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Chip Shots – Demo days and group lessons

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Golf equipment available to test out on the driving range at Bangor Municipal Golf Course during the course's Demo Day on May 24, 2017. Golf equipment available to test out on the driving range at Bangor Municipal Golf Course during the course's Demo Day on May 24, 2017. (edge photo by Alan Comeau)

The best days of golf season are almost here, and aside from getting on the range or playing a round at your favorite course, I have a few other suggestions that should appeal to beginners and experienced golfers alike. 

Group lessons

For beginners, learning the basics from a certified PGA professional can help create a foundation that will lead to improved performance and a greater sense of satisfaction on the course. Private, one-on-one lessons with a pro are great, but may be cost-prohibitive for some. The solution: Group lessons!

Many area courses offer group lessons, which provide an affordable and fun way for inexperienced golfers to get some tips and feedback on their swings. Typically, the lessons will take place on a driving range and include instruction on grip and other swing basics. Participants will also get some individual attention from the pro, providing feedback and instruction based on what they see in your set-up, grip and swing.

I’ve heard from people who have taken group lessons; in addition to affordability, they liked being part of a group and learning new things in a stress-free environment. I know some folks who have signed up for group lessons with their friends, making it a shared experience where they were able to laugh and learn together. Doing it with friends turns it into a social outing as well as an instructional one. And isn’t golf supposed to be fun?

While golf is a challenging sport, I’ve seen many beginners make great strides after just a few lessons. Usually what happens is that the pro identifies some simple things that need attention; once a person starts to make changes that result in better shots, they find they are less intimidated and more excited to spend time playing. This dynamic ultimately creates more confidence, which in turn leads to better swings and outcomes. Once a person starts to feel that sense of control, their entire outlook on the game changes and they have more fun!

So, give your local course a call and find out if they have any group lessons planned. If they do, don’t hesitate - sign up and get your friends to join you!

Demo days

For more experienced golfers, demo days provide a fun way to test out the latest equipment - for free! It’s a great way to “test drive” new clubs if you are considering making a purchase or it might just be a fun way to spend some time while swinging the latest sticks.

As with group lessons, most area courses host demo days throughout the season. An equipment representative generally sets up a tent and then offers interested golfers a chance to try a variety of the company’s irons and drivers. They are able to fit the clubs with different shafts in order to help you find one that best fits your swing. Sometimes, they have a TrackMan set up and they can show you how the club is performing for you; TrackMan records factors like club head speed, ball spin, shot trajectory and direction among other things.

While I myself am currently not looking to purchase any new equipment, I have been reading a lot about this year’s new clubs - especially the drivers - and am curious about how they feel and perform compared to my current gamer, a Titleist 913 D2.

Recently Bangor Muni held a few demo days and I had a chance to stop by on the day that featured Titleist and Calloway products. Since I was interested in the new drivers from each company, that meant I wanted to hit the Titleist 917 and the much-hyped Callaway Epic drivers.

I started at the Titleist tent, where the representative had a TrackMan set up to help with club fitting. I started by hitting my own driver and was pleased with the numbers and performance I was seeing on TrackMan. I then had a chance to hit the Titleist 917.

Since I have had my driver’s shaft cut shorter than standard (mine is 44.5 inches, while most driver shafts are between 45 and 46 inches), the first thing I noticed is that the new Titleist driver felt heavier to swing (a shorter club shaft makes the club feel lighter when swinging). While this isn’t a good or bad thing, it did impact my swing consistency and I ended up feeling like my own driver performed better for me. However, the new club features some updated technology that allows for increased adjustability; it felt solid and looked great.

Next, I moved over to the Callaway tent to try out the hottest driver of 2017, the Epic. The first thing I noticed was the different head shape of the driver, which would take a little getting used to, in my opinion. Apart from that, it seemed like a good swing was rewarded with a powerful ball flight; I could see why it was such a popular choice.

All in all, it was a blast having access to the newest club choices and getting to hit them on the range. Since clubs aren’t cheap, it’s important to have some time hitting them before making a purchase. Other than getting a club fitting by your local pro, this is the best way to do it.

So there you have it! If you’re looking for something new to try that is golf-related, group lessons and demo days are great places to start.

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