Golf Trends 2014

Some of the most exciting parts about winter ending are the warmer temps (man, this winter was COLD!), the re-emergence of leaves and flowers, that first smell of fresh cut grass, and of course, all the latest and greatest trends and fashions in the world of golf.  From advancements in club and ball technology to the hottest (and sometimes head scratching) trends in fashion, your local golf shops in the greater Ellicottville and Northwestern Pennsylvania areas have you covered.  We popped in to the Double Black Diamond Golf Shop at Holiday Valley to check out some of the goods, as well as get a feel for how golf courses are improving and dealing with the bitter cold winter we all endured.
Generally, the first thing most people look to in a golf shop is the club selection, where one can get hands-on with all the new hard goods on the market.  One of the emerging trends lately has been a particular driver that ‘cures’ the swing errors or inefficiencies in even the most seasoned duffer.  One popular driver on the market (and on the PGA Tour currently) is the Alpha Gravity Core, part of the Big Bertha line by Callaway Golf.  In a nutshell, the adjustable screw and subsequent weight on the sole of the driver offers golfers an ability to adjust vertical center of gravity up or down, which adjusts ball spin and launch angle of your ball. Using technology they have dubbed ‘Adjustable Perimeter Weighting,’ these finely tuned changes affect what golfers call ‘moment of impact,’ therefore dialing in ball flight. Keep in mind, the club is only 1/3 of the equation here … it’s not a miracle worker, so be sure to set up some time with your local PGA Golf Professional to get your swing in order and get the most out of this newly refined technology.
In keeping with the theme of clubs, one of the next most popular items for golfers to get hands-on with in their favorite shop is the putter selection.  While shapes, sizes and lengths of shafts have varied over the years, much of the focus has shifted to weighting and balance of these integral pieces of your game.  With the governing bodies of golf proposing ‘anchored putting’ bans recently, companies have concentrated on this newer design technology … enter the Odyssey ‘Tank,’ a putter that is truly changing the landscape of putting.  Instead of merely adding weight to the head of the putter like many companies used to do, Odyssey came up with a concept that allows weights to be added to the top of the shaft.  Mind you, the shaft of the tank is longer than average, but not as long as the traditional anchored putters we’ve seen in years previously.  Essentially, you can either putt ‘normally,’ or anchor the club gently against your lead forearm for a smooth, yet solid stroke and impact. 
If you’re not looking to invest the dollars into a totally new piece of equipment, may we also suggest you check out the new grip technology taking the putter market by storm, produced by Super Stroke.  Offering various circumferences of grips, this allows a more comfortable, less strained grip on the club, while helping to take the wrist out of play while on the green.  Just remember, like the driver, you actually have to hit the ball with something other than your purse, and not leave it short of the hole …
Not in the market for clubs?  You’ll likely be dazzled by some of the soft goods you see on the shelves of local shops as well.  Brands like Oakley, Puma and Nike are continuing to offer great colors and patterns (and of course footwear advancements along with FootJoy) on the men’s side of things, while on the ladies market, things are getting a little … loud.  Introducing Loudmouth Ladies apparel, one of the more colorful looks and styles on the tour right now.  Made popular by polarizing golf professional John Daly (I’ll have a double), this brand has now been around for four years, featuring super bright colors, bold patterns, and head turning designs.  Designed by their founder, Woody, these outfits are certain to stray from the traditional ‘plain Jane’ look often associated with women’s golf apparel.  Rest assured, there are more modest looks to be had if making a statement on the links isn’t necessarily what you’re looking to do.
Last but not least, it’s important to note one of the most important trends on local golf courses, which isn’t about improvements, but how hard the courses have fought to survive what was undoubtedly one of the most brutal winters in recent memory.  While snow cover is not necessarily a bad thing due to it insulating the turf from cold temps and extreme temperature fluctuations, ice damage is another thing. Due to the ice coverage - or frost line as many call it - persisting for so long this season, all local golf courses are dealing with winter kill and damage on their playing surfaces.  The positive to note in all this, is how skilled all of the local Superintendents are, so you’ll be seeing your favorite local links green in no time, with consistent playing surfaces everywhere. 
Keeping everything we’ve covered in mind, there’s only one thing left to do (if you haven’t already): dust off those clubs, hit the range or your local practice facility, schedule a lesson with your local PGA Golf Professional, or better yet just get out on the course and start working on that handicap.  All local courses are now open, with remarkable conditions, improving weather, and leagues and tournaments in play.  Enjoy, and swing well!
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