Chippo: Best New Product 

  Everybody likes to have a little fun, and the inventors behind Chippo are no different. They set out to create a game that as they say even failed athletes, like themselves, could enjoy.  There was an Eureka moment, and a combination of golf and cornhole was born.  It’s called Chippo. Last January it was named Best New Product at the PGA Merchandise Show.   

Stan Utley + Orange Whip Wedge

Quick-up Range

   Ever want a range in your back yard?  I can think of plenty of people would trade in any available back yard space for a driving range in a heartbeat. 

   Maybe this product isn’t going to work for everybody, but I loved it.  My dad would have loved it, so that’s my guide to what’s good and what isn’t.

    Quick-up Driving Range is a popup-tent style hitting bay that returns balls to you and even comes with a dreaded shank guard, which I might need, but my dad never would have.

   It also has a chipping attachment with three built-in “cups.”

   Other than the user being so bad at golf that you can’t hit the ball into the “tent” from three feet, there’s just nothing wrong with this product.  You can practice almost anywhere you can set it up.  Your garage.  A grassy spot during lunch break.  An interstate rest stop.  The back of a Marriott Courtyard.  Nearly anywhere. This Quick-up Range has it all.   It folds up and down in short order. The small one is 8’x5’. And it’s yours for $175.  The big one is 10’x7’ and goes for $300. 

Every year, it seems, there are more and more new products from the fertile minds of people who think about ways to improve things in and around golf.  From pop-up golf hitting bays that easily fit in the back yard to clubs with three hitting areas on the face to phone apps that show the breaks on a green.  Golf companies and individual golf inventors are just plain an unstoppable force of nature. You'll know about the ideas that the big companies have because they can afford to advertise. But there are some small and medium sized ones don't have that luxury. They often make the kinds of things that just might improve your game. Or things that are just plain fun.

    Chippo has two angled boards with three holes each, two rubber-backed hitting mats and six balls that are made from a foam. You can play Chippo in the back yard or at the beach or anyplace that has about 15 feet of space to fly a golf ball.  Tailgating? If you have the space at the game parking lot and space for it in the SUV, Chippo works there.   Really, this is just about having fun. I mean, the inventors, Matt Moss and Brendan McAuley, call themselves Chippopotamuses.  Their logo is a Chippopotamus sticking its head out of a hole. If you really get into it you can buy a Chippopotamus headcover with beer can opener ($50) or what they call the “soon to be famous” Chippo T-shirt ($30).  The inventors are a good kind of nuts. I hope they sell a bazillion of them. The game: $190. 

Impact Improver

The Product of the Year in the PGA Show’s inventor category is theImpact Improver created by LPGA pro and entrepreneur Tiffany Faucett.

     It’s for practicing anywhere there’s room to swing a club.
    The Impact Improver has two parts.  Part one is the Strike Shield, which sounds like it could be part of a defense mechanism in a wild computer game. But it’s not.  The Strike Shield slips over your iron.

    Part two is one of the specially created impact balls.  With the shield on your club, you drop a ball onto the ground or on your  living room floor or your garage floor and hit. When you go through the impact area, the balls stick onto the Strike Shield to show you where on the face of the club you hit it.  It’s easy to understand, easy to use.

   You get instant feedback to see if you are hitting too close to the heel or the toe of the club. You can see if you are actually hitting it in the center! Of course, no divots in the living room.

    Available at for $39.95 at

Pretty soon, you can chip and pitch like a pro, in theory anyway. $119 Orange Whip Wedge is an outgrowth of the original Orange Whip, which was designed to teach golfers swing rhythm and to help golfers use the right core muscles in the swing.

Orange Whip Wedge

    If you like clubs for training, try the Orange Whip Wedge, cousin to the Orange Whip trainer. (But don’t google it without the word whip or golf or you will get shoes!)

     The Orange Whip Wedge was created by the owner of the Orange Whip, Jim Hackenberg, and former PGA Tour player Stan Utley, known for helping golfers with their putting.

     What the Orange Whip Wedge does is to teach golfers the proper feel and sequence of hitting short wedges, from 25 yards and closer to the flag.  Because teaching feel is hard to do, the loading and unloading of the Orange Whip Wedge takes the mystery out of it by exaggerating the motion of the club.

    The Orange Whip Wedge has a shaft that’s much more flexible and a clubhead that’s much larger and heavier than a regular wedge. It helps teach golfers the rhythm of short game shots so that they eliminate stabbing at them or lifting up on them. 

Gizmos, Gadgets and More Previous Items

Bring the High Heat

We mentioned High Heat last year, but there is a new design this season, called High Heat 257+.   It might be the biggest thing in golf you’ll never hear about because High Heat doesn’t have a big ad budget like Taylormade or Callaway.  The only places you’ll find out about it is here, from somebody who has one or at The Villages where High Heat does very successful demo days.
     High Heat 257+ takes advantage of a measurement change the USGA made for different parts of the club face, according to Dean Knuth, inventor of High Heat clubs.  Instead of just defining trampolining for the center of the club, the USGA now allows more trampolining for the heel and toe. Knuth is no stranger to golf.  He was a senior exec at the USGA and created the slope system in golf. (Immediately, he was christened the Pope of Slope.) It was after he left the USGA that he started High Heat.
   This change is big for you because, let’s face it, how often do you actually hit the center of the face of the driver or your fairway woods?  Almost never. So you don’t get the benefit or power of a center hit.   Most of us just hope for contact.
   When Knuth saw this regulation change he went, “Aha!” because he actually understood what it meant and what he could do to benefit golfers.  He immediately went to work on a titanium clubface that has three separate bouncy parts instead of one.  It’s like three trampolines: one in the center area, and even bouncier parts for the toe and heel.  But it’s one seamless face. It’s a breakthrough in engineering and materials know-how.
    The result?  More measurable bounce off the entire clubface for your driver, your fairway wood and your hybrid.  It’s designed specifically for you (and me), the average golfer who specializes in off-center hits.  It puts more oomph in our effort.
    Never mind how the USGA came up with this new measurement.  It works. If you want to read the fine print:

    However, I don't recommend it.  It's a  snoozathon.  It's easier and your brain will be happier if you just think of it as the extra trampolines in your club.

    Unfortunately, you can’t go to the PGA Superstore or Edwin Watts to buy or test High Heat.  You can get them on line, but it might be worth a drive over to The Villages where High Heat does several demo days each year.  Driver: $499, Fairway wood: $329, Hybrid: $227.

Putt Breaks




Are you a great reader of greens or does the idea of plumb bobbing and figuring out slopes drive you nuts. If it’s the latter, you may want to investigate a new phone app called Putt Breaks. The idea is simple, although the technology isn’t.  But that didn’t stop GolfLogix founder Pete Charleston from creating it.
    Putt Breaks phone app shows every break on every green, and that should help you save some strokes.
    Putt Breaks gives you information on how to read greens by showing you the direction your ball will go based on where it is on the green and th elocation of the hole.  It will show that from any spot on the green.
   The app even helps you plan where to land your approach shot, based on the break of the green.  It will work for you if you are using the Golf Logix GPS app or if you are using a rangefinder and not the GPS app.
    Putt Breaks: $4.49/ month or $29.99 for 12 months.