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Breaking Free From That Late-Season Slump

If you’re a golfer — and if you’re not, your sense of direction on the Internet is truly terrible — you probably know a thing or two about the late-season slump: right around now, after a few months of regular play, you suddenly discover that you couldn’t find the back of the ball with the fat end of a frying pan.

What to do?

Disciples of the late, great Ben Hogan might tell you to head to the practice range and dig it out of the dirt. The irrational, self-gratifying devil on your shoulder might be of the opinion that you should rush out and drop a week’s pay on a new driver, or putter, or irons, or all of the above.

But what if there was a middle way, a chance to practice your way back into the game while still indulging the urge to spend your way out of your slump? Well, it just so happens there is. Here’s a selection of relatively cheap but nonetheless effective ways to tweak your gear, your game or even your look to breathe new life into the rest of your season.

Secret Grip
www.boccierigolf.com/secret-grip

Jack Nicklaus has been singing the praises of counterweighted golf clubs for years. As a kid, I was an unabashed Nicklaus fan and read everything I could lay my hands on about the man, and even then he made no secret of the little lead plugs he had installed in the butt end of his clubs to slow his hand motion. He concedes as much in this 2013 “interview” (read: ad) posted by the manufacturer.

Worth noting: Nicklaus was a high fade hitter.bg-secret-grip

So when Boccieri Golf’s Secret Grip — it features an 17-gram tungsten weight in the fat end, and a compound that’s 40 per cent heavier than most — arrived in the mail the other day, I was keen to give it a try, if only to see if I could detect the additional weight and whether it had any impact on my ballstriking. So I slapped it on my four-iron and trundled off to the practice range.

The results were more than a little surprising — and gratifying. I immediately noticed a higher ball flight and more solid contact that I was accustomed to with that particular club, which I found felt better in my hands — a sensation not unlike using an oversized grip for the first time, likely due in part to the built-up lower portion of the grip.

If there’s a drawback to the Secret Grip, it makes it marginally harder to feel the clubhead, something better players might not appreciate. But anyone who struggles with an early release, an out-to-in swing path, an overly quick tempo or just generally inconsistent contact (i.e., pretty much everyone) is probably going to notice a difference.

ClubCrown
www.clubcrown.com

Are the scuffs, scars and idiot marks on the top of your driver, hybrids or fairway woods sucking away your smooth-swinging mojo? Can’t afford an upgrade? Well, consider the next best thing: a sharp new look for those well-used clubs.

ClubCrown’s new self-install Stripe decals are a cheap, easy-to-use way to give your woods — and your mental game — a facelift without springing for new bats or waiting for your old ones. ClubCrown’s traditional full-size offerings require you to ship the relevant clubs to them, at their expense, for professional, wrinkle-free installation. But the new Stripe comes ready-made for you to stick on yourself.

If you’ve ever successfully installed a screen protector on your smartphone, and even if you haven’t, handling the Stripe is a breeze, thanks to detailed instructions and an ingenious trimming system that’s practically foolproof. Once in place, the Stripe functions as an excellent alignment aid — especially if you choose one from the Super Aim line, which is designed to help with acquiring your target.

And if you have a young golfer who’s either whining for a new driver or using his old one as an excuse for staying home, ClubCrown decals will get him or her excited again about heading to the course.

Ecco Evo One golf shoes
www.eccocanada.com

Regular readers of The Infallible Test will know that while we were once stubborn about the whole spikeless craze, we can’t get enough of the Ecco line of golf shoes — a coveted combination of traction and comfort. These days, the whole world is in on the spike-free movement (mark my words: a day is coming when golf courses will outlaw “traditional” soft spikes, which many superintendents and pros will tell you do as much damage as the old metal spikes did). But Ecco is still knocking it out of the park. EccoEvoOne

The Ecco Evo One features an even more durable tread — a welcome development, because you will want to wear these shoes everywhere you go. And like most of the Ecco line, they are a low-profile shoe, lowering your centre of gravity and helping you make solid contact (for even more low-CG goodness, check out the Biom Zero, which Ecco bills as their lowest-profile shoe and “as close as you can get to playing barefoot.”)

Another perk? If you’re the type of golf fan who likes to wear traditional golf shoes to tournament events, here’s a pro tip: you look like a douche. Ecco offers a variety of styles, very few of which look like golf shoes. They are absolutely perfect for traipsing around outside the ropes at your local PGA Tour event: comfortable, stylin’ and grippy as all get out. That way, if your favourite pro pulls a hammy and calls on you to finish the round, you’ll still be all set, right?

AUR Shirts
www.aurgolf.com

Sharpening up one’s look on the course can give even the most self-conscious player a boost — especially if that player is stuck in the past with the oversized, sleeves-over-the-elbows look of 15 years ago. Get into the present with a couple of fresh shirts from AUR, which immodestly bills itself as “the best golf shirt you will ever wear.” AUR

In addition to a modern cut with shorter sleeves and a still-roomy but less bulky fit, other thoughtful features include a meaty, four-button placket for a cleaner look on those hot days when you need two buttons free and a transfer-print label on the back neck yoke instead of an irritating fabric tag.

The high-tech fabric wicks moisture and lets the breeze blow through, making this one of the most comfortable shirts out there no matter what sort of late-season heat you might be battling. And with a wide selection of styles and colours, you’re sure to find one that suits your style, your preferences and your game.
GolfLogix
www.golflogix.com

If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to GPS-plot your way around your favourite golf course, but aren’t interested in forking out the dough for a laser rangefinder or a premium membership, give GolfLogix a try. A free download to most smartphone models, the GolfLogix app allows non-members to access GPS data for accurate yardages on more than 30,000 golf courses around the world.

59e60dIt’s a great way to test-drive the app and decide if you’re willing to pay $19.99 a year for the Champion membership upgrade, which provides a host of additional features, including advanced club tracking and distances to any location on any given hole — no more aggravation trying to get a laser-guided distance to an indiscriminate location, such as the edge of the fairway or the front of a bunker.

Like all good golf apps, GolfLogix includes the ability to map club distances, log and track round statistics (provided you’re disciplined about entering such stats on the course) — even count calories. And the more desperate player will find it easy to book tee times through GolfNow, order a new club via Golfsmith, read Golf Digest articles or annoy friends with GolfLogix referrals.

The app is easy to use and intuitive, if a bit cluttered with advertisements and add-on features that aren’t terribly practical (unless things get so bad on the course that you can’t help but download a video chipping lesson — just make sure there’s no one waiting in the fairway). There’s also a plethora of social-networking features through the GolfLogix clubhouse, which allows a player to share round data and war stories with other members.

The best part about GolfLogix is how feature-rich the full version is — part of the reason why it;s the most popular GPS golf app in North America. There’s nothing to lose, so give it some download love and see how you like it.

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James McCarten

When James McCarten isn't at the Ottawa offices of The Canadian Press, where he works as parliamentary news editor, he's either on the golf course or putting off his latest freelance golf-writing gig to spend time with wife Lisa and school-age kids Claire and Lucas. With 20 years of experience in Canadian journalism, James also suffers from a financially crippling addiction to all things Scotty Cameron.

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