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Senior Golfer - On The Green

New equipment can help improve your game

The Putting Green

In my last column, I suggested that we should try to get better at the game of golf so that we can enjoy it a lot more. Toward this goal, I said that there is one thing we need to do this upcoming golf season: spend the time and money to make this happen. This prompted a few people to ask, "Is it better to spend my money on new equipment or on golf lessons?"

While I do not have the answer to this perplexing question, I do not think it is useful to shy away from this question. I believe that equipment, lessons, practice and physical fitness all go together to help improve our games but sometime they become overwhelming. This month, I focus on new equipment and how it can help you improve your golf games.

When it comes to the latest and greatest equipment innovations, golf is not a sport that is short on options. Each year, manufacturers promise golfers the best technological innovations to help them improve their golf games. This year is no exception.

As I write this column, TaylorMade has just introduced us to its new driver, the R11, while Titleist has announced its new ProV1 and ProV1x golf balls, while Callaway and other manufacturers are giving us the first glimpses of their new drivers, irons, wedges, putters, and balls. Golf magazines come up with their "hot lists" of new equipment.

When it comes to purchasing golf equipment, money is a major factor. Most of us have limited funds, so it behooves us to make smart choices on golf equipment. For example, if you have $800 to spend on equipment this year, you could spend $400 to purchase a new driver that "will add 20 yards to your drives without bating an eyelash," and $400 on two hybrids to replace three and four irons. The problem is you don't know which ones to buy. Moreover, is it better to spend $400 to get a new driver, $100 to get it custom-fit to your swing, and purchase two hybrids that cost only $150 apiece?

You can get better, improve your golf games, even at the age of 65 and older, by spending money on new equipment. I have seen this happen to golfers I play within the Chicago area. The more important question is whether we are all better off spending money on new clubs?

While I do not have a definitive answer to this last question, I do know that golf equipment manufacturers have made tremendous strides in recent years to develop golf equipment that will allow us to hit the ball further and straighter-and that is what they all claim in their ads. I would be the first person to tell you that golf equipment has changed the way I play the game. I now hit my driver the same distance as I did 20 years ago. I hit my irons about one club less than 20 years ago. At the same time, I must admit to my loyal readers that my golf handicap has doubled and nearly tripled during this same timeframe.

With limited time and resources, where do you spend your money on golf equipment? Your answer depends on who you talk to and with whom you confer. If you take a look at the clubs in the bags of touring professionals, you will be amazed at their club setups. I recently read an article in Golf Digest and saw that one pro has different specs for his irons than for his woods, and the iron specs were different for his wedges. Why and how did he decide on these changes? Further, we have not even brought up the two latest issues to consider: selecting the right golf ball for our golf games and choosing the right putter for our putting strokes.

The people who benefit most from new equipment and new technology are the touring pros because they can go to the club manufacturers and be custom fit. They can use very costly and sophisticated equipment that can tell them the best lie, loft and lengths for their golf equipment. And, why not? Golf is their business, and they will spend anywhere from eight to 10 hours per day on their games. For average golfers, we can select new equipment that will help improve our games, but it has to be custom-fit to our swings, our bodies. Take the time to get fitted to your equipment and you will find it well worth the time and money.

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