Anyone who reads the PF regularly knows how LG and I feel about our golf equipment–utterly superstitious. Inexplicably, we feel a connection to certain equipment that gives us more confidence. Whether it’s good balls numbered 7 or fairway woods that are 7 years old, LG and I have the things we each like.

For me, once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. In accord with that, I REALLY like my wedges. I have figured out how to set them up correctly for me and my touch. The only problem is that I’ve basically worn them out. See photos below.





In accord with it, I looked at replacing them. However, I got such a good deal on them, there’s no way I could afford $190/head to replace them new (see http://www.fourteengolf.com/product/detail.shtml?P=53 and http://www.tourspecgolf.com/Fourteen-2010-MT-28-V5-Forged-Wedge). Them, I found out about rechroming.

Several places do it, but for price and quality (based on reviews), I chose to use The Iron Factory (http://www.theironfactory.com/) and well-known iron restoration specialist Jim Kronus. Kronus provided chroming services to many OEMs years ago but now provides services for orders as small as $30. When I contacted his business, I got a personal call from the man himself to discuss my order and to answer my questions on the process.

Placing an order is as simple as providing a letter stating what you want Jim to do, putting the heads in a box (small flat-rate box from the post office is $5.00), and sending them away to the address on The Iron Factory website. When the heads arrive, Jim will call you personally to confirm your order, take your credit card information, and answer any questions you may have. We discussed the need for the grooves to remain conforming to the new 2010 groove rule, and he informed me of some ways he could make it happen.

About a week and a half later, I received my rechromed wedge heads, as shown below:






Yes, those are the same clubs. I couldn’t believe it. Jim did a fantastic job. Not only do they grind out all of the dings and dents to make the soles smooth again, Jim adds back the requisite chrome to keep the head weight the same as when they came in.

Drawbacks, they weren’t super cheap, but they weren’t expensive either. At $38/head to regroove, restore, and rechrome (shipping included), I can’t really complain. I will say that I believe I asked at one point for bright chrome and I believe I received satin chrome, but I am not concerned: these look great, and bright chrome may been a bit too reflective for wedges. The last thing is that Jim sends all his orders out with signature confirmation. Since I wasn’t there to sign for the box, I had to go to the post office to get my box, which was a hassel given that it’s nearly Christmas.

However, the communication was great, and the final product was beautiful at a reasonable price. I’m very happy, and I’m looking forward to getting out there with these.

Price: 7
Value: 9
Communication: 9
Customer Service: 7
Quality: 9
Overall: 8

Today I review Black Oxide Service, provider of metal finishing services. bosgolf.com

BOS is well-known in the golf industry–particularly in the putter world–for their outstanding finishing of some of the best-looking clubs in the game. BOS is responsible for the finish of Scotty Cameron’s original Gun Blue Classics line of putters, the line that put Cameron on the map. BOS also has worked on Scratch clubs recently, providing some special finishes for their wedges.

After tinkering around with the idea of refinishing/reworking clubs myself, I got in touch with BOS to clean up some Cameron putters for me. Consistent readers will know that I restored a Cameron TeI3 putter (see https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/restoring-a-tei3-long-neck/) but was unhappy with the cold-blue finish, even after several tries to get it right. Although I learned a lot from the restoration process, I decided I wanted something unique, so I sent my putter to BOS for their “Aquamarine” finish, a green-blue hued finish.

Coincidentally, I was able to pick up a Cameron Newport Oil Can putter for a good price. Although the putter did not need much work to repair dings or dents, its finished had been stripped because–according to the prior owner–“it had been left in a garage and was all rusty, so some stuff was put on it to take the rust off.”

Below is what the Newport Oil Can looked like before sending to BOS. Look at the post on restoring the TeI3 (here: https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/restoring-a-tei3-long-neck/)for photos as to what that putter looked like before.




The result was utterly stunning:










Refinishes from BOS are not cheap (see http://www.bosgolf.com/finishes.html) However, if you can find an old Scotty Cameron putter for a good price, they can be a cost-effective alternative to the Cameron Custom Shop and can even allow you the ability to customize the finishes yourself–putting something like Aquamarine on a Cameron putter would never be allowed from the Custom Shop. Further, if you just wanted a nice putter that was basically new but didn’t want to spend the $300 for a new Cameron or much more for an old one in good shape, a refinish by BOS can be a great way to get that putter of your dreams for a fraction of the price.

BOS’s customer service was great as well. For the TeI3, some of the finish peeled off. BOS repaired the problem at no charge, and it looks good as new.

Downsides, the cost is pretty high. They refuse to ship anything other than UPS, so shipping is $17.50 for a single putter head (yikes!). But their customer service is fantastic, and although some have complained of long lead times, they got my putters back to me in just a few weeks.

Price: 4
Quality: 8
Turnaround: 7
Customization: 8
Customer Service: 9
Ovarall: 7

Today’s review focuses on a niche in the golf industry: customization. In this case, custom club covers.

That’s right, I said custom golf club covers. Although it sounds over the top, many golfers like to customize their bag. Your clubs should fit you like a glove–lofts, lies, grips, shafts, and more. Customizing the appearance of your clubs is an extra step many golfers take to stand out and to put their own personal stamps on the game they love. For example, looking at LG’s bag, he even has his own custom ferrules (see https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/whats-in-the-bag-lg-edition/ for LG’s custom blue ferrules, seen best on the photo of his wedges). And, would Tiger really have been as great without his notable friend, Frank?

Personally, I haven’t ever believed that I had a good enough game to customize my own bag–and, quite frankly, I didn’t have a good enough bank account. However, this year, I’ve settled into my equipment, and, as a Christmas gift to myself, I decided it was time to customize my golf bag. Having just had my second child, a custom club cover dedicated to my two children was what I wanted.

The first thing I needed to do was find someone who could make it. For that, I can tell you–look no further than DelilaH at GirlyGolfer (http://www.girlygolfer.com/CLUB%20COVERS%20MEN.html).

I emailed the contact information on the website stating I had an idea and wanted to make a cover dedicated to my children. Delila responded in no less than a week–starting with an apology for how long it had taken to get back to me!

Delila (the H is for her last name) contacted me asking whether I had a specific idea, which I did not. I pointed out a few things I thought would be important for a personal cover: (a) I wanted yellow to match my bag, which is generally yellow in honor of my alma mater, Georgia Tech; and (b) I wanted an elephant and a giraffe somewhere on the cover because those animals signify my two children. Maybe I would add my initials, but it wasn’t required. Within two days, Delila was back to me with three different design options with various pricing. After about a day of deliberation, I picked one of the options and offered a few tweaks.

Delila sent me an invoice which I paid the following morning. By the evening, I received the following picture of my completed club cover:

She boxed it for shipping that night, and I had it two days later.

Soup to nuts, from the “hey, I think I’ll get a custom club cover” to having the finished product in my hand it took Delila 10 days, and she was apologetic that it took as long as it did!

All of my reviews have a drawbacks section to highlight at least one thing I did not like about the process, the course, the application, whatever. The only thing I can say was a drawback was cost. As with any customization, the cost will not be a bargain. The custom cover shown above was $70 shipped ($64 for the cover + $6 shipping). However, Delila did an excellent job conceiving the design, making it, and putting it together, and it is an extremely high quality cover. I cannot complain about $70 for all of that work that she did. Some of the seams are not 100% straight and aligned, but I expected some variation as the covers are sewn, not mass-produced, and the small “imperfections” that might bother some purchasers give it the custom-made look that I prefer.

Altogether, I got EXACTLY what I wanted: a custom-made cover that is exactly my style and is the perfect accent to my golf bag (look for it in my upcoming What’s In The Bag post). The process was unbelievable, quick, and I could not envision it running any smoother than it did. Thanks, Delila!

Turnaround: 9
Design(s): 10
Quality: 9
Communication: 10
Price: 7
Customization: 10

Overall: 9

As you may recall, last October I posted a “preview” of a review for a lesson with Mitch Lowe.  I finally had occasion to take Mitch up on the lesson I purchased all those months ago.

Saturday Morning in San Francisco was a picture perfect day: clear blue sky with streaky clouds. Since I haven’t had a chance to play as much as I’d like prior to getting a lesson, I thought I’d get Mitch some “hard data” by playing a few holes and developing some statistics for him to analyze my game.  This was also a wonderful excuse to check out Harding Park’s Gem of a short course – the Fleming 9-hole.  This short course is composed of three par-4s and six par-3s.  The holes vary in length from 140 to 235 yards for the par-3s and 260 to 425 for the par-4s.  Having played few short courses, I was keen to try this one out to expand my horizons on this fantastic idea.  There aren’t enough good things to say about this short course.  It is set directly in the middle of the back nine of the famous TPC Harding Park.  The big course is prominently featured on the Champions Tour and was the site of one of the most dramatic Presidents Cups ever played (I was actually there!).  From my limited experience, I have gleaned that short courses generally get the low end of the maintenance support when compared to the marquee course.  I was happily dispelled of that notion at the Fleming Course.  The greens were impeccable and the fairways were trimmed as though the Presidents Cup were about to return.  Also, the Fleming 9 were not short on the scenic views that Harding offers.  The beautiful cypress trees that line the big course also have their counterparts on the short course.  This truly felt like a mini-Harding experience.  For $31 total, the deal could not be beat.  No reservation required, just walk up and request to go out.

Having played a decent warm-up round, I went over to the range to meet up with Mitch at the appointed hour.  At the beginning of my lesson, he asked me what I wanted to accomplish.  I told him my goal was to work on my spotty iron play and to have a plan for improving my consistency and distance.  He took these goals and ran with them.  I started off hitting a few wedges and Mitch took video on his iPhone and quickly deciphered that my weak fade and spotty iron play was due to casting of the club.  Sadly, this much I had gleaned from my own video before.  Mitch, however, had a solution.  His method focuses purely on getting the club to the right position at impact.  Rather than focusing on the positions that my body might have been in, he focused more on getting the club square at impact with forward shaft lean.  The videos he showed me proved that though my hands were fast enough to square the club and hit a straight shot, I was essentially turning my 7-iron into a 9-iron by adding loft and having a backward leaning shaft at impact.  After a few adjustments, the later videos showed that I had indeed moved from a backward leaning shaft to a forward leaning shaft and was having to rely less on my hands to square the club.  In the end, Mitch accomplished what few instructors actually accomplish: he created a plan for me that would lead me to achieving the goals I had set out at the beginning of the lesson.

As far as a review:  Mitch was a consummate professional.  He entertained my questions about playing in the PGA Championship as well as kept me on track with the principles he was attempting to convey.  I believe his style works for me in that we discussed the thought or principle to me that he wanted me to think about during the swing and let me implement it by experimentation.  I also watched him work with a beginner prior to my lesson.  During that lesson, he was much more hands on and was interested in helping the beginner simply make contact.  His style changes as the situation requires, which I find valuable in an instructor.  He is very knowledgeable about the game and conveys his knowledge in an accessible and easy to understand manner.  He also conveys a true love of the game.  Toward the end of my lesson I asked how often he teaches lessons.  His response was a big smile and said that it was his full time job.  He truly enjoys giving lessons and the game.  I would highly recommend him for anyone that needs a tune-up or introduction to the game, and I plan to continue taking lessons from him.

Though I generally do enough reading on a daily basis to never want to read anything “for pleasure,” Carl Hiaasen’s The Downhill Lie caught my eye.  Before I begin raving about the wonderful writing, (actually) laugh-out-loud jokes, and truly touching story that Hiaasen has composed, I should provide a disclaimer:  Hiaasen attended Emory University which is also my alma mater.   I have no shame in admitting that this fact is the reason I purchased this book from the $5 shelf at borders.  That fact aside,  I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in feeling better about their own golf game.

Hiaasen describes his return to golf after a 32-year long break.  His entry to golf, like many, was due to his father.  He entered the game as a boy and never really took to it.  Like many children, he found the game difficult and frustrating.  After his father passed, however, he felt as though this might be a way for him to reconnect with him through the game he loved.  With dry wit and imagery I have yet to find in another golf book, he describes his triumphs, travails, obsessions, and follies that nearly every person demented enough to play this game experiences.  Ultimately, Hiaasen concludes his journey by realizing that passing the game on to his own son is truly his “contribution” to golf.  If you have time, I highly recommend reading The Downhill Lie.

From the book flap: “Hiaasen’s chronicle of his shaky return to this bedeviling pastime and the ensuing demolition of his self-esteem – culminating with the savage 45-hole tournament – will have you rolling with laughter.  Yet the bittersweet memories of playing with his own father and the glow he feels when watching his own young son belt the ball down the fairway will also touch your heart.  Forget Tiger, Phil and Ernie.  If you want to understand the true lure of golf, turn to Carl Hiaasen, who has written an extraordinary book for the ordinary hacker.”

The Downhill Lie Book

Buy the book here

While JK will be spending the next few weeks reviewing the Titleist Pro-V1 prototype (JEALOUS), I will be hitting the range with a living, breathing PGA Tour Professional!  Mitch Lowe is offering discounted lessons at Harding Park just south of San Francisco.  Why does that course sound familiar, you ask?  The U.S. just won the Presidents Cup there.  Yeah.  Review to come!

Get your lesson here! ($60/hr at Harding, or 9 holes at Fleming Golf Course for $110)