The Scientific Origins of Golf Equipment Fanboy Culture

The Scientific Origins of Golf Equipment Fanboy Culture

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Written By: Jay Baker

3 THINGS THAT CREATE GOLF FANBOYS

We have all experienced an Internet troll at one time or another. For those who are unfamiliar with the term “troll”, consider yourself lucky, but also know that it refers to someone who relentlessly posts messages online (forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) with the intent to inspire outrage. The trolls are the guys who write what’s very often ill-informed nonsense, and they do it with the sole objective of pissing otherwise reasonable people off.

It is believed that the majority of Internet trolls live in their mom’s basement.

The troll isn’t always dissimilar from the fanboy. In the golf world, fanboys love the brands they play deeply, and they support them whole-heartedly, passionately, and very often aggressively.  If you don’t share that same sense of deep affection for <insert brand name here> because they or their products <insert marketing tagline here>, then you sir are a moran (outrage and spelling seldom play well together).

internet-troll

There is at least an argument (a polite one, of course) to be made that golf companies actively cultivate fanboy culture. Sometimes it just happens by accident. At a minimum, every golf company wants you to be passionate about their products because a passionate fan is often a loyal customer. Every golf company wants loyal customers.

You are cordially invited to join #TEAM<insert company name here…and make sure it’s in ALL CAPS>.

Unfortunately, sometimes passion and loyalty cross a line and things get a little weird, plenty vitriolic, and very often downright hateful.

No company is immune from fanboys (except maybe for Warrior Golf – don’t call them, they’ll call you). Fanboy culture is pervasive enough to make one wonder how it is exactly that companies like TaylorMade, Titleist, Ping, and Callaway can reduce the behavior of grown men to that of petulant children arguing over which Disney princess is best?

FYI, it’s Cinderella.

Would it surprise you to learn that there’s an actual science behind your disdain of anything Nike?

Team-Nike

Choice Supportive Bias

The first expensive driver I ever bought was a Callaway Big Bertha War Bird with an RCH 90 shaft. The driver was almost too pretty to hit. The dull industrial gray finish gave it a blue-collar look. Every detail was designed to do real work.

The first time I put it in play, I was joined by  a friend who had also just purchased a new war stick, the TaylorMade Burner Bubble. Could you imagine if TaylorMade relied on paint to sell clubs today? All day we compared the performance of our drivers. As he hit mine, I could see a certain level of buyer’s remorse beginning to set in. Big Bertha was clearly winning the battle.

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After the round, however, he raved about his Burner. He went so far as to recommend it to the other golfers in clubhouse. My friend was trying to satisfy a post purchase rationalization. He stuck to his guns despite the contrary reality. He certainly wasn’t going to admit to himself that he’d just made a very expensive mistake. My buddy experienced what’s called Confirmatory Bias, and it’s in play every time we buy something.

Think about the last time you purchased a new car. After you drove it off the lot, you probably went online to check out other personal reviews of the car. Chances are you enjoyed reading the reviews that supported your decision, and looked for fault with those that suggested that your new Pontiac Aztek was an outhouse on wheels. We focus on what’s good while dismissing the negatives.

As buyers, we look for like-minded reviews and people to justify and support our purchases. Golf equipment is expensive, especially for something none of us really need. Your brain’s concept of this discretionary expense feeds on justification.

As golfers we defend our purchases. We’ll argue that the technology justifies the cost. We’ll point to like-minded reviews, and the facts as dictated by the golf companies that created them, as proof that we made the right decision. No matter how compelling the evidence to the contrary, we cling to our beliefs. These bouts of Cognitive Dissonance are a large part of the reason why a golfer might feel inclined to act out and occasionally rage against anything and anyone who even hints that his shiny new driver isn’t everything he believes it to be.

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Companies Listen To Crazy

In 2002, Joss Whedon, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, decided to piggyback on his TV success by creating a new show known as Firefly. It was basically a TV version of Star Wars, which would make you think it would have been successful. The reality, however, was that the ratings sucked. The show was canceled after just 14 episodes.

So what did all the Firefly fanboys and girls do? They took to Internet forums to let the television execs know what a crappy multi-million dollar decision they had made. That coupled with strong DVD sales lead to a Firefly based major motion picture called Serenity.

Fanboys had once again proven that a mob mentality can achieve the desired results

The same situation plays out to some degree in golf retail more often than you think. Remember the Taylormade R1 when it came out? If your reaction was “Not another white driver!”, you probably do. So what happened? While most of you cried like a sorority girl after a positive E.P.T., some of you took to your golf forum of choice and expressed the frustration via a CAPS LOCKED diatribe for the ages.

GIVE ME THE BLACK DRIVER I’M ENTITLED TO!

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What did that get you? You got a black R1 driver of course.

The R1 isn’t an isolated example. Elite Scotty Cameron fans clamored for a black putter production model from 2008 until 2011. In 2012 Mr. Cameron finally caved to fanboys and introduced the Select line.

Nike released an all red Covert driver last year that was close to perfect in every way with the exception that it was red. Never mind that an all-red driver named Covert is as ironic as a wrinkled ironing board; by the time summer rolled around Nike had an all-black version on shelves.

Why do golfers want everything to be black? I digress…

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After 2 years of listening to forum-based moaning, Rory’s coveted putter has found it’s way to the market, albeit in limited quantities.

This community pressure is the same reason we don’t see as many Made For shafts anymore.

Golf companies read forums. That’s not a secret. The power of a community is much greater than a single individual. Golf forums have given a voice to the voiceless.

The consumer doesn’t always get exactly what he wants. For every R1 Black story, there is the unsuccessful call for Tiger’s actual golf ball (and everything else in Tiger’s bag). Still, this perceived influence gives a sense of power to the people. When we get what we want it serves to validate and reinforce the behaviors that we believe made it happen. We get louder, and we get crazier.

We Want To Belong

This is a golf website so I’m not looking to explore the authenticity of evolution as it pertains to man coming from ape, Adam, asteroids, or lizard people that live under ground. You guys can re-try the Scopes Monkey Trial in the comment section if you’d like. What I want to talk about is evolution in regards to passing genes and social traits from one generation to another, which is something I think we can all agree happens. Genes and social traits that were important to human survival 250,000 years ago still exist today, even though we live a very different lifestyle compared to cavemen. For example, your great (great, great, etc., etc.) grandfather needed his Fight or Flight response to survive a bear attack when all he had was a pointy stick. These days, your Fight or Flight response is about as useful as a VCR.

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The same thing happened with our need to belong to a group. It evolved out of necessity and still exists today (necessary or not). You can’t stop trolling TaylorMade threads because of the same trait your ancestors relied on to survive. Early man formed groups for survival purposes. These small groups of early man helped keep predators away and food on the table. Once beer and agriculture came along, the groups increased in size and turned into villages. The need to keep track of these large social groups actually furthered our brain’s development. Think about it… equipment discussions on a golf forum will stimulate your brain more than reading the Golf Digest Hot List by yourself.

Cavemen formed groups to survive. The management of groups required increased brain capacity, and a bigger brain lead to more social interactions; the origin of creativity and innovation. The desire by early man to impress his caveman group has led to every breakthrough humans have developed. Essentially, social acceptance spurred the development of problem solving skills in humans. The same force that drives your need to be part of #TEAMTITLEIST put a man on the moon.

Why does this need to belong compel us to attack others who don’t share our love for forward CG in the driver head? The human brain is a social tool that craves companionship to create networks. These networks are sometimes based on a fundamental or idea (like say golf clubs). Once we identify with an ideology, we’ programmed to attack other networks that challenge our fundamental beliefs.

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Like any good marketing organizations, golf companies understand these primal needs, and have become increasingly adept at using Social Media to play to our base urges. They interact with us, they bring us into the fold, and in some cases, indoctrinate us into the brand culture. We are no longer a customer, we are one with the brand. We are part of the pack.

We don’t spit venom because we blindly believe in the principles and technology stories our favorite golf companies tell, but rather because we are programmed to defend our pack. Think about this within the context off the offline world. Each of us has likely stood up for a friend…even when we knew he was wrong. It’s really not much different.

Gamergate certainly proved that our online group interactions can snowball out of control. Gamergate was arguably lowest point of online bullying within any community. It’s never that bad in golf. Online golf communities are rather tame when compared to the communities built around video games, choppers, rice rockets, NASCAR, guns, TV shows, or the NFL. Perhaps we can attribute these differences to the gentlemanly nature of the game. Perhaps it’s because, for the most part, golf doesn’t have teams.

Fans of team sports find it easier to identify with a given group. Fans simply choose the team in closest proximity or they choose a frontrunner. Golf is an individual sport, so golfers must fulfill their social needs by aligning with an equipment manufacturer or apparel company. Your need to belong can affect your equipment decisions, choice of ball, what clothes you wear on the course, and many other  aspects of your golfing habits.

For many parts of the US, golf is a seasonal sport. In order to get their golf social fix, golfers go online to support their team in forum threads and comment sections. Winter is the leading contributor the rise in fanboy and troll culture. At least in the summer, golfers can step away from their keyboards and actually play golf.

We’re Better Than This

As a new golfer I was immediately initiated into Team Callaway. Team “Hangout With Chicks” happened to be all booked up at the time, and fortunately for me, Team Jacob and Team Edward hadn’t yet been formed. Naturally I gravitated towards other Callaway players and pros that played the company’s wares. I preached the benefits of the S2H2 technology to anyone who would listen. I still have no clue what it really means or what it actually does. The bandwagon effect is very strong in golf.

I have since realized the error of my ways.

The same commitment to hardline ideologies that can take a basic bible study group and convert it into a cult is what drives fanboy culture. The people involved in cults are almost always normal people with above average intelligence. They just want to belong to a group and have purpose. That’s not crazy, even if the behavioral manifestation is.

So the next time you decide to troll the other golf fanboys out there on forums, just remember they are after the same thing you are: the right to belong. Make sure to hear them out and understand where they are coming from. That is, unless they’re from Jonestown (or Carlsbad) and offering you Kool-Aid while you discuss slot technology. In that case, use the fight or flight response to run for your life.

 

 

MyGolfSpy

blue Is the Future of Adams Golf

blue Is the Future of Adams Golf

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Written By: Tony Covey

Last month Adams held a small event in Boca Raton, Florida, where a small group of media got to try out the new blue driver, bag the red hybrid, and play 9 holes (2 groups) with two-time Masters Champion Bernhard Langer.

En route to some of the most atrocious golf I’ve played in quite some time, I picked up a few tips from the pro, found a hybrid that’s immediately going into my actual bag and, as you might imagine, had a nearly infinite amount of fun.

It was almost certainly the biggest, if not the only media event in the history of Adams Golf. The Delaire Country Club where we played was beautiful. Langer was genuine and engaging, and the food was pretty good too.

What wasn’t abundantly clear to me was the point of any of it.

A Day with Adams and Bernhard Langer

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On the range before our round we watched and listened as Bernhard stepped us through his practice routine, explaining how to hit the variety of different shots needed to win on the PGA Tour. We attempted those shots ourselves, tried the Adams blue driver and red hybrid. We had lunch. Langer told stories. We played golf together, and had a truly memorable dinner.

The small group of media in attendance spent an entire unscripted day with Bernard Langer with none of the awkward moments that occur when professional golfers and paid celebrities fumble through their company-supplied bullet points.

We talked golf, not product. Bernhard Langer kept it real.

The Adams guys kept it real too. They didn’t try and sell us (or oversell us) on the technology. Conspicuously absent from the event were the typical assortment of industry must-mentions. Longer, faster, better were replaced by “hit this”. The requisite bits about face technology, precise CG placement, and adjustability superseded by “what do you think?”

The summary discussions were light on talk of ball speed, launch angle, and spin rates. Launch monitors eschewed for a more basic metric.

“It’s fun, right?”

That, it turns out, was the point. The Adams event provided a gentle reminder that golf is fun…at least it’s supposed to be.

For guys like me who cover equipment, a day with Adams and Bernhard Langer also provided a very different way to start an equipment conversation.

But then again, this is a very different Adams Golf…at least it wants to be.

Like a Lil’ blue Phoenix

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After spending the better part of 3 years in limbo, TaylorMade’s newish (and now former CEO Ben Sharpe, detailed his vision for Adams Golf. TaylorMade was the brand for competitive golfers. Adams would specifically target recreational golfers – guys just out to have a good time.

While the identity is no longer that of a brand for old men and hacks, if along the way Adams products happen to appeal to senior golfers or higher-handicap golfers, the company is perfectly fine with that; but recreational is the key word.

To make that distinction clear, the original Adams 2015 lineup, including a driver with what I’m told would have been an interesting new take on adjustable CG, was sent to the scrapheap to make room for the recreationally-oriented blue line.

The Adams red line (which currently consists of only a single hybrid) remains serious business. It’s the heritage of the company, and remains suitable for tour use. While red stands in contradiction to the larger message, it also proves that the tour always matters.

Even a recreational brand needs a tour presence.

Along with blue comes a strategy that targets beginners, recreational golfers, and anyone else who thinks that the status quo of golf marketing has become too serious, too stale, or – from my perspective – too stupid.

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The TaylorMade-Adams team believes that the recreational crowd is currently being underserved, if not totally ignored, by the industry. The company believes that if you speak simply and use words everyone can understand, there’s a real opportunity for success. It’s what Adams calls shooting straight.

There’s no need to obsess over technology. Blue is easy to hit. Blue is fun.

This is still the golf industry, however, so even a brand devised for an entirely different market can’t stray too far from the industry’s script. Shoot straight, but not too straight.

Being too different is too risky, even for a company reconceived to be different.

Abide.

What Might Have Been

“Starting today, golf is a game again.”

We were fortunate enough to shoot a video of the video that Adams created to provide some context for the brand’s place in the industry. It eventually might have made it to the masses as part of an ad campaign but apparently it was deemed too rebellious or at least too unconventional for an industry stuck in its own divot.

Take risks…really small ones. That’s how it’s done in golf.

What do you think? How great is this ad?

Much like the driver that never really was, the most rebellious side of Adams – the one that pokes fun at the industry for its overreliance on slight variations of the same ol’ same ol’ will likely never see the light of day beyond this story.

Rock the boat, but keep your feet dry. It’s too bad.

Are simplicity and fun enough?

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As Adams attempts to position itself as the brand for golfers who don’t take themselves too seriously and who just want to have fun, it faces an uphill climb. The lil’ lessons campaign is brilliant in its attempt to remove some of the intimidation factor from the game of golf, but it’s hard to know who’s actually watching.

Fun, unintimidating, and easy to hit are all great concepts, but I suspect that even the most recreational of golfer leans towards either the brands that the pros play or the cheapest thing on the shelf. He doesn’t actually want to be shot straight; he wants to buy more distance (cheaply). Distance is fun.

That’s not to say blue isn’t long. Those who hit it well on the course came back with tales of bombing blue 30 yards past their $500 gamers, but Adams wants to be different. Adams isn’t supposed to compete with TaylorMade, and so it’s unlikely Adams will tell that part of the story to the masses.

Your purchase of blue doesn’t include a day with Berhard Langer and the simple reality is that there’s absolutely nothing inherent in products from Callaway, PING, Cobra or anybody else that specifically precludes fun. Each of those companies brings its own brand of fun to the table.

Is Adams really that different?

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To be successful, I believe Adams will need more than simplicity and straight talk. It likely needs to offer a value proposition.

The big miss here may be that, apart from a few videos, Adams blue does very little to break down barriers.

$299 for a driver, $199 for the fairway, and $799 for the irons.

Adams is offering blue products with design considerations that won’t appeal to avid (competitive) golfers at a price that doesn’t make them any more appealing than anything else to the recreational golfer.

The message may be different, but for the consumer the bottom line is the same. If you’re asking what I think…I don’t think it’s going to work.

With all of that said, I want more than anything to be wrong. Golf marketing is largely nonsense. The industry needs straight talk, and it needs simple technologies that actually benefit a majority of golfers.

I want to support that company from the video – the one willing to poke fun at the absurdity of the golf equipment industry, while still being a part of it.

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The recreational market is underserved, and it does present one of the few viable opportunities for real growth. It’s an opportunity for Adams and an opportunity for the game.

But let’s actually shoot straight for a moment.

Is the plan for Adams to truly differentiate itself specifically for the recreational golfer, or is the plan for Adams to get completely out of TaylorMade’s way? Is blue the non-compete clause missing from the original contract?

Is this new Adams different enough to actually matter, or is TaylorMade simply killing time with Adams until it’s time to kill off the brand completely?

I hope it’s the first one, but ultimately golfers will decide.

MyGolfSpy

The Club Report – Miura CB57 Irons

The Club Report – Miura CB57 Irons

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3.5 Years…Really?

It seems almost unfathomable, but it’s been 3.5 years since we took a close look at a set of Miura irons.

That’s the thing about Miura…in a time where even the most conservative of golf companies are releasing irons on a predictable 2-year cycle, Miura seems oblivious to the calendar. Miura designs are timeless and the company’s release cycles reflect that.

New products are released only when there is a reason, and only when they are absolutely ready.

Miura – A Very Brief Intro

For those as yet unfamiliar with the Miura brand, here’s a quick list of what you need to know.

  • Irons are forged at the Miura factory in Himeji Japan to exacting specifications and tight tolerances
  • Miura disavows the idea of a stock offering. Each Miura set is built to the golfer’s individual specifications
  • Miura clubs are available exclusively through Miura fitters/dealers

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About the CB57

The CB57 is Miura’s first new iron offering since the MB-001, which was released in October of 2013. It’s been a year and half between releases, and it’s not like the CB57 supersedes anything in the Miura lineup. With Miura newer often also means different.

The CB57 is positioned comfortably between Miura’s MB-001 blade and the CB-501 cavityback. It’s more forgiving than the former, but a bit more compact than the latter. Those alternatives along with the PP-9003, and Miura’s legendary small or ‘baby’ blade remain current in the Miura lineup.

The  CB57 is part of Miura’s Series 1957 lineup, which also includes the baby blades and K-Grind wedges. Named for the year in which Miura Golf was founded, and denoted by the 1957 crest, clubs bearing the Series 57 distinction are the most favored designs of the company. Series 1957 clubs are benchmark products in the company’s history. They are the most revered among the Miura offerings.

Our set of CB57 irons was built to my specifications and assembled by our friend Josh Chervokas at the New York Golf Center. At the risk of offering a shameless plug, when you’re in the greater NYC area, you absolutely must add the New York Golf Center to your list of stops. Josh and his team are among the most knowledgeable and respected fitters and builders in the golf industry.

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Aesthetics

One of the various Miura taglines is “Commitment to Tradition“. The CB57 is most certainly in-line with that mantra. While technically a medium-sized cavityback, the CB57 features one of the most compact heads currently in production. As others have moved to larger footprints, even in their more player-centric designs, Miura continues to produce irons for golfers who love irons.

Simple, understated, and unquestionably beautiful. Miura knows no other way.

Toplines are absolutely minimal by the modern standard, as is offset. It’s a virtual certainty that some will find the design intimidating. On aesthetics alone, the Miura CB57 probably wouldn’t be your first choice as someone looking to begin the transition from game-improvement irons.

For players who are either accustomed to, or simply prefer the look of a more compact iron, however; the vintage good looks of Miura’s latest offering will be one of the more appealing designs you’re likely to come across.

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Sound & Feel

Miura’s steel is the topic of some debate. The company certainly professes to have a superior product, while detractors argue that steel is steel and what Miura uses can’t possibly be better than anyone else’s. I’m not about to delve into the finer points of metallurgy, but I will say that between the forging process, and the spin-milled hosel, Miura has engineered a superior feeling iron. We can haggle over Mizuno and a few others, but sufficed to say, Miura’s offerings are in the top tier.

I’m spoken about it in the past. Those accustomed to the feel of a Mizuno forging may find Miura offerings (including the CB57) a tad clickier, but my opinion is that shot for shot, no iron provides more rewarding feedback than Miura.

We must also acknowledge that feel is completely subjective and so while one of our club testers (a low single-digit golfer who currently play Titleist blades) described the CB57 as “the most f#%$ing incredible feeling iron I’ve ever hit“, we each have our unique preferences, and yours may lay elsewhere. I’m totally cool with that.

For me, hitting the CB57 made me realize how much I miss hitting Miura irons.

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Performance

Given that all Miura irons are custom built, it’s difficult to really compare Miura to an off-the-rack offering. To provide a general sense of how the CB57 performs, however, we hit it side by side with a modern blade offerings. Noteworthy, while the irons tested were built to the same playing length, the CB57 is a degree stronger in the 4-iron, 2 degrees stronger in the 7-iron, and 1 degree stronger in the pitching wedge. All of this suggests that, number for number, the CB57s should be a bit longer.

The Miura CB57s are shown in blue, our control blade in red.

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In the long irons, the Miura CB57 produced similar launch and spin numbers while carrying an average of just under 5 yards farther (likely due to ballspeeds that were on average, 3MPH faster).  Noteworthy is that across all shots, the CB57 produced a tighter dispersion pattern, and was, on average, closer to the target line.

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In the middle irons, the Miura CB57 launched just under a degree lower, produced 400 RPM less spin, and carried an average of roughly 4 yards farther. Ballspeed numbers again favored the CB57. Despite the initial launch conditions, differences in peak height were negligible, and the dispersion pattern was once again tighter for the CB57.

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As irons get shorter, loft becomes less of a contributing factor in distance. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that despite launching lower and spinning less, the CB57 was only  marginally longer than the blade we tested against. Comparatively speaking, the CB57 showed significantly better dispersion as well.

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The Takeaway

While it’s reasonable to suggest that the CB57 probably isn’t the best option for mid to high handicap golfers, our testing suggests that for better golfers who prefer the look and performance of a more traditionally designed iron, Miura’s latest offering brings more to the table than just a pretty face.

While nearly every aspect of the design begs to be in the hands of a better player, Miura believes that golfers should play whatever clubs bring them the most pleasure. The subtext is that it doesn’t always need to be about shooting the lowest score. There is enjoyment to be found in the game itself.

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That’s thinking that should be easy to rally behind.

As a current game-improvement player I managed to convince myself that what I’m playing feels almost as good as the CB-501s I previously gamed. 3 swings with the CB57 and I’ve realized the extent to which I’ve fooled myself. It’s nowhere near the same. I’ve rediscovered perfection and I’m finding it difficult to walk away.

Pricing and Availability

Pricing for Miura CB57 irons begin at $275 per iron (custom fit and built), and are available through an authorized Miura Dealer near you.

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More Information

Web: MiuraGolf.com
Twitter: @MiuraGolfInc
Facebook: MiuraGolf

Miura CB57 Gallery

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MyGolfSpy

Survey – What’s In YOUR Bag?

Survey – What’s In YOUR Bag?

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Because You Paid For It

What’s in the Bag? Or WITB (if you’re down with abbreviations). It’s the quintessential question asked by every golf site ever created. More often than not though, they’re talking about what the pros play.

Who cares? Yeah, I get it. It’s cool to see new gear, but if you want the simple answer to the question of what the pros play, I’ll give it to you straight. The pros play what they’re paid to play, with very few exceptions.

Rory’s driver – paid. Tiger’s irons – paid. Phil’s wedges – paid. Spieth’s shoes – paid. That doesn’t interest us in the least. What we really want to know is what golfers such as yourselves have chosen for your bags.

What brands are you playing? How long have you played them, and of course, what new gear are you planning on purchasing this season. We want to hear from the guys who pay to play, not the guys who get paid to play.

While you’re here, feel free to use the comment section to tell us exactly why you play what you play.

Take the Survey

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MyGolfSpy

MGS Labs – Fitted (vs) Non-Fitted Putters Part II

MGS Labs – Fitted (vs) Non-Fitted Putters Part II

Post image for MGS Labs – Fitted (vs) Non-Fitted Putters Part II

In Part 1 of our putter fitting study, we looked at the differences between the putters 20 golfers had in their bags and what PING’s experts fit them for. If you missed it, it’s definitely worth checking out as the fitting results alone suggest that basically everyone who hasn’t been fit for a putter is probably playing the wrong putter.

Today we dig in a little deeper to see what impact a fitted putter has on actual performance. We can talk about fitting all day, right? Everyone should get fit. We say that all the time, but the ugly truth about fitting is that it only actually matters if  and when proper fitting translates to performance improvements.

 

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Test Details

The aim of this test is to investigate the effects of a putter fitting on performance.

20 golfers were recruited for a VIP putter fitting.

Prior to being selected for and included in the test, participants were screened to ensure no industry affiliation. Additional requirements include:

  • Must play at least 1-2x per month
  • Must not have had a putter fitting within the last 12 months
  • Must not currently be playing a belly or long putter

A range of ability levels was represented in the test.

Players were asked to bring his or her current gamer (having never gone through a proper putter fitting).

Testers hit (10)  5′ putts at a hole on the putting green and the make/miss location was recorded.

(10) 25′ putts were performed on PING’s granite table putting surface with the overhead cameras capturing the dispersion of the session.

Finally, players took part in an iPing session.

Player were then put through a full putter fitting. Once completed, the fitter altered the putter (if needed) to match the specs found from the fitting.

With the correct putter, the player then performed the same three tests as done at the beginning of the test (5′ putts at hole, 25′ on the table, and iping session)

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Performance Results

5-foot-putts

On 5′ putts, the average rate of putts holed increased from 5.6 out of 10 to 6.1. If you want to extrapolate that out to a whole number we can all wrap our heads around, we’re talking about an additional putt holed for every twenty tries. While that’s perhaps not mind-blowing, it’s absolutely the sort of number that will lead to lower scores on the golf course.

Out of the 20 testers, 9 improved their make rates, 7 produced identical results, while 4 actually made fewer putts.

25-foot-dispersion

Using their overhead camera system, PING calculated a stat area – basically an elliptically-shaped dispersion pattern – first with what was in each tester’s bag, and then again with the fully fit putter. As you can see, the study participants decreased their dispersion area by slightly better than 25%.

In total, 11 of the 20 testers improved 25′ dispersion, while 5 were essentially the same. 4 of the golfers in the study proved to be worse from 25′ with their fitted putter.

iping-score

PING’s iPing app looks at your stroke type, impact angle, tempo, lie angle, and shaft lean over a series of 5 putts. It measures consistency from one stroke to the next and quantifies it with an iPing Score that correlates to a putting handicap. A lower iPING score indicates a more consistent putting stroke.

On average, the golfers in this study cut their iPing putting handicaps nearly in half. 50% of the testers posted improved iPing scores, while 7 were unchanged. Only 3 scored worse with the fitted putter than they did with their gamers.

A Closer Look at iPing

Within the iPing results we’re able to take a closer look at how a given change impacted a specific performance metric for the group of testers for whom the related change was made.

iping-changed-stroke2iping-changed-alignment2

As the basis for its stroke type determination PING looks at the rate at which the face closes during the putting stroke. Of the 16 golfers who were fit for a different stroke type putter, 12 of them (75%) improved the related performance area with iPing.

To determine if a change in putter alignment needs to be made, PING considers the angle of the putter at impact. If a golfer is improperly aligned or inconsistent with alignment, a change is recommend. Among the golfers fit for a different alignment, 72% saw improvement over their gamers, while only 14% saw diminished performance.

iping-changed-weight2iping-changed-loft2

For golfers with inconsistent tempo, changing the weighting of the putter can often produce better results. In our study, 64% of golfers who were fit into a different weight putter showed improvement, compared to 14% whose tempo was less consistent as measured by iPing.

As mentioned in Part I, to determine whether a change in loft is advisable, PING looks at the shaft lean at impact. It should be noted that PING does not have any additional data to suggest that fitting for loft leads to a better putting stroke, it simply leads to better roll. In that respect, it’s a bit surprising that 67% would see pronounced improvement. It could be psychological, or it could be that the sum total of changes led to a more consistent stroke overall.

iPing-changed-lie2

Given the general improvements across the board, the fact that the highest percentage of golfers in our study were actually less consistent after a lie angle change warrants further examination (and a bigger chart). Given that 39% of those who had their lie angle changed actually putted worse, it’s reasonable to think that we all might be better off leaving well-enough alone.

Before you commit to never changing the lie angle of your putter, however; consider some of the numbers from Part I. While the average change in lie angle was roughly 1°, changes of 2° or more weren’t uncommon, and one golfer required a 7° change in lie angle. Seven degrees. Think about what that would look like in an iron, and then think about how quickly you’d be able to successfully adjust to that dramatic of a change.

Believe it or not, for all the benefits of custom fitted clubs, a negative result immediately after a lie angle change is actually the expected result. Here’s a snippet from the test report that should help put this into proper perspective:

“A change to lie angle has been seen to affect the stance and ball positioning thus we tend to get mixed results following a lie angle change. Changes in lie angle, while highly encouraged, will take the most adjustment from the player following a change, especially in cases where the person has been using the same putter for an extended period of time and is very accustomed seeing the putter oriented in a certain manner.”

Basically, as golfers we learn to compensate. Whether it’s learning to pound the ball left because we know it’s going to come back hard-right, or adjusting nearly every aspect of our putting stance and stroke to adapt to an ill-fitting putter, we come up with any number of unique ways to make it work…or at least fail less. When it comes to a lie angle change, eliminating those compensations that no longer work with a properly fit putter can take time.

Improvement Breakdown

These final two charts summarize comparative performance across our key metrics.

improvements-by-category

This chart summarizes the improvements across all 3 of the tests performed. While it should be noted that not everyone performed better with a fitted putter in all scenarios. In each case a majority of testers (50% on average) showed performance improvements with a properly fit putter.

improvements-by-golfer

The above chart shows the number of performance categories where golfers showed improvement as a result of the putter fitting.

16 of 20 golfers showed improvement in at least 1 performance category, while the largest number (8) showed improvement in 2 of the categories measured.

Key Takeaways

ping-lab-results

If there’s one singular takeaway it’s this: Getting fit for your putter matters. Consider the breakdown of our results.

  • The majority of golfers included in this study were the same if not better in all three measurements, with the average of those measurements indicating improvement across the board.
  • 80% of golfers in the test saw improvement in at least one category.
  • The iPing consistency measurement showed the greatest average improvement.

If you don’t want to go all in with a fitting out of the gate, we can’t recommend enough you start with the iPing app. While there’s no substitute for a full fitting, iPing will help you begin to understand if your putter is remote close to ideal for your putting stroke.

MyGolfSpy

MGS Labs – Fitted (vs) Non-Fitted Putters?

MGS Labs – Fitted (vs) Non-Fitted Putters?

Post image for MGS Labs – Fitted (vs) Non-Fitted Putters?

Over 95% of you (amateur golfers) have never been fit for a putter. Shocked? Probably not.

What if I told you that over 85% of the top PGA industry professionals (the guys supposed to be fitting you) have never been fit for a putter. Shocked now? You should be.

amateur-golfers-putter-fit

Those two stats and a trip to the PING Golf Headquarters were the perfect formula for our latest installment of MyGolfSpy Labs. We asked the PING R&D team two simple questions: A) Do putter fittings make a difference for the average golfer?  B) How do we make this test happen to once and for all find out that answer.

 

powered-by-ping

MGS Labs In Partnership with PING

We wanted to quantify the benefits of putter fitting and how much difference a properly fit putter could really make for the average golfer. With all the variables (length, lie, stroke, weight, alignment, loft and head shape) it had to make a difference…right?

To figure that and much more out, we partnered with the team at PING. They then conducted a study designed to help us get a better sense of what percentage of golfers are playing a putter that’s less than ideally fit, and whether properly fitting them for a new putter would actually improve performance.

The 2-Part MGS/PING Lab Test

Over the next two days we’ll look at the results of this cooperative study between MyGolfSpy & PING Golf.

PART 1:  What did our study participants bring with them, and how different was it from the putter each golfer was eventually fit into?

PART 2:  We’ll compare the results of the performance tests conducted before & after each fitting.

pga-pros-fit

Test Details

The aim of this test is to investigate the effects of a putter fitting on performance.

20 golfers were recruited for a VIP putter fitting.

Prior to being selected for and included in the test, participants were screened to ensure no industry affiliation. Additional requirements include:

  • Must play at least 1-2x per month
  • Must not have had a putter fitting within the last 12 months
  • Must not currently be playing a belly or long putter

A range of ability levels was represented in the test.

Players were asked to bring his or her current gamer (having never gone through a proper putter fitting).

Testers hit (10)  5′ putts at a hole on the putting green and the make/miss location was recorded.

(10) 25′ putts were performed on PING’s granite table putting surface with the overhead cameras capturing the dispersion of the session.

Finally, players took part in an iPing session.

Player were then put through a full putter fitting. Once completed, the fitter altered the putter (if needed) to match the specs found from the fitting.

With the correct putter, the player then performed the same three tests as done at the beginning of the test (5′ putts at hole, 25′ on the table, and iping session)

Fitting Results

adjustments-by-golfer2
The above chart details how many changes (stroke type, loft, and lie) were made per golfer during the PING fitting sessions. 14 of 20 testers (70%) required 3 changes, while only 1 golfer required no changes. On average, the golfers in this test required 2.6 changes.

Number-of-Players-Making-Changes

The chart looks at the sum total of changes made broken down by the type of change. As you can see, the testers (all of whom had not been fit for their putters) required multiple adjustments. Most noteworthy is the fact that 90% of those in the study were fit into putters with different lofts, and 90% were fit into putters with different lie angles.

Even in the categories where the fewest changes were recommended, 70% of those in the study still required a change in spec.

FYI – Aliment refers to the sight lines/aliment aids on the putter itself.

powered-by-ping2

The Details

As we start to look at some of the finer details of the fittings, I think it’s important to look more closely at of the most basic determinations golfers make about their own putting technique.

What type of putting stroke do I have? Am I straight back and straight through, or do I putt with an arc…maybe even a strong one? Do I need a face-balanced mallet, or a blade with an abundance of toe hang?

These are fundamental fitting questions. If you believe in PING’s Fit For Stroke method, the answers should dictate the type of putter we buy.

Observation and now data has taught us that many golfers believe they are straight back straight through putters. That same data tells us that many golfers are wrong, and that almost certainly has consequences on the golf course.

putter-hang-style-pre-fitting3

55% of golfers who took part in this study arrived with face-balanced (straight back straight through) putters. 40% gamed Slight Arc putters, while only 5% were gaming what we would classify as Strong Arc putters.

putter-hang-style-post-fitting2

These post-fitting results border on astonishing. Despite accounting for only 5% of the gamers in the study, a full half of the golfers tested were fit into Strong Arc models. Slight Arc models dipped slightly to 35%, while the most popular hang style of putter in the tester’s bags (Straight) accounted for only 15% of the post-fit putters.

Of further interest, when the fittings were complete it was found that only 4 of 20 (20%) golfers in our study were playing a putter designed for their individual stroke type.

Putter-loft-adjustments2

Putter loft is often a reflection of the manufacturing company’s philosophy. Some believe more loft is necessary in order to lift the ball out of it’s resting position, while others believe it’s beneficial to minimize skipping and start the ball rolling as quickly as possible. The thing is, we don’t all play the same driver loft. Should we all be playing the same putter loft?

The golfers who participated in this survey started with an average loft of 3.9° with the range being from 0° to 5°. After looking at how the golfers delivered the club at impact (primarily through shaft lean), PING’s fitters determined the optimum loft for each individual tester.

The overwhelming majority (80%) were fit for putters with less loft than what they came in with. This would seem to suggest a tendency towards adding loft at impact (hands behind the putter head). Only 2, including the owner of the zero loft putter, were given more loft, while 2 golfers required no change in loft.

The average in change in loft was 2.375° with a high of 3.5°.

putter-lie-adjustments-2

Not surprising to anyone who pays attention to the number of golfers putting with the toe well off the turf, the majority (60%) of participants in this study were fit for a putter with a flatter lie angle than what was currently in their bags. 30% needed a more upright putter, while 2 participants were fine where they were.

What’s of particular interest from a fitting standpoint is that while the average change was 1° flat, a number of the study’s participants required substantial lie adjustments, with one golfer requiring a change of 5.5° flatter, while another fit for an astounding 7° flatter lie angle.

 

putter-length-adjustments2

A closer look at the data reveals that while the majority of golfers were already playing putters of an appropriate length. 25% of those who participated in the study were fit for longer putters, while the other 25% were fit for shorter putters.

The average change was .0625″ shorter, while changes of 1″-1.5″ were common.

 

fitted-putter-styles

So how did all of those changes manifest themselves? More than half of the golfers in the study were fit into mallets. It should be noted that a not all mallets are face-balanced. There are numerous options available for both slight and strong arc golfers.

Only 2 of 20 testers were fit into a mid mallet style, while 7 were fit into what we would call blade designs.

fitted-putter-models

While these results are specific to the PING line, you should be able to translate to other manufacturer’s offerings. Of the 20 testers, 8 were ultimately fit into PING’s popular Ketsch mallet. Not surprisingly, variations of the Anser-style blade were appropriate for 5 of the testers, while the remaining 7 were split between other mallets, mid mallets, and other blade designs like the Zing.

Key Fitting Takeways

  • 19/20 golfers in this study required at least 2 adjustments (loft, lie, stroke type)
  • 16/20 golfers in this study needed a change in stroke type. Most came in with face balanced putters. Most left with strong arc.

More to Come

Come back tomorrow when we take a closer look at whether or not these putter fittings had any measurable improvement on putting performance.

MyGolfSpy

Testers Wanted: Super Stroke TX1 Grips

Testers Wanted: Super Stroke TX1 Grips

Post image for Testers Wanted: Super Stroke TX1 Grips

Time to regrip?

“Little darlin’, I see the ice is slowly melting….”

Here comes the sun and, for golfers, I say it’s alright (and about time)!

It’s getting to be time to regrip your clubs for the upcoming season. For 10 of you, that means an opportunity to put SuperStroke’s new TX1 grips to the test and to share your findings with the rest of the MyGolfSpy Community.

Tx1-Grips-16

Enter the SuperStroke TX1

Whether it’s Slim, Fat or Flat(so), Super Stroke has, quite literally, changing the shape of putter grips. Now the company wants a crack at the rest of your clubs with its new TX1 multi-material grip. According to SuperStroke, the upper section is a soft, tacky cord for superior club control without slippage, while the lower section is soft rubber for increased feel. The grips are offered in standard and oversized models and, in true SuperStroke style, are available in five different color combinations.

Tx1-Grips-17

We’re offering 10 readers the chance to test and review the new TX1. Here are the details.

Requirements

  • Must be able to string sentences together in a coherent fashion (wit and humor are a bonus)
  • Must be capable of producing quality photos
  • Must have willingness, time, and ability to test Super Stroke TX1 grips.

How to enter:

If you haven’t done so already, Subscribe to the MyGolfSpy Newsletter:

Then, go to the SuperStroke TX1 Grip Testing thread in the MyGolfSpy Forum and tell us the following.

  • Your handicap
  • What grip you are currently playing
  • How often you regrip your clubs
  • Why you would be an awesome grip tester

Click here to enter. Good luck.

MyGolfSpy

Let’s Empower 1 Million Golfers – #PowerToThePlayer

Let’s Empower 1 Million Golfers – #PowerToThePlayer

Post image for Let’s Empower 1 Million Golfers – #PowerToThePlayer

You Are The Key To This Revolution

I want to thank everyone who has viewed the #PowerToThePlayer campaign and donated.  We have hit the 23% mark in our campaign!

Our goal is to become your Consumer Reports for Golf.

What does that mean?

Look no further than our recent driver test where 28 drivers from manufacturers of all different sizes were put to the test by actual golfers. Winners weren’t decided by a vote or by counting advertising dollars. We offer real results backed by real data. We believe this is the way club testing should be done.

We’re investing a substantial amount of money in our testing program. With your support, we’re going to test every club in the bag and put more industry claims to the test. We’ll open our doors to companies of all sizes. We’ll help take the gueswork out of finding the best club for your game. We’ll save you money and help you play better.

For all of that to happen, we must have our own test facility, we must remain free from the influence of big OEM advertising. We must remain beholden to no one but you.

If you haven’t done so already, please support MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Testing program. Help us remain the industry’s loudest independent voice for change.

WE NEED YOUR HELP

MyGolfSpy exists to serve and be an advocate for golfers at every level, age and gender. At its heart though is a growing community of golfers looking for truth and who want to be heard. Whether you’re able to donate to our campaign or not, you can still help send a message to the industry that golfers want change.

We have created simple and quick ways for you to help spread the word about our movement and educate other golfers about the importance of unbiased testing.

SPREAD THE WORD ON FACEBOOK

FB-f-Logo__blue_100Select from the messages you would like to share on your Facebook page by clicking the image and following the provided steps. Post as many as you like whenever you like.

Step 1 – Click on one of the graphics below.
Step 2 – Follow prompts to post to your account.

 

SPREAD THE WORD ON TWITTER

Twitter_logo_blue2Select from the messages you would like to share on Twitter by clicking the image and following the provided steps. Tweet as many messages as you want whenever you want.

Step 1 – Click on one of the graphics below.
Step 2 – Follow prompts to authorize twitter, and the tweet will then be posted to your account.

 

SEND THESE EMAILS AND LET’S RAISE THE LEVEL OF PLAY TOGETHER

Golf is long overdue for change.

It’s up to all of us to reach out to as many golfers AND golf companies as we can. Let the industry know that golf consumers are tired of the way the industry has conducted itself. It’s time to put the power in the hands of golfers.

By taking a couple of minutes to copy and paste these subjects and messages into an email you join the growing legion of golfers who demand better from the industry. We’ve also provided a list of emails addresses for you send to but feel free to spread the word beyond those contacts.

Power to the Player!

 

Let the media know that truth in golf is important to you:

email-icon

Subject: Golfers deserve the truth.

To Whom It May Concern:

We’re tired of the hype,

We deserve the truth.

No game in the world is more desperate for change than golf.  5 million golfers lost in just the last 10 years alone.  This has dominated the headlines in 2014 and shown the desperate need for innovation and change.

We the players, want to send the industry a message and spread the word about our frustration.

MyGolfSpy was founded for these reasons and sparked to life by golfers just like myself.  They have quietly grown as a major force in the industry with over 500,000 readers per month.  I just pledged my support for the work that MyGolfSpy is doing.  It’s important. Will you support it too?

The industry needs accountability and the players need a voice.  The industry can not afford to wait any longer.

Thank you,

Concerned Golfer

Email GolfDigest Now!  |  Email Golf Channel Now!  |  Email Golf.com Now!   |   Email Morning Drive Now!  | Email Wall Street Journal Now! | Email CBS Now!

 

Let the golf companies know that you demand change:

email-icon

Subject: Golfers deserve the truth.

To Whom It May Concern:

For too long marketing hype has overshadowed actual performance and we have had enough of that.

We would like you to support the movement and the work that MyGolfSpy is engaged in to provide golfers like me the kind of unbiased and truthful product testing that we need to make the smartest choices for our individual games.

At the very least, you can support our cause by ensuring that MyGolfSpy has the equipment they need to properly conduct their testing. Doing so will send golfers a message that we have been heard as well as demonstrate the confidence you have in your own product.

It’s time that the industry find new and better ways to serve those that ultimately keep the game alive – the everyday golfer.

Thank you,

Concerned Golfer

Email Taylormade Now! | Email Callaway Now! | Email Titleist Now! | Email Nike Now! | Email Cobra Now! |

 

Let the ad agencies serving the golf companies know that golfers are tired of the hype:

email-icon

Subject: Golfers deserve the truth.

To Whom It May Concern:

For too long, advertising hype has overshadowed actual performance and golfers have had enough!

Please use your influence to help your clients find more honorable ways to market to the golf consumer.

In addition, we would like you to support the movement and the work that MyGolfSpy is engaged in to provide golfers like me the kind of unbiased and truthful product testing that we need to make the smartest choices for our individual games.

It’s time that the industry find new and better ways to serve those that ultimately keep the game alive – the everyday golfer.

Thank you,

Concerned Golfer

Email Taylormade Ad Agency Now! | Email Callaway Ad Agency Now! | Email Titleist Ad Agency Now! | Email Nike Ad Agency Now! | Email Cobra Ad Agency Now! |

MyGolfSpy

Contest! – Win MyGolfSpy’s 2015 Most Wanted Driver ($1500 Prize Package)

Contest! – Win MyGolfSpy’s 2015 Most Wanted Driver ($1500 Prize Package)

Post image for Contest! – Win MyGolfSpy’s 2015 Most Wanted Driver ($1500 Prize Package)

THE LARGEST, UNBIASED, DATA-BASED DRIVER TEST EVER PERFORMED IN THE GOLF INDUSTRY.

Launches Monday.

Monday you will get the performance you deserve.

But today, you pick who you think is going to win.  Pick all the winners and you walk away with part of a prize pack valued at over $1500.  The winner will walk away with $500 Cash + The 2015 Most Wanted Driver. So, who are you picking?

Power To The Player

Our testing procedures were significantly expanded. Our test included more golfers, more drivers, and more data than ever before.  28 drivers have been put to the ultimate test.  20 golfers just like you for spent over 150 hours in testing, over 10,000 shots calculated,  more than 250,000 data points scrutinized.

Our goal is to empower the consumer with truthful and reliable information that will help you identify the best driver for your game.

Prizes:

Entering is quick and simple.  All you need to do is post a comment with your guesses for the Most Wanted Driver in all 3 Categories we grade (Distance, Accuracy, Total Performance).

  • 1st Prize – $500 + 2015 Most Wanted Driver
  • 2nd Prize – 2015 Most Wanted Driver

In the event that multiple readers correctly identify the winning drivers, winners will be selected at random from qualified entries.

Contest ends on Monday, March 30th as soon as our Most Wanted Driver for Distance is announced.

How To Enter:

Leave a comment below with your picks for each of the following

  1. Most Wanted Driver for Distance – {PICK YOUR WINNER}
  2. Most Wanted Driver for Accuracy – {PICK YOUR WINNER}
  3. Most Wanted Driver for Best Overall – {PICK YOUR WINNER}

GOOD LUCK!

*As always, void where prohibited. Open to residents of the USA, Canada, and the rest of planet Earth.

The 2015 Most Wanted Field

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Most Wanted Driver next week. Distance, Accuracy, and Total Performance. Over 100, Below 100, and of course, overall winners.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Giveaway! – 2015 SuperStroke Grips

Giveaway! – 2015 SuperStroke Grips

Post image for Giveaway! - 2015 SuperStroke Grips

Win SuperStroke Swag

Want to win something form SuperStroke’s 2015 line? We have a couple of prize opportunities at the end of the article.

By Dave Wolfe

SuperStroke – Now Available EVERYWHERE

SuperStroke is arguably the golf equipment success story of the past five years. Sure, some other companies like Callaway and Wilson Staff have improved their position in the golf market, but nobody has basically come out of nowhere to the extent that SuperStroke has.

In the span of just a couple of years, SuperStroke has gone from a small company making a couple of oversized grips, to a company with a significant golf presence, both on tour and in the retail marketplace.

Not only is SuperStroke is the stock grip for several major putter manufacturers, but Odyssey’s new Odyssey Works Tank Versa putters feature SuperStroke grips as well.

That’s a significant number of putters outfitted with SuperStroke grips, and stock on an entire Odyssey line, well, that’s arguably the pinnacle of exposure for a putter grip manufacturer considering Odyssey’s position as the #1 putter in golf (global retail sales).

What’s a SuperStroke?

Though the golf gearhead can’t fathom that question, I’m willing to bet that some of you reading this are hearing about SuperStroke for the first time. If you’ve seen the large, coloful grips on TV, and didn’t know what they are or what they’re about, well, now you do. Those are made by SuperStroke.

Before we look at the 2015 additions, let’s take make sure the uninitiated are up to speed. Here is what Greg Sabella, SuperStroke’s Vice President of Marketing, had to say about introducing someone to the SuperStroke brand.

Let’s assume for a second that someone has never heard of SuperStroke before. How would you explain to him/her what the SuperStroke brand is all about?

SuperStroke is grip company best known for its line of non-tapered putter grips in various sizes and shapes.  They can be seen in the hands of numerous professionals every week and SuperStroke ambassadors include Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Victor Dubuisson and Dave Stockton.

Greg Sabella, SuperStroke Vice President of Marketing

That gives the SuperStroke rookie some information about what they are about. Here are two other questions answered on the SuperStroke site:

What makes SuperStroke work?

Oversized grips take away the tendency to squeeze too tightly; at the same time, most unnecessary wrist action is eliminated. In addition, the patented non-tapered grip promotes even grip pressure in both the right and left hands. Together, these characteristics contribute to create a smoother and more consistent putting stroke, a more-square putter face at impact, and a better feel for distance. Electromyographic testing of golfers at the Milwaukee School of Engineering found a 32% reduction in grip tension with the SuperStroke versus a conventional smaller putter grip.

What level of golfer can benefit from SuperStroke?

Any type of golfer, regardless of handicap, male or female, right-handed or left-handed, tall or short, amateur or professional can benefit from the SuperStroke Putter Grip. The SuperStroke Putter Grip is designed to “make any putter better.”

We could delve much deeper into what SuperStroke is all about as a company and their products, but that should be enough information to get most of you to a place where you can see why it’s worth paying attention to this year’s batch of SuperStroke products.

New For 2015

In 2015, SuperStroke has tweaked their existing lines with new graphics, materials, and textures. They have also expanded upon existing lines, like 2014’s popular Flatso. Here is a comparative shot of the Flatso 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 grips. Spieth is earning his millions with the Flatso 1.0, but you may prefer to earn your tens of dollars with a larger grip.

SuperStroke2015-18

SuperStroke2015-19
SuperStroke2015-04
SuperStroke2015-06
SS Flatso Col

While growing existing lines should keep current SuperStroke users happy, the real story here is the unique new products that SuperStroke has unveiled this year.

New to the SuperStroke line-up are the TX1 club grips, the Plus Series putter grips, and the SS2R Squared Putter grip.

TX1 Club Grips

SuperStroke2015-20

With the TX1 SuperStroke is made a play to find itself on the rest of the clubs in your. The TX1 is a multi-material grip available in five color combinations The top section of the grip is “soft, tacky cord for increased club control” while the bottom half is “soft, non-cord rubber for enhanced feel and feedback”.

Now right away, some of you (all of you?) are thinking that the TX1 looks (and sounds) a whole lot like Golf Pride’s New Decade Multi-Compound. So how exactly is the TX1 different?

I’m sure that people will compare the new TX1 grips to the New Decade Multi-Compound grips from Golf Pride. How would you convince a NDMC user that he or she should switch to your grips?

While similar in that they are multi-compound, we believe our “recipe” provides softer, better feel in the lower portion and the “soft” cord we used in the upper portion provides excellent control without feeling harsh.

Greg Sabella, SuperStroke Vice President of Marketing

SS Club Grip Col

As a long-time GP NDMC user, I was very curious about the TX1. I regripped a few clubs to find out if the TX1s should be mentioned in the same conversation as the New Decades.

Short answer, they should.

While I have not had extensive play time with the TX1 grips, I will say that they are a comfortable replacement option for the New Decade users. For me, it’s a nearly-seamless transition.

The most notable difference is that the New Decades are a bit more aggressive in the cord. Whether that’s good or bad depends almost exclusively on user preference.

SuperStroke2015-07
SuperStroke2015-09
SuperStroke2015-08

The lower section is soft and tacky, and cleans easily. Durability remains an unanswered question, but what I’ve seen suggests they’ll hold up as well as anything else.

Overall, I found that the TX1 was able to give me the play that I have come to expect from multi-material grips. If you play NDMCs, the SuperStroke TX1s may be worth exploring when next you need to regrip.

Plus Series

SuperStroke2015-17

With the Plus Series, SuperStroke brings the golfer a simple system for counterweigting his existing putter. That anchoring ban is coming fast, and for some counterweighting may be a viable post-anchoring option. If you are unfamiliar with counterweighting, you can learn more about it HERE.

Other companies such as Tour Lock, have been making weights that you can insert into your putter’s shaft for years, but to the best of my knowledge, SuperStroke is the first to pair it with a retail grip offering.

It’s a simple task to insert the 50 gram weight into the grip, requiring only the provided hex key and a bit of pressure.

SuperStroke2015-13
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Most counterweighted putters feature a longer than normal shaft. Will a player who switches to the Plus Series grip need to extend their putter shaft, or re-shaft the putter for it to be truly effective when counterweighted?  

The Counter Core Technology provides back weighting to any length putter, putting weight into the hands, and allowing larger muscles to take over.  Our research shows that consistency was greatly improved when weight was added to the hands. As for fitting a standard length putter, the grip’s internal diameter tapers, so the grip conforms to the shaft.

Greg Sabella, SuperStroke Vice President of Marketing

What I like about the Plus Series grip is that it makes it easy for someone to determine the actual impact adding the weight makes to his or her putting. It takes just a few seconds to add or remove the weight, which means it’s easy to tinker while you’re on the practice green.

SuperStroke2015-11

The Plus Series grips are a bit longer than the standard SuperStroke offerings. For example, the Flatso 2.0 is 10.50 inches long and the Plus Flatso XL is 13.75 inches. The extra length should provide a few options for finding the hand position that works best for you.

The Plus Series grips come in three different sizes: Plus 2.0 XL, Plus 3.0 XL and Plus Faltso 2.0 XL.

SS2R Squared

SuperStroke2015-02

How about a square putter grip? Yep, square. The SS2R is new SuperStroke product that I was most curious about. What could possibly be the rationale behind making a square putter grip?

Why would a golfer want to play a square putter grip?

There are lots of ways to grip a putter, but players who putt with opposing palms, or both thumbs down the grip have had very positive feedback on the square shape.  The lines are distinct and really lock into place in your hands.

Greg Sabella, SuperStroke Vice President of Marketing

SuperStroke2015-01

This SS2R Squared is an interesting grip. First, it is WAY more comfortable than I expected. Square implies harsh corners, but that’s not the case here. My rounded palms really seem to mesh well with the shape of the SS2R.

It’s funny, but what putting with the SS2R Squared grip actually reminds me of putting with a round grip. I have an Edel putter grip that is 100% round, and that is what I first thought of when I used the SS2R Squared. Maybe it’s the symmetry of the sides on the SS2R Squared, and the uniform diameter. It’s hard to say, but it’s definitely comfortable.

SS Squared Col

As for the putting benefit of the SS2R Squared, I don’t have the data to make any claims one way, or the other. I wouldn’t quickly dismiss the SS2R Squared as folly though. Lots of people did that when SuperStroke first hit the scene and I bet many of those same people are playing SuperStroke grips on their putters today.

When EF Hutton Talks…

Do you remember that old ad campaign? Some of you knew immediately that when EF Hutton talked that people listen. That’s how I feel about SuperStroke. When SuperStroke changes something, or makes a new product, it’s worth paying attention. They are a moving forward, and constantly improving type of company that puts real effort into making each year’s products better than the last’s.

Can one of these new SuperStroke products help your game?

Maybe.

They are certainly helping quite a few of your fellow readers play better golf.

Get Your Hands On A SuperStroke Contest!

Two lucky MyGolfSpy readers will have a chance to win either a set of SuperStroke TX1 club grips, or a Plus Series grip and weight. All you need to do is leave a comment below.

Are you using a SuperStroke? What model? Why do you use it?

The winners will be selected at random in a week or so. The first commenter selected will win the TX1 grips, and the second the Plus Series grip and weight. Good Luck!

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look: Adams Golf blue Driver

First Look: Adams Golf blue Driver

Post image for First Look: Adams Golf blue Driver

Fresh from the USGA’s conforming clubs list, here’s your first look at the upcoming blue driver from Adams Golf.

When the time comes for Adams to start talk about blue, I think you’re going to find the brand messaging very different that what you’re accustomed to.

Frankly, I can’t wait to see what you think of where the company is headed. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on what you see here.

adams-blue-usga

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Callaway’s Hand Slapped Over Misleading Marketing

Callaway’s Hand Slapped Over Misleading Marketing

Post image for Callaway’s Hand Slapped Over Misleading Marketing

Written By: Tony Covey

It appears that Callaway has once again been called out for what somebody considers deceptive marketing practices. As was reported in Thursday’s GolfBiz.net Daily Pulse, Callaway is replacing all of its Big Bertha and XR iron marketing collateral, which features its Up to 2 Clubs Longer claim, with new material that bills the iron sets as offering Distance Where You Need It.

Distance. Where You Need It.

It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it. It’s not as bold as Up to 2 Clubs Longer, but I like it just the same.

Here We Go Again

This isn’t the first time in recent memory that Callaway’s marketing practices have been called into question.

In 2013, the company found itself on the wrong side of a National Advertising Division decision over it’s description of its RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver as the Longest Driver in Golf. On the heels of that, Callaway had its hand slapped over its claim that XHot Fairway Wood was 32 yards longer.

Last February, I called the company out for what I believed to be a disingenuous claim that Big Bertha was The Number One Selling Driver Brand.

Most recently someone has taken Callaway to task over its Up to 2 Clubs Longer Claim.

Within the golf industry there’s an unspoken rule that everyone gets to be a little full of shit. When a little moves closer to totally others start grumbling, and within the industry there’s a lot of grumbling about Callaway right now.

Some of that grumbling, it would seem, has led to action.

978x470-Big-Bertha-Irons

Who Threw the Flag?

According what was published in the Daily Pulse the blowback came from outside the company, and it stands to reason that Callaway didn’t rethink its approach without some sort of nudge (or flying elbow). Given where the other complaints originated, we can make a well-reasoned guess where it originated this time.

It was TaylorMade who called foul over RAZR Fit Xtreme. It was TaylorMade who called foul over XHot, and while contacts inside both TaylorMade and Callaway are either saying nothing or simply repeating no comment, no comment, no comment, a credible source with knowledge of the situation is telling us that it was TaylorMade who called foul this time too.

All of that suggests this most recent action isn’t so much about protecting the consumer from dishonest advertising as it is protecting declining market shares from a competitor with an effective marketing campaign.

Score one for us, right?

What’s the golf industry without an annual slap-fight between its two biggest players?

What’s the Problem?

Again, with the parties involved keeping the actual details quiet, we’re forced to read between the lines of the letter Callaway sent to its retail partners.

We’ve included the full letter below, and it’s reasonable to conclude that the complaint has something to do with the fact that a Callaway Big Bertha pitching wedge is under no reasonable circumstance ever Up to 2 clubs longer than a Razr X HL pitching wedge.

bertha-distance

Here’s how Callaway explains that piece of it to retailers:

“It was never our intent to imply that the short irons delivered an equivalent distance benefit as the rest of the set and we thought that this would be naturally understood.”

Did you really?

I’m conflicted about this.

As a guy entrenched in the industry I understand that part of the design philosophy for the modern distance iron is to increase gaps on the long end, and then narrow them back to normalcy on the short end. These gapping decisions actually do benefit the type of golfer who generally buys game-improvement clubs, and the simple fact of the matter is that nearly everyone who makes irons employs a similar strategy in their game-improvement designs.

More to the point at hand, Callaway actually spelled out the basis for its claims in the fine print of the Big Bertha Iron distance claim.

Quite frankly, while I thought the comparison itself was bit dubious given the apples to bananas nature of the differences in length and loft between the irons tested, I also thought Callaway did a reasonable-enough job of qualifying it.

However, if I put myself in the shoes of a guy not entrenched in the golf industry, and who probably has little-to-no concept of the ins-and-outs of game-improvement design philosophy from a gapping perspective…that is to say, if I put myself in the shoes of the average golfer, then yes, I can easily see how one might interpret the original ad as a promise for 20 more yards (give or take) from a pitching wedge.

If the 4-iron is 2 clubs longer and the 6-iron is 2 clubs longer, why wouldn’t the 9-iron and pitching wedge also be 2 clubs longer?

From that perspective I might feel mislead.

The average golfer wouldn’t inherently understand that the Big Bertha short irons don’t deliver an equivalent distance benefit. For all the market research Callaway does, one would assume it knows this.

If there’s an argument to be made in Callaway’s defense, it’s that it never actually said that its Big Bertha short irons are up to 2 clubs longer than anything. 4-iron. 6-iron. That was the extent and basis of Callaway’s claim. Check your recent history. Nobody ever goes beyond the 6 iron.

But again, the guy who’s going to buy Big Bertha irons can’t reasonably be expected to know that.

The Smack Down

XR-distance-where-you-need-it

Without somebody talking specifics it’s hard to know exactly how all of this went down. Maybe one of those threatening letters that the golf company’s legal teams exchange all the time was enough for Callaway to alter its course. Maybe there was involvement by a 3rd party like the Better Business Bureau. It’s been suggested to me that the threat of a class action lawsuit isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

No Comment is the refrain of the day, but let me spell it out for you…it was TaylorMade. Somehow, it was TaylorMade.

Even if Callaway doesn’t believe it was wrong (and even I’m not totally convinced that Callaway is totally wrong), it must have believed it would have been very expensive to try and prove it was right.

And so here we are.

Maybe Callaway Lost, But Who Really Wins?

Perhaps we should celebrate what is arguably a victory for straight-forward truth in advertising, but when companies make reasonable efforts to qualify and back-up their claims, and still get taken to task by competitors throwing rocks from inside glass houses, what are we left with?

Does the fine print need even finer print?

* 2 Clubs Longer Claim based on robot testing of Callaway Big Bertha 4-iron and 6-iron at multiple impact locations versus Callaway Razr X HL 4-irons and 6-irons using average player swing speeds2.

2. Distance gains not applicable to short irons where distance will be roughly equivalent between clubs3.

3. Because of differences in length, loft and other design considerations, some clubs may not be considered equivalent.

Where does it end?

It ends with nonsense.

When You’re Out of Words, Create Your Own

When there are no quantifiable claims to be made, or when qualified claims need to be quantified and then re-qualified, consumers are left to try and make sense out of a steady stream of near-meaningless, although often catchy, gibberish.

Up to 2 Clubs Longer (and the specific terms that accompany the claim) is out. The even less meaningful Distance Where You Need It joins the ranks of Outrageous Speed, Ridonkulong, Made of Speed, Made of Greatness, and the 6000 or so variants of faster, longer, and totally-fucking-better-than-what-you-bought-6-months-ago that some of the golf companies have assaulted us with for decades.

Nobody wins here, least of all the guy looking for actual quantifiable performance information.

None of this helps the consumer stretch his dollars either, and that’s distance where we actually need it.

The Letter

Here is a copy of the email Callaway sent to its retail partners. We didn’t add the bold print. That comes straight from Callaway.

Note how the company turns what should be a contrite sorry-we-screwed-the-pooch-and-we-need-you-to-help-us-clean-it-up letter of apology, or at least letter of explanation to its partners, into an opportunity to further push the products associated with the claims currently under scrutiny.

Getting dinged for dubious marketing is, in and of itself, a marketing opportunity.

Consumers love them.*

*excludes consumers who may have felt mislead by the original claim.

Click to Expand the Full Letter to Callaway Retail Partners

Valued Retail Partners,

Recently, it came to our attention that our “Up to 2 Clubs Longer” advertising claim for the Big Bertha Irons and XR Irons could potentially be interpreted as all clubs providing an equal distance benefit. As we all know from our experience with the sets, the distance and forgiveness benefits of our Cup 360 technology are real! Consumers love them and they are going to set a new standard of iron performance.

Consistent with our passion for delivering ultimate performance that benefit golfers on the course, the distance benefits are built into these sets starting with small benefits in the short irons and building in an impressive manner with large benefits in the mid and long irons.

It was never our intent to imply that the short irons delivered an equivalent distance benefit as the rest of the set and we thought that this would be naturally understood. To ensure the consumer clearly understands the benefits of these clubs, we believe it makes better business sense to simply modify the claim to accurately describe what consumers have been experiencing in droves with Big Bertha and XR. Specifically, they both deliver incredible distance through the set, or as we call it, “Distance Where You Need It.

Over the next few weeks we will be implementing this change at retail and in the marketplace and will continue, as we have steadily done the past two years, with growing share in the iron category with demonstrably superior performance.

As a result, we will need to make sure that all of our digital assets on your site are updated to reflect the changes. If you could please look at digital, social and supporting copy on the XR Irons and Big Bertha Irons product pages, we would appreciate it. We are asking that all product page copy, videos and digital assets be updated by 3/21. We have included the links to digital assets which your team should utilize moving forward.

Additionally we are sending new in-store graphics and would like to make certain all POP materials and merchandising displays are updated to reflect the new messaging by 3/31. We appreciate your partnership and support with switching out artwork in the appropriate channels. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Callaway Retail Marketing Contact or Sales Representative.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Survey Results: Non-Conforming Clubs

Survey Results: Non-Conforming Clubs

Post image for Survey Results: Non-Conforming Clubs

Several weeks ago we asked you to share your thoughts on non-conforming clubs from major manufacturers.

The feedback was, to a large extent, about what we expected.

Sufficed to say that some of you have no issues with non-conforming clubs. You view them as a means to make the game more accessible. Non-conforming clubs could break down barriers by making the game less frustrating and more fun.

For others, non-conforming clubs are the devil’s tools. If you so much as pick one up, even if you’re by yourself and never enter a score, you are a cheater. Sew a scarlet ‘NC‘ on your sweater . You’re branded for life.

In reality, we don’t really know what promises non-conforming clubs could deliver on. Is it 10 more yards with the driver? 25? 50? What about accuracy? Would non-conforming clubs allow us to hit more fairways, attack more pins, and play 18 holes in 3 hours or less and get you home in time to take your son to lacrosse practice?

Your responses to this survey and the discussion that followed the original post, suggest this is a polarizing subject with plenty of passion on both sides (and in the middle).

Here’s what you told us.

Question 1: Pleasure

NC-Q1-(1)
I’m guessing that 37.36% of you would argue that golf is plenty enjoyable as it is. The challenge is part of the fun, right?

Not for everyone.

The difficulty of the game is a tremendous barrier, and if non-conforming clubs can overcome some of that, is that really such a bad thing? Constant frustration is not fun. For many, non-conforming clubs have the potential to take the game from totally impossible to challenging. That’s not the same as making it easy. We don’t all progress and improve at the same rate.

Why shouldn’t we view non-conforming clubs as a gateway to the game; one that offers the potential for beginning and recreational golfers to eventually grow into conforming equipment? If we think of non-conforming clubs in the same way that we think about training wheels for our kids’ bikes (they help them get over the fear while offering greater potential for rapid improvement), we might attract new golfers.

I know what you’re going to say. Golf is hard. It’s supposed to be, and those looking for the easy way probably won’t stick around anyway. You might be right.

Question 2: Growth

NC-Q2-(1)

This question is representative of much of what’s wrong with aspects of the current grow golf movement. Basically it’s guys like us (avid golfers) speculating on what it will take to bring new golfers to the game. At the risk of redundancy, golf is hard. Whether making it easier, and by extension, more fun (via equipment) will bring new players to the game continues to be a subject of much debate.

As you can see, there’s relatively even split among our readers. While I do believe there’s some growth potential in non-conformity, golf is still expensive, slow (it takes a long time, and it’s not packed full of action), and far too often assumptions about elitism manifest themselves in reality.

Golf is a tough sell right now, and it’s unlikely being able to hit the ball longer and straighter is enough to overcome the other perceived issues with the game.

 Question 3: Rounds Played

NC-Q3-(1)

14.37% isn’t a huge number, but I’d absolutely love to hear more from those of you who said you would play more if non-conforming clubs were available. Is it because non-conforming clubs could make the game less frustrating? Is it because you believe it would make rounds take less time? If we’re having more fun, and taking less time away from other things to do it, would we play more golf? Some apparently think so.

Question 4: Limitations

NC-Q4-(1)

This, to me anyway, is perhaps the most fascinating question in our survey. You can count me among the 67.72% who think non-conforming clubs are fine for recreational play. If a guy is out on the course by himself, with his kid, or with a group of like-minded buddies, what’s the big deal? He’s not competing in tournaments, and he’s not taking my money.

I remain baffled by the 23.15% of you who apparently believe you’re cheating – even when you’re not actually playing (you play for fun and you don’t keep a handicap).

I was in Target the other day wandering through the sporting goods isle when I noticed a dozen different footballs. None was NFL legal. Most probably weren’t college legal either. Some were smaller and some had added surface textures to make the ball easier to grip. I doubt many people have a problem with this.

By the same token, the Tour de France has also sorts of rules that govern the bicycles that competitors use during the event. That’s cool for competition, but if two weeks after the event I want to take my chances on the course riding a Huffy dirt bike, through the streets of  Le Mans, have I cheated or have I simply gone for a bike ride on a road that can be used for competition?

It boggles my mind that some can’t see of golf as anything other than a competitive pursuit. Why can’t golf be played simply for fun with no rules governing play (because play is fun) or the equipment used?

 Question 5: Usage

NC-Q5-(1)

Maybe the answer to my previous question can be found in the answers to this question.

4.67% say they would use non-conforming clubs to gain a competitive advantage. Hopefully those guys simply misunderstood my meaning. Look, we all know that some people cheat at golf, so I suppose it’s reasonable to think that some people would try and use non-conforming clubs for competitive play, but is that reason alone to say that major manufactures shouldn’t produce them?

If a guy is going to cheat, he’s going to cheat. He’ll kick and roll his way to a better lie. He’ll drop a pocket ball. He’ll shave a stroke or two (except when it’s more beneficial to add a stroke or two). He’s going to do what he’s going to do. Simply put, some people have integrity, some people don’t. Non-conforming clubs won’t change that either way.

I’m in that 33.25% that says maybe. If non-conforming is 10 yards…probably not. If it’s 50…hell yes, I’m going to have some just for fun clubs, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

 Question 6: Your Dollars at Work

NC-Q6-(2)

And in this lies the rub for manufacturers considering releasing non-conforming club lines. While 71.94% say the availability of non-conforming clubs from a given manufacturer wouldn’t influence your conforming club purchasing decisions, nearly 20% of you told us that you’d actually be less likely to purchase conforming gear from a manufacturer that also produces non-conforming clubs.

For a golf company, that’s a dangerous percentage. How many new customers will you reach vs. how many potential customers could you lose? At a minimum it would be a gamble for any company that chooses to make the leap, and given how risk averse the golf equipment industry is as a whole, it’s unlikely any brand of repute has the stones to go for it any time in the immediate future.

 Question 7: Permission

NC-Q7-(1)

As we were putting together this survey, I couldn’t help but think that the biggest issue holding back widespread availability of non-conforming clubs might be permission from those we admire. Would we feel differently about non-conforming clubs if Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, or Rory McIlroy told us to go out, play golf, and use whatever equipment (conforming or otherwise) that allows us to have the most fun?

Apparently not.

In today’s world even yesterday’s players are more than legends, they’re brands. So with that in mind, it seems unlikely that anyone would be willing to risk his brand to endorse the use of non-conforming clubs (for recreational play, of course). While just under 70% say it wouldn’t matter one way or another, the 8% who might be swayed are well-outnumbered by the almost 23% who told us they’d probably think less of any professional golfer who suggests non-conforming clubs might not be that bad.

It’s the sort of thing that  can damage a reputation, which is exactly manufactures would likely find themselves navigating the waters of non-conformity with little if any help from their professional staffers and brand ambassadors.

Additional Perspective

It’s important to remember that we, the obsessive gearheads, are the minority here. While these results may reflect the thoughts of the avid (and well-connected) golfer, my suspicion is that the majority of golfers, most of whom fit nicely in the recreational category, are likely much more receptive to the idea of non-conforming clubs. Companies like Polara have already carved out a niche for themselves in the non-conforming space, and I’d wager that a growing number of smaller companies will join them.

The debate is far from over.

At some point there may be enough money spent on non-conforming clubs that a major player will put profits over the USGA. When that happens others will surely follow.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Buyer’s Guide: Personal Launch Monitors

Buyer’s Guide: Personal Launch Monitors

Post image for Buyer’s Guide: Personal Launch Monitors

Ownership of launch monitors (accurate ones) has traditionally been limited to golf teaching professionals, club fitters, and the rich (and potentially famous). That’s understandable given the cost of these systems, but that’s changing…quickly. As the technology to measure ball flight becomes more accessible and more affordable, several manufacturers have entered what we call the personal launch monitor space.

While a professional grade launch monitor can set you back as much as $25,000, the launch monitors we tested start at under $200. It’s absolutely true that none of these budget units can match the professional products feature for feature (none of the units we tested provide clubhead data), each offers the promise of accuracy for substantially less than their professional-grade counterparts.

That sounds great, but a launch monitor is only useful if it really is accurate, and at an absolute minimum, consistent. Can a personal launch monitor offer that?

We put four of the top personal launch monitors to the test to find out which ones actually perform as advertised.

_IMH4982-2

The Contenders

es12Ernest Sports
ES12
es14Ernest Sports
ES14
sc100Voice Caddie
SC100
skytrakSkyTrak Golf
SkyTrak

 

The Comparisons

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.03.02 PM

To establish and quantify accuracy, units were tested alongside a professional-grade launch monitor. Shots were recorded simultaneously and the results were collected from each device for comparison with our control unit. Results are based on a collection of driver, hybrid, 7-iron, and pitching wedge shots. Each unit registered a total of 120 shots.

Accuracy

_IMH5023-10

Each of the units we tested had moments of glory where the numbers it registered were dead-on accurate (in comparison to our control unit), but each suffered from the occasional wild miss as well. Some users will find it easy-enough to discount these shots and be otherwise happy.

One of the toughest measurements for this price range of monitors seems to be the Azimuth. While not reported by any of the monitors in our test, it’s used a basis for some of the reported numbers, but when a ball starts too far right or left, the reliability of the overall numbers negatively impacted. Not surprisingly, straighter shots produce more reliable numbers.

Comparative accuracy was established using all shots registered by each launch monitor. As noted above, this includes shots measured from a driver, hybrid, 7-iron and pitching wedge.

The chart below show the average percent difference from our control launch monitor across all shots.

LaunchMonitorscropped

The chart below shows sample data from a single shot simultaneously captured by all four devices. This is intended to provide you with a visual from a true numbers perspective. These numbers, as they are from a single shot, may not align with the overall averages listed above for each device.

Launch-Swing

 

MYGOLFSPY RECOMMENDED

Best-Overall-2

Good: The overall accuracy variance for this unit in testing was 4.92% from the control, and the numbers were the most consistent of any unit in this test. That borders on excellent when you consider that the cost for some of the big boys run 10 times the price. For those looking for an “affordable” in-home simulator, SkyTrak has announced simulation options (which including putting) coming in the near future. The reported online capabilities will likely add to the value and fun of this unit.

Bad: No built-in display. Requires an iPad.

Notes: Offers a plethora of data, reliability, and consistency at an affordable price. SkyTrak is your most accurate option under $2,000. Upcoming simulator capabilities will make it a no-brainer for those looking for an inexpensive, yet realistic indoor setup. For club fitting, SkyTrak will get you close, but doesn’t offer the exacting accuracy/consistency you’d need to be 100% confident in the finer points.

basics

Good: Distance, Ball Speed, Swing Speed and Smash Factor all represented along with games you can use to practice on the range with accuracy that is surprising at this price point.

Bad: Doesn’t measure spin. Lacks a smart phone/table interface.

Notes: Simple yet extremely well-done. Well-suited for quick range sessions.

The Others

While the Ernest Sports ES12 and ES14 each fills a role, we didn’t find either unit to be consistently accurate-enough to warrant our recommendation.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

GIVEAWAY – Epson M-Tracer Swing Analyzer

GIVEAWAY – Epson M-Tracer Swing Analyzer

Post image for GIVEAWAY – Epson M-Tracer Swing Analyzer

Win It Before You Can Buy It

Well-known electronics manufacturer Epson America is entering the sports wearables market. Golfers will want to pay particular attention to the company’s M-Tracer MT500GII Golf Swing Analyzer.

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations Duncan M., you’ve just won the Epson M-Tracer Swing Analyzer.

For those who may not be aware, Swing Analyazers are small electronic devices (often they clip to your shaft or glove) that collect and store key bits of data that can help you analyze (and improve) multiple aspects of your golf swing.

Epson M-Tracer empowers golfers to improve their swing in an easy and intuitive manner, ultimately resulting in lower scores and more fun” – David Ledbetter

While Swing Analyzers can work hand in hand with professional instruction, they’re an extremely popular choice among those for whom the golf swing is a do it yourself project.

epson-protracer

We’re extremely excited to offer this opportunity for one MyGolfSpy reader to be among the very first to try this intriguing new product from Epson.

Sorry, this Contest Has Ended

  • Prelaunch will ship the prize directly to the contest winner once the product inventory is available (estimate early April 2015).
  • One winner will be selected at random on March 6, 2015 at 8:00PM Eastern Time
  • Must be a resident of US or Canada to win.
  • Not redeemable for cash prize.

For more information visit the M-Tracer MT500GII Page on Prelaunch.com or read the Official Product Press Release.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Tested: AeroBurner vs RSi1 – Which is Right For You?

Tested: AeroBurner vs RSi1 – Which is Right For You?

Post image for Tested: AeroBurner vs RSi1 – Which is Right For You?

Written By: Tony Covey

When it comes to irons, my personal recommendation is that you you play the most forgiving iron you can stand to look at. For some of you that’s a Mizuno blade. There’s a part of me that still understands that thinking. Believe me, I get it.

For some of us, however; as iron technology has progressed, we’ve grown willing to accept a bit more bulk as the reasonable cost of undeniable forgiveness.

TaylorMade’s new AeroBurner epitomizes that compromise.

This One or That One?

For those seeking forgiveness from a TaylorMade iron this season, your choice may ultimately boil down to AeroBurner verses RSi 1 and so you might find yourself wondering how the two irons compare.

TaylorMade-Aeroburner-Irons-21

Let’s cut right to the chase. Neither is what you would consider compact, but nothing much in the game-improvement or super game-improvement categories really is. It’s plenty reasonable to point out that AeroBurner is larger in nearly every respect. When I talk about that which you can stand the sight of, if bulk is your determining factor, we’re no doubt pushing your upper limit here.

AeroBurner has significantly more offset (.5mm or so on average). While for some that might be off-putting, that additional offset helps to boost launch, and may also help out the guy who struggles with a slice. According to the guys at TaylorMade, the AeroBurner is significantly easier to hit to the left of the target line than competing irons which often show a bias towards the right side of the target line.

AeroBurner swing weights are slightly lighter (again compared to the RSi 1), which might help generate some of that AeroBurner speed.

TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-25

The static loft situation is, well…interesting. AeroBurner runs a degree stronger throughout the set than RSi 1, but the stated playing length is exactly the same. In the language of the irate reader, TaylorMade jacked the lofts, but didn’t increase shaft lengths above and beyond what it had done previously.

If you simply look at numbers without consideration for how AeroBurner’s performance is influenced by inherent mass properties of the design, you might expect an iron that launches considerably lower than RSi 1, and whatever distance advantage would come through added roll. That’s fine for a driver, but it’s not exactly what most people are looking for from an iron. TaylorMade is well-aware of all of this, which is why they designed AeroBurner with an emphasis on high launch.

In addition to the familiar story of a low and back center of gravity (aided by offset), TaylorMade is using a new shaft in the AeroBurner iron. The REAX 88HL (designed by FST) has a unique stepping pattern which features several stepped sections near the grip paired with a long and flexible tip section. This design helps offset some of the loft, peak trajectory, and spin lost to the stronger lofts.

TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-23TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-129

So how does the AeroBurner actually compare to the RSi 1 when we move past static numbers, and begin looking at the dynamic forces of the golf swing? Actually, let me simplify my last query.

What happens when you hit the damn things?

Performance Data

We hit the new AeroBurner side by side against TaylorMade’s RSi 1 iron using Bridgestone B330-RX golf balls. Data was collected on a Foresight GC2 Launch Monitor.

While our tester almost certainly hits the ball farther than the average golfer, his numbers, in relative terms, represent what you can expect from the AeroBurner iron.

4-IRON

aero-vs-rsi-4iron-3
aero-vs-rsi-4-data-3

I don’t want to spoil to much of the surprise, but what we see with the 4-iron is pretty typical of all of the irons we tested. The AeroBurner is measurably longer (nearly 7 yards), it launches about a degree lower, spins 200-300 RPM less, and has a slightly lower peak trajectory.

Worth pointing out is that the distance gains don’t come purely from roll, the AeroBurner carried just under 5.5 yards further, which is almost certainly a result of the faster ball speeds.

What you should pay close attention to is that while AeroBurner was consistently longer, RSi 1 proved to be more consistent in general as evidenced by the much smaller dispersion ellipse.

In our testing, only the 4-iron showed more of a left bias, however; we believe that’s most likely to present itself, and be most relevant, in the longer irons.

 7-Iron

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Different iron with comparative results that are almost identical. The AeroBurner is faster (ball speed), launches a bit lower, doesn’t fly as high, spins 200-300 RPM less, but carries further, and is 8 yards longer (total distance).

Again, the AeroBurner is longer and closer to the center line on average, but the RSi 1 produced a much tighter (certainly flatter) dispersion ellipse. I’m not saying it’s the face slots, but yeah…it’s probably the face slots.

 Pitching Wedge

aero-vs-rsi-pw-3
aero-vs-rsi-pw-2

Given that there are no sole or face slots in either model’s pitching wedge, the results here are somewhat interesting since we’re now relying on geometry as much as technology to dictate performance. That said, the results are nearly consistent with the other irons in the set. AeroBurner was faster, spun less, and produced more distance (both carry and total).

The two anomalous results for us are that RSi 1 launched a lower than AeroBurner, but was closer to the target line. One might argue that’s exactly what you want from your scoring clubs.

Once again, our ellipse shows a smaller plot area for the RSi 1.

Which Is Right For You?

For those choosing between the two, the choice isn’t simple. Those looking for as much distance as possible, or who unquestionably need a little help fighting a slice, AeroBurner is likely your best bet. Our preliminary testing suggests it’s the longer and straighter of the two models.

For those less concerned with distance (why are you looking at distance irons), or who don’t need a ton of help mitigating an extreme fade, it’s probably worth leaving a few yards on the table for the added consistency of the RSi 1.

If you’re struggling with the decision, remember, you don’t have to choose. You can always custom order a combo set. I’m actually considering an AeroBurner, RSi 1, RSi 2. You’ll probably have to tweak some lofts along the way to get your gaps right , but the combo option is a great way to get you the right help where your game needs it the most without adding potentially unnecessary bulk to your scoring clubs.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Back to the Future: It has ALWAYS Been About Distance!

Back to the Future: It has ALWAYS Been About Distance!

Post image for Back to the Future: It has ALWAYS Been About Distance!

Written By: John Barba

So I’m finally getting the chance to flip through the Golf Digest “Hot List” issue, and I don’t care if it is all ad driven or not, I still enjoy reading it. For the ads.

That’s sort of like reading Playboy for the articles.

So it starts with a multi-page fold out for Callaway’s new XR series (more distance via Outrageous Speed).  Then there’s Cobra’s Fly-Z (more distance through more carry or more roll), the AeroBurner (distance through speed), Nike (the only thing better than a whole lot of distance? More distance!) and Ping (get fast or get passed).

Irons? The RSi ad tells you you’ll get more distance even with off-center shots. Ping says you’ll get consistency and distance while sacrificing nothing.

Mizuno bucks the trend. Its two-page MP-15 spread touts Look, Performance, Feel and Luke Donald.

For everyone else, it’s all about speed, distance, adjustability, distance, fine-tuning, speed and distance.  Not necessarily in that order.

I had a discussion with some cranky golf equipment friends about this very topic not too long ago. The general consensus? Today’s marketing caters to the lowest common denominator in golf: the distance obsessed. The marketing machine has lost all creativity and figures the only way to sell stuff is by promising you’ll hit the snot out of the ball, and hit it past your buddies, only if you buy our stuff.

“This preoccupation with distance is awful, isn’t it?” they whined. “It’s a horrific trend started by the TaylorMades of the world with all the other lemming companies following their leads.  And what’s worse, they think we golfers are dumb enough to believe that we can actually buy more distance.”

Sure wasn’t like that back in the old days….

Right?

What Do The Facts Tells Us?

Fortunately, we at MyGolfSpy deal in provable truths and #datacratic conclusions. Even more fortunately, the folks at Sports Illustrated provide us with a tool to prove, or disprove, the notion that distance advertising is a cynical new thought-control tactic developed by soulless marketing departments aimed at the weak-minded golfer.

“The Vault” is an online, page-by-page collection of every issue Sports Illustrated has ever published, ads and all. It’s fascinating to see how ads in general, and golf ads in particular, have evolved over the decades:  slicker, with more graphics and less text. Ads have evolved to be more eye-catching over the years but there’s one common thread that’s decades old:

Distance.

“1.21 Jigawatts? Great Scott!”

Let’s fire up the DeLorean’s Flux Capacitor and head to 1960 for a look at this ad for Wilson Staff balls:

Billy Caspar

Here’s smiling Billy Casper telling you that hitting a Wilson is like “having the wind at your back,” with ball speeds of “170 MPH off the club head.”

“Play the 1960 Wilson Staff…the long ball of golf.”

A ball that changed the ball, no doubt.

Now let’s fast-forward to 1968, and PG Tournament Caliber Golf balls:

They really fly!  “Smack one,” the ad says.

“That satisfying click says distance loud and clear.”

From an advertising standpoint, that’s definitely “old school,” despite the clever attempt at cartoon birds. I’m guessing Professional Golf Equipment didn’t have a huge advertising budget, since this is a fairly bland ad with lots of text, and was placed near the back of the magazine.

If that 1968 ad is “old school,” then this 1969 MaxFli ad is definitely “new school”:

maxfli

A lot less text with the picture telling the story.

Can’t make it with a 7-iron, pal. 

Oh yeah? Bite me!  Just watch…

And you get an idea whom Maxfli thought of as their core customer in 1968: the guy who took up golf in the late 50’s, loved Arnie, hated Jack and thought “hippies” were ruining America.

And neither guy dressed like Ricky Fowler.

Also in ’69, Maxima brought golf into the Space Age as Apollo Moon missions met the fairway. And the message couldn’t be clearer:

maxima

“Will First Flight force America to build longer golf courses?”

We’re talking a rocket ship of a golf ball here. And at the bottom Maxima puts its stake in the ground:

“If you don’t believe it’s the hottest ball you’ve ever played, send all three back to First Flight and we’ll send you back your money.”

If you lose one, however, you’re screwed.

This ad from 1972 isn’t distance-related, but it may have started Titleist down the #1 Ball in Golf path by letting us know just how much money was won on the PGA tour thanks to the boys at Acushnet.

titleist

“Isn’t our tour success a convincing reason for you to play the Money Ball?” Hey, an ad that says tour players use our stuff, so you should too. What a novel concept!

How About The sticks?

Well, the deeper you look, the more interesting it gets…

Here’s a two-page Wilson ad from 1967. As you can see, there’s still a ton of text, but at least the pictures are getting more interesting. And the text tells a story that is downright Callaway/TaylorMade-esque:

wilson x31

“Take the longest wood shot you’ve ever hit, take out a new X-31 wood and have a go at outdoing yourself. You’ll go further down the fairway than ever before.”

Why are the ’67 Wilson’s #EpicallyLong? Apparently it was the exclusive “Strata-Bloc” construction:

The “distance secret” is found in the “layers of select maple strips bonded together into a single, powerful unit – a club head that’s stronger than natural wood.”

And don’t forget the “miracle resin” insert. “Teamed with Strata-Bloc, you get a ‘sweet spot’ that’s just packed with dynamite.”

In 2015 Callaway says the “thinner and lighter R-MOTO face transfers energy to the ball more efficiently than ever before.”

And here’s a Wilson ad from the early 70’s. Notice it’s a lot cleaner with less text, which reflects the evolving advertising industry. And it’s talking to the “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” generation of “swingers” (Ask your parents. Or maybe you shouldn’t).

wilson swingers

“Dynapower” irons give you “maximum power at the point of impact,” and the soles are designed to prevent “digging in.” The light, strong aluminum shafts put more power and more distance into your shots.

And each shaft is matched its own club head weight so that “when you swing a Wilson, you’re heading for a better golf game.”

So you could buy a better golf game back then?

And does anyone remember when Spalding was one of the premier names in golf, and not just Judge Smails’ nose-picking grandson?

spalding

“Our clubs will make you hit the ball further. Whether you like it or not.”

Wait, what?

“The reason is simple. Spalding’s new Executive Clubs are made with special aluminum shafts. They feel like steel but they’re lighter. So they give you more speed with the same swing power.”

Speed = Distance? The Grandaddy of “Outrageous Speed?” All we’re missing are Turbulators.

Arnie always has been The King, but did you know his Kingdom once included Sears?

arnie

This two-pager from ’69–70 touts Arnie’s clubs with those spiffy, light, strong aluminum shafts. Arnie must have been channeling his inner TaylorMade because those shafts in Arnie’s clubs promote a “greater clubhead speed at the point of impact, which helps you belt a ball up to 20 yards further.”

Twenty!

And there was uproar a while back over 17?

MacGregor was a giant back in the old days, long before becoming one of the house brands at Golfsmith. And their early 70’s ads were clearly aimed at a younger, more active demographic:

macgregor1

Color, less text and an action shot of a young, fit, nattily attired athlete (vs. the two old fogies from the MaxFli ad just a few years prior) actually playing the game. MacGregor is clearly looking at a younger, more active demographic than Wilson – just like Cobra today, minus the Blair O’Neil bikini shots.

This MacGregor ad is an outstanding example of early 70’s advertising, and tells a compelling story of how the club design will take thin and fat shots out of your game:

“MacGregor’s exclusive SPLIT/LEVEL irons are design to minimize those problems. The thin front level knives through grass…to minimize turf drag. This produces a longer, more accurate shot.”

And can you remember when Johnny Miller was skinny?

johnnymiller 

“Professional golfers know that maximum club head speed at impact means greater distance. MacGregor’s exclusive new TEE SOLE woods are designed to give you greater speed at impact. Our soles are smaller than those of conventional woods.  This creates less turf drag.”

Turf drag must have been a big problem in the early 70’s.

“The result is consistently longer, more accurate shots from fairway or short rough.”

I had a set of those MacGregor Tourney’s. For me they were #EpicallyLong.

In every direction.

Et Tu, Ben?

Surely there must have been one company in golf history that didn’t try to market distance. I know, what about Hogan?

Ol’ Ben was a purist, the shot-maker’s shot-maker. Serious clubs for serious golfers. His hands were on everything in that company, even after he sold it.

Surely Hogan wouldn’t stoop to selling “distance?”

Would he?

hogan 1

“This special 1967 Ben Hogan Wood features a shallow head, longer face and longer clubhead, with weight distribution for greater speed. The result is a wood club which gives you more margin for error (we call that “forgiveness” today) with improved distance and accuracy.”

On the same page are the “curved sole” woods, which offer “reliably greater distance with excellent playability from the tee and from thick turf…”

A year later he was at it again, that rascal…

hogan 2

Shameless!

“I have proved the PLUS 1 is the world’s longest distance iron through constant experimentation and by hitting thousands of golf balls under actual playing conditions.”

Well shoot, it’s not like Nixon was saying it. It was Ben freaking Hogan.

“This new distance performance is possible because four key design developments have been refined in my 1968 irons. These changes, while not easily visible, now mean you can use a club less than you normally would.”

He didn’t jack up the lofts, did he? Tell me he didn’t jack up the lofts!

“Where you have been using a 6 iron, you now can use a 7 iron and still get the same distance with greater control.”

Can’t find the specs for the Plus 1’s online anywhere, but for the irons I could find it would appear that Hogan was not above messing with lofts. So it’s a fair bet that two of those key design developments refined for 1968 may very well have been a stronger lofted 7 iron and  a slightly longer shaft.

In 1968.

Back To The Future

And as we return to 2015, what does this little experiment in Time Travel tell us?

For the marketing buff, it’s fascinating to see how advertising has evolved over the years. Flip through the latest SI or Golf Digest and see what ads catch your attention, but also pay attention to the ones that don’t (that’s hard, I know). Chances are you’ll be drawn to the ones that portray movement and action, with lots of pictures and relatively little text. And what text there is focuses on what the technology does for you  – raw, naked distance.

The best ads throughout history have done this. In 1920 a guy named Claude Hopkins changed the marketing world with his book Scientific Marketing.

“Remember that the people you address are selfish, as are we all. The best ads ask no one to buy. They’re based entirely on service. They offer wanted information. They cite advantages to users.”

For the most part, the ads shown here did just that, as do the better ads you see in today’s magazines. They catch your eye, tell you a quick story, appeal to your passion, give you information you want and tell you how their stuff will help you whack the snot out of the ball.

As it was in 1960, so it is in 2015.

You can also see changes in the overall advertising industry. As the 60’s wore on, golf advertising budgets became larger with more full page or two-page ads in full color. There’s more creativity, more photos and less text. I suppose we can thank Arnie, Jack and TV for turning golf into a big business over the decade, just as we can thank Tiger for a similar boom in the late ‘90’s.

And even though product cycles were longer back then, manufacturers still touted their new technology. And advanced technology shows itself in one very simple to understand concept – the ability to hit a golf ball farther.

That was true with the Wilson Staff Long Ball in 1960, and it’s true today.

Distance, like sex, sells.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

TaylorMade Brings AeroBurner Speed to an Iron

TaylorMade Brings AeroBurner Speed to an Iron

Post image for TaylorMade Brings AeroBurner Speed to an Iron

Written By: Tony Covey

After the Adams Golf acquisition, the stated plan for TaylorMade was to narrow its focus to the better player and let Adams have its way of things with the senior and super game-improvement crowd. While that’s not completely what happened, TaylorMade more or less has stayed out of the highest handicap market. Consider this: The last true Super Game-Improvement Iron from TaylorMade was the RBZ Max.

With plans to do something quite a bit different with the Adams brand underway, it makes perfect sense that TaylorMade would choose now to re-enter that market with a product designed for higher-handicap, yet still competitive golfers.

That’s right…higher handicap golfers play in tournaments and are as game for a $2 Nassau as anybody else. And they take my money…just like everyone else.

The AeroBurner is for them, which might not be good news for me.

TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-31

AeroBurner Speed…(eye roll)

As you can see from the spec chart, the major selling point here is AeroBurner Speed…now available in an iron. Frankly, I don’t actually know if AeroBurner speed competes favorably with Callaway’s Outrageous Speed, so for now let’s assume that everything is ludicrously fast and get on with our story.

Have a look at the specs and try and contain your outrage until the end.

aeroburner_iron_spec

I know…a 22° 5-iron and a 43° PW. It’s extreme, but lets also remember that static loft isn’t the same as dynamic loft, so don’t get to thinking you’re going to hit nothing but worm-burners. TaylorMade designed AeroBurner with an emphasis on high launch and high peak trajectory.

Really what TaylorMade sought to create with AeroBurner is an iron that would compete favorably with PING’s G30 and Callaway’s Big Bertha irons, but do so at a more consumer-friendly price point. At $699, you can think of AeroBurner as affordable speed.

Umm…You Forgot the Face Slots

TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-19

It’s funny how quickly a golf company can condition us. When I first saw the RSi1 I was absolutely astonished by the presence of face slots. Frankly, I thought TaylorMade had jumped the shark once and for all…that is until I hit them and realized how big of a difference those slots apparently make. One look at the AeroBurner iron and I’m totally befuddled again; this time by the lack of face slots. What the hell TaylorMade? I want face slots!

It turns out there are several reasons why TaylorMade chose to produce AeroBurner with a slotless face.

As TaylorMade’s Director of Product Creation for Irons, Wedges and Putters, Tomo Bystedt, explains it, fundamentally what face slots do is make the iron behave like the face is bigger than it is. In simple terms, face slots add forgiveness to smaller iron heads. AeroBurner is a large iron as it is (somewhere somebody is screaming “shovels!“, and so the need to for additional forgiveness isn’t what it is on an RSi2, or even an RSi1.

TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-37

AeroBurner is already a max COR iron, so the addition of slots would have necessitated thickening the face (to bring the iron back to the USGA’s happy place), which in addition to fundamentally defeating the purpose of creating a fast face, would have moved the CG to a place other than where TaylorMade wanted it.

Finally, face slots add to manufacturing costs. TaylorMade’s goal was to create an iron that was attainable (affordable) for the masses. Face slots would add another $100 to the retail cost, which TaylorMade doesn’t think makes a whole lot of sense considering the additional trade-offs that would have needed to be made.

Now is probably a good time to mention that from a design perspective, AeroBurner’s slot technology functions more like the original slot found in RocketBladez. The emphasis is on low face forgiveness, and adding spin back to what are, by any reasonable measure, strongly lofted irons.

But other than that lack of face slot stuff…

It’s Exactly What You’d Expect

TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-10

Call it Super Game-Improvement, call it a distance iron; we can haggle over category adjectives, but the AeroBurner inarguably looks the part for either.

Blade lengths are long. Offset is tremendous (maybe even outrageous), and the toplines are as thick as nearly any iron in golf. Like I said, it’s what you’d expect.

For some the larger footprint will breed confidence, for others, total contempt. I get that. If the AeroBurner iron isn’t for you, then it isn’t for you. Higher handicap golfers looking for more forgiveness and plenty of help getting the ball in the air might feel differently.

If you’re a TaylorMade guy, or just a guy looking for a forgiving iron with an emphasis on distance, it’s reasonable to assume that you’re going to find yourself trying to decide between the AeroBurner iron and the RSi1.

Check back tomorrow to see the results of our head to head test between the two.

Pricing and Availability

TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-20

Available at retail on Wednesday, March 18, AeroBurner irons are available in 8-piece sets and are equipped with stock REAX 88 High Launch steel shafts ($699) or AeroBurner REAX 60 graphite shafts ($799) in stiff, regular, senior or ladies flex.

AeroBurner Irons

TaylorMade Aeroburner Irons-7

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