Reviews


Golf Cigar Aficionado – La Gloria Cubana Serie RF Cigar

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
Categories: CigarsGolf LifeGolf LifestyleReviews
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This past weekend I put into play some new sticks. Sticks can be a synonym for golf clubs, but can also be for cigars. Actually put into play new irons and new cigars, so a double set of sticks!

La Gloria Cubana Serie RF Cigar

La Gloria Cubana Serie RF Cigar

I was struggling with my game on the front nine. I decided I should tone my intensity down a bit and enjoy a cigar during the round. On the par-5 10th hole I started up this La Gloria Cubana Serie RF from Famous Smoke Shop.  I hit a good drive but it kicked right and ended up in a lateral hazard. After taking my drop from the hazard I bombed a 3-wood from 270 and hit the green, past the pin. I then nailed about a 40 footer for birdie. Birdie, even with the penalty for the hazard.

First birdie of the day. Must be the cigar, right?

On the next hole I missed the green left, but chipped in for my second consecutive birdie.

Definitely the cigar!

Two holes later, I made birdie on the par-5 14th.

All told I carded three birdies during this fine cigar’s life. It did kick my butt a little bit. I smoked it a little too fast. Otherwise I might have had another one to try and finish out the last four holes with more birdies.

Birdie Stats

Cigar holes: Three birdies.
Non-cigar holes: Zero birdies.

Cigar Stats

  • Body: Medium
  • Filler: Dominican and Nicaraguan
  • Binder: Havano
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian
  • Price: A little over $5.00 each

Conclusion

I might make the PGA Tour if I just smoke 4-5 of these per golf round.


Golf Course Review – Journey at Pechanga

Written by: Tony Korologos | Monday, August 31st, 2015
Categories: Course ReviewsGolfGolf CoursesGolf For WomenGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTravel
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I’ve heard a lot about the golf course at Pechanga and I’m glad I was finally able to make the short trip down to Temecula, California to check it out.  The course is called Journey, or sometimes referred to as Journey at Pechanga.

Location Location Location

Journey at Pechanga is located on the property of the fabulous Pechanga Indian Reservation resort/casino in Temecula, California.  Temecula is in a perfect location roughly midway between San Diego and Los Angeles.  When booking my flights it was nice to be able to choose between the LA airports or San Diego.  I ended up choosing San Diego this time around because the cost was a little lower.

Pechanga Hotel Left - Golf Clubhouse Right

Pechanga Hotel Left – Golf Clubhouse Right

Journey’s routing brings it in the hills behind the resort, and gives the course some great elevation changes and views.

Overview

Pechanga is a very challenging golf course featuring five sets of tees.  With five sets of tees players can choose how much of the challenge, or journey, they wish to bite off.  From the tips, the Copper tees, the course plays to a par-72 with a course rating of 74.8 and a slope of 142.  In plain English that’s one tough journey.

The course architect for Journey is Arthur Hills.  I’ve played many of Mr. Hills’s courses and while he has some architectural signatures, his design at Pechanga is quite unique and original on a few levels.  Part of the uniqueness of the course design is the challenges Hills had in preserving sacred areas and sacred items on the property.  Players who are unaware of these sacred items might complain or wonder why there’s a large tree in the of the fairway.  After solid drives I found myself directly behind a couple of those large trees with no shot at the green.  I was irritated for only as long as it took me to remember these are sacred trees.  Then I took my bogey and moved on.

There are several spots on the course where huts can be found, and some very old historic structures.

Modern huts, homes, are not on the course and never will be.  I love courses like this which aren’t developed for the strict reason of selling lots.  Major points scored on this for Pechanga.

Tee

Tee shots at Pechanga are probably the strength of the course design.  Hitting the tee shot accurately is perhaps the most important shot on just about every hole.  Many tee shots present forced carries and very large elevation changes, requiring precision and good math skills at figuring out the yardage to elevation change difference.  Coming from a mountainous area, the elevation changes were right at home for me.

Tee shots sometimes present the player with risk/reward options, like the par-4 5th hole.  At around 300 yards a bomber could play aggressive and try to drive the green.  There’s not much room for error though with a stream dissecting the landing area and a lake the player must carry.  On my first time around the course I chose a conservative route on that tee shot, hitting hybrid to the left fairway.  From there it was a sand wedge to five feet and my first birdie of the day.  The second time I played it I played more aggressive and ended up making bogey.

The next hole (#6) is a par-4 that provides the most dramatic elevation drop of about 300 feet.  Drives seem to stay in the air for an hour or two from that tee box.  In the photo below I’m about to launch one on #6.

golfer hitting golf shot from elevated tee

Par-4 6th Hole Tee

Another great tee is on the par-3 17th (pictured below), with a large drop and a view of the resort and parts of Temecula in the background.

Pechanga Golf Course 17th Green

Pechanga Golf Course 17th Green

I almost aced 17 on my first go-round.  Unfortunately my playing partners just missed out on some free beer.

Fairway

The fairways at Pechanga are generally fairly wide and not terribly difficult.  If you’ve managed to find the fairway, you won’t be faced with a tricky or unfair stance, but you might have issues due to the aforementioned sacred trees.  It happened to me twice, once on the first hole and once on the par-5 9th.

First fairway before the early morning marine layer has burned off. Note the trademark tree in fairway…

A few fairways are split, giving the player two routing options.  One option is often for the more aggressive player and one for the conservative.

Green

During my round at Pechanga I found the greens to roll smoothly.  They were receptive to good shots, even spinning a few back.  Some greens like the 18th featured large undulations and tiers while others like the 2nd and 3rd were more flat and subtle.

golf green

15th Green at Pechanga

Many greens are guarded by some stern bunkering.  Greens located on the hillside often had a favorable uphill side to help deflect errant shots above the green onto the green.  But that same slope would severely penalize errant shots which hit the downhill side.  I know this first hand.

Flow

The gap between the 5th and 6th holes is literally about a five minute drive in a golf cart, including a massive elevation change.  That may be the “Journey” right there!  There’s another big gap between 16 green and 17 tee.  Because of some of these long gaps between holes and the steepness of the hills I really don’t see walking the course as an option.  The walk from 5-6 could take a fit individual 15-20 minutes.  Those gaps make some of the routing/flow a bit on the funky side.

Practice Areas

Pechanga has a great driving range with high quality range balls.  There are actual greens and bunkers in the range providing players the opportunity to play real golf shots at targets with forced carries.   This is a great alternative to the ranges on some courses where the target is “north.”

The short game area is perhaps the best of the practice facilities at Pechanga though.  There are several short game greens with side-hills, chipping pitching slopes, and bunkers to practice from.  That’s where I should have spent most of my time, and where most players would benefit as opposed to pounding drivers all day on the range.

golf practice area

Short game practice area

Finally the practice green (below) provides an accurate representation of the speed and feel of the greens on the course.  More importantly though, there’s a bar/cafe about 20 feet away.

golf green

Pechanga Practice Green

Amenities

The clubhouse is quite an architectural piece.  Inside are the pro shop, locker rooms, and a great restaurant called Journey’s End.

pechanga clubhouse

Journey at Pechanga Clubhouse

The pro shop is full of a massive apparel and equipment selection.  If you forgot something or need some new gear, they have it.

I had breakfast at Journey’s End a couple of times and the huevos rancheros was fantastic, along with the pancakes.

Conclusion

The Journey produces some very fun resort golf between all the great amenities the hotel and clubhouse have to offer and the Arthur Hills designed golf course itself.  The course can play as relaxing or as challenging as a player may want with it’s diverse set of tees.  Bring some extra balls and bring a camera.

Related Links

Journey at Pechanga photo gallery.

Pechanga Resort/Casino photo gallery.


CaddyDaddy Co-Pilot Pro Hybrid Golf Travel Bag Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
Categories: Golf AccessoriesGolf For WomenGolf GearReviews
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CaddyDaddyI believe in doing proper golf equipment reviews by putting the gear to use in the actual situations it will be used in.  That’s why it took a little while for me to get this review done.  I’ve been using the bag as a standard bag for a few rounds, but just needed to get the thing on an airplane, thrown around by baggage handlers, and put through the paces.  I needed to test out the Caddy Daddy Co-Pilot Pro golf travel bag while traveling via air.  This past weekend at Pechanga in Temecula, California was a good test.

Hybrid Golf Travel Bag – What Is It?

Why the word “hybrid” in the description?  This bag is a hybrid, or combination, of two different bags.  It combines a regular golf bag with a golf travel bag.  Typically golf travel bags are outer covers which enclose and protect a regular golf bag inside.  Travel bags may or may not be hard and often times have wheels.

The Co-Pilot has a hard top which protects the heads of the clubs, and has wheels at the bottom of the bag for rolling through airports.  Those along with a rigid shell make for the travel component of the bag.  Multiple pockets on the outside and sectioned club slots make up the regular golf bag component.

It’s a travel bag and regular playable golf ball all in one.

Models

There are three versions or models of this bag.  The unit I’m reviewing is the Co-Pilot Pro.  That’s the middle-of-the-line model which retails for $159.99 but I found on Amazon for $128.  The lower model is the Co-Pilot Standard edition, while the largest model is the CaddyDaddy Co-Pilot XL golf travel bag.

Colors

These bags are fairly frill free.  Not much of a color selection other than choosing a blue or gray trim against a black bag.

On The Course – In Airports – In Action

The overall footprint of this bag is much smaller than the golf bag/travel bag setup.  So small in fact, the bag fit in the trunk of my cheap rental car, a Nissan Versa.  The bag fit with the hard lid in place and not removed.  The Versa is not a large car.

Putting the lid on with all the clubs isn’t too hard.  Several velcro straps secure the lid, and there are some round metal loops on the bag I used to put carabiners to act as a safety for the lid.  The straps are a bit of a pain as they go through loops which are a little tight, but keep the straps from coming off during travel.

Carting the bag in the long term parking to the shuttle stop and then from the shuttle to the baggage drop-off is aided by a well placed lid handle on top and the wheels on the bottom.  Because of the narrowness of the bag though, it is easy for the bag to tip sideways when rolling.  Not a major issue.

As I was waiting to get off the plane yesterday I watched my bag as it went down the belt from the plane into the grizzly baggage handler’s hands.  I could tell he tossed heavy bags around for sport, probably as training for his run in the UFC heavyweight division.  He grabbed my bag and threw it from the belt into the bag container, at least 6-7 feet in the air.  The bag did it’s job and my clubs were unscathed.  The bag was unscathed as well.

Mission accomplished.

Critiques

As mentioned before my first critique of the bag is the strap system which secures the hard top.  The setup is a bit of a pain to use.  I think it could be better designed.

My second critique is the weak zipper handles.  I put my golf shoes in one pocket, which made it a little tough to zip.  I bent the zipper trying to close the bag, then broke it off trying to unbend it.

On the name I often have a semantic reaction when I see the word “caddy.”  A “caddie” is a person who carries golf clubs.  A caddy is a small storage container, often used for tea.

Final Thoughts

The CaddyDaddy Co-Pilot hybrid golf travel bag is two bags in one, saving space and cost.  Most importantly it saves your golf clubs from damage during travel.  At under $130, it’s a good investment to protect the contents inside, which are likely worth many times more than the cost of the bag.


TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
Categories: Golf BallsGolf EquipmentGolf GearReviews
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This is the second review of three TaylorMade golf ball models I’m in the process of reviewing.  The first was the Project (a) ball, a ball designed more for amateurs with slower swing speeds.  This review features the TaylorMade Tour Preferred golf ball.  The “TP” is a “tour” level ball, meaning their highest performance and most expensive.  This is one which many TaylorMade PGA Tour players use, and for good reason.  Let’s take a look.

TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball

TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball

Construction

The Tour Preferred ball is a four layer ball.  Each layer features materials and engineering which give the ball specific performance characteristics.  For instance, the core may provide the primary distance of the ball while the outer layer or cover provides much of the ball’s feel and spin.   Most tour balls, the Tour Preferred included, have a urethane cover which provides the softest and best spin in the sort game.

Together these layers and their engineering produce the following performance characteristics in the TaylorMade TP ball:

  1. Low driver spin
  2. Medium-high mid- to long-iron spin
  3. High short iron and wedge spin
  4. High spin inside of 100 yards

These characteristics are slightly different than the Tour Preferred X ball, which I will be reviewing soon.  The difference between the two is that numbers two and three above are swapped.  The X ball has medium mid- to long-iron spin and medium-high short iron and wedge spin.

Low driver spin means more accuracy off the tee and longer distance.  High spin inside 100 yards means short game control.

On The Course

I don’t do TrackMan or FlightScope testing on my golf balls and clubs, just real world golf on real golf courses.  If you need to know the exact spin rate off a 9-iron at X miles-per-hour swing speed with x-launch angle, there are other sites full of that information.  Google it.

Off the tee the TP feels very solid and I can hit it as far as just about any other ball I’ve tested.  I can feel the ball compress and I’m able to work the ball as needed, though my swing lately seems to only want to go straight or draw.  Don’t ask me to hit a fade right now.   I’ve hit a few massive drives (for me), and even some massive 3-woods with this ball.

Iron feel of the TP is excellent.  The ball is soft enough for me to feel it on the face and tell if I’m clipping it just right, compressing it.  Those pure shots produce pure results and birdie opportunities.

Inside 100 yards (admittedly my weakest link) I have plenty of spin.  Sometimes I can actually clip the ball to crisply when pitching or chipping and it will check too much.  That’s not the ball’s fault.  It the fault of my skill level, short game distance control.

Lastly, the fee of the putter is great.  The cover feels soft and I have total distance control with the flat stick.

Not Just For Tour Players

Over many years one of the main reasons amateurs were not well off hitting “tour” balls is because of the compression of the ball and maxiumum distance.  High swing speeds were needed to get full compression out of them.  That does not seem to be the case with the TP ball.  I have a driver swing speed of about 100MPH, and 105 if I’m really killing it.  With the right driver head, shaft, and this ball, I can hit them quite far.  I don’t feel like I’m losing distance with the TP due to not having a high enough swing speed.

The other component to “tour” balls is the high spin.  The engineering of this ball gives the player, amateur or pro, the high spin where it is needed in the shorter irons and short game.  So once again, an amateur could benefit from playing this ball.

Conclusion

Whether you are an amateur or a pro, the TaylorMade Tour Preferred golf ball is a high performance option.

Related Links

TaylorMade Project (a) golf ball review.


FootJoy Hyperflex Golf Shoe Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Monday, August 3rd, 2015
Categories: Golf ApparelGolf GearReviews
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I’ve had the new FootJoy Hyperflex golf shoes in play now for about six months and probably a good 60-70 rounds of golf.  That’s plenty of golf to determine a shoe’s performance not only out of the box, but after it has had a solid wear-in period.  No flyby, surface-skimming reviews will be found here.  No review will be written before its time…

FootJoy Hyperflex Golf Shoe

FootJoy Hyperflex Golf Shoe – click to see more

Design & Technology

  • The HyperFlex features “FlexGrid” materials on the outside of the shoe. That’s the mesh you see. It gives the shoe strength but allows it to be flexible and also keep its shape over time.
  • The sole of the shoe is very cushy yet stable via FJ’s “FTF 2.0” technology. FTF is short for Fine-Tuned Foam.
  • The outsole features all sorts of traction enhancing components via FootJoy’s N.E.O. system.  N.E.O. is short for Next Evolutionary Outsole.  Yeah I know… who thinks these phrases up anyway?
  • The heel is stabilized by the OPS, “Optimized Performance Stabilizer.”  Okay here’s where I’ll try my hand at FJ marketing:  The Optimal Performance Stabilizer is very special. So we will call it “Special OPS.”  Ha!  I think I’ve found my next calling in life, golf marketing.
  • The toe is rounded and the heel narrow to provide a good fit across different sizes and foot styles and the “Fit-Bed” with “Next Gen HeelLoc” helps provide comfort but stability at the same time.

Looks & Style

FootJoy has been branching out on their designs and styles over the last few years.  Two years ago it was the M:Project (still one of my favorites) and last year the D.N.A. golf shoe.

hyperflex golf shoe

FootJoy Hyperflex Golf Shoes – click to see more

These certainly aren’t the old-style classic dress shoes with golf spikes on them.

Sizes/Colors

There are four color bases to the standard HyperFlex: black, white/gray/blue, gray/orange, navy/green (pictured here),

Standard sizes come in everywhere from 7-15 in men’s.  A wide model is available in 7.5-13 and an extra-wide is available in 8-12.

There are three HyperFlex colors available with FJ’s “BOA” system, a reel which allows the wearer to custom tighten the shoe closure for a precise fit.  Those are gray/blue/white, black/red, gray/orange.

On The Course

My requirements for golf shoes in order are:

  1. Performance
  2. Comfort
  3. Style

The performance of the HyperFlex on the golf course is fantastic. I have a super solid base with which I can generate some great power in the golf swing.  Aside from a time or two when the ground has been extremely wet or muddy, I’ve never slipped.  I find that I draw the ball, especially my driver, more with these shoes.  I believe it is because the left shoe is staying planted, and not slipping outward.  This is helping me rotate around my spine angle, rather than moving laterally through it.  If I change to different shoes, I don’t draw the ball as much.

Comfort, right out of the box.  The HyperFlex is super comfortable.  The cushioning and support all around the shoe really helps, especially when walking the course.

Style-wise I’ll admit they don’t quite match up with a few of my apparel scripts from a color standpoint.  The photos here in this article show more of a green tint, but they seem to show some blue as well depending on the light source.  The mesh is cool looking and I really dig the black trim.

golf shoe

Footjoy Hyperflex Golf Shoe – click to see more

Conclusion

I’ve been gaming the HyperFlex golf shoes for half a year and counting.  After roughly 70 rounds of golf, they’re still comfortable and still provide superior stability and traction.

Related Links

For more shots of these cool looking golf shoes, check out the Hooked On Golf Blog FootJoy Hyperflex photo gallery.

FootJoy D.N.A. golf shoe review.

FootJoy City shoe review.

FootJoy M:Project shoe review.


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