PH Tower Westgate – click for more
A year and a half a go I tied the knot with the finest lady on this planet. We spent the honeymoon in Vegas at the very classy Vdara Hotel & Spa and had a fantastic stay. Unfortunately that stay was cut short due to a family emergency. We wanted to make up for that shortened honeymoon so we booked another trip to Vegas a year later on our 1st anniversary. This time we chose the Planet Hollywood (PH) Westgate Tower. We chose the PH because the architecture looked so cool and the suites looked spacious and nice. We couldn’t have picked a worse place to spend a classy, quiet and relaxing 2nd honeymoon.
From the second we arrived we were not impressed with the PH Tower Westgate. The PH Tower Westgate is a smoke free facility, but apparently only inside the building. When we got there, we had to make our way through and around about 20 people smoking outside the front door. “Excuse me, hack hack, cough…” There was always a big group of smokers in that entrance, and also a group by the entrance from the parking garage.
Dorado Beach East Course Hole #4* – click to enlarge
Dorado Beach East Course Overview
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of playing on the first official day play resumed at the recently “restored” Dorado Beach East Course at Dorado Beach Golf Club in Puerto Rico, designed as a nine hole course originally in 1958 by one of golf’s most famous architects, Robert Trent Jones Sr. The course was brought up to 18 holes in 1966. Many of the palm tree lined holes on this track are bordering or looking out over the beautiful blue water of the Caribbean. The weather is always warm and the course always plush because of the massive amount of precipitation the area receives year round. The East Course is one of four courses at the resort and one of two RTJ Sr. designs, the West being the other.
Over the years shot values, sight lines and aesthetics changed on the East Course. Natural changes in vegetation, advancements in golf equipment technology, and subsequent redesigns by other architects were the cause of those aesthetic and playability issues. It took some serious golf balls for Dorado Beach to recognize that the course needed work to return it to its original great form and to stay competitive and comparable to other resort courses. It took even more golf balls to shut it down for a year and a half and get the job done. Naturally, the best choice for restoring the East Course would be someone who knew Robert Trent Jones Sr. designs and concepts first hand, someone named Robert Trent Jones II (Jr.).
TaylorMade Penta TP Golf Ball – click to zoom
Golf Ball Week 2011 is heating up. Today and tomorrow I’m covering my picks for the two best “tour” golf balls and two best “amateur” golf balls. This post today is a review of one of my two best 2011 picks for tour performance golf balls, the TaylorMade Penta TP.
Earlier this year I spent some time in the local TaylorMade Performance Lab (review coming soon). The tech handed me a box of Pentas at the conclusion of the lab, and raved about the performance of the ball. I thought, “yeah, and if he sold Yugos, they would be the best car in the world.” But after I threw the first Penta onto the tee and played a round with it, I was a believer.
I think I’m the world’s only Greek Golf Web Geek. So naturally I knew that the ball would be a five layer ball since it is called a Penta, which in Greek means “five.” Most high performance balls have three layers and some four, but five? Cool. What do they do?
I could go into great detail covering what each layer is made out of, citing odd proprietary polymers and materials, but mostly that stuff is gibberish. Let’s just mention quickly what each of the five layers does.
TaylorMade Penta TP Golf Ball – 5 Layers
Layer 1 – Cover: Soft feel on putting and short wedges. This layer is made of Urethane, a typical cover material for high performance golf balls.
Layer 2 – Outer Mantle: Spin on short irons and wedges.
Layer 3 – Middle Mantle: Control for mid iron shots. Prevents ballooning. Promotes distance.
Layer 4 – Inner Mantle: Helps launch long irons high with low spin.
Layer 5 – Core: The inner most layer is primarily what provides distance, carry and low spin when driving the ball.
On The Course
Okay so the ball has a lot of layers. But who cares if it has 498 layers if they don’t produce great performance? How does the thing work on the course, when I HAVE to get up and down from 41 yards to tie my opponent and save myself a $2.00 bet? That’s the biggie.
I’ll start with driver performance. This ball feels fantastic off the driver and goes LONG. When talking to a TaylorMade buddy of mine, he told me that this ball and all its layers can compress properly for any swing speed, from the senior amateur to PGA Tour. Not really sure about that, as I haven’t seen anything regarding that in TM’s ads or web site. But it sounds good.
I’m able to work the driver very well naturally, as the ball does have spin, unlike distance balls which are meant to reduce spin.
Hitting iron shots with the Penta TP is also fantastic. I can feel the ball compress on the club face and have a great sense of control. Any shot I’m capable of executing can be performed well with this ball, from carving shots to controlling trajectory. When the ball hits the green, it stops quickly.
Short game is perhaps the best part of this ball’s performance curve. Chipping and pitching shots with some nice check spin is a joy. I’m just a lowly amateur, but it is fun to hit those quick two hop and stop shots which stop on a dime and leave seven cents change.
Putting is solid with the Penta TP. The ball rolls true, and I have a great feel for distance control.
My only critique with this ball is its durability. With some crisp wedge shots and short to mid irons, I can shave the cover pretty quickly. It isn’t uncommon for me, a guy with a pretty slow swing speed, to need to replace the ball before 18 holes is done. I DO realize though, that part of that soft feel and great short game performance is as a result of having such a soft cover.
The TaylorMade Penta TP is one of my top two tour performance golf ball picks for 2011. This is a fantastic ball.
I’ll have to preface this post by disclaiming that the Q-Star isn’t exactly the best ball for my game, a lower single digit handicap player (2). The Srixon Q-Star is primarily meant for higher handicap players, above a 10 to be precise. That being said, I could easily put this ball in my bag permanently and score well.
The technology behind the Srixon Q-Star is geared toward helping higher handicap players increase their accuracy, and keep them out of the rough, hazards, lakes, parking lots, windows… So what does it take to improve accuracy for a higher handicap player? A proper “STAR performance” golf ball…
Srixon Q-Star Golf Balls - click to zoom
Srixon rates their golf balls with a STAR Performance measurement. That measurement factors in spin, trajectory, acceleration and responsiveness. Players of varying levels will have different STAR ratings. One of my favorite new players Keegan Bradley for instance, would be a Z-Star rating. Your 22 handicap buddy with the 87mph driver club head speed however, would NOT be a Z-Star rating. He would be a Q-Star.
Innovex Golf V-Motion Golf Ball – click for more
Welcome to day two of 2011 HOG Golf Ball Week! Today’s review is a double whammy, two ball types from one manufacturer in one post. I’m covering the new Innovex V-Motion and E-Motion golf balls.
V-Motion Tour Golf Ball
The V-Motion golf ball is an “affordable” three piece premium/tour quality golf ball. At a retail of $29.95/dozen, this ball can’t be beat.
The inner most layer, the core, is what Innovex calls a “compensating speed core.” The varied core compresses nicely for all swing speeds. No worries that this ball is too hard or too soft for optimal distance.