Golf gear to help cure the summertime blues

From drivers to shoes, this selection of five items may be the boost your game needs heading to the latter half of the year

We are in the thick of it now, a summer half spent. Golf games have progressed through the optimistic period, regressed through the frustrating stage and, perhaps, now arrived in a perpetual state of stagnation.

Golf is like that, for every step forward there comes a step back, followed by a hopeful adjustment, followed by a discouraging new development … and finally resignation. This is it. This is what I got. 

After all, a golfer has to train a swing and then believe in it once it is put in play. Between is the gap where bad habits and doubts creep back in. The circle seems to go unbroken and one stagnates there, stuck in between, searching for a skeleton key to escape. 

The adage tells us it is “the Indian not the arrow.” But sometimes … just sometimes … one look, one feel, one arrow makes a difference. It can change a pattern of disappointing scores and help put a little giddy up in our game.

Of course, a lot of game improvement is peddled in the marketplace, and it’s predominantly fine quality. Equipment is essentially a personal choice — one man’s meat is another man’s poison. 

That said, we believe we identified five gear items that might help cure your summertime blues and infuse new life into the second half of your summer.

Patton Eagle
Patton Eagle putter.

As Arnold Palmer once said, "It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of being a good putter in order to be a successful golfer." To be sure, The King never overestimated it. He had a wall of more than 2,000 putters at his Latrobe, Pennsylvania, workshop. 

Were he still here, it is likely Palmer would give this one a spin. Patton Design is not a golf company, per se, with products in a number of market categories. But company CEO Doug Patton is a golf enthusiast and he spent 10 years developing a flat stick that looks and feels right. 

"Everyone who picks up this putter can feel the difference with the greater sensitivity — like you can automatically find the center even when you’re off."

We won’t bore you with the tech talk, but this baby has something called "haptic feedback engineering," which promises to pass on the subtle energy of the ball strike to the player. What’s more, precision-milled grooves promote a sure roll and a substantial feel.

At $320 on the PattonEagle.com website, this elegant-looking club is not cheap. That said, given a Ping PLV Anser Stealth fetches around $450, and given the quality of the Patton Eagle build, it’s not an unreasonable ask. If it’s true we drive for show and putt for dough, this putter might be money well spent. 

PXG Gen5 Driver
PXG Gen5 driver.

One of the things to like most about this weapon is the price point — $289.99. Not chicken feed, no, but it's Bob Parsons' effort to make a highly-engineered club more affordable. Comparable entries from Callaway, Ping TaylorMade and others are closer to $600.

The Gen5 offers two versions. The XF edition is the most forgiving, with a slightly larger head and profile. The clubs have adjustable hosels to dial in the loft and their clean, smooth optics look good at address. Depending on your swing speed, the XF may not be the longest driver one could play, but it might be the most accurate.

And for those who sometimes hit it sideways, is distance really the thing to chase?

The 0311 Gen5 (sans XF) is more distance-oriented, with lower spin and the same gratifying feel and sound. Again, we could get into a lot of tech talk here, but the bottom line is this PXG offering has a classy look and dynamic performance. Get fitted with the proper shaft, and you won’t be disappointed.  

Wilson Harmonized Wedge
Wilson Harmonized Sole Grind wedge.

According to golf guru Dave Pelz, “65 percent of all golf shots occur inside 100 yards.” So it only makes sense that a club to handle those shots can be a difference-maker. This club can not only do that, but do it without breaking the bank.  

The Wilson wedges have a classic polished finish, standard blade shape, and — last we looked — a price tag of about $40 on Amazon. That’s a win-win-WIN. The clubs are available in 50, 52, 56, 60, and 64 degrees of loft and include the gap, sand, and lob wedge options.

Wilson’s design creates superb interaction with the turf and promotes a clean strike from all kinds of lies. S’true, there are wedges that generate more spin, but Wilson’s sole grind allows you to open the face more for higher shots, softer landings and quicker stops.

In short (excuse the pun), these grass-scrapers are ideally suited for mid-to-high-handicappers looking for control, forgiveness and bank account relief.

Cleveland Launcher XL Halo
Cleveland Golf Launcher XL Halo hybrid.

A hybrid club that may not be the longest rescue option, just the most sensible. After all, we’re talking about help here, and if one wants something that gets one out of a jam, or offers an in-between solution, this is it. For players with slow-to-mid level swing speeds, Cleveland makes some of the easiest clubs to hit. The XL Halo is a case in point.

Honestly, hitting a hybrid is done so from the thick stuff, where solid contact is a primary challenge. This club glides through the unseemly grass extremely well to help prevent fat shots and/or awkward contact. You will find it easier to get a shot air-borne and, consequently, get more distance. You’ll also find a relatively easier price point (around $130).  

Now, for those with a faster-than-average swing speed, this might not be the best hybrid option. For those who tend to draw or hook the ball, the Halo’s off-set profile might be, well, off-setting. But hung up old Mr. Normal, trying to deal with tough lies, could find this hybrid ate be the answer.

FootJoy Flex
FootJoy Flex golf shoe.

That’s right, we’re talking shoes. Not all of the game improvement in our lives has to involve swinging a club. A comfortable and effective pair of shoes can help your game — and your golfing experience — as well. 

Frankly, for the hard-core types, the ECCO BiomC4 might be the best shoe you can buy — but you need around $230 to buy.

We feel you can have the best of both worlds — on the course and off — with this hybrid shoe for less than $100. FootJoy has a fine reputation, and the Flex is a worthy representative. The shoe is remarkably lightweight and durable. 

The sole and traction of the shoe are similar to other, more expensive brands, but the feel is more gentle.

For those times you come off the final hole and just want to head to the 19th hole, you won’t feel it necessary to change shoes - rather, you’ll forget you’re even wearing golf shoes.

The Flex is a snug, good-looking shoe that performs quite well  on the golf course, while also providing the comfort and flexibility to wear anywhere.