Last year, for the first time in our relatively short blog history, LG celebrated the turning of the year of PF awesomeness with a gift for himself and for me, Stanley Mayhem scorecard and yardage book wallets, which he reviewed in detail here: https://thepowerfade.com/2012/11/15/review-leather-scorecard-wallets/. After fully agreeing with LG’s analysis, it became apparent that this should be a yearly exercise for the PF–not only to review excellent equipment, but to support the artisans who make them.

This year, I stumbled upon a tremendous offering from a friend of the PF, LaMont Mann. I’ve known LaMont Mann since he lovingly crafted my putter, which is reviewed here: https://thepowerfade.com/2011/05/02/review-sunset-beach-golf/. LaMont is one of the kindest and most humble people you will ever meet, but he is also one of the most talented in crafting putters. His custom and hand work has become a springboard for a great business. LaMont is capable of making things in the golf world that few can, and he offers his services at a reasonable price to those lucky enough to find him in a world where marketing often wins out over true craft.

I’d recently noticed LaMont’s postings on his Facebook page about some new divot repair tools. His initial offerings were single-prong tools. While those appeared to be well-crafted and of tremendous quality, they did not pique my interest for the simple reason that I never have liked to use single-prong tools. I’m sure someone was in his ear telling him “you have to make these in a two-prong shape.” Well, he did.

Coinciding with LG’s birthday, LaMont released his two-prong version. The moment I saw it, I knew this had to be the PF equipment of the year. I purchased one for LG’s birthday and one for myself. I asked for LG’s to be stainless steel and torched, while my tool is carbon steel and torched. LaMont not only sent me pictures of them in process, he returned my request to produce LG’s especially quickly knowing he had a birthday upcoming. The beautiful results are shown below:


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As you can see, these tools are custom milled, torched to perfection, and hand paint filled by LaMont himself. The cost was $86 for both tools with shipping included–certainly not inexpensive, but not as much as I would have expected for custom-made equipment.

So, any downsides? Well, the answer to that is a “sort of.” These tools are really, really cool items–especially for someone who knows custom equipment and/or knows who LaMont is. For the casual golfer, the reaction might be “why did you pay so much for something that nice clubs give away for free?” Or “I bought one of those at the Tour Championship for $36 and it had the Tour Championship logo on it! That’s an absurd price!” I understand where those people are coming from. I think these are tremendous. The personal craftsmanship is there. They are milled steel, paint filled, and made just like I wanted. On the other hand, these are not performance golf tools; they are being used to fix pitch marks in the green. They don’t have to be perfectly balanced to strike a ball correctly or milled to tight tolerances to avoid defects. However, when I use my custom tool by LaMont, I’ll know that I have exactly what I want in my hands and that it is as good of a tool as I could’ve gotten. That alone will give me confidence not to think of the wrong things on the course.

Cost: 6
Quality: 9
Customization: 10
Speed of Production: 10
Customer Service: 10
Overall: 8 (and it’s 8 only because it’s not required for everyone, but for those that do get it, it’s a 10 all the way)

JK WITB 2013

April 16, 2013

I’ve had a few recent additions/deletions from the bag for 2013. My bag has changed greatly from my prior WITB. I’ve come into a position of being able to purchase TaylorMade equipment, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I still have my Adams XTD Super Fairway, I still have my Fourteen MT28v5 lob wedge, and I still have the world’s greatest putter, my Sunset Beach Ocean Isle crafted by LaMont Mann. Otherwise, the bag is very different.

A few of them were undesired changes. For example, a caddy at East Lake lost my Mystery Valley towel along with several towels that LG gave me. I haven’t had a chance to make it back to MV to purchase another. I haven’t yet transferred all paraphernalia from my old PING bag to my new RBZ bag, but it’s in progress.

Some highlights of the new additions are below.

First, RocketBladez Tour irons. These are tremendous irons. I originally purchased my set 3-PW, but I had to buy an AW because I hit them too far. I am pushing 250 with the 3-iron. The slot technology really does improve the distance, but that’s not why I bought them. The more important part is that it improves the feel. The sweet spot is enormous on these–almost the size of a quarter. To a good golfer, the difference between nickle- and quarter-sized sweet spot is enormous. Perhaps that’s the reason so many pros got them.

Anyway, here are the specs:
3-AW
1 degree weak lofts
mostly standard lie (had a dynamic fitting to get them right, some are a bit flat)
standard length
Dynamic Gold X100–swingweights to the D3.5-D4 range, which is great for me
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As you can see, I still have my MT28V5 lob wedge, but I’ve replaced the sand wedge after a few seasons and a restoration. I went with the TaylorMade ATV wedge in 56 degree bent 1 degree weak to 57 degree. This was the loft I had always played in my wedges going back to when I was 16 years old, so this just made sense. ATV’s sole flange is actually really good out of sand because it gives more bounce contact with the sand. Plus, they are naturally set up a little shorter and a little heavier than a standard wedge, which is what I do anyway, so it works out great. I have since changed the paint fill on the two stripes to yellow/yellow, but for the purposes of getting this uploaded and online, it’s on in black and red.
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Now, the beauty–R1. This driver is a beast. First off, the customizability is a tremendous feature. For a better player especially, this works wonders. You go out to the range, hit it 20 times, tweak it, hit it again, tweak it again, and go over and over until you hit the flight you want. If you can find a few different shafts to try, even better. Mine is dialed in to 10.5 loft (higher than the 9 I used to use) with a TP shaft in it, a RIP Phenom in 65g. The original 55g RIP Phenom I felt was a bit too light. I also cut it down to 45″ from the original 45.5″, which is stock. To compensate for swingweight, I replaced the heel weight (1g) with a 6g screw-in weight. It really is a driver that I customized for me. Best part–if I ever find I don’t like it, I can change it. I think LG is going to work on a new shaft in his–we’ll see what he ends up with.

This driver is a beast. It is every bit as long as my last driver, but I never seem to mishit it. Even the ones that don’t feel great are still long and around the fairway. I’m able to move the ball both ways but it doesn’t ever get out of control. I really like this driver, but that’s what TaylorMade has always done well.
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The pic below shows a full shot of my new bag. It’s got all the colors worthy of a JK bag.

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I’m now using TaylorMade Lethal golf balls, which work great. Maybe not quite as much spin as Pro-V1x, but it’s frankly been a good thing because I can’t seem to hit my driver anywhere other than exactly where I want to. The ball feels great on and around the greens. As you can see, I still have my gold markings commemorating Georgia Tech. I recently found new Sharpie markers in an Office Depot, as well. It seems Sharpie has finally re-released the gold, silver, and copper colored Sharpies (not paint markers) again. Great news for me, as I was down to my last gold Sharpie.
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That’s it. As you can see, a lot has changed, but a lot remains the same. Most of the inner workings of my golf gear has not changed–the ball liner, the scorecard cover from LG (thanks bud), the range finder, etc. However, the influence of a good deal is evident–I definitely am getting great pricing on TaylorMade gear. But it should be noted–I have elected to continue to play equipment that works well for me (which is why I still have some non-TaylorMade equipment). With the new additions–especially the newer and better driver–I’m striking the ball well and looking forward to a good season.

Masters Predictions 2013

April 8, 2013

The best week of golf all year. The Masters. A tradition unlike any other. Hello Friends. Are you excited yet?

Our predictions are below. As always, take them for what they are, but if you win money, we get 1/2.

So, without further ado, here’s our predictions:

LG:
Winner: Tiger Woods (T4; ADAM SCOTT)
If you had to pick someone other than Tiger…: Louis Oosthuizen.  Man, he was so close last year. (MC)
Winning Score: -14 (-9)
Runner Up: Jason Dufner (T20)
Low Amateur: Micheal Weaver (MC, Tianlang Guan)
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Kevin Streelman (Marc Lieshman or Thorbjorn Olesen)
Last Year’s Winner (Bubba Watson) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): make a strong showing – Top 10 (T50 at +7)
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 4 (2, Tiger Woods, Angel Cabrera)
Dustin Johnson will… Make the cut (T13, -1)
Fred Couples will … Top 10. (T13)
US Open Champion (Webb Simpson) will … Miss Cut (MC)
British Open Champion (Ernie Els) will … Miss Cut (T13)
PGA Champion (Rory McIlroy) will … Miss Cut (T25, +2)
Guan Tianlang (14 year old from China) will … Miss Cut (low amateur, solo 58th, +12)
Will there be a hole in one? Yes, obviously. (i don’t think there was)
What will be the major storyline of the tournament? one of the following: 1) the weather, 2) Tiger’s 5th, and/or 3) Fred Couples turning back the clock. (Scott v. Cabrera, no doubt; or, Tianlang Guan)
What is your Bold prediction? None of the current major champions make the cut. (wrong)
Number of times “dufnering” is referenced on Sunday: 6 (0, thank God)

JK:
Winner: Tiger Woods
If you had to pick someone other than Tiger…: Justin Rose (T25, +2)
Winning Score: -6 (-9)
Runner Up: Dustin Johnson (T13)
Low Amateur: Steven Fox (MC)
“Unknown” in the Top 10: Matteo Manassero (MC)
Last Year’s Winner (Bubba Watson) Will … (Win, Top10, Make the Cut, or Miss the Cut): Make the cut but that’s about it (MC)
How many prior winners will be in the Top 10: 3 (2)
Dustin Johnson will… Top 10 (T13)
Fred Couples will … Make the Cut, just outside the top 10. (T13 – nice!)
US Open Champion (Webb Simpson) will … Make the cut (MC)
British Open Champion (Ernie Els) will … Make the cut (T13)
PGA Champion (Rory McIlroy) will … Top 10 (T25)
Guan Tianlang (14 year old from China) will … Miss Cut (Made cut, low amateur)
Will there be a hole in one? I’m guessing 16th. That’s the most likely.
What will be the major storyline of the tournament? Probably will be Tiger winning wire-to-wire. Also, an amateur pushes for a top 10 spot (a la Beau Hossler at the US Open last year).
What is your Bold prediction? Phil Mickelson visits the hospital with a Kevin Ware compound fracture after slipping on a pimento cheese sandwich.
Number of times “dufnering” is referenced on Sunday: I hope none…. the announcer that brings it up should get the Gary McCord treatment.