Reviews


Review: Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
Categories: Course ReviewsGolf Course ArchitectureGolf CoursesGolf For WomenHOG World TourReviewsTravel
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Dornoch, Scotland born Donald Ross began his golf career as an apprentice to Old Tom Morris at the Old Course in St Andrews. Old Tom was the greenskeeper for the Old Course in St Andrews and had designed many of the most famous courses in Scotland and the UK including Carnoustie, Prestwick, Muirfield, Machrihanish, Jubilee, and Balcomie Links. I’ve played a few of those.

Ross moved to the United States in 1899 where he began arguably the most successful architectural career in the history of golf. Ross is credited for designing 600 golf courses. Amongst those 600 are some of the world’s most famous and respected courses, which still stand the test of time. A few of Ross’s most notable courses include Pinehurst No. 2, Seminole, Oak Hill and Oakland Hills. A couple of others I like to add to the list are ones I’ve had the pleasure of playing, Burning Tree and Aronimink Golf Club. Ross’s courses are known for being natural and taking advantage of the lay of the land, not the “earth mover” type of golf architecture.

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The Ross Course at French Lick opened for play in 1917 and has recently undergone a $5 million renovation to bring it back to Ross’s original design. Golf courses, like living beings, grow and change over time. In the renovation, bunkers which lost their nearly 100 year battle with the elements and nature were restored to their original specifications.

Overview

The Donald Ross course at French Lick is a par-70. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it is short or easy. In fact, the course clocks in at 7,030 yards which is long even for a par-72 course. The rating from the tips (the Gold Tees) is a strong 72.3 with a slope of 135. A solid test of golf. To accommodate players of all abilities and ages, there are four total sets of tees, the shortest measuring 5,050 yards.

Tee

The way each hole presents itself from the tee of the Ross course is so visually appealing.  The landscape is hilly and features some very large elevation changes.  The tees challenge the golfer to execute an accurate shot or find strategically placed penal areas including bunkers, hazards, long native grassy areas, and trees.  Some tee shots are blind and the help of some course knowledge or at the least, a local caddy is a great thing to have.

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The numerous sets of tees are not boringly arranged on one flat piece of ground a few yards apart.  Rather, each tee set offers the golfer different yardages, elevations, and angles to the target.  Regular golfers could create a very different playing experience by simply changing tees from round to round, or even making up their own combo set.

Fairway

The fairways at the Ross course are welcomingly wide.  That said, there are very few flat areas on the property.  The golfer will be challenged to hit a straight from the fairway due to the undulations and uneven lies.

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Strategically placed bunkers can and will penalize shots which are not placed in the fairway.

Green

Donald Ross is well known for his amazing greens at courses like Pinehurst, Oakland Hills, Aronimink.  Ross’s greens at French Lick are truly amazing; the prime feature of the golf course.  Many of the greens feature the Ross trademark “upside down soup bowl” design, where any shot or even putts too close to the edge are rejected and end up rolling off into collection areas or false fronts.  Those upside down bowl greens (photo below) present some very difficult challenges in the short game.  The player can try hitting a high soft shot, bumping a low shot into the hill and onto the green, or my default choice which is putting.    Getting up and down from greenside at the Ross Course is an accomplishment.

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In fact, getting in the hole in two putts is an accomplishment.  Due to the undulations, slopes, tiers and bowl edges, putting the Ross greens is the biggest challenge of the entire golf course.  A two-putt on any green feels like a birdie.  3-putts can actually be a solid play.

Stay below the hole at all costs.  Because of the speed of the greens and the incredible slopes and undulations, shots which end up above the hole are most often dead.  Stay below the hole, even if that means missing the green short.

Clubhouse

The clubhouse at the Ross Course oozes history and class.  The pro-shop is full of great equipment and apparel and a great staff who are extremely helpful and pleasant to interact with.

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Hagen’s Restaurant has a large indoor and outdoor seating area (right side of above photo).  I enjoyed great food and great service between rounds on a 36-hole day.  Hagen’s is named after Walter Hagen, who won the PGA Championship there in 1924.

Practice Area

The Ross course has an adequate putting/chipping area with a fantastic view (first photo), and very close to Hagen’s to insure the frosty beverages are topped off.

One drawback to the Ross and my only critique: there is no driving range.

Conclusion

The Ross Course is a pristine gem, full of history and personality.  It will challenge golfers of all abilities and especially those like me, who consider themselves good putters.  Be sure to plan a trip to French Lick to experience this historic golf course.  The French Lick Pete Dye course (review coming soon), the Ross Course, and the French Lick Resort and Casino make for a tremendous golf buddy trip.


Review: Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
Categories: Golf ClubsGolf EquipmentGolf For WomenGolf GearProduct of the YearReviews
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At the end of the 2016 golf season here in northern Utah I received the Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition for a review.  I was excited to match it up with the 2014 HOG Product of the Year, the Exotics XCG7 Beta Fairway 3-metalwood, my current and awesome gamer 3-metal.  I posted a quick first look article for the CB PRO U right away.  Unfortunately I suffered a severe back injury shortly after receiving this beauty.  Then as I was recovering and feeling better, winter snows hit here.  A six month “frost delay” kept me off the course. Looking at this club in my office for six months was almost as painful as the back spasms.

Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition

Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition – click for more photos

Let’s take a look at the specs and features of the CB PRO U Hybrid.  The unit in this review is a 19 degree.

Specifications/Features

The most noticeable feature of this hybrid is the strange looking sole (bottom) of the club head pictured below.  This shiny section of “metallic waves” is called a Slip Stream Sole (SSS). Unlike other golf clubs which have non functional features which look cool but do nothing, the SSS reduces friction and interaction with the ground, regardless of what that ground is.  The SSS helps the golfer keep club head speed at its maximum for more consistency and distance.

Tour Edge CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition

Tour Edge CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition – click for more photos

The forged face of the club is welded to the steel body of the head.  Forged metals provide the best feel and performance, along with maximum distance.

The heel and toe are “cut out” to provide forgiveness and playability.

Finally the shaft of the club is the very popular Second Generation KURO KAGE Silver series.

Kuro Kage Shaft

Kuro Kage Shaft

Tour Edge CB PRO U Hybrid Video

On The Course

Prior to receiving this hybrid for review I was very happy with my previous gamer hybrid, a 19 degree Cobra Baffler.  For any hybrid to dethrone that hybrid would be a tall task.  When I first starting testing the CB PRO U, I A/B’d back and forth between the two.  Both were fantastic.  Knowing both clubs were solid, I put the Exotics in the gamer bag for about a two month testing period.  If it didn’t work out, no big deal.

See the waves?

Over the course of now dozens of rounds I’ve completely fallen for the CB PRO U.  The slightly smaller head and sole design shines in all sorts of situations.  I can hit amazing shots with this hybrid even from rough which looks like it calls for an iron bail-out shot.  From lies in the rough to tight lies on hard ground, I have 100% confidence when I address the ball with the CP PRO U.  I have numerous heroic shots I could recount, most resulting in eagle putts on par-5’s.

CB PRO U Hybrid Topline

CB PRO U Hybrid Topline – No strange patterns or graphics. No distractions.

On short par-4’s or long par-3’s the CB PRO U is fantastic off the tee.  I can’t wait to take this baby to Scotland in a few weeks.  I know it will shine on some of those shorter holes where driver isn’t the club.

Conclusion

Tour Edge could be in the running to be the first golf club manufacturer to win the coveted Hooked on Golf Blog Product of the Year twice.  The CP PRO U is fantastic.


Bushnell Neo iON Golf GPS Rangefinder Watch Review

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
Categories: Golf AccessoriesGolf GearReviews
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Golf GPS rangefinder watch technology is improving. No longer does the golfer have to wear a ridiculously large device to have GPS yardages and other great features on his or her wrist. Case in point is the new Bushnell neo iON GPS rangefinder watch. Let’s take a look.

Bushnell Neo iON GPS Rangefinder Watch Father's Day Golf Gift

Bushnell Neo iON GPS Rangefinder Watch

In the photo above I’m either playing a really short par-5 and I’m on the tee, or I just duffed my drive and did the walk of shame 50 yards forward from the tee. Take your pick. But the display does give a good example of the core information I need when approaching a green, the front yardage, middle yardage, and back yardage. Here’s a list of all the basic features of the Bushnell neo iON GPS Rangefinder Watch:

  • One button operation
  • Auto course recognition
  • Auto hole advance
  • Calculates shot distances
  • Up to four hazard or layup distances per hole
  • Pedometer
  • Odometer
  • Extended battery life
  • Over 35,000 preloaded courses

On The Course

One of the most irritating things about many golf GPS devices, watch or others, is the amount of time it takes them to recognize what course they are on. In fact, some of the GPS units I use never find the course.  This unit finds the course very quickly and does not lose it.

During the round the yardages are solid and quick.  I’ve confirmed them with markers on the ground and via laser.  Rock solid.  Sometimes it’s better to think about the front or back yardages of the green.  Say you have a green with a false front which repels shots.  Knowing the right number to avoid that spot is a great advantage.  The same goes with pins that are long.  If the green has a bad drop behind it or deep rough, long is dead.  Knowing these yardages arms the player with great information for a better approach strategy.

The pedometer is a very cool feature.  My phone has one, but it isn’t as accurate, and it drains the battery badly.  Knowing how many miles I’ve walked is also great.  A 7,000 yard course may calculate out to four miles, but the walk can be double that or more.  After all, the golfer doesn’t hit straight shots.  Left. Right. Left. Right.  You get the drill.

Another great bit of information the unit provides is shot distances.  One may “think” their 9-iron goes 140 yards when in reality it goes 132.  Knowing exact yardages, and accepting what they really are, will save strokes.  If only I could teach myself to accept them… That’s another discussion.

Bushnell Neo iON

The battery life of the iON is great.  I’ve squeezed two full rounds out of a unit before charging.  I think I could have gotten more out of it but wanted to be sure I had a full 18 for my next round.

Critiques

I have the same critique for this unit which I have for 99% of the golf GPS watches I’ve reviewed, the proprietary charging cable.  Why is it so hard for companies to put a standard micro USB plug on these units?  That way one could charge it with a standard cable should he/she forget to bring the proprietary one.

The other issue I have with GPS watches is the fact that they are watches.  I’m not a watch wearer and I find them especially uncomfortable in the golf swing.  So I usually attach them to my golf bag.  It would be nice if the unit could be stand alone, without the band.

Conclusion

Though it retails for $199.00, I’ve found this golf GPS watch on sale at Amazon for only $149.00.  Considering all the features and performance this is a great deal.

Father’s Day is coming up later this week.  Dad would love one.


Aveo Big and Tall Golf Apparel Review

Written by: Guy Lester - PGA Professional | Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
Categories: Golf ApparelGolf GearReviews
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Aveo-2

Recently I received a call from a very good friend of mine (one who all of you know as well…) Tony Korologos from Hooked on Golf Blog telling me that a company by the name of Aveo Big and Tall Golf Apparel had contacted him to review some clothes on his web site from their “Big and Tall” line. If you know Tony, he is neither big, nor tall so the first person he thought of to review these clothes was me! Great, now how do I take this???? Ok, so I am 6’5″ and I guess I do weigh 290 pounds, so as usual Tony is right.

I have written a review once for Hooked on Golf Blog in the past but this is a bit closer home for me. I recently retired from River Oaks which is where I first met Tony, and did so not because I wanted to, but because I could not come back after my last surgery. I have been sidelined from golf for the past few years, but am now trying to play for enjoyment, and find a way to be with my friends and sport I have loved for the past 54 years.

I really did not think that I would get a chance to do this review, as a few weeks went by and I never heard from Tony. But last week on my doorstep was a package from Aveo Big and Tall.

I looked at the website aveogolf.com and really fell in love with their company slogan “Play Fearlessly.” If you have a second, check out their web site. Darius Hicks and Randy Peaches were interviewed on the Golf Channel about their golf and fashion lines and why Darius brought this line into being.

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the package to see a pair of white golf shorts and a very attractive deep blue polo shirt. The Polo and Shorts were packaged very well.  When opened, the creases were nice and tight. I have purchased some online products that were packaged so poorly I had to press them before I wore them! Not the case here!

Like I said, I liked the fact that the company motto was embroidered on their shirt. If anything, I think they can use it more and have it larger under their logo, or even on the collar. Darius, this motto would really would make a great hat logo as well. I liked the A logo, but I love the motto “PLAY FEARLESSLY.” Use it more!

Polo

I am not generally a tucked in shirt kind of guy, as most shirt tails are not long enough for my body type. With this polo I had no problem. As you can see by the last photo my shirt tail stayed tucked in the entire round! While I appreciated the extra length of the polo, add a couple of inches to the tail, and some of us guys will never wear anything else!

Aveo-2

The polo features a light Polyester with 10% bamboo fiber. In the 80+ degree weather it kept me very comfortable! I also appreciated the way the collar fit. Being a golf pro for the last 19 years I have had a lot of golf shirts. Many polo’s while the fit me well in the body but the neck was made for a man twice my size, and have felt very awkward. Not so with this polo from Aveo. The fit felt good, and I liked how the collar laid nicely without flipping up.

Shorts

I was so impressed with the lightness of the short fabric, and also that the inside short was lined. In the online video Darius talked about the expanding waist, but for me I have never liked them, but this one was sewed in such a way it was invisible to see unless you tried to make them increase in size…. Still I am not a fan of the expanding waist and generally do not buy pants or shorts with them. Please I know already I have a large enough waist, give me a true size to wear in a well cut short. But my true test was to play in them.

Aveo-1The shorts are 100% Polyester, and also lined in Polyester. They are incredibly light, and were very comfortable all day. Being white I was a bit concerned, but my wife said that they will wash without problem. I would really like to have a pair of full length pants that are this lightweight. Darius explained in the video that the pants are a fuller cut in the legs and calves. That has always been a problem for me to get a nice looking pair of golf pants that also are comfortable to wear. I am not the kind of guy that would ever want t o have my picture included here, but I have come to terms with my being a big and tall kind of guy. And truly, I am the kind of customer that Aveo is looking for who benefits from wearing their clothing.

Final Thoughts

Overall my experience with these shorts and polo from Aveo were positive. You can see me from behind on the 18th hole my shirt kept tucked in for the entire round! I think that Aveo could push the fashion even a bit further. While there are a lot of polo shirts I have and wear, I cannot find shorts and pants that are like the ones that the “flat bellies” wear. A small side pocket and split seam on the cuff so the pants fit well over a golf shoe would be nice touches. I agree with Darius that we big guys deserve more than just an ill fitting cargo short. We bigger than life guys deserve this, and I think this company could provide this and even make it better. Think about losing the expanding waist band (maybe not on every pant or short as I know some larger guys might need them and would like them) but to me the pants without a belt feel like they would fall off.

After my round I spent the rest of the day in the shorts with the shirt untucked and liked them even more!

Play Fearlessly!


My Memorial Day Apparel Scripting

Written by: Tony Korologos | Monday, May 30th, 2016
Categories: Golf ApparelGolf GearReviews
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Just got back from a Memorial Day family barbeque.  We toasted and expressed our appreciation for our love ones lost, and for our lost military who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could, well, have a family barbeque.  In that spirit I thought it would be a good time to bust out my stars and stripes golf apparel from Royal & Awesome.  I’ve got a great pair of USA shorts and a USA cap, seen below. These are called “Pars and Stripes.”

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Also with the ensemble is a white Royal & Awesome belt, below.

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The american flag golf shorts are very comfortable and I love the style of the cap. I believe the Scottish might call the cap a bunnet.

I can’t wait for the 4th of July golf tournament to bust this apparel script out again.

One note on the shorts. I’ve found that Royal & Awesomes sizes are “skinny UK sizing” as opposed to “fat American sizing.” Knowing this I ordered one size larger on the shorts and they actually fit perfect.

The 4th of July is coming. Just sayin’.


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