Gadget Guide – Spring 2011

The golf industry is huge. The sheer amount of companies and products that are marketed to golfers never ceases to amaze me. Many small companies and start-ups cannot afford to advertise, so they rely on social media and bloggers like yours truly to spread the word about their products. Part of the reason this website exists is to seek out these products and share them with people, not only because I love finding the cool new stuff but also because I am a consumer myself.

In this edition of gadget guide, I’ll introduce you to several fun golf products that caught my eye. Some are relatively new, and some have been around for a while. I’ve found many products recently that may be new to me but have been around for several months or even years. That’s what I mean about this industry being so huge. Even being pretty well informed about the happenings of the golf world, there are plenty of gadgets and trinkets that I have yet to discover. So, let’s take a look at our interesting finds for this spring.

Backspin BuddyBackspin Buddy

In the first year since the new groove rule was put in place, club manufacturers can no longer make clubs that have the non-conforming grooves that were so popular the last 4 or 5 years. This means that if you have some of the old wedges, you’ll want to keep them in good shape so they last as long as possible for maximum spin. The Backspin Buddy will help keep your grooves sharp and clean. Made from A2 hardened tool steel and heat treated for additional durability, it’s harder than the metal used to make your wedge, so it will sharpen and re-cut the grooves on most brands’ U or V grooved clubs. In my testing, the tool worked great at re-sharpening the groove edges on the face of an old Titleist wedge. It works particularly well at getting those small nicks that may have been caused by rocks hitting the face out of the groove area. Use it often to keep your irons & wedges performing and that ball dancing! It will work with the USGA approved grooves and the older non-conforming grooves. Priced at $19.99 with a 100% money back guarantee, the Backspin Buddy is available online at http://www.backspinbuddy.com/


Having been around since 2006, this isn’t a new product. However, it’s one that I didn’t discover until the summer of 2010. For those who are bored with the lame graphics on their wood shafts or sick of the plain old chrome look on their steel shafts, Shaftskinz are the product for you. Made of a material called PET (Polyethylene terephthalate if you want to get technical), Shaftskinz are a shrink sleeve that fits over the shaft of your clubs to give them more color and pizazz. For the club builders and technical minded out there, each installed sleeve weighs about three or four grams, adds no more than a half swing-weight to the club and increases the stiffness by about 0.005%. Not only do they add some life to your club’s looks, but they also protect the expensive shaft underneath from wear and tear, which is an added bonus. I installed a few sleeves on a wedge (Steel shaft) and my 3 wood (graphite shaft) and I’m always getting comments about the hot pink flame pattern on the 3 wood! The installation is done with a hair dryer, and it takes a bit of practice. It’s very important to go to the Shaftskinz website and watch the install videos because if you mess up (which is easy to do if you are a typical guy like me that likes to toss the instructions aside) you’ll get bumps, seams and other sloppy looking mistakes and you’ll ruin your investment. After installing a few of the sleeves I’ve found that really taking your time on the install makes a big difference. Going slowly, it still took just 3-4 minutes to install on my 3 wood – about the same amount of time it takes to re-grip a club.   Removal takes just a few seconds with a sharp knife. With 48 different styles and colors available, there should be something for just about everyone. For more information, visit the website at http://www.shaftskinz.com/

Tin Cup Ball MarkerTin Cup

No, this isn’t about the movie and the company isn’t owned by Kevin Costner. Tin Cup makes ball marking templates to add some life and cool designs to your golf balls. If you are tired of using dots and lines to mark your ball, then Tin Cup has a great solution for you. In fact, it was voted one of the best new overall products at the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show. Made of stainless steel for durability, the cup fits over your golf ball and provides a template for you to trace out the design on your golf ball using a fine tip sharpie. With a expansive selection of designs and patterns you are bound to find one or two that you like, but if you simply must be different you can also design a custom tin cup to your liking. I got the maple leaf design and found it very easy to apply and the resulting mark is clear and easy to see, depending on which color sharpie you choose. Tin Cup products are 100% made in the USA, and these days that means a lot to American consumers. They sell for around 20 bucks, which isn’t unreasonable considering it should last you a lifetime. For more information and to purchase your own Tin Cup, visit the website at http://www.tin-cup.com

Tour SticksTour Sticks

You see many of the PGA Tour teaching pros use them, and you may have seen them sticking out of the golf bag of someone on the range. They are Tour Sticks, and they are a very simple tool to help improve your game. These fiberglass sticks are a portable, multi functional training aid designed to help you when you practice. They are available in 9 colors and come in packs of two with a plastic holding tube for easy transport in your bag. Some of the most basic drills you can do with Tour Sticks are to use them as alignment aids. Simply place the sticks parallel to each other on the ground facing your target, and then use the sticks as a visual cue to make sure you are aligned properly. I’ve also seen players stick them in the ground on an angle to show the proper swing plane. This gives the player immediate feedback because if he swings too far from the inside the stick will get in the way. It’s a simple tool for a simple job, but it can help you improve your game. Available at many golf retailers and online at http://www.toursticks.com. They sell for $14.95.

Vibrant GolfVibrant Golf

If you are tired of the same old boring look of steel shafts but Shaftskinz aren’t your style, you may want to look at what the folks at Vibrant Golf are cooking up. Instead of installing a sleeve like Shaftskinz, Vibrant Golf has come up with a way to change the color of your shafts using their proprietary polymer coating process called VibraCoat. Now you can change your shafts’ color to any one of 12 different colors with their VibraCoat standard series, and you can also get your shafts engraved as a part of their VibraCoat Gold series options. The process is pretty simple, as you can send your existing shafts in to have coated, you can buy pre-coated shafts right from Vibrant or even buy complete golf clubs. Vibrant even offers colored ferrules to add another custom element to your golf club make-over. If you combine a flashy colored shaft with a colored ferrule and grip, you will really stand out and your clubs will be sure to turn heads. The standard price for the VibraCoat process is $19.99 per shaft if you send in your own shafts. Visit http://www.vibrantgolf.com for more info and to place an order.


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