Best Golf Clubs of 2017

The site Two Golf Guys put out a list reviewing the best golf clubs of this year. It’s a pretty good list, so I figured I’d take some time to talk some more about a few of the clubs that appear on it. If you’re planning on buying a new set of clubs this season, here are some clubs to look at.

TaylorMade M1 Irons: These clubs are great for high, straight shots, although it doesn’t shoot quite as high as the TaylorMade M2. The rounded head of this club moves smoothly over roughs and uneven ground. It’s a good club for picking up up yards–I’ve heard of people gaining as much as 10 yards by switching to these. Despite impressive game-improvement features, including a fifteen-gram tungsten toe rate that lowers and centers the center of gravity, it has a clean, simple design. Steel clubs are $1,000 and graphite clubs are $1,200 for this model.

TaylorMade M2 Irons: These have most of the power of the M1s but without the sleekness. The tech gives them a slightly sci-fi look, but it looks good on them. It has a heavy sole that gives it some real power, creating fast, high shots. It also scores great on accuracy and forgiveness, according to Golf magazine. These are a bit cheaper than the M1, at $800 for the steel and $900 for the graphite.

Callaway XR OS Irons: These are straight-shooting irons great for players looking to improve their distance. Once you get used to them, you can shape your shots a little, but much more emphasis is on strong and high accuracy/forgiveness. Nicely balanced, these give you a lot of control over distance, and their wide soles work on lots of types of ground. Note that these shoot higher than some players are used to. These clubs price at $800 for steel and $900 for graphite.

Mizuno MP25: For a lighter, livelier club, try the Muzuno MP25, which uses boron rather than straight steel. This club is fun to handle, with a smooth, well-balanced feel. It struggles a bit on roughs, probably due to its lighter weight. The Two Golf Guys rated this one very high on forgiveness, but some players may not agree–I suspect how well you do in that respect depends on play style. Clubs are priced at $1,000.

Cobra King Pro Irons: Two Golf Guys ranked this one for best style, which is fair: the Cobra King has a forged iron blade, which looks cool and powerful and is really fun to play with. But unlike many other forged iron clubs, it also has high forgiveness and a nice center of gravity. These are great clubs for a casual game if only for how satisfying they sound when they make contact with the ball. Priced at $1,099.

Advertisements

Common Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Runner’s Knee

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, otherwise known as runner’s knee, occurs when the cartilage under your kneecap becomes inflamed. People with runner’s knee generally experience flare-ups during or after long runs, after sitting for a long time, or during or after going down hills or stairs.

Issues with your running style can cause or worsen runner’s knee. If your foot rolls inward when you run, or if you have weak quads, hips, or glutes, your knees have to take up the slack, which puts you at extra risk. Prevent runner’s knee, or avoid a relapse, by strengthening your quads with lateral side steps or bicycling, and strengthening your hips and glutes with hip lifts. If you’re experiencing mild runner’s knee, run on a treadmill at an incline. Running uphill is easier on the knees, and strengthens your glutes. Shorten your slide length and stop when it gets painful. For a workout that’s easier on the knees, swim or use the elliptical.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is tightness or irritation in the achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel. You’re most likely to experience achilles tendonitis if you’ve started training harder than usual, especially if that includes increasing your speed or taking more hills. Prevent developing achilles tendonitis by wearing compression socks for hard workouts.

Don’t try to run through achilles tendonitis. It will make it harder for you to heel, and you might develop worse problems. Ice your achilles tendon five times a day, and avoid overstretching your calves. Stay in shape by pool running or swimming. Strengthen your calves by doing 20 reps of heel drops daily. Continue doing heel drops even after you’ve healed, to prevent future injury.

Hamstring pain

Most hamstring pain is not bad enough to indicate severe injury, but it is painful and uncomfortable to run through. Hamstring pain is caused by weak hamstrings or a muscular imbalance in which your hamstrings are weaker than your quadriceps. Strengthen your hamstrings with one-legged deadlifts, or by doing bridges with leg lifts on an exercise ball. Use a foam roller to limber up your muscles before or after a workout.

If you experience sudden, strong pain or bruising, you will need to stop running altogether. Unfortunately, once hamstring pain gets this severe, it takes a long time to heal. Best to prevent it before that happens.

Plantar fascitis

Plantar fascitis is the most common foot problem that runners experience. It happens when your plantar fascia becomes torn or inflamed. Runners with high or low arches are most likely to suffer plantar fascitis, as both types of foot stretch and strain these tendons.

Sooth flare-ups by rolling your foot over an iced water bottle, and make sure that your shoes fit. You may want to modify your running shoes with a custom orthotic. Take the weight off your foot by pool running or swimming, or use a bicycle or elliptical, if you can do that without pain. Doing exercises to strengthen your core may help prevent future flare-ups.

To Splurge or Not to Splurge?

What’s Worth Your Money and What’s Not

Nicholas Fainlight Blog Headers (14)

When you get your first adult job and are finally out from under the watchful eyes of Mom and Dad, as I will soon be, it is incredibly difficult not to let your financial independence go to your head. Money may be tight, but even so, the prospect of making one’s own money and having the freedom to spend it as one sees fit is exciting for many young people. There will be many large purchases in life that are more or less inevitable, and then there will plenty of other purchases, also expensive, that, while not exactly essential, are part of maintaining a fulfilling lifestyle.

Unless you come from a financial background like myself, you may not have been taught financial smarts. Most people are at least aware of how much they have in their checkings and savings accounts and know at least how much they can spend to have a comfortable lifestyle. While financial expert will advise you to avoid debt, the vast majority of Americans (80%) actually live with some amount of debt, usually attributed to mortgages. Outside of a mortgage, however you should know how to manage your money so that your finances are always in the positive and not the the negative.

When you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to determine where to divert your finances. Should you splurge on a designer sofa that will last for years or find one at a discounted price from a yard sale or IKEA? Should you put out extra for organic foods or quality healthcare products? A lot of these questions come down to a matter of choice and your current financial situation; however, there are certain things in life that are almost always worth the splurge and others that are just a waste of money. Here is a brief list of what’s worth your money and what’s not.

Worth it

  • Bedding- Humans spend approximately one third of their lives asleep, so if you’re going to be spending that much of your life in bed, it should be comfortable. Spending a little extra on sheets with a high thread count will prove worth it in the long run, since they’ll last longer and feel much better against your skin.
  • Travel- If you have the means to travel, you should. Of course, traveling is a luxury and you should be judicious about how often you travel and how much of your income is going towards it so splurging on first class may not be the best use of your money, but paying for a nonstop flight and vacations that will expand your cultural awareness and create lasting memories may be.
  • Quality food- I’m not saying you need to buy all organic food, but being health-conscious is a long-term investment in your life. Eating cheaper food such as fast food or discounted meat jeopardizes your health.

Not worth it

  • Bottled water– Not only is plastic bad for the environment, but you can save a lot of money drinking tap water. If you’re worried about contaminants, invest in a filter.
  • Regular meals out- be careful about how much you’re eating out. It’s nice to treat yourself, but if you find that too much of your paycheck is going towards eating out, set a limit for yourself, like one lunch out a week.
  • Name-brand drugs- Generic brands use the exact same ingredients for a less expensive price. The only thing you’re paying extra for with name-brand medicine is the name.
  • Premium gas- Unless your car actually requires premium gas, you’re wasting your money paying for the more expensive stuff.
  • New college textbooks- The college bookstore will always charge an exorbitant rate for new textbooks (some go for $200-$300), so whenever you can, you should buy them used online or from a friend, as long as they’re in useable condition.
  • Extended warranties- In most cases, extended warranties on pricy appliances aren’t worth it. According to Reddit user BagOnuts, many of the in-store warranties that are offered don’t cover the most common causes of failure and are just a way for the retailer to profit. Do your research first to determine if it’s really worth it.
  • Phone accessories from retail stores- Retail stores jack up the price of phone cases and screen protectors, so it’s better to purchase them online.

Should You Invest in Renewables?

Nicholas Fainlight blog headers (6)

The upside

The market for green energy isn’t going away anytime soon. Estimates suggest that global energy consumption will increase 40% in the next twenty years, as global populations grow and energy becomes an increasingly necessary part of everyday life. Fossil fuels can only carry so much of that weight.

Additionally, as the threat of climate change rears its ugly head, people are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, meaning that those that can afford to make the switch are already trying to figure out how to incorporate renewable energy into their lives.

What green energy companies will see the most growth? Hydropower will most likely come out on top. A single dam can create a lot of energy, and unlike solar or wind energy, productivity is not at the mercy of the weather.

However, solar and wind power will also see strong growth. Together, they are expected to generate 16% of the world’s power by 2030, up from 3% today. Solar will likely do especially well in areas that lack modern grid infrastructure, as well as with individualists who want to become self-sufficient, due to the strong and still-emerging market for roof units. Analysts expect to see more than 100 GW produced by roof units in South America alone by 2030.

The downside

Currently, green energy is still very dependent on government subsidies. Companies are still trying to figure out the most effective ways to make use of renewable energy, which means that many people are holding off on changing their energy plans until the industry has become more cost-effective.

In the meantime, green companies are in a precarious position. Some governments are more supportive of green energy than others, and a change in government to a less green-friendly administration can seriously damage the industry, at least in the short term.

The takeaway

Investing in green energy in the short term is a risky move. Even if the stock seems to be going up now, government actions can hit the industry hard, and the current U.S. administration does not seem to be as eager to subsidize renewables as the previous.

However, as far as long-term investments go, green energy looks good. The fact that the industry has not entirely come into its own yet suggests that it has lots of room to improve, and there’s no doubt that there will be demand. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, renewable energy will count for more than 60% of the energy produced by 2030, while non-renewables will fall out of favor.

Some Words of Wisdom from Famous Athletes

Nicholas Fainlight- Words of Wisdom from Famous Athletes

According to writer Jason Fell for Entrepreneur, “The world of sports is a lot like business.” As someone who has an interest and experience in both sports and finance, I can totally see the truth in that statement. In business, there is this constant drive to get ahead, to prove yourself, to work hard, to be the best at what you do, and to work as part of a team. In sports, the objectives are much the same.

In a way, sports players can be thought of as entrepreneurs. Many of them came from humble backgrounds and it was their hard work and dedication that go them to where they are now. No one becomes a famous and successful athlete overnight, and as fun as it is to watch Michael Phelps slice through the pool at the Olympics or Tom Brady make a touchdown in the Super Bowl, the spectator doesn’t see all the training and commitment that goes into each athlete’s performance before any game. Because any professional athlete has had to overcome challenges to get to where they are, many of them have offered some wise advice about motivation and accomplishing goals. Here are some of my favorite motivational quotes from famous athletes:

1. “If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?” – Joe Namath, Hall of Fame Football Quarterback (1965-1977)

2. “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

And

“Practice like you’ve never won. Play like you’ve never lost.” -Michael Jordan, retired American professional basketball player

3. “You can’t always be the strongest or most talented or most gifted person in the room, but you can be the most competitive.” -Pat Summitt, late American women’s college basketball head coach

4. “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.”

And

“If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do.” – Michael Phelps, 28-time Olympic medalist (swimming)

5. “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” -Muhammad Ali, late American professional boxer

6. “Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” -Arnold Palmer, professional golfer (1954-2006).

7. “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter, Longtime Yankees Shortstop (1995-2014)

8. “You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave–win or lose.” -Gordie Howe, Canadian professional ice hockey player (1973-1980)

9. “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”- Hank Aaron, retired American Major League Baseball Player (1954-1976)

10. “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back…play for her.” -Mia Hamm, American Professional Soccer Player (1987-2004).

Your Menu Is Lying To You

Nicholas Fainlight- Your Menu Is Lying To You

If you’ve ever looked at a menu and thought your eyes were tricking you, you may be right.

In 2016, Mental Floss published a list of ways that restaurants manipulate their menus to trick patrons into purchasing certain items. You might think that you wanted to pay inordinate amounts of money for a surf & turf dinner, but in reality, your restaurant of choice might have crafted their menu to ensure your eyes went to that entree first.

Pulling all sort of tricks and practices out of the hat, many menus are designed to capture the heart, stomach, and wallet of those who delight in dining. And with science and technology creeping into our everyday lives, it should come as no surprise that there is a science to crafting the perfect menu.

So how do they do it? The obvious tactics are innocent and similar to what is stated above; certain menu items, appetizers, specials or entrees are positioned high on the page or written in bold fonts to catch the eye of patrons. As menu engineer Gregg Rapp states in the findings, there’s one spot in particular the eyes will go to everytime. “The upper right is where a person will go on a blank sheet of paper or in a magazine.”

More manipulations of the eye include elements of imagery. Simply put, the more appealing an entree looks, the more likely you are to order it. The proof is in the pudding with this approach – or should we say, in the salad?

During one experiment run by Iowa State University, researchers tried out a digital menu with some hungry campers at a YMCA. The campers who were offered the salad with an accompanying picture were 70% more likely to order it. On the flipside, if there are too many images on a menu, people tend to view the food as more likely to be of a lesser quality.

Restaurants can even trick you into spending more money by adding “decoy” items. For instance, if you had to choose between a $200 entree and a $55 entree, the odds are that you’ll choose the $55 entree.

As the Mental Floss article states, “On menus, perspective is everything. One trick is to include an incredibly expensive item near the top of the menu, which makes everything else seem reasonably priced.”

Other tricks include writing out prices to focus on the meal and not the price, using detailed and fancy language to represent high quality items, and even making you reminisce on your childhood.

So before you order the prettiest, most descriptive, and most moderately priced item on the menu, remember these tips, and make sure what you ordered is really what you want.

Future Trading 4-Part Series

nicholas-fainlight-futures-trading-1

Futures trading is an area of the stock market that I’ve been fascinated with for as long as I can remember. Essentially, it’s about predicting the future movement of the market for various commodities. But it’s much more complex than that and varies from regular stocks in several ways. That’s why I thought it would be beneficial to provide a guide covering the main points of futures trading so that anyone with an interest can gain a deeper understanding. In this intro to futures trading, I start by defining the subject, then cover leverage, risk, and stops and rolls.

If this all sounds interesting, then start from the beginning with Futures Trading 101. You can find the full series on my website, NicholasFainlight.com.