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|The SKLZ Vari-Break Putting Green allows realistic practice year-round. (Courtesy of SKLZ)|
Last weekend, clocks retreated an hour as winter's chilly gloom began to settle across a large part of the golfing world.
For many golfers, the final rounds of the regular playing season coincide with a long-overdue improvement in quality of play. I didn't three-putt during my last round, despite putting through and around dozens of plate-sized sycamore leaves that littered the green.
Enter winter, exit short game, right?
Wrong. Instead, enter the SKLZ Vari-Break Putting Green. At $100, it provides the most realistic indoor putting practice aid on the market.
The Vari-Break is a 33 square-foot (11 x 3) mat with a "tru-roll" putting surface that mimics conditions down-grain and against the grain. The mat also sports two rows of aiming spots to check alignment.
The most innovative and helpful feature of the Vari-Break involves how it simulates a break, thanks to two foam wedges designed to sit at various points under the mat.
One wedge imparts either left-to-right or right-to-left break, depending on which side it's placed, and the other imparts uphill or downhill break. The uphill-downhill wedge includes a hole to serve as the target.
The Vari-Break also comes with the SKLZ Putt Pocket, a weighted cup with a slightly smaller opening, to be angled toward the direction from which the ideal putt should enter the cup, depending on the break. This Putt Pocket can be used anywhere on the Vari-Break green to provide flexibility and variety in targets.
The Vari-Break includes a mesh bag, extremely convenient for both storage and transport.
I've always dreamed of installing a full-sized simulated putting green in my basement. But until I hit the lottery, or finally get through to the final round of "America's Got Talent" (No one can juggle baby harp seals like me!), the SKLZ Vari-Break Putting Green more than works.
A few details could be improved. For example, after unrolling from the box or storage bag, the relatively lightweight mat tends to curl at the corners and must be weighted down. Integrated corner weights would be nice. And the foam wedges are a bit flimsy, though these are ultimately just nitpicks.
In summary, the SKLZ Vari-Break Putting Green promises realistic, affordable year-round putting practice to golfers everywhere -- especially those of us preparing for a snowbound lifestyle over the next several months.
For more information, visit www.SKLZ.com.
November 10, 2010
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
The Big Max Z 360 is probably the most functional, most flexible golf pushcart I've tried. It's not the lightest, and there are times when the swiveling front tire might cause a bit of irritation in uneven places. But these quibbles notwithstanding, this is a cart I would highly recommend to anyone looking to return to the pedestrian roots of golf.
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