Kick It In Gear

Kick It In Gear

At one time or another, most golfers have had a club in their bag that they just couldn’t part with. Perhaps it never sliced off the tee, it helped hit a perfect approach in a tournament, or it was old reliable in the weekly Nassau. It simply performed well in so many clutch situations that out of a sense of loyalty we have stuck with that beat-up, nicked and scratched, out-of-date old club that should be hanging on the wall of a sports bar creating atmosphere.

Like Judge Smails in the movie Caddyshack, who called on his “Billy Beroo” club to find the bottom of the cup, we think what worked for us in the past will forever work its magic. But with continuing technological advancements in golf equipment—and the resulting lengthening of courses—those old reliable clubs are becoming more and more obsolete each year until you find that “Ol’ Billy” is holding you back.

“There’s a lot to that,” says Minnesota Vikings kicker (and avid golfer) Ryan Longwell. “But if someone doesn’t have a driver that’s been made in the last five years, they are really costing themselves distance and accuracy, which make the game easier. Golf is changing so fast that you’ve got to keep up to maximize your enjoyment. You don’t need a new club every year, but if you are waiting five years, you are being passed by.”

Longwell is the son of a golf pro from Seattle, and a +.08 handicap golfer who plays out of Isleworth Country Club in Windermere, Florida, where he spends time on the range with plenty of PGA Tour golfers. He understands the importance of good equipment. “I talk to the tour guys and see what are the hot items, which you can see by looking in their golf bags,” Longwell says. “I’m always curious because I am always trying to get better, but at the same time I always like to know what something is going to do.”

Short of joining Isleworth, Longwell suggests a trip to your local golf outfitter to swing a few clubs. So we took a trip to Golf Galaxy to find the latest and greatest, and then hit the Internet for gear to help your game. While many golfers may not play like Longwell (who might be thinking about the Champions Tour when his kicking days are done), there is plenty out there to help any golfer improve his or her game.