The Club Report! – Ping Scottsdale TR Putters

The Club Report! – Ping Scottsdale TR Putters

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Written by: Dave Wolfe (@Golfspy Dave)

So did anyone happen to watch The Masters?  I know, I know, we all watched The Masters.  One of the interesting things to think about though is the different ways that we watched it.  I’m not talking about how we watched it: on the computer, the phone, HDTV, boring regular TV, or uber cool Google Glass specs.  Instead, I am talking about what we paid attention to during the coverage.  Some of you zeroed in on the beauty of Augusta National, while some of you marveled at the beauty of Adam Scott.  The more gear-headed tried to see details about the clubs the pros were bagging, because obviously those specs would work for Joe-average as well.  I’m giving the gear guys grief, that’s what I usually check out during the tournament (sorry Mr. Scott).  My putter-philia really takes over during the majors.  I want to know what the best players in the world are rolling during such an important tournament.

There were a couple of real putter standouts in the coverage.  Jason Day’s Taylormade Ghost Spider S Slant helped him to get close, again.  We all saw Adam Scott drain the winner with his supposedly unanchored long Cameron Futura X prototype.  I usually don’t pay as much attention to the custom tour putters  though because I know that I don’t fiscally stand a chance of bagging anything with a Circle T on it.  Why I’m barely able to fund coffee at Circle K.  Rather than drool over putters I can’t have, I always look for putters that we all have access to, no tour van required.  In my opinion, the putter that made the largest off-the-rack splash at The Masters was Angel Cabrera’s Ping Scottsdale TR Shea H.  Mr. Cabrera came awfully close to chipping in on that first playoff hole, possibly sending Australia back with a second place, again.  I think for second you win the green boxers.  Anyway, Cabrera did putt lights out with the Scottsdale TR Shea H, but he was not the only Ping pro who performed well with one during the tournament.  Lee Westwood also bagged a Shea and finished T-8.  Nothing tour-only about either putter.  You can likely find  an identical one in your local shop right now.  That definitely warrants taking a closer look at a few of the models from the Ping Scottsdale TR putter line.

General Specs: Ping Scottsdale TR

  • Black PVD Finish
  • Variable-depth-groove technology insert
  • Fixed-length and Adjustable-length shafts
  • Multiple Shaft Options for Stroke-Type Fitting (mallets)
  • Oversize Winn grip
  • Twelve Head Shapes (Anser 2, Anser 2B, B60, Carefree L, Greyhawk, Piper C, Senita, Shea, Shea H, Tatum, Tomcat S, & ZB S)

Anser 2

anser face
anser address
anser bottom
anser toe

We will start with the classic Ping head; the Anser 2 is truly iconic in the putter world.  This version of the Anser 2 has a single sight line, full-shaft offset plumbers neck, and fits a slight-arc putting stroke.  If you have bagged an Anser 2 in the past, you will immediately feel comfortable with this one at address, and then pleasantly surprised with the feel of the insert when it rolls the ball.

Piper C

piper bottom
piper address
piper back 2
piper face

It has been a couple of model runs since we have seen a center-shafted Piper C from Ping.  I think the last one came around in the G2 line, and even that one was a bit different from this one.  The Piper C features two widely spaced alignment lines, a central spud neck, and fits a straight putting stroke.  Not much offset with this one, but that is what center-shafted players usually look for anyway.  The insert is wide across the face and really provides a great deal of forgiveness for off-center strikes.

Senita

Senita Address
senita toe d
Senita bottom
Senita Face

The Senita is one of the two large mallets in the line, with the other being the Grayhawk.  The Senita was also present in last years Scottsdale line, and I think that comparing the 2012 to the 2013 Senita really demonstrates the less-is-more improvement in terms of finish.  I found the maroon color and white circle on the previous Senita to be distracting, and definitely visually inferior to the new, simpler black and white scheme.  Additionally, both of the mallets in the Scottsdale TR line also feature the ability to customize the shaft to fit a players stroke like we saw with last year’s Ping Nome.  That means that you can play the Senita with a straight, slight arc, or strong arc putting stroke.  Just order it with the appropriate shaft.  I can’t even think of any other company that is making a strong arc large mallet right now.

Tatum

Tatum Toe d
Tatum Bottom
Tatum add
tatum face

The Tatum is a bit of an off-shoot in its head shape.  It’s a blade that plays like a mallet.  We are back to the blallet head shape.  I think that this is the first appearance of the Tatum, but I am not 100% certain as all of my research online seems to lead me back to Channing Tatum and I don’t think that his MOI conforms to the rules of golf.  Unlike Channing, this Tatum has a good deal of mallet-like perimeter weighting, paired with a blade-like slanted neck.  The angle of the neck and the neck’s position give the Tatum face-balanced toe hang, perfect for straight “arc” players.

General Impressions

Looks

Ping has put together a great looking line of putters with the 2013 Scottsdale TR line. I think that that statement is significant, because their “looks” track record has been a little suspect in years past.  The 2012 Scottsdale line had way too much maroon and white.  The holes in the iN line prior to that were an optical miss.  The Anser Milled line is gorgeous, as was the, also higher-end Redwood line.  Ping’s entry line of putters has lacked visual pop, until this year.  Whoever decided to go matte black with simple alignment graphics made the right decision.  These putters look great in play, on TV, and seeing 20+ all lined up side-by-side in the pro shop is very impressive.  Even the large-headed mallets look SR-71 sleek with the black finish.

Feel

I love the feel of the Ping Scottsdale TR insert, and I really didn’t like the one in last year’s Scottsdale.  This insert feels far livelier to me, really putting a nice roll on the ball.  It’s got some pop, and yet retains the soft feel that makes people look to inserts in the first place.  That’s only part of the story though.  Ping has done something novel with this insert; they have deadened the sweet spot.  That’s right, if you hit it in the sweet spot, it rolls less than it could without the deadening.  The result of this madness is that now the edges of the insert are hotter than the center.  With most putters, off center hits will result in a loss of distance when compared to the sweet spot hits.  By making the middle less responsive, Ping has actually created an insert that should produce similar roll distances, regardless of where you hit the insert.  More consistent distance, no matter where you hit the face, seems like a great recipe for the amateur and pro golfer alike.

Alignment

Alignment schemes are simple with the Scottsdale TR, and that’s a great thing.  I think that the simple black and white color scheme combined with single sight lines on most models makes for putters that most players will feel comfortable aiming.  Even the Senita, with its complex head geometry, just sits on the turf and points its line at the hole.  These are very easy to aim as a result.

FIT FOR STROKE™

Don’t change your stroke. Change your putter.

The Ping Scottsdale TR line features putters that will fit all three of the strokes identified by the iPing app:  Straight, Slight Arc, and Strong Arc. A quick jaunt to the Scottsdale TR product page will let you know which of the other models in the line may be right for you.  Remember, you can get the mallets with different shafts that will allow even a strong arc player to roll a mallet.  No longer must the strong arc-ers be stranded in the land of heel-shafted half mallets.

Ping has also included adjustable shafts as an option in this year’s line.  You can still order your putter from Ping with a standard shaft, but the adjustable shaft lets you customize length all on your own.  There is a collar below the grip that releases the grip section from the shaft with the assistance of the threaded tool (included).  Traditional models adjust from 31” to 38”, belly models go from 37.5” to 46.5”, and brooms can be adjusted between 44.5” and 55.5”.  That’s a pretty huge variation of lengths.  No longer do you need to hope that a shop has your correct length.  Now the shop doesn’t even need to have multiple lengths in inventory.   Rather you can now just customize the length to fit the customer. That’s pretty win-win on both sides of the purchasing equation.

Adjustment Note

The grip will come all the way off if you open the collar all the way.  To avoid  ugly drop-induced dings keep the head on the ground when you loosen the grip.  Also, be aware that the grip can also rotate open and closed when you adjust the length.  This will take the grip out of square with the face.  Some people will love this, as they now can easily adjust their putter slightly open or closed without re-gripping the putter.  If you want to get it back to square though, it definitely takes some practice to re-square the face after adjusting the length.  What I found to work is to slowly loosen the clasp until the shaft just turns.  The added tension from the just-loose clasp will hold the shaft in place a bit better while you square the grip.  Just practice a bit and you will get it.

The One For Me

Senita, no question.  I had fully expected to bond with the Tatum, as it has the square body shape that I seem to be leaning toward these days.  The Senita was way more consistent for me.  Honestly, I was amazed.  This may come as a shock to you but I really didn’t care for last year’s Scottsdale Senita.  It was too big, busy, didn’t feel that great, and was overall uninspiring.  Yes, you read that right.  There is a putter out there that I don’t like.  100% in the other direction we have the Scottsdale TR Senita, one of my favorites to play on the course with this year.  The insert feels great, it’s easy to aim, and playing to my golf bag vanity, the Senita looks amazing.  It was painful to move on to other putters.  All for you faithful readers…

In Conclusion

Straight to the point, Ping has really nailed it with the Scottsdale TR line this year. There is great variety in the line, both in head shapes and shaft options.  The adjustable shaft may be a short-run novelty, or it may be something that changes the putter market, we will need to watch and see on that one.  Huge kudos to the Scottsdale TR’s insert though.  It almost bagged one major victory already this year.  I would not be surprised if a Scottsdale TR gets one (come on Westy).  The price is right on these as well.  The non-adjustable shaft models can be had for about $150, with the adjustable shaft setting you back a couple of extra Hamiltons.  It’s a great looking, great rolling putter at a solid price point. Well done Ping.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Shaft Review – Nippon Modus 3 Tour 130 Iron Shaft

Shaft Review – Nippon Modus 3 Tour 130 Iron Shaft

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By: Matt Saternus
Nippon has long been a favorite iron shaft among those in the know, carrying a tremendous reputation for tight tolerances and great feel.  So why aren’t they more prevalent?  One reason is certainly a lack of marketing, but another big reason was the lack of options for “better players.”

Nippon was primarily known for lighter weight steel that launched the ball high.  Even the Modus3 Tour 120, while heavier in weight, was a higher launching shaft similar to a KBS Tour.  But now, with the Modus3 Tour 130, Nippon has a shaft that aims to compete with the kings of the hill, Project X and Dynamic Gold.  Does it hit the mark?

Specs, Price, and Manufacturer Notes

The Nippon Modus3 Tour 130 is available in both .355” taper tip and .370” parallel tip.

It will be available in Regular (121 grams), Stiff (124 grams) and X (129 grams)

Bend Profile:

Tip Section – Soft to increase launch

Mid Section – Stiff to promote control of launch and spin

Butt Section – Stiff to promote control and solid feel at impact

You can expect to find the Nippon Modus3 Tour 130 at retail for about $40/shaft.

Looks, Feel, and Miscellaneous

The starkest difference between a Nippon shaft and any other steel shaft on the market is feel.  There’s a crisp and clean feel that is the signature of a Nippon, and no other steel shaft that I’ve tried can match it.  The Modus3 Tour 130 is no exception.

It should also be noted that the balance point of the Modus3 Tour 130 is higher than Dynamic Gold, leading to a club that feels lighter than it is.

In the looks department, the Modus3 has bold, red graphics printed directly on the shaft.  In this golfer’s opinion, that’s the single biggest “Looks” upgrade a steel shaft can have: no one likes wrinkly shaft stickers.

Finally, I want to mention that, just like with the Modus3 Tour 120’s that I tested, the tolerances are amazing.  I weighed each of the eight shafts and none weighed less than 123.5 grams and none more than 124.5 grams.  For the club builder or the spec-obsessed, choosing Nippons is a no-brainer.

Performance

For the Performance testing, I installed the Nippon Modus3 130 shafts into a set of Wilson FG Tour V2 heads.  They were tested against a set of Dynamic Gold S300 shafts that were installed in the exact same heads.  Testing was done on a FlightScope X2 launch monitor.

In head to head testing in the lab, the Modus3 Tour 130 matched the Dynamic Gold shot for shot.  Launch was virtually identical throughout the set as were the spin rates.  There was also no discernible difference in accuracy: good swings resulted in good, predictable shots.  Bad swings produced similar results as well.

Additionally, I had the chance to play 36 holes with the Modus3 while vacationing away from snowy Chicago.  The transition to playing the Modus3 was non-existent.  All my irons went the same distance as they do with Dynamic Gold, shots flew on the same trajectory, and the dispersion was excellent (even smacked a pin).

Tim’s Take

Golfspy Tim also had a chance to test the Modus3 Tour 130’s.  Here’s what he found:

Graphite? Who needs graphite….

(seriously, I’ve never found a graphite iron shaft that liked me)

Having been playing Nippon shafts for more than 6 months now, I’ve fallen in love with their soft feel. The same rings true with the N.S. Pro Prototype shaft – launching probably a bit lower than my current gamers – the 950 GH. The N.S. Pro Prototypes require just a bit more loading than the 950 GH and wouldn’t let me get away with a lazy swing.

I’m already a huge fan of Nippon and this shaft continues my appreciation of their crisp sound and feel on impact.

Conclusion

With the addition of the Modus3 Tour 130, there’s now a Nippon shaft for absolutely everyone.  While some might flinch at the price, I think that the feel and the unmatched tolerances make Nippons well worth the money.  Whether you’re upgrading some old heads or getting fit for a new set of irons, make sure Nippon is on your list of “Must Try” items.

VISIT NIPPON WEBSITE: HERE

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Driver Test – Beyond the Numbers

MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Driver Test – Beyond the Numbers

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When we conceived of this test we wanted it to be about one thing; performance data – and not a damn thing more. So we gathered that data. Using our launch monitors we collected a ton of data to help us determine the longest, most accurate, and best overall drivers of 2013.

That’s pretty awesome stuff, but even data-heads like us realize that some of you want us to go beyond the numbers. For those who want to know what we learned about adjustability, the impact of paint, and all of that other stuff that’s part of a golf club’s design, we put together this post to give you a bit more insight into the testing experience, and a better idea of why each club performed that way that it did.

Adjustability

While I’m certain it would be interesting to have a variety of golfers test the R1 at every conceivable setting to find out exactly what the impact of adjustability is, that was far beyond the scope of this test. We did however leverage adjustability whenever possible.

Simple face angle (I suppose some would call them ‘loft’) adjustments proved very effective in those cases where we had the need and the ability to alter where the ball would initially start.

Finding the ‘right’ setting with the 3 all-in-one models (R1, Covert, AMP Cell) proved a bit trickier as each has its own nuances (AMP Cell performed better at lofts less than what were expected, while R1 performed better at lofts greater than expected). While there were no absolutes, and we can’t be absolutely certain we nailed the ideal configuration in every case, the changes we did make, even small ones, produced appreciable differences in ball flight.

The actual benefit to the guy who buys off the rack and may not fully understand the implications of each change might be is less certain, but given that most of these models now have supporting mobile apps (making them more golfer-friendly)…all other things being largely equal, it’s hard to make a strong argument for buying a non-adjustable model.

Paint

While quite a lot gets said about paint, the reality is it is seldom an actual issue. While paint and graphics and alignment aids were a big topic of conversation during the initial round of testing – and none discussed more than the pair of TaylorMade drivers, by the time testers got to the second round, most had stopped caring.

Blake probably summed it up best when he said, “After a few shot with the drivers that have the busy graphics; white, orange, blue, red, swooshes, aiming alignments, they really become a non-factor when hitting. You stop paying attention to them”.

The Other Subjective “Stuff”

When it comes to the subjective stuff (which we don’t score any more) we’ve always believed that looks mattered above all else, but as we got deeper into our testing what we found is that, as Blake suggested, there comes a point when the golfer stops caring what the club looks like.

The closely linked qualities of sound and feel proved much more indelible. If a tester didn’t like the way a driver looked, he got over it. If he didn’t care for the sound and feel we heard about it every session, and in some cases on nearly every swing. It’s the single reason why some testers didn’t like certain clubs.

Before performance even becomes a consideration, looks are what draw you to a club, but sound and feel are what keep you there.

Being Different

I’ll touch on this a bit more when I discuss each club individually, but I think it’s worth putting up here at the top as well. If you look at the field as a whole, most of the drivers have more in common than not. Most have similar designs, shapes, swing weights, and even shaft lengths.

There’s an inherent equality to most of the designs that makes moving from club to club almost natural.

Of course, despite our best efforts to keep things level, my suspicion is that on those occasions when a club was noticeably different than what the testers hit before it, there were almost certainly performance issues that arose as a result.

The 3 clubs I suspect suffered most from our testing procedures are Wilson’s D-100, Geek’s No Brainer, and Wishon’s  919THI.

With the Wilson and Geek the issue is weight. The ultralight Wilson is unlike anything else in our test. It’s beyond ultra-lightweight, even compared to Callaway’s lighter-weight XHot.

The No Brainer is comparatively heavy…perhaps even Ultra-Heavy. We quickly learned that it simply wasn’t fair to ask our testers to hit the two back to back (a bit like moving from a pool noodle to a sledge hammer), so we did what we could to space them out. Nevertheless, transitioning to and from either after hitting anything else was clearly an issue for our testers.

Tom Wishon (who like Geek doesn’t really do “stock”) elected to send his drivers with 44” shafts. While initially the accuracy results were compelling (off-the-charts good, actually), over time our testers began to struggle a bit with the shorter shaft (which I know sounds counterintuitive).

When you consider that our Wishon samples were a full inch shorter than anything else in our test, and 1.75” to 2” shorter than the majority, it’s not unreasonable to think that being different (even to a degree that often benefits the golfer) in this case proved detrimental when hit alongside a multitude of longer models.

Tested differently, it’s likely each of the 3 could have performed better.

Beyond the Numbers

While you’ve seen the numbers, obviously they can’t tell the entire story. We thought it might be beneficial if we took you behind the numbers to hopefully give you a better idea of how our testers perceived certain clubs, and perhaps explain some of the reasons why each club performed the way that it did.

Adams (Speedline S and Speedline Super S)

In my estimation the Adams Speedline Super S was one of the bigger surprises of the test. Our slower swing speed players hit it very well, and despite a design that doesn’t allow for lofts lower than 9.5° our higher swing speed players posted better than expected numbers – and for my money, it’s one of the straightest drivers in the test, and for whatever reason it looks bigger than anything else we tested. If big gives you confidence, nothing will make you more sure of yourself than the Super S.

I’ve got an Adams-tipped Matrix 8m3 on-hand, which is all the incentive I need to see what can happen with a more customized Super S combo.

A few testers were put off by the sound (easily the loudest driver in the test), and as you might expect there were some grumblings about TaylorMade ruining Adams with white paint, but overall there’s little not to like about the Super S.

Surprisingly the Super LS didn’t fair quite as well as we expected. Like the Nike VRS Covert, and Cobra AMP Cell Pro, it’s entirely possible the LS suffered from the Kuro Kage problem (not saying it’s a bad shaft, it’s simply not a good fit for our testers).  Much to my surprise, given the proud tradition of the LS line, it turned out to be a driver that excited no one.

While not quite as loud as the Super S, it’s clear that Adams driver design has gone in a different direction the last couple of years. Guys who loved Adams drivers from previous generations may find themselves nostalgic for the good old days.

Callaway (XHot and RAZR Fit XTREME)

By now you probably know that Callaway drivers performed insanely well for us. While for other drivers we’ve spent time trying to figure out what went wrong, where Callaway is concerned, the bulk of my time has been spent trying to explain why things went so right.

For its part the RAZR Fit Extreme was an exceptional performer for the higher swing speed players. It proved insanely long for a subset of our testers, and when a driver is long, it’s almost always fun to hit. And oh man, is the RAZR Fit XTREME fun to hit.

Despite the all the positives for the higher swing speed player, it’s not a driver we’d in good faith recommend to slower swing speed players. Our testers in that category suffered a bit, and XHot left little (ZERO) argument that it’s the better choice for the sub-100 MPH crowd.

For the right golfer, however, RAZR Fit Xtreme is full-on beast mode 24/7, which is why it makes my personal Top 5.

And then, of course, there’s XHot.

One of the late arrivals to the test, XHot basically stole the show (and first place overall). Slower Swing speed players hit it really long and straight, while higher swing speed players hit it almost as long, and every bit as straight.

If you’re looking for an explanation for what separates XHot and RBZ2 (the other real star of this test) from the pack, the answer is pretty simple; they outperformed the heard at every ability level and every swing speed…and Xhot hot did it just a little bit better.

Cleveland Classic Custom XL

The Cleveland Classic XL Custom is arguably the under-appreciated workhorse of our test.  The one word description is steady. The thing is a Clydesdale (without the affiliation to lousy beer).

Apart from telling us they liked the “classic” looks (duh), the truth is there wasn’t much conversation about the Classic. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why when you look at how consistently accurate it was across the board. Everybody found fairways with Classic.

Distance didn’t prove to be in the upper echelon for our testers, but there’s definitely something here.

It’s a special driver; I just haven’t been able to prove it yet. It’s an easy lock for my personal Top 5. I just really enjoyed swinging it.

Toss the Classic in with the VRS Covert as one of the few I’d be extremely interested in putting a few different shafts in to see what improvements we can find.

Cobra AMP Cell

Cobra’s AMP Cell (and AMP Cell Pro) proved to be one of the more interesting drivers in our test. While a couple of testers asked why – if Cobra was making the driver in so many colors, why couldn’t just make it in black – most actually found something they liked among the selection (I still love the blue).

What’s probably most interesting about the initial fitting process we did was the discovery that almost to a man, our testers did better with lofts lower than that what they would normally play. 10.5 guys did better at 9.5, and 8.5 guys did better at 7.5.

While the AMP Cell was one of the top performers for accuracy, from a distance perspective it would appear to lack the pop of some of the others (the Pro model did fair slightly better than the standard). Given that the Pro model comes stock with the Kuro Kage, there’s some suspicion here that a shaft change could have a significant impact.

Geek No Brainer

Joining Wishon from the custom/component market was Geek’s No Brainer. As you might imagine, the bright orange head that our slower swing speed players tested generated a fair amount of chatter, and some of it wasn’t completely positive. Our senior tester joked, “I couldn’t play this when I wear my green outfit, it would clash”. I’m pretty sure Lou doesn’t even have a green outfit.

Most telling with the Geek is that our testers missed predominantly to the right (more so than with any other club in our test), and for some the No Brainer simply wasn’t competitive for distance.

As I mentioned previously, the bigger issue for the No Brainer is the heavier than normal weight. Transitioning from lighter weight drivers wasn’t easy for our testers, and I think it’s reasonable to speculate that the No Brainer’s numbers suffered for it.

With more time to adjust and with the right shaft we think the No Brainer could perform much better. If nothing else it offers classic driver feel and exceptional feedback. It’s definitely worth a look if you can get your hands on one.

Mizuno JPX-825

Not completely unlike the Wilson D-100, the Mizuno JPX-825 definitely suffered from a lack of fitting options. While Mizuno does offer an X-flex stock, the lack of an 8.5 head proved detrimental to what is one of the higher launcher, higher spinning drivers in our test.

This was especially true for our 2 highest swing speed players who unquestionably would have seen better results with less loft, and perhaps a second stock shaft offering to compliment Mizuno’s Orochi.

On the positive side, many testers loved the aesthetic qualities of the JPX-825, and the fastest of our sub-100MPH testers not only loved the club, he put up the numbers to back it up.

Nike VRS Covert

Expectations were high for Nike’s mystery wrapped, red enigma. It’s hard to pinpoint why the VRS Covert didn’t produce the kind of numbers many (including nearly all of our testers) expected it would.

Like the Wilson D-100 the VRS accounted for some of the longest drives in the test, but it struggled to maintain any consistency, especially among our slower swing speed players.

In all we tested 4 clubs with some variation of the Kuro Kage shaft in them; none cracked the top 10, and as we’ve hinted, the suspicion is the shaft might be the larger part of the issue.

Without question a few of our testers would love to try the Covert again, albeit with some different shaft options.

You can count me among them. As just about every Nike driver in the VR Series has, the Covert actually performed pretty well for me. It also happens to be one of my personal Top 5.

PING (Anser and G25)

Not surprisingly PING offered up a couple of very strong, well-round performers for our test. The G25 was by far the more popular of the two (and arguably the most popular driver in the entire test). While it’s not a surprise that it found its way on to all 3 of our sub-100 swing speed players’ short lists, it’s telling that our higher swing speed players also thought very highly of the G25. Despite being the highest launch, highest spinning driver in the current PING lineup, our higher swing speed players posted some absolutely monster drives with it. In my estimation, it’s the most well-rounded driver in the current PING lineup.

While it wasn’t shown the same amount of love as the G25, overall the Anser actually produced the better average result for our testing pool. Not one of the longest in the test, the Anser hovered around the top group for accuracy at every level, and was far and away the most consistent driver in the test. You might not get every bit of possible distance on a solidly struck ball, but you’re not going to lose much of anything on mis-hits either.

What always impresses me about PING is that as other manufactures continue to get mixed results out of the “designed for” shafts they put in their drivers year after year, PING engineers continue to produce homegrown TFC shaft after TFC shaft that outperforms many high-end aftermarket shafts.

PowerBilt AirForce One DF

PowerBilt’s original AirForce One is a bit of a cult classic around here and truthfully I don’t think anybody who was involved in that test would have been surprised to the see the new DF finish #1 overall. As it turns out, a couple guys did struggle with the AFO, while another (Blake) put up what were arguably his best numbers of the entire test. While PowerBilt hasn’t been on the tip of many tongues in quite some time, there’s some performance evidence that suggests that maybe it should be.

What our testers didn’t like about the AFO were some of the aesthetic choices.

“It’s named after the most important plane on the planet, and they gave it tramp stamps”?

There’s also a brandwashing/brand aversion (fallout from the infomercials for the original) that clearly impacts how some testers perceive the brand. As one tester told us, “I might play it, but I’d put a Titleist headcover on it so none of my friends would find out”.

It’s not fair to PowerBilt given how well the club performed for us, but it’s a great illustration of how far beyond performance the buying equation extends.

TaylorMade (R1 and RBZ Stage 2)

Having witnessed every moment of the test, I’m convinced the RocketBallz Stage 2 and R1 earned their respective spots in the overall Top 3. Not that one can really feel sorry for TaylorMade, but it’s a shame that there are some who believe TaylorMade is all about hype over performance. Based on our results, that’s anything but reality. The company did an absolutely outstanding job creating two well-balanced drivers that flat out perform.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns of course. Even if we now know it ultimately becomes an afterthought, the paint scheme of each generated a fair amount of grumbling. Some liked one more than other, but overall, nobody really loved either of the graphics.

Some told us they think the R1, is too complicated (hosel, weights, sole plate), and that the noise (not quite as loud, but sharper than the Super S) is distracting (and slightly obnoxious). Nevertheless, pretty much everyone hit the R1 farther than most.

For me the RBZ Stage 2 is the biggest surprise of the entire test. I went into this thinking I wanted an R1, and came out of it certain that I want a RBZ Stage 2 in my bag. My numbers were insane (short of Mark’s performance with the JPX-825, it was the best individual result of the entire test).

In fact, when you look at the numbers across the board, you can make a legitimate argument that for those who weight distance (compared to accuracy) only slightly higher than we do, that TaylorMade’s RBZ Stage 2 was the best driver in this test.   I’m not going to lie, it’s my personal favorite of the bunch (even if I don’t love the paint), and the one that will most likely find its way into my bag this season.

Titleist (913 D-Series)

With the possible exception of the VRS Covert the 913D was the club our testers told us they were most looking forward to testing, and I think it’s safe to say it didn’t disappoint. The 913 was mentioned more than any other club when our testers discussed the drivers they’d be most inclined to put in their bags. Perhaps more surprisingly given the Titleist rep, our slower swing speed players loved it as much, if not more than the higher swing speed players.

I haven’t been a Titleist guy since the 905 series, but if you were to ask me which club in our test I felt gave me the best chance to keep the ball in play, I’d almost certainly list the 913 first. It’s perhaps the most performance-balanced driver Titleist has ever produced, and the first since that 905 series that I’ve absolutely loved.

Given the multitude of stock shaft options available, most should find it possible to find a zero additional cost offering that fits their game.

Wilson D-100

Wilson largely pushes the D-100 as a game-improvement driver, which certainly supports the notion that Game improvement can be a load of fun. The downfall of the D-100 in our tests was the lack of either an 8.5° or even an X flex in the 9.5. That certainly hurt the D-100 as spin numbers for our higher swing speed players were on average just too high.

Controlling the lightweight design is also an issue for higher tempo players. As one tester told us, “I love hitting it, but I’d never trust it on a tight fairway”.

Those issues aside, it’s a driver that several testers mentioned they really enjoyed hitting. My take on the Wilson D-100 is that it’s the perfect driver for guys who just love to hit golf balls.

Debate about light vs. heavy is going strong, but the probable reality is that light is probably good for one guy, and heavy another, but what I can say definitively is that the Wilson D-100 produced some of the longest drives in our entire test – and it’s just so damn much fun to it.

Wishon 919THI

Tom Wishon is well on the record about his belief that most golfers would benefit from playing a shorter shaft in their driver. Our own tests concluded he’s right. So how did a driver with a 44” shaft, at a minimum, not finish #1 for accuracy?

For a long while there it looked as if it would. As we got into the last rounds of testing, however, the 919THI’s numbers started to drop. My suspicion is that as our testers got more acquainted with the 45.5”+ shafts in the majority of drivers we tested, the shorter shaft in the 919THI started to feel awkward, and performance no doubt suffered as a result.

There was, however, plenty of conversation about the 919THI during the tests. Admittedly many of our testers hadn’t heard of Wishon, but most told me they were pleasantly surprised. A few mentioned that aesthetically the club looks dated, but for the other intangibles like sound and feel, the 919THI is nothing short of excellent.

Overall all it was a solid off-the-rack showing for a club that would otherwise be a custom-only build.

Thank You

I’d like to wrap this up by publicly thanking all 13 of the golf companies who agreed to participate in our test. The cooperation and support of golf companies both large and small made this massive test possible. We look forward to doing this is again next year…bigger and better.

Also we’d like to say thanks to the 10s of thousands of you who’ve come here to read the results of this test, and a special thanks to the hundreds of you who have asked questions and actively participated in the discussion.

You’ve given us all the incentive we need to move forward with our next big effort.

We’ll have some details for you very soon.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Q&A: MyGolfSpy’s 2013 Most Wanted Driver Test

Q&A: MyGolfSpy’s 2013 Most Wanted Driver Test

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When we published the results of the 2013 “Golf’s Most Wanted” Driver Test we knew there’d be questions. And once we had results that showed TaylorMade had produced the 2 longest drivers of 2013, and that Callaway’s Xhot was the best overall, we figured we’d get pelted with a plethora of profanity laced accusations. We’re happy to report there wasn’t much of the latter (a testament to the quality of the individuals in the MyGolfSpy Community), but there were definitely some polite questions that deserved answers.

The following questions were plucked from emails sent to mailbag@mygolfspy.com as well as from the comments section of the 3 articles in the test.

You asked, we answered.

The Mailbag

While phrased 20 different ways, the most common questions (or statements letting us know in no uncertain terms that we did everything wrong) were focused around what you might call the conditions of our test.

Much to more than a few readers’s dismay we made what I can assure you is a very well-informed decision to test 100% stock vs. stock. In almost every case that meant clubs were received as described (with respect to shaft make/model, and length) on each manufacturer’s website. Some readers don’t think it’s fair to compare a 44″ Wishon to a 45″ to a 46″ Callaway to everything in-between. It’s not a question of fair vs. unfair, it’s a simple question of reality, and that reality is two-fold.

1. Manufacturers design drivers with certain performance specifications in mind. There is a philosophy behind every club design. The engineers at Titleist chose 45″ for a reason, just as the guys at Callaway chose 46″, and every other manufacturer in this test chose their stock specification with their unique performance specifications in mind. We tested as the manufacturer intended.

2. The average consumer still buys off the rack. The conservative number being thrown around is 60%, my guess is it’s significantly higher. Why there are plenty of us who agonize over every detail, the majority of consumers don’t give a damn about shaft length, or even what the stock shaft is. We buy with certain performance characteristics in mind. For a few it’s all about accuracy. For most, it’s all about distance (which incidentally is very likely the design philosophy behind the 46″ shafts found on the XHot and Wilson D-100).

So while some would have liked to see us stick an Oban Kyoshi in everything, cut it to 44.5″ and then test, that scenario doesn’t accurately represent how the majority of consumers buy their drivers. When most attend a demo day, or simply walk into a shop to hit clubs, they test one stock model against another and make their decision. It’s almost always stock vs. stock.

If you checked drivers at any club in the country, the exception would be to find more than a handful of non-stock upgrades on any given day. The average golfer doesn’t want to spend a penny more than he has to on a driver. A $250 shaft upgrade…c’mon. The reality is it seldom happens.

That’s not to say we didn’t consider testing with a single shaft, or custom vs. custom, but in those other scenarios you end up testing something else as a consequence. Put the same shaft in every head, and what you’ve done is not only test in a way that’s not relevant to how the world buys, you’ve tested how well a certain shaft (one that might not actually be available as a factory upgrade) works in a given head. That’s great, but it doesn’t come close to giving the definitive last word on how that head will actually perform for the average guy who buys it.

Even if we did custom vs. custom, unless we used the same fitter for every club (basically impossible given the variety of clubs in the test), you’re not simply testing the club, you’re also testing the quality of the fitter, or the number of options at his disposal.

While stock vs. stock does not cover every nuance and possibility, it most represents that which the average consumer considers when making his buying decision.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the other questions…

Q: For the average golfer to get a comparison with their own ability we would need to know more about the tester. Their age and handicap etc?

A: Handicap is not a sufficient indicator of a players abilities. Handicaps are what they are for a variety of reasons. For example: Some guys can’t hit a driver, some have mediocre iron games, and for others the trouble only starts when they get near the green (2 chips and 3 putts, and we’re outta here), and all three might have the same handicap.  But since more than a few asked, here’s a little chart that might be helpful.

Q: Sorry if this has been stated or asked already. Was the testing done inside or outside?

A: All of our testing was done indoors. When you’ve got 6 guys testing 17 clubs over an average of 6 sessions, it’s imperative to keep the playing field level – especially when you’re testing primarily for distance. That means controlling the elements (temperature, humidity, wind). Indoor setups are perfect for that.

Q: What happened to the Ping I20 – #1 last year

A: Initially the plan was to limit each manufacturer to a single driver. We expanded the field to allow a 2nd driver from a few companies, but as the oldest driver in the PING lineup, the i20 wasn’t an ideal fit for a 2013 driver test.

Q: I’m curious why your top driver for “12, the Bridgestone J40 was not in the test.  I have it in my bag.

A: The J40 tested exceptionally well for us, but when we were putting together a list of drivers to include the facts are that the J40 was released more than 2 PGA Shows ago (sort of an unofficial measurement of time we use around here). While it’s still the current model for Bridgestone, a driver we reviewed in 2011 wasn’t an ideal candidate for a 2013 test.

Q: Looks like while it may be the best of 2013 it’s still not better than older technology, assuming the scoring algorithm hasn’t changed. Someone from MGS care to weigh in?

A: Fundamentally the system is largely unchanged in terms of how we look at the numbers themselves; however, there were a number of adjustments that had to be made to better allow us to compare 17 driver simultaneously. Given that each tester’s score with a given club is relative only to his own ability (not the group as a whole), and that testing spanned multiple sessions, it’s very difficult to draw a true apples to apples comparison with previous reviews.

Q: The TM Stage 2 driver, was it the reg. stock model or was the Tour or possibly the Tour TP model.

A: Sub 100 swing speed players tested with the Standard model while testers with swing speeds above 100 MPH used the Tour model. TaylorMade did not provide TP models of the RBZ for testing.

Q: Would you say that the shaft is more important than the club head?

A: There’s no question in my mind that you can impact the greatest change (increasing/decreasing loft/spin) with the head. Tom Wishon will tell you that for golfers with an early release, a shaft change (other than a switch to a heavier model) will have almost no impact on ball flight. It’s not going out on a limb to suggest he’s right. I advise golfers to start with the head, and then use the shaft to fine tune, and hopefully achieve the ideal numbers.

Q: Did testers always use the same loft and flex?

A: That was originally the plan, but we definitely did some rudimentary fitting out of the gate. While most players were fairly consistent, Blake for example migrated between flexes (and even loft) depending on what club he was testing. Blake for example saw outstanding  (near ideal) results with the PowerBilt AFO DF in 9.5S, however; with the Wishon 919THI, the 8.5 X provided better results than the 9.5 S.

Q: Were the Titleist results for this group of testers generated using Titleist’s lighter driver shafts (Bassara 50 and 55)?

A: Most of our golfers tested the 913′s with the Diamana Plus series shafts. The one exception was our most senior tester who used a 50g Bassara in regular flex.

Q: Can you give a a better explanation regarding the meaning of Global FW %; are you saying that every tester hit exactly the same number of counted shots with each of the 17 drivers? And therefore, the 7% versus 5% example you give in the current explanation means that the testers hit 40% more fairways with the 7% driver?

A: Each tester individually hit the same number of shots with each driver, however, some testers hit more shots than others (e.g. Blake hit more shots than Mark – the range was 25-35 shots per golfer per driver). It’s an issue of fatigue level coupled with the late addition of a few clubs to the test. The best way to understand the numbers is to look at the Raw Data which shows FW% for each tester in the traditional format.

Q: It would be interesting to know how effective the adjustments on adjustable drivers were. Do they really work, or are they just hype?

A: We absolutely did take advantage of adjustability. Since most agree that with the exception of Nike’s FlexLoft system (and even that has some debate surrounding it)  it’s not possible to adjust loft and face angle separately, the application of adjustability becomes almost philosophical. My approach is to find the fixed loft head that best fits the golfer (not possible with the R1 and AMP Cell models), and then use the adjustability to hopefully effect where the ball starts (face angle). Depending on the tester that might mean opening the face (reducing loft), or closing the face (adding loft). While there are few if any absolutes in golf, more often than not, the guys who benefit from opening the face, either benefit, or at least don’t suffer, from the corresponding reduction in loft.

A perfect example of this from our test would be Joe with the PING G25. After his first few swings it became apparent that he was starting (and leaving) everything out to the right. There wasn’t much curvature to the ball flight, just a straight push. A quick adjustment to the closed position (more loft) produced much more desirable results.

Interestingly, the changes weren’t universal. A guy who got his best results with a closed face in one driver, often got better results with neutral in another.

The R1 and AMP Cell provided unique challenges from a fitting perspective. While both have a mechanism to either square (Amp Cell) or Open, close, or square (R1) the face when soled, the wide range of adjustability can create issues. At the highest lofts, both appear very closed, while both are noticeably open at the lowest lofts. Compounding the issues was the tendency for our testers to need less loft with the AMP Cell (more open than some testers like), and more loft with the R1 (sometimes more closed than our testers like).

Q: Great test, well conceived and carried out. I just can’t understand why you didn’t load up with all the guys who write reviews on retail and OEM web sites detailing their “300 yard, with a slight draw” exploits… Those reviews are above reproach, right?

A: Actually every one of our testers is capable of carrying it 300 yards…maybe even 400 (even 60 year old Lou who swings in the low 80s…it’s really fast 82MPH). We wanted to make are results of this test relevant to lowly hackers, so we turned on a strong headwind, and enhanced slice spin to give the appearance that our testers aren’t actually the god-like driving machines you find elsewhere. They are. We’re talking about super-human, Hulk-Like. Iron Byron with feet and an attitude. Hell, I just hit one 500 using only my mind and a 9 year old Maxfli Noodle. My brain is the longest driver in golf. I’m that good.  There goes another one.

And finally there was this guy…

Q: Don’t agree with this at all. We’ve done hundreds and hundreds of fittings at our facility this year and this isn’t even close. Covert should be much higher, did you not test the Tour model?
The Xtreme is junk, and X-Hot is consistently longer…
How much did TaylorMade pay you for this?
Your testing is so bad, and so incorrectly done this type of crap is a disservice to people wanting information.

Mind you that in addition to completely missing the boat as far as this test not being about custom fitting, he never says where he works (even used a fake email address), but apparently he knows every detail of our testing methodology, which if his assertions are to be believed, involve little more than TaylorMade making a deposit into our bank account (I never even gave them the routing number).

The accusations are comical for several reasons (and I won’t even ask how much Nike paid him):

Firstly…there’s that crazy thing where we don’t take money from big golf companies. If anyone can find another golf site the size of MGS that doesn’t have a single big OEM advertisement anywhere on their site, then maybe we can start a conversation about the impropriety of influence, but the reality is you won’t find, and the reality is we don’t take their dollars, and that means our reality is we can print the actual results of our tests without fear of financial repercussions. And when all is said and done, sometimes the reality is that TaylorMade has a really good product.

Secondly…When these types of accusations get hurled it’s almost always TaylorMade who is paying us. Never Callaway, never Cobra, never…well basically never anyone else we’ve ever written anything positive about. TaylorMade is always the evil one. It couldn’t possibly be anyone else. And we’re the ones who supposedly have a bias.

Thirdly…and this is the real spikes-up, cleated kick in the junk. For those of you who haven’t been counting along, Callaway actually took home more awards than TaylorMade in this test. So if our friend’s logic is sound, TaylorMade paid MyGolfSpy to give more driver awards to Callaway. Makes perfect sense.

Paging loud-mouthed jackass, party of one…

Still Have Questions?

If you have any other questions, ask them in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to come back and answer each and every one of them.

Be sure to come back one more time (tomorrow) when we go beyond the data to share some inside information from MyGolfSpy’s 2013 Most Wanted Driver Test.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

PUTTER REVIEW – The Mantis

PUTTER REVIEW – The Mantis

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Win A Mantis

Would you like to win a Mantis putter?  Just leave a comment below and you will be entered into the random drawing.  US residents only on this one.

(Written by Golfspy Dave) Who in their right mind would start a putter company these days?  Seriously, have you seen the multitudes of putters in your local shop lately?  If you haven’t, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  There are a lot of them.  Enlightening, huh?  I’ll let you in on another little nugget of putter knowledge; the vast majority of putters in your local shop are excellent.  I don’t know if I can go so far as to say we are in the Golden Age of Putters, but if there comes a more gilded putter era, it will truly be something special.  The golf consumer has so many great putters to choose from that he or she could almost just grab and go, ala Jim Furyk, and have a great round on the course.

Keeping this competitive marketplace in mind, again I ask why anyone would try to break into the putter business.  Why fight the expensive, uphill battle for exposure and a cut of the putter dollars?  The answer could be very simple.  The fledgling putter company may feel that their putter is simply better than any other putter out there.  They see an open niche in the market, and we all know from our biology classes that utilizing an open niche creates a competitive edge, usually enabling survival.

Mantis Golf is ready to take their shot at the putter market with their new putter.  One look at the putter and you can see that the Mantis putter is unlike any of the others in the market.  Mantis Golf believes that the matte-green finish and minimal alignment markings cause your eye to stay on the ball and not the putter during the stroke. Many of us learned the importance of “keeping your eye on the ball” during our first T-Ball practice.  How else are you going to catch or hit that moving ball? 

But can keeping our eye on the stationary golf ball really help a golfer make more putts?

Mantis Putter Features:

:: Material: 431 Stainless Steel
:: Weight: 350g
:: Toe Hang: Face Balanced
:: Length Tested: 34?
:: Finish: Matte Green
:: Insert: Polyurethane
:: Grip: Custom Winn

BALL USED: Wilson FG Tour

FEEL

2013 may go down as the year that Golfspy Dave gets over his issues with insert putters.  The Odyssey White Hot Pro insert feels great.  Ping has truly nailed it with the Scottsdale TR insert as well.  Add Mantis’ polyurethane insert to that list.  That’s right, drop the Mantis in the same pool as Odyssey and Ping for insert feel.

It’s a soft, yet responsive insert that somehow also delivers a bit of a metallic ring when the ball is struck.  When I visited Odyssey in Carlsbad last winter, I learned just how much chemistry and machinery goes into making their insert, and I came to terms with not truly understanding all of it (any of it?).  How Mantis can make polyurethane ring with a zen-like tone is truly mystifying.  The nice thing for you and me is that we don’t need to understand it to enjoy it.

LOOKS

Well here we go.  Welcome to the most polarizing part of the review. Some of you will like it, some of you will warm to it, and some of you can’t be convinced to roll one ball with that big green thing.  I was a warm to it guy.  When I first saw it, I thought that’s a pretty crazy looking putter.  The Mantis looks like a cross between a turtle shell and the alien ships from Independence Day.

An Anser it is not.  However, the Mantis was not crafted for display; it was made to putt. Once I had it on the green, I started to see what they are talking about with the color scheme.  The matte-green finish takes your eyes away from the camouflaged putter head and instead places them on the ball.  The green and the turtle shape became less and less pronounced the more I used the Mantis.

SET-UP & ALIGNMENT

Many of us remember when Nike tried a green color scheme with their IC putter line.  Nike claimed that the green color of the IC reduced the overall visual footprint of the putter and allowed the golfer to really focus on the alignment lines.  The Mantis takes this concept into similar territory.  However, Mantis is helping you to switch your focus from the putter to the ball.

Having played both the Nike IC 20-20 and the Mantis, I will tell you that there are some serious differences between the two.  The green color is very different.  The Mantis putter’s green is far brighter than the deep olive of the IC.  The Mantis green definitely blends into the turf better than the IC’s did.  Part of that may also be the alignment differences.  Where the Nike IC line had bold white alignment lines, the Mantis has a thin white T-shaped alignment tool.    When addressing the ball, you see the alignment T and the ball far more than the rest of the putter head, which I believe is Mantis’ intention.

FIT FOR STROKE™

Don’t change your stroke. Change your putter.

The (FIT FOR STROKE™) concept was developed by PING, yet another genius fitting system they have developed for golfers. It works hand-in-hand with the iPING Putter App which is highly suggest everyone getting (IT’S FREE!). You might be surprised to find out that the stroke you think you have isn’t the stroke you actually have.

This addition to the MGS reviews will allow you to become a more consistent putter by matching you with models that better fit your stroke type. They will be broken down into three categories: (1) Straight – for face balance putters (2) Slight Arc – for mid toe hang putters (3) Strong Arc – for toe down putters

“Results from hundreds of player and robot tests at PING offer overwhelming scientific support for the effectiveness of fitting for stroke. In recent years more diagnostic tools and testing equipment have become available, and the results prove that a golfer’s consistency improves when their putter balance matches their stroke type. It was interesting to observe that golfers putt more consistently with stroke-appropriate models, but they also show a personal preference for these models, too. Prior to putting with them, golfers are drawn to models that fit their eye, even before they fit their stroke.” says PING.

The Mantis Putter: Straight

PERFORMANCE

As we all learned from the Most Wanted Mallet test, a golfer’s reaction to a putter’s aesthetics does not influence performance.  Remember how the STX xForm3 was the second most accurate putter while simultaneously scoring dead last in aesthetics?  The looks and alignment features definitely do influence accuracy, and that’s why they are there.  However, what doesn’t influence accuracy is your feelings about the aesthetics.  Believe what you want about liking the looks of a putter generating confidence, and that confidence translating to more made putts.  I used to believe that too.  Our data just says otherwise.

Accuracy was measured using the same guidelines as the previous mallet test.  Testers rolled five putts from distances of five, ten, and twenty feet.  The five and ten foot putts scores were adjusted for distance, and then all of the scores from the testers were averaged.  The average score was then scored against the ideal accuracy distance score of 127.5 inches, this ideal accuracy number was determined using all the putters we have reviewed.

Accuracy Score Calculation

:: Total Miss Distance (all testers, adjusted for distance)= 922 inches
:: Average Miss Distance Per Tester (Total/6)= 153.6 inches
:: Percentage of Accuracy Ideal Value (127.5/Average Miss Per Tester x 100)= 83%

An accuracy score of 83 is a solid score for any putter, especially for a company’s first putter.  This score puts the Mantis in the same scoring range as the putters from Bettinardi, Ping, and Odyssey.  That’s pretty solid putter-company company.

Total Accuracy Score = 83%

Summary

Mantis Golf has jumped into the putter arena with a uniquely shaped mallet whose coloration and minimal alignment markings are designed to help you watch the ball, and not the putter.  While I can’t document what the eyes of the testers were focused on during putting, the data supports the idea that Mantis’ design holds performance merit.  If you are interested in purchasing a Mantis, the price is also quite reasonable at $159.99.  I think that many mallet players will love swinging this big green putting machine.

Win A Mantis

Would you like to win a Mantis putter?  Just leave a comment below and you will be entered into the random drawing.  US residents only on this one.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Leupold PinCaddie Laser Rangefinder–REVIEW

Leupold PinCaddie Laser Rangefinder–REVIEW

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A budget Friendly Laser Rangefinder?

(Written by Golfspy_Dave)  Golf is expensive, and cash is tight these days.  Not a great combination for the golfer.  As such, many of us consider ourselves ballers on a budget.  I know that I want to play as much golf as possible this season, with the best gear that I can afford.  Regrettably, until PowerBall gets my numbers right1, I play golf with a finite pool of money.  I’m sure you are in a similar situation.  You carry your bag to save the $15 cart fee and say “it’s for exercise”.  You frequently play a muni with questionable conditions because you know that you can get two rounds there for the price of one at the “nice” course.  Kudos to our wealthy, posh home course readers.  I’ll admit my envy.

Anyway, regardless2 of our current fiscal situation, we want to buy and use the gear that best helps us to go low on the course.  One of the tools that I truly think aids in the number dropping is the golf rangefinder, be it GPS or laser.  On the GPS side, we can go budget with the free apps available for our fancy phones.  Although shooting lasers out of my iPhone may be the coolest thing I have pondered in weeks, alas, there is not an app for that (yet).  If you want to range your distances via laser, you need the hardware, and these, albeit cool, pieces of hardware are not typically billed as budget friendly.

That is until the recent release of Leupold’s PinCaddie Laser RangefinderRather than designing a unit to displace the lasers at the top of the line, Leupold has positioned the PinCaddie at the lower end. This definitely makes the price more attractive, but what we need to know is if Leupold was able to keep the excellent features of their higher-end lasers in this entry-level unit.  So let’s fire the laser3.

Looks + Feel

The Leupold PinCaddie is all business in its appearance.  The dark colors of the plastic body and rubberized top work well together, with the only hint of bright color coming from the logo on the side.  Obviously, style is not really the point of a laser rangefinder.  But style is what gets us in the door.  Design is the key component.

The PinCaddie does have a spot where you can attach a lanyard, but it still wont be replacing the bling of your usual medallion any time soon.  It’s built for performance, not aesthetics.  Let’s wander from the laser for a moment to its case.  The case for the unit is also not much in terms of eye candy, but is amazingly well designed in terms of utility.  The top is easy to open via a bungee/hook closure.  There are slots for the cleaning cloth (included) and an extra battery (just one battery is included).  The back has a nice hook to attach the case to your bag, as well as a loop to attach the case to your belt.  It’s a cool case4

Feel for the lasers rangefinder units always comes down to texture and hand fit/ergonomics.  The Leupold PinCaddie scores well in both of these areas.  The textures of the surfaces are comfortable on the hand, with ample tack for keeping the unit still during use.  Button position and the size of the button both fall in the excellent column.  Once you grip the unit, the button is exactly where you think it should be located and is easy to find by feel.  Though I am not sure of the comparable diameters, the Leupold PinCaddie’s eyepiece seems a bit larger than other lasers that I have used in the past, and as such, is very comfortable to use.  Overall, comfort is spot on.

Looks + Feel Score: 18/20 Points

Performance

Here are the Leupold PinCaddie Specs:

  • 6x Magnification
  • 23mm objective aperture
  • Line of Sight Distance
  • Pin Hunter Targeting
  • Yards/Meters
  • Weatherproof
  • USGA Legal
  • Black LCD Display
  • 600 yard range to reflective target
  • 250 yard range on non-reflective target
  • 1 year warranty
  • Battery good for >7K Actuations

Ease of Use

Very easy to use.  Press once for on, once to target, and hold to hit multiple targets.  There is nothing complicated in the use of the PinCaddie.  Even the switch from yards to meters and the darkening or lightening of the LCD display is very straightforward.

On the Course

So does the less-fancy Leupold PinCaddie hold it’s own on the course?  Overall, I definitely feel that it does.  Here are some of the specific details:

High Points for the PinCaddie:

  • It’s fast:  Quick to fire up and quick to range.
  • A+ Case: The well-designed case really does make it easy to quickly get the unit and to put it away.  You can take readings without slowing down play at all.
  • Ranges Non-Flags: The PinCaddie does a good job of ranging trees, hazards, and other non-flag objects5.
  • Deep Battery Life: Did you see that it said >7K Actuations under the specs.  I had to look up the word actuation6.  That means that you can shoot over 7,000 distances on one battery.  How many rounds of golf is that?  Let’s go with a lot of rounds!

Low Points for the PinCaddie

  • Range:  Most of the time, 250 yards to a non-reflective pin is sufficient, but there were a few par 5’s where I wanted the 400+ yard range that is found on Leupold’s other units.  It’s not that I’m going to hit my second shot 250+ yards7, but I do need to know total to the hole to plan how to play my two shots in.  That second shot usually required some math or lasing of non-flag objects to get the distance.
  • Targeting:  The PinCaddie did struggle targeting in certain situations.  This occurred when I was shooting a non-reflective flag when there were objects in the background.  In these situations, I would get a number for the object past the pin, and then with a bit of targeting shift, I could get the pin number.  It was not really an issue; because I knew that I was closer say to 150 yards out than 250 yards8.  The PinCaddie just didn’t initially lock quite as hard to target as some of the other lasers I have tested.  In reviewing it’s specs, it does lack the DNA (Digitally Enhanced Accuracy) feature found in the other Leupold units.  The lack of DNA may be the issue here.

Overall, I found the on-course experiences with the Leupold PinCaddie to be very satisfying.  There were some situations where I wanted a bit longer range, or where the targeting precision dropped off and made getting the correct reading a bit slower.  However, these issues were more than offset by the ease of use and accuracy under the majority of play situations.  In the multiple rounds that I used the Leupold PinCaddie, never once did I wish that I had brought something different with me to measure distances.

Performance Score: 55/60

Value

While most of the laser rangefinders out there come in closer to the $400-$500 price range, the Leupold PinCaddie retails for $314.99 on the Leupold site.  A quick search for it at Amazon shows a common price of $249.99.  That is an amazing price for this laser, placing it at almost 50% lower than some of the units in the marketplace.  Assuming that the unit holds up well under prolonged usage, the PinCaddie may be the best value laser rangefinder on the market today.

Value Score: 20/20 Points

Summary

Take heed my budget-golfing brethren (and sistheren9), if you are looking for a high-quality laser rangefinder that will still allow you to retain some ducats, you need to look into the Leupold PinCaddie.  There’s no slope, or fancy colored display, but there are clear optics combined with steady, accurate measuring.  Leupold has designed the PinCaddie to be an entry-level laser, as opposed to a low-end unit.  Happy lasing!

Overall Score: 93/100


1.  Seriously PowerBall.  How hard is it for you to pick 8, 12, 17, 21, 23, & 5?  Get that done already!
2.  Not to be confused with the ever-painful “anyways” and “irregardless”.
3.  No Scott, I do not think that I can write a laser review without referencing Dr. Evil.
4.  Not to be confused with a “cold case” of course.  That’s something totally different and you would look very silly trying to attach a cold case to your belt…
5.  You should not be shooting lasers at other golfers, hawks, turkeys, gophers, cart-girls, marshals, restrooms, and so on, but I understand that sometimes you need this information.
6.  ac-tu-ate (ak-choo-eyt)  1.  to put into motion or action; activate.  2. To move to action.  You’re welcome.
7.  Probably not hitting my first shot 250+ these days either…
8.  I can tell that distance difference laser-free.  Skills, I haz ‘em.
9.  I don’t even know if that’s the right word, but no red squiggly line so I’m going with it.  It does make me think of Harry Potter though.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Golf Swing Instruction – Dramatically Lower Your Handicap With This Simple Move by Andy Brown

Golf Swing Instruction – Dramatically Lower Your Handicap With This Simple Move by Andy Brown

Featured on http://www.GolfSwingSecretedRevealed.com – View the first of the new four magic moves to a winning golf swing. Andy Brown from St Andrews “The Ho…

Video Rating: 4 / 5

How much does the required 6 hours of professional driver’s training cost in California?

Question by Great Job!: How much does the required 6 hours of professional driver’s training cost in California?

I’m sorry this showed up in the golf section. Hope someone can answer!

I’m 16 and I’m getting my driving “lessons” online, I’m not attending driving school, unless that’s cheaper, overall.
I’m 16, and I’m not going to a driving school, I’m trying to get my permit online.