Spikeless with maximum grip. FootJoy can do it. The FootJoy Pro SL shoes once revolutionised the spikeless golf shoe segment. In 2022, the 4th generation tees off and presents its stable and grippy Infinity sole with further improvements.
FootJoy Pro SL shoes – what’s inside
The innovative, particularly light and flexible StratoFoam midsole, which was originally developed for the FJ Stratos and has since proven itself in the HyperFlex models, is now integreated in the entire Pro|SL series.
This patented midsole material is particularly lightweight, provides optimum support and cushioning in all golf conditions, and not only absorbs shock but also returns energy to help golfers perform to the letter time and time again.
Who is this product suitable for?
Featuring a new, sleek Pittards chromoskin leather upper, the Pro|SL Carbon is FJ’s most technologically advanced spikeless performance golf shoe. The outstanding properties of the StratoFoam midsole are complemented in this model by special carbon inserts in the outsole, which combine greater lateral stability in the heel area with outstanding flexibility in the forefoot area.
The Pro|SL Carbon uses the flexibility of the carbon inserts to elastically regain its natural position. This leads to a higher energy return when walking and counteracts foot fatigue – leaving more energy for the game.
“The use of our successful StratoFoam technology together with the improvements to our carbon insert take the shoe to a new level of performance, we are very excited about this,” said Guy Smith, Product Manager FootJoy Footwear.
Features and benefits at a glance
ChromoSkin™ leather from Pittards®.
3D foam collar for a perfect upper fit
StratoFoam midsole for fatigue-free walking comfort
Infinity outsole for tourer-proven grip and premium stability during the swing
Carbon inserts in the outsole for maximum stability and comfort (Pro|SL Carbon)
Ortholite Impressions FitBed® for more stability and comfort
Travel insider from our Golf Post Team Jürgen Linnenbürger visits the Greek golf destination Navarino Hills. This course in Greece was the World’s Best New Golf Development in 2020. The World Golf Awards recognized it as so as part of a press trip.
Here in Messinia on the Peloponnese, he meets the two-time Masters winner, multiple Ryder Cup participant and captain José María Olazábal, who is responsible for the design of the two new Greek courses of the Navarino Hills.
The early bird catches the worm
Azalea, the English sports marketing agency organising the trip, gave me a slot of about 20 minutes to conduct an exclusive interview with Spanish golf legend José María Olazábal. Ollie, as his friends call him, will be exclusively available at 8.15 a.m. sharp for my questions about the design of his two new signature golf courses.
The Spaniard was awarded the Golf World Award Golf Course Designer of the Year in 2020. He had already designed more than 20 courses with his team. These include the Olazábal Course in Mission Hills/China, as well as the Education City Golf Club in Doha/Qatar, which opened in 2020. This last one, by the way, immediately became the venue for a PGA European Tour event.
An unusual place for an interview
We did not conduct the interview in the hotel, but on the back seat of a spacious hotel limousine: corona-compliant with a mask, of course. The car takes us from the 5-star The Westin Resort Costa Navarino to the brand new Navarino Hills complex.
Their two golf courses are The Hills Course and the International Olympic Academy Golf Course, which our group is already allowed to play exclusively in November, before its official opening in February 2022.
The Hills Course will also be completed by that time. Then the golf cloverleaf will be perfect with four signature courses located a maximum of 13 km apart.
Kalimera and Buenos dias
The welcome is warm and relaxed. The likeable Spaniard explains that one of the main challenges for him and his team was to integrate two different courses into the terrain, which is up to 250 metres high, hilly and extremely rocky.
But not only the two new courses should be different from each other. Their design should also stand out from that of the existing, approximately ten-year-old courses, The Dunes and The Bay.
An exceptional property in impressive nature
José has been enthusiastic about the magnificent site from the very beginning. He is very proud that he and his team have been awarded the contract to design the two courses by the owner of the Greek company Temes, which is responsible for the development of the Costa Navarino destination.
The 150-hectare site is one of the most spectacular and beautiful he has had the privilege of redesigning. The breathtaking views of the bay, the Ionian Sea and the impressive mountain backdrop shape its character just as much as the vegetation typical of the Mediterranean area with its shrubs up to two metres high.
José has paid special attention to integrating the pitches harmoniously into the existing environment, so that they have become a natural part of it.
Sustainability is a priority
Another challenge for Olazabal Design was to take the various aspects of sustainability into account as much as possible. Costa Navarino has set itself the goal of being a leader in this field and ensuring ecological, social and economic sustainability on a permanent basis.
In this way, both campsites can benefit sufficiently from the water that the surrounding mountains release. This water is stored in two large basins and is sufficient for year-round irrigation of the pitches. The irrigation systems are state of the art. An own photovoltaic system supplies the huge area with all its facilities with the necessary electricity.
Suitable for all HCP classes
Both courses show as resort courses. They are fair and are intended to convey enjoyment of the game without their guests having to forego the sporting excitement. Golfers should enjoy their game on the courses and finish their rounds with a satisfactory score.
Six different tees contribute to the fact that players of all handicap classes will feel comfortable.
José designed the Hills Course to be shorter and less demanding than the International Olympic Academy Course. With its narrower fairways, this is the more compact and difficult course of the two. The wind, which often comes from the coast and can blow from different directions, also contributes to this.
The designer has responded to this situation by making the greens larger than usual in order to offer more opportunities to play.
The Navarino Hills will have wider fairways and more bunkers, but they are deliberately designed not to be very deep.
It is more spacious and yet intimate. On the holes, you get the impression that you are alone on the course. You cannot see other holes.
At the highest point of the course is the clubhouse, which is currently under construction, as well as the spacious practice facilities of the International Olympic Academy.
The International Olympic Academy
Costa Navarino, in partnership with the International Olympic Academy and the Hellenic Olympic Committee, has opened the first golf course of the International Olympic Academy.
The partnership is guided by principles and values of the Olympic Idea and aims to promote Olympic education through a variety of activities at Costa Navarino. It plays a key role in the development of golf worldwide.
The Olympic Academy Course calls
After the interview, José and I head out for a round. Two of the most remarkable holes for him are two par-3s. The tees of the 12th and the 16th are almost adjacent, but run in opposite directions. While the twelve is heading for the mountains, the tee shot of the sixteen is to be played along the sea.
For José, it is 166 metres on the 16 from the whites. Playing together with a two-time Masters winner in one flight is and will probably remain a unique experience for me. Of course, he is on the green, not like me.
The par-72 course has a length of 6,351 metres from the championship tees. The fairways are lush green and pleasantly soft at this time of year. On the other hand, the greens are all the harder and arrow-fast. Although they are not overly ondulated, 3-putts are not uncommon for me. The maintenance is excellent.
Spectacular new hotels
Since my last visit in 2018, not only have the Navarino Hills courses developed, but construction has also begun to grow around. The boutique hotel The Navarino Bay Resort is located on The Bay Course, right on the seafront.
A particularly good view of the new high-end gem with its 99 suites and villas show from the high greens of its third course. The spectacular design captivates by the fact that the buildings are set directly into the curved slope and their roofs are completely greened.
An exclusive beach club, a spa and wellness area with a large indoor and outdoor pool, as well as bars, lounges and restaurants complete the offer.
Not far away, a little world of its own is developing. The vibrant lifestyle resort The Waterfront will have 246 rooms, suites and bungalows right on the beach. This one also impresses with its modern design with lagoon pools, numerous shops and restaurants laid out around an agora (marketplace).
The Waterfront will open in summer 2022 and The Bay a year later.
A clubhouse in a class of its own
Opening in 2019, The Bay Course’s stylish clubhouse is also new to me. It is built according to principles of bioclimatic architecture in earth house style and surrounded by thousands of plants and trees. It is not only an architectural masterpiece from the outside.
Inside, it also impresses with its modern interior and views of the sea.
On its terrace we enjoy the fantastic sunset and conclude the great golf day with an excellent menu.
The goal formulated by the founder to develop Costa Navarino into a world-leading golf and sports destination, as well as a family destination, seems to be paying off. Tennis courts have already been built. Football pitches are to be added in the future.
Arrival via Kalamata or Athens
If you decide to stay in the low season, the route leads via Athens. The hotel shuttle takes a good three hours from the airport to The Westin Resort Costa Navarino and the Romanos a Luxury Collection Resort, Costa Navarino in Navarino Dunes. These were awarded European Golf Resort of the Year by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators in 2017.
Further awards are only a matter of time for me. I am convinced that after the opening of the new golf courses and hotels, numerous stars and awards will follow.
The Stone Age, Bronze Age and Titanium Age are over – long live the Carbon Age. At least if TaylorMade has its way. Much of the new TaylorMade Stealth series revolves around the material, which is simultaneously strong but also feather-light. Dive into the new age of golf equipment.
TaylorMade Stealth stands out.
TaylorMade is quite familiar to our company, as we work closely with their latest product launches. First, both parties formally agree that no information will leak out before the official release date. Afterwards, they present the technologies, advantages and details of the new products. There is some spare time to ask questions to the engineers on site before it is over. Finally, it’s off to a driving range or golf course to see the new toy in action and take first pictures and videos.
This year things were a little different at TaylorMade. Our colleague from Golf Post, Johannes Gärtner lived the entire TaylorMade experience, and he knew that something extraordinary was coming. Walking through a specially constructed “disco tunnel” at the European headquarters, a show room was waiting. The theme was the great changes in humanity. Starting with the invention of the wheel, followed by the automobile and the moon landing. TaylorMade is really coming on strong.
TaylorMade masters the “Carbonwood” equipment
During the presentation, Gärtner was handed a driver head that had been disassembled into all its individual parts. The clubface of the new TaylorMade Stealth Drivers is made of carbon, not titanium as usual. This is also the reason for the new term “Carbonwood”, which TaylorMade immediately had protected as a trade mark.
English-speaking golfers coined the term “metalwood” after the first major material innovation. Now it is to be the carbon woods that change the game of golf forever, just as the first “metalwoods” once did. Admittedly, this technology is not entirely new. TaylorMade has been working on carbon club faces for about 20 years now.
However, this technological possibilities have not always existed. Back in 2013, there was a strictly limited special promotion that was only available to the Japanese market. TaylorMade Gloire used a carbon face for the first time back then. Moreover, it is a question of cost and use ratio. What it started as a dream became true, TaylorMade has now succeeded, but the new drivers cost more than in previous years.
The first impression
Besides this big surprise, they also presented fairway woods, rescues and an iron set, which belong to the new TaylorMade Stealth family as well. In contrast to the drivers, they are (still) equipped with a traditional titanium face. However, the topic of carbon still plays a big role, as more and more parts in the club head are being replaced with this wonder material. It is extremely stable, holds the driver together and weighs significantly less.
The next day Johannes Gärtner gave it a try at the North Hants Golf Club driving range. There, Justin Rose grew up and was immortalised everywhere in the clubhouse. It is customary to have a small tee box of one’s own to prevent passers-by from seeing the new clubs. To keep them secret while testing them on the course becomes more difficult. Therefore, a huge TaylorMade tent isolated us from the rest and we were not allowed to take photos or videos of the clubs. The new clubs should remain a secret at all costs. At the end, the Americans proved to be exceptionally fond of the clubs.
TaylorMade makes it unforgettable
The feel and sound of the shot with a TaylorMade Stealth Driver are completely contrary to what you have experienced so far. It also feels like the ball sticks to the clubface at first. This is actually due to the fact that the ball has longer contact with the driver because of the carbon construction. After that, it whizzes away. Equipped with a Trackman and new TP5, the statistics validated the first feeling. With the same club head speed, the TaylorMade Stealth drivers deliver more ball speed.
More carbon in the wood and hybrid
The woods also cut a fine figure. The red colour theme is reminiscent of the M5 and M6 generation. The differences to the predecessor models are not that drastic in comparison with the Drivers. Nevertheless, the trained eye perceives small nuances. In particular, a small aiming aid at the top of the clubface and a visible edge at the end of the club. Both help to orientate better.
In addition, the shaping and weighting also experience minor changes that optimise the desired parameters. More forgiveness, a little larger clubface and a come more speed – true to the motto: “A little better every year.”
As with the woods, there is more carbon in the crown of the hybrids – or as TaylorMade calls them, rescues. The same game as always. Weight is saved at one corner in the club, redistributed so that in the end stability, centre of gravity and speed can be improved.
TaylorMade Stealth – hot irons
The look of the TaylorMade Stealth irons is extremely close to that of the popular P7 family. Surely, a big step in the right direction. Game Improvement irons have always been thick, chunky, round, big and/or fat. This optical problem has been taken up again and again in recent years in order to improve it. The predecessor models, on the other hand, look much more backward.
One particular change concerns the tip of the head. With the toe-wrap technology, weight is strategically redistributed within the club. In addition, there is only one set of irons, not two different ones as usual.
Separate variant for the ladies
In recent years, TaylorMade has not had an extra colour option for women golfers. Luckly, this changed. Small adjustments in head weight, angles, shaft and grip tailor these clubs specifically to the preferences of most ladies so they can play to their full potential. However, the core technologies are all the same as for the men.
Gran Canaria is not a privileged place, neither for “tourists on foot” nor for golfers. But although visitors to the Canary Islands flock to the beaches and bars, the third of the seven islets off the African coast guarantees a relaxing time. Gran Canaria seven golf courses have a lot to do with this great experience and are not to be missed, reason enough for an island getaway.
South Vs North environment
There are four golf courses in the south of the island, and three in the northeast. In the west of the island, which is sparsely populated and has so far seen little tourist traffic, golf courses are sought after in vain. In the south, Gran Canaria offers golf courses for party-goers (Playa del Inglés) as well as for visitors seeking tranquillity (Meloneras). Only a few kilometres of dunes separate both golf courses. These are mostly green oases in an arid landscape.
In the north, on the other hand, the land is much greener, which is due to the mountains in the middle of the island, which stop the rain when there is a constant wind from the north. At the same time, this makes the weather in the southern half more stable than in almost any other holiday destination, with pleasant temperatures.
Golf in the south of Gran Canaria
Lopesan Meloneras Golf
The 18-hole Lopesan Meloneras Golf course is not far from the tourist strongholds around Maspalomas. It offers peace and relaxation. While the first nine are inland and offer a view of the mountains in the centre of the island, the last nine take you directly along the sea for the most part.
The course condition is excellent, great to play in summer. Although the course is ready for the main season during the winter, the great care allows play at any time of the year. Large greens and wide fairways make the holiday round a pleasurable experience. Keeping your concentration on the second nine is the real difficulty due to the beautiful landscape and picturesque views.
From begining of October to end of April, Gran Canaria golf courses set their high season, and the 18-hole green fee costs 137 euros. In the low season (1 May – 30 September), the price drops to 80 euros. A cart costs 20 euros, but also has a GPS system on board that measures distances and explains the holes. The field is a leg-breaker due to the up and down hills all thoughout. Therefore, renting a cart is always a good choice.
Anfi Tauro Golf
Another highlight on Gran Canaria is Anfi Tauro Golf a little further west than Lopesan Meloneras Golf. Only opened in 2007, the par-72 course is the youngest on the island. It was designed by Hagge, Smelek and Baril, who were also responsible for the layout at Doral Country Club in Florida.
The maintenance in the hilly terrain matches the the spectacularity of the views of the sea. The holes have been integrated into the landscape. The green fee is between 80 (summer) and 120 euros (winter). However, you have to add the fees for a cart, because you don’t want to walk around this area – especially not on holiday.
Salobre Golf & Resort
Salobre Golf & Resort is home to two courses, the Old Course, which opened in 2000, and the New Course, added eight years later. The 36-hole course is the only one of its kind in Gran Canaria.
The Old Course is a par-71 that plays a little longer than the New Course as par-72, with a 400m difference. Like everywhere in the south of the island, the terrain is hilly and interspersed with ravines. This also makes Salobre Golf & Resort a holiday experience with lasting memories. The green fee ranges from 100 to 120 euros in winter, and in low season you have to shell out 56 to 67 euros.
Maspalomas Golf is directly behind the aforementioned dune landscape that separates party people from those seeking relaxation. The surprisingly flat par-73 holes stretch over almost 6,400 metres. The layout is not particularly imaginative, the holes are wide and straight through the landscape, which is rather unspectacular here compared to other courses. For an 18-hole round, 109 to 118 euros are charged in the winter months, 65 euros in the low season.
Golf in the north of Gran Canaria
Real Club de Golf Las Palmas (Bandama Golf)
The Real Club de Golf Las Palmas is the oldest golf club in Spain and was founded in 1891. Unfortunately, you can feel this here and there in the rooms of the clubhouse, which are in need of an overhaul. The course is in a fantastic location – on a high plateau in front of Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria. At the same time, the location explains the lenght of the short par-71 course, less than 6,000 metres from the back tees. Guests are welcome from Monday to Friday, on weekends the course is reserved for members.
Las Palmeras Golf Club
The northernmost club on Gran Canaria is Las Palmeras Golf Club. Opened in 2006, the par-3 course is very short, with only two holes longer than 100 metres, but the course is definitely a challenge. Sloping fairways, deep bunkers and some water hazards make missed greens a real challenge. The fun, which is definitely conducive to iron play, costs 25 euros green fee per person, guaranteeing the sea view in some spots.
The Golf Post recommendation
Basically, you can’t go wrong with the courses in the south. The favourites here are Lopesan Meloneras Golf, Anfi Tauro Golf and Salobre Golf & Resort. Although you have to dig deep into your pockets during the high season, many hotels offer packages with discounts on green fees. The courses in the north are a bit outdated, but they also offer what makes golf in Gran Canaria a highlight. That is of course picturesque panoramas and impressive nature.
Attractions and excursions on Gran Canaria
Along the coast
In addition to golfing, Gran Canaria offers many other activities. In the summer you can even witness dolphin species a few kilometres off the coast. During winter, the whales take over and also pass by the island. These can be observed excellently from large and small excursion boats.
The wild interior
The interior of the island is also a must. Whether on foot on hikes or in a rented convertible on lonely mountain roads, many picturesque mountain villages can be discovered in the mountains in the middle of Gran Canaria. The highest point on the island, the Pico da las Nieves, also offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole island.
The south coast
Along the south coast, there are numerous villages directly by the sea. Despite numerous bed castles in the foothills of the mountain ranges, they have for the most part retained their own identity.
You can explore all or several of them along the coastal road GC-500. There, you can still find family-owned orchards with sun-drenched mangoes and other delicacies.
A must-see, of course, is the island’s capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Whether in the old town with its grand cathedral, on the beach or in the newer quarters. Here you will find something for everyone, from the art museum to the street food festival.
There is still one “insider tip”
The caves of Barranco de Guayadeque. In spectacular mountain scenery, you will find numerous caves here that were actually inhabited in the past. Today, some of them have been converted into restaurants and offer excellent food for little money away from the tourist crowds.
The Guayadeque Museum also provides information about the original way of life of the valley inhabitants. At the end of the valley, a fantastic view to the south awaits you.
What is not written about fitness, which promotes our golf game, about what golf can do to us. The list of health benefits of golf is endless, the golf cosmos is full of medical treatises and gymnastic instructions. Who wouldn’t know that golf is a sport played primarily between the ears? The mental component affects the constitution. And vice versa. “Mens sana in corpore sano”, a healthy mind in a healthy body: this is mutually dependent.
Play golf longer, live longer
There are enough studies on this. The Swedes found that golfers who play regularly – about twice a week – live on average five years longer than non-golfers. The Karolinska Institute analysed the lifespan of around 300,000 active golfers who were born after 1920 and started playing golf before 2001. Ageing through play, in other words. Who doesn’t wish for a longer healthy life? You’re only one club away to achieve so.
“Moderate physical activity, such as golf, increases life expectancy,” says Dr Andrew Murray, head of the Golf & Health Project at the University of Edinburgh. The sport supports the prevention and treatment of more than 40 major chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer. It also helps with psychiatric conditions such as depression and dementia, and simply promotes health and well-being.
Care your mind. Golf is a mental sport
The reasons are as obvious as they are plausible. “Golf is a mental sport with aerobic and thus healthy exercise in the fresh air and in the green – and that for several hours. It doesn’t get any better than that,” says Hamburg preventologist Andrea S. Klahre, who, as a therapist for mind-body medicine and prevention coach, is professionally concerned with the coherence of body and mind.
For the therapist, the game is pure Zen beyond its “swing-technical, anatomical, physiological and also preventive aspects”. “Golf, played alone, is a kind of movement meditation and, like sitting meditation, changes the brain waves in centres that are responsible for attentional performance and the ability to cope with stress,” clarifies Klahre. “In addition, the autonomic nervous system is regulated, in the sense of a relaxation reaction.”
It is precisely this combination of flexibility, endurance and alertness that makes golf the ideal form of training for many existing ailments, from exhaustion syndromes to respiratory diseases. Or simply as a school for concentration, “as long as holistic health awareness can be promoted at the same time,” adds Klahre.
Training from head to toe – Complete sport
The key data of the time- and above all age-less game are well known, but cannot be repeated often enough: an 18-hole round burns at least 1,200 calories, five to ten kilocalories per minute. In contrast to other ball sports, such as football or tennis, golf burns mainly fats. This lowers blood fat levels, especially LDL cholesterol, which is harmful to the cardiovascular system. A skilful swing also tenses 124 of a total of 434 muscles. So training from head to toe.
Golf is benefitial and this is why
Golf is a passion for many people. Some go to the range five times a week, others only twice a month – but all golfers have one thing in common: the fun of hitting the little white ball. Golf takes place in the fresh air, in nature. You move around a lot, you are often out for 4-5 hours. “Golf is good for your health,” some say. “Golf ruins your back,” say others.
What does golf actually do to our psyche? The series “Golf and Health” deals with these questions and statements and helps to get a better insight into the health of our beloved sport.
Change of mind – Golf is for healthy
When people think of golfers, they no longer think of overweight gentlemen with cigars in their mouths. The sport has become more athletic, thanks in part to Tiger Woods. Young junior golfers therefore train specifically and holistically – also to prevent injuries. The series “Golf and Health” deals, for example, with whether and how the modern golf swing is related to back problems. The amateur golfer also gains interesting insights, e.g. why golf is a health sport and offers the perfect relaxation for the mind.
Striving for a healthy swing
However: “Healthy golfing has nothing to do with the pursuit of a better handicap, but is the pursuit of an individual, but also healthy golf swing,” Prof. Dr. Eduard David, physiologist at the private university of Witten-Herdecke, said years ago.
More than any other sport, golf is suitable for everyone, young and old. And with optimal interaction, the game is the perfect sport for brain, heart, soul and all other systems. Golf should be available on prescription!
Grooves is the English term for the golf club face lines. These are mainly responsible for the spin that a club achieves over the ball. It is important that the ball sticks to the club face for a long time at impact to create as much friction as possible. The grooves grip the outermost shell of the ball, creating a lot of spin. That’s why balls with a soft urethane coating, for example, deliver significantly more spin than a hard range ball.
Hitting a ball out of the rough, or slightly higher turf in general (can also happen on the fairway), is often unpredictable if there’s a lot of dirt or turf between the club and the ball. Grooves help enormously to make these shots more predictable by moving water, turf and dirt away from the contact point during the swing.
In order to provide the ideal spin conditions for each club, the grooves usually adapt to the respective wedges. A gap wedge, which typically predominates in full shots, has narrower and deeper grooves that allow for slightly less spin. Too much of the backspin would not be useful for this club.
For a lob wedge – where there can never be enough spin – wide and shallower grooves are the norm. These deliver plenty of spin even on small swings, which is ideal for chips or pitches. Due to the different requirement profiles, changes in the club or groove characteristics are accordingly desirable and helpful.
Keep your club grooves clean!
After hitting a shot, you should always take the time to clean the equipment during the round, and with especial focus on the golf club grooves to keep the hitting surface in great shape. With a clean club you will achieve significantly more spin, which can only be an advantage with wedges. It’s not without reason that you see caddies on the pro tours busily rubbing the club grooves free with a towel and club brushes.
Consistency will make the difference also in the quality life of your equipment, that is why it is just as important to know how to clean them after playing too.
The trend of micro-grooves is becoming increasingly popular. Between the actual grooves, other smaller additional grooves are placed on the clubface. This only enhances the effect of gripping the cup and increases the spin. Manufacturers have different approaches to this issue. Whether fancy angles, raised grooves or shapeless grooves – there are and will be hardly any limits to creativity.
How the grooves save you strokes
Besides the thought: “Higher, faster, further”, which is admittedly very tempting, you should always but especially in the short game place more emphasis on consistency. Of course, it is fun if you let the ball roll back with a few metres of backspin just like the pros. However, it makes much more sense if each of your shots produces the same result.
Spin is good, spin helps you play around the greens. However, it is much better if you can consistently retrieve your clubs over and over again. Therefore, don’t lose focus on the essentials. Being close to the flag again and again will save you strokes. Not if the ball rolls back a few metres after it hits.
Over the years, the types of putters have changed dramatically. Whether it is in terms of material, construction or sheer size. Nowadays, the three main putter categories are Blade, Mid-Mallet and Mallet. At first sight, every beginner would consider the different types of putter by putter head. The putter is always better to have it on our side, it can go from best friend to becoming our biggest fear real quick. For that reason, it is crucial to start off right, and choose the type of putter head that suits you best.
Mallet Putter – Larger shape
Mallet putters are the largest models available under the three categories. This also means that they offer a larger list of possibilities. Elaborate and sophisticated aiming aids are just one of the features used in various mallet putters. Furthermore, mallet putters are characterised by an extremely high inertia value. Due to the large head shape, the weight distributes better, more precisely and improving the targeting, which is why mallet putters provide greater forgiveness in the event of misses.
These models are particularly well suited for golfers who have little to no arc in their putts. Often mallet putters are even “face balanced”. This means that the face points straight up when the putter is at rest. A putter with more toe slope will fall towards the toe, so the face will point to the side when balanced. If you make a big arcing motion when putting, you should take a closer look at blade putters.
The downside is the sheer bulk, which is certainly not to some people’s liking. The look of the mallet putter is too clunky, too big and too unfamiliar if you have been playing with a thin blade putter for years or decades. Furthermore, mallet putters tempt you to want to execute the stroke much too straight. A small bow movement does not spoil the result at all, which is why you should trust your swing.
In summary, mallet putters are particularly suitable for golfers who have problems aiming, who tend to have a straight putting motion, don’t want the putter to twist much during the swing, want more help with misses and prefer a larger head shape.
Blade Putter – Slim head design
Blade putters receive a much simpler design compared to the massive mallet putters. The DNA of the early days of golf is still clearly visible in blade putters. However, this does not mean lack of technological progress in modern blade putters. Inserts or milling improve the hitting surface, weights and hosel design influence the toe hang and materials and aiming aids optimise feel and alignment.
Due to the shape and the resulting weighting, blade putters turn to be the best for golfers who do not shy away from a strong arc movement when putting. Considering all types of putter by putter head, Blade putters are the most slim and simpler to the eye. They are easier to open and close, and therefore resulting the right choice for golfers with a larger arc swing movement.
Off-centre hits show on these type, but they often miss the target. This is due to the smaller and more compact design. It cannot deliver extreme values in terms of forgiveness.
One advantage is the clear, thin and pure look that blade putters bring with them. Normally, these putters also provide a clearer and more precise feel and feedback during the stroke. Because of this, many professionals prefer blade putters. They expect feedback from the club.
Mid-Mallet Putter – Half way through the Mallet Putter head
Mid-mallet putters are a mixture of both worlds. If we compare them to the blade models, they offer a little more space for aiming aids. Also, these have a less pronounced toe slope, a more forgiving shape and a larger footprint.
Due to the slight toe slope that mid-mallet putters usually have, this types of putter by putter head is ideal for golfers with a slight bow motion. Here, the mid-mallet putters rank exactly in the middle between mallet and blade putters.
In other respects, too, mid-mallet models are somewhere between the two extremes. They combine the advantages of blade or mallet putters in equal measure, but have to make sacrifices just the same. There is room for a smaller aiming aid, but again not as much as with a mallet putter. The profile is more compact, but less sleek as the blade putter. You recognise the pattern – it’s just a middle ground.
It is best to look at and test different types of putter by putter head during a fitting. However, last but not least, the feeling, the look and individual preferences play an immensely important role, which should not be disregarded.
The topic of golf injuries, especially back pain, is often discussed. Every little ailment is taken up and discussed, certainly with good reason, according to the motto: Do you still play golf or are you already ill?. However, the healing effect of the sport is often neglected. Golf is pure medicine for your heart, for instance. It improves your heart rate and blood pressure. The health benefits of golf cover a long list, and not only in physical terms. Golf is a sport that benefits both body and mind.
Five more years of life
There are plenty of studies about the health benefits of golf. The Swedes, have found that golfers who play at least once a week live an average of five years longer than those who don’t. The Karolinska Institute, in its capacity as the Royal Medical University, analysed the lifespan of 300,000 active golfers. The mean was born after 1920 and started playing before 2001. However, this applied primarily to male golfers with single-digit handicaps. The goal was to examine ageing over a lifetime of playing golf.
“Moderate physical activity like golf increases life expectancy,” says Dr. Andrew Murray, head of the Golf & Health Project at the University of Edinburgh. The sport supports the prevention and treatment of more than 40 important chronic diseases such as heart and stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer.
Prophylaxis against coronary disease
The British recently called for people to play golf in old age. For instance, the second largest charitable insitution regarding heart health in the UK, “Heart Research UK” praised on its newsletter the benefits of walking the fairways.
The Institution described that action as a proven prophylactic against the development of heart weaknesses and heart diseases. “Physical activity, and golf in particular, can improve levels of weight, blood pressure and cholesterol,” says the “Active Lifestyle Recommendation”. “Do what you enjoy and start slowly. Actually, what matters the most is that you start in the first place.”
The Heart Research UK has golf in high steem because it “adds a lot of walking miles to the exercise account” in a more fun way – see the 10,000-steps-a-day rule of thumb. In 2017, the Sport Industry Research Centre at Hallam University in Sheffield found that just one regular round of 18 holes a week reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 30%.
Start early enough for healthy ageing
Admittedly, Heart Research UK’s call primarily aims at the elder to “enrich their golden years with moderate health-promoting and enjoyable physical activities.” But, as we all know, you can’t start ageing healthily soon enough!
Basically, one 18-hole round burns at least 1,200 calories, 5-10 kcal/min. This corresponds to three hours of power walking, for example. Unlike other ball sports, such as football or tennis, golf burns mostly fats. This lowers blood fat levels, especially LDL cholesterol, which a surplus of it can be more harmful to the cardiovascular system.
In addition, a total of 124 muscles tense during a skilful swing. Training from head to toe. All of this in the fresh air, with constant exertion at a low pulse rate – unless the ball is lying for an eagle putt – and in the aerobic muscular range of motion. Once you manage to maintain the low pulse rate when putting a 5-foot for birdie, then you will have reached the peak of the health benefits of golf at its fullest, regarding body and mind.
Perspectives for golf clubs and golf facilities
Last but not least, in the context of the demographic development of organised golf in the country, there is also a considerable prospect for golf clubs and facilities. The target group is the “Forever Youngsters” – everything needs a catchword. Futurologists associate this with an elder social class that focuses on optimising health in the sense of longevity and refer to health as a symbol against looking old and being old.
Prevention, rehabilitation, inclusion
Consequently, the DGV launched the “Golf and Health” project in 2017. Ultimately, it is about the golf club and facilities to seek for health partners and orientations towards prevention, rehabilitation and inclusion. A perfect example is the Hummelbachaue golf course near Neuss. This club cooperates with the health service provider MedicoReha, which operates the “MedGolf Institute”. They offer a wide range of sports medicine and physiotherapy measures in its PGA golf clinic. Also in cooperation with the professionals at the Hummelbachaue. No need to conclude that golf is the ideal sport to improve your health regardless of your age.
The golf scene has a back. We are talking about back pain in golfers, one of the main reasons why physical therapy attention increases among those who practice this sport. Tiger Woods went under the knife because of it, Suzann Pettersen had to sit out for a while, Fred Couples has been plagued with back problems for years. Back pain in golfers is a very popular desease within the golf world.
Dr. Jim Suttie blames the back pain on the “New School”
In America, they have identified the culprit: the modern golf swing is said to be to blame. “It’s a back killer,” says Dr Jim Suttie, bio-mechanic and top 50 coach.
According to a 2008 study by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 60 per cent of professionals and 40 per cent of amateur golfers suffer “permanent traumatic or overuse injuries”. Top of the complaints hit list: the lower back, followed by the elbow, shoulder and wrist.
The “right back” to avoid back pain in golfers
The modern golf swing, then. “The steep shoulder rotation and the hip blocked to build up tension, the enormous impulse from the legs and then the hip already bent in the direction of the target during the ‘impact’. Meanwhile, the right shoulder is still pointing below the left towards the ball, all this is not sustainable in the long run,” criticises Dr. Suttie from the USA. With all that goes into a swing, it is easy for golfers to develop back pain.
We ask the German golf coach Frank Adamowicz what he thinks of this assessment: “I can imagine it,” says the golf teacher and former national coach about the negative effects of the swing, “but to generalise is nonsense! A lot of things come together.” For him, the first concern should be if the cause is really the new technique or rather overestimation. The meaning behind is that one must also have the “right back” for the modern golf swing.
“Everything is about Tiger Woods now, but maybe he really did too much in the weight room and neglected his flexibility,” Adamowicz speculates. “After all, there are plenty who can!” Ernie Els, for example. Or Rory McIlroy with his enormous twist in the upswing and follow-through: “I don’t think he’ll ever get back problems.”
“Old school” takes pressure off the spine
The US PGA published a study years ago according to which one in three golfers has had to take at least two weeks off because of lower back problems. In 2011, it featured golf fitness expert Sean Cochran on its website, who said that statistically, one in two golfers will suffer a lower back injury at some point. Retief Goosen comes to mind, Dustin Johnson or Rickie Fowler. They all plague themselves with backs.
On the downswing, according to Cochran, there is a detrimental imbalance between the rotational speed of the hips and pelvis and the rotational speed of the shoulders and back, which is more than twice as fast.
They used to swing differently, the Nicklauses, Palmers, Hogans and Joneses. The “Old School” – the old school – allows the heel of the front leg to lift on the upswing to follow the rotation and weight transfer. This takes a lot of pressure off the spine and pelvis. “The classic 45-90 principle,” says Frank Adamowicz, “45 degrees hip rotation, 90 degrees shoulder rotation.” Nowadays, it seems, the tendency is towards a maximum of 30 degrees hip rotation, but preferably 100 degrees shoulder rotation. The trainer from the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club wonders “Many misjudge their possibilities. If the back is not really fit and strong, it doesn’t work.”
Long courses, brutal material
That’s how he handles students who want to swing like Tiger Woods. Adamowicz holds the eleven’s hips from behind and lets him swing up, rotating the upper body on the longitudinal axis against the rigid lower body. “The pain then shows very quickly that most of them don’t have the back for something like that.”
In the case of one or the other professional, Adamowicz estimates, “after a sports doctor’s examination they would probably also say: slow down!.” But firstly, some pros probably don’t handle their health very professionally, and secondly, the pressure to perform and the external circumstances leave little choice. “On today’s golf courses, you have to create stroke length at any cost in order to play the courses successfully,” says Adamowicz. “The material has become more brutal, I only mention the mega-stiff X-shafts as a keyword. Everything is too extreme.” Here, too, less means more.
At the outset, the iron categories described below are names that have become established over the years. The golf equipment is very extensive, and the irons terms can sometimes be tricky. There are not fixed laws and many iron sets fall between the categories of golf players irons and blades. In addition, the lines demarcating each category are often blurred with each other.
Golf Players Irons
Two groups of golf irons fall under the category of Players Irons. The first is the blades, also called muscleback blades. They are very thin and sporty shaped cavity back irons. This upper category aims at the professionals and those who want to become professionals.
A classic muscleback iron delivers an extremely direct feel at impact. Better golfers need and want this kind of equipment. Furthermore, the look is much narrower, more compact. One characteristic that stands out between other variants of golf players irons and blades is that the controllability of the blades is at a maximum.
Skilled golfers thus conjure up precise draws or fades into the greens or deliberately let the balls fly higher or flatter. Due to the higher centre of gravity, the balls tend to launch flatter and have more spin. The disadvantage is the forgiveness. The centre of gravity is high and most of the weight is centred rather than distributed, and therefore the failures have disastrous consequences.
Although blades are less forgiving than cavity irons, they tend to have less offset, better turf interaction and better workability compared to cavity irons. They also force better players to be consistent in their swing, which is why they remain a favourite of tour pros.
Cavity back irons, although it sounds very bumpy, also mean “hollowed out back irons”. This makes the principle of these irons quite simple to understand. Metal is hollowed out on the back of the iron, creating a kind of cavity. The weight is much more distributed to the edges – simply not so centred on a small surface.
What is the point of all this?
Due to the distribution of the weight, the inertia as well as the forgiveness is higher. In addition, the hollowing out lowers the centre of gravity. The higher stability means that the miss results better as the the power transmission also works out better. The club twists less if the balls impacts at the heel or the toe. The lower centre of gravity leads to an easier launch of the ball.
Cavity back irons are the basis for game and game-improvement irons. The classic and very sporty cavity back irons fall under the players irons term due to their minimalist construction.
If you take a look into the bag of the pros, you will see irons with a small cavity back everywhere. Many stars also mix their iron sets with traditional blades on the short irons and cavity back irons on the long irons to take advantage of both worlds.
Players Distance Irons
A rather newer phenomenon in the golf equipment world is the Players Distance irons. In terms of look, control and feel, they come close to the classic Players irons. However, they put more emphasis in increasing the distance – hence the name. They count with technologies that often affect the hitting surface in order to increase the speed and thus the distance.
This category has grown the most in the last decade. Golfers who prefer the classic look but seek for speed support are ideally served here. The typical game-improvement irons players also look to this category because the look and feel are a little more sporty.
The Game Improvement Irons live up to their name. These clubs are designed to make you a better golfer, to improve your game. The goal of their technologies aim at increasing distance, forgiveness, consistency and feel.
Compared to the Players irons, the footprint of these irons is significantly larger. The clubface, the sole, the top line and the cavity back is one dimension more spacious. This allows the weight to be distributed quite differently in the club. A thick sole, for example, lowers the centre of gravity massively. The result of the low centre of gravity is that the balls gain height much more easily, and thus launch more steeply.
Furthermore, the principle of the cavity back helps to distribute weight to the edges to increase stability and forgiveness. Meanwhile, the use of tungsten is also common. This metal has a very high density, which is why even small amounts have a great influence on the internal weighting. This “miracle metal” belongs to almost all the club categories.
The disadvantage of game-improvement irons is often the feel and sound. That is why manufacturers are now coming up with new technologies that reduce the vibrations to improve the sound.
Super Game Improvement Irons
Super Game Improvement Irons are the next escalation level of Game Improvement Irons. Recall everything you have just read about Game Improvement irons and multiply this by a factor of X. The sole becomes wider and wider, and the centre of gravity sets even lower. The ball launch is easier and the ground absorbs a lot more the failure effects.
Other iron sets that relates to the Super Game Improvement category are the hybrid irons and the lightweight iron sets. Light-weight clubs are a perfect fit for golfers with slow swing. The weight is cut at every turn to make the clubs as light as possible. The trick is quite simple, due to the lower weight, the player can swing them faster, which leads to a larger length.
Another alternative is the hybrid iron sets. Here, there is a progressive construction within the iron set. From a distance, the long irons almost seem hybrids, while the short irons look much more compact and classic. Usually, the longer the iron, the more difficult it is to play. However, technology tries to narrow down the difficulty gap to where even the 5, 4 or 3 irons result easy to manoeuvre in the air.
Driving or Utility Irons
For the sake of completeness, let’s mention also the driving irons or utility irons. These irons replace the long irons, which are more difficult to play, and thus compete with hybrids, which is why some golfers compare both of them. As a rule, driving irons have a wider sole, a hollow construction. They are also packed with technologies that increase distance.
However, there are serious differences between the individual models of the various manufacturers. The group of utility irons is very heterogeneous. Some irons are suitable for bringing balls into play flat and then letting them roll out a lot. This shows at the British Open, as the wind and the dry fairways tempt such shots. But yet, others deliver great flight and launch the ball more steeply into the air.