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Archive for July, 2016

Bushnell Tour V4 Slope

You may be asking yourself, “Self, how on earth can Bushnell possibly be marketing 10 different golf laser rangefinders at the same time?” And if your self knows the answer, please drop us a line. Either the Bushnell marketing department is broken, their website is broken, their production estimates were way off base and they have tons of old product available, or they believe that you can segment the population of prospective laser rangefinder customers into a minimum of 10 distinct groups.

The Bushnell Tour V4 Slope is new in 2016 to Bushnell’s current assortment of lasers, though it sports the same specs as the Bushnell Tour v3 Slope. Aside from a new body and the use of a capital “V” in V4, it includes PinSeeker with JOLT (making the device vibrate when locked on to a target), 5x magnification with accuracy to 1 yard and range from 5 to 1,000 yards (400+ to a flag). Other benefits that are less noticeable are a slightly smaller body along with a weight that is 1 ounce less. There is a claimed speed of providing distances that is twice as fast as the prior generation, which the average user will be hard-pressed to notice.

The Bushnell Tour V4 Slope is held vertically, like all Bushnell’s with the exception of the X7s. The body has a textured rubber grip at the top and bottom, easy-to-twist adjustable eyepiece to get the LCD nice and clear, and threaded battery door (included is a 3-volt CR2). The laser is water resistant (not waterproof), and includes a 2-year warranty. The device is average in size, at 3.11 x 1.57 x 4 in and 5.6 oz, and a carry case is included.

So why spring for the Bushnell Tour V4 Slope versus the Bushnell Tour V4? Elevation-compensated distances, that’s why. Distances are shown to the target, along with the angle of slope to the target and the adjusted distance based on the incline/decline. Are you worried about getting booted from your tournament for having the device? Worry not! The Bushnell Tour V4 Slope is legal for tournament play when Slope Mode is disabled (even so, never hurts to confirm with the tournament committee before hitting the course).

Retail: $399.99
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Bushnell Tour V4

Not revolutionary but rather evolutionary is the Bushnell Tour V4 family, which offers the same specs as the Bushnell Tour v3. A new case that is both slightly smaller and lighter than the v3 is paired with the same set of functionality as on the prior generation, including their PinSeeker with JOLT (making the device vibrate when locked on to a target), 5x magnification with accuracy to 1 yard and range from 5 to 1,000 yards (400+ to a flag).

The Bushnell Tour V4 Slope is held vertically, as with the majority of Bushnell lasers with the exception of the horizontal X7s, which offer a higher magnification. The body has a textured rubber grip at the top and bottom, easy-to-twist adjustable eyepiece to get the LCD nice and clear, and threaded battery door (included is a 3-volt CR2). The laser is water resistant (not waterproof), and includes a 2-year warranty. The device is average in size, at 3.11 x 1.57 x 4 in and 6.6 oz, and a carry case is included.

Retail: $299.99
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Leupold GX-2i2

Leupold has finally rounded out its lineup of the GX-Xi2 family of golf laser rangefinders, providing the entry-level Leupold laser rangefinder that offers slope-compensated distance readings. This Leupold, like the Leupold GX-1i2, comes in a plastic shell that is slightly longer, though weighs less, than the Leupold GX-3i2 and Leupold GX-4i2.

What took Leupold so long to roll out the last piece of the puzzle? Either Leupold was rolling out their premium devices first, or they were waiting for the day when, unlike the GX-4i2 where the player needed to snap on and off a faceplace to toggle between having the device provide slope-compensated distance readings versus line-of-sight only, they can provide the GX-2i2 has no faceplate. Instead, players turn off the slope functionality through the on-screen menu, which as of 2015 makes the device permitted under Rule 14-3.

“Further to our Notice to Manufacturers dated May 12, 2015, the USGA and The R&A have revised Appendix IV, Section 5 to provide that, when a Local Rule permitting the use of DMDs (Distance Measure Devices) is in effect, there is a breach of Rule 14-3 only if a player uses the device to access information that is prohibited by that Rule. Therefore, effective from January 1, 2016, functions which were previously prohibited from residing on a DMD, may now reside there, provided that such functions are not accessed by the player during the stipulated round. Such prohibited functions include, but are not limited to: the gauging or measuring of slope…” (See Guidance Information on the Functionality of Distance-Measuring Devices for 2016 from the USGA.

Now how about that. Just remember to keep that slope turned off during tourneys! Remember, “the true test of a man is what he does when no one is looking.”

Retail: $429.99 (but more commonly found under $340)
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Nike FI Impact 2

The Nike FI Impact 2s are relatively lightweight, flexible and comfortable. We enjoyed walking the course with them, and felt confident in the grip that they provided in a variety of terrain. The MSRP of $140 is at about the mean among the shoes we’ve tested, although they’ve now been marked down by the manufacturer to $95.

The thing that might give you the most pause about the FI Impact 2s is the bold styling and color palettes. There are lots of different patterns, textures and colors on the shoe, and the colors are not exactly subdued, so this may not be the shoe to wear the first time your girlfriend’s father invites you to play at his conservative country club. Then again, if you’re the kind of person who feels like you have to be free to express yourself, maybe they’re just perfect.

Retail price: $140 (reduced to $95)
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SCORE
92
GRADE
A-
Design
90
Construction
93
Comfort
93
Value
93

Nike’s second iteration of its “FREE-Inspired” (FI) golf shoes is the FI Impact 2, a sneaker-styled spikeless golf shoe. Nike’s FREE technology, first used in its line of FREE running shoes, is meant to be lightweight and conform to the natural motion of the foot, in some ways mimicking barefoot running. Nike first utilized FREE technology in the TW 13s, apparently at Tiger Woods’ request. The original FI Impact was then launched in early 2014.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are bound to be a wide range of opinions about the styling of the FI Impact 2. There are a number of different textures and colors represented on the shoe, which might strike you as either avant garde and bold or a horrible mismatched hodgepodge.

Nike FI Impact 2

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The colorways in which the FI Impact is offered are Blue/Summit White/Deep Royal Blue/Black (an electric blue with a white sole and black trim), Bright Crimson/White/Team Red/Black (an electric red with a white sole and black trim), Wolf Grey/Pure Platinum/Dark Grey/Black (grey with electric red and black trim), Volt/White/Black (neon yellow), Black/White/Anthracite/Cool Grey (essentially black, with some neon yellow trim), Stealth/Clear Jade/White/Black (grey with turquoise trim), and Dark Grey/Cool Grey/Pure Platinum/Black (dark grey with bright orange trim).

As you can tell, there’s an extremely bright element on each of the different color options, so these are not for those looking to stay low key. If, on the other hand, you’re eager to make a vocal fashion statement, these might be in your sweet spot.

Nike provides a 1-year waterproof guarantee. The uppers are made of a synthetic mesh . We had no issues with any leakage through several test rounds conducted in damp early morning conditions. We would note that some of those rounds wound up staining the uppers with some mud, which would not wipe off with soap and water (we didn’t try more powerful stain removers).

Nike FI Impact 2

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The Nike FI Impact 2s came in at 1.37 pounds (as tested), placing them among the lighter third of golf shoes that we’ve tested. Deep grooves in the outsole promote flexibility, and the FI Impact 2s were comfortable from the moment we pulled them out of the box. There is plenty of cushioning, and the shoes ultimately feel like part of your feet.

Traction primarily comes from six large “spikes”, as well as a pattern of smaller nubs, all integrated into the rubber outsole. Whether it was the distribution of weight across the shoe or these “spikes”, we found ourselves confident that the FI Impact 2s would grip the ground and provide stability.

The original MSRP of the FI Impact 2s was $140, but Nike has since marked it down to $95 on their web site. As you can tell, we definitely enjoyed wearing these shoes. The primary challenge is the styling – the FI Impact 2s are definitely a little “out there”, and the extent to which they fit the look that you want to create on the golf course will be a primary driver in deciding whether or not to open up your wallet.

Retail price: $140 (reduced to $95)
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Skechers GO GOLF Elite

The Skechers GO GOLF Elite is a conservatively styled shoe that would be perfectly appropriate for a round of golf with your boss or your father-in-law. They match with the image of their prime spokesperson, Matt Kuchar, but Ricky Fowler wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair. We like the $100 MSRP, but note that if you’re looking for some astounding innovation, you won’t find it here.

The GO GOLF Elites are waterproof, but not particularly breathable, and in our experience, while they’re tolerable in terms of comfort right out of the box, a little breaking-in period is probably helpful. They’re a decent enough shoe, but didn’t really “wow” us in any particular area.

Retail price: $100
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SCORE
89
GRADE
B+
Design
89
Construction
90
Comfort
86
Value
92

As one might expect from a brand endorsed by Matt Kuchar and Colin Montgomerie, the Skechers GO GOLF Elite features modest styling that should agree with most dads, grandpas and accountants. The uppers appear to be actual leather, and thus avoid that plasticky sheen that sometimes plagues these type of shoes. We did manage to slice a long scratch on the uppers on our test round – not sure if that’s a result of any proclivity of the shoes or whether we just rubbed up against something particularly unforgiving (and sharp).

Skechers GO GOLF Elite Colors

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The GO GOLF Elites go well with a pair of khakis, and are available in conservative colors – black, black/white, brown, charcoal/navy and white/navy. And those are the actual names of the colors – not ebony, or cocoa, or pearl…just black, brown, white. Yep, Matt Kuchar and Colin Montgomerie.
The GO GOLF Elite is a low drop shoe, which means that the heel is at about the same level as the forefoot (on a high drop shoe, the heel is higher than the forefoot, creating more of an angle). We found this more neutral position to be helpful in promoting balance, although, as noted below, it didn’t provide for as cushioned a ride as one might hope for.

Skechers is pretty confident in its waterproofing, providing a 2-year warranty against water leaking into the shoes. Our test round on a dewy morning didn’t reveal any problems with water, so thumbs up in that area.
If the GO GOLF Elites had actually been the 1.375 pounds at which they’re listed on the Skechers web site (for a pair of size 9s), they would have been among the lighter of the shoes that we’ve tested. Our scale, however, showed them at 1.615 pounds for the pair (size 9s), which moves them to slightly heavier than the average shoe. The GO GOLF Elites were about average in terms of shoe flexibility, but their construction didn’t lead to much breathability (the waterproofing obviously comes with a trade-off). There is a small perforated area at the top, but this didn’t do much in terms of promoting air flow.

Skechers GO GOLF Elite

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Traction is created by a number of dots on the outsole. Skechers also touts its “GOimpulse Sensors” as providing traction control, but examination of the outsole didn’t reveal any additional “sensors” (they are pretty obvious on the soles of Skechers running shoes). The GOimpulse Sensors are supposed to send enhanced tactile feedback to your brain about the terrain you are traversing. Our experience was just that our feet were tired at the end of the round. Maybe that was due to lots of tactile feedback that the ground was hard. Or maybe the shoes were just too stiff out of the box.

The insoles are treated with Agion, an antimicrobial technology that uses silver ions (Get it? Ag – Ion) to resist the growth of bacteria, molds, and other things that create odor. We haven’t worn the shoes through enough test rounds to testify as to whether there’s any real difference or not.

Note that the sizing runs large – a pair of size 9 GO GOLF Elites fit fine on feet that normally require a 9-1/2.

The GO GOLF Elites were attractively priced at an MSRP of $100, tying it with a few others as the least expensive spikeless golf shoe that we’ve tested. Inexpensive is good, but at the same time it was hard to trumpet the value of the shoes, as they weren’t exceptional in any particular area.

Retail price: $100
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