Last spring I was training hard for my summer Scotland trip. Having done two previous trips to Scotland for a week plus of 36 holes per day, I knew I needed to be in good walking shape. My home course is quite hilly and provided a great challenge to get in walking shape.
I overdid it.
A few weeks before Scotland, after pushing myself quite hard, I started to have pain in the arches and heels of my feet. Eventually the pain was so bad I could hardly walk. The training, combined with testing out new shoes which had very poor arch support resulted in plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. If prolonged and untreated the condition can worsen and turn into other problems in the foot and other areas like the back.
In mornings and after prolonged times sitting writing incredible blog posts at the computer, the first few steps were quite painful. It was very painful getting to the finish of my swing. The right foot would nearly buckle since the arch and heel were so inflamed.
To prevent the issue from worsening and to help it heal, I had to stop the problem: walking a lot on shoes with crappy arch support. I bought a set of inserts for my shoes at a running store which “ran” about $40. The arches were very different. The bottom was very hard. The arch was very high compared to what I was used to. It took some getting used to. Since last summer, any pair of shoes I wore, street or golf, I’ve used those supports. Those inserts helped me start to heal a bit before Scotland, and helped me survive the walking I did there, a total of 125 MILES. Despite walking 125 miles, the inflammation subsided and I did not make the injury worse.
After a year of dealing with with this situation, I know much more about arch support and shoe design. And about a year later I can gladly say that since adding the inserts to my shoes the problem has completely gone away.
Early this season I was approached by Aline to test out shoe inserts designed for golf. I eagerly accepted and shortly after put the Aline inserts into action. I first wore them in my street shoes, to work and around town, just to get used to them. I’ve grown so accustomed to the comfort and feel of the Alines in my regular shoes that I feel like I can’t wear any shoes without them.
For the past few weeks I’ve now graduated to putting those old running inserts in the garage and using the Alines 100% of the time for my street shoes and golf shoes. They provide great support in the perfect places, and they’re not as hard and uncomfortable as the running store inserts. My feet aren’t as fatigued and achy as now and of course, there are no issues with the arches or heels in my feet.
I’ve just realized something else as well. This could be related to the fact that we are in the high heat of summer, but my back does not ache after golf rounds. While reading up on Aline’s inserts I happened across some information that says the inserts will help with spine alignment and help prevent back pain. Whether it’s the heat or the inserts, or both, I’m thrilled about it.
ALINE patented technology optimizes a golfer’s performance by properly aligning the back, hips, knees and ankle. This helps reduce lower body fatigue and improves swing mechanics, resulting in maximization of ground force reaction for more distance and accuracy. Proven by 10 Professional wins, Olympic Gold Medals, over 100 X Games medals and doctors across the country, ALINEs are designed for performance in sports and life. ALINE makes similar equipment for Skiing, Snowboarding, Hiking, Cycling, Gym Workouts, Running, Walking and General Fitness activities. ALINE…what’s inside counts.
At this point I’m not going to take my Aline’s out of any of my shoes. In fact, I need to get more units so I’m not constantly moving the one pair I have from street to street to golf to street. I’m walking more with less fatigue and feeling no pain in my feet or back. If the inserts could help with my chipping…. one can dream.
I witnessed a hole in one today. I had joined with a 3-some of gentlemen I’d never met on a very hot and muggy day where we were all sweating badly after lots of rain the day/night before.
On the 17th I watched David’s shot hit the downslope of the bunker that guards the par-3 green. The ball bounced toward the hole but I lost it in a shadow. It then reappeared and I swore I saw it go in. I told David, “I’m not sh*tting you I think that went in.” Sure enough, it did!
I’m mildly entertained by golf signs. I’m not sure who writes them, but they are often good for a laugh when one really reads them. Here’s one which is found on the first tee of my home course, Bonneville.
Fair enough. It’s some kind of warning to golfers that if they cause damage, they are responsible for it. But is this sign necessary? Are we not all basically aware that we are responsible for damage we cause, whether on or off a golf course? Why don’t we have signs like this say, I don’t know, on city streets? “Citizens are responsible for any and all damage caused by them.”
This sign is particularly entertaining to my twisted brain. Golfers are responsible for “any and all damage.” Um, if they are responsible for “any” damage would that not mean all damage? If they were responsible for “all” damage would that not also include any damage? Why not just say, “golfers are responsible for damage…?”
I’m glad that the sign does make it clear golfers are responsible for any and all damage caused by them. Before reading this sign I was actually in fear that I (a golfer) would be held responsible for any and all damage caused by high winds. I was especially fearful I’d be on the hook (so to speak) for any and all damage caused by meteorites crashing down to earth.
In reading this sign I’ve learned too, that I’m responsible for any and all damage caused by my equipment or my golf balls. After all.. golf balls are not equipment. So what is equipment then? Clubs? Is a golf towel considered equipment? What if my golf towel causes any and all damage? Am I responsible for that?
Further, what if my golf equipment or my golf balls cause damage, but I’m not around. What if I lose a golf ball in the trees on the 7th, then 12 days later a deer trips on it and falls down a hill and smashes through the window of the snack bar. Am I responsible for that damage? And I wonder… can equipment itself cause damage? The sign says the golfer is responsible for any and all damage caused by them or their equipment.
What happens if one golfer takes another golfer’s equipment and causes damage? Who is responsible then?
Wait a minute. I’ve been a bit wrong in this analysis. What if a non golfer caused damage? The sign specifies that golfers are responsible, not mountain bikers or tennis players or just non-golfers. So if a non-golfer came to the course and caused damage I would presume that individual would not be responsible for any and all damage he caused. But wait a second. If a non-golfer stole my 5-iron and caused damage with it, would I be responsible? After all, it was my equipment. Perhaps the sign needs another attorney to write up an addendum.
Finally the sign specifies that the golfer, his equipment and golf balls are responsible for any and all damage caused while on this golf course. So the golfer is only responsible for any and all damage caused by him, his equipment or golf balls on the golf course. That obviously means the golfer could cause damage elsewhere, not on the golf course, and not be responsible for any and all of it. And of course, if the person was not a golfer, he/she would not be responsible for any and all damage, because only golfers are responsible.
Okay. Got it. If any such occurrences happen I will report them to the pro shop.
Dean Snell has likely been involved in your golf equipment for many years. You just didn’t know it. Dean is one of the designers of many of the world’s top golf balls like the Titleist ProV1, TaylorMade TP Red & Black, TaylorMade Penta, and many others. Dean is now making his own tour-caliber and amateur-focused golf balls under the Snell Golf brand. Today I’m reviewing the MTB, or “My Tour Ball.”
About the Snell Golf MTB
“Tour” is the word most commonly used for golf balls which have performance characteristics in line with what a PGA Tour professional would require. Those characteristics would include high spin and a soft cover, which aren’t necessarily characteristics which would benefit a high handicap golfer. Why? Pros can control their spin. High handicappers generally can’t. So the high ‘cappers will have serious distance loss due to side-spin, and will have very bad accuracy as the ball will be hooking or slicing more. Further, most higher handicap players come up short, and a ball that has high spin and stops quickly or even backs up on a green, isn’t good in that situation.
For the lower handicap players and pros though, the MTB is a very affordable and high performance alternative to the $50-$60 per dozen tour offerings from the big name brands. Let’s take a look at the construction of the ball.
The MTB is a 3-piece or 3-layer golf ball. Each layer produces performance properties and when combined gives the ball it’s overall performance.
The first layer of the MTB if we go inside-out, is the core. Just like the earth’s core, the core on the MTB is the center. Most of the mass of the golf ball resides in the core and the ball’s general feel and “compression” comes from this layer. Softer cores result in lower spin, and therefore less side-spin. Soft cores can mean more accurate drives because of the reduced spin. But there’s a fine line with soft cores because as the core gets softer the distance is lessened. Snell’s MTB combines a soft core with technology which still helps produce the max ball speed allowed by golf’s governing bodies, and thus the most optimized combination of low driver spin and distance.
The mantle is the next layer. The mantle layer still has influence on the overall ball speed and compression. The mantle’s true performance benefits are in iron shots and short game shots. The mantle helps to increase spin as the shots get shorter, which is optimum. Low spin on long shots and higher spin on short shots.
The cover of the ball is perhaps the most crucial in terms of giving a golf ball the “tour” label. Tour balls typically have a “urethane” cover while cheaper balls may have covers made from other rubber/plastic materials like ionomer. Urethane gives a golf ball very soft feel in the short game and putting, and high spin on short shots, chips, and pitches. When you see tour pros “yank the cable” and spin a ball back to the crowd’s joy, that’s almost guaranteed a urethane cover ball. Pros and low-handicap golfers want the spin and control of urethane and the MTB has it.
On The Course
I admit I’m a bit late to the party with my review. I actually received a box of MTB’s to try close to two years ago. At that time I was playing a different ball and didn’t want to change. A couple of years later I got some more and finally decided to play them again this season as my game was in such bad shape I needed a gear and mental overhaul.
From the tee the MTB is comparable to a tour ball such as the ProV1. This is bit more spin off the driver than balls I’ve tended toward in the past like the Bridgestone B330, and thus can be less accurate for me if my swing gets a little wild. I also find that extra spin results in a little shorter overall distance off the driver for me. These are the reasons I’d previously not opted to have the MTB as my “gamer” ball in the past. There have been a few occasions where all launch factors have been perfect and I’ve hit massively long drives with the MTB. Accidents happen. Blind squirrel syndrome. That said the ball is plenty long still and it does offer me the chance to “work the ball” (curve it) if I need to. Balls with less driver spin are harder to work.
Approach and in is where the MTB has made a big difference in my game. I’ve found my distance control has been much improved, though I must admit I also changed to different irons at the same time as my ball switch. Trust me on this. The irons are not an issue. I really love the feel of the ball off my irons and I’ve been gaining more and more confidence with each round. I’ve had some bad distance issues this season and when I made the iron and ball switch, those issues vanished.
I’m sticking approach shots now, even backing some up. Most recently I recall some very nice mid-to-long irons stopping on a dime, like a 6-iron I hit last weekend from about 185 yards. The ball mark was in the shadow of the ball. Mark first, then fix. Don’t accidentally move the ball when fixing the mark!
Short game shots are where the MTB really shines. My chipping and pitching (which I’ve whined about for a long time online) has been 1000x better. I’m actually saving par often now because I have better feel and control around the greens. I’m finally able to get the ball close enough to the hole to make a par-saving putt. In the case of par-5 holes, I’m chipping it close and making a 2-3 footer for birdie now. Huge difference on the scorecard.
I’m enjoying the feel of putting with the MTB as well. The urethane cover feels nice and soft and I have solid distance control. When I miss a putt (not often!), I know my next one is going to be very close. I like to “seam up” the MTB with it’s alignment arrows, which are also along the ball’s seam. That helps my alignment.
Last week I played 41 holes with the MTB. 13 holes were a net match and then an 18 hole round a couple of days later. Yes I trusted my net match outcome to the MTB and glad I did. I won the match. My total in relation to par over those 41 holes last week: +1.
Tour balls are typically not durable. It’s hard to make a all with a soft urethane cover which resists scuffs, but the MTB does a fine job of it. I expect a tour ball like this to last a round or two before I retire it to the practice ball bag, but the MTB’s are lasting longer than that.
Let’s do a little test. Which of the balls below has been in play for 36+ holes?
It’s a trick question. Both balls have been played over 36 holes.
At $31.99 via the Snell Golf website, these tour-level balls are roughly half the cost of some of the big name brand balls and offer comparable or even better performance. Call it a two-fer.
Last week I played the first what I would call “good golf” of the season. I had a 9-hole net match against a 14 on Monday. I had to give the guy six pops a side. After making an incredible up and down for par on the 9th to win the hole the match was all square and went to extra holes. I had to shoot even par on the nine to end up square. Yeah, a 14 LOL.
On 10 I had to par to extend again as my opponent made bogey with a pop. Then on the par4- 11th I was in trouble. In long grass blocked by trees. I tried to punch out but the long grass grabbed the club and the ball, which went only about 20 feet. With my opponent on the green I was left with a 3rd shot from 115 out of deep grass. I put a perfect swing on it and knocked it to 15 inches. Saved par to extend again.
On the par-5 12th I knocked a 4-iron on the green for my 2nd shot and had an eagle putt to win. I had reached the previous two par-5’s in two as well. Never had three eagle putts in a row on three par-5’s. I was too aggressive though and ran the eagle by. Then missed the birdie for the win. I ended up having to make a 3-foot knee-knocker for par to extend. Nice 3-putt LOL.
Finally on the par-4 13th I finished off the match by chip-putting in a birdie from some long grass right of the green. To beat this “14” I had to shoot -1 for 13 holes. On to the 2nd round of net.
From the 3rd hole on I was battling a major blister on my left heel from walking in these new Ecco shoes. That made things more difficult and painful.
Then on Sunday I played in 102F temperatures with a buddy. Shot a 38 on the front and then on the back had 3-birdies and 3-bogeys to shoot even on that side. 74. Best round of the year by 3-shots.
Last week’s combined holes between the 13 for the match and 18 on Sunday, 41. Total in relation to par, +1.
Whether I’m satisfied with my game isn’t necessarily related to numbers, it’s more related to the quality of shots and how I’m hitting it. But the numbers this past week did reflect the quality of play. This is the kind of golf that I can get satisfaction from, not hacking it around and shooting 84.
I also wonder if my recent better play is is partly due to resolution of some things in my personal life which were stressful? Or is it just that the game is coming around, or perhaps the gear change (below). Perhaps a combo of all of it.
Last week I used the combination of the Miura Small Blade irons and the Snell My Tour Ball. I’ve definitely lost distance off the tee with the Snell compared to a Bridgestone B330, but the rest of the game, irons and short game, seems to have benefitted quite a bit from the Snell ball.
Unfortunately I can’t play this week. Hope I can keep the momentum up with about a 10 day break.