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Opinion & Analysis

Review: Big Max Blade IP push cart

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In 2015, I donated my original Big Max Blade+ to a new golfer in Bandon, Oregon. She had taken up the game upon accepting a position at the resort, and I suggested a push cart, to relieve stress on the shoulders and back. It was the simplest cart I’d encountered at the time, in terms of storage and formation (is there a better word for the unfolding of the cart upon extraction from the trunk?) In the midst of a cross-country trip, I played 8 rounds at Bandon Dunes, using the Blade+ on each one. In 2018, Big Max offers a new model, the Blade IP. Based on my experience with its predecessor, the IP is worth a look and a review. I hope to hold onto this one a bit longer, but if cause arises, it will find a new owner. Have a glance at 4 reasons why the big Max Blade IP should be the new push cart in your game.

Reason One: Storage

After a round of golf, we store our cart. First, in the car; next, in the garage or basement. Golfers have an inkling how easy this will be, when the box arrives at your door. The Blade IP rests within, already assembled. You’ll simply extract it from the cardboard storage material and unfold it. With the Blade series, no more searching for a cube of space in the trunk. The Blade IP lays flat and sits cheerfully atop the other bags and carts you’ve stored post-round. In retrospect, although the predecessor also lay flat, the unfolding and refolding did take a bit of work (and an advanced degree.) No such issue with this updated model. According to the home office of Big Max, the principal difference is in the folding mechanism. BIG MAX has completely simplified this into a three stage process. You simply fold the handle, push the two parts of the body together and then lift the cart to see the wheels flip automatically under the body.

I drive a smallish hatchback, and space is at a premium in my ride. With the Blade IP, I’m able to slide it in atop the golf back, with room to spare for extras. Quick run to the store on the way home? Room. Extra “gifts” from the in-laws? Room. Sleeping baby? Car seat.

Reason Two: The look & features

The IP model is sleeker. I have the color black, and confess that it has a bit of the Batmobile in it, at least in the hue.

There are no clips any more (other than on the handle) and the engineering is far superior to the BLADE+. Small details that have improved are the finish on the cart. It has a matte metallic look which is a nice improvement and it also has a bottle holder integral to the organizer panel.

When describing the look, you don’t pause for long. If it’s hot, it’s hot. And the Blade IP is fire.

Reason Three: The weight

It weighs very little, and is as easy to carry as a suitcase. Once the wheels and carriage lock into storage position, there is no threat of unfolding while in transit. As I carried my bag and my cart to the first tee, I was tempted to do curls with the bag (left arm) and the Blade IP (right arm.) Problem was, the balance was off. The bag had to way 2 times as much as the cart. That, and I would have looked quite silly.

The Blade IP weighs in at 14 pounds. It pushes smoothly, thanks to an adjustable handle. When I first began to push, the narrowness of the handle struck me. Then, within 10 paces, I instinctively dropped one hand to my side and began to swing it. I realized that most people don’t push their cart with 2 hands, for very long. They utilize right or left, or both, but not often simultaneously. The IP allows for the single-hand push; actually, it encourages and accommodates it.

Reason Four: The ride

I mention it a bit under Reason Three, as weight segues perfectly to ride. Come to think of it, storage also segues perfectly to ride. Even though the Blade IP is a lightweight model, it has plenty of room for ad-on equipment, like umbrella hanger, towel and glove storage, range finder bag and bottle holder. There’s no need to fish for things in your bag pockets; the handle accommodates nearly everything you might want. Let’s return to the ride. Big Max draws little attention to the construction of the wheels. Nothing beyond the vertical hinge of the forward wheel, and the snap-in/snap-out of the rear wheels. There’s a hidden bonus in the way these wheels turn. There might not be high-end hydraulics, or wonder-bearings at work, but it sure seems that way. I’ve yet to look down at the wheels, wondering what might be wrong with them.

The first time I took out the Blade IP, I was paired with a media personality who had learned the game in Florida. He was incredulous when my pal and I explained that we would walk, that we would easily keep up with him and his buddy in their riding cart, and that we would probably play faster. Seeing was believing that day. I don’t know that he will ever abandon the rider for the pusher, but he should. If you’ve a few spare minutes, have a look at this promotional video (complete with groovy jazz music) on the Big Max Blade IP. It should convince you to consider its purchase for your next push cart.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Andy

    Oct 12, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    So…do they have a cigar holder yet? Required equipment, ya know.

  2. Dom

    Sep 4, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    So… where can we buy this?

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Opinion & Analysis

College golf recruiting: The system works

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Yesterday, one of the parents I consult with on college placement asked me what the lessons are from the recent college admissions scandal for her and her son. What are the takeaways?

Michael Young, who coined the phrase in 1956, writes, a meritocracy is “the society in which the gifted, the smart, the energetic, the ambitious and the ruthless are carefully sifted out and helped towards their destined positions of dominance.” For decades higher education has embraced the meritocracy, creating an effective system which it funnels students with amazing precision to school that matches their academic ability, courtesy of indicators like GPA, SAT and class rank. So why would people work to circumvent this system? Ignorance and entitlement; the members of this scandal were driven by having the right brand name to tell their friends at dinner parties, not the welfare of their children.

In my own experience, I have seen families put their kids into months of hardcore standardized prep, while signing up for six to eight sittings of the SAT under the guise of trying to get to a better school, all while balancing practice and tournament golf. The problem is that this does not make you a good parent, it makes you an asshole.

In my own examination of data in the college signing process over the past three years, I have found only three outliers in Division One Men’s Golf at major conference schools. Each of these outliers had a NJGS ranking outside of the top 1000 in their class with scoring differentials above 3.5. They also each had a direct and obvious connection with the school. They leveraged the relationship and had their children admitted and put on the roster. Success! Unfortunately, none of the players appeared on the roster their sophomore year. Why? By the numbers, these players are 6 shots worst than their peers. That’s 24 shots over a four-round qualifier.

Obviously, it needs to be said again; the best junior players (boys and girls) are excellent. Three years of data suggest that players who attend major conference schools have negative scoring differentials close to 2. This means that they average about 2 shots better than the course rating, or in lay terms; have a plus handicap in tournaments. This is outstanding golf and a result of a well thought out and funded plan, executed over several years.

There is no doubt that the best players have passed through top tier programs in recent years, however, they have entered these programs with accolades including negative scoring differentials and successful tournament careers, including a pattern of winning. In order to compete at the professional level, players must meticulously try and mirror these successes in college. The best way to do it? Attend a school where the prospective student-athlete can gain valuable experience playing and building their resume. For a lot of junior golfers, this might not be the most obvious choice. Instead, the process takes some thought and looking at different options. As someone who has visited over 800 campuses and seen the golf facilities, I can say that you will be surprised and impressed with just how good the options are! Happy searching.

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: World Long Drive Champ Maurice Allen

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In this episode of the Gear Dive brought to you by Fujikura Golf, Johnny chats with Remax World Long Drive Champion Maurice Allen on where he started, his crazy equipment specs and why he relies on his eyes over the numbers.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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Opinion & Analysis

This could be Rickie Fowler’s year to get the major monkey off his back

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When Rickie Fowler first emerged on Tour, he was supposed to take the game by storm. The golf media raved about his talent and ramped up the potential of a “big two” that included him and Rory McIlroy. Fowler and McIlroy were supposed to compete as the sole forces in golf, like the Tiger and Phil of a new generation.

However, golf never goes according to a script, and it particularly hasn’t for Rickie Fowler. At age 30, and without a major, momentum has slowed behind Fowler despite him having five PGA Tour and two European Tour victories on his resume. Commentators, who were once sure that Fowler would be a golfing great, now doubt his winning abilities. However, I have a feeling that 2019 may be Rickie’s year; and by the years’ end, we will all be speaking of him in a whole new way.

After finishing in the top five in every major in 2015, a major win looked very close to the grasp of Rickie Fowler. But, it hasn’t been that smooth sailing for the 2010 Rookie of the Year. Majors have evaded Fowler’s grip thus far despite his best efforts, and some good tries. He finished one shot short of eventual winner Patrick Reed in last year’s Masters, despite shooting twelve under par on the weekend; a great example of many near misses for Rickie.

With every miss, the tag of being “the greatest golfer without a major” is packed more and more into the identity of Fowler. But, that tag shouldn’t necessarily by an insult. Players like Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson have all received the same designation in the past. Each man has had his record questioned, and his ability to win examined, but every man has since won a major and will no doubt make their way to the hall of fame. Fowler will do too, and 2019 will go some way to helping his cause.

Fowler’s game looks to be in great shape, and vastly improved from previous years. Statistically, Fowler’s most significant improvement this season has been in his putting. He is eighth in the strokes gained-putting category, a marked growth from 43rd in that section last year. With great putting being the games most sought after skill, and a much-needed attribute for a consistent winner; it is interesting to see just how good Fowler is in that area. He is also third in scoring average, 33rd in driving distance and sixth in the birdie average category. It seems that Fowler is acing the test in all of the most crucial statistical areas. His game is in excellent shape, and everything seems to be pointing in his direction.

Rickie won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February in spite of a rag-tag final round. Most impressively, Rickie rescued his final round in Phoenix by birdieing two of the last four holes. Fowler’s ability to shoot a final round 3-over-par 74 at TPC Scottsdale demonstrated immense courage. Perhaps that newfound courage stems from his many near-misses. Some see the fact he is without a major at 30 as a curse, but it may be a blessing. We saw in Phoenix how Rickie now has the skill to keep his ailing rounds alive and to resurrect them when they look dead. It is now becoming clear that Fowler’s near misses have made him stronger and a better all-around golfer. He may not have the wins to date that most expected, but he is better off for it.

Rickie’s career bears comparisons to Justin Rose, a player who had struggled and often limped through his career when many thought he would be flying. Like Fowler, Rose learned from his mistakes and has achieved his best results in his 30s. Among many victories, Rose has a U.S. Open Trophy, an Olympic gold medal, and a FedEx Cup in his 30s. Fowler should take heed of the World Number Two’s achievements and be encouraged that he can emulate or even surpass them.

With the Masters on the horizon, don’t be surprised to see Rickie at the top of leaderboards and winning serious golf tournaments. Fowler is a better player than he has ever been, and after a great start to the year, he will surely rise to the occasion this season.

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