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Archive: September 2008

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September 30, 2008

Camilo Villegas' Tour Championship Winning Clubs

Posted at 2:57 PM by David Dusek

Camilovillegastrophy600x600 Camilo Villegas broke through and won his first PGA Tour event at the BMW Championship in St. Louis. While many of the top players from the United States and Europe battled in the Ryder Cup, the Columbian superstar rested and worked on this game. Sunday he won his second Tour event, the season-ending Tour Championship, in a playoff over Sergio Garcia.

Here's a complete list of the clubs in Villegas' bag:

Driver:             Cobra L4V X (9°)
Fairway:          Cobra Speed LD (15.5°, 18°)
Irons:               Cobra Carbon CB (3), Cobra Pro CB (5-PW)
Wedges:          Titleist Vokey Spin Milled (54°, 58°, 60°)
Putter:             Titleist by Scotty Cameron GSS Circa '62 #6
Ball:                 Titleist Pro V1

(Photo by Fred Vuich/SI)

September 25, 2008

Gear Doctor: Forged irons, swing weight and finding the perfect set

Posted at 4:02 PM by Mike Helfrich

Dear Doc,
I'm a 21-handicap, but really like the look and feel of a smaller forged club (Callaway X-Forged, Titleist 755, etc.). My distance control is more consistent than my directional control. I'm in the market for new irons but hate the thought of playing game-improvement irons. I would love to have some insight into this. Thanks and love the blog!
Brian in Michigan

Dear Brian,

I wouldn't get too obsessed with forged better-player irons vs. forged game-improvement irons. Instead, because your problem is "direction control," I would recommend you focus on two things when shopping for your new set. First, find out what your ideal lie angles are and make sure the new irons are adjusted accordingly. Lie angles can seriously impact direction and ball flight. Secondly, I would experiment with a heavier swing weight. If the irons are too light, you may not have enough sensitivity for the clubhead, thus making it harder for you to square the clubface efficiently at contact.

Dear Doc,
I am in the process of buying new irons. I am unable to hit them outside, but have hit 10 different sets indoor on the computer (all game-improvement category). I have only eliminated three options so far—the other seven are all about the same. How do I go about eliminating other sets to get down to that one perfect set.
Thanks, Patrick

The difference between the seven remaining iron models that you are considering really comes down to two things. First, you should consider which one "looks" the best to you. You need to be happy and confident with the appearance of you clubs. Second, and in my opinion is just as important, is "feel." Which one out of the seven feels the best?

When you find the set that looks and feels the best, you have answered your own question.

Hi Doc,
I have been using Maxfli Revolution black dot irons for a while, and I am looking for something lighter, but with similar characteristics. I like the blade style of my current irons, and I'm looking into the Mizuno MP-57 or maybe the new MP-52 coming this fall. Do you think this is a good change or should I look into something like the Mizuno MX 25, or what clubs would you recommend me?
Thank you, Daniel L.

It looks like you want to go with Mizuno for your next set of irons. I would recommend that you look at the MP-57. You have been playing a forged, mild cavity back for sometime, so I would imagine that you will have a very easy transition into this iron because it is very similar.

Dear Gear Doc,
I shoot in the high-70s to low-80s. My problem is that I make contact consistently toward the center-toe of my irons rather than being exactly in the middle. This happens almost 9 times out of 10 and I cannot seem to find the reason behind it. I've adjusted my address and posture position, tweaked the lie angle of my irons to roughly 3° up. That seemed to even out my divots but hasn't helped with this problem. I've tried choking down but that doesn't even seem to help much.

Any ideas come to mind? Brian P.

You may want to look at adding a little length to your irons. If you are striking them a half inch off center, try adding a half inch to your irons. But, be careful. When you add length you add weight. For every half inch in length, you will increase the swing weight by roughly 3 points. So, if your irons were D1 before, then they will go to D4 after you extend them. I would try one club to start, maybe a 7 or 8 iron. If you find it solves the problem and you don't mind a little extra weight, then extend the rest of them. The only other thing that could be causing toe strikes is an outside-in swing path.

September 21, 2008

Ian Poulter's Ryder Cup clubs

Posted at 8:25 PM by David Dusek

Poulterryder_450x600 LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- There was controversy when Nick Faldo decided to use a captain's pick on Ian Poulter, instead of selecting Darren Clarke or Colin Montgomerie. However, his decision was vindicated by Poulter's outstanding and inspired play. In fact, Poulter's four points were the most earned by any player on either team.

Here are the clubs he had in his bag:

Driver:                     Cobra Speed Pro S (8.5°)
Fairway woods:       Cobra Speed Pro (15°, 18°)
Irons:                       Cobra Pro MB (3-PW)
                   Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (54°, 60°)
Putter:                     Odyssey Tri Force 3

(Photo by Bob Martin/SI)

Anthony Kim's Ryder Cup clubs

Posted at 7:48 PM by David Dusek

Kimryder_sun_600 LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Anthony Kim dazzled crowds during the Ryder Cup, not only with his rhinestone belt buckles, but with the quality of his play. The 23-year-old Ryder Cup rookie was one of the emotional leaders of the team, and his win over Sergio Garcia in Sunday's singles matches set the early tone for the United States' victory.

Here is a list of the clubs in his bag this week:

Driver:                 Nike Sumo 5000 (7.5˚)
Hybrid:                Adams Idea Pro (14˚)
Irons:                   Nike Pro Combo (2-iron), Nike Forged Blades (3-PW)
Wedges:              Nike SV (54˚, 59˚)
Putter:                Scotty Cameron by Titleist Studio Select T10
Ball:                    Nike One Platinum

(Photo by Fred Vuich/SI)

September 20, 2008

Update: Mickelson's foursomes ball strategy

Posted at 5:01 PM by David Dusek

Kimryder_ball_450x600 Earlier this week, I asked Phil Mickelson how he and the American team would handle the ball issue in the foursomes matches. Not everyone plays the same ball, so in alternate shot the players often hit shots with an unfamiliar brand.

Mickelson told me that he planned to use his partner's ball off the tee, and his partner would use Mickelson's ball off the tee. "Off the tee it's not going to make too much of a difference. It's the distance control and how it comes off the irons and the trajectory and so forth," he said. "We will be hitting our own balls with our iron approach shots. I just don't think it will be a factor."

Well, that's not how it worked out. In both of Mickeson's foursomes matches with Anthony Kim (right ), the pair used Mickelson's Callaway Tour ix ball on every shot. Kim ordinarily plays a Nike One Platinum ball.

(Photo by Robert Beck/SI)

Holmes and Weekley's Ryder Cup Clubs

Posted at 3:45 PM by David Dusek

Holmesryder_fri_450x600 Using a Rife Barbados belly putter, J.B. Holmes (right) was in contention at the PGA Championship until a final-round 81 derailed him.

In his first Ryder Cup appearance, he's switched back to the putter he used to win the FBR Open last February, the TaylorMade Monza Spider belly putter.

Here is a list of the other clubs in his bag at Valhalla:
Driver                      Cobra L4V X (8°)
Fairway woods:      Cobra Speed LD-X Pro (13°, 18°)
Irons                        Cobra Pro CB (3-PW)
Wedges                   Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (54°, 60°)
Putter                      TaylorMade Rosa Monza Spider belly
Ball                          Titleist Pro V1x

Boo Weekley, Holmes' playing partner both Friday and Saturday afternoon, is known as one of the most solid ballstrikers on either side of the Atlantic. To make his job a little easier, he uses a hybrid (a Cleveland HiBore XLS) and cavity-back long irons, but he prefers classic blades for his mid- and short-irons for more control and workability.

According to Cleveland Golf, these are the clubs in Weekley's bag:
                   Cleveland HiBore XL (9.5°)
Fairway woods:
      Cleveland HiBore XLS (15°), HiBore (19°)
                    Cleveland HiBore XLS (3i)
                       Cleveland CG Red (4,5), CG1 (6-PW)
                  Cleveland CG10 (52°), CG14 (58°)
                     Never Compromise GM2 Exchange #7
                         Titleist Pro V1x

(Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

September 17, 2008

Paul Casey's new secret Nike putter

Posted at 4:08 PM by David Dusek

Casey_putter_face_600x450 LOUISVILLE, Ky. — We recently told you that Paul Casey switched to the new Nike Victory Red TW blade irons. This week at the Ryder Cup, the Englishman will also be using a Nike prototype putter.

When I had a chance to speak to Casey about it, he was excited to tell me how well he was putting with his new flatstick, but did not want to go into the details or discuss the technology incorporated in it. He wouldn't even give me its name.

The putter, which is a traditional heel-toe weighted blade, looks similar to Casey's former putter, the Nike Unitized Leo. However, the face of the putter, which appears to be milled stainless steel, has a series of small red grooves that Casey says allowed the ball to start rolling more quickly on the putting surface. Click on the top image for a better look.

On the sole of the putter there is a small cut which appears to be filled with a polymer. That cut would likely be designed to enhance feel and alter the sound of the ball striking the face.Casey_putter_sole_600x450

Although Rick Nichols, Nike's Tour field manager, would not answer questions about the putter, he did say that the Texas design and code etched into the sole are essentially a serial number so Nike knows exactly which prototype it is. The FW part of the code stands for Ft. Worth, where Nike's golf design headquarters are located. Click on the bottom image for a closer look.

Stay tuned for more information about this new Nike putter soon in The Shop.

Golf balls won't be an issue in foursomes matches

Posted at 9:13 AM by David Dusek

Mickelson_ryder_tue_600LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There are 12 players on the United States Ryder Cup team, and they don't all use the same ball. So in the alternate-shot matches, how do teams decide which ball to use?

I asked Phil Mickelson — the only player on the U.S. team who uses a Callaway ball — if he would encourage his potential foursome teammates to hit a few shots in practice rounds using his Tour ix ball, or if he might practice using another ball.

His answer was perplexing at first, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

"What we do in alternate shot is, I tee off with their ball and they tee off with my ball because we can switch balls each hole," he said. "So it really doesn't become much of a factor, because off the tee it's not going to make too much of a difference. It's the distance control and how it comes off the irons and the trajectory and so forth. And we will be hitting our own balls with our iron approach shots. I just don't think it will be a factor."

Here's a list of the golf balls used by each member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team:

Callaway Tour ix -          Phil Mickelson
Nike One Black -           Chad Campbell, Stewart Cink
Nike One Platinium -    Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard
Srixon Z-URS -              Jim Furyk
Titleist Pro V1 -            Steve Stricker, Boo Weekley, Hunter Mahan
Titleist Pro V1x -          Kenny Perry, J.B. Holmes, Ben Curtis

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

September 12, 2008

Cleveland's new Launcher driver and HiBore XLi irons

Posted at 1:22 PM by David Dusek

Launcher_driver_600 Before Cleveland Golf released the ultra-modern, slope-backed HiBore family of drivers, its big-hitter was the Launcher. Several versions of the club were successfully released, but the newest model, which will be on pro shop shelves Oct. 15, is being hailed by the company as the longest and straightest Launcher ever made.

Designed for players who are looking for an extremely low-spin driver, a mid-trajectory ball flight and a high moment of inertia, the new Launcher has a face which is 21% larger than those of the original Launcher and Launcher Comp. This should broaden the sweetspot and make the new Launcher more forgiving on off-center hits. A 17-gram, horseshoe-shaped weight pad rests in the rear of the clubhead to pull the center of gravity down and away from the face. Click on the image above for a better look.

The new Launcher, with a suggested retail price of $299, will come standard with a lightweight Fujikura Fit-On Flightspeed shaft to help players increase their swing speed for added power.

Cleveland also just introduced the new HiBore XLi irons for players looking to maximize distance and forgiveness. Taking advantage of what the company describes as Distance Driven Geometry, the crowns on the XLi irons curve down to move the center of gravity down and away from the face. Because all the clubs in this set are hollow, essentially they should all play like hybrids. The HiBore XLiHibore_xli_irons_600 irons also offer a fair amount of offset. To make the XLi irons work easily through the turf, Cleveland has designed them with a wide soul and incorporated toe and heel drag relief areas to impede digging. Click on the image for a better look.

There is a lot of technology in their irons designed to help slower-swinging players get their shots in the air more easily.

The HiBore XLi irons will also be available starting Oct. 15 with an adjusted retail price of $599 (steel)/$699 (graphite).

Look for more information on these new Cleveland products in an upcoming issue of GOLF Magazine.

September 08, 2008

Camilo Villegas's BMW Championship winning clubs

Posted at 12:29 PM by David Dusek

Ever since his runner-up finishes in 2006 at the FBR Open and the Ford Championship at Doral, a lot has been expected of Colombia's Camilo Villegas. Blending power and creativity, pundits and competitors alike saw him as a potential force on the PGA Tour.

On Sunday, he put everything together and earned his first PGA Tour win at the BMW Championship. Villegas is primarily known for his bulging biceps and enormous drives, but his putting sealed the deal in St. Louis. He averaged a tournament-best 27 putts per round and just 1.608 putts per green in regulation despite a four-putt on the ninth hole during his second round.

Villegas_putter_600x450Camilo's putter of choice is a specialized version of the Titleist by Scotty Cameron Circa '62 #6. The putter is heel-toe weighted with a back flange that is shaped like a B. (Click on the image for a closer look.)

His is unique because it is made from German stainless steel, which should make it feel softer than the standard model, which is made from carbon steel. Villegas also had lead tape on the bottom of the putter; many players prefer to use a heavier putter on wet, slow greens. Heavier putters can also help golfers develop a more rhythmic stroke.

According to Cobra Golf, here's a complete list of the clubs in Villegas' bag:

Driver:             Cobra L4V X (9°)
Fairway:          Cobra Speed LD (15.5°, 18°)
Irons:               Cobra Carbon CB (3), Cobra Pro CB (5-PW)
Wedges:           Titleist Vokey Spin Milled (54°, 58°, 63°)
Putter:             Titleist by Scotty Cameron GSS Circa '62 #6
Ball:                 Titleist Pro V1

(Photo by Jaime Squire/Getty Images)

September 03, 2008

Vijay Singh's Deutsche Bank winning clubs

Posted at 11:30 AM by David Dusek

Singh_boston Since Tiger Woods announced that he would miss the rest of the 2008 season after undergoing knee surgery, two players have dominated professional golf. Padraig Harrington has won both majors—the British Open and PGA Championship—while Vijay Singh has won three of the last five PGA Tour events.

After hoisting the hardware at back-to-back playoff events, the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank championships, Singh has a commanding lead in the race for the $10 million first prize and the FedEx Cup. Not bad for a 45-year-old guy with tendinitis in his left forearm.

It has been well documented that Singh has overcome his putting troubles by constantly telling himself that he is the best putter in the world. By constantly reinforcing that perception, his putting has improved and he's started winning again.

But what has not changed is Singh's fantastic ability to hit the ball long off the tee and accurately from the fairway. For the season, he is averaging 297 yards per drive and is hitting nearly 69% of the greens in regulation. If that combination holds up, along with his recent putting prowess, there is no reason to believe that Singh cannot continue to win when Woods returns.

Here's a list of the clubs that Singh used to win at the TPC Boston last week.

Driver:                   Cleveland HiBore XL (9.5°)
Fairway woods:
     Cleveland Launcher Steel Fairway (13°), Adams Idea a3 Boxer (19°)
                     Cleveland CG1 Black Pearl (4-P)
                Cleveland CG12 (54°, 60°, 64°)
                  Never Compromise GM2 Exchange #7 belly
                      Titleist Pro V1x

(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

New Ping Rapture V2 Driver

Posted at 11:24 AM by David Dusek

Ping_rapturev2 Starting at the Barclays Championship, Ping's new 460cc Rapture V2 driver (right) started showing up on the driving range.

While Ping's original Rapture featured a composite head made of titanium and carbon, the V2, which will replace the original, features an all-titanium head. The head of the V2 also slopes slightly from front to back to move the center of gravity lower and further away from the face.

According to Matt Rollins, a tour representative for Ping, "They put two big tungsten weight pads on the heel and toe. In essence, they are trying to help guys launch it a shade higher, but this driver will spin the ball 200-300 RPMs less."

Rollins says that the flatter launch angle and lower spin rate should help produce drives that roll more after hitting the fairway.  That should make the Rapture V2 appealing to players who produce a lot of spin when they hit drives and tend to lose distance when the ball balloons. "If you don't you hit it high enough, you're never going to maximize what this driver can do," he said.

As you might suspect from a driver that is designed for heavy hitters, the Rapture V2 has a slight fade bias, which makes it easier to work the ball from left to right. "Out here on the PGA Tour, there aren't many guys who want to miss the ball hard left," Rollins said. "So for guys that were already playing the Rapture, like Chris DiMarco or Angel Cabrera, who like to cut the ball, this is it. This is great."

Unfortunately for Ping's biggest hitter, Bubba Watson, the company has not produced a version of the Rapture V2 with a low enough loft for him to play. While the bottom of his current Rapture driver says 7°, it is actually 6.7°.

The Rapture V2 has a suggested retail price of $500 and will be available later this fall.

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