Archive: October 2010
PALM BEACH GARDEN, Fla. — Thursday morning found Golf Magazine's ClubTesters on the practice green at PGA National Resort & Spa. Several large golf bags stood by, filled with heel-toe-weighted blades, mid-size mallets and several high-MOI putters.
For any player who struggles when it comes to rolling the rock, this would have been a cornucopia of hope.
But Drew Iassacman doesn't look for hope; he coldly looks for results.
"I think that most amateurs give themselves too much credit for being good putters when they actually aren't," Isaacman said. "I track it, and if I hit 10 greens and make less than 30 putts, then I think that I'm playing pretty well."
The video below shows Isaacman hitting a downhill, 20-foot putt using one of the putters he liked a lot. And in case you're wondering ... yes, it was the first putt I taped.
The first thing that Isaacman looks for when he evaluates a new putter is how it handles short putts. "Three footers ... if they track straight on short putts," he said. "If the short putts go where I'm aiming and the putter swings where I'm aiming it. If it doesn't, then the other stuff—looks, feel—doesn't matter. Nothing matters if the short putts don't go straight."
While he plays a mid-size mallet, Isaacman is open to most putters as long as they are not too big. But he does have an interesting prerequisite: "I would never buy a putter that I couldn't have bent flatter or more upright," he said. "If I get a putter that has a hozel, then I know that I can always get that done."
Fifteen feet away, Tom Jennings was shaking his head. "I'm makin' putts with it," he said in disbelief while looking at a uniquely-shaped putter. "I'm not especially fond of the way it looks, but I'm making putts with it so it's lookin' better and better."
In his thick Georgia accent, Jennings told me he recently yanked his heel-toe-weighted blade putter. "I wasn't putting well and went to a high-MOI putter that looks like a metal detector or a satellite dish," he said with a chuckle. "I started making putts, but of course then I stopped hitting greens … that's golf."
Since he spoke so colorfully about the look of different putters, I asked Jennings if he would use a putter that didn't please his eye but performed well. His answer was yes, but he admitted that wasn't always the case.
"This is my first time doing putters at ClubTest," he said. "So my eyes are being opened to what's out there. I mean, look at the variety of putters we've got over there. Anybody can find something. Normally, you just go and pull one or two putters off the rack and go putt with them, but this is like Christmas in July."
Isaacman provided a sage summation as to why golfers should be open to trying new flatsticks. "Your putter has got to have the best ratio of dollars you spend to strokes you can save," he says. "A new driver can easily cost $400, but even the most expensive putter here at ClubTest is less than that, and you'll likely use your putter on more than one-third of your strokes."
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Forty golfers are getting a chance to hit the newest clubs here at ClubTest 2011, but millions more will see advertisements featuring equipment from big companies with multimillion dollar marketing budgets.
The brands wouldn't spend that money if it didn't deliver benefits, but ClubTesters say marketing isn't what makes them reach into their wallets.
Mike Gorski, a 15-handicapper from Glendora, Calif., says advertising makes him aware of what's out there, but he relies on research when it comes to finding the clubs that are ideal for his swing and game.
"I'll look at the magazines, I'll look online at blogs and if someone seems to know what he's talking about I'll take that into consideration," he said Wednesday morning. "I'll talk to friends who are golfers too. I'll watch and see what the pros are playing but I'll take that with a grain of salt because I assume they're getting paid for it. But a lot of it is my own research. I want to go to a Demo Day and try these things."
Lynn Altadonna, who is taking part in his eighth ClubTest, echoes that sentiment. "The advertising gives you a place to start, but the proof is in hitting the clubs," he says. In fact, Altadonna thinks that it can easily take more time to find the ideal set of irons than it does a new house. "It can take a few months worth of researching and hitting."
However, that doesn't mean that the golfers at ClubTest are immune to flashy ads and endorsements from top players.
"For me, the No. 1 thing is still the marketing," says Tom Jennings of Athens, Ga. "What we hear, what we see, what the pros are playing. That's where I go first—probably just because I'm stupid and lazy. I go, 'Okay, Titleist and TaylorMade, Callaway, Nike … let's go look at those.' From there I might go on to an Adams, probably because I've tested it and I'm aware of who they are, but my first reach would probably be to a big brand."
Listening to Jennings, Bud Adler from Gold Canyon, Ariz., shook his head. "Not for me. For instance, I use Sonartec hybrids because I hit them the best. I hit them best back when I first tried them at ClubTest and when the company went out of business I went out and bought a bunch of them."
For years Adler says he played MasterGrip irons because were inexpensive and he hit them well. But he recently made a switch to another brand. "Not because of the advertising, but because I hit them better," he said. "Before I bought them I tried Callaway, Titleist, and Adams."
Adler says that he still hits a driver he bought it 2007 because he hasn't found anything better, but he thinks he may have found something at ClubTest 2011 that could replace it.
All four players agree that their playing partners are not as vigilant about trying clubs before buying them. They cite a combination of laziness and a desire for instant gratification as the main reasons for the quick decisions.
"We've had the chance to be fitted for drivers and shafts that are supposed to work for us," Gorski says. "They don't always, but they're supposed to. So our range of errors has been narrowed greatly and [golfers back home] don't know that. I see so many guys who have drivers that have bad shafts and terrible lofts for their swing. I try to preach to them that all you need to do is have a reasonable fitter or teaching pro narrow things down for you."
Sounds like a great tip for golfers across the country.
See-Try-Buy: Schedule your own fitting with GolfTec.
We can't show you all the cool new gear at ClubTest - some of it is still top secret - but we can take you behind the scenes as real golfers from all over the country put 2011's new clubs through their paces at PGA National. Click here to see what the ClubTesters are up to, and some of what they're playing with.
"C'mon Doug, your wife knows," I said.
"Oh no she doesn't!"
Eventually, Lair, a native of Oklahoma City who now lives in Austin, Texas, admitted to owning 10 sets that date back to the early 1980s, but I have a feeling that in the back of his garage, tucked behind the lawn mower and some old boxes, I might find a few more.
He's a true gear geek, and this week Lair is totally in his element at PGA National Resort & Spa because he's attending his ninth ClubTest.
Six weeks before he arrives at Golf Magazine's annual golf equipment test, Lair plays the front nine at Twin Creeks Country Club with one set of irons and then switches to another set at the turn. The idea is to get used to switching back and forth between clubs.
With his slow Oklahoma drawl, Lair told me that when he applied to become a ClubTester he knew he could do the job. "I had been a big fan of the article for years," he said. "I filled out an online form, started e-mailing back and forth with Rob [Sauerhaft] and then got invited."
"He's incredibly thorough, has attention to detail and has a passion for equipment and testing," says Sauerhaft, Golf Magazine's managing editor for equipment. "There are so many subtleties among the different clubs, and Doug makes it his business to determine what those subtleties are."
But that doesn't mean Lair's experiences at ClubTest have all been smooth sailing. "My first year was during the infamous monsoon at Innisbrook," he recalls. "I think we got about three inches of rain that first day. I found out the hard way that cheap rain suits are not the way to go."
When Lair started participating in ClubTest, he was a 13-handicap. But after his first year, when Lair admits to running out of gas, he vowed to be better prepared for the following year's ClubTest.
"I went out and bought two sets of irons, one total game-improvement and one a player's cavity-back," he says. "After I'd put my daughter to bed, I'd head over to the driving range and hit one set, then the other set. After a while I felt like I could hit pretty much anything, and my handicap dropped to a seven!"
The short video below shows Lair hitting a yet-to-be-released Callaway iron from 177 yards to 12 feet on Tuesday.
When asked about some of his all-time favorite clubs, Lair offered these words:
"The drivers get better and better every year. But The Callaway FT-3, that had that crazy sound, is one. As for fairway woods, the original Cleveland Launcher fairways, with that gold shaft, were great—springy and long. The gold standard for irons was the Mizuno MX-23. Everyone loved those things -- high, low and otherwise."
But that doesn't mean he'd recommend those clubs, or any of today's, for everyone. "Everything they build today works, and these guys [the club makers] are smart and they know what they're doing," he says. "But the clubs work for a certain type of swing style and a certain group of people. Some clubs just aren't going to work for you. That doesn't mean it's a bad club—it's just a bad fit."
DRIVER: TaylorMade Burner SuperFast TP (10.5°) with a UST Mamiya ProForce V2 86X shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Mizuno MX700 (15°) with a UST Mamiya ProForce V2 86X shaft
HYBRID: Mizuno MP CLK (17°) with a UST Mamiya V2 Hyrbid 89 X shaft
IRONS: Mizuno MP-62 (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
WEDGES: Nike Victory Red Forged (56°, 60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
PUTTER: Scotty Cameron Newport Tour prototype
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
DRIVER: Adams Speed Line Fast 10 (8.5°) with a UST Mamiya ACCRA S3 Dymatch 70 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Fourteen SF 206 (15°) with a UST Mamiya Accra S3 Dymatch 80 shafts
HYBRIDS: Adams A7 Idea (17°), Pro Black (20°) with a UST Mamiya Accra S3 Dymatch shafts
IRONS: Titleist AP2 (4-PW) with KBS shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (52°, 58°) with KBS shafts
PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist Newport 009
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
(Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
DRIVER: Ping G15 (9°) with an Aldila RIP shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Adams 4032 (15°) with an Alilda VS Proto shaft
HYBRIDS: Adams Idea Pro iWood (18°) with an Aldila RIP shaft
IRONS: Ping i15 (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
WEDGES: Ping Tour-S (52°), Fourteen MT28 (58°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
PUTTER: Ping Redwood Zing
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
Sunday, 10-10-10, marks the 10th anniversary of the PGA Tour introduction of the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball. The Invensys Classic at Las Vegas was the place, and the Pro V1, a three-piece urathane-covered ball, proceeded to take the golf world by storm.
Today there are many excellent multi-layer golf balls on the market in several different price categories, but here are some impressive figures (provided by Titleist) that show just how dominant the Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls have become:
* Nearly 2 out of every 3 golfers on the PGA Tour play the Pro V1 or Pro V1x, which is more than five times the nearest competitor.
* The Titleist Pro V1 franchise has accounted for 275 wins on the PGA TOUR.
* According to Golf Datatech, through September 2010 the Pro V1 has been the best-selling golf ball in the marketplace for 115 consecutive months.
At the McGladrey Classic, Titleist began showing the fifth generation of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls to professionals. Look for these balls to make their way into pro shops in early 2011.
(Photos by Team Titleist blog)
Paul Casey does it. So does Stewart Cink. In fact, if you look inside the bags of many of golf's best players you'll see they blend a few game-improving cavity back long irons with blade-style short irons to create their set.
Nike wants to help you get the benefits of a multi-club set, and to make the process a little easier, the company is releasing the Victory Red Pro Combo irons.
All eight irons in the VR Pro Combo set are forged using the same 1025 carbon steel and feature the same dye-stamped USGA conforming grooves, but they are designed with different goals in mind.
The 3- and 4-irons feature a pocket behind the face that shifts more weight lower and deeper in the head. This drops the center of gravity and makes the clubs higher-launching and more forgiving.
In sharp contrast, the 8- and 9-irons, as well as the pitching wedge, are traditional muscleback blades. Their center of gravity is higher to help players work the ball more effectively for greater accuracy and control.
Sandwiched between, the 5- thru 7-irons feature perimeter weighting—without the channel of the long irons—to bridge the whole set together.
The Nike VR Pro Combo irons will be available starting Nov. 26 with True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shafts for about $1,080.
DRIVER: Titleist 909D2 (7.5°) with a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 73X shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 910F2 (13.5°) with a Mitsubishi 'ahina 80 shaft
IRONS: Titleist 710 MB (4-9) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (47°, 53°, 59°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist Circa '62 No. 3 GSS
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
DRIVER: Callaway FT-9 Tour Authentic (7.5°) with a Mitsubishi Fubuki 73 X shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Callaway Big Bertha Diablo (15°) with a Mitsubishi Fubuki 73 X shaft
HYBRID: Callaway Prototype (22°) with a Mitsubishi Diamana Thump X shaft
IRONS: Callaway X-Forged (4), X Proto (5-PW) with Rifle Project X 7.0 shafts
WEDGES: Callaway JAWS (53°, 60°, 62°) with Rifle Project X 7.0 shafts
PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot XG Blade
BALL: Callaway Tour ix
DRIVER: TaylorMade Burner SuperFast (10.5°) with Fujikura Motore F3 60 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Mizuno F-60 (13.5°) with a Fujikura ROMBAX 8X07 shaft
HYBRID: Mizuno Hi Fli CLK (20°) with a Fujikura Speeder 904 shaft
IRONS: Mizuno MP-33 (2), MP-68 (4-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts<
WEDGES: Mizuno MP T-10 (5°2), Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (58°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
DRIVER: Ping G15 (7.5°) with a Grafalloy prototype shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Ping G15 (17°) with a Project X 8A1 shaft
IRONS: Ping S59 (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
WEDGES: Ping Tour-W (52°, 56°, 63°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts>
Ping Redwood Anser
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
DRIVER: Nike Victory Red Tour (10°) with a Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 73X shaft
FAIRWAY WOODS: Nike SasQuatch Sumo (15°, 19°) with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 103g shafts
IRONS: Nike Victory Red Blades (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
WEDGES: Nike Victory Red (56°, 62°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
PUTTER: Titleist by Scotty Cameron Newport 2
BALL: Nike One Tour
(Photos: Mickelson, Watson, Woods/Robert Beck; Fowler, Overton, Thomas Lovelock)
DRIVER:Callaway FT Tour (8.5°) with an Aldila Voodoo SVS 6 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Callaway FT-i Tour Squareway (15°) with an Aldila RIP Beta 60 shaft
HYBRIDS: Adams Idea Pro (18°) with an Aldila NVS 85 shaft, (21°) with an Aldila VooDoo XVS8 shaft
IRONS: Callaway X Forged (4-9) with Project X 6.5 Flighted shafts
WEDGES: Callaway X Forged Vintage (48°, 52°, 58°) with Project X 6.5 Flighted shafts
PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot #7
BALL: Callaway Tour ix
DRIVER: Ping G10 (9.0°) with a Aldila PGA Tour Only Prototype XNV6 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Ping i15 (14°) with a UST Mamaya V2 76X shaft, Rapture V2 (19°) with Aldila NV75 X shaft
IRONS: Ping i10 (3-PW) with Ping JZ stiff shafts
WEDGES: Ping Tour-W (54°, 58°) with Ping JZ stiff shafts
PUTTER: Ping Redwood Anser
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
DRIVER: Titleist 909D3 (8.5°) with a True Temper Project X X7A3 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 909F2 (13.5°) with a True Temper Project X X8A4 shaft
HYBRID: Titleist 909H (17°) with a Fujikura Speeder 904 shaft
IRONS: Titleist 710MB (3-9) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (48°, 54°, 60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist Newport GSS
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
DRIVER: TaylorMade R9 SuperTri (8.5°) with Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki 70 Alpha shafts
FAIRWAY WOODS: TaylorMade R9 (13°), Burner (17.5°) and with Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki Tour shaft
IRONS: TaylorMade RAC TP (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shafts
WEDGES: TaylorMade RAC (54°), TP with xFT (58°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shafts
PUTTER: Ping Karsten Anser 2
BALL: TaylorMade Penta TP
DRIVER: King Cobra ZL (9.5°) with a Fujikura 6.0 Motore Speeder X shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 909F3 (13.5°) with an Aldila RIP 70X shaft; Titleist 906F2 (18°) with a Grafalloy ProLite 35 shaft
HYBRID: Titleist 909H (21°) with an Aldila NV Hybrid 85 X shaft
IRONS: King Cobra Pro CB (4-7), Pro MB (8-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled C-C (54°, 60°)
PUTTER: Rife Antigua
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
DRIVER: TaylorMade Burner SuperFast (9.5°) with a ACCRA XC65 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: TaylorMade R9 (13°) with an ACCRA XC75 shaft
HYBRID: Mizuno Hi Fli CLK (17°) with an Aldila NV Hybrid 85 X shaft
IRONS: Mizuno MP-62 (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 shafts
WEDGES: Mizuno MP T-10 (54°, 60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 shafts
PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot XG #7
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x
When it comes to things like rain jackets, bags and other golf accessories, no news is good news. Golfers don't scrutinize these items like they do drivers, irons and putters, but when you need them to work, they had better work.
Earlier in the week the company that made the U.S. team's rain gear, Sun Mountain, wrote on its Facebook page, "Weather will most likely be a factor at this year's event. May the team with the best outerwear win."
But on Friday during the opening four-ball matches at the 2010 Ryder Cup, the rain gear worn by Matt Kuchar (above) and the rest of the U.S. team got heavy, retained water and didn't keep the players dry as water poured from the sky.
Once the course was deemed unplayable and players retreated to the clubhouse, staffers for the U.S. team hit the merchandise tent and bought several rain suits made by the company that is outfitting Darren Clarke (right) and the rest of the European team, ProQuip.
The Scottish company supplied the European team with foul-weather apparel in the previous two Ryder Cups and is the official suppler of waterproof gear for the European Tour. It has also made foul-weather apparel for the last two U.S. Solheim Cup teams.
Rory McIlroy couldn't help but needle the U.S. team during the delay, Tweeting, "Just have to say that our waterproofs are performing very well."
Sun Mountain's public relations firm released the following statement Friday afternoon:
Sun Mountain has been designing and selling outerwear for more than two decades. We have provided rainwear to 3,000 plus PGA of America Professionals and over 150 tour players, and supplied outerwear to numerous U.S. teams, including the Walker Cup and the 2000 and 2009 Presidents Cup teams. Sun Mountain has staff on the ground at the Ryder Cup working in conjunction with the PGA of America on this issue.
Had the rain gear worked well, it's likely that few people would ever have known that it was made by Sun Mountain. The PGA of America forbids the companies that make apparel and accessories from publicizing the relationship, selling the merchandise or using it in advertisements. Sun Mountain couldn't even put its logo on the products. Neither could Belding, the company that made the golf bags for the U.S. team, which allegedly leaked during Friday's deluge.
In light of current events, maybe that anonymity is a good thing for the companies involved.
(Photos by Robert Beck/SI)
Callaway's latest driver, the Diablo Octane, is made with a very specific player in mind. "It's really designed for the guy who is interested in distance, distance and more distance," says Dr. Alan Hocknell, Callaway's senior vice president of research and development.
While the new 460cc Diablo Octane shares some features with its predecessor, the Diablo Edge driver—like a chemically-milled hyperbolic cup face and titanium sole plate—the biggest difference between the clubs is the use of a new material Callaway calls Forged Composite.
Created in conjunction with Callaway's new development partner, Lamborghini (yes, the Italian carmaker), Forged Composite is actually bundles of microscopically-thin carbon fibers that are randomly held together in a resin. The carbon material is heated in a precisely-made tool that has two halves. The bottom half is shaped like the driver crown, the top half is its mirror image. When the material is heated, the two halves are pressed together so the material takes the shape of the crown. (Presto! A carbon-fiber forging.)
You can actually see the Forged Composite material in windows on the crown itself. (It's the lighter gray at right, which looks like an upside down checkmark.) The weight saved using Forged Composite instead of titanium allowed designers to move more weight lower and farther from the face, which helps to lower the club's center of gravity and make it easier to get ball up in the air.
Still, the clubhead is lighter overall than previous drivers, so Callaway fitted the Diablo Octane with a 46-inch shaft instead of the standard-length of 45 1/2. The longer shaft should help golfers create more clubhead speed and power.
According to Hocknell, the Diablo Octane is eight yards longer off the tee than last season's Diablo Edge.
You can watch a video featuring Hocknell talking about the Diablo Octane driver below.
Callaway has also made a Tour version of the Diablo Octane. Designed for better players, the head measures 450cc and is attached to the shaft using a hosel. However, the Forged Composite in the crown is not visible in this driver, because, as Hocknell says, better players want as few visual distractions as possible.
You can watch a video featuring Hocknell talking about the Diablo Octane Tour driver below.
Look for the Octane drivers to start arriving in pro shops in mid-November for $299.