First Look – Nike Golf’s Ultra-Exclusive MMProto Irons

First Look – Nike Golf’s Ultra-Exclusive MMProto Irons

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Written By: Tony Covey

A Full Set

You probably saw the Nike MM Proto 2-iron that Rory McIlroy used to win The Open Championship.

At the time, most of us assumed the MM Proto was a one-off driving iron not too dissimilar from TaylorMade’s Ultimate Driving Iron. It turns out Rory’s 2-iron was really just the beginning.

Nike staffer Thorbjorn Olesen posted a pic to Instagram yesterday which basically let anybody who was paying attention know that the Champion Golfer of the Year’s 2-iron would soon be joined by a 3, 4, 5…you get the idea. The MMProto is a full set of irons.

mmproto

Gone in 60 Seconds

The MMProto irons go on sale August 4th, and here’s my prediction, they’re going to sell out…and fast. If you want them, you better show up early because there’s not a doubt in my mind that demand will exceed supply.

That’s right…Nike…blades…sold out. FAST!

I’m calling it right now.

Only 40 Sets

Yeah, I probably should have led with the fact that only 40 sets of the MMProto irons will be available to the public.

“The Nike MM Proto Irons are a limited run of blades designed exclusively for the tour. These irons represent years of testing and development with the world’s best athletes. The prototype design and technology was developed collaboratively by Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the engineers at The Oven, Nike Golf’s R&D Facility and Tour Shop.”

You want exactly what the pros play? Here ya go.

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Each of the 40 sets will be laser engraved with Nike’s the Oven logo, and will be individually numbered.

Buyers will be able to work one-on-one with a Nike Golf expert to get your specs dialed in, get you sorted out with the shaft and grip of your choice, and if you so choose, some custom stamping and paintfill as well.

mmproto

Your clubs will be meticulously inspected before they ship to you.

What’s the Catch?

As with all things golf industry-related, there’s sure to be some frustration. The 40 sets are all right-handed. They’re available to US residents only, and there’s a limit of one set per person.

Also, they’re $1500.

Unspecified other restrictions may apply, and Nike reserves the right to cancel or modify this offer at any time.

More to Come?

Even I’d hate to venture a guess as to whether or not Nike would release a non-Ovenized version of the MM (no longer proto) to the masses. I hear a fair amount of grumbling from guys about Nike not offering a full set of true blades, but realistically, blades are nobody’s top seller.

It’s very possible that enough for the tour guys, plus 40 sets for the rest of us is the right number, but you never know.

If nothing else, this is a clever and cool way to all but guarantee you can get people to pay a little attention to your brand, while moving product with relative ease. It’s not unrealistic to think that this small batch, super-limited, custom release thing will eventually be a part of every golf equipment manufacturers arsenal.

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Save the Date

In case you missed it the first time. Irons go on sale August 4th at 10AM Eastern Time at Nike.com only, and it’s suggested that you follow @nikgolf on Twitter for additional launch details.

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Open Your Wallets Wider, Golf Gear is Too Damn Cheap

Open Your Wallets Wider, Golf Gear is Too Damn Cheap

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Written By: Tony Covey

As I’ve heard it from hundreds of you; one of the prime suspects in the crime that is the decline of golf is the cost of the gear itself.

Golf equipment has gotten too damn expensive. These golf companies have a lot of nerve thinking they can charge $400 for a driver.

Nobody can afford to spend $400 in this economy.

The prevailing perception is that the manufacturers are gouging the consumer. They’ve steadily raised prices and haven’t given you a damn thing more for your money.

Those sonsofbitches.

Golf equipment is overpriced, right? They’re screwing us.

Probably not.

Let me preface all of what’s to come with the acknowledgement that what I’m about to say might be the most unpopular thing I’ve ever written for MyGolfSpy (and I’ve written some amazingly unpopular articles)…and so here it goes.

Golf equipment is too damn inexpensive.

I’ll give you a moment to choke that down…

Not only is the cost of golf equipment likely to rise (and soon), but I’d argue that the cost bump is not only justified, it’s long overdue.

Drop the rock.

Let’s be rational for just a moment.

Absolutely, $400 is a lot of money. I’m not arguing otherwise. Golf clubs are expensive, but that’s not the same thing as too expensive. Look around…over the past decade…the past two decades, the cost of everything around you has risen.

We’re all familiar with inflation, right?

Everything Costs More. . .Except Golf Equipment

Here’s the really amazing thing. Despite inflation and the rising cost of life in a general sort of way, the cost of golf equipment has remained nearly unchanged for the better part of two decades.

To this point in time, and unlike any other consumer product or service I could find outside of the computer industry, the golf equipment industry has defied inflation.

It’s astonishing.

Let’s look at some comparables from 2006 to 2013.

Worth a quick mention, there’s nothing particularly special about 2006, it was simply a point in time where all of the data (sourced from statista.com, NADA.org, and the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics all lined up).

I chose a mix of necessities, near-necessities, and entertainment options to paint a well-rounded picture of how inflation (and other factors) have impacted the cost of goods and services around us.

The Diff column shows the percentage difference between what something should cost today (based on Labor and Statistics CPI calculator) and the actual cost. Anything with a minus value reflects a cost difference that hasn’t kept up with inflation (consumer friendly – costs less than it probably should), while a plus value reflects a cost difference above the inflation rate (costs more than it should).

Obviously there are other factors (supply and demand, subsidies, etc.) that account for slight variations off of the inflation rate, but generalized, I think the data is compelling.

comp-chart

While the cost of nearly everything else on this list outpaces the inflation rate (some of them by more than a little), if we use 2006 as a baseline, a new premium driver adjusted for inflation should have retailed for something in the neighborhood of $462.22 last year.

You’re already $62 ahead. It’s the coffee guys that are screwing us.

But Wait…That’s Not What We Should Be Looking At

It’s actually totally misleading to use 2006 as a baseline because $400 as the standard for a premium driver actually goes back a lot further.

In 2005 the Titleist 983K and TaylorMade R7 Quad (among many others) retailed for $400. Ok…1 year isn’t that much further.

What if we go back to 2000? The TaylorMade R300 Series. You guessed it, $400.

How about 1997? Titleist 975D…$400.

1994? Big Bertha. Yup $400.

Over the years there have been anomalies (Great Big Bertha way back when was $500). The original Fusion driver was expensive, and TaylorMade has been known to exceed the $500 price point every now and again, but the occasional outlier aside, $400 bucks…not $400 adjusted for inflation, has been the standard ask for nearly every company’s premium driver for the better part of 20 years.

True story.

Adjusted for inflation, the equivalent of 1994′s $400 driver should cost $643.30 today.

Let’s flip it around. Today’s $400 was $248 and change back in 1994. Drivers (and it’s true of nearly every club in the bag) are substantially cheaper…nearly 47% cheaper…than they were 20 years ago.

A Price increase is long over-due

I’ve heard from a few manufacturers now that supplier pressure is increasing. Overseas factories are raising prices and that means higher costs for everybody.

Don’t discount the positive role that the flood of equipment has played in keeping prices down either. Many hate the fact that some companies habitually dump new product on the market every 4 to 6 months, but the reality is that volume too has helped keep your costs in check.

The rapid decline in equipment sales is going to have consequences for the consumer. Less gear ringing the register, and fewer discounts means the volume model isn’t going to work anymore. Your driver isn’t going to be obsolete after 6 months, but you’re probably going to have to pay a bit more for the increased lifespan.

Golf companies will need to make their money through higher margins, and that means higher prices for all of us…even in this economy.

$349 and $449…my guess is those will be the new standards. Some may go even higher. You won’t like it. Inflation or not, $450 is still a lot of money for most of us, but that doesn’t mean the gear is overpriced.

Golf clubs might be expensive, but the reality is they’re cheaper than they’ve ever been.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

HBO’s Real Sports On The “Crisis” In Golf; Why I Still Don’t Believe There’s A Crisis.

HBO’s Real Sports On The “Crisis” In Golf; Why I Still Don’t Believe There’s A Crisis.
HBO’s Real Sports Series has chimed in on the golf “crisis” with a fifteen minute segment that focuses mostly on Mark King, who at…

Golf Blogger

Have Your Say! – Mizuno Brand Survey

Have Your Say! – Mizuno Brand Survey

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One For the Little Guy

To this point we’ve basically focused our survey efforts on some of the larger brands in golf. This time around we want to hear your thoughts on a smaller brand that I suspect will be very popular with you guys.

As most of you know, Mizuno started leaking pics of their upcoming fall releases during The Open Championship, and with embargoes lifting, now seems like the perfect time to hear what you think about the Mizuno brand and its products.

As always the case, there’s plenty to think about. Given the recent developments at Dick’s Sporting Goods, you might appreciate Mizuno’s controlled release practices more than ever.

2-3 years is plenty of time for anticipation to build.

Have you traditionally looked forward to new Mizuno iron releases? Do you still?

What about the woods? To many Mizuno is…and always will be an iron company, but what are your thoughts on their drivers, fairways, and hybrids? Can they compete in a marketplace where innovation is the buzzword du jour?

Finally, be sure to comment (since we don’t cover it in the survey) and let us know what you think about those Mizuno putters and balls that never quite make their way to shelves in the USA.

Love Mizuno…despise Mizuno? It’s time to have your say.

Take the Survey

Check Back Soon

Wanna see the results? We’re going to publish the results of this survey for everyone to see. Be sure to check back soon to find out what other MyGolfSpy readers truly think about the biggest names in golf.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Disk’s Sporting Goods Fires 500 PGA Pros; I’m Still Not Convinced There’s A Golf “Crisis”

Disk’s Sporting Goods Fires 500 PGA Pros; I’m Still Not Convinced There’s A Golf “Crisis”
Dick’s Sporting Goods has fired some 500 PGA Professionals, citing slow sales on golf products in their stores. Hunting sales were similarly down, but there’s no word on whether they…

Golf Blogger

Dick’s Firings Signal Major Recalibration of the Golf Equipment Industry

Dick’s Firings Signal Major Recalibration of the Golf Equipment Industry

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Written By: Tony Covey

The golf equipment industry’s retail model is broken.

That’s an opinion, but it’s an opinion shared by every last person I know in this industry.

As if we needed more evidence that the system is in need of recalibration, Dick’s Sporting Goods, the #1 sporting goods retailer in the USA, very recently fired 100% of  the PGA Professionals on staff.

That is, unfortunately, an undisputed fact.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported the number of people who lost their job at over 500. My sources put the number at roughly 550. Either way, it’s a bad situation.

As is usually the case when bad things happen, there is plenty of finger pointing right now. The fingers that aren’t being pointed at Dick’s are trained squarely on TaylorMade, and to a lesser extent, Callaway. Those who are being kind simply blame the equipment companies.

We have reached a tipping point.

Years of accelerated product cycles and equally accelerated consumer discounts have finally caught up with golf’s biggest retailer (Dick’s + the Dick’s-owned Golf Galaxy), and just as quickly it’s catching up with the industry’s two largest manufacturers…and everyone else too.

The Channel is Flooded

Selling off a little bit of inventory at a discount price isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not killing anybody to slash prices and clear out a literal handful of PING and Titleist drivers after a one-and-a-half to two-year lifecycle.

When lifecycles drop to six months and the discounting starts after only 3 or 4 months, it’s a huge problem. It’s half the reason golfers have stopped buying equipment. We have no faith that what we can buy today won’t be cheaper tomorrow.

As one industry contact recently said to me, “golf equipment isn’t like toilet paper. People don’t need to buy it.”

Nailed it. Golfers don’t need to buy new equipment, and so for now, they’re not.

In fairness, nobody…not TaylorMade, not Callaway or anybody else plans on a six-month-release cycle. In golf, just like everything else, sometimes shit just happens. Nobody consciously set out to destroy the golf equipment industry.

The decision to drop the next big thing ahead of schedule is made for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the need to make the balance sheet look palatable for investors. You can absorb a bad quarter or two, but you can really only blame the weather for so long.

Eventually heads roll.

All In

The thing is, a business like Dick’s doesn’t buy as they go. They commit early, and they buy big. For a company the size of Dick’s Sporting Goods TaylorMade is their Costco, they save when they buy in bulk.

They did, and they got stuck holding the bag for a metric shit-ton of TaylorMade gear.

How bad is it?

I spoke with two senior level industry experts yesterday who estimate that a full 60% of Dick’s golf inventory is tied up in TaylorMade. Couple that surplus with another estimate that puts Dick’s TaylorMade sales down by upwards of 40% from last year, and well, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint the source of the congestion.

Net Down to Zero Profits

At any given Dick’s you’re likely to find upwards of 10 different TaylorMade drivers still on shelves. That number includes an assortment of standard models (R1, RBZ, RBZ 2, SLDR, SLDR S, JetSpeed), Pro & TP, black and white, and for good measure, a few Dick’s exclusive’s like the Gloire and RBZ SL.

Having a huge selection of gear, particularly at discount prices isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the consumer, but it’s a huge problem for Dick’s right now.

Because of the way most major manufacturers handle price cuts (a process known as Net Down), Dick’s (and everyone else) only makes much in the way of an actual profit when it sells the very latest and greatest.

For the rest of it (the 6+ month old stuff)…the cost of those discounts was already applied to the purchase of the new gear. So while selling a few R1s might clear some shelf space, it doesn’t actually make Dick’s any real money.

Good news…all those near-zero profit drivers, they still count in the market share reports (Dick’s doesn’t provide info to Golf Datatech, but most other retail outlets do).

Once upon a time retailers could Net Down and still turn a profit. Not anymore, not with this much surplus. With the retail market and the industry as a whole in decline, the accelerated release model has very quickly been proven unsustainable.

Enough Blame to Go Around

While TaylorMade faces the brunt of the criticism, the reality is that this mess isn’t totally on them. Callaway followed the TaylorMade model, and as recently as last year was still talking about being extremely aggressive with their releases.

I’m guessing plans have changed.

Over the last few seasons, Cleveland, Cobra, Adams…actually let’s call it what it is – EVERYBODY not named Titleist, PING, or Nike has aggressively discounted gear early in the season, and they too have contributed to the equipment clog.

Let’s pause for a moment to appreciate those few companies who refused to contribute to what is now, inarguably, a total clusterfuck.

If you’re going to blame TaylorMade for being the leader, shake an angry fist at all of the followers too.

Dick’s shouldn’t get a pass in this either. It’s not a victim by any stretch. Absolutely TaylorMade has been known to do some arm twisting. You want the biggest wholesale discount, you’ll need to buy more inventory than anyone can reasonably expect to sell in this market.

Not only did Dick’s load up with the standard stuff, they partnered with TaylorMade on those exclusives I talked about too. Dick’s went all in with TaylorMade and they got busted.

Dick’s twisted its own arm.

Sadly…that’s only half the story.

The Other Half of the Story

There’s more to this than just a flooded retail channel. It would be easy to view those 500+ golf professionals who lost their jobs this week as collateral damage in TaylorMade’s war on the rest of the golf industry, but the reality is they’re victims of a badly miscalculated power play on the part of Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Have you ever stopped to think why Dick’s even staffed PGA Professionals in the first place? I mean, when you really think about it, it’s ludicrous.

You think the average big box customer cares about custom fitting, or having access to a credentialed PGA Professional? C’mon.

Would Best Buy hire sound engineers to sell stereos?

It’s just bad business to pay someone 40-50K per year to do the same job that somebody else will do for $10 an hour.

That’s not a knock on the PGA Pros who lost their jobs. It’s a safe assumption that the vast majority are more skilled and much more knowledgeable than the average Dick’s associate. They don’t deserve to be out of work right now. They’re talented guys who were in the wrong place.

What I’m suggesting is that Dick’s had a plan…and it wasn’t a particularly good one. The Big box business doesn’t need much in the way of professional anything, at least not at the ground level.

It’s reasonable to assume that the idea to staff PGA Professionals was conceived with the belief that by offering custom fitting (your actual mileage with that will vary) and other services (club repair, regripping) more commonly associated with Green Grass and mom and pop golf businesses, Dick’s could take an even bigger chunk out of the ass of the little guy…and the club pro too.

Credentialed PGA Professionals would add authenticity to Dick’s golf business. They would legitimize the money grab.

Dick’s misread the market and its own customer base.

Big Box is All About Price and Instant Gratification

While there will always be exceptions, the average big box customer doesn’t much care who’s behind the counter. He doesn’t care about custom fitting either.

The majority Dick’s golf customer doesn’t know the store has a PGA Professional on staff. If he does, it doesn’t much matter, because he’s not at Dick’s for the service anyway. He’s there for the inventory. He’s there for instant gratification. Dick’s has what he wants and he doesn’t have to pay for shipping.

Golf consumers aren’t much different than any other consumer. They want what they want for as little as they can possibly spend, and because of MAP Pricing, Dick’s can’t sell him a driver for any less than anybody else.

You know who can? eBay. It’s the only place where anyone has a competitive advantage at retail.

Those who are actually interested in fitting and a full-service experience, they were never going to come to Dick’s in any meaningful numbers. The Big Box stigma is too strong. Those guys…probably guys like most of you; you’re going to a custom fitter, or a golf specialty shop.

Dick’s believed that it could make golfers see them as something more than a big box sporting goods store. They were wrong and 500+ PGA Pros are out of work today because of it.

What Happens Next

This unfortunate Dick’s situation isn’t the story. It’s barely the start of a much larger one.

Big, big (and much needed) changes are coming to the golf equipment industry. Participation in the sport is dropping, and while I’m not one who believes it’s time to start the countdown to the total demise of the game just yet, the current retail sales model is broken. It’s clearly not sustainable in this declining market.

I don’t have any details solid enough to print just yet, but the firings are just the beginning of major changes to Dick’s golf business. The forecasters at Dick’s don’t believe the golf equipment industry has hit bottom yet. They’re cutting back…on inventory, and on floor space.

Make room for Yoga. That’s where the money is. And I’m not kidding.

That alone will impact the industry in a big way. Inside their biggest revenue source, golf companies will have less square footage peddle their wares. It’s a potentially massive shift.

We believe we’re going to see a much more restrained industry. Expectations will be reset. Product cycles will rationalize, and the rapid discount game is going to come to a very sudden halt.

Direct to consumer sales will be a larger part of the strategy for most golf companies, and that’s going to take yet another chunk out of what’s left of the retail guy’s ass. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

My guess is that all of this trickles down to my side of the industry as well. There will likely be fewer and smaller media events. The free equipment frenzy that keeps the average golf blogger banging away at his keyboard is going to end. There’s going to be much less to go around.

Existing advertising models? We’ll see.

The entire golf industry is going to contract and consolidate.

Some will no doubt accuse us of being overly dramatic (we respect your opinion), but the industry has been tumbling towards this inevitability for a while now, and the firings at Dick’s are only a harbinger (what an ominous word, right) of even bigger changes to come.

At the risk of overstating it, we believe this is nothing less than chapter one of the biggest equipment story in the history of MyGolfSpy.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story…

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

The Shoe Philes – adidas gripmore

The Shoe Philes – adidas gripmore

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Written By: Tony Covey

If you’re a golf shoe manufacturer there are plenty of niche markets you need to flood fill with product. Premium tour, lightweight, classic, spikeless, mesh, and dirt cheap with our logo (just to name a few); most manufacuters feel compelled to offer something for everyone.

For golfers like us it’s almost too much, but within what is arguably an over-abundance of product, every manufacturer has its signature piece of footwear. It’s the one shoe from every lineup that you need to pay attention to.

For 2014, FootJoy has its DNA, PUMA has its Biofusion, Nike has…it’s probably the Lunar Control, but you could make a case for Clayton or Tiger Woods, and adidas has the gripmore.

It may seem strange that in a year when adidas has arguably the best tour shoe they’ve ever created (pure 360), a casual styled shoe with an unusual sole design would take top billing. That’s exactly what’s happening with gripmore, and that should tell you exactly how excited the guys at adidas golf are about the gripmore’s new spikes.

Key Features

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The major talking point for the adidas gripmore are its non-traditional…maybe even innovative, PU spikes. Instead of relying on a housing structure – like that found in traditional designs – to secure the spike to the shoe, the gripmore’s spikes are injection molded. The literally squirt the spike directly onto the sole.

They’re spikes, except they’re not.

The gripmore is designed to perform like a traditional golf shoe, while still offering the casual styling and comfort of a modern spikeless design.

Call it a hybrid, call it a new category…adidas is calling it groundbreaking.

Tour Validation

Chances are most of you are less concerned with what footwear is being worn on tour than you are what drivers guys have in their bags, but it’s worth mentioning that gripmore is having a solid year on the PGA Tour.

Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose have each won twice (including Kaymer’s US Open) while wearing gripmore. Mike Weir, Matt Kuchar, and Jim Furyk have also worn gripmore at one time or another this season.

But enough about those guys…how will the gripmore perform for the average golfer? Let’s get to it.

Comfort

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Once upon a time I believed that adidas golf’s prevailing philosophy was that a shoe can never be too narrow. It’s the primary reason why I avoided the brand. Within the last couple of years, however, the golf line has steadily widened to the point that in most cases my slightly chubby foot doesn’t warrant stepping out to a wide.

Such is the case with the gripmore, which despite its clear Samba-inspired styling, doesn’t share the original boot’s penchant for binding the forefight. gripmore is built on a wider last, and that along with some well-placed cushioning, has led to an insanely comfortable shoe that requires zero break-in time.

Straight out of the box over hilly terrain I had absolutely no issues walking my first 18 holes, and haven’t had the slightest comfort issue in the 150 or so holes I’ve walked since. 100% blister free, as it should be.

For comfort alone, the gripmore is the shoe I find myself pulling off the rack most often this season.

Durability

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I think each of us has our own expectations when it comes to golf shoe durability. Conservatively, $100 ought to buy you at least one season. At $130 the gripmore should get you through two seasons with reasonable use.

Admittedly it’s too early to say that the gripmore will last that long, but after half a season of use, the gripmore is showing only minimal signs of wear.

Seams are intact, and despite ocassional use over blacktop and concrete, the spikes show only the slightest amount of wear with no shearing.

The liner looks new, but I have lost part of the adidas logo on the insole to heel rub. That’s not so bad. It might actually be good.

I am aware that some of you are obsessive about creases in the toebox. It’s seriously nothing I ever concern myself with, but for those of you who do, yes…I’m afraid the gripmores do show pronounced wrinkling and creasing in the toebox area.

That might be a deal-breaker for some.

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Performance

Realistically, golf shoe performance is probably 50% comfort. It’s hard enough to play good golf. It’s next to impossible in uncofortable shoes. Curt Schilling couldn’t break par with a bloody sock. Curt Schilling probably can’t break par anyway, but you get the point.

The rest…it’s mostly traction and stability, and that’s where, under the wrong conditions, gripmore can fall short.

Let’s start with the good.

The adidas gripmore is an outstanding performer in dry conditions. While I won’t mislead and suggest that we have some sophisticated traction measuring system, I don’t notice any less traction or more slipping than I do with the more-traditional spiked designs that I wear.

The gripmore performs exactly as it should…when it’s dry. Toss in the unquestionable comfort, and well, gripmore is one hell of a good golf shoe. Again…when it’s dry.

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gripless in Seattle

When conditions are damp…even slightly so, traction becomes an issue. It’s not that the PU spikes themselves can’t handle wet ground. The issue is that as dirt becomes mud, the sole of the gripmore becomes caked to the point that all but the tiniest bit of the gripmore spike’s tip is submurged.

The spikes almost literally disappear. You can imagine how that works out on the golf course.

I’m not a shoe designer, but I believe the issue results from the combination of the gripmore spikes being placed too close together, along with the additional little microspikes that line the sole. The appear to help bind debris to the shoe, which isn’t a good thing.

It’s a design flaw.

In even slightly damp conditions, the mud collects in the narrow gaps between spikes, and because of that narrow spacing and additional texture that helps the mud bind to the sole, conventional on-course cleaning methods (tees, and the occasional ball washer-mounted brush) aren’t effective in degunking the spikes.

gripmore-1

The above photo shows the gripmore after 9 holes played several hours after a thunderstorm…and believe me, it’s worse when the shoe is still wet. These have had 2 days for the gunk to dry and fall off.

The end result is an outstanding dry weather golf shoe that quite simply isn’t suitable for play in damp conditions.

gripmore is the low bounce wedge of golf shoes.

Final Thoughts

I love the gripmore. It’s comfortable, reasonably stylish (some would say cool), and it performs admirably in dry conditions. I’ve got a solid handful of 2014 shoes here and the gripmore has logged nearly twice the rounds of anything else.

It’s my favorite shoe of 2014 thus far, but I’d never wear it in the rain.

If you’ve got wet weather shoes already, and are willing to drop $130 on a shoe with the knowledge that you’ll probably only wear them when it’s dry, you could do plenty worse than gripmore.

It’s a great shoe, but it’s limited.

If you’re only going to purchase one pair of golf shoes this season, and that pair needs to be versatile enough to perform under both dry and wet conditions, as much as I love the gripmore, my honest recommendation is that you look elswhere.

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Colorways and Pricing

The adidas gripmore currently retails for aound $130. It’s available in 3 colorways; Aluminum/White/Scarlet (shown), Black/White/Scarlet, and White/White/Scarlet.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look – Fugazi Floyd the Driver from Geek Golf

First Look – Fugazi Floyd the Driver from Geek Golf

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Written By: Tony Covey

Not Your Average Geek

Geek Golf’s Steve Almo isn’t like most guys in component industry. That’s putting it mildly.

You won’t hear Almo trash talking any of the big golf companies. He’d be the first to tell you that TaylorMade, Callaway, and PING make a really good product. They’re not bamboozling anybody.

Almo isn’t delusional either. He knows (and accepts) that the tremendous majority of golfers want to play product from the big OEMs, and he knows that smaller component companies can’t compete with that.

“Why is someone going to pay $250 for a Geek driver when they can get a brand new TaylorMade for $150″? – Steve Almo, President, Geek Golf

Steve Almo might be the most pragmatic man in golf.

So rather than play follow the leader, Steve Almo and Geek Golf do their own thing. Almo designs for guys looking for more than just another head….guys outside the mainstream.

Almo designs for the rest of the world…and you know who you are.

From muscle cars (Geek No Brainer) to music (the nearly available Pink “Floyd the Driver” under the Fugazi brand), Steve Almo finds inspiration in places far outside the golf industry.

Every Geek Driver has a theme; a union of an idea, with paint, and an often-unorthodox name.

It all comes together in a kind of harmonious inside joke… and Almo wants his customers to be in on the joke and to have fun tying it all together.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Geek products perform. The company’s Long Drive success is well documented.

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The Technical Side of Geek

For those who are just as interested in the technical side of Geek Golf, Almo, who learned the art of golf club design from Stan Thompson (inventor of “The Ginty”), does all of his own design work, and instead of relying on open molds from the foundries – as many component companies do, he has custom tooling created for all of his Geek designs.

It adds to the expense, but it’s the price one has to pay to offer a truly unique product.

Once Almo has his prototypes he canon tests them for durability, tests them on a launch monitor, and then puts them in the hands of real golfers to get their feedback.

“Golfers are kind”, says Almo. “Most people will say nice things, so if the response is only lukewarm, I know I need to redo the club.”

“If a club doesn’t feel right, it’s not going to sell” – Steve Almo

Introducing Floyd The Driver

The latest of Almo’s creations is the pink-accented, Fugazi Floyd the Driver.  Notice the triangle in the sole graphics? If you’re not already in on the theme, you want to do some quick googling.

The black and pink Floyd reiterates Geek Golf’s willingness to go bold.

“I like my clubs to be silent salesmen. If a guy walks into a shop and the sales guy is busy, I want him to pick up my head and say what’s this?” – Steve Almo

The “Floyd” design features a recessed sole plate, which Almo says pushes the CG forward to promote lower launch and spin, while at the same time shifting weight to the perimeter which boosts the MOI of the clubhead.

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Pricing, Specs, and Availability

While Floyd will be available through Geek’s network of fitters, heads will be available directly from Geek (available for pre-order now). Retail price for a head is $129, while fully assembled clubs will start at $199.

The 200g, 460cc Floyd the Driver is available in lofts of 7.5°, 9°, 10.5° and 12°. Geek is accepting orders now and expects to start shipping to customers around August 1st.

To order, or for more information, visit GeekGolf.com.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Is Big Bertha V Series the Next Optiforce?

Is Big Bertha V Series the Next Optiforce?

Post image for Is Big Bertha V Series the Next Optiforce?

Written By: Tony Covey

Freshly added to the USGA’s Conforming Clubs list this morning is what we’re reasonably certain is the follow-up to Callaway’s surprisingly likable FT Optiforce. Seriously. Lay out 2 season’s worth of Callaway drivers…X Hot, RAZR Fit Xtreme, X2 Hot, Big Bertha, Big Bertha Alpha…FT Optiforce is my favorite. It’s not even close.

Unfortunately for those of us who appreciate the radically different, this Optiforce Big Bertha doesn’t appear to have the spoiler described in the patent application we covered a few weeks ago. Bummer, right?

What We Can Tell from Grainy USGA Photographs

With respect to their photos, it’s the USGA’s job to document, not to win a Pulitzer, so as is usually the case, the photos don’t come close to telling the story. We’re going to have to do some well-educated speculating about this upcoming release.

Before we dig in any further, from a performance perspective, it’s important to remember that while aerodynamics are a legitimate way to increase head speed, the guys who already swing fast reap the greatest rewards. Simply put, if you swing 85 MPH, you’re not going to see nearly the same benefit as they guys who swings 115.  I know…it isn’t fair.

Still, something is always better nothing.

Because somebody else is surely going to point it out, the images suggest design elements that aren’t wholly visually dissimilar those found previously on Adams Speedline Tech driver. What I describe as channels can be found on both the toe side (similar to Adams) and the heel side (not similar). Those channels along with the phrase SPEED OPTIMIZED TECHNOLOGY, and Callaway’s inclusion of the scientific formula for Kinetic Energy into the graphics scheme, suggest a club designed to increase head speed through aerodynamics, and well, that fits very nicely into the Optiforce line.

If all of that wasn’t enough, I’m going to go out a limb and suggest that V is for Velocity. Hooray…more physics-y words.

And you know…it’s been about a year since the launch of Optiforce, so it fits from a timing perspective as well.

The USGA doesn’t do crown photographs, so we can’t tell if Callaway’s got anything akin to PING’s Tabulators in play, but my guess the crown is clean. The channels will account for the bulk of the story.

As far as lofts are concerned, the USGA has approved 9.5°, 10.5°, and a 13.5° HT model. With Callaway’s Optifit Hosel, that should cover just about all of us. Thus far no “Pro” models have been approved by the USGA.

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But It’s Not an Optiforce

Not surprisingly, it appears Callaway will position the new V series as part of the Bertha family. The company is clearly committed to the reinvigorated franchise, and so it’s just good branding to stamp Bertha on as many drivers as reasonably possible.

You love Bertha right? Well, here’s another one.

The new Callaway Golf (let’s call it the Chip Brewer era) has shown a willingness to play it a little campy at times. The marketing team refers to itself as the Zoo Crew (it’s cheesy right?…not that a little cheese is a bad thing), they sometimes tweet silly little graphics and assorted inside jokes along with their persistent message about physics. Now they’re stamping cartoons on the bottom of their drivers.

The fun stuff draws you in. You become an insider. You get the joke, and when they’ve really got your attention…#BOOM. Physics. Physics. Physics. Branding is serious business.

Let’s be real for a second. That Sir Isaac Newton logo on the bottom of the new driver…it’s pure cheese. It’s campy. It’s almost certainly going to get a rise out of the “No Real Golfer would…” crowd.

Could TaylorMade pull that off right now? Would Titleist ever try? That’s the beauty of being Callaway right now…they have a growing audience of golfers who aren’t categorically opposed to the notion that golf should be fun. That’s an audience I’m guessing some others would love to cultivate. Others have certainly tried.

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Re-Building an Identity

Every brand has an identity…or at least every brand wants an identity (and the one they get isn’t always the one it wants). Titleist has Performance (and Quality). PING has Engineering. TaylorMade has … hmm…I don’t know…and that’s a problem. And while it’s almost certainly been calculated every step of the way, Callaway appears on the verge of cementing its place (real or contrived…doesn’t matter) as the most physics-inclined company in golf.

Physics is Callaway.

Have Your Say

Were you an Optiforce Guy? Are you a Bertha Guy…or just a Callaway Guy in a more general sort of way?

What do you think of the next Bertha and/or the idea that Physics is Callaway.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)