I stopped by a Cars and Coffee over the weekend. For the uninitiated, Cars and Coffee events are informal gatherings of petrolheads--sorry, leave the Tesla Model S at home, unless it has the performance package. Over bad coffee, typically in empty parking lots, car guys talk about cars. Duh! It's a nice escape from the wife and environmentals.
A guy I met posted this photo on one of the car forums,
That's a modern day Jaguar F-Type and a vintage E-Type. I love this photo. It really speaks to me. But it could have been so much better. All week I was kicking myself for not taking this photo. That's a nice photo, but it could have been so much better!
If you know me, you know that before golf, there was photography. I was really into photography. Then I stopped. Gave my prosumer Nikon DSLR to my sister, sold all my good lenses, stopped pretty much cold turkey. Between golf, work and my babies (as in 12 mpg babies), photography was relegated, as was blogging. But this photo--what could have been of this photo--has reinvigorated my creative side. So I bought a new camera!
Holy crap have things changed since circa 2007. No longer wanting a huge DSLR, I opted for a compact mirrorless Sony a6000. Frankly, I vowed to never buy Sony again after various debacles (Mini Disc, Memory Stick, etc.) but the alpha 6000 seems like the best in its price rangle. This thing is a supercomputer compared to my old Nikon D200. Seriously, it has so much more options and features than my previous DSLR. WiFi, NFC, face recognition, Facebook app, WTF!?!?!?! I feel like shit saying this, but I'll probably just leave it in auto mode. The thing is so advance it probably will do fine in auto mode unless I get better lenses than the kit lens.
The thing I love most about photography is it makes you notice things you otherwise would ignore. I have probably passed by this red door 50 times walking home from work, but only because I had a camera did I notice it today,
The powerful red, the awkward 4, the ominous 6s, all from a random apartment door.
Looking for a lap guide for the full 5-mile Thunderhill track? Well, so am I, but I can't find one because the 2-mile west track is too new! See here or here for the 3-mile guide. I did, however, find these videos,
It then occurred to me that I can combine the two, along with the track map, to create my own guide. The in-car video and commentary are invaluable but I feel the aerial photos really help with visualization.
I am a beginner, so everything here is base on carsashimi's video and description. Thanks carsashimi! As he noted, he has a high grip, low power and weight car, so you'll need to adjust accordingly (brake earlier).
I'm going to skip straight to turn 9C, connecting the east and west tracks.
Instead of turning left for the east track, brake hard and late for the right turn into the connector. The goal is to setup for the next corner by apexing at the very exit of corner.
Note: aerial photo has cones blocking off 9C.
Quick throttle out then brake a 2nd time up the hill. Get to the right side of track before turning left into apex.
Then it's full throttle down the hill.
My personal note: carsashimi mentions in the video about a change in the track surface as you head downhill so make sure your steering is fairly straight. I didn't include this in the original draft, thinking it wasn't a big deal. Wrong. It's almost like a ridge that runs down the track. If you are coming across this at high speed it's scary and potentially will get you in trouble. Luckily I'm Captain Slow so I didn't have an incident here but becareful.
Braking from high speed here. Once you hit the left berm you can get back on power.
Get slightly left of mid-track, braking in straight line. Touch inside left (might consider this the first apex).
Let car move out wide to the right, then 2nd apex late in the corner.
Get to the left for 5W. Just a little brake, then on throttle.
Flat thru the esses, keeping eyes up. Exit about mid-track for 6W.
Some people go wide here but he goes slight left of center.
Apex is at the far end of berm but not at the very end. Full throttle gets you to right side of track.
Slow corner. Thread the car from right side to touch the left side.
Apex is a little past mid-point of berm.
Full throttle uphill for 8W. Lift for early apex at start of berm.
This gets you to the left to line up for 9W.
Another slow corner. Apex then back on throttle.
You don't need too much braking into 10W but some. Apex slightly after middle of berm.
Get as close to wall as possible for next corner.
A series of turns getting you to the 10C connector and the east track. First part is high speed, small amount of braking needed. Hit apex, back on throttle for just a bit, then brake.
End up about middle of track before turning right into the 1st apex, connect that in a smooth arc to the 2nd apex by which time you should be getting back on the throttle.
2nd apex the 2nd berm in photo below.
Connector back to east track.
Up the hill, setup on left side of the track.
Brake for turn back into east track.
This is draft 1. Hopefully I'll have more time and find more videos to refine the guide.
Cars these days are just too powerful to be driven any where near the limits on public roads. Take the upcoming Corvette Z06 with its 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. You'll either lose your license or end up dead trying to drive it fast on the streets. Fortunately, it's easy to safely and legally drive your high-performance car fast on track these days thanks to High Performance Driving Events (HPDE).
There are many good articles on preparing for your first HPDE event so I will focus on a few specific aspects of HPDE that those generic articles don't cover.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to three great tracks. About 2 hours south of San Francisco in Monterey is world-famous Laguna Seca. An hour north of San Francisco in wine country is Sonoma Raceway (previously Sears Point and Infineon). Finally, in the middle of nowhere, also about 2 hours from San Francisco, is Thunderhill. When I say in the middle of nowhere, I say it with fondness so please don't be offended if you are from Willows.
My perfect weekend would involve driving Laguna Seca and playing golf at nearby Pebble Beach. But I don't want to recommend Laguna Seca for your first time on track. Instead I would recommend Thunderhill. It's a farther drive, temperatures are not as pleasant, your wife and girlfriend (because you can have both, right?) can't enjoy Carmel-by-the-Sea while you're having your own fun; but, Thunderhill has tons and tons of run-off room, because it's in the middle of nowhere!
I have no actual stats to back this up and I've only driven Thunderhill, but of the three tracks, I feel Thunderhill is the safest, both for you and your car. You are not racing in HPDE but you are driving (relatively) fast and anything can happen. With so much run-off area and relatively few walls/barriers, I feel very safe on track at Thunderhill. If you are conservative like me, I think starting out at Thunderhill then eventually driving Laguna Seca and Sonoma is the way to go.
All of this leads to the inevitable question, what happens if you crash your car at the track, will your insurance cover? Fortunately, I do not have first hand experience so I cannot definitely answer. From all my research, the short answer is "maybe". If you are being timed or racing, the answer is a definitve no. But HPDE is a driving, educational school so your insurance may cover damages.
However, insurance carriers have started adding exclusions for track related activities, even if it's not for competitive racing. When I did my first HPDE event years and years ago I was driving an old 1994 RX-7. It was paid for and I could deal with a total lost. These days I'm making monthly payments on my car so can't afford a big wreck, rolling the dice with insurance coverage. Luckily there are companies like Lockton and OnTrackInsurance offering HPDE insurance. There are others but I mention these two because people have made claims against them and have been paid. HPDE insurance is not cheap but is worth the peace of mind.
Time to find a club/organization to do your first HPDE track day with. Luckily there are many groups in the San Francisco Bay Area who run HPDE for beginners. You can try one of the car marquee clubs like Porsche Club of America (PCA). I've heard only good things about PCA and did an autocross school with them last year. Other marque clubs I've heard great things about are the Lotus and BMW clubs. Some are exclusive (you must drive the marquee) while others are more inclusive as long as you are a member.
Then there are groups who soley focus on HPDE and track days. The four that I am familiar with, either personally or through research, are TrackMaster Racing, Northern California Racing Club (NCRC), National Auto Sport Association (NASA) and Hooked on Driving (HOD).
The first thing to know is how each group approaches beginning instructors. NCRC seems to be alone in that there is no in-car instructor. You can request a private, in-car instructor for an additional fee, but the base driving school does not include in-car instructor. NCRC's driving school is a mix of lead-follow and in-class sessions. The other groups will pair you up with an instructor/coach/mentor. He (or she) will sit next to you in your car on track, giving you instructions and guidance. Then, when they feel you are ready for solo driving, they'll let you loose to drive solo.
Which approach is better? I suppose having an in-car instructor is better. Imagine getting golf lessons on the range and having the coach take you out to play a round. The downside is probably getting a bad instructor. If for some reason you don't get along with your instructor it can make for a bad/long day. In theory you can request a different instructor but are you really going to do that half way through? I've mostly heard good things about instructors from these four clubs, but then again, the bad experiences may be underpresented.
The other thing to think about is the run group size. In a dream world I'd be by myself on track. No one to slow me down, no one for me to slow down. No chance of me crashing into someone, no chance of someone crashing into me. I'm not here to race anyone, see how many people I can pass, etc. But the economics of renting out a track requires sharing the track. This is where the interest of organizers and the drivers conflict to a certain extent. The more paying cars, the more the economics work out for the club.
I've heard most clubs do a good job of limiting the number of cars to avoid traffic and safety issues. The notable exception seems to be NASA. I cannot speak first hand since I have not ran with NASA (was suppose to do HPDE this weekend with them but my run group was closed for registration by the time I got my car back from the shop) but the consensus seems to be they run more cars in their beginner HPDE sessions than any of the other clubs mentioned. I don't think it ends up being a safety issue, otherwise they would probably have changed it by now. It probably just means that there will be more traffic compared to the other clubs.
Hopefully this answeres some of your questions, particularly if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Breaking 80 is a big deal for golfers. Dozens of books have been written on the subject. Golf magazines survive on breaking 80 articles. Google says there are almost 42 million web pages about breaking 80. I knew sooner or later, barring any injuries, I would break 80. I'm playing the best golf of my life, coming close in early June until a back nine meltdown. But frankly, I didn't think it would happen so soon.
I've shot in the high 70s before, but they were at dinky 5,600 yard, par 70 courses. And I certainly gave myself a 2 footer here and there. But today's round was legit. TPC Harding Park, putted everything out, USGA rules. The amazing thing, I did it with a splitting headache. Still have a headache as I write this blog.
Woke up with a nasty hangover from too much sun and beer yesterday but wanted to get a round in to stretch the legs (been sitting too much last 2 weeks). In the proshop, Scott checked me in. Haven't seen him in a while. Nice guy, got me out early a few times. He asked how's my game and I told him I'm playing some of the best golf of my life. I'm all about the positive energy.
Ordered a big cup of coffee in the clubhouse. Why am I telling you about my cup of coffee? I'm reading this book, Caffeinated, and apparently caffeine is a scientifically verified performance enhancing drug. Gives on average a 5 percent boost in muscle performance. I don't know how this translates in golf but it may well have been the difference between a 78 and a 80. I would have another big cup of coffee at the turn. Thank you Murray Carpenter for helping me break 80.
I check in with the starter, Larry, at around 8:20. We chitchatted about his love for fishing, trout and fly. 8:33, go time! I would play with an investment banker and two Irish blokes. Luck of the Irish! It was meant to be.
A low stinger put me on the left side of the fairway. Good approach shot came up a little short. Pretty good chip left me with about a 5 footer for par. Made the putt. One of the big changes in my game is I expect to make these 5 footers to save par. Will the ball in.
Poor drive left me in the rightside rough, 190 yards out. This would be my only fairway miss of the day. My awesome Ping G20 5-wood came up short but then my even awesomer Vokey SM5 S-Grind 60 wedge bailed me out with a nice pitch to 3 feet. Made the putt for par.
Thin a 7 iron and ball ended up behind the green. The SM5 60 saves me again, this time to 6 inches. Three holes, three pars.
Great drive, great 2nd but pulled my approach shot. This time my SM5 60 let me down. Was too tentative, left with a 10 footer for par. Drained it. Four holes, four 1-putts.
Textbook. Fairway, GIR, 2 putt.
Another great drive. Ball was sitting down just a tad, never felt comfortable and topped the ball about 60 yards. Still had about 110 yards to the hole. Nice wedge to about 6-7 feet. Made the putt for my 6th straight par. Putter is hot!
Awesome drive left me 62 yards in. Birdie time. But as I'm about to hit the investment banker starts walking and his irons are clanking. I freaking almost shank my shot. The guy was a little annoying. Slow, always moving around. I was fuming. Ended up makng bogey.
Beautiful 4 iron was just a tad long. Got too cute with the wedge, would end up making another bogey.
Easiest hole at Harding, IMO. Played it perfectly. Fairway, layup, wedge to about 5 feet. Made the putt for birdie. Got one back!
37 out with 12 putts. 6 out of 7 fairways. Only 2 greens but a couple of them (like 1 and 8) were very close, just off. At this point the thought of breaking 80 did cross my mind. But last time I shot a front 38 I had a meltdown on the back nine, so I didn't want to get ahead of myself. Just play one hole, one shot at a time.
My layup shot was horrible (topped it like I did on 6), left me with almost 200 yards in. But then I hit the 5-wood of my life (under the circumsyances) to about 20 feet. 2 putted for par to keep momentum going.
Good 6 iron, two putted for par.
Bad wedge in but good chip and putt saves par.
Fairway, green, 2 putt. Four pars to start the back nine. At this point, I couldn't ignore it anymore. Breaking 80 was a real possibility. Last time I had a strong round going the 13th derailed me with a 3 putt double. Not today.
Tough hole. Hit a pretty good approach shot but pulled it a tad into the bunker. Horrible lie against the lip. Salvaged bogey.
Pressure and nerves definitely kicking in. Pretty routine chip and I blast it by. Par save was way off. Bogey. Back to back bogeys.
Three holes left. 16 and 17 are relatively easy. I expected to go par, par or birdie, par. I could end up making triple on 18 and still break 80 was the thinking. Perfect little fade left me with nice angle in. Just 52 easy yards to a front pin location. My ball ends up near this little sprinkler head/ditch. It was wet, soggy and muddy. When I address the ball I must have sank an inch or two into the ground. At this point I thought about taking relief. There was the sprinkler head and the unusual soggy mud ground felt unfair. But I didn't know the official rules. And I didn't want to break 80 with an asterisk.
So I played it. Worried about the mud splashing every where, I hit a very delicate shot only 40 yards. No big deal, I can still get up an down from 30 feet. But nerves got me. Horrible chip left me with 10 feet for par. Miss the par putt and still had about 2 feet downhill for bogey. Pressure. Barely made the putt.
Okay, just two holes to go. Par three, ball is on a tee, no problem. Nice 6 iron to about 15-20 feet. Two putt for par means I can double the difficult 18 for a 79. I was so nervous my first putt went about 10 feet and I still had about 7 feet for par! Would end up 3 putting for bogey. My first three putt of the day. That's 4 straight bogeys, the last two all because of nerves!
My incorrect math had me needing bogey for a 79. The 18th hole is a 420 yard, 2-handicap blowup waiting to happen. First you need to clear some nasty stuff. Second, you need to avoid going left into the lake. Third, you need to avoid those deep greenside bunkers on the left. Fourth, the green is tricky!
I couldn't be too aggressive so kept it right but this meant I had about 180+ yards to the back pin position. I needed to carry all 180 because anything short means I'm in those big deep bunkers. I hit a really nice 5 wood probably 195 above the hole. But at least I'm safe. Get it on, two putt for bogey. But I flub my pitch and now I'm left with a chip from about 12 feet. Very good chip to about 1.5-2 feet.
I'll be honest, I thought about just giving myself that 1.5-2 footer. Under any other circumstances I would just had gone over and tapped it in without care or just picked it up. But this was for 79 and it was downhill. And no putt on the tricky 18 green is a gimme. Made it.
79!!! No, wait, my math is wrong. 78!!! WTF, I could have doubled the 18th and still break 80?!?! I suppose it all worked out. I might have played too conservatively and ended up with a triple.
What an incredible round. I was playing so well. My putter was hot. My chipping was good. My driver was on fire, 13 out of 14 fairways! 16 and 17 I bogeyed because of nerves, played them so well.
After 4+ years playing Harding Park, I finally did it, shot a legit round in the 70s. No mulligans, no gimmes, USGA rules. I didn't even take practice chips or putts because I was worried about the asterisk. That's it, I can stop playing golf now.
Why today? Luck of the Irish? The caffeine? The new wedges? The new 5-wood? The SR balls? The Spanish Bay caddy who reminded me that I was taking the club too inside? The new, lighter weight pull cart? The powerful feeling I get from the white cat? All of the above?
My game has definitely taken off. I just have so much confidence in all my shots these days. I'm longer and straighter, my short game is so much better. And putting has gone from a C to a B (A today). It's taken 8 years of hacking around to legitimately break 80. Eight long years. Eight years of trial-and-error. But the stars finally aligned today.
Wow! Is my Titleist Vokey SM4 56 degree that worn out? Or are the new grooves on the SM5 that much better?
I don't ever recall being able to get my ball to really one hop check. True, I am playing these premium Callaway SR1 balls that have more greenside spin, but still, I was never able to really get my chips to really check up with my old 56 SM4. But today I had some really impressive chips and pitches around the greens with the SM5s.
The other thing I'm really like is the bounce/grind. Frankly, no really what they really are, but it seems like the bounce/grind combination I chose is more forgiving. Less digging, able to glide through. I never liked the way the sole on my old wedge looked, these looks much better and instills more confidence. Apprently the "S" grind is named after Steve Stricker. The raw black finish looks mean. We'll see if I still like them when they start to rust.
Overall, very happy that I picked up these wedges.
I was hoping to write about breaking 80. Unfortunately I had a major collapse on the back nine. But being the optimistic, positive, glass is half full guy that I am (!), let's focus on the positive: a new front nine low, 38 out. 39 a couple of times but I don' think ever a 38.
It almost didn't happen. So exhausted from driving 1,500 miles the previous week, I was ready to just lounge around all day when the alarm rang at 5 AM. But a horrible round at Spanish Bay left me wanting redemption. Things got off to a great start, the guy in the proshop got me out a little earlier than scheduled (we would end up finishing in about 4 hours, 15 minutes).
This would be my first "real" round with all the new goodies I picked up in the last month,
It'll also be my first real round with these new Callaway Speed Regime 1 balls. I've been playing the Callaway X2 Hot balls and while they are long and reduce slices/hooks, I felt like they were hurting my scores because they're too firm and have no spin to hold greens.
First drive of the day, let's see how much distance I'll give up with the SR 1. Perfect drive, don't think I lost much, if any, distance. But a poor second shot, a poor chip and a poor first putt left me with a nervous 5 footer for bogey. But with the new super bentgrass greens putts are rolling very nicely and I made the putt.
Would make another bogey on the 2nd (putt was literally half an inch from dropping for par) before making 7 straight pars to close out the front nine. That might be some record for me. The greens were soft this morning and the SR 1 definitely held better so I was hitting a lot of greens. GIR the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th.
Best front nine I've played in a long time. My driver was good, irons were good, short game was on. Definitely like the way the SR 1 felt coming off the club face. And I wasn't losing much distance. Maybe half a club with the irons but much more control. I have my Spanish Bay caddie to thank for my improved swing. Last year I worked on not taking the club so inside and it really helped me hit straighter shots. But my inside takeaway crept back. "Mac" reminded me that I was taking it way too inside and as soon as I made that adjustment it was a world of difference.
Back nine started great. Pars on 10 and 11. Bogey the easy 12th but no big deal. At this point breaking 80 really started to cross my mind. Then an untimely 3 putt for double on the 13th started my collapse. All I needed to do was 2 putt from about 20 feet and move on but a nervous 4 footer got me. Then I made an absolute mess of 14 for triple. At that point I stopped really keeping score. Think I ended up shooting something like 51 or 52 in. That's what you call a collapse!
But overall I couldn't be more pleased. Game felt really good. In addition to fixing the inside takeaway, I also slowed my tempo down. "Let the club do the work," as they say. Things then just felt so much better, smoother, controlled.
Final note, the annoying Canadian in the group. At the turn he disappears. We're waiting for 5+ minutes for him. Good thing there was no group directly behind us. Then on the 14th, he's trying to small talk with me while I'm trying to hit?!? If you recall, I made a mess of the 14th. Not his fault, but his antics didn't help. I'm 80 yards out, trying to deparately make a 5 and hope for some birdies coming in. So I'm trying to really focus. He's 5 feet behind me asking me where I live in the city and how long I've live in the city! I'm trying to be polite, giving short answers, hoping he'll get the hint and let me focus. But he kepts yapping away. I couldn't tell if he was trying to fuck with me (mentally) or was just so clueless. Talk to me all you want during the walk to the ball!?!?!
Let me preface my review of the Ocean South Course at Pelican Hill Resort by saying it will be unfair. Having played Pebble Beach, my expectations for oceanfront golf courses are extremely high, almost unrealistic. I also grew up in Southern California, about 30 minutes south of Newport Beach, so while Orange County's coastline is amazing by all standards, it's rather familiar. That being said, here's my review of Pelican Hill, Ocean South.
Pelican Hill routinely ranks in the top 10 public courses in California. The resort itself is amazing. Guests pay upwards of $1k/night for the cheapest rooms. But you don't need to be a guest to play golf. Any Joe Blow with 3 dollars can get a tee time like I did. Where does all the money go toward, beside profits for the Irvine Company? Paper towels with the Pelican logo, of course!
It's a luxury resort and a high-end golf course, so you get all the usual amenities such as complimentary valet, outstanding service, a lavish locker room and golf carts nicer than most people's cars. Seriously, they have the nicest golf carts I've seen at any course, public or private.
The driving range is grass and well maintained. You are hitting into a hill so it's not ideal for seeing ball trajectory. They use Nike practice balls of above average quality. I didn't use the chipping and putting areas but they are available.
I would join another single from Texas and a twosome from Los Angeles. A forecaddie is assigned to the group to help with yardage, reading greens, raking bunkers, etc. Cart use is mandatory--the course is not setup for walking with tee boxes very far apart.
Go time! We'd play from the blues, which is fine since the course is not very long. I'm not a long hitter so I don't mind short courses but the setup of the holes was really odd. Half the holes are very short and half the holes are very long, no in betweens. I was either hitting wedge/short iron in or woods/hybrids?!? I prefer more diversify in approach shots.
The layout is nice but I wouldn't call myself a fan. Maybe it's one too many false fronts or one too many ridge running across the green. I think in general I'm not a Tom Fazio guy because I played nearby Oak Creek (also designed by Fazio) and left with the same impression. Bunkering was great. I'm probably biased because I ended up in about 4 greenside bunkers and pulled off 4 amazing bunker shots.
The grass is some type of bermuda, which I don't really like because it's foreign and feels too soft. I think the greens are also bermuda. I've heard the greens are fast but today they were very, very slow. Smooth and rolled well (made a few nice long putts) but very slow. Overall course condition was good/very good but not amazing.
Scorecard thus far,
Given this, I would say Pelican Hill is about a $200 golf course and worthy of a visit if you are in town or just want to treat yourself to a nice round. So how can they charge you a rack rate of $300? Location, location, location! It's next to the ocean! But this oceanfront expectation is the very reason I was/am disappointed, albeit somewhat unfairly.
At Pebble you are right next to the ocean, along the cliffs. If you are not careful you can literally fall into the ocean/beach below with one bad step. Or even at a less famed courses like the Ocean Course at Half Moon Bay you are right next to the ocean. You feel the wind, smell the salty air. You feel one with nature, the sea. You feel alone, at peace.
But Pelican Hill only has ocean views from across the highway mixed in with a bunch of houses. It's the difference between a beachfront house and a house across the street with a view of the beach. Okay, so there are a couple of par 3s that are next to the ocean on the back nine,
But all the other holes are across the highway. You see the ocean in the background but you are not next to the ocean. Case in point, the finishing hole. On its own, the 18th is a very nice hole. Huge dog leg left with two forced carries. But it's heading back toward the resort, away from the ocean! And you see so many houses. Granted, nice houses in the distance background, but you definitely know you are not secluded. There was one hole where I can hear a baby crying!
If you've only played inland courses you might think Pelican Hill is the pinancle of seaside golf. But for a course with "ocean" in its name, I left disappointed. For the rack rate I'd easily play Spanish Bay or Half Moon Bay. Or save up two rounds at Pelican for a round at Pebble.
I only blog about two things these days, my lousy golf game and Kate. But today, I make an exception for Amazon Dash. This little device is so awesome! Here's the official promo video:
Frankly, when Amazon Fresh debut in San Francisco I wasn't too interested or excited (poor investment in Webvan still leaves sour taste for online grocery delivery). But then I found out you can place an order Sunday 9pm for Monday 7am delivery! The next-morning turnaround time hooked me in and I've been a regular customer since February, averaging one delivery a week.
As a regular customer I was invited to try out the Dash. Got the invite code last week and within a couple of days my Dash shipped. Yesterday it arrived.
The device comes with two AA batteries that are housed in the black, rubbery half. The loop is flexible. The other half is the bar code scanner and microphone, covered in smooth white plastic. Overall the unit is easy to handle and use. I particularly like the feel of the rubber (good grip).
While the Dash does make shopping simple, initial setup was not so simple. Amazon's Kindle and Fire TV are so simple to setup but the Dash gave me all kinds of problems. There's no real instructions, just instructions telling you to set up the device through the Amazon Fresh app. Setup basically involves connecting the Dash to your WiFi network. I tried first on my Android LG G2 phone but kept getting communication failed errors. Same errors using an iPad Air. The setup on the iPad (and I'm assuming iPhone) is very cumbersome. You have to exit the Amazon Fresh app to go into system settings to change WiFi networks, then come back to the Amazon Fresh app to continue. After probably 30-45 minutes of trying, retrying and trying again the setup finally completed. Before the Dash goes mainstream I think Amazon needs to bullet-proof, idiot-proof the setup.
Time to start scanning and voice recording! Scanning is super easy, as is the voice recording. Your items appear almost instantaneously in the Fresh app. The voice recognition works great, able to understand "lysol disinfecting wipes".
Ironically, it wasn't able to recognize the barcode of some blueberries I recently purchased. The barcode database must be global and might not recognize local products, even though the local warehouse obviously knows about them.
When you click into an item you see options for purchase, including whether you've bought the item before.
For voice recorded items the app does a simple search. Amazon's personalization still needs much work, they should know that I'm not looking for root beer but a good IPA.
For some items like these Callaway golf balls I have the option of buying on Amazon directly.
Clicking on the Amazon icon opens up amazon.com in your browser.
I think Amazon Dash has big potentials once the setup is bullet-proof. Extremely handy as a shopping, grocery list. I might just take Dash to Safeway and Trader Joe's to scan in items for Amazon Fresh to deliver. Why lug around cases of cocunut water when I can just have it delivery to my front door next morning!