Just to get it out of the way early; this post is not a jab at My Golf Spy (while entertaining, that’s not our drama).
We’ve been a fan of the Ampcaddy golf speakers since the launch back in 2014. The smart design and ample sound seemed hard to beat without upping your budget to the JBL realm, and more than enough to suit the needs of a foursome. Ampcaddy quickly became a staple in our golf bags and a focal point for our signature golf outings, so when when we heard about production on the Ampcaddy Pro and Pro Max speakers we could hardly wait.
In the meantime, we found one of our favorite new products of the year in the UpSide magnetic rangefinder, an excellent, less-expensive option measuring true distance and slope, with a badass magnet for easy cart storage when not in use. After testing the UpSide rangefinder we learned the company would also be jumping into the speaker market with its own compact magnetic device. Given the quality of the rangefinder, we expected to be impressed again, and, admittedly, began to question the strength of our Ampcaddy loyalty.
The Amcaddy Pro.
When both speakers finally launched, though, it was hard to notice any significant differences, mainly because the Ampcaddy Pro ($79.97) and the Upside SuperX7 ($79) are the same exact thing, literally. The only difference between the two is the mounting system, the Ampcaddy with its signature clamp and UpSide with the magnet, and of course the branding. Other than that there is no difference — again, literally the same exact design — both are small and compact, delivering 15 watts of sound, water resistant, rechargeable and all around great speakers. What sets them apart is more minor functionality — Ampcaddy has it, UpSide does not.
The UpSide SuperX7.
Ampcaddy launched both the Pro and the Pro Max ($129.97) speakers at the same time, the Pro Max sporting the familiar Amcaddy pill-shape design with upgraded features. The Ampcaddy speakers can be paired to the same device for up to 80 watts of sound. The SuperX7 also has pairing capability, though only with one other speaker for up to 30 watts of sound. We ran through the Ampcaddy pairing gamut using two Pros, a Pro and a Pro Max, and even two Pro Maxes, just to see how loud we could actually get with the Ampcaddy. (The two Pro Max pairing for 80 watts proved the loudest, obviously, and earned us a noise complaint from a course resident before we even finished the first hole.)
Pairing any combination of Ampcaddy’s new speakers equals stupid loud music. Really, there’s no need for more than one — even the small Pro is more than enough — but we’d be lying if we said the pairing feature isn’t a game-changer, and useful when you really want to turn up on the course. The real kicker is Ampcaddy’s clamp mounting system proving better than UpSide’s magnet as well. While the magnet on UpSide’s rangefinder is a definite selling point, the company uses the same thing on the speaker. Though small, the speaker does weigh more than the rangefinder, and just a little too heavy for the single magnet to hold it securely. If you have a fast cart or pocked cart paths, the SuperX7 will come flying off if jostled too much. Ampcaddy’s mounting system not only ensures the speaker isn’t going anywhere, the added multi-directional swivel feature makes it easy to “aim” your sound away from other golfers as the need arises (and it will).
All is not lost for UpSide, though, we’ll still be singing the praises of the company’s rangefinder and ingenuity. But when it comes to delivering the on-course soundtrack, Ampcaddy still reigns supreme.
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.
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).
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.
For those of us in more seasonal golf locations, the coming of the Masters each year marks the unofficial start of the golf season. Lord only knows what all’s accumulated in the depths of your golf bag since last season, so before you go trunk slamming to your first tee shot of 2019, it’d be wise to take inventory.
We’re skipping past the obvious golf necessities — count your clubs, clean your grooves and wash your balls — and focusing on what’s in your bag’s extra pockets: tools and accessories. There is no shortage of these products on the market, from gimmicky to practical and everything in between, but the items below are sure to earn a permanent spot in your on-course arsenal.
The tagline “The best divot tool in golf,” is a little misleading when you’re talking about Birdicorn’s claim-to-fame. Don’t get us wrong, it is the best repair tool on the market, but that’s literally a fraction of what this product can do. Birdicorn‘s genius lightweight design packs 6 functions into one easy-to-use tool; a repair tool, putting alignment aid, grip rest, bottle opener, line stencil, and ball mark holder (fits any 1″ ball marker). The compact, ergonomical design fits comfortably in your pocket, meaning you’ll have absolutely no reason to leave pocked greens behind you on the course. Birdicorn tools are made from CNC anodized aluminum for longevity, and come in a wide range of colors and matching ball makers — or you can take it to the next level and choose a custom design. In short, Birdicorn is simply “the best tool in golf.”
Whether controversial or not, CGB believes golf and music go hand-in-hand — there’s nothing like the sounds of Nature when the beat drops. Ampcaddy knows exactly what we’re talking about and has delivered us from the days of shitty cellphone speakers and clunky wired setups. As a matter of fact, the Ampcaddy is a speaker designed specifically for the golf course with directional audio features (keeping the music from disturbing other golfers), an adjustable attachment clamp, a rechargeable lithium battery, 33′ of Bluetooth connectivity and a weather/shockproof housing. Don’t worry about keeping your connected devices safe, secured and fully charged, either — Ampcaddy’s portable charger has two USB ports for multiple devices, and the phone holder keeps your device from going anywhere. Like keeping the tunes to yourself? Ampcaddy’s bluetooth ear buds and beanies keep you jamming on and off the course, anytime, anywhere. Hey DJ, play that song for me.
Electric Golf sunglasses
Your fashion choices on the course are your own business — though we hope you’re at least trying — but protecting yourself from the elements is important stuff. Electric Golf sunglasses represents the best of both worlds with affordable, stylish, and high performing eyewear specifically designed for all golfers. The company’s offerings are a perfect substitute to their often overpriced competitors without skimping on performance, including the Knoxville Pro which earned a Golf Digest Editor’s Choice Award for best eyewear in 2018. Accompanying Electric’s golf-centric designs is a variety of lens options to make sure you get the exact style and performance you’re looking for. As your Electric sunglasses become your go-to, you’ll want to keep an eye out for anything else the company may be up to — its award-winning design team is constantly cranking out some of the hottest golf accessories and apparel you’re going to find.
Pins & Aces headcovers
Sticking with the theme of style and performance, don’t forget about your club heads. Pins & Aces has bust onto the headcover scene with quality, stand-out styles that are sure to draw attention to your bag. While we may be partial to the company’s Colorado Collection, the Keep America Great! collection, sporting a likening of 45 himself complete with a tuft of yellow hair, has become a hot-list item (and a sure conversation starter). Available in sets or driver through rescue, Pins & Aces headcovers are all hand-made from premium leather to ensure the highest quality and longevity. Bigly.
Haywood Golf Slope rangefinder
Haywood Golf is making a name for itself in the golf club game with stunning wedges — rumor has it a full set of irons is in the offing, too — but that’s not all the company is about. HG’s Slope rangefinder is perfect for golfers aiming, quite literally, to up their game. With 500 yards of range, 6x magnification, slope adjustment and even more features, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value for $175. It may seem menial, but knowing your distance from the pin or target area makes all the difference in making a confident swing on the ball. HG’s compact design is easy to hold, water resistant, and also comes with a hard carry case to keep the unit safe in your bag. With a plethora of rangefinders now touting dozens of features, something like the HG Slope is an excellent product to test the waters with at a lower price. You may not find a better value when when you’re shopping for rangefinders.
Uther golf towels
Golf can be a dirty game — in more ways than one. But if you let all the dirt and grime build up on your club heads unchecked, it’ll start affecting your ball striking. Golf towels, the ever-preferred cleaning method, have always been a must-have, and another way to flash a little personal flare on your bag. Uther plays that game better than most by producing the most durable and stylish golf towels we’ve been able to find. Keeping your clubs clean is the easy part, selecting a print from Uther’s ample offerings will prove much more difficult. It’s literally impossible to find a Uther towel you wouldn’t want on your bag — you can even customize your own to make sure of it.
Asher Golf gloves
“Look good, feel good, play better” usually rings true, but like everything else, the difference is in the details. Asher Golf specializes in the details of premium golf gloves. Asher gloves come in a wide variety of colors and styles, including NBA logos and collabs with other brands. Made from high quality leathers and durable velcro and palm inserts, these gloves are also made to last — more than you can say about the wrinkled mass of dried leather at the bottom of your bag. With styles and color sure to match any ensemble, durable materials, and a price point much lower than other premium gloves, there’s no reason not to give Asher a swing.
According to a study by Dr. Lucius Riccio, an original member of the USGA’s handicap research team, cited by golfpracticeguides.com, the average golfer makes 36 strokes or less with a putter per 18-hole round. That’s two putts per hole, and, according to our math skills, is pretty much half of the total number of strokes you’d make for a par 72 round. Kinda makes you realize just how awful three putts can be, and how important your flat stick really is.
Practice usually does make perfect, but when you’ve reached a point in your game where you’re comfortable with your putting stroke, it’s time to tinker with the tech.
Like drivers, big brand names typically dictate what most consider “the best” putters on the market, but if you’re really serious about saving strokes on the green, consider looking at smaller, specialized clubmakers. Cure Putters is a perfect example. The company launched with two models at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show to immediate success. 5 years later Cure touts 12 models, each designed to perform for every golfer.
Cure’s Tour X1 blade putter
Cure’s claim to fame is its “extremely High MOI” (moment of inertia). As the company explains on the website, a common misconception regarding high MOI putters is that they only offer forgiveness on off-center hits. They certainly do, but Cure’s high MOI designs also keep the clubface more square throughout the entire stroke, which, combined with that off-center forgiveness, equals more distance and directional control. (These results are also based on a player’s individual “IDEAL WEIGHT” — which basically means you’ll want to be fitted to optimize the weight of your Cure putter.)
The company graciously sent 3 putters built to spec to the CGB headquarters for review purposes, and our first impressions from the practice green: Cure = Pure. (We won’t be sending these back.)
With my usual blade putter, a pre-Titleist Scotty Cameron, I sometimes struggle with the initial takeaway in my backswing, wavering off square from the ball within the first few inches of my stroke. When this happens, I find myself focusing solely on correcting my clubface mid swing — often over or under compensating — and neglecting the other factors determining if the ball goes in the hole or not, like distance control. But after several practice putts with the Cure Tour X1 ($299.95), I found myself having to force the clubhead to waver on my takeaway to produce similar mishits. The Tour X1’s aluminum clubhead, with tungsten weights in the toe and heel and removable steel weights in the back, helps promote a straight and silky smooth stroke overall — truly noticeable — and the feel and sound of the ball coming off the 4.85″ milled face is unreal. Putt after putt after putt with the Cure rolled as pure and on line as one could ask for, and even toed and heeled shots only went slightly off line, still delivering not-so-terrible results. The confidence this club brings to my backswing allows me to focus on my desired line and pace, knowing the ball will come square off the clubface. Finding the pace can be a bit tricky to get used to if your Cure is any heavier than the putter you’re use to playing — really, though, when is it not? — and you may find it all to easy to muscle it past the hole until you get it dialed in (all the more reason to get fitted.)
The Tour X1 is a beautiful club to look at, too. Though one of Cure’s smaller designs, the clubhead is still larger than most blades you’ll see, but with a solid black finish, hidden weights and clean lines, it isn’t distracting to the eye or gaudy in any way. Aside the X1, Cure’s Tour Series includes two mallet designs in the X2 and X3, both with seemingly impressive features along the same lines.
Cure’s CX1 blade putter
The praise continues on to the CX1 ($279.95) from Cure’s Classic Series. With a slightly larger 5″ clubface, the CX1 touts the same weight systems, milled face and high MOI as the Tour X1, but the slightly bulkier design reads and feels a lot more like a mallet hybrid than a traditional blade putter — the best of both worlds. Speaking of mallets, the Classic Series includes two traditional mallet designs with the CX3 and CX4, and rounds out its blade design offerings with the CX2. The Classic Series putters are also available in red, black, or white, to add another touch of style.
While it’s clear Cure putters isn’t making your average blades and mallets, the company obviously wants to make sure it stands out from the pack. The RX Series does an excellent job of that — easily the most customizeable putters that have ever come through the CGB headquarters. The RX Series sports an eye-catching door handle design and “t bar” alignments; the putters vary by profile size with the RX3 ($259.95) being the smallest with a 5.25″ milled face. Other than that, there’s little you can’t customize on these putters. Each comes with two, 12g, 1/4″ aluminum and two, 35g, 1/4″ steel toe and heel disk weights added and removed with a standard hex tool (additional weight sets sold separately). Not only that, the RX Series boast interchangeable shafts and customizeable lie angles.
When we first heard of this feature, honestly, is sounded like a pain in the ass to have to worry about or adjust in on the fly, but that is far from reality. Two screws on the bottom of the putter loosen the shaft housing with a 1/4 turn, allowing you to move the shaft freely and adjust the angle as needed. All in all, the RX Series may sound more like a DeChambeau-like science experiment than something an average golfer would have in the bag, but the customization process takes about as long as it does to adjust the loft on your driver — and a lot more fun — so don’t let that be a deterrent. Sorry, lefties, the RX Series putters come RH only, in black or red.
Cure’s RX3 putter
While we’ve only had the chance to play those noted above, we can assume the same performance rings true throughout the company’s offerings. Cure putters — all of which are USGA conforming — come equipped with straight or offset shafts in standard lengths (custom lengths available by request), a branded Winn Pistol midsize grip and durable leather clubhead cover. The company also offers accessories and gear, as well as a trade-in program. Really, if you’re interested in making more gains on the green, you’d be remiss to not try a Cure putter, at the very least. With an optimized stroke using your own ideal weight, you my find yourself inching closer to that 36 or below number at the end of your round.
TRUE Linkswear has a simple ask: Enjoy the walk. And they’ve made it extremely easy.
To say the 10 year-old company is making the best golf shoes money can buy may be bold enough, but I’ll take it one step further and say TRUE Links is also making the best lifestyle shoes money can buy.
I’m not lying, but first I’ll make our case for them on the course.
We were first introduced to the TRUE Originals ($149) and the TRUE Outsiders ($139) two years ago when they graciously sent a few pairs to the CGB headquarters. Both lines tout casual yet athletic designs — clean lines and simple, tasteful features, and just the right amount of edge — but the performance of the shoes is what’s most evident at first look.
Set atop the company’s signature cross life rubber tread is beautiful full grain waterproof leather, layered with a waterproofed Symptax bootie, and coated with a water repelling “system.” All this is to say that, according to the companies website, TRUEs are the highest performing waterproof shoes in the game. The company backs that claim up with a 2-year waterproof guarantee — depending on the model — but they may be selling themselves short.
(For those curious and or concerned about where TRUE’s waterproofing products are sourced, the company places a high priority on health and environmental safety. See this page for more details.)
Colorado can’t compare to the sogginess of the Pacific Northwest, where TRUE Links was born, but we do have a fair share of elements to deal with on the course all year round. A little more than 2 years in, and after countless rounds in rain, sleet, snow, ice, mud and everything else, our TRUEs are still going strong. Aside from the nicks and creases that come with normal wear and tear my Outsiders perform like new, keeping my feet dry, and happy.
The comfort level is off the charts, mainly due to the wide base sole that lets your arches and toes spread out naturally as you step and swing — particularly important for those of us with wider feet — and the foot-conforming inserts have only gotten more comfortable over time. The sturdy tread proves reliable no matter how wet and slippery the conditions, and moves like tennis or hiking shoes. Strolls down the fairway aren’t interrupted by any rubbing, pinching or other discomforts either. You truly couldn’t ask for more from a golf shoe on the course.
To many, though, golf is more than a game; it’s a lifestyle. It only makes sense a golf shoe company would deliver a product built for the grind on and off the course.
We live an active lifestyle off the course — hiking, skiing, camping, sports, etc. — so the TRUE Outsiders and Originals remain a go-to for worry free footwear. My pair is a must for trips to the creek at the local dog park (where the 2-year waterproof test for this review occurred). No matter how much mud and gunk I traipse through, a simple rinse with a damp rag and these shoes and ready to go again.
Other times, though, something a little more relaxed is in order. That’s a perfect time to bring out the TRUE Knits. The Knits’ ($129) design is more in the casual sportswear realm, meaning high points in performance can still be expected on and off the course, and they’re a perfect tennis shoe substitute. Clearly, the Knits are not waterproof, but the polyester material does keep your feet dry in dew-like conditions — and talk about ventilation.
The Knits are effortlessly cool. The design is sleek and sublet at first glimpse, but a closer look reveals a classic wingtip pattern formed into the beautiful material. On more than one occasion I’ve taken my Knits from a business meeting straight to the tee box, and never fail to earn some compliments along the way.
TRUE OG Premium
The TRUE OG Premium ($179) is the company’s latest release. While we have yet to get our hands on them — or feet in them, if you will — the OGP may the best TRUE shoe yet. As noted in the product description, it’s basically the Original design wrapped in a ultra premium vintage brown leather. Given TRUE’s performance track record and the stunning design, the OGP went to the top of our 2019 wishlist immediately.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, know that we have nothing negative to say about TRUE Linkswear’s offerings (except wishing there were even more lines to shop from). With unmatched performance, unquestionable style, and the highest quality materials, TRUE Links is making the best golf and lifestyle shoes. And that’s no lie.