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Archive: May 2011

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May 31, 2011

My Bag: Nick Watney for The Memorial

Posted at 9:21 AM by David Dusek

"I want to see pretty and clean lines from my clubs. And I want them to be simple, nothing too exotic or crazy." — Nick Watney.

NickWatney-Memorial-Titleist_600

DRIVER: Titleist 910D3 (10.5°) with a Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana White Board 83 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 910F (15°) with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93 shafts
HYBRID: Titleist 910H (21°) with an Aldila Voodoo XVS9 shaft
IRONS: Titleist AP2 (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (54°), TVD (60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist Newport
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x

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

(Photo by Fred Vuich/SI)

May 29, 2011

Winner's Bag: Keegan Bradley at the HP Byron Nelson Championship

Posted at 8:10 PM by David Dusek

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DRIVER: Cleveland Launcher UltraLite TL 310 (10.5°) with a Miyazaki Kusala 61 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Cleveland Launcher FL (14°) with a Miyazaki Kusala 83 shaft
HYBRIDS: Cleveland Launcher DST (18°) with a Project X XHB6 shaft; Mashie TM3 (20.5°) with a Miyazaki C Kua 105 shaft
IRONS: Cleveland CG7 Tour (4-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shafts
WEDGES: Cleveland CG14 (52°, 58°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shafts
PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot XG Sabretooth
BALL: Srixon Z-Star

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Cleveland and Srixon clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

(Photo by LM Otero/AP Photos)

May 25, 2011

Rich Beem switching to Scratch irons

Posted at 3:48 PM by David Dusek

IRVING, Texas — Rich Beem, the winner of the 2002 PGA Championship , has trouble finding irons.

"I've always liked offset in my irons," he said Wednesday on the range at the TPC Four Seasons, site of this week’s Byron Nelson Championship. "Over the last couple of months I've been using Ping G15s, which are great and have a lot of offset and I really like the way they look. But at the end of the day I just wanted something that was a little smaller and had more of a blade look."

This week he's playing a set of Scratch Golf AR-1 irons (5-PW). Scratch, which first launched in 2003 with a line of handcrafted wedges, has also made clubs for Ryan Moore, David Duval and Cristie Kerr.

Beem said he's keeping his Ping G15 4-iron in the bag this week. He is also still using two Callaway X Series JAWS wedges.

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Beem said that Scratch made him a set of irons during the West Coast Swing, but the heads were too big, so the company made him another set.

"I was home after Charlotte and I knew my iron game had been atrocious all year," Beem said. "I said to myself, 'You need to try another set of irons.' I went to the Scratch irons and I really liked them. I think they are fantastic, good looking and have a really solid feel."

The AR-1 irons are made from forged 1018 carbon steel, the same soft material used in many of the company's wedges. They have perimeter weighting but feature a thin topline at address.

As of Wednesday morning, Scratch probably wasn't aware that Beem planned to use its clubs at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

"The funny thing is that I came out here looking for the Scratch guy this morning," Beem said, "and he's not here this week!"

Related: ClubTest '11: Irons | Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

May 24, 2011

Adams Golf is quietly having a very solid year

Posted at 11:45 PM by David Dusek

Irving, Texas – So far, 2011 has been a solid year for Adams Golf.

Based in Plano, Texas, which is less than 20 miles from the TPC Four Seasons where this week's Byron Nelson Championship is being played, Adams purchased Yes! Golf in January for just under $2 million, giving Adams a place in the putter market for the first time.

In mid-April, the company released the new Redline Series of max-game improvement irons.

A few days later, Brandt Snedeker won the Heritage on Hilton Head Island with an Adams Idea Pro a12 Proto G hybrid in his bag. Less than 48 hours later, Adams released the club, which his now available in pro shops.

While the company has been successful launching other types of clubs, Adams still hangs its hat on hybrids. If you peek under the headcovers, you will find at least one Adams hybrid in the bag of Stuart Appleby (Idea Pro Gold, 18°), Rickie Fowler (Idea Pro Black, 18° and 20°), Graeme McDowell (Idea Pro, 17°, 21°), Heath Slocum (Idea Pro Gold, 18°), Rory Sabatini (Super Pro Black, 20°) and Steve Marino (Idea Pro Black, 20°). It's worth noting that none of these players are Adams staff professionals.

Today Adams filmed a new television commercial that will feature Steve "Wally" Walakovitz, the man who builds clubs in the company's tour van. But Jeff Wood, the director of marketing for Adams Golf, said the company's budgets are still humble by tour standards, so don't expect to hear a lot about the acquisition of Yes!. The putter brand will operate as an independent unit in the same way Odyssey is independent a Callaway.

Wood did confirm that there would be numerically fewer putter models available than in years past. If you go to yesgolf.com, you will now see just eight models featured; a few weeks ago there were about 30 on the site.

True, the irons used by Aaron Baddeley and Chad Campbell, two of their PGA Tour players, are custom-made and not available at retail. And yes, another Adams staffer, Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, has failed to break through and win his first PGA Tour event.

But think about it this way: Adams Golf, a small company, is still around 23 years after it was founded, and it is quietly growing. If those players can pick up some Ws, or if Champions Tour staffers like Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer and Paul Azinger can keep making noise on the weekends, maybe the small company won't stay small for much longer.

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

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May 23, 2011

Scotty Cameron on putter trends, why looks matter and the putter he'd never play

Posted at 11:48 AM by David Dusek

A nondescript office building in San Marcos, Calif., serves as the home of the Scotty Cameron Studio. It is filled with the stuff you'd expect to find, like putters, high-speed cameras and accessories. But there are also surfboards, T-shirts, blowtorches, original pieces of art on the walls and old bicycles, which have been sculpted into rocking horses by Cameron himself. The place blends California surf culture, rock 'n roll, a '50s auto repair shop and high-tech golf into a mecca for tour pros who make regular pilgrimages to see the putter guru.

After Cameron gave me a tour of his facility and showed me stuff that would make "Cameron Crazies" drool, we talked about putters, how materials and looks influence your stroke, and more.

ScottyCameron-SS-Laguna2_600x450 Talk about some of the new putters for 2011.
We have the new Laguna (right) that was just introduced, and we have the new Hollywood, and for the end of 2011 we have a new My Girl, which is a limited run of what I believe will be 1,500 pieces. That one will be bubble gum pink, made out of the single billet with the cotton candy pink insert. That's brand-new. We have another one called the Casanova, which will be out in the beginning of January [2012] or the end of December [2011] which is a classic, elegant putter added to the California line.

In 2011 we're going to try to feel where the vibe is—what's being used, what finishes are being liked, what colors are being noticed, what grips are being felt. We'll take ideas that we started with in early 2011 and create products for the end of the tour season and into 2012.

When you say things are getting "noticed" and "felt," does that mean on the PGA Tour or in local pro shops?
The tour and in the collectors' world. We combine the two because the tour guys may like something different than the collectors—the hardcore Cameron collector guys who are really into it. What catches their eyes, or catches a tour pro's eyes, could be two separate things. It could be that the tour pro may not like the leather grip; he likes the Winn grip that we're doing now with the heavy texture. So we're trying to get both angles and put them into the line for late 2011.

2-KombiPrototypesInStudio Do your putter designs come organically or do you simply make changes and adjustments to existing models?
Concepts and ideas—whether it is a completely new mallet or a completely new Newport—go from wild back to mild. We take prototypes to the tour and then to the collectors. We take what we learn from them and then put it into the product line for Titleist. That normally takes about a year after the prototype before the tour and the collectors are made.

How closely do you watch putter trends on tour and in the retail market, and how does that influence what you create?
I try to be the trendsetter, and hopefully others follow, but I watch trends. Whether it's high-tech stuff, mallets or classic blades, I try to get a feel for where the market is going. I try to guess about three years in advance.

Titleist and Scotty Cameron are the trendsetters of the futuristic type putters. We definitely set the trends, but there are so many bizarre and weird designs out now that we have kind of taken it back to the best of the Futura—wings, heel and toe weight, back weight—and softened the look into the Kombi mallets.

So we have our mallets, we have our blades, and we have our classics in the California series. I watch the reports of what is being used on tour each week and we are about 45%, on average, each week. I watch what pros are asking for, and what they're using, and what's selling in the marketplace and pro shops. So we combine all that and try to stay ahead of the game, not follow the game.

You've got chrome-colored putters, dark-finished putters, and gold-colored putters, but there are putters out there that are white and black too. Are tour pros more open to different colors and shapes these days, or do you think some ideas are simply fads?
Good ideas seem to come back around, like the white putter, which is nothing new. The White Fang Jack Nicklaus used was really a Bull's-Eye back in that day with the fang on the back [Nicklaus won the 1967 U.S. Open with that putter]. These ideas come around. I've done red putters with the Caliente. In my experience there are three colors that sell—not that you can't get far-fetched—but there is black, there is silver, and there is gold.

Adjustability has entered the world of drivers and woods. There are also adjustable putters. Do you see adjustability being the future of putters?
We know what we need to do in order to get performance. What is performance? The ball being the most efficient when it leaves the putter face.

If a guy likes a heavy putter, you don't want to cross the line because weight affects rhythm and timing. If you start experimenting with length and head weight, now you have to be concerned with shaft flex. In a putter? Absolutely, it can become soft and noodley.

Our goal at the end of the day is to make putters that are the most efficient instruments possible and that get the ball in the hole in the most efficient way.

How can the average guy find the best putter to suit his game?
You know, we found that it comes down to simplifying your set up. Setting up better helps your backstroke, and a better backstroke helps your forward stroke because you don't have to manipulate the putter. So how a putter sets up, helps you get proper alignment, and how it looks are all important.

Some people may say they don't care about the looks of a putter as long as the ball goes in the hole. The fact is that the look of the putter helps your setup, and your setup helps your backstroke, which in turn helps to get the ball in the hole. So looks are huge.

Sound is huge too. If a putter has a ping to it or a ding to it, to me that sounds hollow ... but some guys like that.

If the putter is too long, you stand too far back from the ball and the toe goes up. Too short and you get too close to the ball and your eyes get past the point and outside the target line.

So really what you're saying is that the best putters position your body to make a better stroke.
Right. We know there is a proper loft at impact, and that is 4° when the shaft is at 90° [straight up and down]. So if you set up with a forward press, we know we are going to have to add a little more loft. It is very tough for the human eye to see the difference between what happens at 3° and 4° and 5° of loft. That's why we use high-speed cameras here in the studio. With our adjustable weights and inserts, or putters with no insert, we can go work though weight, length, feel, and sound and have players walk out of here knowing what's right.

What's your feeling about inserts? Most of your putters don't have one.
I like inserts. Performance wise, we've found that the ball is not really affected by inserts, but sound and feel are a different story. If we are looking to design a softer putter, we can add an insert. Or we can design the putter in the way so the face becomes thicker; the thicker the face, the thinner and less hollow cavity behind it, and the more solid it feels.

It also comes down to the golf ball you play. The golf ball you play and the putter you use make a difference, but there is not a right or wrong here—it's what you expect to hear.

Futura_299x224Has there ever  been a putter that you wouldn't use yourself, but that was successful in the marketplace?
Yes, Futura. (right) That was a weighting experiment—completely built for performance. Forget about the looks; performance-wise it may be the best we've ever made. Look-wise, absolutely not my cup of tea.

The Kombi has taken a lot of the key things from the Futura, which was a little hollow sounding. Some people loved it, but the sound was not my cup of tea either. So we took the best of that world and put it into the Kombi—the horseshoe weight, the heel and toe weight—and thickened up the top line to improve the sound. So that was kind of learning from the past and putting into the new.

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

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

May 22, 2011

Winner's Bag: David Toms at the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Posted at 9:18 PM by David Dusek

DavidToms-Clevland-Colonial_600x450

DRIVER:
Cleveland Launcher DST (10.5°) with an Aldila Rip 60 X shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Cleveland Launcher DST (15°) with a Miyazaki Kusala Silver 83 X shaft
HYBRIDS: Cleveland Launcher DST (18°, 20.5°) with Project X HC1 shafts
IRONS: Cleveland CG7 Tour (4-PW) with Project X 6.0 shafts
WEDGES: Clevland CG16 (54°, 60°) with Project X 6.0 shafts
PUTTER: Never Compromise Dinero Tycoon
BALL: Titleist Pro V1

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Cleveland/Never Compromise clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

(Photo by David Dusek)

May 20, 2011

Fila Korea and private equity firm buy Acushnet

Posted at 10:09 AM by David Dusek

Fortune Brands Inc. announced Friday morning that it has reached an agreement to sell Acushnet, the parent company of Titleist and FootJoy, to Fila Korea Ltd. and Mirae Asset Private Equity of Korea for $1.225 billion in cash. According to a media release, Fortune Brands will earn $1.1 billion after taxes and expenses on the sale.

Fila Korea Ltd. is the owner of the Fila brand globally; according to the release, Mirae Asset Private Equity is the largest private equity firm in Korea.

The release went on to say:

"The Acushnet Company has long been the trusted steward of two of golf’s most revered and iconic brands, and has perpetuated the longest running records of golf equipment success in the game,” said Wally Uihlein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Acushnet Company. “The Fila Korea and Mirae group understands and appreciates our golf industry leadership, passionate associates, and unique and enduring culture. Together, with our new owners, our team is looking forward to strengthening and building upon the global success of the Titleist and FootJoy brands.”

After the acquisition, Acushnet will remain as a standalone company through separate operation from Fila Korea, with its worldwide headquarters remaining in Fairhaven, Mass., and led by Uihlein and Acushnet’s current management team.

The release continued,

“The acquisition of Acushnet transforms our platform with a stable of premier world class brands,” said Gene Yoon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Fila Korea, Ltd. “We are equally excited to embrace Acushnet’s exceptional management team led by Wally Uihlein. With our extensive knowledge and reach in Asia, we believe that the Acushnet brands have incredible new opportunities for growth in the emerging markets in Asia.”

“We are very impressed with what Acushnet management and employees have accomplished so far,” said JH Ryu, CEO, Mirae Asset Private Equity. “We will fully support the company to remain focused on its core golf expertise and continue driving the growth of the industry.”

"Titleist and FootJoy are powerful global golf brands,” said Uihlein. “The fact that Asia Pacific represents over 30% of the world's total golf equipment spending, and that South Korean golfers are among the most passionate and organized in the game, is testament to the significant investment in the Acushnet Company by the Fila Korea and Mirae group. They recognize the strength of the brands and opportunities for growth particularly in golf's emerging regions.”

The final sale is expected to be completed later this summer.

May 17, 2011

My Bag: Scott Verplank at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Posted at 11:39 AM by David Dusek

*UPDATE: Scott Verplank withdrew from the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Wednesday morning.

"The new equipment helps at this stage of my career, but it's not like I've seen a huge jump. Some of the ball-and-club combinations for the younger guys are crazy long, but it's not a big edge for me." — Scott Verplank

ScottVerplank-TaylorMade-Colonial_500x600

DRIVER: TaylorMade R11 (9.0°) with a UST Mamiya ATTAS S6 X shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: TaylorMade 200 Tour (13°, 17°) with Aldila Tour Gold X shafts
IRONS: TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold with Sensicore X-100 shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (56°, 60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold with Sensicore X-100 shafts 
PUTTER: Ping Anser
BALL: Titleist Pro V1

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Ping, TaylorMade and Titleist gear and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith.

(Photo by Darren Carroll/SI)

May 16, 2011

Winner's Bag: K.J. Choi at The Players

Posted at 9:19 AM by David Dusek

KJChoi-Miura-Players_600x450

DRIVER:
TaylorMade R11 (9.0°) with a Matrix OZIK XCON F6M2 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Ping i15 (15.5°) with an ACCRA S3 Dymatch 85 shaft
HYBRID: TaylorMade Rescue TP (19°) with a Graphite Design Tour Ad UT 85 shaft
IRONS: Miura CB 501 (3-PW) with KBS Tour shafts     
WEDGES:  Miura Wedge Series (54°), Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (59°) with KBS Tour shafts 
PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot #2
BALL: Titleist Pro V1

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Odyssey, Ping, TaylorMade and Titleist gear and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

(Photo by David Dusek)

May 13, 2011

Ian Poulter's prototype Cobra putter

Posted at 3:08 PM by David Dusek

Cobra Golf is not in the putter business, but by the look of things that could change sometime in the future.

Before the start of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, Ian Poulter switched from a heel-toe weighted Rife Antigua putter to a Scotty Cameron Newport putter. But shortly after that he switched again, to a custom putter made for him by Cobra, the company that makes his woods and irons.

According to a Cobra tour rep, the company made Poulter four different heads and this the one, which he has been using in tournament play, was his favorite. But the testing continues; at TPC Sawgrass, Cobra was working on a putter with a slightly deeper face than the one you see in the photos below.

IanPoulter-CobraPutter-Face_600x450

IanPoulter-CobraPutter-Face_600x450

IanPoulter-CobraPutter-Sole_600x450

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

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

Nick Watney's bag at the 2011 Players

Posted at 10:57 AM by David Dusek

NickWatney-Players-Thurs_600x600

DRIVER: Titleist 910D3 (10.5°) with a Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana White Board 83 shaft
FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 910F (15°) with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93 shafts
HYBRID: Titleist 910H (21°) with an Aldila Voodoo XVS9 shaft
IRONS: Titleist AP2 (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (54°), TVD (60°) with True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts
PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist Newport
BALL: Titleist Pro V1x

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

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

May 11, 2011

Substance with style: A tale of two Rickies

Posted at 5:06 PM by David Dusek

RickieFowler-Bag-Players_450x600 PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — There were two Rickie Fowlers at TPC Sawgrass this afternoon: The style icon and the 2010 Rookie of the Year who is trying to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

One Rickie, wearing an all-pink ensemble trimmed in neon-green, made teenage girls lining the fairways squeal things like, "I love your outfit Rickie. You're so cute!"

The other Rickie, the golfer who proved his mettle in Walker Cup matches as an amateur and last fall in the Ryder Cup, said he's going to have to hit more fairways this week. Stray drives have led to fewer greens in regulation, which in turn makes it harder to make birdies. It’s a formula that's about as basic as it gets.

When it comes to golf equipment, Fowler's bag is filled with clubs that make both Rickies smile.

"This is my second set of [Titleist] 710 MBs," he said walking down the 10th fairway Wednesday. "I do like to put in the orange paint fill and kind of splash 'em up a little bit. Make 'em different. I started doing that in high school and at Oklahoma State. Some of the guys would do it for fun when we had a little bit of free time."

Fowler also has orange paint fill accents on his wedges and hybrids. He has also used custom-painted Mitsubishi Diamana White Board driver shafts; a few even had Oklahoma State Cowboy mascots embossed near the handle. 

But the clubs themselves, and his set makeup, are utilitarian by design. Fowler wants the versatility to play any shot on any course.

"If I'm going to the British Open I don't want to have to change clubs around," he said. "I don't want to change my driver by a degree if it's windy or if I want to hit a lower ball so it will run. You know, I just kinda want to work the ball and be able to do more than one thing with one club."

Fowler said his driver, an 8.5° Titleist 910D3 set to the D1 position, was the most challenging club to get just right. He played a 909D3 for more than two years, and tinkered with a 910 when they were first brought to the PGA Tour last summer, but developing confidence in the club simply took time.

"I played a few 910D2 heads last year, but I've been in the 910D3 since last November," he said. "I messed around with some 7.5° heads and then at the Honda [in March] I went to an 8.5° head."

Fowler said that with the 7.5° head he missed too many shots to the right and that his drives flew too low. "By going with an 8.5° I was able to spin the ball a little more and shots seemed to hold their flight a little bit better. I can also work it a little bit more, whereas with the 7.5°, if I wanted to hit a ball up in the air I had to really help it up."

If the two Rickies can get cozy with that driver, Fowler could contend here at The Players and create a potent blend substance and style.

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

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

Sean O'Hair switching to TaylorMade's Forged MB irons

Posted at 10:15 AM by David Dusek

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — There's no way 175 players on the PGA Tour have a better iron game than Sean O'Hair. But according to the computers that track greens in regulation, so far this season there are.

For O'Hair, a 27-year-old with more than $14 million in earnings over the past five seasons as one of the best ballstrikers around, that's unacceptable.

"New Orleans was my fifth missed cut in a row," he said leaving the practice area. "So I just said to myself that there needs to be a change."

SeanOHair-TaylorMadeMB-Players_600x450 Tweaking his swing is part of that change, but another major part is a new set of irons. This week at The Players, O'Hair will be using TaylorMade's Forged MB blades

"Over the last couple of years, because of the groove issue, I've had a difficult time trying to find irons that will flight the ball the way that I like," O'Hair said. He said that he's not too concerned with how the new grooves effect his shots out of the rough because like other pros, he's learned to handle flier lies. It's the shots from the short grass that have given O'Hair headaches.

"Out of the fairway, at least for me, I'm noticing that I am not getting the same flight every time," he said. "I'm looking for a penetrating flight; I don't like my irons to go super-high and I don't want them to come out so low that I cannot stop among the greens."

O'Hair has always played TaylorMade irons that feature a small cavity back or perimeter weighting system. He previously played TaylorMade's Tour Preferred irons, which have weight notches in the heel and toe. Earlier this year he tried new Forged CB irons, but they sent shots too high, especially with the short irons. The Forged MB irons offer plenty of feel and predictability, and a low, piercing flight.

"I'm looking for a certain miss," O'Hair said. "I always want my miss to be on the right. I may over-cut it or push it a bit, but when my misses start landing 10 or 15 yards short then I've got an issue. But if they're only three or four yards off on a missed shot, then I know these are the irons for me. That's what I've seen with the MBs, which I have not seen for two years."

TPC Sawgrass is a tough place to bring a new set of irons and a work-in-progress swing, but O'Hair seems encouraged by what he was able to achieve while taking last week off. Don't be surprised if he proves the green-tracking computer wrong.

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

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook

May 09, 2011

Callaway releases the RAZR X Muscleback irons

Posted at 6:42 PM by David Dusek

Callaway RAZR Muscleback Irons Callaway has been making some of the best-selling irons for years, featuring clubs that help a lot of golfers hit the ball higher and farther more easily. Several offerings in the X Series and Big Bertha family of irons had big heads, massive sweet spots and low centers of gravity to make that possible.

The new RAZR Muscleback irons give you none of that. The first hint that these clubs are only for serious players is that the photo samples distributed by Callaway (right) show a 2-iron.

"If you aren't good enough to get your clubs for free, this might not be the best club for you," says Luke Williams, Callaway's director of product design. "I mean, really good amateur players and college players could play this club. There's a market for it, but it's small."

What the RAZR Muscleback, which is forged from carbon steel, does give players with an efficient and repeatable swing is the ultimate in feel and control.

Today's RAZR Muscleback irons started as prototype clubs built with tour players in mind. With small heads, short blades, anorexically-thin toplines and narrow soles, they first appeared in the bags of players like Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson with "X Prototype" stamped on their backs. After a while, Callaway made a few sets available to the public, calling the clubs the Tour Authentic X Protoype irons.

As Callaway considered its 2011 iron offerings, Williams says the company started thinking that it might be a good idea to bring the X Prototype irons out to the masses.

"When we thought about including an iron like this in our current line, we went out and got some feedback from players," Williams says. "We told them, 'Okay, if we're going to make a new version of this iron, what should we do differently?' And what we commonly heard back was, 'Well, change the name on the back. Don't change anything.' The players told us the size is perfect, the sole is just what we want, all of that. After hearing that often enough, that's what we decided to do."

The RAZR X Muscleback is, in fact, the X Prototype with some subtle cosmetic alterations made to the back of the club.

"While this iron may not include some of the latest technologies or come with a lot of bells and whistles, there are some things about it that are very important to get right," Williams says. "It's not just, 'Make a small forged blade and the players are going to love it.' You've got to get the offset right, you've got to get the blade length right, the toe shape, the topline width and angle. You've got to get the transition from the offset into the leading edge right. Those are the things that Tour players and better players are really concerned with."

The RAZR Muscleback are available now for $999 and come standard with Project X Flighted shafts, however, Callaway will change them to any steel shaft it carries for no additional charge. You can get more product specifications about the clubs on Callaway's Web site.

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

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Ping's Anser wedges arrive on the PGA Tour

Posted at 3:22 PM by David Dusek

Ping Anser Wedge Back PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Last year Ping released its first forged iron, the Anser. The new Anser wedges look like an extension of those irons, and they have some features that should make them appealing to mid- and low-handicap players.

"It's a forged wedge and the hosel got a little bit longer," says Matt Rollins, one of Ping's PGA Tour representatives. "Therefore, we decided to add a tungsten piece out on the toe to elongate the sweet spot."

In the photo on the right, the tungsten is the slightly-darker metal surrounding the 60.

Rollins also says that the ball flight of the Anser wedges, which are made from a soft 8620 stainless steel, is slightly flatter and lower than some of Ping's other wedges. "I'm not saying that's wrong, or better, or worse… it's just different," Rollins said.

The biggest difference between the Anser wedges and the other wedges in Ping's lineup (Tour-STour-S Rustique, Tour-W TS) is that there is no back weight, according to Rollins. Ping has traditionally used that back weight to help adjust the club's swing weight. With the Anser, club builders can insert small weights inside the hosel to adjust for a player's desired shaft weight or shaft length.

While the Anser lacks the weight badge, it does feature a stabilization bar that runs diagonally across the cavity in the toe section. "We had a couple of people in our testing who said it was a little off when they hit it intentionally out on the toe," Rollins says. By adding just a little more mass in that area, Ping hopes to enhance feel on flop shots and delicate pitches.

Ping Anser Wedge FAce When the Anser wedges are released later this summer, look for 50°, 52°, 54°, 56°, 58° and 60° options. Thanks to a notch that Ping designs into the hosels of all its wedges and irons, fitters can easily bend the clubs into the exact loft you want. In fact, Hunter Mahan, who put the Anser wedges into play last week at Quail Hollow, had his 56° bent to 53°.

"You just have to remember that for every degree that you bend the club, you take a degree of bounce either on or off," Rollins says. "There's a one-to-one ratio."

Ping does not have a suggested retail price for the clubs yet.

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

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