Here are the tools yours truly uses to achieve Amateur Renaissance Man status!
Having lived in big cities for the better part of 25 years I wasn't able to play much golf. I had an old set of Wilson Staffs from my high school days and then upgraded to a set of Clevelands soon after moving to New York City. The technology advanced but I didn't and I had those same clubs for a good 12 years.
After moving to Westchester County north of the city I had an opportunity to get back into golf and the bug bit me hard. Westchester is loaded with golf courses, many in the area designed by the great AJ Tillinghast including Winged Foot where the 2020 US Open will be held.
Unfortunately, due to the insanely steep membership fees, those course are off limits for me but dozens of quality public courses are available within an hour's drive, including Mansion Ridge, Centennial, Hudson Hills, Patriot Hills and more.
After playing with a set of rented Callaways in Hawaii and loving the feel of them I decided it was time for new clubs. I tried out dozens of irons at Golfsmith and went to a demo at Mansion Ridge, trying different shafts, weights and brands. Not surprisingly I decided on Callaway Steelhead irons along with the Epic metal woods.
I've managed to get my handicap to about the same as it was in high school (5-6) when I was playing almost every day in the summers.
Some of this I have to attribute to the new technology which adds a little distance but more importantly my dispersion is less. In other words: I hit it straighter.
Even though I'm getting older, less spry and my left shoulder aches, I find I can swing easier and still not struggle with distance.
As I continue to work on shallowing the swing and improving consistency, focusing on the short game is next.
I've had a version of this Mizuno putter since the Cleveland days. Usually bad putting is the fault of the stroke and not the putter itself. Having had a bad case of the yips for more than I care to remember, I couldn't justify dropping $275 on the latest and greatest putter for fear of it not solving my issues...which it wouldn't.
Even though I would putt fine on the practice green, inevitably I'd be struck with almost a spastic-like stab at putts. When I seemed ok within 15 feet it would then strike on longer putts.
The best tip I've discovered is that it's sometimes due to the left arm / wrist slowing down or even stopping through the hitting zone. Once I concentrated on that, my putting improved immensely and though I'm no Brad Faxon I do have less 3-putts now and occasionally multiple birdies in a round.
Once I feel confident again with my stroke I'm planning on getting the Taylormade Spider.
Half the guys on tour seem to have this guy. I tried it at Dick's Sporting Goods one day and was pouring them right in the cup.
My ball of choice these days is the Callaway Chromesoft Truvis, specifically the yellow ones.
I like both the look and feel. They're easy to find, you can really see the backspin because of the pattern, especially on pitches, and they're nice and thick feeling when you hit it solid and compress it.
I still think the Titleist ProV1 ball is the best for performance and feel but they're prohibitively expensive especially when you lose as many as I do. I find myself trying to steer them more in a misguided attempt to not lose them, hence I wind up losing them.
I also like Bridgestones and will use those if the Truvis is out of stock at a Pro Shop.
The Canon 5d
The Canon 5d is an amazing camera.
I spent an entire spring and summer demoing cameras a few years back and even though this one was the priciest I definitely think it was the best choice.
With a quick tutorial on Lynda.com and the ability to shoot in RAW format and make adjustments to exposure, shadow and highlight levels in Lightroom, this camera will make an amateur look like a pro within a few days or weeks.
Once you have your preferred settings in place, you can snap away and capture some great moments.
The only con I can see is that it's a little on the heavy side when using the big lens.
I shot this pic of my son waiting for Santa as a RAW image, imported it into Lightroom and used the 'faux HDR' (High Dynamic Range) process: there's so much flexibility with Lightroom that you can copy the RAW image multiple times, adjust exposure levels (one higher, one lower) and then layer all three into one final photo. In this pic there's detail in the shadows even though it's much brighter outside. You normally wouldn't get with a single shot from a camera that didn't shoot RAW for the post-production adjustments.
The Canon also has an HDR setting which will snap 3 successive pictures quickly in a row, giving you a range of exposures to then layer into one photo later. This is the more authentic HDR method. I think it's used mostly for nature, architecture and portraits but not sports or action (obviously, the subject has to be nearly perfectly still).
Before I got the Canon my pictures were bland and pedestrian and although it's an amazing camera I can't see the need for it if it isn't coupled with Adobe Lightroom.
Shooting in RAW format takes up a lot of disk space but it's worth it. The ability to tinker with a photo in post gives you the chance to make a good photo great but also be able to save a photo you may have thought was way over or under-exposed without degrading the image up to about 3 stops over or under.
This little beauty is a must if you want to achieve Amateur Renaissance Man status.
It's super easy to use, waterproof and tough as nails. I've crashed my drone twice and the camera doesn't have a scratch on it.
It can shoot 240fps at 1080p which is great for analyzing a golf swing, a tennis stroke or beautiful shots of the kids running through a meadow.
With the ability to shoot at 4k and easily import into Premiere Pro for post-production tweaks it can achieve a cinematic quality.
Small enough to put in your pocket and with the multitude of accessories easy to mount almost anywhere. I like to attach mine to the side of the golf cart when I'm playing.
For me the Karma Grip was a necessity.
Even though the camera has in-house stabilization and / or you can apply a filter after the fact in Premiere, it's not the same as shooting with the Karma grip.
Also easy to use once you get the hang of it, you can sprint down a rocky mountain and still get perfectly fluid footage.
Karma Drone bundle
Well, if you've come this far you might as well get the whole shebang. For an extra $300 you can get the camera, grip and drone for 1k which is what I did.
The Karma didn't score the highest in the online reviews and the battery life is only 20 minutes (none of them are very long) but I really like it as a starter drone and it's pretty affordable. Who wants to get a $1000 drone and smash it into a tree right off the bat?
Flying it is a little tricky at first but with the simulator practice mode on the controller and tons of online resources it's really not that daunting.
Just remember: don't be too close to any buildings to interrupt the GPS and POINT THE CAMERA AWAY FROM YOU before you launch.
I strongly suggest (as does everyone else) to go to a wide open space on a calm day when you're getting started.