For the last two days there has been a big “demo days” deal going on at our biggest practice range in town. All the major golf companies were there. I decided to do the rounds and demo a bunch of clubs. I hit about 10 balls with each club. That’s not really enough to make a solid conclusion, but enough to get the idea of the club’s performance.
First stop was to talk to my new buddy Matt from Bridgestone. They have a whole line of clubs but you don’t see them as often as some of the other companies. Apparently they are quite big in Japan. I had thought they were just a ball company, but they aren’t.
First I tried their J33B forged blade irons. They felt quite solid. My shots all went right on line but I couldn’t get the impression that I was hitting them on the sweet spot. That’s blades I guess.
PING Craz-E Putter - click for more
The Ping company has been long recognized for it’s pioneering design of golf clubs. There is always a buzz about the new Ping drivers, wedges or irons. But I don’t think Ping gets enough credit for it’s putter design and innovation.
The Ping Craz-E putter is a whole new concept in design. The face has a blue urethane insert which gives it a soft feel. The blue urethane insert line behind the face provides a strong alignment visual.
The weighting of the putter is heavy in the heel, toe and rear of the putter which gives it that “low center of gravity” that all golfers seem to need. The crescent shapes along with the blue line gives an optical aid which helps you aim and align properly. Ping calls this the Optigraphic Effect.
I don’t really know if the Optigraphic Effect is why the putter works so well for me. I think that the putter just “feels” great. It is just a static piece of metal and plastic but when I put it in motion it feels very smooth and wants to travel square to the target line. The weighting is balanced perfectly and helps you produce a pendulum like stroke.
Two other typically unimportant items that are overlooked with putters are the cover and the grip. Ping’s design is equally as great here. The cover is a very nice thick leather with a magnetic seal. I like the fact that they didn’t use velcro, which over time wears out and looks shabby. The Winn AVS grip (right) is the best feeling grip I’ve ever used.
There are also 5 shaft/hosel configurations to match your taste.
My rating on the Craz-E putter is a 9 out of 10. They got it all right on this one.
The hip thing in the last couple of years in the golf world is the three wheeled push cart. Gone are the old days of the Bag Boy pull cart. I own several Bag Boy pull carts, including a deluxe model that comes with a seat.
I’m a golf purist, but my bad back doesn’t want me to throw my bag over my shoulder and carry like a purist does. The awkwardness of having my arm behind me and pulling the two wheeled cart is almost as bad on the back.
Last winter I had a couple hundred bucks in prize money to cash in, so the pro told me to pick up a Sun Mountain Speed Cart. I’m sure glad he suggested the Sun Mountain cart.
The push cart has actual rubber tires with inner tubes and comes with a pump. The cart glides very smoothly and goes easily over rough terrain for those times you miss the fairway. You stand up straight and push the cart which is much better than leaning over and pulling it. “It’s better to push a cart than to pull it.” Sounds like an old Volkswagen commercial.
Since the cart stands up on it’s own 3 wheels, it has a brake just like the ones on your bike. You must use the break on a hill or you’ll get some extra exercise chasing your cart.
There is a small storage bin for you to put keys, power bars, wallet, cell phone etc. On top of the storage bin is a bracket that holds your score card and a pencil. Below the bracket is a drink holder. You can adjust the height of the push handle and of the front wheel to your taste, which makes pushing the cart very easy.
Most of my golfing buddies have the Sun Mountain push cart. I have the yellow one. We compete on the golf course to see who can push their cart down the fairway the farthest.
Your golf bag mounts very easily to the cart. When you’re done the cart folds into a compact shape to fit in even smaller trunks. The trunk in my car is quite small and the cart and a medium sized tour bag fit just fine.
A note about Sun Mountain’s excellent service: When I purchased my Speed Cart it was a floor model from the pro shop. Someone had stolen the pump and also bent the door to the storage compartment. I called Sun Mountain and they gladly shipped me the parts at no charge. Not only that, they didn’t even ask me for a receipt.
I’d rate the Speed Cart an 8/10. It is one of the best pieces of golf equipment you can buy and is extremely well built and solid. I’ve seen cheaper models from other companies. Side by side the Speed Cart blows them away.
72 holes with my first BlackMax ball and still going! Somehow I’ve managed to play 4 straight 18 hole rounds with ONE ball. Two of the rounds were 73 (one good enough for 3rd in a local tournament).
The most amazing thing about this ball is the durability. I’m going to get a digital photo of the ball I’ve used. Aside from some wearing of the decoration, the ball is quite undamaged and still playable. I’m going to just keep playing holes with this ball until I either lose it or wear it out.
I’ve said in all of my reviews that the iron play with this ball is amazing. The feel off the irons and the accuracy I seem to have is great. My distance control is right on. This may be due to the fact that my iron game is solid right now or that the ball is just that good… Perhaps it’s a little of both.
All 4 of the rounds I’ve played with this ball have been in moderate to heavily windy conditions. I’ve used the Callaway HX Tour in windy conditions and the BlackMax is every bit as good, if not better in the wind.
Until my last round played I wasn’t sure about the supposed distance of this ball because my driver just wasn’t working well. This last round I finally resolved that question with some very solid drives. One of my pals that I play with is a BIG hitter. He plays either the HX tour or V1X. If I am “on” with my driver I can usually hit it as long as him or at least within 5-10 yards. On this day he was hitting the “new” V1X. We both have the 983K drivers with the same YS6 firm shaft. Two occasions he crushed his driver and was a good 20 yards in front of me. One occasion we both crushed our drives into the wind and I was 10 yards in front of him. The final occasion we both hit pure drives straight downwind on a par 4 (410 yards). The two balls were exactly 40 yards from the green. (Yes that’s 370 but the wind was strong and the ground very hard).
I don’t play the V1X as it feels way too hard for me. When I play the V1 my buddy is MUCH longer than I am. When I played the BlackMax we were neck and neck. So I can conclude that this ball is a long ball. I would say it is much longer than a V1, and about even with a V1X or HX Tour. I would also say that this ball is better into the wind than the V1X.
Chipping for me has been terrible as of late (shaking off the winter rust), but my putter has been strong. I’ve always liked the feel of a V1 off the putter better than an HX Tour and the BlackMax feels just as nice. I would say for me, there is just a little less spin around the greens than a V1 more than an HX Tour.
This ball definitely beats the HX or V1 in it’s value. I can barely play 9 holes without rendering an HX tour unplayable with some full wedges or short irons. The V1 is more durable than the HX for me. I can play around or two but if I hit a ton of full lob wedges I can scrape the cover right off. The BlackMax does not wear like that. For a premium ball I can get much more play per dollar out of the Maxfli, provided I don’t lose it.
Lose it? I can’t lose it. I’ve knocked it OB 3 times. I’ve knocked it in the “forest” 2 times. I’ve bounced it off of fences and skipped it over lakes. I’ve hit it left handed twice and nailed several trees.
72 holes and going strong….How many holes will I go before I lose it or deem it unplayable? My next round with it is this Thursday…
Round 2 of my on the course testing of the new Maxfli BlackMax took place last Sunday at my first 18 hole tournament of the year, a men’s club event.
Unfortunately on the first hole I screwed up badly and bladed my approach shot over the green right into a fence that marked the OB line. The ball hit the fence and bounced back in bounds. (Note after blading a lob wedge into a chain link fence the ball had NO marks or scuffs). I had more troubles on the hole and ended up with a triple bogey. Next hole was a par 5 that I reached in two and two putted for birdie. To make a long story short, after the triple on the first hole I ended with 73.
I played the same ball that I played my first 18 hole test with. At the end of the 36th hole, the BlackMax literally looked shiny and brand new. THIS BALL IS VERY DURABLE!
Once again my iron game was good and the ball responded and felt awesome. Off the putter the ball feels great to me. It does not feel “hard.” The parts of my game that were bad were chipping and driving. Unfortunately the jury is still out with me on driving distance and workability because for the 2nd round in a row my driving was terrible. Usually my driving is solid.
I had a couple of possible OB and “tree incidents” with my little BlackMax and once again it refused to get lost. So for some funny reason I can’t lose this ball! I say again, if they can patent that feature they’d have the best selling ball in history!