Xenon Golf – Handcrafted Putters that make your jaw drop

Xenon Golf – Handcrafted Putters that make your jaw drop

Xenon Golf Putter

Handcrafted Putters that make your jaw drop

Have you ever had a day when the stars just align and things fall perfectly into place? We all dream about that happening, whether it be in your personal life, job or in this case golf reviews. I was given the awesome opportunity to go through the process of a custom putter build by the Xenon Golf Company out of Nashville, Tennessee. Small companies like Xenon exist out there and they will build you a custom putter to our liking. You can spend just about any amount of money you want. In the case of a Xenon Putter, you are truly talking about a one of a kind putter because each putter is handmade by Kenneth “Lumpy” Uselton.

These putters aren’t made in some huge factory with hundreds of employees running around the place. They are made in a rather modest workshop 200 square feet. That’s right 200 square feet, that’s a 20 foot by 10 foot building. Smaller than most two car garages. No air conditioning or creature comforts here, and we all know summers in Tennessee can get a little warm. Lumpy produces a couple hundred custom made putters a year. He makes putters out of all kinds of metals from common stainless steel and copper-nickel alloy to the more exotic Damascus steel and layered steel laminate Mokume-gane. Custom finishes, millings and stampings are all available to the customer.

The process starts with receiving an order form from Xenon Golf Company. On this form are list of choices that you have to make before Lumpy can build you a putter. This had to be one of the hardest parts for me. What would your dream putter be like given the choice? What material should I choose? What stampings and options should I select? I really racked my brain for a long time deciding on them. I finally decided and these are the choices that I made.

Xenon Golf Putter

I decided to go with an “Element” model (somewhat similar to a Anser in look) and these are the specifications I chose:

  • 34” in length
  • 350 grams weight
  • 3 degrees of loft
  • 70 degree lie angle
  • Full shaft offset
  • ¼ toe hang
  • Plumbers neck
  • Aluminum Bronze head with a Vintage Antique finish
  • Chopped sole (slot milled in bottom of the putter)
  • Brass “X” in the cavity
  • Jet Matte black steel shaft
  • Stampings on the toe and heel
  • Signature face milling
  • Orange “Pure” Xenon logo grip
  • Magnetic leather head cover by Delilah Club Covers

Next comes the wait, which seems like an eternity but actually isn’t when you look at it, as he is hand milling each one of these putters himself by welding, stamping, finishing, assembling, etc… I was sent a picture part way through the process of the putter after the milling was complete, before the custom stampings, face milling and Antique finish was completed. This was a very nice little tease! When the putter arrived it didn’t disappoint in any way shape or form! It far exceed my expectations in both the design, appearance and feel categories.

The Xenon Golf putter was more of a piece of artwork sculptured from metal than a putter one would use while playing golf. A golfer could spend more on what some may call custom putters from a major manufacturer, but what does that get you? A design that is not very unique or different from their standard issued putter with just a few customized items.

Xenon Golf Putter

I would like to give my impressions of the putter from Xenon Golf in the following categories:

Feel

The feel of the Xenon putter is very good. The putter is Aluminum Bronze, this material has a softer feel than Stainless Steel putters and is more resistant to rust than a carbon steel putter. If you are a golfer that is use to putting without a insert, you will really like this version. Some adjustment would be required if you are coming from an inserted putter. It has a nice consistency and roll off the face. Well done Xenon putters!

Xenon Golf Putter

Forgiveness

The forgiveness of the putter is very good. It is a ¼ toe hang putter with a full shaft offset so that design works great for a slight arc style putting stroke. Most golfers putt with an open-square-closed stroke where the putter moves on a slight arc (sometimes known as an in-to-in stroke or a barn door stroke). Heel and toe weighted putters have long been shown to twist less than any other style of putter with an off center hit. This means that the difference between where putts end up if struck by the sweet spot as compared with off-center hits is as small as possible.

Sound

The sound of the ball coming off the face of the Xenon putter is a very pleasant click. This comes from a combination of the putter materials and the “chopped sole”. This is a small slot cut into the bottom of the putter located just behind the face of the putter. I have always wanted a slot in the sole of my putter. The putter build has given me that opportunity.

Xenon Golf Putter

Alignment

The only alignment aid on this putter is a white dot on top of the putter. A very simple way of aiming the putter but it works well for me personally because I putt while looking at the hole. I don’t need an over abundance of sight lines and other methods of alignments to take away from the appearance of the putter.

Xenon Golf Putter

Quality of Construction

The quality of the construction of the putter is second to none. You can tell right off that this a one of kind hand made putter, from the milling marks on the face of the putter, too the hand stampings on several surfaces of the putter. The addition of the brass “X” in cavity of the putter is one of those features you don’t get with a standard issue putter.

Xenon Putter

The Xenon logo grip from Pure has an excellent soft feel and just the right amount of tact to it. The putter cover is from Deliha Club Covers, Made in the USA. A magnetic closure keeps the cover tightly attached to the putter. Excellent graphics, and embroidery make this cover a perfect compliment to the putter.

Xenon Golf Putter Headcover

The complete process from start to finish was excellent with the Xenon Putter Company. If you are in the market for a “one of a kind” handmade putter be sure to take a look at them. They are on all of the social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The custom handcrafted putters are on full display with many pictures to look at. I bet you won’t find one putter that looks exactly like another. What’s great is that you can take the features you love from each putter and turn it into your own dream putter. So if there comes a day when the stars align and you feel the urge to make your dream come true, take a leap of faith and join the custom putter family.

Mike Hallee
Golf Life Contributor

Taylormade M1 Driver Review

Taylormade M1 Driver Review

TaylorMade M1 Driver

TaylorMade M1 Driver Review

In January of 2016, TaylorMade Golf introduced the M Family of metalwoods incorporating the use of carbon fiber with titanium to form a potent multi- material tee box launcher. This past December at Ibis Golf & Country Club in West Palm Beach (just minutes from LinksNation HQ) and weeks later at the PGA Merchandise Show in January, TaylorMade unveiled the 2nd generation of M metalwoods. By now you’ve seen them on tour and maybe even in your local retail shop, but what has changed since the original?

2017 / 2016

Taylormade M drivers

The new 2017 model on the left has a 6 layer carbon crown design featuring a slimmed down and flared white front section (Original 2016 model is pictured on the right). Does the new one look better, go farther, feel better? Some of those answers are subjective to the individual, but one thing is for sure, the bar was raised awfully high with the original ’16 models, they are absolute monsters off the box.

Any time you’re conducting a review of a product known for being the industry leader for well over a decade, there’s a certain buzz  and excitement that follows – and let’s be honest, what golfer doesn’t get excited over testing new drivers. We headed to PGA Village (PGA of America’s flagship property) in Port St.Lucie and their state of the art Foresight Sports Performance center for testing, then a round on the Wannamaker course.

TECH stuff

M Family Driver

The success of M1/M2 in 2016 was huge, elevating the #1 Driver in Golf to another stratosphere of big stick domination. So what could the R&D Team at TMAG possibly do to further the success of the M Family? The new slogan for 2017 – “Same Letter. Better Everything”. That’s great marketing, but will the performance bear it out? One thing is fact, the adjustability quotient has taken another leap forward. TM engineers saved 3 grams of weight by using a lighter 9-1-1 titanium alloy core skeleton paired with a carbon toe panel (’17 M1 has 43% more carbon fiber than last years model) which allows for a larger T track – providing even greater adjustability. (3 grams doesn’t seem like much to you and I, but in the engineering world it’s gold. These brainiacs fight for every milligram to improve their golf products).

Taylormade M1 Driver

The new T-track (shown in neutral setting) allows for 64% more front to back movement than the ’16 M1. As far as method of adjustability, nothing has changed – move the 12 gram weight back = higher launch/greater forgiveness, move it forward = lower launch/less spin. Move the 15 gram weight to the heel = more draw bias, towards the toe = more fade.

Taylormade M1 Driver

This view illustrates the refined sole design, as you can see the sole plate lips over the weight on each track, this equals less debris caught in the T-track and a sleeker sole. Streamlined from the original M1.

Gen One

Taylormade M2 Driver

The original M2 was our pick for the Best Driver of the Year in 2016, and quite simply it produced performance #’s that no driver in our stead ever has – EVER. In our opinion, it also produces the ideal sound and feel at impact. So the new M models have a ton to live up to.

Powerplant

Taylormade M1 Driver headcover

Stock shaft offerings for the 2017 M1/M2 : Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage TiNi (shown above), Project X HZRDUS and Fujikura XLR8 56. Select shafts from Aldila, Fujikura, Matrix, UST, and Mitsubishi are available at no up charge.

Appearance

Taylormade M Family Drivers

Certainly appearance is subjective, some prefer last years traditional red/black color scheme over this years lime/charcoal combination. Personally, the color means less to me than the design aspects, and the more I look at the new models (M2 also shown) it reminds me of a high performance sports car – inspiring confidence.

Taylormade M1 Driver

M1 nameplate located on the rear section of the crown adds a nice touch.

Foresight Performance Testing

Performance simulator

Pictured above, a staff member at the PGA Learning Center works on his game as we set up shop on the adjoining Foresight Simulator. We’ve discussed innovation and appearance of M1, but we all know fancy claims and good looks won’t get you onto the shortgrass or produce distance gains. It was time to get to work . . .

Needing a base of comparison the testing began with my gamer (’16 M2) that’s equipped with an Aldila Rogue Silver 110msi stiff flex shaft. Although my swing speed usually tops out around 107 mph for step on it all out swings, my normal playing gear is right about 103 mph. Consistency & accuracy were the objectives here, so after a dozen or so swings reaching normal speed and distance #’s, we went straight at it with the new M1.

*Just a bit of background on my game: I’m a scratch player who prefers to work the ball, but have recently gone back to my natural right to left “push draw” – which means I start my ball barely right of target and it peels off just left of it’s starting point. I never want to see a pull, not even when I play a fade. My miss often stays straight or is a block right. When the miss goes both ways it’s a smoke & mirrors day for me at best. If the adjustabilty of M1 can narrow in the miss and tighten dispersion all while giving me the same carry and roll as the gamer then we’ll give it a huge thumbs up.

foresight sports

Within a half dozen swings after switching to M1, it was evident that the Mitsubishi Kuro Kage wasn’t the correct fit for my aggressive transition. Spin rates, launch angle and dispersion were all over the place. A quick swap into the Aldila Rogue, and instantly the #’s were nearly identical with the M2 gamer. After some fine tuning, we got the settings dialed in (I prefer a slightly open face and an upright lie angle) and the data showed a very tight dispersion pattern. In order to keep the testing non-bias for either model we alternated back and forth between heads after every 5 swings (once finished and the data collected, we eliminated the single best and worst extremes with each), and here were the final results via Foresight.

Taylormade M1 Driver statsTaylormade M2 Driver stats

The Foresight results produced virtually identical performance stats (with launch angle being the only real significant difference). What does this mean? It means on paper the new M1 is on par with the absolute best driver that we’ve ever tested. Driver performance on an an indoor launch monitor is just one element of testing, these stats are just the beginning. The “reality” test would be out on the course, and luckily we had an afternoon tee time set up on the Fazio designed Wannamaker course next door at PGA Golf Club.

Feel/Sound

The original M metalwoods produce my personal favorite sound and feel of any driver previously tested or gamed here at LinksNation (2014 SLDR 460 gets runner-up honors) and that’s saying a bunch. The best way to describe the sound is as a muted thwack with a springy feel off the sweetspot when it compresses the ball at 100+ mph at impact. The new M1 feels really solid at impact and has a slightly louder thwack, somewhere similar to the SLDR.

On Course Performance

It was finally time to put the new TM weaponry to the real exam and see if it could be trusted under pressure in real conditions. It was blowing 20 mph all day on the Wannamaker course with intermittent precipitation, so this would be a stern test. Immediately the M1 impressed in a large way, rippin slight draws through even the toughest left to right crosswinds (typically the toughest wind for right handers). M1 showed it could launch high if need be, but its natural tendency (under this operator’s guidance) was a medium trajectory flat bullet. So far so good . . .

15th at Fazio's Wannamaker

Take a good look at the picture above, the 15th at Fazio’s Wannamaker is where it was put up or shut time for the industry leader’s new crown jewel. The tee box is actually 150 yds back and tucked to the right of this view with the entire carry over water. At 271 yards to the front pin, it would normally be nothing more than hybrid and wedge, but this was a driver test not a stroke play event, so taking on “Fools Gold” was mandatory.

A flared crop duster to the right would certainly end up in the water hazard, and at 255 yds to the front edge into the cross breeze it would take something solid. I decided to take dead aim at the mound just left of the green figuring a slight push would be online with the flag, a straight ball would possibly bounce back towards the green, and a draw would end up pin high in the swale leaving a tough but do-able up n down. The tee shot was struck solid and flew right at the intended target, it had a slight draw of about 3 yds and carried to the mound pin high and bounced down into the swale exactly the correct distance. After a decent lob shot and two putt for par, the questions were answered . . .

This was not the usual “get used to the driver somewhere on the front 9” type of experience that often accompanies new driver on the course testing, it was an instant love affair of long and precise tee shots all day long. Basically point and shoot from the every tee box, golf journalists Len Ziehm and Dan Hauser were first hand witnesses to the M1 highlights, “get your own”, I said. The exam was passed and with honors.

Summary

Certainly the Indian has something to do with how a test subject performs, but after you’ve done enough of these reviews you know a blue ribbon arrow when you see one. The ’17 M1 is just that – worthy. 

Is the Gen2 version an upgrade though? That depends on exactly where you stand. If you’re already gaming the original M1/M2 driver, than any type of distance upgrade is likely to be minimal at best, but if you’re in the market and want the very latest top of the line technology, it’s a no brainer – but keep this in mind, the proper shaft and head model are absolutely critical as we detailed during testing. GET PROPERLY FIT, it WILL change your game.

Value wise, there are good deals to be had on the original M drivers Dustin won the U.S Open with, JDay ruled the world rankings with and Justin Rose won the Gold Medal with – TM is the #1 driver brand in the game and for good reason. As far as my gamer is concerned, the testing will continue as we try to figure out exactly which one to go with, but as of this moment there’s a refined new “M” in the bag . . .

For more info on M1 and Taylormade products: http://taylormadegolf.com/

You can check out a video from Golf Life on the Taylormade M1 Driver here.

 

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tacticool “BAMF” Golf Bag

Tacticool “BAMF” Golf Bag

The Tacticool “BAMF” Golf Bag

In 2015, a couple of Air Force Vets and BFF’s founded Tacticool. Their motto is to create non-tactical gear with a tactical mindset. Keep in mind that the 3 founders are Air Force Vets. What they have created is something very unique and special. From extremely badass golf bags to awesome golf accessories, Tacticool is a company that is on the “up and up” when it comes to golf gear (no pun intended).

The Tacticool “BAMF” Golf Bag is exactly what you hope it would be. It is the world’s first personalizable, customizable, tactical golf bag. Developed with the same material that the troops use overseas, this golf bag can only be called “BAMF”. If you are unfamiliar with what “BAMF” means, it mean “Bad ASS Mother F*^&%$”.  This bag is not for the weak. This bag is for the avid golfer who grinds out their rounds each and every day. This bag is for the people who love golf and who love our Military. This bag is for those who call themselves “BAMF’s”.

The terms customizable and personalizable is thrown around a lot in the golfing world. Now-a-days you can virtually get anything customized and personalized. But at Tacticool, it is a bit different. When you buy you very own “BAMF” golf bag you are able to customize and personalize your golf bag each and every day. With (what seems like 100 pouches) you can change your gear, look, style and usability every time you hit the course. The entire bag is molle includes pouches that are removable on a versatile platform that is capable of complete customization.

At the top of the bag is a feature that I really enjoy. It is a handle that you can use to carry your golf bag anywhere you want. It makes life super easier getting the golf bag in and out of the cart, in and out of the car, in and out of the clubhouse. Not very many golf bags offer this amenity, so it is nice to have that luxury.

MY FAVORITE PART though, is the shotgun strap. If you are a hunter, this is something that will make you very happy. Say you are a hunter and a golfer, you can pack your bag full of clubs and balls and pack your shotgun strap full of ammo. I am not condoning the use of the shotgun on the golf course, but it is an awesome feature that just says “BAMF”.

No matter what the situation, you will be the toughest, most BADASS golfer on the course if you have a Tacticool “BAMF” golf bag. choose from Coyote Brown, Stealth Black, or the Olive Drab for colors. If you head over to the Tacticool website right now you can get a clearance on the 2016 models, just like you see in the video. While there, take a look their BRAND NEW 2017 “BAMF” golf bag that you can PRE-ORDER today or check out all there accessories you can use on a daily basis.

All in all, Tacticool makes quality products that last and that are BADASS. At the end of the day, that is all we are asking for!

 

2017 Greg Norman Collection

2017 Greg Norman Collection

The 2017 Greg Norman Collection

greg norman collection

Although you may not ever become the Champion Golfer of the Year and hoist the Claret Jug, you can look as sharp as the Shark while walking the fairways and out on the town. From dress to golf performance wear, Greg Norman has an outstanding assortment of fabrics and styles to have you looking and feeling your best all day long. Performance Stretch, ML75, Weather Knit and Solar XP are the latest threads in the ’17 Greg Norman Collection.

greg norman collection 14 zip

1/4 zip Heathered Mock is the perfect long sleeve pullover for those cool mornings and late afternoons on the links. The 88% poly/12% spandex blend is a comfort stretch garment that features UPF 50 sun protection. (ABOVE: Grey Heather).

greg norman collection ml75

The ML75 multi-stripe polo is the perfect companion layer to the 1/4 zip mock.

greg norman collection polo

The ML 75 multi-stripe polo features a superfine microfiber yarn in a classic design. Preferred by tour players, these are premium threads of the highest order. In zoom mode, you get a view of the timeless style of Greg Norman’s tailored collar. (COLOR: Black/Light Orchid)

greg norman collection polo blue greg norman collection polo red

Made from 100% microfiber polyester, the Solar XP Weather Knit long sleeve performance polo offers super sun protection (featuring chemical-free 50+ UV coverage) and Play Dry technology.

greg norman collection logo greg norman collection knit polo

The Shark’s Weather Knit polo is an ultra light aerated micro grid fabric designed to keep you cooler on those humid days. UPF 40+ sun protection comes standard (ABOVE: Calypso Coral).

greg norman collection long sleeve

GN’s versatile long sleeve button down is a high-performance stretch and easy care casual dress shirt that is ready for any activity. This is bar none the most comfortable button down we’ve ever worn. (ABOVE: British Red)

Greg Norman Collection Summary

The latest from Greg Norman has you decked out in style with fabrics that handle and impress every activity, and all at a very reasonable price point (all garments featured here in this review have an MSRP between $60-$80). Offering free shipping on all orders over $100, get your Greg Norman-style at: https://gregnormancollection.com/.

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Jason  Bruno
LinksNation.com & GolfLife.com

The NEW High Heat 3 Wood

The NEW High Heat 3 Wood

The NEW High Heat 3 Wood

Dean Knuth has 16+ years as a Senior Director of the USGA. During his time as the Senior Director, he created and invented the USGA Course Rating System & Slope Rating System along with the USGA Pace Rating System. To say that Dean has been very influential to the game of golf is an extreme understatement. He brings his passion for golf and his passion for helping golfers succeed into the clubs that he makes as well. High Heat is a company the prides themselves on creating clubs for the amateur golfer. Having golf clubs that are extremely forgiving, with tons of distance, is their cornerstone. Golf Life had the ability to head out to San Diego CC to find out what members and the average golfers think of the NEW High Heat 3-wood!

It’s all about allowing all golfers to enjoy the game of golf, and that is exactly what the 3-wood allows you to do. With the CG down and back, this club has unbelievable control and forgiveness off the tee or off the deck. Also, because the CG is down and back with an extremely high MOI rating, the golf club gets the ball up in the air in a hurry. Very similar to a lofted hybrid, the 3-wood creates tons of height and distance no matter what. The first thing you will notice about this club (or any of their clubs) is the beautiful blue. The blue is a unique color that you can pick out of any bag. The accented chrome doesn’t hurt either, in fact, it makes it even more appealing to the eye. This specific club was named “Best” 3-wood by numerous major golf media outlets.

Check out the full video review above. If you want to learn more about the technology of the 3-wood or want to see what other clubs High Heat has to offer, CLICK HERE!

Birdie Ball Putting Greens Product Review

Birdie Ball Putting Greens Product Review

Birdie Ball: The Indoor, Portable Putting Green

Birdie Ball

Living in the Northeast where the golf season is slightly shorter than most, you are lucky if you can get seven maybe eight months of golf in. This forces the golfer to look for alternative ways to keep the game sharp or at the very least going in the off season. I have played golf for over thirty years and have tried and used many if not all options when it comes to indoor putting greens. I have used the automatic ball return devices, putting on the carpet and the indoor/outdoor carpet. Some of them are better than others but none of them are ideal in any way shape or form. They all have their various drawbacks and limitations. So when I was given a chance to review the Birdie ball putting green I was extremely excited for the opportunity.

Birdie Ball Inc. was founded in 2002 in Golden, Colorado, a small family business, that focuses on customer service and providing their invaluable customers with fun and innovative golf products. John Breaker the president was so kind in giving me this opportunity to review his product. They offer many different sizes and options to fit just about anyone’s budget. I chose to evaluate 3’ x 12’ size putting surface in the classic ½” green style. They sent me a medium green speed of 10-11 Stimp. Birdie Ball Greens offer three different speeds slow 9-10, medium 10-11 and fast 11-13 Stimp. I have three cups on one end and two cups on the opposite end, with bumpers on both ends. The setup also came with five hole flags, four low back cups, one high back, a hole deepening shim as well as a hole reducing insert and small section of green for creating breaks.

Birdie Ball greens

Let me tell you a few things about the Birdie ball putting greens before I get into the performance of the product. The green has a specific side to putt on. It is what they call the “fuzzy side”. When you unroll the green for the first time it is the surface on the outside of the roll. You should also always store the green with this surface to the outside of the roll. They list three items as the enemy of the putting green, heat, intense sunlight and pointed objects. So it shouldn’t be used in direct sunlight or while wearing golf shoes. They also have a disclaimer when it comes to pets as we know with claws and their ability to scratch and dig at items not a good combination for the putting green.

Birdie Ball Hole

I have been rolling putts on the Birdie Ball putting green for over a month now. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t spend a few minutes on the green rolling some putts. The green rolls true and what they call the medium speed green rolls at a pretty good pace. They roll so true the fact is I can pick and aim for a specific side of the cup not just the cup in general. The bottom of the cups have small circles that hold the ball in place so you can easily aim for a space not occupied by a ball. You can easily set the green up for breaking putts also by inserting the provided shims underneath the green. I found that with the holes so close to the edges on the 3’ wide green it made the putt break very sharply. You pretty much couldn’t start the putt far enough out to the right or left to make the putt. If you had the wider four foot green I would think this would be fine. The Birdie ball putting green putts truer and more consistently than any other putting green that I have ever used or owned. The flags that come with the setup make it very easy to pick the balls up out of the holes (just like most putting greens on an actual golf course). The hole reducer works great when you want to narrow the focus and refine your stroke. I didn’t try this but they claim that you can slow down or speed up the pace of the green by using a broom or brush to either brush with the grain or against the grain of the surface. Yes the Birdie ball putting green has a grain to the surface. This is also the way they recommend cleaning the green off as well as using soapy water to clean any spots if you need to. The bumpers or edges they provide with the kit stop any speedy putts from racing away. The Birdie ball people offer many different choices when it comes to sizes and price ranges which should meet the needs of most anyone out there. They also offer other unique golf items on their website so check them out at birdieball.com, as well as their social media sites on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram.

Mike Hallee

Golf Life Contributor

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