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.
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.
Line and speed are the two crucial factors in making putts. It doesn’t matter what grip you have, what putter you use, or what your apparel scripting is. If you can’t get the putt rolling on the proper line and speed you’re destined to bad putting.
PuttOut Putting Trainer
The PuttOut “Pressure Putt Trainer” is designed to train the golfer get get the putt rolling on the correct line and speed. The unique curved design returns good putts the distance they would have traveled past the hole. The side contours reject offline putts and force the golfer to a bit of a “walk of shame” to get the balls, as those shots are not returned.
An interesting feature of the PuttOut is the little retractable “micro target.” In the photo above you can see the HOG golf ball is sitting in it. Putts on the exact line and speed will stop inside the target. Once the golfer gets used to strokes at such a tight precision and speed, putting into the much larger and easier to hit golf hole seems much easier. The micro target back plate is hinged so the golfer can flatten it out and turn the device into strictly a returning device.
The unit folds into a compact and easy to carry shape. The unit would fit easily in a golf bag or even luggage when traveling.
I keep mine in the hallway between the kitchen, my office, and the bathroom. It’s quite a trafficked spot. It’s fun to grab my putter and stroke a few to clear my my mind and improve my stroke, a few times per day.
If you need help with your line and speed and “pressure putting,” the $29 PuttOut could be a good option. Not sure the unit will help with non-pressure putting though. 😉
I’ve just started my rigorous testing battery on a new golf apparel line exclusively available at Global Golf. The “Tourney” brand is licensed by Tharanco Lifestyles. Here are the items I’m trying out.
Tourney Redan Shorts
1/4 Zip Outerwear
I’ve worn all but the 1/4 zip outerwear so far. I won’t be wearing the 1/4 zip for a while since the temps are in the 105 range here right now!
This brand is solid so far and extremely affordable. I’m talking nice polos that cost as little as 1/3 and even 1/4 the cost of other brands.
Stay tuned for my full review soon.
Question, do golf balls from Australia spin the opposite direction? Let’s find out. Today’s review if the 6-layer golf ball from Austalia’s Forté Golf, the Apex 6. Why six layers? Because six is better than five of course.
Apex 6 Key Features
- Soft, low compression/high energy core reduces spin off the tee to help increase distance
- Soft mantle layer helps the ball’s feel
- Multi layer construction responds to multiple golfer swing speeds
- Surlyn ionomer resin helps increase feel and control on short game shots
- Urethane cover provides soft feel and spin around the greens
On The Course
I don’t do one-hole or one-round reviews. I played the Apex 6 for several months. I found the ball to be as long as any tour ball I’ve played and accurate because of the low driver spin characteristics. Length wise it is comparable to any of the high end tour balls I’ve played from the big name brands.
The ball’s driver trajectory for me was medium and it handled windy conditions well, not prone to blowing off line badly.
I played one ball over several rounds. Aside from a minor wedge scuff or two the ball showed little signs of wear. So the cover was quite durable. There’s a fine line between durability and high spin in tour level ball covers.
Around the greens I had nice control, as much as my ailing game has had that is.
My only complaint with the Apex 6 is ball that it feels a bit hard. The hardness is noticeable with the driver, but most pronounced in the irons.
One other critique is with the Forté Golf website. I know the company is based out of Australia, but the copy on the site and some of the terms wreak of bad Chinese to English translation. For example:
Ideal for players who demands the best or nothing. Underneath the cast urethane cover is the world’s first 6 piece golf ball! It guarantees to outperform the competition in all aspect.
Along with some grammatical (Chinese to English) errors, there are misspelled words, like “Lonomer” which should read “Ionomer.” And “the best or nothing” sounds quite a bit like a Mercedes Benz ad, hehe.
Critiques aside I can confidently game this ball and it performs well in varying conditions. The Apex 6 is a solid ball, long off the tee and responsive in the short game.