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Archive: July 2008

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July 31, 2008

Gear Doctor: Putter length, hooks and finding the right ball

Posted at 3:23 PM by Mike Helfrich

Every Wednesday, we'll tap into the expertise of our exclusive research partner, Hot Stix Golf, to answer reader questions and help you navigate the increasingly complex word of golf equipment. If you have a question for the Gear Doc, e-mail it to or post a comment below. He'll answer a few lucky readers' questions every week on

Dear Doc,
My 5-foot 7-inch, 17-year-old daughter wants a new putter. What length putter would be ideal for her?
Mark Bradley

Dear Mark,
There is not a magic formula for length of a putter based on height because it has a lot to do with posture in the setup position.

Here is a simple way to learn which length putter fits her best:
1.    Have your daughter stand in her normal putting position, you want her arms to hang (dangle) straight down from her shoulders, her eyes should be right over the ball to an inch inside the ball. (While putting, your eyes should never be outside the line.)

2.    From that position try several putter lengths to see which length allows her to be in that position and have the sole of the putter level to a couple of degrees toe up. 

My guess is she will probably be somewhere between 31" and 34" but her posture may prove me wrong.

Dear Gear Doctor,
I have a 17° Nickent Genex 3DX hybrid with a stock stiff shaft that I have using for about 3 months. I hit every other club in my bag straight, but I hook this hybrid. Can you tell me why?

Dear Dominick,
Assuming you make fairly consistent swing with all your clubs, then it's either a shaft flex issue or a lie angle issue.

If the shaft is too soft the tendency is for a miss to be a hook, and you may struggle with distance control as well. If the club is too stiff, it usually leads to low and right misses, but I often see people work harder with a club that is too stiff and therefore hook it.

If the club has a lie angle that is too upright for you, like any other club in you bag it will cause a hook.
Take a look at the bottom of the club, and if all your ground strikes on the club are on the heel it is possible that it is too upright for you.

Dear Doc,
In some of your previous responses, you have suggested that readers try a different golf ball to either improve distance and/or accuracy. Is there really that much difference between golf balls?

Dear Kevin,
Yes. The golf ball you play makes a huge difference when it comes to distance, accuracy, control trajectory and spin. In fact, there is a variance in spin of up to 1000 RPM's with a driver at 100 MPH, and up to 4000 RPM's with a wedge.

Knowing that, you can see how playing one ball on the spin spectrum instead of another can impact your performance.

Don't get too hung up on which ball optimizes distance off the driver. You should hit balls with irons, wedges and your putter as well when looking for the best ball to match your game. Make sure you choose a ball that meets your needs in ALL aspects of your game.

Limited Edition Vokey Design 60-M Wedges

Posted at 9:51 AM by David Dusek

Vokey60m_wedge_400 Among the clubs Chez Reavie used to win his first PGA Tour event was a Titleist Vokey Design 60-M wedge. (Chez's was actually bent to 58°.)

That club, which has a special grind on the sole, is usually not available to the public, but Titleist announced last night that a limited run of 1,000 is now available for sale on for $250 each.

The 60-M wedge has a face that is textured like the Spin Mill line of Titleist wedges, but a crescent-shaped section of the bounce area has been ground out. According to the company, that makes it more versatile from the sand and the turf. The heel, toe and trailing edge have also been ground so players can open the face and still get under the ball on tight lies.

You can have your name or initials stamped on the back of the wedge, and various grip and shaft options are available.

July 30, 2008

New shafts from Graphite Design

Posted at 3:11 PM by David Dusek

Gd_throttle_shaft_3 For heavy hitters, Graphite Design will soon release the new Tour AD Throttle line of shafts, made specifically for high swing speed players.

All four models are 47 inches long with a stiff tip, a high bend point and low torque. That combination, according to Graphite Design, should produce a lower ball flight and reduce driver spin. Each shaft has a suggested retail price of $175.

The names of the different versions of the Throttle shafts are designed to also get your juices flowing on the tee.

Turbo Charged = regular
Super Charged = stiff
Nitrous Charged = extra stiff
Methane Charged = double extra still

Chez Reavie's Canadian Open winning clubs

Posted at 3:10 PM by David Dusek

Reavie_600x450 In winning his first PGA Tour event, Chez Reavie was the model of consistency and excellence. For the week he ranked fourth in driving accuracy (78.4%), tied for fifth in greens in regulation (75%) and eighth in putting average (1.63).

"I've been struggling with my putting all year," Reavie said Sunday in his post-round press conference. "I've been striking the ball well, but I haven't made the momentum putts. Whereas this week, I putted great."

Reavie went on the explain that he made a minor adjustment to his putting this week that seemed to help. He moved the ball forward in his stance and straightened his left arm to get both his arms in alignment with the putter shaft. "I felt like I rocked the shoulders and kept my head down all week. That was my only thought."

Reavie also mentioned that while paired with Kenny Perry last week in Milwaukee, he noticed Perry was working on the same thing. "I watched the way he was putting and the way he set up to it. He was doing the exact thing that Peter Kostis and I were working on."

Reavie also recently switched drivers, from Titleist's 907D2 to the 909D2 that will be available in October. According to Titleist, 17 players in the field at the Canadian Open used 909 drivers.

Here is a complete list of the clubs in Reavie's bag.

Driver:                Titleist 909D2 (8.5°)
Fairway wood:    Titleist 906F2 (15°), Adams Idea Pro (18°)
Irons:                  Titleist Z Muscle Forged (3-PW)
Wedges:             Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (54°), Vokey Special Grind 60M (58°)
Putter:                Titleist by Scott Cameron 303 GSS
Ball:                    Titliest Pro V1x

(Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington's British Open clubs

Posted at 11:37 AM by David Dusek

July19_g_padraig1_399x600 At the beginning of the week, Padraig Harrington was battling a wrist injury, and there were whispers that he might not be able to defend the title he won last year at Carnoustie.

However, after 54 holes he's found himself in the final pairing with Greg Norman. And at the end of the tournament, Peter Dawson, the R&A Chairman, called his name as the Champion Golf of the year.

Here are the clubs he that he had in his bag this week during his successful British Open title defense:

Driver:                          Wilson Dd6+ (9°)
Fairway woods:        TaylorMade Burner (13°), Wilson Staff Fybrid  (18°)
Irons:                           Wilson Staff Ci7 (3-4) Wilson Pi5 (5-PW)
Wedges:                       Wilson Tw9 (54°, 60°)
Putter:                          Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball Blade
Ball:                             Titleist Pro V1x

(Photo by Bob Martin/SI)

July 22, 2008

Ask the Gear Doctor

Posted at 9:32 AM by

Every Wednesday, we'll tap into the expertise of our exclusive research partner, Hot Stix Golf, to answer reader questions and help you navigate the increasingly complex word of golf equipment. If you have a question for the Gear Doc, e-mail it to or post a comment below. He'll answer a few lucky readers' questions every week on The latest installment is after the jump.

Continue reading "Ask the Gear Doctor" »

July 20, 2008

Ian Poulter's British Open clubs

Posted at 2:55 PM by David Dusek

Poultersun_bieverSOUTHPORT, England -- The birdie at 16 and the par at 18 made Birkdale quake. Ian Poulter, whose clothing often overshadows his formidable game, was rolling on the back nine Sunday.

He fell short of winning by four strokes, but his runner-up finish was his best in a major and likely earned him a spot on the European Ryder Cup team.

Here is a list of the clubs he used this week at Royal Birkdale.

Driver:                   Cobra Speed Pro S (8.5°)
Fairway woods:     Cobra Speed Pro (15°, 18°)
Irons:                    Cobra Pro MB (3-PW)
Wedges:               Vokey Design Spin Milled (54°, 60°)
Putter:                  Odyssey Black Series i #1
Ball:                      Titleist Pro V1x

(Photo by John Biever/SI)

Ben Curtis's British Open clubs

Posted at 9:27 AM by David Dusek

Bencurtissat_450x600 SOUTHPORT, England -- Back in 2003, a then-unknown player named Ben Curtis was the last man standing at Royal St. George's. Star after star, from Vijay Singh to Davis Love to Tiger Woods, tried to match his early 69, but they all fell short.

This year at Royal Birkdale, everyone knows the guy wearing the American football clothes. Curtis started Sunday's final round in a tie for fifth. The 70 he shot early on Saturday had propelled him up the leaderboard long after he'd left the course.

Curtis has Titleist clubs in his bag, and he switched to a new Scotty Cameron putter earlier this season. You can learn more about it in this post from the Shop's coverage of The Players Championship.

Driver:                 Titleist 907D2 (8.5°)
Fairway wood:      Titleist 906F2 (13°)
Hybrid:                Titleist 585H (17°)
Irons:                  Titleist AP2 (3-PW)
Wedges:             Titleist Vokey Design 200 Series (52°), TVD (60°)
Putter:               Titleist by Scotty Cameron Studio Select Newport 2
Ball:                   Titleist Pro V1x

(Photo by Peter Muhly/AFP Getty Images)

July 19, 2008

Greg Norman's clubs had better be perfect!

Posted at 3:12 PM by David Dusek

Normans_clubs_2 SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND -- If any of Greg Norman's clubs don't meet with his approval, he's got no one to blame but himself. After all, he's the chairman of the board of MacGregor Golf.

In a recent interview with GOLF Magazine's Josh Sanburn, Norman said, "I've played the company's irons since 1978. I believe in the product and the brand recognition on a global basis. I consider MacGregor's R&D to be second to none. And, I see a lot of parallels between MacGregor today and when I was with Cobra."

According to MacGregor's Jamie Bosworth, Norman is the only player endorsing the equipment of the company, which is based in Albany, Ga.

Norman is using the MacGregor MT driver (9.5°) and a Callaway Steelhead 3-wood. Bosworth says that Norman got his prototype MacGregor VIP irons only two weeks ago. They feature a diamond-shaped muscle-back design and should be available to the public soon.

Norman is using MacGregor MT Pro Don White wedges (52°, 57°), a prototype MacGregor DCT putter and TaylorMade's TP Red ball. The putter has a special insert that returns more energy into the ball on off-center hits to optimize distance control, similar to the insert used in the MacGregor Face-Off putter.

July 18, 2008

K.J. Choi's British Open Clubs

Posted at 3:26 PM by David Dusek

Choifri_600x600 SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND — Taking advantage of less severe conditions, K.J. Choi has put himself atop the leaderboard after two rounds of play at Royal Birkdale.

Choi, whose best performance in a British Open is a tie for eighth in 2007 at Carnoustie, shot rounds of 72-67.

While Choi has a bag full of Nike clubs, his Odyssey putter has an interesting modification. It's hard not to notice that his putter grip, a SuperStroke, is gigantic. The concept behind the grip is that it locks the wrists and takes them out of the stroke, making players more consistent, especially under pressure. It's working well for him this week — he's averaging 28.5 putts per round.

Choi, one of the straightest drivers of the ball, is also splitting the fairways this week, hitting 20 of 28 in brutal conditions.

Continued good putting and solid driving could just the combination that Choi needs to win his first major.

Here is a complete list of the clubs in K.J. Choi's British Open bag:
Driver:                    Nike SQ Sumo 5000 (8.5°)
Fairway wood:       TaylorMade Burner TP (13°)
Hybrid:                   Nike T 100 (17°)
Irons:                       Nike CCi Forged (3-PW)
Wedges:                  Nike Pro Combo (54°) Nike SV (60°)
Putter:                    Odyssey White Hot #2
Ball:                        Nike ONE Platinum

(Photo by John Biever/SI)

Camilo Villegas's British Open clubs

Posted at 2:49 PM by David Dusek

Villegasfri_450x600 SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND -- The rain was not coming down in sheets, and the wind was not howling quite as much, but Camilo Villegas' 65 Friday is the round of the tournament so far.

One of the most interesting things about the British Open is learning what clubs players are using to hit certain shots in extreme conditions. Invariably the numbers get comical.

"Downwind you can hit a driver here that goes 370 yards," Villegas said in his post-round press conference, "and then you get into the wind and you hit it 230. I mean, on the sixth hole I believe, I had 205 to the front, and I killed a 3-wood, perfect, and it pitched two yards on. My 3-wood normally goes 260."

Villegas drew laughter when he told reporters about what he did on the 18th. "I believe I had 176 to the pin and I hit a pitching wedge. That tells you how funky it is to play around here."

According to the Cobra Golf's Web site, these are the clubs Villegas has in his bag:

Driver:         Cobra L4V X (9°)
Fairway:      Cobra Speed LD (3, 5)
Irons:           Cobra Carbon CB (3), Cobra Pro CB (4-PW)
Wedges:      Titleist Vokey Spin Milled (54°, 58°)
Putter:         Titleist by Scotty Cameron GSS Circa '62 #6
Ball:             Titleist Pro V1

(Photo by Nick Potts/AP Photos)

July 17, 2008

Adam Scott's British Open clubs

Posted at 3:22 PM by David Dusek

Adamscott_600x450SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND -- Heading into this British Open championship, Sergio Garcia was tagged as the "Best Player to Have Never Won a Major." And after his near-miss last season at Carnoustie and win at The Players, it makes sense.

But Adam Scott is ranked higher (No. 4) than Garcia (No. 7) and possesses one of the best swings in golf. The knock on Scott has always been that his short game and putting don't match the caliber of his long game, but Thursday at Royal Birkdale he posted an even-par 70 to finish just one shot off the lead in a tie for fourth.

Here are the clubs he used:

Driver:                   Titleist Pro Titanium 905R (8.5°)
Fairway woods:      Titleist 906F4 (13.5°)
Hybrid:                   Titleist 585H (17°)
Irons:                      Titleist AP2 (2-9)
Wedges:                 Titleist Vokey 200 Series (49°), Spin Milled (55°)
Putter:                   Scotty Cameron for Titleist Newport GSS
Ball:                       Titleist Pro V1

(Photo by Robert Beck/SI)

Jackets that are British Open tested

Posted at 3:21 PM by David Dusek

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND -- Don't think of a rain jacket as a fashion statement. As the pros who braved the elements Thursday at Birkdale will attest, good foul weather gear is serious equipment and worth investing in. Here are a few things to think about:

1. Waterproof vs. Water resistant
When you get a waterproof jacket it should keep you dry in a steady rain and not allow any water to leak through. The zippers have flaps or seals that prevent water from seeping inside, and the seams inside the jacket will often be sealed as well. What you might be sacrificing is some breathability.

A water resistant top will usually be more breathable, but if you get caught in a long, steady rain you'll get wet. If you are playing in a light drizzle or a light rain, you'll stay fairly dry. On a hot summer day, a water resistant top will help you avoid feeling like a steamed clam.

2. Warranties
If you are looking to invest in a waterproof jacket, look for one that has a warranty. Many, including the tops listed below, promise to keep you dry with normal use for at least two years.

3. Wind resistance
Waterproof jackets should be windproof too, but many water resistant jackets are windproof these days as well. On a chilly day, having a layer that blocks the wind will make you feel a lot warmer.
Here are four rain tops that will keep you dry and comfortable for years to come:

Weir2_600Adidas ClimaProof Storm Full Zip ($240)
Waterproof, seam sealed, two-way mechanical stretch with four-way stretch inserts, an internal drawcord, and two-year waterproof warranty. Right on Mike Weir (Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)


Verplankjacket_600x400DryJoys Rainshirt ($180)
Waterproof, stretch panels, seam sealed, adjustable waterproof cuffs and front zipper, scorecard pocket and two-year waterproof warranty.  Right on Scott Verplank. (Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)


Choijacket_600x450 Nike StormFit Elite 1/2 Zip ($250)
Waterproof, Velcro adjustable cuffs, sealed front zipper, limited lifetime guarantee. Right on K.J. Choi (Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)


Watsonrlxjacket_600x400Polo RLX Elude Jacket ($395)
Waterproof, seam sealed, full stretch, Vercro adjustable cuffs, two-way front zipper, hidden vents under the arms, back collar and yoke, scorecard pocket. Right on Tom Watson (Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)

July 16, 2008

Daly, Rose, O'Hair using TaylorMade's new Itsy Bitsy Spider

Posted at 1:35 PM by David Dusek

Taylormade_itsy_bitsy SOUTHPORT, England — There were plenty of fireworks in John Daly's press conference Wednesday at the British Open, but one tidbit was especially interesting from an equipment standpoint.

When Daly was asked about his putting, he said, "I'm still one of those guys that's not scared to knock it three feet past the hole. If find that if I start lagging putts, it gets worse. But I'm going to try the new TaylorMade Spider, the small Spider putter, this week. I was working with the guys from adidas TaylorMade yesterday, just something totally different that I'm not accustomed to. I'm not used to seeing anything that big behind the putter face. But it's something different, and maybe it's time I look at something different."

The putter Daly is referring to is the TaylorMade Itsy Bitsy Spider, a smaller version of TaylorMade's RossaTaylormade_ibs_above Monza Spider, which was released earlier this season.

According to Matt Blackey, a TaylorMade Golf representative, whether you strike the ball in the center of the face or near the heel or toe areas of the Itsy Bitsy Spider, the club transfers the same amount of energy into the putt. This means that off-center hits roll as far as well-struck putts for better distance control.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider is 30 percent smaller than the original Spider, and the interchangeable weight ports are inside the face line of the Itsy Bitsy instead of outside the face line as they are on the original Spider. (Maybe they should call the bigger putter the Tarantula?)

Justin Rose was the first player to start using the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Sean O'Hair has put it in the bag this week at Royal Birkdale. According to Shawn Mullin, a TaylorMade Tour representitive, the Itsy Bitsy Spider will be available this fall.

New Ping irons debut at Birkdale

Posted at 1:30 PM by David Dusek

Ping_s57_ironSOUTHPORT, England — Several of Ping's top professional staff players at Royal Birkdale have just switched to the company's yet-to-be-released S57 irons, according to Chance Cozby, Ping's director of tour operations.

The S57 irons were introduced to players starting two weeks ago, and several players have started using them, including the Order of Merit leader, Miguel Angel Jimenez; the 2007 U.S. Open champion, Angel Cabrera; Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore.

The S57 is a small-headed blade designed for low-handicap players who want to maximize feel and control. According to John Solheim,Ping_s58_iron_above Ping Golf's president, a tungsten weight has been added in the toe portion of the club, as well as a small amount of weight under the urethane insert in the back of the club.

These weights are designed to improve the S57's balance and feel while maintaining a clean look at address. "That's one of the biggest keys in a blade iron," Solheim said. "You want the leading edge to flow right into the hosel."

According to Solheim, the S57's moment of inertia is higher than the S58 irons, which Ping has been making for highly-skilled players. This should make the irons more forgiving on off-center hits than the S58's.

Mahan led the PGA Tour in greens in regulation going into the AT&T National at Congressional two week ago. He switched to the S58 irons at that event and proceeded to hit 79.17% of the greens that week.

Look for more on Ping's new irons in an upcoming issue of GOLF Magazine and in The Shop.

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