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Archive: January 2010

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January 31, 2010

Winning Clubs: Ben Crane at 2010 Farmers Insurance Open

Posted at 7:30 PM by David Dusek

Ben Crane Torrey Pines

DRIVER: Titleist 909 D2 (10.5°) with a Mitsubishi Diamana Blue 73 shaft
FAIRWAY WOODS: TaylorMade V Steel (15°, 18°) with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue 83 shafts
HYBRID: Titleist 909H (21°) with a UST AvixCore Hybrid shaft
IRONS: Titleist AP2 (5-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design (51°), Spin Milled C-C (55°, 59°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot #5
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Titleist clubs and schedule your fitting with GolfTec.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | The Shop: Winner's Bags

(Photo: Denis Poroy/AP Photos)

January 29, 2010

UST Mamiya Releasing ATTAS Shafts

Posted at 10:46 PM by David Dusek

ORLANDO, Fla — The next time you have a great sushi meal and want to sound cool as you leave the restaurant, say, "Attas" (pronounced, Ah-Taas). According to Robb Schikner, UST Mamiya's vice president of sales and marketing, it's a form of Japanese slang meaning "thank you."

UST-Mamiya-ATTAS-Golf-Shaft_500
It's also the name of the company's latest premium graphite golf shaft, and it will be arriving in better golf pro shops this season as an after-market upgrade for your driver, fairways woods and hybrid clubs.

Unlike many premium graphite shafts that maintain a specific diameter through the butt section and then slowly taper to a narrower diameter near the tip, the ATTAS continuously tapers along the shafts entire length. The benefit of the continuous taper design is a smoother delivery of power as you swing down to the ball.

"Because we are seeing a lot of benefits to that, we are working on some next generation ProForce products [UST/Mamiya's other popular premium shaft line] that will also have the constant taper design," Schikner said.

It's also not a spin-killing shaft. The ATTAS is designed to promote a moderate ball flight that should appeal to many players. In fact, Stewart Cink put a prototype ATTAS shaft into his 5-wood midway through last season, and had lots of good things to say about it.

The new ATTAS shafts will retail for about $350 at better pro shops and golf specialty stores.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter

Williams F1 racing engineers produce $50,000 set of golf clubs

Posted at 4:00 PM by Gary Van Sickle

Williams-drivers ORLANDO, Fla. --The most attention-getting club at this year's PGA Merchandise Show has to be the Williams Black Diamond driver. It comes complete with solid gold insets, a set of gold-plated irons and, oh yeah, a $50,000 price tag.

These clubs are largely for show, and anyone who actually lays out the 50 grand will also enjoy a wide array of perks, including a customized fitting by an expert who will fly to see customers, an Italian leather handbag and VIP treatment at a Formula One race. No doubt several sheiks are already lining up for this bargain.

In the real world, Williams also offers a Players Series driver for $500, and it's pretty good. I tested it at Orange County National during Demo Day this week and launched some pretty good tee shots with it. If I knew more about continental racing, I wouldn't have been surprised. Williams F1 is one of the top teams in Formula One racing and its engineers, who focus on aerodynamics, applied those principles to the design of golf clubs. It actually makes sense that a bunch of racing experts could improve the aerodynamics of the clubhead.

The bottom of the clubhead has a series of fan-like ridges (again, for aerodynamics) that give it a distinctive look. It would be a mistake not to take Williams seriously. They race to win in Formula One. This club is worth checking out.

Photo: David Walberg/SI

Utopia putters are impress with leading-edge design

Posted at 3:59 PM by Gary Van Sickle

Utopia-putters ORLANDO, Fla. -- A small company can still break into the golf equipment industry, especially in putters. Those clubs are often impulse buys. You're not a serious golfer unless your collection of putters is in double figures.

At last year's PGA Merchandise Show, I discovered the Axis 1 putter, an innovative piece of engineering that all but eliminated torque (twisting) in the putting stroke. That club is still in my bag, and Axis 1 is here at the show, alive and kicking and boasting tour player Patrick Sheehan among its users.

This year's Axis 1 could be the putters from Utopia Golf Products. These putters have a unique look and are trying to do what every other putter does -- get the ball rolling with overspin as quickly as possible. The Utopia TXR 1 (a standard rectangular blade model) and TXR II (standard mallet) do this because of a large ridge line -- the edge, Utopia co-founder Bill Deichler calls it -- that runs horizontally across the putter face.

"Did you ever use the edge of a sand wedge to putt from just off the edge of a green?" Deichler asked. "The edge of that club gets the ball turning over right away. That's what we tried to do with these putters."

The edge is designed so that its leading edge strikes the ball first, a little north of the ball's equator, to produce a quick and true roll. (With many putters, the ball actually skids the first few inches after contact before beginning to roll over.)

There's no question the Utopia models get the ball rolling. The best part is, they have a nice feel at impact. The club does what it's supposed to do.

By the way, the company is named after the co-founders' hometown of Utopia, Texas, a village of about 300 located 80 miles west of San Antonio in Texas Hill Country.

Photos: utopiagolfproducts.com

Sun Mountain continues to innovate

Posted at 3:51 PM by Gary Van Sickle

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Small innovations can add up to a lot. For instance, Sun Mountain came up with a handle near the top of the golf bag, which evolved into an opening carved into the bag. It doesn't sound like much, but that opening made lifting the bag out of the trunk or hoisting it onto a cart a lot easier. It was one of the great bag innovations of recent years.

Sun Mountain, which specializes in bags, outerwear and pullcarts, seems to come up with a few new twists every year. I checked them out at the PGA Merchandise Show here in Orlando. You may have already seen my report on the Mantys, a motorized golf buggy that you drive like a Segway. Sun Mountain also has the Micro E-Cart, a new motorized pullcart that allows you to adjust the speed to match your pace, or set it to automatically roll ahead 15, 30 or 60 yards.

It's easy to use and folds up without much fuss. The suggested price is $799.

Two other novel tweaks are worth a mention. Sun Mountain makes Rainflex waterproof jackets and vests and has a new accessory for the vests -- a pair of slip-on thermal sleeves. They're not waterproof, but they offer extra warmth and can be removed easily. Simple yet effective, for $20.

Another innovation is the Dry Hood, a golf bag attachment. It comes in a small tube-like pouch, attaches by a Velcro connector around the mouth of the bag and unfolds like a fan to provides an arched rain cover for your clubs. You can easily push the fanned cover back to get to the clubs, which is way better than wrestling a conventional zippered cover. It's $25 and pretty darn clever.

January 28, 2010

SkyCaddie SGX: Learn More About Your Game

Posted at 10:47 PM by David Dusek

SkyCaddie-SGX_600 ORLANDO, Fla. — I have been a huge fan of laser rangefinders and golf GPS devices for a long time. Anything that helps me play faster and make better decisions on the course is welcome on my bag.

SkyGolf, maker of some of the most popular GPS units, is set to release the SkyCaddie SGX, and I think I'm in love.

The SGX is about the same size and weight as a cell phone, comes pre-loaded with about 30,000 courses, and has a vivid 3-inch color screen that's easy to read in bright sunlight. It has an omnidirectional antenna, which locks onto multiple satellites and works even when you're under trees or dense foliage. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 14 hours. As you approach a green, the screen rotates itself to your position and provides yardages to the front, middle and back.

But the coolest new feature developed by SkyGolf is SmartClub Tags, a set of three-gram plugs that attach to the end of your grips. Sold separately in packs of four or 14, the tags wirelessly communicate with the SGX and let the device know exactly which club you've pulled from your bag.

This technology makes tracking every shot almost effortless. After your round is complete, you will have a digital scorecard; tour-caliber stats including greens in regulation, fairways hit and total putts; and a very accurate gauge of how far you hit each club.

SkyGolf has created a new Web site, Club SG, designed to let golfers share the information gathered by their SGX units.

The SGX will be available starting in April for $399, plus an annual fee that covers course updates. The price for the SmartClub Tags was not available.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter

(Photo by David Walberg/SI)

Grip it and play it: Pure grips

Posted at 3:49 PM by Gary Van Sickle

Pure-grips ORLANDO, Fla.--The biggest innovation I've seen thus far at the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show? You'll laugh. It's about golf grips. Yeah, I know. Wake you when I'm done writing this item.

I'm serious. Pure Grips has a line of excellent and tacky rubber golf grips, but the true innovation is how you put them on and take them off. There's no glue or tape, it only takes a few seconds, and you can begin using the clubs immediately.

The secret is compressed air. The company's gun-shaped attachment connects to an air compressor on one side and the grip on the other. (See the video below.) A shot of air makes the Pure grip expand enough so you can slip it onto the shaft -- even over a layer or three of tape. Once you slide the grip into place (a two-second job once you've done a few), turn the air off and the grip contracts around the shaft like a vise. It's ready for play. Removing the grips with the air-gun is even easier and quicker. Unlike all current grips, which have to be cut off with a knife because they were glued on, Pure grips come off intact and can be reused.

It's going to be a great incentive for club pros to stock Pure grips because they'll be able to change them so quickly.The process is so easy, I'm considering doing my own grips now. I already scored a Pure grips applicator gun. After that, all I need are the grips (suggested price $8) and a little air compressor that I can pick up cheap at Wal-Mart or any hardware store.

Instant regrips, no muss-no fuss, and they're reusable. A Pure golf spokesman told me about a woman player he knows who changes her different colored grips to match her wardrobe before each round. Now that's innovation.

PURE Grips Tapeless Golf Grip Installation Video from Wes Brasher on Vimeo.

Photo: David Walberg/SI

Are we at a golf show or a spa?

Posted at 2:46 PM by Anne Szeker

When at the PGA Merchandise Show, you expect to see apparel, clubs and training aids. Teeth whitening? Not so much. The following photos were snapped on the floor of the PGA Merchandise Show.

Teeth-cleaning

(Teeth whitening)

Cuticle

(Nail and cuticle protection)

Massage-chairs 

(Massage chairs, very popular items. If you saw the size of the show, and the time it took to walk to either end, you'd understand why.)

Taken for a ride: Sun Mountain's Mantys cart

Posted at 2:42 PM by Gary Van Sickle

Mantys-buggy ORLANDO, Fla. -- There is good news about my test drive (video below) of Sun Mountain's new motorized, self-propelled golf bag cart: I didn't plow into a fire hydrant. That should count for something.

Seriously, Sun Mountain's new Mantys cart is the hands-down winner of the Most Fun New Product here at the PGA Merchandise Show. It looks something like a pair of skateboards connected to a set of handlebars. You load your golf bag in front of the handle, put one foot on each of the flat legs and use your thumb to operate the throttle. There's no steering wheel. To turn, you simply shift your weight right or left and this four-wheeler and its sophisticated suspension system do the rest.

All I took was a quick test drive around the range at Orange County National, but let me tell you, this thing is fun. I didn't open it up to full speed but it can really go. A fellow tester later told me he learned it has a turbo button and when he tried it, he almost did a wheelie. The Mantys might be more fun than a go-kart.

For motorized golf course uses, the Mantys blows away the Segway, the famous two-wheel pedestrian mover that has seen limited use on golf courses because it has some issues with hills, especially sidehill lies. The Mantys has four wheels and is much more stable. I live in the Pittsburgh area, which is pretty hilly, and I think the Mantys could operate there with no problem. But it's not as if I could try it out on a big hill--I'm in Florida, the cradle of swampland. At a suggested retail price of $3,250, the Mantys is also about $5,000 cheaper than the Segway.

I can see a couple of potential hurdles for the Mantys. The driver is in a stand-up position; there is no seat. If you want to sit down during your four-hour round, you'd better find a bench. If it's rainy, well, you and your clubs are going to get wet. Many people who own their own carts are older or retired and may prefer a sit-down cart.

For fun on a golf course -- or in a parking lot or in your backyard, for that matter -- the Mantys is a blast. I'm already in negotiations to set up another, lengthier test drive.

Photo: David Walberg/SI

Titleist explains approach to ball fitting

Posted at 2:19 PM by David Dusek

Ball-seminar ORLANDO, Fla. – While major manufacturers show off their latest offerings here at the PGA Merchandise Show, several also offer seminars to PGA professionals on topics ranging from how to sell more products to stretches that improve distance off the tee.

Titleist is not releasing any new balls here this year, but the company's golf ball fitting seminar contained several interesting nuggets of information that could help you find the ideal ball for your game.

1. According to Bill Morgan, Titleist's senior vice president of ball research and development, driver distance is not a key variable when comparing Titleist balls. He said that Pro V1, Pro V1x, NXT, NXT Tour, and DT Solo all travel within four yards of each other off the tee.

2. Putting constitutes about 40% of players' strokes, but once a golf ball is rolling, there is no real performance difference between balls.

3. Many of Titleist's PGA Tour players spend several weeks testing various golf balls before making a change, but most amateur players spend just minutes thinking about which ball they should play.

The major difference between the balls in the Titleist family is spin and performance around the green. The Pro V1 spins more than the Pro V1x, which in turn spins more than the NXT Tour and the NXT.

To find the ideal ball to match your swing and your game, Morgan says you have to try balls on the golf course. "You don't play golf into nets, and you don't play golf on the range," he said. He suggests going to a hole you know well on a course you play often, and trying to chip and pitch different balls. Then, working back toward the tee, hitting approach shots with longer clubs.

The ball you should start playing is the one that tends to give you the best results.

(Photo: David Dusek)

Personalize every part of your game golf

Posted at 2:10 PM by Anne Szeker

ORLANDO, Fla. — From your grips to your head covers to your pimped-out golf carts, golfers have the opportunity to customize every aspect of their golf games. The PGA Merchandise Show featured some of these options, seen in the photos below from The Shop blogger David Dusek. 

Colored-grips

Head-covers

Putter-head-covers

Shaft-skins-smallFrom a company called Shaft Skinz comes a product that will take your club personalization to the yet another level. There are many different designs to choose from -- everything from skulls, which Rory Sabbatini has on his putter, to snake skin to champagne bubbles. They are applied with a hairdryer and can be removed without too much trouble (and no damage to your shaft) when you decide you're over the pink champagne bubbles and would prefer the green snake skin.

Watch how the sleeve attaches to the club in the video below.

Foo King Golf Balls: When long isn't long enough

Posted at 2:08 PM by Anne Szeker

ORLANDO, Fla. — Shop blogger David Dusek tracked down these non-conforming golf balls at the PGA Merchandise Show Thursday, which claim to fly 20 yards farther than a regulation ball.

Foo-king-balls

Learn more about Foo King Golf on their Web site

(Photo: David Dusek)

Mantys personal golf buggy at PGA Merchandise Show demo day

Posted at 9:59 AM by Golf.com

ORLANDO, Fla. — SI's Gary Van Sickle test drove the Mantys, a cool new electric golf buggy, at demo day at Orange County National. It will retail for about $3,200. Gary's test ride is below, and more information is available at mantys.com.

January 26, 2010

Gear Notes: Rory McIlroy's New Titleist Irons, Nike VR Hybrids and Martin Kaymer's Winning TaylorMade Clubs

Posted at 9:38 PM by David Dusek

Rory McIlroy Titleist Irons Titleist
Rory McIlroy, who finished third last week in Abu Dhabi, has switched from playing Titleist ZB muscle back blades to the company's new MB irons. McIlroy is carrying a 3- through 9-iron, 1 upright, with True Temper Project X Rifle 6.5 shafts. Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy and Robert Karlsson have also recently switched to the new clubs.

Nike
David Duval and Jamie Lovemark both experimented with an 18° Nike Victory Red Hybrid before the start of the rain-soaked Bob Hope Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.

Nike also reports that Sweden's Carl Pettersson had tour reps make him a Victory Red Split Cavity 4- and 5-iron last week. Pettersson, who plays Victory Red Forged Blades (5-PW), joins a group of several other Nike staff players who have created combo sets using various Nike clubs.

Paul Casey — Pro Combo OS (3), Nike Forged Blades (4-PW)
Stewart Cink — Pro Combo OS (2, 4), Victory Red Split Cavity (5-PW)
Justin Leonard — Pro Combo Tungsten (3), Nike Forged Blades (4-PW)
Pablo MartinVictory Red Full Cavity (3-7) and Nike Forged Blades (8-PW)
Anthony KimVictory Red Full Cavity (3), Nike Forged Blades (4-PW)

Martin Kaymer TaylorMade Equipment TaylorMade
Martin Kaymer (right) won last week's European Tour event in Abu Dhabi. The win, which moved the German to a career-high sixth position in the world rankings, was his first using TaylorMade clubs. Kaymer had previously played Titleist equipment.

Kaymer played a TaylorMade R9 460 driver (8.5°) with a Ping prototype 824-X shaft, an R9 3-wood (13°) with a Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki 73 X shaft and a Burner TP 5-wood (17.5) with a Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki 83 X shaft. He also played TaylorMade's RAC TP irons (3-9) and wedges (54°, 58°) and the company's Penta ball. Kaymer's putter was a Ping Karsten Series Anser 2.

At Torrey Pines this week, TaylorMade will be debuting the newest Kia Ma putters. According to the company, the new putters will have weight ports that will allow for easy and quick customization.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Nike, Titleist, and TaylorMade clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTec.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter

(Photos: McIlroy, Karim Sahib/Getty Images; Kaymer, David Cannon/Getty Images)

Winning Clubs: Bill Haas at 2010 Bob Hope Classic

Posted at 6:50 PM by David Dusek
Bill Hass Bob Hope Classic Titleist

DRIVER: Titleist 909D2 (8.5°) with a Fujikura Speeder 757 X shaft 

FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 909F3 (13°) with a True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shaft
IRONS: Titleist CB Forged (2-PW) withwith a True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts 

WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled C-C (54°, 60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

PUTTER: Scotty Cameron Studio Select Kombi

BALL: Titleist Pro V1

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Titleist clubs and schedule your fitting with GolfTec.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | The Shop: Winner's Bags

(Photo by Matt York/AP Photos)




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