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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
“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.
The 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.
Whether you’ve tried it for yourself or not, you’ve no doubt heard of CBD by now. The natural compound known as “cannabidiol,” derived from hemp cannabis sativa plants, has taken the natural health supplements market by storm. Experts say the up-and-coming industry could eclipse $22 billion in 2019 alone, after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill effectively legalized the substance in all 50 states at the federal level (as long as it contains .3% or less THC). Ranging from food and drink additives, raw oils and tinctures, to lotions, topicals, vapes and pet-friendly items, CBD products tout a variety of health and wellness benefits to better just about every aspect of your life — your golf game included.
With steady supply and growing demand in place, CBD purveyors have moved on to finding footholds in a number of markets in a big way, and the golf industry seems to be ripe for the picking. Bubba Watson became the first mainstream PGA Tour pro to openly endorse a CBD company earlier this year, with a number of other pros following suit, and rumors and videos have surfaced of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are using CBD products during tour events (though neither player has confirmed doing so). CBD products are popping up in pro shops across the country, and making headlines in major publications regularly, too. The opportunities seem so great it has some companies going all in with golf-specific CBD products, flooding social media with “influencer” endorsements and ads to gain their share of the market.
And it seems to be working.
“I believe in CBD 100 percent,” says Jeff Mayhall, a PGA teaching pro based in Fort Worth, Texas, who was struggling with chronic back pain. “I used to be a skeptic until I tried it for the first time. Now I can only describe it as ‘life changing.'”
Mayhall traces his back issues to playing and learning the game in the ’80s and ’90s, before equipment makers began incorporating more forgiving technology into golf clubs and balls, and believes the same goes for most players in his age group and older. “You had to learn how to swing a certain way just to get those old golf balls in the air,” he says, “How many hip surgeries did Jack Niklaus have? … Tiger played in that era too and look what he went through. That’s where a lot of that joint pain comes from.”
Among the many purported health benefits of CBD, natural joint pain and muscle soreness relief — without the harmful side effects that come with traditional pharmaceuticals — are among the top selling points for aging golfers. In a recent in-depth Golf Digest report exploring the relationship between CBD and golf, the author notes “a sense that CBD is seen as a critical asset” for players in older generations because of those anti-inflammatory properties. With fewer aches and pains caused by on course wear and tear, older players are likely to remain active in the game — and spend money — for a longer period of time.
“It’s hopefully going get those people who are thinking they have to give up golf stay in the game longer — even helping them come back from an injury,” Mayhall says.
At 41 years old, Mayhall says he reached the point of having tried “anything and everything” to subdue his chronic back pain outside of invasive surgery. “I was ready to accept that I was going to feel awful for the rest of my life, and that golf couldn’t be a priority for me anymore,” he says. “Now I feel like my opportunities are endless.”
For Mayhall, it all started with better sleep, though, his back pain wasn’t relieved overnight. “I could feel pressure points in my back that needed to pop, but I couldn’t get them because of all the inflammation,” he says. “A few days later I was standing at the counter, turned around to pick something up, and felt all that pressure release at once. Ever since then I haven’t had any back pain and I know it’s because of the CBD.”
The benefits of CBD aren’t exclusive to the older generations of players, either. The substance’s anti-inflammatory properties aid in muscle recovery for younger and more competitive athletes too, and brings another wealth of psychological benefits along with it — like better focus and less anxiety — that can boost any player’s overall performance.
“I feel the most normal I’ve felt in years,” Mayhall says. “After my experience [with CBD], I really wanted to get more involved.” Aside from teaching golf, Mayhall is now a brand ambassador and salesperson for Hēl-Zal™ CBD Products**, and helping others find the right products for them. “I’m a walking billboard for CBD, I believe in it so much,” he says.
The CBD industry still has a number of hurdles to overcome as lawmakers scramble to figure out if, how, and to what extent CBD products will be regulated. And given its ties to the other, more controversial cannabis product, THC, many financial institutions, internet and marketing platforms still bar CBD companies from using their services. Last but not least, the industry still faces the ever-present stigma tied to cannabis, something Mayhall thinks will take awhile to overcome. Nonetheless, the industry’s exponential growth continues with no signs of letting up, and it’s making a strong case that it’s good for the game.
**Disclaimer: Hel-Zal CBD Products is a sponsor of the 2019 CGB Tournament Series, the company also employs the author of this story for internet services.
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.