Steve's Product Reviews

 

 

An Update on the GO Kart......

 

How gratifying it is to be proven correct, having extolled the virtues of a company and their customer service, we put them to the test last week as Doug Oakes sent his 4 year old Go Kart, never previously serviced, back to them for a service and an upgrade to the new Auto Handle. Total cost 139, which includes them organising a courier to collect and deliver the trolley to us. To make it even easier, we arranged for them to collect from the Club, so Doug dropped it off here instead of having to wait in for a courier....

 

 

It wasn't in the prettiest of conditions when it left, but for a 4 year old trolley it didn't look too bad.....

 

So today, it returned. Upgraded to Automatic Handle, Upgraded drive assembly, new top bag strap, new lower bag strap, 2 new drive wheels, new lower bag support, new mud flap, two new bearings and a new front wheel shaft........

 

 

...they also sent back the old, still muddy wheels!! The damn thing looks virtually brand new, most of it is now, and that absolute rubber stamp of confirmation of their own confidence in their own work and their own product......the TWO YEAR WARRANTY has just restarted, despite the fact that it was out of warranty for 2 whole years!!!

 

Absolutely superb. I was impressed before. I'm astonished now.

 

 

The Golf Ball Stamper, from stampyourballs.com  7th November 2013

 

What a great website name! If that doesn’t attract attention and presumably some odd people looking for something else, I don’t know what will!!

 

So we all know the routine, arrive at the first tee, due to start in 5 minutes, we have a rummage around in the bag for a decent looking ball, or if we are feeling confident, unbox a new one. Then we have another rummage around for a marker pen, and we deface our lovely shiny ball with a series of dots or initials, except the pen has gone dry as you left the lid off last time you used it. Hunt around for another one and finally get it done. The shiny new ball now looks like it was drawn on by a 5 year old, as it is impossible to mark the dimples nicely.

 

Or…..you take the lid off your Golf Ball Stamper, from stampyourballs.com, press the stamper against the ball and the job is done. What are you playing?

 

A Titleist NXT Tour S with 3 red spiders by the number……the ink dries in seconds, it is permanent and smart.

 

Somewhere out on the course, you lose the ball. A new ball, a quick go with the stamper, sorted in seconds. Currently, with over 30 designs, and more being produced all of the time, there is a design for everyone. From the Flag of St George, to Aliens, to Spiders and of course the Red Devils and Cannons of popular football clubs, you can quickly, cleanly, easily and smartly stamp your ball with a clearly identifiable logo. Put three spiders on, or get a couple of stamps and multi stamp!! The permutations are endless.

 

What if you do leave the lid off the stamper though? Well Paul at stampyourballs.com says that if you replace the lid, stand it nib end down and leave it for a while, the reservoir of ink in the stamper will work its way back down into the nib and it will replenish itself.

 

The stamper can work for up to 200 stamps, so if you put 2 on every ball, you will have to lose 100 balls before you buy a new one!! How embarrassed will you be, returning to the Pro Shop in a week for another one then?

 

RRP is 5.99, they make the absolutely perfect stocking filler for Christmas for a golfer. The perfect small present. It actually is fun, quirky and USEFUL. As opposed to Father Christmas socks.

 

 

Available from the Club now, 5.99 or 2 for 10. 

 

 

 

 

The Go Kart Trolley Review – 29th October 2013

 

 

The Go Kart Electric Golf Trolley is one of those rare things. A piece of high quality, modern design, manufactured in the UK and retailed at a very competitive price. What can possibly go wrong?

 

As you would expect from a piece of hi-tech designed equipment, the back office support is modern and quick to respond as well, email discussions on options quickly culminated in an order and within hours I had a courier notice telling me the item was in the system. The following day, the same courier gave me a 1 hour time slot when the delivery would be made. Not important for me, as it is being delivered to the Club, but for someone waiting for it to be delivered to home that is a great start. It was delivered on time, in a relatively small box as well.

 

Unpacking, really could not be easier. One wheel has to be fitted, and the battery. Those of you who have been blessed with the opportunity to look at Ikea instructions or worse, Chinese ones badly translated into English, will find the instruction manual simple to understand. There is even a video, just under 5 minutes long, on the website, to show you how to do it. To be fair, in the 5 minute video, they assemble it and collapse it about 20 times!!   15 seconds is actually about right!!

 

In the interests of a full review, I followed the instruction booklet exactly. Picture three shows that if you put your thumb between the sections and close it up, it will hurt. I tried it, It does. This is accuracy and honesty on a staggering scale! (and stupidity on my part!!)

 

It has, quite frankly, taken you longer to read this so far, than it took me to get it out of the box, fit the wheel and battery and away it went! The hardest part of the whole thing, was fitting the optional mudflap above the front wheel which will keep your bag clean in the winter. All I need to say, is that Derek fitted it in about a minute, with his rather iffy, slightly arthritic fingers. Simples.

 

The battery and its holder double up as the final locking part, you clip the battery into place, it locks up the frame and locates the connectors. Clunk Click every Trip. Without the Clunk!

 

When you check through the delivery paperwork, you find a Final Inspection Checklist, which has the serial number of the trolley! Now I could be wrong, but I am not sure any other trolley actually even has a serial number? Why would you have one, unless you wanted to keep track of its history, its servicing, etc. etc? Everything so far, points at quality, quality, quality.

 

So time to test the thing properly…..out onto the course. Buried in the depths of my locker is a YES trolley bag, so I dug it out and transferred the clubs, balls, gloves and bits from my carry bag to the big beast, strapped it to the trolley with the bungee strap at the bottom and the webbing strap at the top. Ready to go in seconds, and we head for the first tee with me wondering why on earth I have been carrying for years? It seems as though there is a great weight off my shoulders…….

 

The rear wheel base is 60cm (or 2ft in old currency) and the distance between front and rear axles is pretty much the same as well, so you get a really stable trolley where the bag lies quite flat in comparison to some others I have seen. When the bag is too upright, the centre of gravity is high and there is a much greater likelihood that a trolley will tip over. The Go Kart has no worries on that score.

 

The Automatic handle seems slightly bizarre to start with. Everyone else has twisty knobs or posh remote controls. I don’t. I just grab the handle and walk off. Almost immediately you feel the drive kick in and away it goes. Walk at your own pace and then let the handle go. Go Kart and golfer,  in perfect unison, side by side.  I am 100 yards up the 1st and already wondering why on earth I have been carrying for years!! We walk another 200 yards to my ball (touch of irony there) I put out my hand, grip the handle and stop the Go Kart. It is that easy!!

 

The angle of the bag makes withdrawing the clubs a cinch, and a trolley bag has a stack of spare space over and above a carry bag. The only thing you have to remember about the Go Kart, is that it free wheels forwards and does so very easily!! Don’t stop it and leave it pointing downhill!! Even backwards, there is not that much resistance either, so you simply arrive at your ball and turn the trolley so that the front and rear wheel are level…ish. Then  it just sits there waiting for its next instruction.

 

Don’t be tempted to try out the auto drive to see how fast it goes. I can assure you that it goes faster than you want and for longer than you can. You can always tell who has just bought an Auto Go Kart, they are the ones running down the 2nd fairway as they decided to test the speed on a flat hole……

 

You reach the 18th green, reasonably fresh and without aching shoulders. Even on a bad weather day, the GoKart stays pretty clean anyway, as the smooth plastic and rounded frame both combine to make it difficult for the dirt and debris of winter golf to stick. Go on, rinse it off with a hosepipe when you get home, it can’t go rusty!!

 

The Go Kart has 5 different colour schemes and the accessories list is impressive as well. A matching colour Bag, designed for the Go Kart so it sits perfectly, complements the Go Kart beautifully. Bottle holders, GPS Holders, umbrella holder, transit bags to keep your car boot clean and a hedgehog wheel kit to help keep those wheels turning and gripping through the winter months. There is even a seat!!

 

There are two other battery options, a long range and a lithium. Go Kart say, even on a course as hilly as Chalgrave, the standard battery is plenty. If you are playing 36 holes several times a week, then yes the 36 hole battery will probably be the one to get, or the lithium which is very light and very powerful.

 

Regular Trolley users will know the drill, come off the course, unclip the bag, remove the battery, release the clips, fold stuff up, re clip it etc etc. Whilst you are doing this, the Go Kart owner is already warming up in the clubhouse, regaling those in the bar with the latest anecdote from the course. The Go Kart was release one handle clip, take off the battery, fold it up and into the car. 15 seconds. If you are slow.

 

Rarely have I seen such a well designed product to do the job for which it is intended. It is manufactured in the UK by people who CARE about their customers. It is superbly priced and it is superbly supported. Simples.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the golf stuff below, I give my view on the golf products and gear available to the discerning golfer today!

We Golf....GPS Golf on your Mobile Phone!!
Turn your mobile into a personal caddie!!


If you have a Java enabled mobile phone (Midp 2.0 or higher) or a Blackberry (software ver 4.5.0 or newer) then check out the easiest way to get distance information out on the course. I (and Pete Graydon) have already done all the hard work for you in mapping the course......all you have to do is download the course to your phone and that's it! Once downloaded, you do not need to connect to the internet to use the mapped course, as you walk around the course, your phone tells you the yardage to the various logged points on your phone display. If you are lying on the beach in Ibiza, switch your phone on and it will tell you that you are 1,587,520 yards to the 18th green!! Personally, I would use a driver from there!!

 

 

....and not only that......it works on any golf course!! Once you have mapped the course (as little as 15 mins work online) download it and away you go. You will never have to buy another strokesaver booklet again!

I have a couple of copies of the software here at the Club (39.95), or you can order online direct with WE Golf using the button below.

 

 

 

 

A Premium Range Golf Umbrella

from www.umbrellaheaven.com

 

An umbrella that retails at over 30???... this had to be seen...so I asked Umbrella Heaven for a sample to review and this is it!! Typically, the umbrella arrived a day or so later...and the rains stopped for 2 weeks! All I need to do then, is buy 26 a year and we will have the perfect golfing year! Mmn that would not be a bad investment of 900!

Umbrella Heaven are a local based company in Leighton Buzzard, which specialises in the design and development of various umbrellas. They emailed me with the claim " we have just developed what we believe is the strongest umbrella in the world".....well I reckon the best place to test that out is Chalgrave!

 

Known as a multivent umbrella, it has a distinctive shape, a really solid fibreglass frame, by which I mean the central rod AND the support spans and a solid wood pistolgrip handle. None of your cheapy plastic handles on here!! The umbrella is really solid. You immediately have a sense that you are dealing with quality, not a 5 throwaway that will turn inside out and bend at the merest waft of breeze. The multivent system allows winds to pass through the umbrella, preventing the inside out blowouts that we have all seen on a golf course. The vents also make it so much easier to hang onto in high winds as the air is not trapped under the canopy.

 

The canopy itself is in three sections and each section is attached to its adjacent section and the frame as well. The total span when fully opened is approx 4 feet, so it provides plenty of cover underneath for even the larger units in the Club Membership!! The fibreglass frame makes it surprisingly light as well, which is another consideration when you are adding it to you bag weight to carry around the course! Available in Black or Navy, it is not going to win fashion design awards, but what you want is something to keep you dry!

 

The strongest umbrella in the world? Well I suppose I could test it to destruction to find out....I have used it in some seriously strong winds here now at Chalgrave and it has stood up to the test. All in all, it is a Ronseal Umbrella....it does exactly what it says on the tin! Well made, very very strong, big enough to keep you and your clubs dry, easy to keep under control in the high winds....why on earth would I want to test this to destruction???? It is a damn good umbrella and it's staying on my bag! So there you are...when you are asked what you want for your birthday/Christmas etc etc...and you say anything golf...and then groan when someone gives you 50 golfballs from the cheap shops that you wouldn't even use for practice....tell them you want a multivent golf umbrella from Umbrella Heaven. You might feel that 35 for an umbrella is a lot of dosh....but this one, I reckon, is actually worth it........

 

Phone umbrellaheaven.com on 01525 382938 quoting discount code CHAL03/09 for a discount down to 27.99 up to the end of March 2009!

 

The Zen Oracle Putter.....a training aid or a genuine top quality putter?? Well the website cites Tour Pro Stuart Appleby going from rank 156 to top 10 on the US tour putting stats.....and the list of tour pros using the Zen is lot longer than a gimmie putt ..and the hugely respected Golf Digest USA gave it two "hot product 2008" awards so there must be something going on!!

 
Probably unique in the putter market, the design of the mallet putter, with a precision cut golf ball sized hole in the head just behind the face, incorporates a training aid system. The Oracle website, www.zenoracle.co.uk  has a whole range of training exercises designed to improve and control your putting stroke, to develop a smoother and more consistent stroke.
 
So that was the pre delivery hype....did it live up to it??
 
Looks?? Well my preference would be for the blade style which has the same face but does not have the training "hole" of the mallet head, and again the website, or even picturing the mallet head without all the back bit....mmmmmnn now that is a really nice looking putter!
 
The grip is fabulous, soft and easy to grip, with some clear markings that make it easy to get exactly the same hand and finger positions every time you use it.
 
Despite the size of the mallet head (compared to my own Odyssey blade) the putter feels very light. At impact on the putting stroke, it feels really positive and sets the ball nicely onto a roll.
 
So as a putter in game use, it certainly ticks all the boxes in terms of looks and feel and I think that it would quickly give you a lot of confidence in use.
 
As a training aid, my first reaction was "another gimmick".... and then I tried it out. Oh yes! Now that is such a brilliant concept and you can see why they have patented it. If the concept of the 2 Ball putter helps you to visualise the line of the putter before and after impact, this lets you actually see it happen.
 
For example, put a ball in the head "hole" and another in front of the blade. Smooth backwards stroke and then impact and smooth follow through, accelerating slightly through impact for a putt from within 10 feet _ the "scoring zone". We all want to hole putts from there at even half the ratio of the Pros!!! The ball in front of the blade is struck as normal, and the ball IN the head releases smoothly on exactly the same line (if the stroke was smooth and straight) and follows the first ball into the hole about 6" behind it!!
 
Get it wrong, ie de-celerate through impact and the head ball catches on the underside of the putter as it slows down, and rolls nowhere. Slightly off line with the stroke, the first ball might catch the edge of the hole and drop in, but the head ball rolls past the outside edge. You actually see what happens, rather than visualise what should have happened. Practice this a few times, concentrating on making sure that the stroke accelerates through impact with a full follow through and very quickly you can see the improvement to the putting stroke and the consistency at impact. Scared of those 2 foot "almost" gimmies?? This drill totally eliminates the short, sharp stab at the ball.
 
This is just one drill of many. The only problem I had was that I had to keep running back inside to read the website to work out the next drill and then back out onto the putting green.....but I solved that problem as well. I took the putter to work and practiced in the office in front of the computer all day!!!  Damn.... that office carpet is fast!!! 

 

 

Well I thought it was going to be difficult....after all how many ways can you review a golf bag?
 
And then it arrived.

 
The "YES" Tour Bag. 9.5" Top, with individual sections for every club to the maximum of 14. Perhaps Woosie should have had this bag, then he wouldn't have to worry about counting them up!! The "YES" bag is never going to be a shy retiring type, resplendent in bright yellow and a solid black background, just to make it stand out that little bit more.
 
First thoughts, after the "wow, look at that" had subsided, were that something as big as that was going to be heavy, and I didn't have an electric trolley anywhere near posh enough to do it justice. What I really needed, was a caddy in white boiler suit and my name emblazoned across the back!
 
I tried hard to find one, but to no avail, so I carried it myself. It is unbelievably light, and I would say it is probably very little different in overall weight to my own carry bag which has a stand fitted to it. The "Yes" doesn't need a stand, find a flat bit of ground, plonk it down and it stands there proudly!! If its windy, or the ground is sloping, well do what pro caddies do, lie it on its front, leaving the "YES" logo for everyone else to admire and get on with the game.
 
Whichever angle you put it, the clubs slide in and out with no tangles. No embarrassing 4 clubs come up when you tug hard!! 
 
So the operational and aesthetic aspects are all superb. What about the rest of it? Pockets galore, and unless you are really careful, the cavernous zipped areas could end up breaking your back as you can lose so much stuff in there!! I arrived at the first tee and it started to rain, so I nipped back to the clubhouse, grabbed my waterproofs, and by the time I got back it had stopped. No rolling stuff into the smallest possible package and then wedging it into a small side pocket, zips bursting....just unzip the front, fold in half, zip back up again!!
 
Pockets galore, and lots of space in all of them. The zips, and the zippers are all great quality and the bag itself is made from a quality soft pvc coated material, so it wipes clean with ease and is virtually totally waterproof. The top section, for when it rains, well anyone with a chunky driver will tell you that you can never get the covers on properly with one in the bag....except you can with the "YES" and with plenty of room to spare. Get 4" added to your driver shaft...it will still fit!!
 
So can I find anything to criticise??? Well two of the pockets are labelled: "Cooler Pocket" and "Valuables Pocket". Well this bag attracts a lot of attention, so perhaps it is not the best idea to label the pocket where you keep your keys and wallet!!! So I hatched a cunning plan and hid my wallet in one of the other seven pockets instead. Then I thought that the "criminal mind" would expect me to do just that, so I went with a double bluff and put the wallet back in the valuables pocket on the basis that it would be the last place they looked!!  
 
A few holes after  I started, in the sunshine, I felt thirsty, so again back to the bag, unzip the handy insulated cooler pocket and out came the still chilled drink.  Actually, just buy warm drinks, the "YES" bag is so cool it will chill them itself!!! 
 

 

Orka Golf Equipment.

 

 

 

Not a brand that springs instantly to mind and to be honest, I had never heard of them before. They are part of the new breed of golf manufacturers and my initial impression was that they were going to be one of the “copy/imitation” merchants with a club that looks strangely similar to a Callaway or a Nike at 1/3rd of the price.

 

Wrong, BIG TIME! Orka are custom fit club makers, who believe that golf clubs should be made to fit the golfer as perfectly as possible. However, to make the products as accessible as possible to all golfers, as well as the latest technology in the clubs themselves, they use the latest web technology to enable you to custom build, custom fit clubs online. I had a long and detailed conversation with them about what clubs I use at the moment (TaylorMade Hybrids), shafts, swing speeds, grips etc. and just a couple of days later, the Orka KII Hybrids arrived.

 

I had two to try out. The 17 degree and 20 degree lofts with custom fitted shaft lengths using the Aldila VS Proto 80 stiff shafts.

 

First impressions were excellent. The clubs look damn good!! Fabulous shaped head, not looking oversized, just sleek and ready to do the business. The Clubheads are weighted, with removeable weights which presumably will provide you with differing ball flights in terms of trajectories and shape.

 

The clubhead feels heavy and others who “test swung” them thought the same. After hitting a few balls with them, I want more weight on all my clubs!! They feel wonderfully solid through impact, the ball fizzing off the clubface and off into the distance. Clearly the time spent getting the right shaft, the right grip and the right weight distribution in the clubhead is well worth it. They look fabulous in the bag, with modern, bright headcovers and then they perform the way you want them to.

 

The purists might rue the loss of the long iron to the new breed of Hybrids, but the game is there to be enjoyed. The Orka’s add  a new dimension to your game. The confidence gained from them is worth another club in the bag and those long par 4’s and the reachable par 5’s look so much more inviting now.

 

My verdict? Well they are staying in my bag. Taylor and Made can stay in the garage. That pretty much sums it up I reckon!

 

Dave Weedon

Club Captain

Chalgrave Manor Golf Club

Handicap 8.8 playing 9

 

 

The new Ping Rhapsody Ladies Driver in a nice pink/purple hue....well it looks so good in the bag with its head cover on!!!

 
And then you take it out and use it. Wow! Dead straight, longer and so easy to hit. The shaft was a nice easy flex, not too whippy and the 14 degree loft just makes the ball rise so easily.
 
I found that I needed to return to a more conventional tee height, rather than the extra long tees I have been using with my current driver, but once I had got that bit sorted out then the ball just flew off the clubface.
 
My club, Chalgrave Manor, is an undulating course and has a number of holes where the tee shot is semi blind or has a carry over a low undulation to the fairway. With this club, the confidence factor that the ball is going to fly long, high and straight just adds a new dimension to your game.
 
In my first round with it, our midweek Ladies 9 Hole evening competition, I breezed round with 19 stableford points....they may say "drive for show and putt for dough"....but the game is a lot easier from 15 yards further down the fairway and sitting in the middle of it!!!
 
My current driver is the Nike SQ and the bright yellow and huge driver head cover stand out, not always for the right reasons!!!
 
The Rhapsody looks are typically Ping, with the "hologram" effect ball on top of the driver head to make sure you are squared up to the sweet spot, but the colours are clearly a new concept that is coming to the fore in women's golf.....at this rate we will all need 5 different colour sets of clubs to match the clothing, shoes, bags and trolleys!!!!
 
With my surname of Woods, the nickname at my club is inevitably "Tiger". Well watch out Chalgrave, as Tiger is longer and stronger!!!