Tee to Green: A driver worthy of adding to the golf bag

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Those who have teed it up with me more than once can probably agree on two things about my golf game. First, I hit my driver consistently well and get pretty good distance for a 5-foot-6, 67-year-old golfer. Second, my short game is dreadful.

Yet, after covering Berkshire County golf for The Eagle over the past six summers and not writing a single story about golf equipment, I am breaking that streak today to tell you about my new Knuth Golf High Heat driver — a club that has added distance and improved my accuracy — when it would make more sense if I was extolling the virtues of a new putter that cured my yips.

I have hesitated in the past to write about golf equipment because the game's ongoing technological revolution is, to be honest, way over my head. Spend a night on the Golf Channel and you'll see countless commercials from companies claiming they have the longest-hitting club or miracle cures for getting up-and-down from impossible lies. Who to believe?

Since I am not about to go on a purchasing spree to test out their claims, I have steered clear of commenting in print. However, I had an earlier experience with High Heat, the brainchild of Dean Knuth, a longtime USGA official who was the prime developer of the USGA's Course Rating and Slope Rating System, and now I happily have his company's driver and 3-hybrid in my bag.

My introduction to High Heat came a little more than two years ago. I was playing in a four-man scramble as part of the International Network of Golf's (ING) annual spring conference in Florida and one of my partners was having, to put it politely, trouble with his tee shots. The next day, ING, a non-profit organization that connects the golf media with the golf industry, hosted a demo day where some of golf's biggest equipment companies like TaylorMade were showing off their new products.

As I wandered around the driving range, I noticed my struggling partner with a driver in his hands and stopped to watch what I figured would be more of the cringe-worthy drives I had witnessed the previous day. Much to my surprise, while his swing didn't look any different, the results certainly were. Instead of weak fades, he was hitting it straight and much longer than the previous day. As he finished, he spotted me and said, "Wow, that driver is awesome. You need to hit a few."

Given that I was more than satisfied with my Callaway El Diablo driver, I saw no reason to test out a new club. But he insisted, so I stepped inside the ropes and was handed a driver that was similar to mine — 10 1/2 degree loft and regular graphite shaft — and launched my first drive with a High Heat driver.

Wow was right! What a feeling, as the ball flew straight and long by my senior standards. I hit another dozen or so and, though I already considered the driver to be the best club in my bag, the results were a huge upgrade. The drives were definitely 10-20 yards longer than with my club and all would have landed in the fairway.

As impressed as I was, I left the conference without making a purchase, though several of the assembled media did before leaving the range and the High Heat driver was voted as the Best New Product at the conference. It took me two years to come to my senses. With an inevitable loss of a little distance over the past few years, it was time to purchase a High Heat driver and hybrid.

I have been using the clubs for the past two weeks and I'm more than happy with my purchases. I am definitely hitting more fairways and, on average, I have picked up 10-15 yards with the driver. The hybrid has also been a game-changer. I had struggled with my previous hybrid club, but with High Heat I am hitting it much higher and straighter. With its titanium face — most major companies use steel on their hybrids — the ball jumps off the face and stops like a short-iron shot if it lands on the green.

According to the company's website, Knuth founded his company for "the single purpose of developing outstanding, high-quality golf clubs that are designed from the ground-up for the amateur in order to improve their performance and enjoyment of the game." Knuth believed he could design golf clubs "to optimize the performance of amateurs that would be longer, straighter and more forgiving than the major brands for all amateurs with swing speeds less than the PGA Tour players."

Knuth, who graduated from the Naval Academy and served as a Lt. Commander in the Navy before joining the USGA in 1981, had an academic background that suggested he could come up with new technology to make his goal a reality, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the academy and later a Master of Science degree in computer systems technology.

What he came up with was Knuth Golf's Optimal CG Game Changer and Fire Zone Face Technologies. A visit to the company's website (www.knuthgolf.com) will give you a more detailed explanation of the technology than I can here, but in general, the club has lower center of gravity (studies show that most amateurs strike most of their shots on the bottom half of the club) and features seven variable thicknesses and "parabolic lobes" spread across the face that make the club more forgiving.

The driver also is more resistant to twisting at the Moment of Inertia (MOI), which is the reason it tends to produce straighter shots. Another unique feature is a clubface that is a mirror and allows golfers to see exactly where they are striking the ball.

The Berkshires' own LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Hall of Fame member, Kay McMahon, is certainly sold on the virtues of High Heat.

"High Heat drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids are easy to hit; the golf ball rockets off the face, creating more distance and straighter shots," she said. "They are the best on the market and are designed for the amateur golfer, who will experience immediate results and more playability. Simply a major game changer! Just try it. You'll love them . . . guaranteed!"

If you are considering purchasing a new driver, fairway wood (3, 5 or 7) or hybrid (3-7) for next golf season, I suggest you visit the website to read what golfers and golf journalists have to say while also getting a more detailed explanation of the science behind the clubs.

You will not find High Heat in your pro shop or at golf stores. Steve Trattner, Knuth's partner and former USGA colleague, says that with the exception of a few demo days at major golf shows — he says they always outsell the major brands on those occasions — ordering of clubs are done online at the company website.

There are multiple options for shafts and lofts, but with the exchange of emails or over the phone, internet fittings can be made successfully. That certainly worked out in my case. There are 30-day guarantees, so if High Heat isn't for you, you can return the club and get a refund.

"We have a 98 percent success rate," Trattner said. "We only have a couple of percent of returns."

***

The team of Jim Crews and Pat Grogan combined for a 5-under 66 to take top honors in the Green Division (older seniors) in the final Berkshire County Fall Senior Series event of the season at Waubeeka Golf Links on Wednesday.

Crews and Grogan, who won the previous week at Wahconah Country Club, finished one shot ahead of the team of John Rybka and Wayne Shotts in the two-man scramble.

Jim Drury and Jim Nelson won in the Blue Division with a 68. Three teams finished one shot back.

***

This is the final Tee to Green column of the season, however, if you have any golf news to report, please email me at relord633@gmail.com.

Have a great offseason!

LOCAL RESULTS

Berkshire County Fall Series Series


at Waubeeka Golf Links

Two-man scramble

Blue Division

Low gross

1. Jim Drury and Jim Nelson, 68. 2. (tie) Chuck Bennison and Dave Halloran, 69; Tom Mooney and Mike Kiechel, 69; Leo Romanos and Bob Murray, 69. 5. Dick Premerlani and Bob Nackoul, 70.

Low net

1. Mike Cirullo and Dennis Richards, 61.08. 2. Mike Nykorchuck and Al Russell, 62.07. 3. John Vareschi and George Apkin, 62.43. 4. Ron Legere and Bob Fitzgibbons, 62.73. 5. Tom DuBois and Jon Krok, 62.75.

Green Division

Low gross

1. Jim Crews and Pat Grogan, 66. 2. John Rybka and Wayne Shotts, 67-. 3. Mark Gilligan and Ed Chandler, 69. 4. Jim Ciuk and Steve Terpak, 69. 5. Pat King and Ray Lamoureaux, 70.

Low net

1. Jerry Mullin and Bill Bryce, 58.43. 2. Dick Rivers and Ron Pero, 59.75. 3. Mike Rybka and Dick Van Alphan, 60.10. 4. Dennis Dickenson and Mike Koperniak, 60.75. 5. Cory Cairns and Gary Sadlowski, 61.11.-

Worthington Golf Club

Great Pumpkin Scramble


1. Doug Reed, Dave Briggs, Bettie Briggs, Jane Wensley and Julia Pavia, 72. 2.

Jeremy Stachowicz, Ann Pickrell, Louise Berniche, Bob Bagg and Mary Bagg, 72. 3.

Paul Sena, Judy Sena, Mary Kay Farley, Steve Young, Jerry Simmons and Reggie Simmons, 73.


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