Rhoback performance polos are cool in more ways than one

Rhoback featuredFor all there is to love about summertime golf there’s one thing we all struggle with: beating the heat. Cold beers and bucket hats can only go so far when you’re already sweating by the time you reach the first tee box, and heaven forbid a good-looking cart attendant catches you rocking any less than flattering sweat stains out there. The clothes you wear on the course matter in more ways than one, whether you’re out there flexing your look or just trying to meet the club dress code.

Rhoback polos are made for those living an active lifestyle on and off the course, with a range of colors and styles suited for anyone’s taste. As a matter of fact, the company “craves activity” and is dead set on changing the way you think about your summer active wear. The quick drying and extremely breathable material — 92% poly and 8% spandex — is all but unnoticeable on the course, which is a good thing. No matter the temperature or precipitation in the air, Rhoback polos keep you looking great, and cool, without worrying about sweat stains, wrinkles or becoming disheveled and needing to change right after your round. That’s part of the company’s goal, to design all day active wear, ready to go from the course to a meeting to a dinner date without hesitation. The comfort fitted polos don’t impede your swing in any way and look sharp tucked or untucked no matter the outfit. The sturdy self collar holds its shape well and is all but guaranteed to never “bacon,” speaking to the durability of Rhoback’s designs as well.

Rhoback Casey Jones

The Casey Jones

To see the difference between Rhoback and standard golf shirts, imagine the difference between wearing a black polo on the hottest, sunniest day of the summer versus a white polo, or a long sleeve versus a tank top — it’s night and day. After two rounds at altitude in the baking July sun I should feel like a hot, sweaty mess (as indicated by the sweat stains covering my hat) but my Rhoback Casey Jones polo still looks fresh off the rack, and I could keep chasing the sunshine for another 18.

It’s not that Rhoback is the one and only company making great summer active wear, but Rhoback is making it more practical and accessible than others. Many a golf shirt looks, well, like a golf shirt and not always an appropriate option for off the course outfits. But Rhoback’s subtle, classy designs can be paired with just about anything, for just about anything — not too flashy or overpowering.

If you’re looking for a high performing active polo ready for whatever you can throw at it, out Rhoback polos to the test.

Golfkicks says screw your everyday golf shoes

I am not one for gimmicks or novelty products — cheap, one-use-only items that usually just end up sitting in the junk drawer — but I am a shoe junkie. So when a couple of boxes of GolfKicks showed up at the CGB headquarters I found myself feeling skeptically excited to try them out.

The idea behind GolfKicks is simple: turn most any flat soled pair of shoes into golf shoes by adding spikes. Thoroughly enticed by the notion of turning any shoe I want into a fly pair of golf shoes, I spent months trying to decide what brand would be best suited for a trial run. I knew I wanted something cheap in the event I totally ruined them, but also something I’d want to wear regularly incase the GolfKicks performed as advertised. I also wanted something familiar in both fit and style, with nothing else like it already available as a golf shoe, and finally settled on a pair of classic Vans checkerboard slip-ons ($50 brand new).

GolfKicks in hand and thinking I’d done enough homework on my choice of test shoes — I’d also seen a pair of the same shoes while scrolling GolfKicks’ Instagram — I figured I’d be hitting the course in no time at all, but that wasn’t the case. I learned Vans’ sole pattern is “not ideal” for GolfKicks after visiting the installation tutorials on the company’s website. Flat, minimally textured shoes work best, but the company says there’s been enough interest in the Vans pairing for them to be “going with it,” and providing a Vans-specific installation video, too. So far, so good.

GolfKicks come with most everything you need for installation — the spikes, a small Phillips head screwdriver and a marker for pilot holes — but you will need a 5/32 drill bit to make pilot holes. For my Vans, though, the company suggests using a slightly larger bit for the pilot holes, as well as Shoe Goo or another strong glue to secure the spikes to properly, so it cost me another trip to the store and a few extra bucks before I was ready to go. Once you have everything you need, installing your GolfKicks is as easy as marking your spots, making pilot holes, and screwing them in. The company suggests starting with 8 spikes per adult shoe — 4 on the heel and 4 for the toe —  though each set comes with plenty extra in case you want to add a few more, or need some for replacements.

Regardless of the shoe, your pilot holes are important to make sure you screw the GolfKicks in properly by hand. You want to make sure the bottom of the GolfKicks spikes are flush with the sole of the shoes, without stripping the thread by trying to tighten them too much. For my Vans, I added a dollop of Shoe Goo to each pilot hole before screwing the GolfKicks in, and had to let the adhesive set overnight. GolfKicks are meant to be permanent, meaning don’t try to take them out and reinstall them whenever you want. You’re putting literal holes in the bottom of your shoes, so even if you do remove them chances are your soles are already damaged — another reason why shoe choice is important.

24 hours later and I’m on the course with my new golf shoes — playing a short 9 at Cherokee Ridge Golf Course. Walking on hard surfaces proves a little uncomfortable as you can definitely feel pressure points on the bottom of your feet coming from the spikes. It’s not a deal breaker, though, and may not be noticeable in other shoes with more favorable soles. On the turf, though, the pressure points disappear making the shoes feel a lot more like a regular pair of golf shoes.

Swinging hard from every kind of lie I could find, even deliberately trying to pop a spike or two out of the shoes, I found myself pleasantly surprised at the feel and performance of the GolfKicks. Not a single spike had loosed by the end of the round, and numerous double-takes, complements and questions I got about my “Vans golf shoes” made the afternoon all the more enjoyable.

Cool as they are, GolfKicks will not replace your everyday golf shoes, especially if you’re playing a lot of golf or walking the course regularly. But it is one of those few novelty items that lives up to its promises, cheap and easy enough for anyone to try, and A LOT of fun. I couldn’t be happier with my Vans, and you better believe I’ll breaking them out again when the feeling’s right. If you’re looking to take your golf shoe game in to another level, add a pair of GolfKicks to your collection.

TPC Colorado is the perfect venue to bring Tour competition back to state

TPC Colorado

TPC Colorado showcases everything Colorado Golf has to offer. (Photo by Jeff Kelly)

Less than a year since opening, the gorgeous TPC Colorado (2375 TPC Parkway, Berthoud) in northern Colorado is opening the door for the Centennial State to become a fixture for top-level competition once again. The state’s first from-scratch course development in 10 years is already making a name for itself as a premiere golf destination, and a worthy addition to the TPC network.

TPC Colorado covers nearly 8,000 yards of the picturesque landscape with stunning, sweeping views of Longs Peak, the front range and the gorgeous neighboring reservoirs. Though designed to be a long, challenging championship course for pros, Arthur Schaupeter Golf Course Architects have succeeded in creating a layout to be enjoyed by golfers of any level, with forward tees ranging from 4,000 to 7,600 yards in total. The course touts lush, undulating fairways winding their way along the shorelines to large green complexes guarded by strategically placed hazards. And with deep, stacked pot bunkers dotting the fescue-lined fairways, TPC Colorado definitely offers pros, members and guests a unique, mountain links-style challenge.

TPC Colorado

A sea of bunkers and natural hazard awaits to make the 773-yard par 5 even more difficult. (Photo by Jeff Kelly)

Nowhere is that challenge more evident than the longest par 5 — by far — on the course. Playing 773-yards from the tips, hole 13 is, well, intimidating to say the least. A wide-open landing area for your tee shot is really the only reprieve you’ll find until you reach the green. Safely off the tee, you’re pretty much guaranteed to “lay up” with your second, shorter players should favor the right side of the fairway to avoid a sea of bunkers and natural hazard inside the elbow of the doglegging fairway, but longer players can cut some of the corner back to the fairway for a shorter approach. Lying two, and a little more than halfway there, another targeted *long* approach is key to reach the green in regulation, avoiding another pot bunker greenside and thick downhill rough on the backside. Did I mentioned this is only the second hardest hole on the card? The title of hardest hole at TPC Colorado goes to the 624-yard par 5 at no.5. The long “S” shape fairway and a rash of deep, troublesome bunkers dictate your club selection and distance control from the get-go, leading to a slightly elevated triangle green.

Course conditions at TPC Colorado are everything you’d expect from a tour quality venue, meaning thick, troubling rough, perfect fairways and pure, fast greens. The deep, sod-stacked pot bunkers found on nearly every hole are as beautiful as they are difficult — and the perfect setting for a social media post — and the massive, crystal-clear waterscapes complete the feeling that this course is something special. The par 3 at no.8 comes straight from a golf fairytale, with manicured turf cutting through the trees on its way to the large green set in front of the reservoir. It’s only when you’re walking down that sliver of turf that you realize you’re all but surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the lake. The large tress lining the hole grow straight out of the incredibly still water, creating an unworldly setting you can’t help but admire on your way to the green.

TPC Colorado

The picturesque par 3 at no.8 is nothing short of extraordinary. (Photo by Jeff Kelly)

Gorgeous par 3s are something of a theme at TPC Colorado, evidenced again at hole 16. The elevated tee boxes behind the clubhouse tower over an island green, set against the reservoir once again to provide the perfect backdrop to a memorable golf shot. But beware, unlike its no.8 counterpart, 16 hosts a little bit of trouble with natural hazard and pot bunkers catching anything short, and more sand and tall fescue forbidding anything long, leaving nothing but a small bailout short left of the green.

The importance of shot placement becomes more than evident at the no.4 tee box, the longest, most challenging par 4 on the card. Reachable fairway bunkers call for a left side play off the tee, which brings another massive left greenside bunker into play on your approach. A stretch of depressed natural hazard cuts the fairway in two, though it shouldn’t be a factor if you can get off the tee. Playing too safe to the right side of the green on your second shot will find the front slope of the huge green complex and makes for a troubling up and down.

TPC Colorado

Mastering TPC Colorado calls for navigating the numerous sod-stacked bunkers and undulating fairways. (Photo by Jeff Kelly)

Challenging as it is, players of *most* any level can find scores at TPC Colorado — or at the very least they’ll want to come back to get the scores they left out there. The short 370-yard par 4 at no.6 has sub-par written all over it, as long as you avoid the twin greenside pot bunkers and can navigate the sloped green. Look for more scoring opportunities at the par.3 no.8 and after the turn at no.10, no.14 and no.16 (see above), just to name a few.

TPC is a tour caliber course designed for anyone to play, from Monday to Sunday, and whether competing for a spot on the leaderboard or not. With an expansive, full service clubhouse — and future additions currently being built — a eatery and patio boasting unparalleled views of the norther Colorado landscape, and the overall quality that comes with the name, a day at TPC Colorado is really hard to beat.

TPC Colorado

TPC Colorado may be built for pros, but it has plenty to offer anyone lucky enough to play it. (Photo by Jeff Kelly)

Nearing its one-year anniversary, TPC Colorado is set to host its most important pro competition yet. The TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes brings the Korn Ferry Tour, formerly the Web.com and Nationwide tours, back to the state for the first time since 1997. 156 players will compete for the $600,000 purse and their future on the PGA Tour July 8 – 14, bringing all that Colorado golf has to offer back into the mainstream.

Too good to be true? Athalonz golf shoes promise more distance and fairways

“Distance” is the Holy Grail for golfers everywhere. Every golfer I’ve ever talked or given lessons to always asks how to hit the ball farther. Even without them asking, the constant barrage of $600 drivers all the major manufacturers, specialized balls promising extra yards, and distance-driven strength training is a testament to that never-ending chase to hit the ball as far as you can. But the quest for longer shots actually starts from the ground up — literally the only point of contact between us and the ground, our feet and the shoes we’re wearing — an oft overlooked source to maximize distance.

Athalonz is a golf shoe brand many may not be familiar with. But those who hit the ball really, really far, including many on the World Long Drive Tour, are wearing these shoes. Why? Because those who can hit the ball 400 plus yards know ground contact is absolutely critical.

If you’ve ever had your foot slip on wet grass while making a golf swing, you already know the importance of maintaining solid footing — even more so when we’re swinging the club harder to hit the ball farther. Solid footing is what Athalonz stakes its name on, going as far as guaranteeing longer drives and more fairways.

AthalonzThe science behind these shoes is what drives the company (the EnVe model alone holds four US Patents). “Shoes are a force transfer system. Via physics principals, the forces can be manipulated to improve power,” the company says. Anthalonz golf shoes are designed with “the right angles in the right places” to promote the natural transfer of forces throughout your entire golf swing, increasing your power by “at least 9%,” the company says.

Now, I’m no scientist, and I’m often skeptical of gains such as those when advertised — I can’t confirm or deny a 9% increase in power with any real data. But after a number of rounds in varied conditions, I can confirm the comfort and stability Athalonz offer, letting me feel free to swing I hard as I can without worry of slipping out of my shoes. The subtle, modern slip-on design stands out in all the right ways, with muted colors offset by a bright leather-colored band wrapped around the heel, and goes with just about any outfit, too.

As a teaching pro and all around avid golfer practicing and playing way more than my body oftentimes can withstand, finding comfortable, durable, and stabilizing shoes is critical to the enjoyment of my golf round — and my distance numbers — and Athalonz may just be living up to all of those promises.

 

UpSide’s LOCKON rangefinder has overpriced golf tech in its crosshairs

UpSide Rangefinder

UpSide’s LOCKON Rangefinder has its sights set on improving your game.

The techy side of golf has been on full display over the last few years with a rash of launch monitors, simulators, game improvement apps and even “smart clubs” that collect real-time data for any not-pro golfer that can afford it. But whether you’re a data junkie, or just don’t trust your buddy’s club recommendations, there’s one piece of golf tech that really can change your game for the better, and it’s been around for awhile. We’re talking about the rangefinder.

It’s a simple concept: find your target, press a button, and play the yardage it tells you to — something any rangefinder on the market will accomplish to varying degrees. But the simplicity of the device also makes it easy to overlook the best among the rest. What really sets rangefinders apart comes down to reliability, added (useable) features and price, and Upside Inc.’s LOCKON Laser Rangefinder checks all of those boxes.

Surely there are Bushnell truthers out there already scoffing at the idea of a better buy, and not without reason given the company’s track record for producing high quality devices. But UpSide has delivered a reliable, ridiculously-easy-to-use device suited for golfers at any level, and at a price point that’s A LOT more approachable. That’s a fact.

The LOCKON rangefinder is ready to go straight out of the box (I have to admit that I didn’t even need to open the user manual to figure everything out before my first test round). Press the power button once to turn it on, and again with the crosshairs on the target to get a reading — that’s literally it. The device even vibrates once locked onto your target so there’s no left to right panning required, unlike some other brands. The LOCKON comes with two modes; “Tournament” mode measures exact distances while “Slope” mode displays both exact and compensated distances, which it bases on elevation changes. Switching between the two is a simple click of the “Mode” button.

Speaking to reliability and features, LOCKON’s expertly calibrated laser is accurate to half a yard, with 650+ yards of range. The viewfinder boasts 6x magnification, 7 degrees field of view and a crystal clear LCD display allowing you to see your target and readings quickly, and the auto power save feature ensures you won’t drain the your battery while it’s not in use. The ergonomic design is compact and easy to store with the included hard case, but the icing on the cake is the patent-pending LOCKON magnet build specifically to hold on tightly to golf carts and club heads. Forget about losing this bad boy anytime soon — the magnet is no joke — whether secured to your cart or your clubs, the LOCKON promises to stick around when you need it (wink).

UpSide LOCKON rangefinder

True to its name, the LOCKON rangefinder’s magnet keeps it from going anywhere and always close at hand.

Now for the best part. Somehow UpSide offers all of this for $179.00, with free shipping and additional discounts available through Amazon. (Disclosure: The company sent the LOCKON to CGB at no cost for review purposes.) For comparison, Bushnell’s latest offering, the Pro XE which also boasts a magnet, slope readings and has additional barometric and temperature calculations, comes in at $549.99. You tell me, are air pressure, temperature readings and a brand name worth an extra $370?

On the other hand, to be fair, there are of course other quality rangefinders available for less than the LOCKON, too. But the further down the price scale you go the more you’ll be giving up, like range capability, reliability, and measurement variables — and the magnet. I can tell you that’s worth an extra 70 bucks or so, easily.

Really, whether you need a new rangefinder or not, the LOCKON is a must for golfers looking to hone in on their distances with an easy-to-use device without paying an arm and a leg for unneeded features. (Selling your used Bushnell could cover the cost and then some anyways, ahem.) With just the right amount of data and an unbeatable price, UpSide clearly has its sights set on changing how we look at high-tech golf accessories.

The Max muni course shines as a excellent golf destination on the southern border

The Max flag

The Max is nothing close to your average municipal course.

When you hear Laredo, Texas, the last thing that comes to mind is great golf. But believe it or not, built on the bluffs over-looking the Rio Grande — just a pitching wedge away from Mexico — the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course has everything you need for an unforgettable getaway to wait out the Colorado cold season.

“The Max” as locals call it, is a Robert Trent Jones II Signature Design. This great facility is one of only six RTJ II designs you can play in Texas, with others including notable properties such as Horseshoe Bay, Mill Creek and Las Colinas.

The Max is not your run-of-the-mill municipal golf course — flat and featureless with holes stacked next to one another. Instead, the course weaves its way through what seems an endless mesquite tree forest, often leaving you with a feeling of seclusion during your round, and plenty of shade. The natural soundtrack of the Texas borderlands surrounds the course, and the wind fanning through the trees provides a cool respite from the Texas sun!

The design takes advantage of the gentle, rolling terrain to create The Max’s one-of-a-kind character — appealing to the eye from tee to green. Large, flat green complexes provide plenty of chances at the dance, but the Bermuda greens are quick, and the subtle breaks prove plenty challenging. Overall, the course is exactly what you would expect to find at an expensive country club, with manicured fairways, greens rolling fast and true, and (somewhat) forgiving penalty areas.

The Max 15 flag

The course is designed seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, calling for decisive shot planning.

Aside from the fantastic course conditions, The Max’s variety of holes demands players’ attention throughout the round. From beautifully framed par 3s to reachable par 5s and drivable par 4s, each hole provides a new and interesting challenge. The par 3 at no. 15 is a perfect example, with strategically placed trees obscuring your view of the the bunker-protected green. From the right angle, the twisted, ancient looking mesquites frame the flag perfectly, and add a an opportunity to get a little fancy with your ball flight — get your cameras ready.

The par 4 no.18 couldn’t be a better finishing hole. A wide open landing zone from the tee sets the stage for an interesting approach, the fairway shrinking to a sliver as it doglegs left around a vast natural hazard. Regardless of your tee shot distance a layup could be as risky as challenging the hazard and cutting the corner — two green side bunkers will make you second guess your approach, no matter where you’re playing from.

The Max hole 18

Hole 18 ensures you won’t forget your experience at The Max anytime soon.

After you finish the round, the great experience only continues. The Max’s new stunning clubhouse, a rustic adobe-inspired structure, fits seamlessly into the Texas landscape, as if it’s been there for decades. The main level is dedicated to the bar and Las Islitas Grill, dishing out delicious clubhouse favorites and chef specials before, during and after your round, and making it’s own mark on Laredo’s food scene. (See everything else Laredo has to offer here.) The upstairs event space, meanwhile, boasts the best views of the Rio Grande River in all of Laredo and the perfect place for weddings, corporate events and any type of private party you can think of. When the space isn’t booked, The Max hosts a variety of public events including yoga and live entertainment nights, making the most of one of the best overall venues in the city.

The Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course is truly a treasure for the people of the City of Laredo. The friendly staff, outstanding course design and conditions, delicious food with hearty portions and world class views to be expected from such a unique setting truly makes this place a worthy golf destination. The city cares about this municipal track and recognizes everything it brings to the community — as every muni course should — and it shows. The Max promises a unique, high caliber golf experience you may never have considered, and one you’re sure to remember.