News from the crew

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

BY GARY VAN SICKLE


Hats are not considered golf equipment. Maybe they should be.

Ball caps, no. Hats, yes. Let’s make that distinction because the main reason for considering them as golf gear is sun protection. I don’t know the percentage of golfers over the age of 60 who have had some kind of cancerous or pre-cancerous skin removed from their faces or their heads but I know it’s significant.


I had a basal cell — that’s early stage cancer — removed from a sideburn on the right side of my head 15 years ago. Did I use sunscreen? Yes but not religiously and I certainly never put it in my hair. Who knew? Plus, I recently had a suspicious bump frozen off my left temple and a small raised red area taken off from beneath my right eye.


Well, I’ve played golf and other outdoor sports my whole life and have been writing about golf for the last 40 years. Ball caps haven’t gotten the job done as sun protectors. It’s time to upgrade.


Enter the Wallaroo Hat Co., based in Boulder, Colo. Stephanie Carter is the owner. She was a practicing attorney back in 1999 when she went on a trip Down Under with her Australian husband.





“His mother was out in the garden wearing one of these hats and I just knew right away that it was something I had not seen before,” Carter said. “I ran around the airport the next day buying up a bunch of them. I shipped them back to the States and everyone thought they were kind of special.”


Carter contacted an Australian designer and just like that, she was swept into the hat business. And that’s how she migrated away from her day job, a practicing attorney. Twenty-one years later, she’s a hat czar — czaress?


“It’s hard to believe I gave up law to become a hat entrepreneur,” she said with a laugh. “But this is more lucrative, way more fun, I get to meet fun guys like you and I get to travel the world.”


Except for meeting fun guys like me, her points are valid. Wallero Hat Co. makes hats for men and women, by the way.

The sun protection angle is obvious. I’ve always been a ball cap-wearer so, yeah, I’m a little slow to grasp the obvious.


“A lot of men don’t realize that baseball caps don’t cover your nose and ears so a lot of guys are getting skin cancer there and having chunks of skin taken off,” Carter said. “That’s why it is important to wear broad-brimmed hats.”


Wallaroo Hat Co. is one of four headwear companies recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation of New York.


“Anything with a three-inch brim and an SP rating of 50-plus gives you 98 percent protection from direct overhead rays,” Carter said.


Forget style. I’m a lifelong sportswriter so I have almost none. The biggest reason I haven’t tried one of those big broad-brimmed hats Greg Norman popularized in the 1990s is that they didn’t travel well. They were firm. If you packed them in a suitcase, they got smashed and ruined. They were too bulky to wear on an airplane and if you placed them in the overhead they got smashed and ruined.


Wallaroo solved that problem. Its soft hats are made of a proprietary fabric called flexi-weave. It’s a cotton-polyester blend that allows the hat to bounce right back to its shape. Stuff it, fold it, pack it, sit on it, run a steamroller over it and it doesn’t matter. The hat returns to its shape.


“It really does,” Carter said. “We’ve traveled the world, put them in carry-on bags, golf bags, ladies’ handbags and it always pops out and still looks great.”


I’ve done some testing and while I was unable to score any wheels from Rent-A-Steamroller, I reached the same conclusion. Wallaroo hats are practically indestructible. Prices on the more than 75 models vary from $27-$110. The hats are one-size-fits-most, with men’s hats made in two sizes — medium-large and extra large. They have an elastic clip system that cinches the hat to allow for a custom fit.


Carter’s newest wrinkle for her non-wrinkling hats is Carkella, which have a magnet sewn into the ribbon around the crown. Wallaroo offers magnetic ceramic badges that attach to the magnet, so corporate or other logos can be added to the hat without the time-consuming difficulty or cost of embroidering.


I don’t think I’ll take advantage of the logo opportunity, although it would be nice to have a “Media Scum” badge on the front of my hat. But I am adding a new piece of gear to my golf bag, a broad-brimmed hat. I can almost hear Carter saying, “It’s about time.”


Well, I told you I was slow.




From Morning Read



Updated: Jun 16, 2021

Golf clubs come with standard grips, but not all golfers have the same size hands or the same ability to grip the club. Oversized golf grips offer an alternative to players with large hands or weak grips. According to Golfweek.com, oversized grips are between 1/16 to 1/8 inch larger than standard grips and can feel like the "difference between a pencil and a baseball bat." Most major grip makers offer an oversized grip option, which can easily be installed on any club.





Overview


Golf clubs come with standard grips, but not all golfers have the same size hands or the same ability to grip the club. Oversized golf grips offer an alternative to players with large hands or weak grips. According to Golfweek.com, oversized grips are between 1/16 to 1/8 inch larger than standard grips and can feel like the "difference between a pencil and a baseball bat." Most major grip makers offer an oversized grip option, which can easily be installed on any club.


Pain Relief


Golfers with weak grips, arthritis, joint pain or other conditions that make it hard to grip a golf club can benefit from larger grips. Because the grip is larger, the golfer will get a better feel for the club by using a larger grip. According to GolfGripGuide.com, larger grips will also better absorb the shock of impact or a mis-hit, which means less stress for golfers with weak hands or grips.


Control


Using a larger grip will allow some golfers better control of the club, according to Golfweek.com. How a golfer grips the club and how tightly he can hold it determines, in part, the accuracy of a shot.


If a golfer is more comfortable with a larger grip, he will have a better chance at hitting the ball squarely at impact. The improved grip should also translate into additional power or distance on the shot.


FROM GOLF WEEK

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

When it comes to equipment choices, most golfers watch the PGA Tour and what equipment they are playing to decide what they should play. Unfortunately, using this method is similar to watching a Formula One race and deciding what your daily driving car should be.


The average PGA Tour Professional hits their drive 294 yards. The average young golfer in his twenties hits his driver some 240 yards. Research shows a decline of about ten yards per decade to where golfers over 60 struggle to achieve an average drive distance of 200 yards. And underwriting this drop in distance is a corresponding decline in swing speed with most over sixty golfers averaging around 80mph give or take 5mph.


For mature golfers that are losing distance, the most important changes to their equipment and swings involve increasing ball flight. When you swing 120 mph, the speed of the golf ball alone creates lift so players use less loft and stiffer shafts. This is the opposite of what an older player needs.



As our swing speed decreases below 85 mph, the most important changes you can make to your equipment are to increase the loft angle of your driver: 9, or 10, to 12-13 degrees, and change out to a lighter more flexible shaft. These two simple changes will result in faster, higher, and longer drives providing a fountain of youth boost to your game. The higher arc can defy gravity longer and enable a longer overall trajectory and greater overall distance.


Mature golfers over sixty represent forty percent of all rounds played but too often the golfing industry takes a one-size-fits-all approach that is ill suited for this important avid golfer sector.


If you want to really improve your game, there is no substitute for regular practice and solid ball striking. But these is also no excuse for not using the equipment that is best suited for your game. Start with taking a good look at a more lofted driver as suggested above at www.foresixty.com and other reputable sites and see if your score doesn’t drop by a few strokes.


Gene Parente is Founder and President of Golf Laboratories and a Fore! Sixty Advisor. He can be reached at gparente@golflabs.com