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Archive: December 2010

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December 29, 2010

Callaway releases the RAZR Hawk driver and fairway woods

Posted at 9:21 PM by David Dusek

Callaway-RAZR-Hawk-Driver_600x600 When it comes to tee shots, golfers tend to fall into one of two categories: players who simply want to crush the ball, and those who are willing to give up a couple yards if they can shape their shots.

If you're all about distance, Callaway has the Diablo Octane driver. But if you like to draw the ball around a corner or fade it into the short grass, the company now offers the RAZR Hawk and RAZR Hawk Tour drivers.

Like the Diablo Octane, the RAZR Hawk and RAZR Hawk Tour are made with Forged Composite, a super-lightweight material Callaway developed in conjunction with Lamborghini. To create it, millions of ultra-thin carbon fibers are heated and pressed between two halves of a metal tool. The fibers melt in the heat and pressure of the tool and ooze into the exact shape Callaway desires. The final product is very strong, and very light.

Forged Composite was used in the crown of the Diablo Octane, but it's used to make the crown and body of the RAZR Hawk drivers, although none of the material is visible at address.

Some of the saved weight has been redistributed to a nickel weight in the rear of the club. This lowers the club's center of gravity and should help produce higher-flying drives. In the Draw version, the weight is slightly more to the heel side of the head.

Even with that weight, the RAZR Hawk driver is still light enough for Callaway to pair it with a 46-inch shafts, which should help golfers generate faster swings. Couple that with improved aerodynamics (the company says drag has been reduced by 43% compared to last season's FT-9), and Callaway says that the 460cc RAZK Hawk driver is more than 6 yards longer off the tee than the FT-9.

Callaway-RAZR-Hawk-Tour-Driver_600 Like the FT-9 Tour, the RAZR Hawk Tour has a slightly smaller head (445cc), a slightly-higher CG and will come standard with a 45.5-inch shaft.

Both the standard and Tour versions of the RAZR Hawk have a cast titanium cup face that is chemically milled to be slightly thicker in the center and thinner near the edges to help golfers maintain ball speed on off-center hits. Along the bottom of both drivers, Callaway has also placed an aluminum skid plate for added durability.

In addition to the drivers, Callaway is releasing matching RAZR Hawk fairway woods. Unlike the drivers, the fairway woods are made with a Carbon Composite crown but a stainless steel body and face.

While the RAZR Hawk fairway woods come with standard-length shafts, they feature the same variable face thickness (VFT) found in the drivers for added pop.

You'll start to see all of these clubs in your local pro shops in the middle of February. Callaway's RAZR Hawk driver will be available in 9.5°, 10.5°, 11.5° and 13° versions; the RAZR Hawk Tour will be available in 8.5°, 9.5° and 10.5° models. Both will cost about $399. The fairway woods will be available in 13°, 15°, 19° and 21° for $229.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Callaway/Odyssey clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

December 22, 2010

GameBook puts your outing on the board

Posted at 10:49 AM by Gary Van Sickle

Gamebook-screengrab SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—I'm not a huge fan of the scramble format, although I do like the part where I don't have to play my bad shots. However, I discovered a new gadget during the four-man-scramble portion of the recent Xona Resort Media Classic that made the format a lot more fun.

It's a small hand-held computer called GameBook (golfgamebook.com). You punch in your score (or your team's score) after each hole, and then you can access a live leaderboard for your event.

GameBook was a blast. I may be biased because my team made two birdies on our opening hole, a par 5 at Superstition Mountain's Prospector Course, and immediately took the lead. The format was a modified scramble—pick the best tee shot, then all four players finished the hole, posting the two best scores, with handicap. The nice part was that the handicaps were already figured in. All I had to do was punch in our scores and GameBook did the rest, figuring out which two were low and posting them. It's so easy to use, you don't even need instructions (although we got some, anyway).

So we made two birdies on the first hole, another at the second, then an eagle and a birdie on the third hole, which was also a par 5. After three holes, we were six under par and, according to GameBook, had a three-shot lead.

Maybe the group in last place didn't think GameBook was as much fun as we did, but the live tournament scoring was a fantastic addition to the day.

We had a slow spell in the middle of the round where we parred six straight holes and dropped to fourth place. Ah, pressure! Then we got hot again, made some birdies and another eagle and stood on the final tee knowing we had a safe three-shot lead.

But there was more. Our event had closest-to-the-pin contests on three holes and a hole-in-one prize for a new car (a sweet Infinity convertible) on the other par 3. GameBook provided updates on who'd hit the closest shot on each hole and the distance. So when we got to the par-3 fourth hole, I knew that my Sports Illustrated colleague John Garrity was the closest-to-the-pin leader at 13 feet 3 inches. Now, there's no way that shot was going to hold up all day in an outing; somebody was going to hit it closer. In fact, I hit it to 10 feet and entered my name and distance into GameBook. I knew my shot wouldn't hold up for the prize, either, but the sweet thing was that I bumped my buddy Garrity, and I knew that he knew I'd done it to him, thanks to GameBook.

You could tap any team name on the leaderboard and see that squad's hole-by-hole scores. I got a lot of use out of that the next day when the format was a two-man scramble at We-Ko-Pa's Cholla Course. I was paired with We-Ko-Pa pro Ed Francese, and we played really well, or so we thought. We were rarely in trouble, made no bogeys and had a clean card—five birdies, the rest pars. And we finished about second from last.

The two-man scramble format, it turns out, is a bad format in which to receive no strokes. We probably posted the second-best gross score in the field, but we spent the day laughing and cursing at GameBook as we saw dozens of teams cruising past the 15-under-par mark. We made a birdie and moved from 55th to 54th in the 56-team event. We made a par and another birdie and bingo, we were back to 55th. "What course are they playing?" I asked Ed. "This course isn't that easy to shoot 20 under."

Well, I checked that other team's gross scores on GameBook. They had a double bogey, four or five bogeys, some pars and two birdies. How were they 20 under? The magic of handicaps.

So I experienced the top and bottom of the leader board in successive days with GameBook, and I thought it was a blast both times. There is also an iPhone application, so you can use GameBook without the devices. For course owners or event hosts, it's a great way to spice up an outing.

A GameBook supervisor asked me how I liked it, and I told him much fun we'd had with it, particularly when I knocked out Garrity, and I said the only thing missing was the ability to use GameBook to send trash-talking messages to other teams during the round. The GameBook guy said, "Oh, we've got that set up, we just didn't have that part turned on today for you guys."

Live scoring? Closest to the pin updates? Trash-talking? Hey, I take it all back, GameBook. With a live leaderboard available, I love scrambles.

December 16, 2010

Videos: Mizuno's JPX-800 irons, Ping putters, and TaylorMade forged irons

Posted at 3:42 PM by David Dusek

As we head into the homestretch of the holiday season, golf equipment makers are continuing to produce and release videos on YouTube. The rule here in The Shop is, "No commercials allowed," but a little chest-thumping is allowed.

In the video below, TaylorMade staff players show their first reactions after hitting the just-released Tour Preferred Forged irons. This video was shot in August at Firestone Country Club, but made available to the public about a week ago.

Next, a video produced by Ping that shows you how a new putter is assembled, gripped, tagged and shipped before it lands on the wall at a pro shop near you.

The video below, produced by Mizuno, explains some of the design philosophies and technologies used in the creation of the new JPX-800 irons.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Mizuno, Ping and TaylorMade schedule your fitting with GolfTec and Golfsmith.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

December 13, 2010

My year in golf shoes

Posted at 12:51 PM by Gary Van Sickle

Join me, please, for a look back at My Year in Shoes as I reflect on what I test-drove in 2010…

P1-dawgs_200x160 This year, I decided, "let there be light," and that’s what prompted me to try Dawgs golf shoes. The Dawgs Spirit model is the world’s lightest golf shoe, according to its website www.DawgsGolf.com, weighing in at less than seven ounces for the men's model. I used the Dawgs Ultralite, which seemed as light as a pair of slippers.

There was a lot I liked about Dawgs. I felt like I was wearing sprinters’ shoes, they were so lightweight. At $50 suggested retail, they’re also ultra-inexpensive. (The even-lighter Spirits are $40.)

At first, I thought the lack of weight might lead to balance problems, as I’m prone to occasional bouts of happy feet during my perfectly smooth -- not -- swing. (In fact, in the '90s I favored Foot-Joy Classics, the handmade leather models, because they were heavy and kept my feet stable, or so I thought.) The Dawgs were no problem, and they were a pleasure to wear. The rubber outsoles are also easy to clean. They have Velcro straps -- no laces -- which is perfect for the lazy man like me who tends to slide his golf shoes on and off without tying or untying the laces. The insides are antimicrobial so you can supposedly play sock-less but I confess, I didn’t try that. The Dawgs are comfortable but seem to offer a little less support than the regular heavyweight shoes. I had no problem going 18 holes with them while riding in a cart, but if I had to walk 18 holes on a hilly track like, say, the Yale Golf Club, I might go with more support.

My favorite category of golf shoes is spikeless, which in my opinion has been overlooked in recent years. I need something to wear on the golf course when I'm reporting at tournaments for Sports Illustrated, but I don't want to trip on clubhouse carpeting or in press centers while wearing plastic spikes. Since I want to travel light and usually take my golf clubs, I don't want to carry two pairs of golf shoes. One spikeless pair of shoes does it all.

Since my current inventory was near the end of its life expectancy — a pair of Etonic GSOK shoes, black and brown saddle, and a pair of Foot-Joy closeouts with an odd dimple-like pattern that I scored really cheap -- I was in need of replacements.

P1-spalding_200x121 First came True Linkswear from a company I hadn’t heard of but has Tour player Ryan Moore as a spokesman. My True Tour shoes ($159 suggested retail) have the look and feel of bowling shoes -- very simple and lightweight, like Dawgs, but with laces. Mine are black with a white saddle design and white laces. The soles have nine rows of raised, square nubs -- kind of a mini-Maginot Line -- and traction bars around the perimeter.

Hey, don’t turn up your nose at spikeless. I've played a lot of spikeless golf in the last decade and it's great. I may have one or two slips a year and when it happens, it's never the shoe; it's because my balance sucked. In that sense, they may help you the same way as Sam Snead. When Snead wasn’t playing well, he used to hit balls barefoot on the range to regain his balance and stop over-swinging. In fact, True's advertising includes a line about being "the closest thing to a barefoot golfing experience."

The True Tour shoes worked great for me. I played cart golf in them and it felt like they have enough support to walk 18, too.

 
P1-ecco_200x162 The new king of the hill in spikeless, though, is the Ecco Street Premiere. Remember when Fred Couples started wearing those blue spikeless shoes that sort of resembled the old boat shoes? Well, the Street Premiere shoes ($140 suggested retail) have thick, spongy soles that are super-comfortable. I wasn’t able to get my hands on any until the fall because they've been in short supply and I can see why. Since Fred wore them, they’ve become trendy and stylish. Again, the nubs on the bottom supply more than enough traction. If you’re spinning out during your swing, it's not the shoes, it's you.

The best part: you can just wipe your feet and head on into the clubhouse, convenience store or anywhere. These aren't just golf shoes. You can wear them all day, even if you’re just going to the mall. Ecco did a great job in making traditional golf shoes more comfortable and brought that same concept to spikeless shoes. It's a shoe that makes you say, "Wow."

My shoe year ended with my December appearance at the Scottsdale Media Classic, an outing that enables assorted golf writers to compete on a smorgasbord of Phoenix- and Scottsdale-area courses while based at one of the great places to be during any winter month -- the Xona Resort Suites in Scottsdale.

P1-adidas_200x160 I mention this so you’ll understand that the apparent vitriol directed at my snazzy golf shoes was really one part needling, one part fear of the unknown and one part envy. The object of my fellow media types' ridicule were my Adidas Powerband shoes, which I designed all by myself on the website, www.miadidas.com.

The comments included, "Hey, do those come in men's models, too? ... I bet you've got a skirt to match that ... When did the circus come to town, buddy?" There were a few others not fit for print. All meant in good fun ... I think.

My shoes are the colors of the San Diego Chargers -- a white base, a large swirl of electric powder blue, bright yellow trademark adidas stripes, blue shoelaces, yellow lining and a yellow sole-plate. No, there's no Chargers logo but that's only because adidas so far has only NBA teams, a handful of college logos and national flags as choices for customization.

I plead guilty to the charge of wearing brightly-colored shoes (not to mention comfortable and durable ones) but isn't anyone else bored to death by plain old black or white or saddle-shoe golf shoes? If so, you really need to check out miadidas.com, where you can concoct a color scheme of your choice. The golf shoes go for $180 a pair. If nothing else, the site is a great time-wasting addiction. Trust me, you go there and start designing shoes (you don't have to buy anything to play with the design program) and the next thing you know, you've lost half an hour. You can design running shoes and sneakers, too, and those categories have twice as many color options and far-out patterns as the golf shoes.

Then you, too, can trade barbs with your golfing friends. Colorful shoes, I discovered, make for lively conversation. This year, anyway.

December 10, 2010

Video: Geoff Ogilvy on custom fitting his Titleist 910D3 driver

Posted at 10:06 AM by David Dusek

The video below, produced by Titleist, features 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy talking about the custom fitting process he went through to optimize his new Titleist 910D3 driver.

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

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

December 08, 2010

For now, it's business as usual for Acushnet's Titleist and FootJoy brands

Posted at 12:43 PM by David Dusek

TITLEIST_LOGO What do Jim Beam bourbon, Moen bathroom sinks and Titleist Pro V1 golf balls have in common? They're all a part of Fortune Brands, but not for long. The company announced Tuesday that it will split into three different parts.

In a media release, Fortune Brands said it plans to become "an independent, publicly-traded company focused solely on its distilled spirits business." The release went on to say that the company plans to sell or spin off the Acushnet Co., it's golf business, which makes Titleist balls, clubs and accessories, as well as FootJoy shoes and apparel.

The CNNMoney video below explains some of the reasons why Fortune has decided to break up.

Golfers learning this news might logically have a few questions, so here are a few answers.

Will I be able to keep buying Titleist golf clubs and balls?
Yes, it's going to be business as usual at Titleist and FootJoy until the completion of a deal is finalized. In its release, Fortune Brands said its board of directors "has directed management to develop detailed separation plans for consideration and final approval by the Board. The company expects to complete development of these plans — including the structure, timing, and other related matters for each business — within the next several months."

In other words, nothing is going to change in the immediate future.

Titleist recently released its 910 line of woods and gave prototype Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls to its staff professionals to play. An updated Pro V1 and Pro V1x are expected to be released in early 2011.

If Acushnet gets sold, who would buy it?
Fortune Brands' release states that Acushnet has annual sales of $1.2 billion, so anyone looking to buy the company needs to have deep pockets.

One possible buyer could be a private equity firm. Another could be a large company already in the golf business. However, if a company like Callaway, Nike, Adidas or Bridgestone wanted to buy Acushnet, it could present anti-trust and intellectual property issues.

In his Web Street Golf Daily Pulse, Terry McAndrew writes:

"… All of these potential suitors present significant antitrust issues. Adidas and Nike, for example, are No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in golf footwear and acquiring FootJoy in the No. 1 position would imply a major advantage to the successful buyer.

Callaway and Bridgestone are No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in golf balls and acquiring Titleist and its dominate No. 1 position in market share would equally set off a series of complaints from those that lost out in a potential deal. Similarly Callaway, Bridgestone and Sumitomo represent golf ball product category intellectual property right antitrust issues.

An alignment between Titleist and anyone of those three would give the combined entity 40+% of the golf ball Intellectual Property Rights landscape. Navigating through antitrust issues would slow up any sale process and could require divestitures. Although there would be some financial synergies with any strategic buyer, the antitrust risks and delay coupled with the integration costs could outweigh those benefits along with the tax consequences that may influence the final sales price."

Is there a timeline for when things might happen with Acushnet?
The Acushnet Co. is based in Fairhaven, Mass. Local reporter Charis Anderson writes in South Coast Today, "Officials said they expected the process to move fairly quickly."

Given the assumed complexity of the process and any deal that happens, it seems safe to speculate that we're talking about months before something is finalized, not weeks.

Were Titleist Tour players like Davis Love, Geoff Ogilvy, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker told about this before the announcement?
No. The announcement came from Fortune Brands, not Titleist or FootJoy.

December 07, 2010

Fortune Brands to spin off or sell Acushnet

Posted at 11:48 PM by Golf.com

Fortune Brands' board of directors agreed in principle on Tuesday to break up the company and sell or spin off its golf business, Acushnet, which includes Titleist and FootJoy, according to several media outlets.

The company has been the subject of speculation since William Ackman's hedge fund disclosed an 11% stake in the conglomerate. Ackman is an activist shareholder who supports the move by the board. "We think the long-term value of each of the three businesses will be materially higher if they are separate," he told The Wall Street Journal.

Acushnet's most likely suitors, according to the Journal, are private equity firms and Asian sporting goods and golf companies. 

The Journal also reported that "the company intends to spin off its home and security unit to shareholders in a tax-free transaction." That would leave Fortune with its liquor business, which includes Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and Canadian Club.

For more on the story, see this article on wsj.com and DealBook at nytimes.com.

TaylorMade re-enters forged iron market with Tour Preferred CB, MB and MC irons.

Posted at 3:16 PM by David Dusek

Six major championships and a reputation for being one of the most detail-oriented golfers in history give Sir Nick Faldo's words weight when it comes to golf equipment. The guy was so fastidious that during his playing career, Faldo admits he trimmed his fingernails on Mondays so he'd have the perfect feel in his hands on Sundays.

So imagine how TaylorMade representatives must have felt at the 2008 Open Championship when they showed Faldo, their newest endorser, the company's first attempt to at a new forged iron and he promptly called it "crap."

After taking Faldo's feedback and heading back to the drawing board (several times), TaylorMade finally presented Faldo with an iron that pleased his eyes. The way the hosel blended into the face, the look of the topline, the shape of the toe, the sole ... to the nitpicky Faldo, TaylorMade had nailed it.

The fruit of the company's hard work is now being released in the form of three new forged irons, the Tour Preferred Forged CB, MC, and MB irons.

All three clubs feature a new groove pattern that TaylorMade says goes right up to the USGA's limitations on volume and sharpness. Each club also has a weight in the back that allows TaylorMade to adjust the location of the sweet spot. Contrary to what some equipment blogs and message boards pondered, while the weight is affixed using a screw, it's not adjustable. The faces of the new forged irons are not replaceable like the faces of TaylorMade xFT wedges.

None of the new forged irons are designed with the high-handicap players in mind. TaylorMade has clubs like the Burner 2.0 for them. Instead, think of these clubs as tools for The Good, The Better and The Best.

TaylorMade-TP-Forged-CB_600x450 For The Good
The new Tour Preferred Forged CB irons (CB stands for Cavity Back) are created by plasma-welding a 8620 carbon steel cast body and a slightly firmer, forged, carbon steel face. This construction allowed TaylorMade to incorporate an undercut in the back of the club, which in turn let designers move more weight lower and deeper to increase forgiveness.

The face also features TaylorMade's Inverted Cone Technology, which varies the thickness of the face itself so shots that are slightly mis-hit create nearly the same ball speed as shots hit in the sweet spot.

A carbon composite badge on the back of the face helps to dampen the impact sound and further enhance feel.

The TP CB irons have a thin topline, but the widest sole of the three new forged irons, as well as the most offset and slightly stronger lofts. Still, at their friendliest, the clubs would be classified as game-improvement irons.

Watch the video below to see Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade's Creation Manager for Irons and Woods, talk about the Tour Preferred Forged CB:

TaylorMade-TP-Forged-MC_60x450 For The Better
The Tour Preferred Forged MC irons (MC stands of Muscle Cavity) are made from 1025 carbon steel and have a slightly smaller head and less offset than the TP CB irons. And like the TP CB irons, the weight screw has been placed in a carbon composite badge to dampen the impact sound and enhance feel.

But instead of a game-improving undercut, these irons simply offer perimeter weighting to assist golfers on mis-hits.

There is less offset here, which should help better players shape shots more easily, as well as a slightly-thinner sole. 

Watch the video below to see Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade's Creation Manager for Irons and Woods, talk about the Tour Preferred Forged MC:

TaylorMade-TP-Forged-MB_600x450 For The Best
Only serious players need apply when you get to this level. The Tour Preferred Forged MB (MB stands of Muscle Back) is all about feel and control.

 There is no carbon composite badge here to alter the feel created at impact, although to make the TP MB irons appeal to more players, a touch of offset has been added to the hosel.

The heads of the TP MBs are slightly smaller from heel to toe than the TP MC, but the par area, where the face meets the hosel, has been made much smaller. The reason for this is that most accomplished players want to see the face coming right out of the hosel.

Watch the video below to see Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade's Creation Manager for Irons and Woods, talk about the Tour Preferred Forged MB:

Through custom ordering, you will be able to build your own eight-iron set from the different offerings. For example, you could choose to play TP CBs in your 3-6 irons and TP MCs in your 7-PW.

Each of the new Tour Preferred Forged irons will come standard with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts in three shaft flexes (R, S, X) for $899 starting in March of 2011. The TP CB will also be available with graphite shafts for $1,099. Custom shaft options will also be available. Players choosing to go with the MC or MB irons can also separately purchase a 2-iron. You know, just in case your swing is better than Sir Nick Faldo's

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

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

(Photos by David Dusek)

December 06, 2010

Sean O'Hair tests new white TaylorMade R11 driver

Posted at 7:00 AM by David Dusek

Golfers who are really into gear have been buzzing for weeks on message boards and blogs about white drivers. First, there was the all-white Cobra Limited Edition ZL, which Ian Poulter put into play and won with in Asia.

Next down the Great White Way will be TaylorMade's yet-to-be-released R11, the next generation of 2010's R9. A few images of Sean O'Hair testing the club were obtained by Golf.com.

SeanOHair-TaylorMade-R11-Driver

As you can see, the crown of the club is white, but the sole is black.

SeanOHair-TaylorMade-R11-Driver-2

The photo below, while slightly out of focus, clearly shows a TaylorMade technician adjusting the bottom of the club using a torque wrench.

SeanOHair-TaylorMade-R11-Driver-3

The video below shows several TaylorMade staff players's reactions to the R11 driver:

Keep checking back on GOLF.com for more information on TaylorMade's R11 driver.

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

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

December 05, 2010

Winner's Bag: Graeme McDowell at Chevron World Challenge

Posted at 7:51 PM by David Dusek

McDowell-Chevron-Callaway_600x450

DRIVER: Callaway FT Tour (8.5°) with an Aldila RIP 60 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Callaway FT-i Squareway (15°) with an Aldila RIP Beta 80 shaft
HYBRIDS: Adams Idea Pro (17°) 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

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Callaway/Odyssey clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

December 03, 2010

Videos: Westwood on putters and Nike pros on the SQ MachSpeed Black driver

Posted at 3:58 PM by David Dusek

YouTube is loaded with lots of golf equipment videos. I've decided to start dropping interesting clips into The Shop blog starting, well ... today. No commericals allowed, but since each of the YouTube videos will be produced by the manufacturers themselves, you can expect a fair amount of chest thumping.

First up, Ping  staff pro Lee Westwood gives you some basics on finding the ideal putter.

 

Next, Nike staff pros talk about the new SQ Machspeed Black driver.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Ping and Nike clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook


December 01, 2010

Nike releases Victory Red Pro driver

Posted at 3:07 PM by David Dusek

Nike-VR-Pro-Driver_600 No one, not even the pros, hits every tee shot in the center of the face. When better players miss, they tend to hit the ball low and toward the heel, so last year Nike released the Victory Red driver with a channel that ran along the bottom of the club, just behind the face, that was designed to make those misses more playable.

The next generation of that club has just been released, the Nike Victory Red Pro, and the technology has been taken a step further. Instead of running only behind the face, Nike's Compression Channel now goes around the entire sole of the club.

"We're literally as fast as we can be in the center of the face," says Tom Stites, Nike Golf's director of product creation. "If we get any faster, we're going to be non-conforming."

But the trick is to help players get that ball speed from as many places on the face as possible.

"If you compare the face of any driver to a trampoline, the most spring you get in the trampoline is in the dead center," Stites says. "As you get closer to the edge, it gets more rigid. If you put a piece of plywood on the trampoline, anywhere on the plywood would spring just about the same amount. That's what we're trying to accomplish, to get that [maximum] rebound in as many places as we can."

According to Nike's research, the new VR Pro driver has a 2% higher Coefficient of Restitution (COR) across the face than its predecessor, which translates to 4-6 more yards off the tee.

At address the club has a classic teardrop shape, but Nike's STR8-Fit system allows golfers to set the head in 32 different positions ranging from 2° open at address to 2° closed. Nike says the club has up to 45 yards of left-to-right adjustability. The STR8-Fit system also lets players adjust loft and lie angle.

"It's still a club that is primarily going to help players with an inside-to-outside swing path because their misses tend to be in the heel," Stites told me. But he added that the technology can also help players who have an outside-to-inside swing.

Watch the video below to see Stites talk about the VR Pro driver.

The Nike VR Pro driver will be available in early February 2011, in lofts ranging from 8.5° to 11.5°. It will come standard with a Project X graphite shaft for about $480. More shaft options will be available through custom fitting and ordering. 

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Nike  clubs and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook




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