the $24 SUMI-G divot tool is as elegant as it is functional. In fact, it is a dead heat.  As a bonus, you can store it in the accessory box of your Porsche.


You’ve heard of forged golf clubs? They have the best feel and performance. How about having a forged stainless steel divot tool? There’s nothing like the feel of forged on the course, when you fix that ball mark right on the sweet spot. Ahem.

Built in ball marker

If you own certain other SUMI-G products like say, the mega cool Dormy or Stymie belts like I do, you can use the interchangeable ball marker. The divot tool’s included ball marker secures to a magnet on the head, as well as magnets in the super-hip SUMI-G belt buckles. And once again, the use of said ball markers or SUMI-G gear is called “SumiGizing.”

On the course

The forks on the SUMI-G divot tool are bent inward and downward to provide the perfect angles for fixing ball marks. My pal Marius, the brains behind SUMI-G, rubbed together the massive gray matter inside his cranium and figured this out somehow. That’s why he’s a pioneering golf inventor and I’m not.

The tool is light in my pocket. It doesn’t weigh down my now “falling down” pants, since I’ve dropped a few LB’s this season. My pants would completely fall down if not for my SUMI-G belts as a matter of fact.


Mark this down. This is the first “critique” I have regarding a SUMI-G product. As awesome as Marius’ products are, it may be the last as well.

On very hard greens the tool is tough to use. There isn’t quite enough length to get good leverage. The corners on the top of the tool can painfully poke the palm of my hand.

Keep in mind this is really a stretch. I’ve encountered conditions like this in one round out of close to 40.


Man this tool is sexy and shiny too!  I love shiny toys.

This is a unique piece which will last longer than you will, with its stainless steel forged design.  The magnetic ball marker is very convenient and interchanges with SUMI-G belts.  The greens and your fellow golfers will be thankful you ponied up the bucks for a great divot tool.

Related links

Buy SUMI-G products online at The Golf Space SHOP and at the SUMI-G home site.

I have a few images of the SUMI-G divot tool and other SUMI-G products in the HOG SUMI-G gallery.

SUMI-G headcover review.  Do your headcovers have a “rigid exoskeleton”???

SUMI-G Dormy belt review.

Ping’s John Solheim takes on the USGA and R&A on new groove rules

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
Categories: GolfGolf EquipmentGolf Gear

Ping’s Chairman John Solheim is standing up for square grooves and I don’t blame him.  I can really benefit from square grooves, which I do have in three of my four wedges.  They help me enjoy the game.

I also think that PGA Tour pros have it too easy with the “bomb and gouge” way of playing, hitting 300 yard drives, missing the fairway and somehow getting spin out of the rough with their wedges to the green.  So I can see implementing or backing up some of the technology for their games.

It is a quandary for sure, because most players like myself want to compare my game to the world’s best and therefore want to play the same equipment.

Ping’s/Solheim’s statement released yesterday:

“The new groove rule harms the game and golfers and should be dropped. The recent uproar about it from PGA Tour players demonstrates this fact, however, the PGA Tour’s proposal to delay implementing the rule is not a solution. You can’t turn a bad idea into a good one by waiting an extra year to adopt it. We hope everyone who cares about the future of this game keeps that simple concept in mind.”

TaylorMade r9 and Nike STR8-FIT driver comparison

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
Categories: Golf ClubsGolf EquipmentGolf GearReviews

I got an email from Nike a few weeks back asking if I’d be willing to do an unbiased comparison between their adjustable driver, the STR8-FIT, and the TaylorMade r9.  I thought that sounded like fun so I agreed to do it.  I did feel that I had to let them know that historically I haven’t been a Nike fan.  In fact, in some posts here I’ve quite critical.  I flat out told my Nike contact that if I thought their driver sucked I’d write it.

At this time I have no affiliation with Nike or TaylorMade, nor do I have any of either companies’ clubs in my bag.

Areas of comparison

The first thing I decided I should do is come up with a set of guidelines for the comparison.  Based on my typical golf club reviews here I decided I’d focus on the following areas:  features, looks, feel/feedback, ease of use and performance.

Left: TaylorMade r9 driver – Right: Nike STR8-FIT driver

I’ll cover each in a paragraph or two, and put a comparison grid showing my results below.  I used a stock r9 and STR8-FIT in a 9.5 degree head with stiff shaft.

Nike STR8-FIT v.s. TaylorMade r9 – Let the battle begin


The Nike STR8-FIT comes with a special tool for removing the head as does the TaylorMade r9.  Nike’s tool goes around the shaft where the head connects.  The TaylorMade is used from under the head.  Each tool is essentially a torque wrench which allows you to tighten just right without over tightening.  The TaylorMade tool clicks when tight enough and the Nike actually makes a beeping sound and flashes a red light.

Left: Nike Tool  Right: TaylorMade Tool

I give TaylorMade a point because their tool is smaller and easier to store.  I take away a point because Nike’s tool is a bit too big.  Nike scores a point because their tool is easier to use than the TaylorMade as you have better leverage.

A feature the TaylorMade r9 has which the Nike STR8-FIT doesn’t is movable weights inside the head.  The r9 has three weights, allowing you to set the head up for a neutral, draw or fade bias.  TM scores a point.

Each driver has adjustments via changing the shaft/head combination for the club’s lie, face position (as in closed or open x degrees).  TaylorMade’s labeling of the different available positions is a bit easier to understand than Nike’s but neither is terribly difficult and I can’t quite award TM a point over the Nike on this one, but I do like it better.


The faces of each of these clubs are noticeably different.  The Nike is wider and the TM is deeper.  They are both so big it doesn’t really matter though.  If you miss either one you are a hack.

Standing over these clubs is a different story.  The TM is more traditional looking than the Nike and is a bit easier on the eye.  The Nike has a decent shape, but does have what I would call “fins” on the back of the head which are gray.  I’m not a fan of the fins but after just a few swings I don’t even notice them.  I’m focused on where the ball meets the club.  No winner here as both drivers have a decent look to them and nothing too wild or busy.

Feel and feedback

This area is probably the biggest difference between these two clubs.  There is a drastic difference in feel and sound at impact.


The Nike STR8-FIT is loud.  It is easily 10x as loud as the r9.  My golf pals all made fun of it the first few times I hit it and told me they’d have a hard time getting used to the sound.  The r9 is much quieter.  I give the r9 the edge here but if you like loud drivers the Nike may be the ticket for you.


In golf “feedback” is referred to as the information you get back from the club regarding the quality level of your contact.  Many golfers can feel whether their shots are inside the face, on the toe etc.  I can usually tell with all of my clubs whether my shot is high or low on the face, inside or outside or on the sweet spot.  Knowing this information and getting the feel of the club allows you to make better swings and adjust your game as needed.

I found on the TaylorMade r9 that I had a very difficult time distinguishing where I made contact on the club face.  Often times I had to actually look at the face to see if the ball made a mark to determine where the contact was.  It seemed that no matter where I hit the r9 on the face, most of the shots felt the same.  No points here.

On the Nike the feedback is a different story.  Perhaps along with the louder sound comes more feedback.  I can tell on the STR8-FIT if I’m even a fraction of an inch outside of center.  I can hit a shot and tell my buddies where on the face the contact occurred and verify it by checking the mark out.  The Nike wins the feedback points in a landslide.


These two drivers are very different in the feel department.  The r9 has a generally soft and sort of “mushy” feel, for lack of a better description.  The Nike feels harder.  Neither of these is worth points per se,  just two different animals and you may make a decision based on whether or not you like a hard or soft driver feel.


I started my comparison with both drivers in as neutral a position as I could.  I found that each driver was about as easy or difficult to hit and that I didn’t hit either one amazingly well.  In neutral position my good swings flew well and my poor swings leaked right.

When I flattened the lie out of the Nike I noticed a huge difference in performance for my swing. I’m not terribly tall so the flatter lie obviously put the club face in a much better position for my swing.  The same was true when I flattened out the TaylorMade.  Neither driver “won” this round but I learned something about my swing.  But had I found the holy grail yet?  Soon.

The next position I tried with both drivers is the “right” or fade setup.  I hated both.  The contact of both felt terrible, I lost a ton of distance, and the ball flight was always weak right.  No power fade for me.

When I kept the lie flat but closed each driver one degree, something happened.  I found the holy grail.  The trees at the end of the range where I did my testing I’d lasered at 294 yards.  With the Nike and TaylorMade in one degree closed and flat lie position, I reached the trees on almost every shot with either a straight ball or a slight draw.  I love seeing a draw and I like the extra distance in roll.  I found that with both drivers in this setup, even my bad swings had good results.  I found the holy grail of driver setups.

For fun I started to try and “work” the ball (curve it).  Even in closed position I was able to hit a fade with either driver if I really wanted to.

Nike claims in their ads to have more distance.  I found both drivers to be quite long once I got them setup correctly for my upright hacker chicken wing granny swing.  Using either setup incorrectly, I lost anywhere from 30-50 yards.

Nike STR8-FIT Driver – TaylorMade r9 Driver Comparison
My Pick
TaylorMade r9
Tie (soft or hard)
TaylorMade r9
Head Cover
They both suck
TaylorMade r9
Config Change
Tool footprint
TaylorMade r9
Tool use

So which one is better, the r9 or the STR8-FIT?

It is impossible to really say which one of these two drivers is better.  They’re both very very good.  Each one has definite advantages.  The TM has the movable weights and a softer feel.  The Nike has better feedback and a harder feel, and the tool is easier to use.  They’re both very long and workable.

You can’t go wrong with either one of these clubs and your decision may be based on more aesthetics versus performance.

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