First Look: Adams Golf blue Driver

First Look: Adams Golf blue Driver

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

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

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

adams-blue-usga

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

FIRST LOOK – 2015 PING Ketsch

FIRST LOOK – 2015 PING Ketsch

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by Dave Wolfe

Ketsch: Early Favorite For 2015 Most Wanted Mallet

When we first toured the new PING Cadence TR line-up, one putter was left out of the article. I gave you a pretty good clue as to what was excluded, hinting that the excluded putter had earned the right to a little solo attention. Well let’s drop the subterfuge and get right to the potentially special putter in the Cadence TR stable: The PING Cadence TR Ketsch.

Unfamiliar with the PING Ketch and why it gets put on a pedestal? Let’s just say that the first incarnation of the Ketsch dominated the competition in the 2014 Most Wanted Mallet Test. 5-footers were basically gimmies for all of our testers. Yep, all of our testers.

The Ketch was an amazing performer on tour as well. In less than a year of play, there are already gold versions in PING’s fabled Gold Putter Vault.

It was the hot putter of 2014 and if the Cadence TR version of the Ketch is truly updated and upgraded, then I think that we have an early favorite in the 2015 Most Wanted Mallet field.

Not One Ketch, But Two

The Cadence TR line consists of both Traditional and Heavy versions for each model, and the Ketsch is no exception. Let’s take a look at the two incarnations.

  • Style: Machined Aluminum mallet, 17-4 stainless steel sole plate
  • Face: Milled TR Grooves
  • Alignment: alignment line extends from top rail to back of putter
  • Weights: Traditional, 355g; Heavy, 388g
  • Stroke Fit: Straight, Slight Arc, Strong Arc stroke types (achieved by different shaft bends)
  • Customization: lie angle +/- 2º
  • Price: U.S. MSRP: $245

Admittedly, there is not a whole lot of visual differences between the two Ketsch models. The are made of the same materials, with the variation in weight coming from the sole plates. There are some differences between the 2014 Most Wanted winning Ketsch and the Cadence TR Catch though.

First, let’s take a look at the big difference, the TR grooves.

The Groovespiracy

Top: Original Ketsch     Bottom: Cadence TR Ketsch

In the highly-praised Ketsch putter, which is widely used on Tours around the world, our internal team recently determined that the grooves in the face technology are deeper than intended. As a result, we suspended productions and shipments of the putter. Today, we are announcing the Ketsch putter is returning to production and will soon me available with new grooves. – PING Chairman & CEO John A. Solheim, August 19, 2014

The Ketsch entered the 2014 golf market with very little promotion or fanfare. Then it won our Most Wanted Mallet Competition in a dominant fashion, and it became a very hot commodity. Lots of golfers had to wait through backorders, as PING strove to get the supply up to the demand. PING had a real hit on their hands.

Then they stopped production.

The issue was the grooves. It was not that they were non-conforming, or ineffective. Instead, PING had discovered that they were just not quite as effective as they could be, and so they re-tooled, and re-released a Ketsch with the 2.0 grooves. That means that the Cadence TR Ketsch is actually the third incarnation of the Ketsch. If you look at the photo above, you can see that both versions have the same number of grooves, but that the grooves on the Cadence TR version are definitely smaller.

It will be interesting to see if the new grooves make an already great rolling putter even better. I played a round with the Heavy version last week and one thing that I did notice is that the new grooves put a slightly hotter roll on the ball. I tended to miss short with the old version, and that was not the case at all with the Cadence TR. Just speculating though. At some point, I am going to follow up with some old vs. new groove testing with the iPING app.

Stay Tuned…

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look: PING Cadence TR Putters

First Look: PING Cadence TR Putters

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by Dave Wolfe

“Left, Left, Left, Right, Left”

There are days when the quote above sounds like the first five holes of my round. I laughed when I first heard the term “Army Golf” being used to describe alternating shots from the left and the right sides of the hole. It was welcome levity, distracting me from my abysmal ball striking that day.

Off the golf course, that military chant, and it’s ilk, are used to keep the troops in sync as they march. The soldiers rhythm of step quickly matches the rhythm of the sergeant’s call. The seargant’s cadence keeping his troop’s pace consistent and uniform.

Consistency is something that many of us strive for with our golf games. I know that I have told more than one instructor that consistent ball striking is one of my goals. Improved consistency should lead to lower scores, regardless of the ball trajectory. If I know that I’m always going to hit a vigorous fade, I can aim and play accordingly.

I know I’m not alone in this. Amateur golfers struggle with inconsistency. You’ve probably seen the impact tape studies comparing the impact position on the face of the pro vs. the amateur. The pros hit the center of the face over and over, while many amateurs spread their strikes around the face like fresh pepper on a salad.

We’d all play better golf, and score lower, if we could just decrease our roaming across the face, tighten up our swing path, normalize our swing tempo, and so on.

Again, consistency is a great goal.

Say Hello to Sergeant PING

ping_mens_military_cap

In an effort to help golfers become more consistent on the putting green, PING has signed on to be your Putting Drill Sergeant. PING is your new Sergeant Hulka. That’s right, PING is going to be your new big toe. They are going to lead you to be a better putter, just like your big toe leads the others. To accomplish this mission, their engineers have made a new line of putters that will improve your consistency on the green. Say hello to Cadence TR.

PING’s engineers have produced putters with helpful technologies in the past, but the Cadence TR line adds an even more technologically advanced weapon to the arsenal. Lets take a look at the tech inside the Cadence TR line.

 

Cadence TR Tech: TR Grooves

Insert Graphic

The variable-depth-groove insert improves ball-speed consistency for unmatched distance control on putts struck on the center or toward the heel or toe. Grooves are deepest in the middle and shallower toward the perimeter.

Compared to a non-groove insert, putts hit with the TR insert travel consistent distances when struck anywhere on the face. PING studies show that ball-speed consistency improves nearly 50%

PING’s TR insert tech has been around for a few years now. The Scottsdale TR line was the first major PING line to feature the True Roll insert, though I think that the Serene line actually released first. The insert increases roll out for balls struck off center, while taking a bit of the pop out of the sweet spot. The overall effect is to make the ball roll a consistent distance, regardless of where it is struck on the face.

Sometimes we miss the sweet spot. The TR insert makes the cost of that miss less significant.

Cadence TR Tech: Adjustable Length Shaft

adjustable shaft

You have the option of a traditional fixed-length shaft (35 inches is standard) or an adjustable, telescoping version that allows you to modify length between 31″ and 38″ to optimize the accuracy of the fit prior to your round.

Though you could probably fight effectively with a Roman short sword, you would never think to arm your kindergartner with a Scottish claymore. Obviously, it’s not a great plan to hand your five-year-old a large edged weapon, or even a small one for that fact. However, if the sword was smaller, it would be more effective for him or her. Fit is important.

The adjustable length shaft allows the golfer to fine tune the shaft to fit. It is easy to adjust and can be adjusted to near infinite lengths between its end dimensions. It’s like that little plastic strap on the back of your trucker hat. Dial in the right number of pegs and holes and it fits your head perfectly.

Cadence TR Tech: Fit For Stroke Shafts

custom_fitting_putters_shaft_labels-2

The Cadence TR mallets are offered in three different shaft bends to fit every stroke type: Straight, Slight Arc, or Strong Arc.

This is another bit of tech that PING has offered for a few product cycles. There was a time when all of the mallets were  designed to be used by the straight stroke putter. A face-balanced head matching only the straight stroke. With these shafts, and their different bends, PING can now put together a mallet that will fit any stroke.

PING’s putter engineers explained how it works to Tim and I when we visited their HQ last spring. The putter may still be face balanced, but the bend in the shaft changes the center of gravity of the putter so that a more arcing path is promoted.

 

Weight, There’s Something New!

PING Cadence TR Inserts1

Cadence TR Putters

Engineered to fit a golfer’s stroke tempo and feel preference, Cadence TR models advance putter fitting by using different-weight face inserts. Traditional-weight models feature an aluminum insert (blue in color) and typically fit golfers with mid-to-faster tempos and can help with lag putting. Heavy versions (black) add mass with a stainless steel insert to match slower-tempo strokes, and can lead to better results on shorter putts. Both face inserts feature the next generation of True Roll (TR) Technology grooves that provide forgiveness by normalizing ball speeds across the face. They vary in depth and width from the center of the face to significantly improve ball-speed consistency on putts of any length.

Eight models, including four new designs (Anser W, B65, Tomcat C, Rustler) and a counter-balanced option (Anser 2 CB), are available to fit all stroke types (Straight, Slight Arc and Strong Arc). Each features a black PVD finish and white alignment lines. All models available with adjustable-length shafts ($35 upcharge).

Here is the new innovation in the Cadence TR line: a choice between Traditional and Heavy weighting. PING will be offering each of the Cadence putters in a version with a traditional head weight, and also a heavy head weight. As you read above, they will be accomplishing this by changing the insert material between the versions. Changing from the Traditional aluminum insert to the Heavy stainless steel insert will add 25-33 grams, depending upon the model.

Adding 33 grams to the head of a putter is not insignificant. I will tell you from swinging these that there is a definite difference in feel between the Traditional and the Heavy.

What is the purpose of the weight options?

Simply put, PING believes that if you play a putter whose weight matches your stroke characteristics, then you will have a more consistent putting tempo, and with that be a better putter. The Traditional weighting matches a quicker tempo; Heavy weighting, slower.

The iPING app measures your putting tempo, and also includes an interesting explanation about the role of tempo in the putting stroke. To paraphrase, there is no one best tempo for putting, it will vary from player to player, but one of the marks of a good putter is that the tempo is consistent.

There’s that word again. Consistent. Selecting the Traditional or Heavy weight, correct shaft for your stroke, proper shaft length, and the TR insert are all there to make your rolls more consistent.

If you can make your rolls consistent, you should be able to make better putts as you move through your round.

Standard Ping Cadence Grip
Grip Close
Heavy Ping Cadence Grip

What Is The Color Coded Grips Purpose?

A quick word about the grips. First, they are color coded (like the inserts) so that the Traditional weight grips are blue, and the Heavy models black. Both grips are made of the same material and are the same weight. PING has not made the Heavy version grips heavier to compensate for the heavier head. That’s counterbalancing, and it effectively counteracts the effect of the heavier head. While there is a counterbalanced version of the Anser 2 in the line up, the other heavy versions are not counterbalanced. FWIW, the Anser 2 CB actually has the lighter blue aluminum insert.

PING Cadence TR Models

Anser 2

  • Style: Blade
  • Alignment: Clean top rail and single alignment line
  • Weights: Traditional, 340g; Heavy, 365g
  • Stroke Fit: Slight Arc stroke type
  • Customization: lie angle +/- 4º
  • Price: U.S. MSRP: $185

Anser 2 Counter Balanced

PING Cadence TR Anser 2 CB-6

PING Cadence TR Anser 2 CB-6
PING Cadence TR Anser 2 CB-4
PING Cadence TR Anser 2 CB-3
PING Cadence TR Anser 2 CB-1
PING Cadence TR Anser 2 CB-2
PING Cadence TR Anser 2 CB-7
PING Cadence TR Anser 2 CB-8

 

  • Style: Counterbalanced Blade
  • Alignment: Clean top rail and single alignment line
  • Length: 38″, 50g counterweight, 17″ grip
  • Weight: Traditional insert only, 400g
  • Stroke Fit: Slight Arc stroke type
  • Customization: lie angle +/- 4º
  • Price: U.S. MSRP: $235

Anser W

  • Style: Blade
  • Alignment: alignment line extends through face
  • Weights: Traditional, 350g; Heavy, 375g
  • Stroke Fit: Slight Arc stroke type
  • Customization: lie angle +/- 4º
  • Price: U.S. MSRP: $185

B65

PING Cadence TR B65-3

PING Cadence TR B65-2
PING Cadence TR B65-6
PING Cadence TR B65-5
PING Cadence TR B65-1

  • Style: Rounded Blade with Anser-style hosel
  • Alignment: single alignment line
  • Weights: Traditional, 340g; Heavy, 365g
  • Stroke Fit: Straight stroke type
  • Customization: lie angle +/- 4º
  • Price: U.S. MSRP: $185

Rustler

  • Style: High-MOI mallet
  • Alignment: alignment line extends from top rail to back of putter
  • Weights: Traditional, 350g; Heavy, 383g
  • Stroke Fit: Straight, Slight Arc, Strong Arc stroke types (achieved by different shaft bends)
  • Customization: lie angle +/- 2º
  • Price: U.S. MSRP: $215

Sidebar: Rustler = Nome 3?

When I saw the Rustler, it looked familiar. After a few rolls, and hours of staring, I realized why I thought I had seen it before. It looks like the Nome! I love the Nome. I took photos of Mahan’s gold Nome and Westwoods gold Nome TR when PING let me inside their putter vault. The Rustler looks to me like a stripped down version of the Nome. I like the Rustler name, but from this point forward, I will refer to the Rustler as the Skele-Nome. Feel free to do so as well.
Nome
Nome TR
The Skele-Nome

 

Shea H

PING Cadence TR Shea H-5

PING Cadence TR Shea H-2
PING Cadence TR Shea H-1
PING Cadence TR Shea H-4
PING Cadence TR Shea H-6

  • Style: Heel-shafted mid mallet
  • Alignment: single alignment line
  • Weights: Traditional, 345g; Heavy, 378g
  • Stroke Fit: Strong Arc stroke type
  • Customization: lie angle +/- 4º
  • Price: U.S. MSRP: $185

Tomcat C

PING Cadence TR Tomcat C-2

PING Cadence TR Tomcat C-3
PING Cadence TR Tomcat C-6
PING Cadence TR Tomcat C-5
PING Cadence TR Tomcat C-1

  • Style: Center-shafted mid-mallet
  • Alignment: sight line and ball width alignment guides
  • Weights: Traditional, 355g; Heavy, 380g
  • Stroke Fit: Straight stroke type
  • Customization: lie angle +/- 2º
  • Price: U.S. MSRP: $185

So…Does The Weighting Make A Difference?

With the Cadence TR line, PING has given us a batch of putters that can be fit to our strokes, help us roll the ball consistent distances, and putt with consistent tempo.

I imagine that some of you have some questions about the cadence/tempo claims of new PING Cadence TR line. The obvious question is Does the weighting make a difference? I think that is a very valid and important question to address. Does changing the weight in the head of the putter from Traditional to Heavy really change the performance of the putter?

That’s Only 7 Putters, Where is #8?

The other question in the mind of our more Rainman-esq readers is Where is the eighth putter model? That is an impressive observation that you have made there. The paragraph from PING above says eight models, and I have only shown you seven. Where is the missing model? What PING putter could be awesome enough to get a touch of solo time? I think that some of you know exactly what putters has earned such VIP treatment…

Tune in tomorrow for the answers to see if the weight does make a difference and to get the full story on the eighth Cadence model.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

An Insider’s Look at Big Box Golf Retail

An Insider’s Look at Big Box Golf Retail

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Written By: Jay Baker

Let’s face it, not too many people out there truly love their jobs. That is one main reason people get into the golf business – so that they can do something they love. Once golf becomes a job, however, the love leaves quickly. Working for a golf big box retailer can squash the love of the game faster than most anything else.

One of the goals of MyGolfSpy is to provide the consumer with an inside look at every aspect of the golf equipment business. Educating the general public and calling for more transparency within the industry is the best way to knock down the institutional barriers that inhibit the growth of the game. It is in that spirit that we take an inside look at what it’s like to work in a golf big box retail environment through the eyes of a former employee. What we describe today is taking place at each and every one of golf’s big box retailers.

For this article, we interviewed a former big box store employee who amicably left his company after 8 years of service. In order to protect our sources, some details and names have been changed. We will call our chief subject “Henry” and as you will see working for a big box retailer isn’t as fun as some might believe it is.

Here’s what you need to know.

Golf Companies Make the Rules

Make no mistake about it; the major OEMs have carefully crafted their strategies for selling golf clubs. Henry first tells us that stores have little control over what product they are sent. Need more right-handed 9.5 stiff drivers? Too bad, you’re going to get the configurations that manufacturers want to send, and many will just sit on the shelf and eat up floor space that could be used for more popular models. Don’t have a real need for left-handed or woman’s clubs? Too bad, you have take those as well. We will touch on this later but this mismanagement of ordering really screws up inventory.

Another way that some manufacturers contribute to market oversaturation is to force stores to take on extra inventory before the end of the year in order to help boost their own numbers. This happens more than you would think and it’s not just a big box problem smaller shops have to deal with this as well.

Believe it or not, it isn’t just the publicly traded golf OEMs either. Privately owned golf companies have been known to play this shell game as well. The companies will unload clubs to the stores in November or December and then take back whatever doesn’t sell for a special credit in January. The losses simply get moved to the next calendar year in hopes to make up for it in the 1st and 2nd quarter. It’s a legal way to cook the books.

Demo Clubs are A Debacle

One of the most important aspects of the big box environment is that they have massive amounts of demos available to try in their indoor hitting bays. Typically, the OEMs send the demos well after the stock has hit the shelves. That means every Tom, Dick, and Harry will pull the stock item, inadequately tape it up, and fire away in the simulator until the club is considered “well loved”.

demo club

As MyGolfSpy has discussed in previous article, this unfortunate consequence of the selling process makes it impossible to sell the club at full retail price; however, it does put the retailer in the position of needing to order more new inventory from the OEMs. Sneaky, right?

It should be noted that not all OEMs handle their demo programs the same way. Some make the stores purchase their demos while others loan the demos/fitting carts to the stores.

Demo clubs become like the village bicycle. Several OEMs will not take back the demos/fitting carts if they have been ridden hard and left out wet to dry. This becomes a real problem because over the course of a season, demos get stolen, lost, or broken. The OEMs know this and use it to their advantage because the primary source of all three of these problems is the adjustable hosel.

First, the ability to quickly change heads and shafts is to thieves like the ability for a toddler to pick their nose; the finger fits perfectly (evolution, yay!).

Second, the inventory process is basically as inefficient as it possibly could be. Toss in the ability for anyone to change a club from its original SKU (mix and match heads and shafts) and the inventory control process becomes futile.

Finally, Henry tells us that adjustable hosels have increased club failures by upwards of 15% for store demos.

adjustability-nwm-1

Every OEM has issues in this particular area. Some are willing to address the issues directly, while others insist any problems are isolated failures. How a given OEM responds to these problems is what defines its customer service.

Henry won’t single out any brand.  Every OEM has their good qualities and bad qualities.  Where one excels the others may slip into more sleaze with product release cycles.

I know what you’re thinking; “here we go again with the product cycle dead horse.” Henry would like you to consider his point of view; short product cycles eliminate the opportunity for the retailer to provide the highest level of customer service. “Products can’t always be exchanged”, Henry says. “Several times a week, customers would come in with broken heads, shafts, or whatever that could not be replaced because the model was already 6 months old and discontinued”.

Sure, the good OEMs will replace the club with a comparable model but that’s not always the best answer when you consider iron sets or matching shafts.

Short product cycles can be a customer service killer.

You know what else can be a customer service killer? The customers…

Customers Are Their Own Worst Enemies

fitting

Henry tells us there is about a 50/50 good to bad ratio for the customers. Most customers fit into some category of stereotype. The country club guys want to be treated like they are at “the club”. They never trust a sales associate and their pro is always right.

Normal Joe Golfer will allow peer pressure to trump sound advice from a sales associate. If his buddies have it, so should he.

Gear head hacker guy wants MOI matched swing weight, but can’t break triple digits.

Counterfeit guy swears his clubs are legit after buying them online for pennies on the dollar from an overseas Alibaba or maybe even a big box store in China. Henry says he would see that “guy” in some fashion a minimum of ten times a month. Most of these guys don’t reveal their true selves until it’s time for the fitting.

Often golfers know just enough to be dangerous. The numbers generated by a launch monitor or simulator might as well be the Voynich Manuscript to most costumers. If they do pay attention to one factor, says Henry, it is club head speed.

“Customers will latch onto club head speed like it is the end all be all to their golf game. Who cares that the last shot didn’t even touch the impact tape on the face? Big boy just registered 90+ with the driver.” – Henry

People can be their own worst enemy in fittings. A particular driver or setup might be the best thing for a golfer but they allow bias and pre-conceived notions to creep in that affect how they swing a golf club.

Henry says the best way to get fit is not to look at logos or specs and just trust that the fitter is competent. Ultimately, the numbers won’t lie if the customers are honest with themselves.

The most infamous fitting Henry was ever involved in ended with an older gentleman deciding to ditch his left-handed clubs in favor or right-handed clubs. After years of terrible golf, the customer was convinced that playing from the wrong side caused his woes.

Henry had fit the gentleman several times before, but couldn’t believe it when he asked for all new clubs in the right-handed version. By learning to play the game from scratch, he was able to avoid certain bad habits he had created on the left-handed side of the golf ball. Golfers, as most of you know, often find creative solutions to their problems.

Corporate Overlords are out of touch with the troops on the ground

corporate-overlord

Henry never knew too much about the day to day happenings at headquarters, but he believes HQ did an excellent job at creating its own problems. Employees weren’t offered any sort of incentive program or even any sort of formal training.

Every once in a while an OEM would run a sales contest, but spiffing was strictly prohibited. HQ also made it difficult for existing employees to climb the corporate ladder within the company. If an employee wasn’t willing to up and move at a moments notice, getting promoted to a manager position was impossible. Employees were keenly aware that if they didn’t go anywhere, they weren’t going anywhere.

That’s not a great way to promote employee retention and maintain your most valuable human assets within a store.

Henry was disappointed that even after 8 years of services, his corporate contact never called to wish him luck or to say thanks after he told his superiors he was changing careers.

Henry says that other than being overlooked as an employee, inventory might have been the worst part of the job. Corporate preached the importance of inventory, but would never invest any money in developing a proper inventory process. They tried multiple solutions, but never could get it right.

Lost prevention was another issue at the forefront, and obviously that has a direct tie in to inventory. Loss was calculated based on sales from each respective location. As you will realize shortly, theft is a HUGE problem.

We asked Henry what could corporate do to improve the business from the floor level perspective.  Henry believes that his former employer is ultimately on the right track, but the execution of the retail vision is lacking. He said that regional distribution centers could help service and inventory, not unlike how Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop currently operate.

This would also improve transfers, which were a total nightmare. Henry also believes that big box stores should pressure OEMs to come up with packaging similar to Callaway’s i-Mix experiment.

While selling heads and shafts separately didn’t take off for Callaway at the time, Henry thinks this will help prevent theft, broken clubs, and associated inventory issues.

It’s much harder to steal a head in anti-theft packaging.

How bad is the theft problem at big box retailers? It’s the #1 problem.

Customers will steal anything

Hide your drivers, hide your wedges, hide your balls, hide your wife, and hide your kids, because they are stealing everything.

There is a long list of how it happens.  Let’s start with the customers. Henry tells us he saw it all. Pipe cutters were popular. Thieves would simply cut the shafts just below the hosel and pocket the heads. The process is quick, easy, and discrete. Other customers would simply stick the club down their pants and walk out.

By far, the most popular method of theft is to swap shafts or heads inside the hitting bay. A customer comes in with his or her own club, goes to the hitting bay, and discretely uses the store provided wrench to swap out his 913 D3 for the new 915 D3. This is where individual packaging would help. Demos would still be vulnerable but at least the customers wouldn’t be stealing new clubs.

Employees Steal Too

Reducing customer theft won’t completely solve the issue. Henry estimates that 25% of the club theft in stores comes from the employees. A few employees have been caught faking pre-owned trade-ins to get credit on a gift card. All the employee would have to do is write up a bogus trade-in receipt and file it. They could then come back and buy products to sell themselves or just sell the gift card outright.

The reason this works is because the used club section has no inventory, only a dollar value of the inventory being held in that particular store.

There is no system that validates that the used Scotty Cameron putter which was just traded in actually exists.

theft-infographic

Clubs are just the start. One of the more dubious acts of theft he witnessed didn’t involve taking clubs, but rather good old fashion credit card fraud. Henry describes a cashier, who liked to return things during slow times at the check out line. Clothes, balls, clubs, and range finders were all returned on her credit card.

The problem was that the items were never actually purchased in the first place. As you might imagine, over time, the returns added up. By the time managers and corporate got wise to the scheme, the employee had had amassed tens of thousands of dollars in returns.

Needless to say she was fired and taken to court.

Are Big Changes Coming to Big Box?

Corporate overlords who just don’t seem to get it, customers who also just don’t seem to get it, and of course lowlife thieves; these are unpleasant realities in most any retail business.

Better employee incentive programs, better consumer information, and better packaging (coupled with public executions) may help alleviate some of these problems, but none of them can realistically be eliminated.

The biggest chance for meaningful improvement for little guys and big box alike comes from the OEMs. The golf companies need to do a better job supporting their retail partners. For what it’s worth, I think most of them now realize that needs to happen for everyone to be successful.

While nobody has yet been overly-specific about what that actually means, every golf company we’ve spoken with is talking about the need to be more responsible about how much product they produce. Inventory control has nearly replaced Loft Up, and something-Bertha-something as the industry’s buzzphrase du jour.

Restrained production and this new commitment to not bending retail partners over the proverbial barrel might actually eliminate the 4-6 month full price lifecycle for brands that believe there’s still success to be found in accelerated product releases. Because, believe me, if some golf companies slow down their releases, it’s not going to be by much.

We think that will ultimately take the form of more controlled (and realistic) inventory levels, more durable pricing (which means retailers will maintain consistent margins), and fewer blowout pricing opportunities for the consumer.

It’s going to mean higher prices and fewer discounts for the consumer, but it also means a healthier bottom line for both retailers and the golf companies.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look: 2015 Bettinardi Putters

First Look: 2015 Bettinardi Putters

Post image for First Look: 2015 Bettinardi Putters

By Dave Wolfe

Happy Betti New Year

We all look forward to different things around the holidays. Some look forward to seeing family and friends. Many impatiently await the return of egg nog, while others revel in the rebroadcasting of Rudolph, Bumbles, and the other animated holiday favorites. I too look forward to that cadre of holiday returnees, but my true anticipation lies not for yule and airing of grievances. For me, the frosty season is not about the cheer, it’s about the gear.

While we have seen a good portion of the 2015 drivers, and a few sets of irons, we have not yet seen any of the new year’s putters. Today we change that. We get the putter lover in on the 2015 golf gear anticipation. Today, we get to see what 2015 holds for Bettinardi Golf.

We are not going to check out just one of the putters, or even one of the lines. Instead, we have all of them. We will show you the new Studio Stocks, the Queen B’s, a new Kuchar Model, a pair of DASS Signature Models, and something brand new, and innovative from them that is unique enough that it needs it’s own new product line.

We’ll let you read what Bettinardi says about the new putters, see in-hand photos from all angles, and give you a touch of inside the ropes play testing. We’ve got all you need to know about what Bettinardi has in store for the coming year.

Let’s get it started with the new 2015 Studio Stocks.

2015 Studio Stocks: SS2 and SS16

2015 Bettinardi Pairs-2

Specifications: 2015 Studio Stock

  • Material: Mild Carbon Steel
  • Finish: Olympic Bronze PVD
  • Head weight: 358g
  • Toe Hang: SS2=4:00, SS16=face-balanced
  • Loft: 3°
  • Lie: 71°
  • Grip: Blue Pure Grip Standard or Midsized
  • Headcover: Studio Stock Legend Blue
  • Available Lengths: 33″-35″
  • Dexterity: Right Handed
  • Price: $399.99

Fans of the Studio Stock line have had to wait a full year to see any new models. This is because Bettinardi has switched their Studio Stock (and BB) production to alternating two-year release cycles. That means that the 2014 BB models will be around until 2016, and that these new Studio Stocks will not be phased out until 2017.

The Studio Stock family grows by two members this year. OK so the SS2 has been offered before, but that was way back in 2011. The Studio Stock 16 is all new for 2015. This year’s Olympic Bronze PVD is also new. It’s a relatively tame finish compared to some of the previous Studio Stocks, but I think that most will find it very pleasing to the eye. There is not a touch of glare in the sun, and if previous finishes are any indication, it should hold up to play very well.

One interesting/surprising feature about these two is that neither one has the classic hex face milling or FIT face milling. Instead, they feature Bettinardi’s improved Superfly milling on the faces. Maybe there are some previous Bettinardi stock offerings that I am not recalling that have been fly milled, but I believe that these are the first production models (i.e. non-Tour Stock) to feature the fly milled faces.

Bettinardi has also continued their relationship with Pure Grips, with the Studio Stocks coming with blue grips in standard or midsized. The headcover is also blue, correction, that’s Legend Blue. Bettinardi aficionados will see some resemblance in these to the Multi-Hex Studio covers from 2010-ish. All-in-all, I find it cool that some of the features and cosmetics that were previously only found in Tour Stock putters have been added to the production lines.

One other think worth mentioning, these are milled carbon steel. I know that I put that in the specs above, but it’s a big deal. It’s tough to find any production putters being made in carbon steel these days. I’m not going to open up a carbon vs. stainless debate, but the carbon lovers should be happy that Bettinardi is still making putters in this softer metal.

2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2

2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2-7
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2-6
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2-4
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2-3
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2-2

The Studio Stock 2 putter is fashioned from our classic BB-8 style head, and a proven winner time after time on the PGA Tour. Milled from a solid block of faultless carbon steel, the hozel moved slightly forward toward the toe gives the Studio Stock 2 a traditional appearance. The evolution of our Super Fly-Mill face gives clear and distinct feedback at impact, yielding the results so critically desired. The raised shoulders and flattened bumpers distribute great weight displacement for perimeter weighting. A great blade look with the stability that will make its fair share of short and long putts alike, at address this putter looks money!

Here is the moneymaker, the workhorse, and likely the gateway putter for those who are thinking about trying on their first Bettinardi. The SS2 has the classic Anser style that most golfers will recognize. The overall feel and play also meets expectations, but still has a feel that is unique to the SS2. Carbon steel plays a role, as does the Bettinardi shaping. Don’t just dismiss the SS2 as another boring clone. If you game this style of putter, it’s worth a long look.

2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 16

2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 16-2
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 16-3
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 16-5
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 16-4
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 16-1

Milled from soft carbon steel, the Studio Stock 16 has an impressive semi-circle shape that features a double-bend shaft, flowing right into this face-balanced mallet. A custom radius tool helped shape the back flange that delivers crucial weight displacement for ideal perimeter weighting. The one-piece milling harmonizes effortlessly with the new Super Fly-Mill face, promoting and enjoyable, yet crisp feel when struck. The new Olympic Bronze PVD finish offers this mallet its unique beauty!

This little compact mallet rounds out the 2015 Studio Stock line. Rounds, get it? Anyway, this is another classic head shape that should catch the eye of the mallet friendly. I see the SS16 as an improvement over the previous line’s SS15. Both are small mallets, but I thought that the combination of straight and round lines on the SS15 set up a bit of a visual conflict at address. The SS16 is definitely visually balanced, with the predominance of body lines being very sleek and round. For me, the SS16 is significantly easier to align at address.

The fly-milled face, or Super Fly milled to be specific, along with the carbon steel feels soft, yet sticky at address. The face grabs the ball, rolling it along with minimal hops or skids. I miss the more iconic Bettinardi faces, but these do feel Super Fly.

Bettinardi 2015 Queen B’s

2015 Bettinardi Pairs-3

Specifications: 2015 Queen B

  • Material: Mild Carbon Steel
  • Finish: Savannah Blue PVD
  • Head weight: 360g
  • Toe Hang: Model 6=face-balanced, Model 7=4:00
  • Loft: 3°
  • Lie: 71°
  • Grip: White Pure Grip Standard or Midsized
  • Headcover: Queen B Royal Purple
  • Available Lengths: 33″-35″
  • Dexterity: Right Handed
  • Price: $375.00

Ha ha, you’re playing a ladies putter. That’s right my friend, the Bettinardi Queen B line targets the female golfer, and you are also right in thinking that I would totally game one, possibly both of these. Let’s ignore the idea that I’m not the target market for a minute and run down my list of putter wants:

  • Interesting head shapes? Check
  • Amazingly Colored PVD Finish? Check
  • Carbon Steel? Check
  • Precision Milling? Check

I’m not sure what your putter buying check list looks like, but if a putter goes 4 out of 4 on that list for me, I’m in. These putters may be targeted at women golfers, but they should be checked out by all golfers. There you have it. The Queen B putters are now OK for 100% of the golf market to check out. I would play one of these in a heartbeat, and so should you, regardless of your nether part composition.

Sorry ladies, your secret is out on this one.

2015 Bettinardi Queen B Model 6

2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 6-5
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 6-6
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 6-3
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 6-1
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 6-4

A wide body, face-balanced blade with a unforgettable finish, the Queen B 6 sets up impeccably square time after time. The wide flange encompasses a high toe top line, and end shaft look that radiates self-assuredness at address. The new Savannah Blue color is a breakthrough in PVD technology, guaranteed to astonish. Created from our soft carbon steel, the Queen B micro honeycomb milling gives the most discriminate player just the right amount of feedback at impact.

I love this putter a ton. It reminds me a bunch of the Studio Stock 9 , but I feel that it has improved on that model in many ways. First, the cavity is a bit wider, promoting a totally different feel at impact and also changing how the ball is framed at address. Second, the flange is wider. You can see in the address photo that this baby packs a wide load.

Third, and most significant, this finish is fantastic. The Savannah Blue finish may be my favorite Bettinardi finish to date. I thought nothing could top the Borealis Black finish on the 2012 Studio Stocks (see an example of the SS7 below with the Sig 9) but this one is prettier. The white Pure Grip and purple headcover perfectly compliment the Savannah Blue finish.

I can best sum up the Queen B Model 6 by digging up some old Outkast. It’s so pimp it’s ridiculous. 

2015 Bettinardi Queen B Model 7

2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 7-2
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 7-3
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 7-5
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 7-7
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 7-8

A compact stout mallet, the Queen B 7 has a ridge milled neck that gently flows into the putter head. The square milling on the flange accompanied with the slightly elongated sightline helps frame the ball naturally at address. She’s a perfect ten with the astounding Savannah Blue PVD finish, combined with the evolution of the micro honeycomb face milling. Milled fro the softest carbon steel, this slight toe hang mallet will provide the assurance and feel to make putt after putt when it matters most.

Bettinardi could have just changed the paintfill and the graphics on the SS16 to make it a “ladies” putter, other companies have done just that in the past. But that’s not what the Queen B line is all about. These are unique putters marketed toward the woman golfer. These are not afterthought putters for the gals. Bettinardi is making kick ass, unique putters to address the needs and wants of the female golfer.

I’ve already made it clear that I’m ready to bend gender lines to play these. If I need to move up a tee box, I’m cool with that too. These are worth it.

One of the things that I love about Bettinardi putters is that they weave subtle tweaks and modifications into their putters. The Queen B 7 is a prime example. A more traditional approach to this putter would have been to go with the double bend neck, like in the SS16. Instead, there is a little flow neck, adorned with cool milled grooves. Not only does this change the looks of the putter, but it changes the play as well. The neck adds a touch of toe hang, and thus accommodates a little more arc with the stroke. It adds a nice dimension to the line, especially with the Queen B 7 already being face-balanced.

Bettinardi 2015 Signature Models

2015 Bettinardi Pairs-1

Specifications: 2015 Signature Series

  • Material: Double-Aged Stainless Steel
  • Finish: Tour Blast
  • Head weight: 348g
  • Toe Hang: Signature 9=face-balanced, Signature 10= 4:00
  • Loft: 3°
  • Lie: 71°
  • Grip: Red Leather Gripmaster Standard or Midsized
  • Headcover: Signature Red
  • Available Lengths: 33″-35″
  • Dexterity: Right Handed
  • Price: $495

These are the big kids in the Bettinardi line up. The Signature Models are like that six-foot seventh grade basketball player, you expect them to dominate the field. The Sigs were the first place that I looked when I got my hands on the new Bettinardi info. Why do I fixate on these? Maybe it’s because they are limited to 1000 pieces. Maybe it’s because they are made of double-aged stainless steel (DASS). I’m not sure. Maybe it’s scoreboard. Scoreboard?

The Bettinardi Signature Model 6 was the first putter to grab the title of MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Mallet.

Trivia Time: The Sig 6 was actually the first putter to earn the title of Most Wanted. These are beautiful, precision putting instruments, and they flat out roll the rock. You are going to pay a premium for Mr. Bettinardi’s signature, but you and your 999 other club members will know that you possess something special. You may be reading this and thinking that I am just blowing hyperbolic smoke. You have the right to your opinion, I just hope it’s educated. I hope you have rolled the various Signature models like I have. I hope you are only dismissing their majesty based upon the data you have collected. They may be expensive, but they are legit.

2015 Bettinardi Signature 9

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2015 Bettinardi Signature 9-2
2015 Bettinardi Signature 9-4
2015 Bettinardi Signature 9-5
2015 Bettinardi Signature 9-6

The Signature Models’s are Bobert J Bettinardi’s preference in design and performance, released on a basis of 1000 pieces per year. Milled from the finest stainless steel, the Signature Model 9 is a compact, half-moon mallet that frames the ball evenly at address. A true Bettinardi original, this putter was designed for maximum perimeter weighting that enhances the sweet spot, allowing more forgiveness on those short, must make putts. The perfect blend of material and face milling, our Super-Fly mill face complements the stainless steel in a supernatural way.

Oh look at that. One of the new Sigs is a half-moon mallet. A DASS version of the Studio Stock 7 you say? That same SS7 that is one of my favorite putters of all time? The same SS7 that I love but is too pretty to play? Yep, that one. Do you want to see it? Here are a couple of shots of the half-moon magical mallet and it’s new stainless sibling.

2015 Bettinardi HMM compare-2 2015 Bettinardi HMM compare-1

The Signature Model 9 may not have the same visual impact as the SS7, but it makes up for it in durability and playability. Of all of the new models, I have spent the most time on the green with this one. I will tell you without hesitation that the Signature Models are not just wall-hanging collectables. I guess that they could be, they are that attractive. However, you would be missing the whole point of these, and that is rolling putts.

2015 Bettinardi Signature 10

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2015 Bettinardi Signature 10-4
2015 Bettinardi Signature 10-6
2015 Bettinardi Signature 10-3
2015 Bettinardi Signature 10-2

The Signature 10 is 100% classic Bettinardi. Engraved with Robert J. Bettinardi’s seal of approval and milled from the finest 303 stainless steel, this putter is one you can rely on. The Bettinardi team is full of skilled engineers and expert craftsmen that have been milling putters since the early 90’s, and have created this showcase model as the crown jewel of 2015. The blade style look with a tow-tiered muscle and high toe produces a deeper face, which gives the ball a pure match with the sweet spot. Using the Bettinardi Honeycomb pattern milled into the face, this putter will be the one for the ages!

JAM baby JAM. Here is another head shape that was last available as part of the 2011 Studio Stock line. I’m afraid that it is another gusher for me. This too is one of my favorite head shapes. The high toe, coupled with the sweeping lines of the bumpers makes for an impressive visual package. This putter is also a cup killer. While performance will be somewhat subj ective based upon the swing of the player, I’d be shocked if the slight arc player doesn’t find this blade a valuable putting tool. It sets up so square and just sweeps through the hitting area. Yet again, beauty and beast. It also has a nice little ring at impact.

2015 Bettinardi Signature 10-8

One huge change this year that I have not yet mentioned is the new grip on the Signature Models. During our most wanted tests last year, quite a few testers commented about how much they liked the feel of the Signature putters, but disliked the feel of the grips. The leather grips were slick, and overall quite uncomfortable. These new red leather gripmasters are a HUGE improvement over last year’s grips. They feel amazing, both in shape and in texture. The under layers are better formulated to match the hands as you grip the putter, and the now perforated leather provides ample, and supple tactile interaction. This new grip now feels like a grip that should be found on a premium putter.

2015 Bettinardi Matt Kuchar Model 2 HMM

2015 Bettinardi Kuchar Pair

Specifications: 2015 Matt Kuchar Model

  • Material: Mild Carbon Steel
  • Finish: Meridian Blue PVD
  • Head weight: Standard = 350g / Kuchar Arm-Lock = 400g
  • Toe Hang: 3:30
  • Loft: Standard = 3° / Kuchar = 7°
  • Lie: 71°
  • Grip: Gray Pure Grip Standard or Midsized / 17″ Gray Winn
  • Headcover: Kuchar Signature White/Blue
  • Available Lengths: Standard = 35″ / Kuchar = 42″
  • Dexterity: Right Handed
  • Price: $375.00

2015 Bettinardi Matt Kuchar Model 2 HMM

2015 Bettinardi Kuchar 2HM-1
2015 Bettinardi Kuchar 2HM-2
2015 Bettinardi Kuchar 2HM-5
2015 Bettinardi Kuchar 2HM-6
2015 Bettinardi Kuchar 2HM-4

The Kuchar model #2 Halfmoon has all the attributes of the popular armlock putter that PGA professional Matt Kuchar plays. The only exception is the extreme offset has been eliminated. Robert and Matt teamed up to design the first center shafted armlock putter, something truly unique in arm lock technology which has zero offest with 7 degrees of loft. With the anchoring ban set to take place in 2016, this center shafted armlock is sure to entice more users into this effortless putting style. Milled from soft carbon steel and featuring Bettinardi’s patented FIT Face technology, you will be amazed at the ease of the Kuchar #2 Halfmoon!

The Game of Thrones quote Winter is Coming implies that there is danger on the horizon. In that show, it means that danger is approaching from the north (or it means that we will all die before Mr. Martin finishes writing the damn books). In golf though, that approaching winter is the onset of the anchoring ban in 2016. Putter changes will need to be made for some to keep playing. Keegan has already started rolling standard length putters, and quite a few of the top players like Simpson, Scott, and Clark will need to do something too. We are nearing the T-minus one year mark on anchoring.

Matt Kuchar don’t care. He’s the honey badger of anchoring. Is that reference already dated? How about this? Matt Kuchar arm locks better than Boogaloo Shrimp pops and locks. That’s right. Week after week on the PGA tour, Kuchar performs his rendition of Armlock 2 Electric Boogaloo. Does it work? The proof is in the paycheck.

Bettinardi and Kuchar have put together a nice little partnership over the past few years. I think that it’s safe to infer from the existence of a new model that this partnership will continue for a while, becoming even more important in the coming year as all of the cheaters are forced to ditch the anchored putters. Relax, that cheaters was sarcasm. I don’t care if people putt with anchored magical llamas. Golfers need all the help they can get to make putts on the modern 12 stimp, 6% greens.

Anyway, the Kuchar Model 2 HMM adds a new center-shafted, half-moon mallet to the Kuchar line. It’s got a bit of toe hang, and a little less aggressive half-moon shape when compared to the Sig 9. To my eye, it resembles the older BB53 more than a true HMM. HMM semantics aside, the Model 2HMM is quite a bit different from the other Model 2, both in appearance and in play. It’s a true third model in the Kuchar line-up.

As a bonus, for those of us whose armlockin’ is whack, Bettinardi is also releasing the Model 2 HMM as a standard (non-armlock) version.

2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi

2015 Bettinardi Pairs-4

Specifications: 2015 iNOVAi

  • Material: 6061 Aircraft-Grade Aluminum / Stainless Steel
  • Finish: Black Anodized
  • Head weight: Standard = 350g / Counterbalance = 400g
  • Toe Hang: face-balanced
  • Loft: 3°
  • Lie: 71°
  • Grip: Black Pure Grip Standard or Midsized / 17″ Black Winn
  • Headcover: iNOVAi Black
  • Available Lengths: Standard = 33-35″ / Counterbalance = 38″
  • Dexterity: Right Handed
  • Price: Standard = $300.00 / Counterbalanced = $350.00

2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi

2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-02
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-03
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-09
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-08
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-11

The iNOVAi High MOI mallet is absolutely a work of art. In the design of this truly forgiving putter, Bettinardi Golf has pulled out all the stops. It encompasses a great feel with one of the most beautiful looking putters we have ever produced. The putter head itself is milled from 6016 aircraft aluminum, and included in the milling is a very discernible milled stainless steel weight that is placed low and away from the face. It has two cut outs, strategically milled from the body along with side by side score lines. A Superfly mill and F.I.T (Feel Impact Technology) face are applied to allow for the softest, yet most responsive feel on an aluminum putter head. The “iNOVAi” stands for innovation and we are sure you will agree.

If this article was an Apple new product presentation, the Bettinardi iNOVAi would be the one more thing of the presentation. One might argue that it could also be the what the hell is that? part of the article. I get that. The iNOVAi has a touch of the mallet madness. It’s a multi-material mallet monstrosity. OK, so it’s not monstrously huge, but it is composed of aluminum and stainless steel. It has a Flymill face, and a fit face. It’s experimental, and arguably Frankensteinian. It’s not the norm, and that’s frightening. Once the shock wears off though, I bet you won’t see fear when you look at the iNOVAi, but rather the smiling face of your new putting friend.

2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-07

I am already on record about my love of the aluminum mallet. The SuperStroke/Sizemore Fatso, the Cameron Futura X, and the Bettinardi BB55 are all killer aluminum mallets. The iNOVAi shares some heritage with the BB55, and also the BB54. The iNOVAi has the parallel holes of the BB55, along with the alignment “T” and a stainless tail weight like the one found in the BB54, though the iNOVAi’s rounded “smile” weight is more attractive in my opinion.

As with any putter that breaks from the norm, people are going to love or hate the looks of the iNOVAi. That’s what personal opinion is all about. It would be a boring world if we all found the same things to be attractive. However as I’ve said before, and I’m sure will say again, don’t dismiss a different looking putter until you roll some balls with it. Departing from the norm is how we discover new and amazing things. Think of how strange the Anser looked compared to other putters when it arrived. I am sure that many of the Calamity Jane users dismissed the Anser as hogwash.

Old Friends, New Friends, and Innovation

All in all, I think that Bettinardi has produced a very compelling stable of putters for 2015. The Studio Stocks are very traditional. The Queen B’s are definitely going to cross the gender barrier. Kuchaloo has another option as he armlocks his way to millions, and the Sigs are flat out ridiculous. Then you have the iNOVAi, a chimera of previously successful Bettinardi ideas. Time will tell if the game of the iNOVAi lives up to the designers intentions.

Time will tell?, you ask. Good catch there. At MyGolfSpy, we don’t just let cliche’ decide the performance of a putter, we test performance directly, measuring accuracy head to head. Hopefully we will see these putters again when we test to determine 2015’s Most Wanted Mallet and Most Wanted Blade putters. As I mentioned earlier, Bettinardi already has Most Wanted scoreboard. Perhaps one of these 2015 beauties will snag the title for them again. Any predictions?

 

Bonus Gallery:

Grips, Headcovers, and More!

2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2-1
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2-5
2015 Bettinardi Signature 9-3
2015 Bettinardi Signature 10-5
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 7-6
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 6-2
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 7-4
2015 Bettinardi Kuchar 2HM-3
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-10
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-07
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-06
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-05
2015 Bettinardi Studio Stock 2-8
2015 Bettinardi Signature 10-7
2015 Bettinardi Kuchar 2HM-7
2015 Bettinardi Queen Bee 7-9
2015 Bettinardi iNOVAi-01
2015 Bettinardi headcovers-01
2015 Bettinardi headcovers-04
2015 Bettinardi headcovers-05
2015 Bettinardi headcovers-06
2015 Bettinardi headcovers-08
2015 Bettinardi headcovers-07
2015 Bettinardi headcovers-09
2015 Bettinardi headcovers-10
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2015 Bettinardi headcovers-02

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

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

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

Post image for First Look - Nike Golf's Ultra-Exclusive MMProto Irons

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)

First Look – Fugazi Floyd the Driver from Geek Golf

First Look – Fugazi Floyd the Driver from Geek Golf

Post image for First Look – Fugazi Floyd the Driver from Geek Golf

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)

First Look – Mizuno 2015 MP-Series Lineup

First Look – Mizuno 2015 MP-Series Lineup

Post image for First Look – Mizuno 2015 MP-Series Lineup

It’s Open Championship week and for most of that means getting up stupid early, or waiting for the replay while hoping that nobody spoils the suspense.

The Open Championship also means it’s time for Mizuno to start releasing pics of their fall lineup. As has been the case the last couple of years, Mizuno has quiet about the tech and other actual information, but they’re more than willing to show off the product.

And why shouldn’t they be? It’s all just so damn pretty.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the Mizuno Forum this week, clean that goop out of the corners of your eyes, sit down, and take a quick look a that what is to come from Mizuno.

JPX-850 Driver

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Pics of the upcoming driver have been floating around since Luke Donald was seen testing it at The Player’s Championship. The tech story here could be compelling.

Clearly weight can be shifted along the sole, and one would assume that moves the center of gravity forward to back. Weight ports on both sides of the perimeter should, as the text clearly indicates, allow the driver to be configured with a fade or draw bias.

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The hosel is loft/face angle adjustable, and at the risk of stating the incredibly obvious, the damn head is blue.

Mizuno is going bold and I like it.

Mizuno generally releases metalwoods in the spring, but with the economics of the equipment industry being what they are right now, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Mizuno release the JPX 850 this fall.

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MP-15 Irons

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Mizuno started messing with their numbering system last season (probably because the 50 series was getting ready to cross into the 60s), so what-follows-what isn’t as clear as it used to be. Still it’s barely a Phil Mickelson-sized leap to suggest that the MP-15 is the much anticipated follow-up to the MP-59. That TI Muscle Cavity sure does look familiar.

Has it really been 3 years already?

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In my opinion, the MP-59s are an absolutely perfect blend of modern technology and traditional styling. It’s hard to image that Mizuno could have made them any better, but much like PING, Mizuno has a habit of making small performance gains with each and every release.

Who else is excited?

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MP-H5

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The H4s are a bit of an anomaly in Mizuno’s MP lineup. They’re broad-soled, they have thicker toplines, and if not for the clean and classic cavity styling, they’d look more the part of a JPX iron. They’re basically an entire set of utility irons.

Mizuno staffers will likely have a go with the H5 1 and 2 irons during The Open Championship.

Line up

 

MP-T5 Wedges

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Mizuno generally offers up new wedges each season; alternative between T (tear drop) and R (round) series wedges. The T-series is up next, and while we’re certain there will eventually be a groove story, and hopefully a grind (as in multiple available) story as well, for now all we’ve got is a finish story (satin chrome and black carbon).

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Coming Soon?

Our expectation is that new MP Irons and MP Wedges along with something new in the JPX iron lineup, will be available sometime in the September time frame. The JPX850 Driver, could go either way.

What do you think of what you’ve seen so far? Does a new Mizuno iron release excite you? And what about that driver…how do you feel about Mizuno’s bold choice to go blue?

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look: The Wilson Staff Centennial Anniversary 8802

First Look: The Wilson Staff Centennial Anniversary 8802

Post image for First Look: The Wilson Staff Centennial Anniversary 8802

(By Dave Wolfe)

Classic. . .

Putter lovers know that there are but a few designs that truly deserve the distinction of being labeled A Classic. These are the putters that set the standards and trends for putter design. Decades after a classic shape is introduced, its influence and pedigree are easily observed in the modern putter corral.

How do you know if a putter is a Classic? As I just mentioned, its influence persists in the modern putter, even if the original has not been produced for a while.

Here’s another way to know. Have you ever heard someone claim that putter X is just a copy of putter Y? If so, putter Y is likely a classic.

It’s not a long list of putters though. I can think of three or maybe four putters that have earned that distinction. Mr. Mills made a few classics, as did Mr. Solheim and Mr. Reuter.

Has there been a modern classic? Tough to say. Again, the modern designs borrow a lot from the classics, and when they don’t, golfers are sometimes too quick to label them as abominations of the green (see the panned, but excellent Futura X).

All that aside, there is one putter that is always, and I mean always, on the classic putter list. It’s a putter that has been copied by numerous companies; likely because of its rich pedigree of tour success.

Some of the biggest, if not the biggest, names in golf have used this putter.

That putter, is the Wilson 8802.

Putter lovers revere the 8802. It’s loved by the majority of golfers, including those who know that they would not putt well with it. Maybe it’s the simple design. Maybe it ties nostalgically into how they learned the game. It’s tough to pinpoint what drives the attraction to the 8802. But that attraction is there, and it’s been there for a while.

The History of the Wilson 8802

Here is a timeline of the 8802 that Wilson Staff shared with me.

The History of the 8802

  • 1940 – Wilson introduces the R46 Willie Hoare putter.  “A revolutionary putter with a different feel and a new grip.  It has an unusually broad sole, giving it excellent balance.”
  • 1948 – R46, Winsum putter Designed by Willie Hoare.
  • 1950 – Stock numbers were changed and the R46 become the D8802.
  • 1954 – Winsum putter Designed by Willie Hoare is changed to D8802 stock number.
  • 1955 – A new Winsum putter is introduced.  “This goose-neck putter features a brass head, flange back…”
  • 1959 – New Turf Rider putter, with double ribbed sole is introduced with stock number D8802.
  • 1960 – Four new brass putters are introduced, all with flared tip shafts.  One of which is called simply Arnold Palmer and is “Designed By the world famous Arnold Palmer… brass head with Flared Tip shaft; beautiful calfskin grip.”
  • 1961 – Another Turf Rider putter with double ribbed sole is introduced, maintaining the D8802 stock number.
  • 1962 – The Designed By Arnold Palmer putter is introduced.  Described as “Flanged type blade putter” and “Perfect head feel transmitted to the grip”, it is essentially the 8802 as we know it.

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  • 1963 – Arnold Palmer leaves Wilson.  On November 1st, the Designed By Palmer/D8852 putter is renamed The Wilson 8802 and renumbered to D8802.
  • 1971 – The Wilson Staff 8802 model gets a black chrome finish, but retains its D8802 designation.
  • 1975 – Wilson re-introduces the original 8802 and changes the stock number to R8802.
  • 2014Wilson Staff introduces the Milled 8802.

 

The Wilson Staff CentennialAnniversary 8802

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Wilson Staff has spent the first half of this year celebrating their centennial anniversary with special product releases. We have seen the special Centennial Edition of their Most Wanted! Nexus Carry Bag, as well as some Centennially packaged Duo balls, but nothing really celebrates their anniversary like this Centennial 8802 putter.

The 8802 is a Wilson classic. It’s a signature piece of equipment whose mystique has carried on for decades. It was played by Palmer, Crenshaw, Norman, Mickelson, and numerous others who played versions of the 8802 design from other manufacturers. It’s a design that spanned decades of play, but lost a bit of its luster (not unlike the Wilson name itself) when the company faded into the equipment background late in the twentieth century.

Hopefully, you are well aware that the modern Wilson Staff is a whole new equipment entity. They are producing golf equipment that potents a bright future as they move into their next century of business. Wilson Staff is producing the best golf gear it has in decades. It’s a perfect time modernize the 8802.

It’s like Volkswagen bringing back the Beetle. It parallels General Motors offering modern incarnations of classic MOPAR muscle cars.

With this modern 8802, Wilson Staff has retained the 8802 pedigree that made it a classic, while at the same upgrading it with modern technology. Here’s a closer look.

Specifications: Wilson Staff Milled 8802

  • Material: Milled 304 Stainless Steel
  • Length: 35″
  • Head Weight: 335g
  • Toe Hang: ~6:00
  • Shaft: True Temper Head Speed shaft, stepless with “old school” flutes
  • Grip: Lamkin 3GEN Smooth Pistol
  • Hand: Right-handed
  • MSRP: $179.99

 Looks

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What can I tell you about the looks of the new 8802 that you can’t see from the photos? You can see that it looks nothing short of amazing. Wilson Staff did a great job with the looks by staying true to the original design. We have all seen versions of the 8802 that include sight lines, either on the flange or top line. There are even some that have a line on the flange that’s parallel to the face. Not this one.

There are no lines, dots, or anything that get in the way of the sweeping metal edges of the head. The one subtle cosmetic variation from the classic is the series of shallow, milled lines on the flange. They run parallel to the face, and at address provide a texture that differs from the top. Many will appreciate this new cosmetic feature when it comes to aligning a putt.

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The high polished bottom and the matte top really speak to what the new 8802 is all about. It looks shiny and beautiful, but it is still a functional tool for making putts. Admire its beauty, but make sure it gets some grass on it.

Feel

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Wilson Staff made sure that this modern 8802 still had the elements that retail the classic feel on an emotional level. The Lamkin grip is a bit thinner than modern grips, closer in size to that found on the classic 8802. They shafted the 8802 with a Head Speed shaft like the original 8802, right down to the flutes in the shaft. As for the purpose of the shaft flutes, my understanding is that they help the putter to feel a little firmer. Feel free to comment below if you have more on them.

Classic feel elements have been retained, but the Wilson Staff engineers designed two significant modern elements into the 8802 as well.

First, there is the choice of 304 stainless steel as opposed to the more typical 303 stainless. 304 stainless steel is significantly softer than 303, making it more of a hassle to mill, but making the resulting putter much softer feeling. You may remember that the excellent feel of the STX xForm putters was due to their 304 stainless construction. It’s not carbon steel soft, but it definitely lacks the harsh click sometimes associated with 303.

The other feel influencer is, of course, the milled face. By double milling the face, Wilson Staff has not only made sure that the face is perfectly flat, but also softened the impact. I have an old Wilson Tour Blade II that I rolled this one against. The difference in the milled softness is astounding.

There is one thing that must be mentioned though about this 8802. If you miss hit the putt, it’ll let you know. It’s not quite the arm-numbing sting of a skulled 3i blade, but you know when you have wandered from the sweet spot. When you hit the sweet spot, it is nothing but pure.

For the record, the sweet spot is a little more toward the heel. I had a crafty veteran (aka old guy) point that out to me when I was playing around with it on the practice green. He wouldn’t be the last person who tried to take the 8802 home with him.

 

Alignment

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If you are a line or dot guy, the 8802 may give you a bit of pause in the alignment department. Lovers of the naked putter and those who square the face to the putt line should truly embrace the simplicity of the 8802.

Overall, the putter was far easier to hit the line with than I thought it would be. My previous take on playing an 8802 was that it was a putter for expert players only. That there’s no help for the amateur in the 8802 head. I still think that there is some truth to that, but after a couple of sessions on the practice green, I had a great time playing it on the course. I found that the flange lines did really help with squaring the head to the line. It’s not automatic aiming, but it’s not impossible either.

Distance control was good, but this is where a poor strike will punish you a bit, and where you will need to spend some time getting used to how it rolls. Though soft, the 8802 puts a fairly vigorous roll on the ball. There is some serious inertia in that cavity-less head. Dialed in though, and the distance is definitely repeatable, unless you are exploring the distant regions of the face. But if you are, the 8802 will let you know.

 

Fit For Stroke

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The 8802′s deep toe hang puts it into the strong arc category. One of the shop pros compared putting with the 8802 to hitting a driver. He said that the 8802 really requires you to let the head release to be effective.

Slight-arc putters can probably come to terms with the arc of the 8802, but our straight path putters could definitely be at odds with the natural tendencies of the 8802.

That being said, if you see one of these in your local shop, you need to give it a try. I’m not saying it is a universal fit. It’s definitely not. I just want to make sure that you give it a roll, if just for nostalgia’s sake. You should really feel how it rolls the ball with your own hands.

 

A Welcome Return

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Wilson Staff really nailed it with this new milled 8802. They have captured the elements that made it classic, and at the same time infused the putter with modern methods and materials. There is definitely a golf resurgence is underway at Wilson Staff. Their staff players are winning tournaments, and their golf gear is better than it has been in decades.

There is no better example of this than this 8802.

Wilson Staff did a good job keeping this putter under wraps, saving it as the high point for their Centennial celebration. I you go with the cliche, Wilson Staff definitely has saved the best for last. It may be though, that the 8802 is actually the best for first, with the 8802 representing the start of the excellence that Wilson Staff will bring us during their next centennial.

Give it a roll and you will see.

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look: Mantis B Putter

First Look: Mantis B Putter

Post image for First Look: Mantis B Putter

More Green For The Green

By Dave Wolfe

I think that it’s safe to say that the Mantis Mallet was one of the more unique and interesting putters to hit the market in 2013. Love it or hate it, there was no way that a golfer could miss the Mantis Mallet’s bright green color and atypical shape.

I witnessed quite a few golfers pick up the Mantis Mallet for the first time last year. Many were a little skeptical about the looks, but warmed to the putter once they rolled some balls with it.

While placing 14th in the 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet competition was probably lower than the folks at Mantis would have liked, I think their finish was a solid one. 14th looks pretty good when you are a new, small putter shop going up against the older and much larger companies.

I spent more than a few enjoyable rounds with the Mantis Mallet in my bag last year (full review HERE), so it really comes as no surprise to me that the mallet was successful enough in the golf market last year to allow Mantis to release a new putter model for 2014, the Mantis B.

B is for Blade

Mantis B-05

C may be for “cookie” on Sesame Street, but at Mantis, B is for “blade”. Now don’t immediately rush to the comments section to tell me that the Mantis B is not a blade putter. The simple truth is that the days of the term “blade” being restricted to bulls-eyes and 8802s is long past. If Mantis wants to call this new putter the blade in their catalog, I’m OK with it. I don’t think that anyone can argue that the Mantis B is more blade-like than the Mantis Mallet.

Regardless, of the “B” designation, the name Mantis carries with it some expectations based upon its mallet sibling. Let’s take a quick look at the features common to the Mantis putters, while looking at what separates the Mantis B from its more bulbous brother.

Mantis B Features:

  • Material: 304 Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 355g
  • Toe Hang: 4:00 (though the Mantis Site says Face Balanced)
  • Length Tested: 34?
  • Finish: Matte Green
  • Insert: Polyurethane
  • Grip: Custom Winn

Feel

Mantis B-07

The Mantis B has the same polyurethane insert as the Mantis Mallet. This is a good thing. I think that the feel of the insert in the mallet was the first thing that won over those skeptical about the putter’s unusual appearance.

The insert in the Mantis B is soft, yet responsive. Missing from the Mantis B though is the mallet’s ringing tone that came with impact. The tone with the Mantis B is more of a click, maybe even more like a clack. It is a very firm tone with the soft insert. A bit contradictory, true, but overall I find the feel quite nice.

 

Looks

Mantis B-04

The looks of the Mantis Mallet were very love/hate for most people, and I expect the Mantis B to evoke the same feelings. The green color is definitely still here, providing a stealth profile against the putting surface and excellent contrast against the white alignment scheme.

I was am a big fan of the looks of the Mantis Mallet, but I am much more lukewarm on the looks of the Mantis B. There is quite a bit of Ping B60 in this heel-toe weighted blade. I know that the B60 shape is a favorite for many of you, and so you may see my looks rating as being a bit low. That’s the beauty of subjective opinions.

For my eye, I want my blades square at the back edge. It’s just my personal preference. I do, however, really like the square line of the face at address, as well as how the neck helps frame the ball by essentially disappearing into the green base.

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Alignment

Mantis B-15

The Mantis B has the same high-contrast alignment aid as the Mantis Mallet. The whole idea behind the alignment of the Mantis is to keep your eye one the ball. The color of the putter blends into the green so that all you really pay attention to is the white ball and the white alignment “T”.

While the putting surface is not quite Mantis green, blending in definitely happens. No, the Mantis does not vanish into the background like the Predator, but it blends in better than a traditional black or silver putter. As I mentioned in the Mantis Mallet review, I do think that Mantis does a better job at this compared to when Nike tried it with their IC putter line.

Overall, I think that Mantis’s alignment scheme works as intended, as the white alignment aid makes more of a visual impact at address compared to the body of the putter.

 

FIT FOR STROKE™

Mantis B-08

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 B: Slight Arc

Performance

Mantis B-06

How does the Mantis B perform? Does it crush all of the other 2014 blades? We will have the answers for you as soon as the 2014 MyGolfSpy Golf’s Most Wanted Blade putter competition is completed. The Mantis B is in the mix, along with thirty-one other putters! Stay tuned.

 

Welcome to the putter corral Mantis B

Mantis B-10

Congratulations to Mantis Golf for being able to bring another putter model to market. Many putter companies don’t survive that initial foray into the very competitive putter marketplace. With the Mantis B, Mantis has kept the features of the Mantis Mallet that separated it from its competition, while incorporating a new design that should appeal to those who like a smaller putter. We will have more about the performance of the Mantis B in our blade test, but feel free to grab one of these at your shop or a local demo day and give it a roll. I’m curious to hear what you think.

 

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For More Information visit the Mantis Website.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

FIRST LOOK – PING i25 Metalwoods, Irons, and More

FIRST LOOK – PING i25 Metalwoods, Irons, and More

Post image for FIRST LOOK – PING i25 Metalwoods, Irons, and More

“The new metal woods and irons carry a common theme of increased distance but are engineered with the improved consistency, forgiveness and feel that we design into all PING clubs” – John A. Solheim, PING Chairman & CEO

Let’s face it; PING can be a little boring. They don’t throw huge launch parties. They don’t make bold distance claims, and product releases generally come at a tortoise’s pace. I mean, my god…it’s been 2 WHOLE YEARS since the i20! How crazy (by TaylorMade and Callaway standards anyway) is that? Those guys will probably give me two more stories this month? PING…I’ll be lucky to get two more this year.

With all the fanfare of a typical PING announcement – that is to say there isn’t much – the Phoenix, Arizona based company let it be known that the 2-year old i20 series is getting an upgrade. In addition to the new i25 line, PING also announced a new hybrid/iron set (the Karsten), and a handful of Karsten TR Putters.

From an equipment writer’s perspective the PING way would border on intolerable if not for the nearly indisputable fact that each and every PING product is always better…even if only slightly so…than what came before it. The G20 was better than the G15, the G25 is unquestionably better than the G20 (by many accounts the PING G25 is the most forgiving driver on the market right now), and so the reasonable expectation is that the i25 is better than the i20, which is pretty damn impressive considering the i20 remains one of the best drivers we’ve ever tested.

Come to think of it, consistently improving performance almost completely devoid of hype is probably something we should all get excited about it.

PING I25 Driver

From our perspective (and hopefully some of yours), the most compelling thing we can tell you about PING’s i25 driver is that it is indeed mystery driver #13 in Our Upcoming 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Driver Test.

PING, however, would probably appreciate it if we shared a few other noteworthy bits about their upcoming metalwoods line.

Performance

PING i25 Driver-4

While the PING i20 Driver was generally regarded as being for better players, or at least higher swing speed players, PING is doing what I think is a better job of defining the i25 player.  The reality is that depending on a variety of swing characteristics, golfers of all ability levels, and even different swing speed ranges, could benefit from a lower spinning driver like the i25.

The limiting fitting factor of the i25 is loft. PING maxes the i25 out at 10.5°, and while it probably would never have been a huge seller anyway, the lack of a 12°/HL option is a bit disappointing.  Beyond that, for golfers looking for a bit less spin (compared to the average driver), a flatter ball flight, and more roll, the i25 looks pretty sweet.

Essentially the guy we’re talking about is a mid to high spin golfer who may not want to eat the loss of forgiveness that comes with some of the other low spin drivers on the market right now.

To maintain MOI, or in this case, actually improve it compared to the previous model, PING has strategically placed tungsten weights at the perimeter of the golf club. To an extent, it’s boiler plate stuff, but the takeaway here is that you don’t necessarily have to trade ball speed for forgiveness.

Racing Stripes

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For me, the most intriguing aesthetic design element of the i25 is the racing stripes PING chose to put on the crown. PING has traditionally shied away from doing much of anything flashy with their drivers. Simple and understated is generally how PING does thing, so it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the stripes represent a step of sorts outside of the traditional PING box.

Rest assured, the stripes actually serve a purpose. As you might guess, they’re designed to improve alignment. PING says the graphics can come into play at setup (initial alignment of both the clubface, and the body towards the target), during the takeaway, and even at impact.

For whatever it’s worth, while I’m not ready to speak to any actual benefits of the racing stripes, as far as semi-elaborate crown designs go, the i25’s are exceedingly well done.

We’ve seen similar striped designs before (Geek’s No Brainer springs to mind), but the difference here is that stripes are muted, and contrast only slightly from matte black paint on the rest of crown. None of the guys participating in our Most Wanted Driver test have had anything negative to say about them, and quite frankly, my personal take is that the stripes are a huge improvement over what I’ll continue to describe as the Klingon Battle Axe alignment aid found on the G Series.

Change the Shaft, Keep the Swingweight

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Also introduced with the i25 driver, fairway, and hybrid is PING’s new PWR (Performance, Weighting, and Responsiveness) Shaft. The shafts, available in 55g, 65, and 75g, are available in different flexes and profiles to fit a wide range of golfers.

What differentiates the PWR series from basically anything out there on the market is that it gives golfers the unique ability to move between different weights, flexes, and profiles without altering the swingweight of their driver.

“With adjustable clubs, fitting for shaft weight has been limited because of its effect on swingweight. The PWR Series overcomes that by varying the CG location of the different weights so we can offer options that optimize ball flight while providing a better-feeling, more-responsive shaft”. – John A. Solheim, PING Chairman & CEO

You can order your i25 at your preferred swingweight and know that you can mix and match any shaft in the PWR series without changing the way the club feels in your hands.

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PWR Series shafts are available in the following weights and flexes:  Stock graphite shafts: PWR 55 (R, S); PWR 65 (R, S, Tour S, Tour XS); PWR 75 (S, Tour S, Tour XS). Each weight is differentiated from the others by the color of the graphics (55 – Red, 65 – Black, 75 – grey).

The i25 driver is available in lofts of 8.5°, 9.5°, and 10.5°. The PWR Series shaft (your choice) is stock. While others continue to push the upper limits of what’s controllable, stock length for the i25 is more playable 45.25”.

MSRP for the i25 Driver is $440, but you can expect the actual street price to be less.

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i25 Fairway Woods and Hybrids

As you might expect, PING is also releasing i25 Fairway Woods and Hybrids.

The i25 fairway offers a compact design that PING describes as “hot off the tee” (that’s about as ostentatious as PING gets). It features a tall face and internal weighting designed to help boost MOI.

The i25 Fairway Wood is available in 14° (Strong 3W), 15° (3W), and 18° (5W). Stock shafts are the same PWR series found in the driver.

MSRP for the i25 Fairway Wood is $275, but again, street price will be less.

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The hybrid, which we assume is also hot when used off the tee (or anywhere else) has what PING is calling a more-forward hosel. Let’s call it what it is…offset. It offers reduced bulge and roll, a straighter leading edge, and a more squared-off toe.

Add to that an overall compact design, and what you really have is a player-centric hybrid with more forgiveness than you might expect.

To give you every bit of possible distance while still maintaining consistent gaps, PING placed the CG back in the lower lofted hybrids (higher launch) and more forward in the higher lofted clubs (lower launch, less spin).

Like the driver and fairway woods, the i25 hybrids feature PING’s PWR shafts (80g and 90g) and also maintain swingweight across all weights and flexes.

The i25 Hybrid is available in 17°, 19°, 22°, and 26°.

MSRP for the i25 Hybrid is $242.50, but (and stop me if you’ve heard this before), actual street price will be less.

Both the fairway and hybrids are made from 17-4 stainless steel. The fairway woods leverage the same +- ½ degree adjustable hosel system as the driver, and also feature the racing stripe crown alignment design.  The hybrids aren’t adjustable, and because of the comparatively shallow depth, there’s not enough room for the racing stripes to be beneficial, so PING left them off.

i25 Irons

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Slotted between the s55 Irons and the G25 Irons in PING’s current iron lineup, the new i25 irons are designed to strike a balance between control and forgiveness.

The long irons feature larger heads with broader soles to promote higher launch and more forgiveness. What PING calls narrow face-stabilizing bars increase velocity.

The Mid and short irons are comparatively more compact, have narrower soles and less offset. Wider stabilizing bars are designed to produce a lower, more controlled ball flight with better feel.

Irons with pronounced performance and feel differences between the long and short irons are becoming more and more common as manufacturers work to build individual irons better suited to the task at hand. Basically, the ideal ball flight differs dramatically from a 5 iron to a 9 iron, as does the amount of forgiveness necessary to make the iron playable.  PING and others are starting to explicitly account for that.

Manufacturers are placing more emphasis on these distinctions and are showing a willingness to compromise on the continuity of the set as a whole if the end product achieves the desired result.

As we’ve come to expect from PING, the i25 irons are bulkier than you might find in similarly placed irons, but the PING way has always been one of performance before appearance, and while no doubt prettier designs will appeal to many, I suspect that for the guy who likes (or even tolerates) the aesthetic qualities, the performance will be tough to beat.

PING i25 Iron Specifications

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Stock Shaft: PING CFS (Steel), PING TFC 189i (Graphite)
MSRP: $110/club (steel), $137.50/club (graphite)

Karsten Hybrid/Iron Set

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Perhaps the most intriguing of the products announced today, if only for the fact that it was more of a surprise than everything else, is the Karsten Hybrid/Iron set. While your initial assumption might be that it’s a direct replacement for the super game-improvement K15 set (that was my thought), that’s not really the case.

PING isn’t using the phrase Super Game-Improvement with the Karsten. Instead, PING is emphasizing the fact that the Karsten is designed to be a true distance iron, which makes it a first for PING.

It almost goes without saying that distance irons like TaylorMade’s SpeedBlade, Callaway’s X2 Hot, and Cobra’s BiOCell are part of  the biggest trend in the iron market right now, and PING hopes that their offering will appeal to that same broad audience.

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According to PING, unlike those other distance irons on the market, their new irons are engineered to provide predictable distance control, and an extremely high MOI; offering forgiveness and feel not usually associated with the distance category.

While the Karsten’s head sizes are similar to the K15’s, that’s really where the comparisons end. The Karsten provides higher ball speeds and higher launch, which provide greater distance, and steeper descent angles; producing shots that basically stop where they land.

Made from 17-4 stainless, the Karsten features a wide sole design, and a deep center of gravity. Like other PING designs, the Karsten features a polymer Custom Tuning Port (CTP) which helps reinforce the thin face that provides those ball speeds I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

The hybrids have a deeper profile and are designed to blend in perfectly with the irons while maintaining consistent distance gaps.

Like the i25 irons, the Karsten features a progressive CG design with lower lofted irons launching higher and with more spin than their higher lofted counterparts.

Finally, an extreme (PING’s word) amount of internal heel and toe weighting raises the MOI to provide maximum performance, even on those shots that might not be struck with the sweet spot.

What we’re talking about is a textbook PING iron designed to go farther than anything they’ve designed before.

Karsten Hybrid/Iron Specs

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Hybrids are available with graphite shaft only, and are not sold separately.

Stock Shaft: PING CFS Distance (Steel)/ PING KS401 (Graphite)
MSRP: 106.25/club (Steel), $125/club (graphite)

Karsten TR Putters

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Finally, PING is introducing 5 new putters featuring their popular TR (True Roll) Technology. It’s probably safe to assume that GolfSpy Dave is going to take a deeper look at these in the near future.

For now, we’ll just mention that the Karsten series features a copper PVD finish, and includes models to fit all stroke types (Straight, Slight Arc, and Strong Arc).

Models include: Anser 2 (345g, Slight Arc), B60 (345g, Slight Arc) , PAL (360g, Slight Arc), Anser 5 (365g, Straight), and Zing (350g, Strong Arc)

MSRP for each putter is $162.50. Add $35 for adjustable-length models.

More Coming Soon

As we’ve already mentioned, the PING i25 Driver is part of our 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Driver Test, and as we get deeper into 2014 we fully expect to be taking a closer look at this entire new lineup from PING. Stay tuned.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

FIRST LOOK – Cobra BiO Cell and BiO Cell +

FIRST LOOK – Cobra BiO Cell and BiO Cell +

Post image for FIRST LOOK – Cobra BiO Cell and BiO Cell +

“We take on anybody else’s club head to head, and more often not, we think we’re going to win” – Every Golf Company

Seriously, I’ve heard some variation of that statement from just about every golf company I’ve ever spoken with. Woods or irons, it doesn’t matter; everybody is all but certain their creations are the best.

It’s a belief that’s next to impossible to prove or disprove.

Everything fits somebody, and what fits my 107 MPH, negative angle of attack, angry chop of a swing may not fit your graceful, controlled, 3 degrees up swing.

What I’ve come to believe is that once you get past all of the tech speak, and the marketing, and all of that ancillary ‘stuff’, what really separates the companies on top of the golf world from those climbing to get there is simply a matter of discussion.

TaylorMade, Callaway, Titliest… for a majority of golfers, these companies are in the discussion. When golfers are thinking about where to spend money on drivers, and fairways, and wedges, and whatever else; these are the companies throw around when they have those mental conversations with themselves over what to buy next.

What does any of this have to do with Cobra and BiO Cell?

Bear with me…as always, I’m going somewhere with this…and by now you should know it sometimes takes me a while to get there.

Here’s my point. Cobra wants in the discussion. Whether theirs is the first club in, or the 3rd club in the bay behind TaylorMade and Callaway, all Cobra really wants is to be in the discussion.

If you’re in the discussion, you get the chance to compete, and yeah, you betcha, Cobra’s no different than anybody else:

If you give Cobra the chance to compete, they think they’re going to win.

So with all of that said (and none of it about BiO Cell yet), I want you to ask yourself this question:

Do I like what I hear? Do I like what I see? Does this package of products put Cobra in the discussion?

If it doesn’t, I’d be interested to hear why it doesn’t…and I’m certain the team at Cobra would be as well.

BiO Cell Driver

As you can probably piece together all on your own, BiO Cell is the direct replacement for last season’s AMP Cell Pro.

As you might expect, there are some subtle performance tweaks. Cobra thinned out the crown just a bit which allowed them to move the center of gravity lower. The result is a driver that launches a bit higher, and spins less (~300 RPM) than AMP Cell.

As with AMP Cell, Cobra is using their MyFly technology (updated to MyFly8) to allow for the entire range of lofts to be reached in a single head. The new hosel allows for BiO Cell to be configured from 9.0 degrees to 12 degrees in 1 degree increments. In addition to the 10.5 draw setting from last year, this year’s model adds draw settings at 9.5 and 11.5 degrees. In case you haven’t pieced it together, that’s 8 unique settings.

While Cobra would like to keep the discussion focused on performance, most of you will no doubt notice that Cobra has added a semi-traditional black option to the color lineup.

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 Technology that Shows

We’ve talked in the past about how a segment of golfers really likes to see the technology that’s baked into their clubs. For the right audience, visible technology can be tremendously appealing.

With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that Cobra would show off the crown’s cell structure on the rear of the crown. Even if golfers don’t know what it is, or what it does, it looks cool. In a $299, it makes perfect sense.

And that brings me to…

BiO Cell+

I’ve said it before, while golf companies will tell you that everything they make is special. They won’t say it out loud, but they also believe that some products are more special than others.

I think it’s fair to say that in my admittedly limited time covering golf, I’ve never seen Cobra more excited about any single product than they are about BiO Cell+ driver.

While the name suggests it’s an extension of the AMP family, the 440cc BiO Cell+ is actually more ZL than AMP- and I think that’s going to make a lot of Cobra fans excited too.

While the R&D that went into BiO Cell+ was extensive, the Cliff Notes version of BiO Cell+ performance reads like this:

Through the use of an alloy they call Venollum, Cobra was able to further reduce crown weight (compared to Bio Cell), which produces a lower launch angle (nearly a degree) and less spin (+/- 200RPM) than the standard BiO Cell model.

Because Cobra was able to place the CG closer to the neutral axis, and farther back than some competitor’s products, they were able to achieve the desired launch conditions, without the MOI sacrifice of TaylorMade’s SLDR for example.

With BiO Cell+, Cobra is telling us that you don’t have to give up forgiveness for distance.

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Questionable Aesthetics

Unfortunately they’re also telling us that we’re going to need to be comfortable looking at a less than traditional crown design. In the interest of visible technology, I suppose, Cobra has chosen to surround their colorful (or black) Venollum crown-piece with a high gloss white perimeter.

Cobra’s known for being bold, and to an extent taking risks with their designs…or at least their use of color, but my gut tells me they may have misjudged their target demographic’s receptiveness to bold aesthetics and visible technology.

The design is over the top to the extent that I believe it’s going to have a polarizing effect on their potential market. When you’re already in the discussion, you can get away with that, but when you’re grinding to be part of the conversation, alienating any percentage of the market is risky.

My 2 cents here…I don’t love it. I don’t hate it, and no doubt if the driver performs like they say, I could get used to it in a hurry, but for me Cobra is already in the discussion.

For the better players who aren’t thinking about Cobra, aren’t discussing Cobra, and aren’t giving Cobra the chance to compete on performance, I don’t believe that over-emphasizing visible technology in your premium driver offering is going to do much to convert them.

That said, I hope I’m wrong. I played AMP Cell Pro for the better part of this season. Performance isn’t an issue with Cobra.

Tour adoption of BiO Cell+ has been quick. Rickie Fowler has played the new driver, and Jonas Blixt told me it took him less than a day to get comfortable enough with BiO Cell+ to ditch his ZL (it took him weeks to make the switch last time around).

The larger issue for Cobra is convincing more golfers that there’s some substance behind all the color. For that to happen, Cobra may need to deemphasize color, and take a slightly more traditional route (still true to the Cobra brand) with their better player offerings.

Like BiO Cell, BiO Cell+ features an all-lofts-in-one-head design. The updated MyFly hosel allows loft to be adjusted from 8 degrees to 11 degrees. Gone is last year’s fade setting (Cobra discovered almost no one used it). Replacing it are draw settings at 8.5, 9.5, and 10.5 degrees

Fairways and Hybrids Too

As with any good lineup, BiO Cell technology is available in fairways and hybrids as well.

With hybrids raw distance is less of an issue. It’s more about finding something that offers the desired look and feel.

From there it becomes a matter of gapping. Cobra makes that easy by offering a selection of adjustable loft (2-3, 3-4, and 4-5) hybrids (and fairways) that basically ensure you can hit any distance within your range.

With fairways we could talk about face construction, launch conditions, and ball speed, but the big picture takeaway is that you won’t lose yards playing a Cobra fairway.

The fairway wood market has been insanely distance driven and hyper-competitive the last couple of seasons. 17 yards, 10 more yards, 13 more yards…lots and lots of yards have been offered up.

While Cobra doesn’t really engage in distance-based marketing to the extent many of their competitors do, what they’ll tell you is that they’ve bridged the distance gap, and BiO Cell fairway is every bit as long as anybody else’s fairway.

I really like what Cobra’s done with the shaping of both the fairway and rescue. Both hit the sweet spot between too much bulk, an too much intimidation.

Throw in the same color selection (both hybrids and fairways) as the drivers, mix in Cobra’s gapping options, and you’ve got a fairway hybrid combo that’s well worth a look.

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BiO Cell Irons

Rounding out the BiO Cell family are the new BiO Cell irons. The new irons replace last year’s AMP Cell product. And while in that sense, BiO Cell can be seen as the natural evolution of the franchise; the reality is that BiO Cell bares little resemblance to what came before it.

With BiO Cell Cobra is chasing the ultimate blend of distance and forgiveness. Over the last couple of years the game-improvement category has, for better or worse, evolved into the distance iron category.

While forgiveness remains part of the discussion, if you’re not competing on distance too, you’re not competing. So while once again Cobra isn’t promising that their irons will give you 10 more yards, they’re extremely confident that they can match anybody else in the industry yard for yard.

The key to distance is, as it is for many others, an undercut channel cavity with a largely unsupported face. And yes…lofts are non-traditional, but with a 45 degree pitching wedge, Cobra’s pretty much right with most everybody else.

It ain’t no thing.

The forgiveness in the design comes from (as it almost always does) perimeter weighting.  Cobra has placed a relatively massive amount of tungsten (10 grams each) in the heel and toe to help maintain distance and control when you don’t quite hit the sweet spot.

Noteworthy perhaps is that in the short irons are constructed from a softer steel, and the tungsten weights have been placed in a more central position. The goal is to create more feel, and better control in the scoring irons. Whether or not that creates any weirdness in the set with one club not feeling quite like the next remains to be seen.

Early response to the aesthetics of the BiO Cell irons hasn’t been kind. They’re certainly bulkier than a good bit of what’s in the market today. In general game-improvement designs have gotten smaller, while BiO Cell looks like a bit of a throwback.

Sitting on the shelf next to JPX-EZ, SpeedBlade, and X2 Hot, getting into that discussion with one of the more unusual aesthetics could prove challenging. We have no doubt the performance will be there, and Cobra is always competitive on price (often the best bang for the buck).

Will golfers buy into the unusual look? Of that I’m less sure.

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Pricing and Availability

The COBRA BiO CELL Driver ($299) features a Project X – PXv shaft and is available in RH and LH models in x-stiff, stiff, regular and lite flexes featuring MyFly8TM, providing golfers with loft settings from 9.0° to 12.0°.  The BiO CELL Driver features a Lamkin – R.E.L. 3GEN 360 grip.

The COBRA BiO CELL+ Driver ($399) features a Matrix 6Q3 Red Tie (Same as aftermarket version with custom white Cobra graphics) shaft and is available in RH and LH models in x-stiff, stiff, regular flexes featuring MyFly8TM, providing golfers with loft settings from 8.0° to 11.0°.  The BiO CELL+ Driver features a Lamkin – R.E.L. 3GEN 360 grip.

The COBRA BiO CELL Fairway ($219) features a Project X – PXv shaft and comes in two models, both featuring MyFly8. The 3-4 Wood (13°, 13.5°,13.5°D, 14.5°, 14.5°D, 15.5°, 15.5°D and 16°) and 5-7 Wood (17°, 17.5°, 17.5°D, 18.5°, 18.5°D, 19.5°, 19.5°D and 20°) are available in x-stiff, stiff, regular and lite flexes in both RH and LH. The BiO CELL Fairway features a Lamkin R.E.L. 3GEN 360 grip.

The COBRA BiO CELL Hybrid ($189) features a COBRA BiO CELL shaft and comes in three models featuring MyFly8. The 2-3H (16°, 16.5°,16.5°D, 17.5°, 17.5°D, 18.5°, 18.5°D and 19°), 3-4H (19°, 19.5°, 19.5°D, 20.5°, 20.5°D, 21.5°, 21.5°D and 22°) and the 4-5H (22°, 22.5°, 22.5°D, 23.5°, 23.5°D, 24.5°, 24.5°D and 25°) are available in x-stiff, stiff, regular and lite flexes in both RH and LH. The BiO CELL Hybrid features a Lamkin R.E.L. 3GEN 360 grip.

The COBRA BiO CELL Iron Set ($699) features a True Temper Dynalite 85 shaft shaft and is available in stiff and regular flex in 3-LW in RH models and 3-SW in LH models. The BiO CELL Irons feature a Lamkin – R.E.L. 3GEN grip.

Graphite irons are available through custom order and feature a COBRA BiO CELL shaft in stiff, regular or lite flexes.

The COBRA BiO CELL Irons Combo Set ($799 Steel Irons, Graphite Hybrids) (MAP: $899, all graphite) features a True Temper Dynalite 85 shaft in steel models and a COBRA BiO CELL in graphite models. The stock set composition is 3-4H, 4-5H, 5-PW. The COBRA BiO CELL Irons Combo Set features BiO CELL Hybrids with MyFly8 so golfers can optimize yardage gaps. The BiO CELL Driver, Fairways, Hybrids and Irons will be available at retail on January 15th, 2014. To find an authorized COBRA dealer near you, visit

The BiO CELL Drivers, Fairways, Hybrids and Irons will be available at retail on January 15th,

Tell Us What You Think

So…the big question…what do you think of the Cobra BiO Cell Lineup. What do you like? What don’t you like? And most importantly, with these 2014 offerings, has Cobra made any progress towards convincing you they should be part of your buying conversation?

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look – 2014 Cobra BiO Cell (Woods and Irons)

First Look – 2014 Cobra BiO Cell (Woods and Irons)

Post image for First Look – 2014 Cobra BiO Cell (Woods and Irons)

You’ve seen their new Tour Trusty wedges. You’ve seen the super game-improvement Baffler XL series, and yeah, some of you have seen some of Cobra’s New BiO Cell Lineup as well. While we’re still a couple weeks away from the Official release, somebody (I swear it wasn’t us) took the liberty of posting the entire 2014 Cobra catalog online.

For Cobra the early leak a bit of a gasoline enema; an uncomfortable surprise as they gear up for the official launch of what I can tell you is a pretty big (and important release for them). Last year was a bit of a proof on concept for Cobra. While white worked (for TaylorMade anyway), for a company the size of Cobra, releasing an entire flagship line with red, blue, silver, and orange crowns (while not offering traditional black), was definitely a bit of a gamble.

While I’m not going to lie and tell you that Cobra was a dominating force at retail, the AMP Cell sold reasonably well, and more importantly, what I saw anyway, was that golfers off all ages were receptive to Cobra’s unique take on aesthetics.

The goal for Cobra golf in 2014 is to build on whatever momentum carries over from 2013, and to further convince golfers that the cool stuff they make really does work. The team at Cobra is anything but delusional. They know that competing with TaylorMade, and Titleist, and Callaway isn’t as simple as painting a driver blue, but the Cobra team strongly believes that if they can be part of the discussion…if theirs is one of the 3 drivers you take with you into the hitting bay…if golfers are willing to give their products a serious look, Cobra believes they’re going to win more often than they loose.

BiO Cell Driver

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BiO Cell Driver Notes

Taking the bold colors out of the discussion for a moment, BiO Cell is a relatively traditional-looking driver. The BiO Cell pattern is visible towards the rear of the crown (some golfers do love visible technology). The hosel adapter has been updated with a new 8 position cog (sorry, not backward compatible), and SmartPad technology is a holdover from the AMP Cell.

For those who don’t love bold colors, BiO Cell Driver is also available in glossy black.

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Street Price: $299

BiO Cell + Driver

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BiO Cell + Driver Notes

While BiO Cell + is the replacement for the AMP Cell Pro, this time around it’s fundamentally different from the standard model. The 440cc model features a Venollum alloy crown. What we’re talking about here is really next generation composite, which I suppose could make BiO Cell + the next generation ZL (which is going to make a lot of Cobra fans very happy).

Golfers are obviously going to notice the unique crown design. It’s slightly reminiscent of our own Callaway Versa Driver mock-up. The idea is to call attention to that Venollum crown. My gut tells me it’s going to be a polarizing feature, but thus far, among the golfers I know who have seen it, the response to the design is largely positive. It’s grown on me, but I’m interested to hear what you think.

This year’s model is adjustable from 8° to 11° (AMP Cell is adjustable from 7.5° to 10.5°) and  AMP Cell’s Fade settings have been replaced with draw options. 8.5° is very intriguing for me. The shaft is a “real” Matrix 6Q3 (Red Tie), however the custom white graphics are a Cobra exclusive designed to better match the 5 different crown colors.

We’ll tell you more about Cobra’s own CG story when BiO Cell is official and everything.  Stay Tuned.

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Street Price: $399

BiO Cell Fairway

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BiO Cell Fairway Notes

As they did last year, Cobra is releasing two models, a 3-4 and a 5-7. The MyFly8 adapter allows for 8 settings for each model, which gives the AMP Cell fairway the capability to cover what we’d call a strong 3 wood, all the way up to what some would consider a 9 wood.

While we have to hold the specifics for a little while longer, sufficed to say, Cobra is confident they can hold their own with the other big name fairway woods on the market.

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BiO Cell Hybrid

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BiO Cell Hybrid Notes

What can you really say about a hybrid? The models (2-3, 3-4, and 4-5) are available. There is some overlap in the loft range which will allow more savvy golfers the freedom to choose their model based on things like shaft length and ideal face angle.

The design is reasonably compact (it won’t easily be mistaken for a short-shafted fairway wood), and looks really sweet. What can I say…I love the idea of blue hybrid to match my driver.

Like the drivers and the fairway woods, BiO Cell hybrids are available in red, blue, silver, orange, and black.

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Street Price: $189

BiO Cell Irons

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BiO Cell Iron Notes

What we’re really talking about is Cobra’s answer to SpeedBladez and XHot/X2Hot, and whatever else you want to throw into the emerging distance iron category. The key for Cobra is the perimeter undercut that allows for BiO Cell’s unsupported (fast) face. There’s actually quite a bit of interesting technology built into the BiO Cell iron design (check back after we’re official), but we’re not sure how they’ll fair up against more streamlined designs.

Like everything else in the Cobra lineup, color is a part of the BiO Cell iron story. You can order these game-improvement irons with orange, red, blue, or silver cavity badges.

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Street Price:  $699 steel/$840 (give or take)

BiO Cell Irons Combo Set

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BiO Cell Combo Notes

For those who prefer hybrids over long irons (and I think most of us do these days), Cobra’s BiO Cell irons will also be available in a combo set. “Real” BiO Cell hybrids can replace 3,  4 and/or 5 irons.

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Street Price: $799 Steel/$899 graphite

Jesper’s Hat

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Up Bill Cap Notes

I might be the only one who cares, but Jesper’s signature Up Bill Cap has made its way into the Cobra accessories lineup. The one-size fits all cap is available in white, black, and tradewinds (how Cobra and PUMA will say “grey” in 2014). Retail price is $26.00

Womens Clubs & Carry Overs

For the ladies out there, Women’s versions of the BiO Cell Driver, Fairway, Hybrids, and Irons are available in more female-friendly colors.

Two year life-cycles are the norm for forged player designs, so not surprisingly, the more player-centric AMP Cell Pro iron will carryover for the duration of the 2014 season.

Have Your Say

Tell us (and anyone who happens to be reading) what you think of what you’ve seen so far. We know Cobra’s clubs will perform, but as far as the designs are concerned, what works for you, what doesn’t?

Most importantly, what will it take for Cobra to become part of your own internal discussion when it comes time to buy your next driver, fairway, hybrid, or iron set?

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

FIRST LOOK! – Callaway X2 Hot Driver, Irons & More

FIRST LOOK! – Callaway X2 Hot Driver, Irons & More

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Will Callaway X2 Hot Be Best Driver 2 Years In A Row?

Who made the best performing driver in 2013?  Callaway.  Which model?  The Callaway X Hot.

If you want to check the numbers feel free, we got plenty of ‘em for ya.

So, what’s one of the drivers you should be most interested in trying out in 2014?  Yep, that’s right, it’s called the Callaway X2 Hot.  We got some pics and info for you to check out. The newest kid on the block in Callaway’s 2014 driver stable will be ready to launch Mid-Janurary.  And for those that like their whole bag to match, we got the pics of the fairway wood, hybrid and irons as well.

Here is some more alleged info about the new X2 Hot gear:

Retail Date for X2 Hot is 1/14 for most products

X2 Hot Driver

– All lofts one head

– 9.5 base loft 8.5 to 11.5

– 55g Tour Blue in Regular

– 65g Tour Green in Pro

$349 Retail

X2 Hot Fairway

– X2 Hot Fairway

– X2 Hot/X2Hot Pro

– X2 Hot Deep FW (Retail 2/14)

$239 Retail

X2 Hot Hyrbids

– X2 Hot/X2Hot Pro

$199 Retail 

X2 Hot Irons

– X2 Hot $799/($899 graphite)

– X2 Hot Pro $899

Image Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=808owHa2QXQ

Callaway X2 Hot Driver 2014

x2hot-driver-2  x2hot-hy-2 Callaway X2 Hot hyrbid 2014 Callaway X2 Hot Fairway 2014 Callaway X2 Hot Fairway wood Callaway X2 Hot Irons

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look! – Tour Edge Exotics Limited Edition CB Pro Fairway Wood

First Look! – Tour Edge Exotics Limited Edition CB Pro Fairway Wood

Post image for First Look! – Tour Edge Exotics Limited Edition CB Pro Fairway Wood

Written By: Tony Covey

“You want innovation? I’ve got your innovation right here, and it comes in the form of a very compelling upgrade to what is already one of the top-performing fairway woods in golf”.

Just yesterday we heard grumblings about what’s perceived as a near total lack of actual innovation coming out of the big golf companies. Apparently those big OEM guys are coasting by on gimmicks, and haven’t actually come up with anything impactful in decades.

Well today we’ve got something that might just get some of you to settle down for a little while; at least those of you who don’t immediately assume this is yet another golf company gimmick.

The story we heard is that Tour Edge’s upcoming CB Pro is really making waves on the range at the MBW Championship.

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The Exotics Tradition

A couple of days ago we received pictures of an upcoming Limited Edition fairway wood from TourEdge Golf. The new CB Pro (Limited Edition) is the latest iteration of the CB Line (clubs generally designed for better players), and is constructed with the same seamless (no-weld) combo-brazed, titanium cupped face hyper steel body as previous CB fairway iterations.

While it has been a while since Tour Edge has updated the Exotics CB Line, the clubs remain popular with lower handicap golfers (and the occasional wanna-be), in part due to their mostly traditional appearance, but more so their performance, which more the a few golfers will tell you still rivals anything on the market today.

“When we decided to create the Exotics line this is the type of club I had envisioned.” – David Glod, President and Founder, Tour Edge Golf

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Is That Linguine?

That’s all well and good, and a new Exotics CB Fairway would almost certainly garner plenty of attention on its own, but what’s certainly going to have people talking (and other golf companies looking very closely at the design) is what TourEdge is calling the Slip Stream sole.

The story behind the Slip Stream design is that it “dramatically minimizes turf contact”, which allows the club to glide through the turf with minimal impact -regardless of how steep of a swing you happen to put on it.

Steep or flat, Tour Edge says CB Pro will work for you.

Visually, Slip Steam looks like a collection of 9 linguine noodles spaced and bent (they’re wavy) in such that you basically couldn’t rest anything across the sole of the club and still maintain 100% surface contact with it.

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Lots of companies talk about minimizing turf interaction, but this is one of those rare occasions where you can actually see how it’s done.

We’ve seen similar designs in the past, but none made it past prototype phase, and none came from a company with the type of fairway wood chops that TourEdge has. Past experience suggests that CB Pro will be a solid performer, even if Slip Stream is proven to be just another gimmick (which incidentally, I don’t think is going to happen).

It goes without saying that we’re anxious to check this one out for ourselves.

It’s Not All Awesome

“Is it expense? Yes, probably the most expensive fairway wood ever brought pulic. But it’s just that good combined with Speeder shafts”. –David Glod

So I guess the Fujikura Speeder Shaft thing (661 and new 757) qualifies as a good thing. That’s a pretty solid upgrade, but expensive…that may not begin to cover it.

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Suggested retail price for the Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro Fairway is $499.99.

One more time for those who think I just made another in a long line of famous typos:

Suggested retail price for the Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro Fairway is $499.99.

Yup…Tour Edge is releasing a $500 Fairway Wood. I love the ambition, but besting any other titanium faced fairway on the market by $200…it’s going to be a tough sell.

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The Future of Fairway Woods?

As much as I find the constant (and often misinformed) “they stole x from y” stuff we hear almost anytime something new comes out tiresome (and painfully unoriginal), it is true that golf companies do very often find inspiration in each other’s work.

It’s going to be exceptionally interesting to see if and how the Tour Edge design is coopted by other manufacturers into their own fairways, and probably hybrids too.

Specifications and Availability

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Look for the TourEdge CB Pro Fairway Wood to hit stores this November.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look – TaylorMade Ghost Tour Series Putters

First Look – TaylorMade Ghost Tour Series Putters

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It’s Time to Come Clean

I have a confession to make. I don’t hate TaylorMade putters.

Actually…that’s not the complete truth of the matter. The full truth…and it pains me to admit this publicly…I actually like TaylorMade putters.

There…I said it.

I’m such a toolbag.

Look, I’m no different than a lot of you reading this. I love Bettinardi putters, and to a lesser extent Scotty Camerons too. Like most anyone else, I can see the beauty in a Gene Nead, or T.P. Mills design.

I’m not blind.

I would love to bag one of those semi-boutique to boutique putters. I’m not even put-off by the $350+ price tag.

I’ve tried a bunch, some with more success than others, and yet, try as I might to be one of the cool kids who putts with artwork, I keep finding my way back to less expensive, mass-produced (oh, the horror!), non-milled putters from the likes of TaylorMade and Odyssey.

Shame on me.

My only defense is that I like making birdies…and the occasional eagle.

We won’t talk about that 11 I carded during my Club Championship…except to say that it was a 1-putt, 11, which is nice.

She’s Got a Nice Personality

The story coming out of TaylorMade is that they took a full year working on the aesthetics of the new Ghost Tour Series. The goal was to create a stunningly beautiful lineup of putters.

Look, I’m not saying TaylorMade wasted their time, or failed or anything rotten like that, but the reality is that when it comes to the aesthetics of putter design, TaylorMade isn’t (and my hunch is they have no desire to) playing at the same level as some others.

If for whatever reason you find yourself disagreeing with that last statement, go check out BettinardiTourStock.com and then get back to me.

My point is that, for now anyway, TaylorMade has voluntary pigeon-holed themselves as a company who makes nothing but white putters with inserts. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does limit your options as far as getting creative goes, and it most certainly limits your consumer appeal.

“Without a doubt, golfers will be blown away when they set one of these putters down for the first time” – Brian Bazzel, Category Directory for Putters and Wedges, TaylorMade-adidas Golf

Are they ugly putters? No (unless you despise white putters – in which case, yes, they’re hideous), but you’re probably not going to find the homecoming queen in this crowd either (unless you’re from Iowa).

Subtle Refinements

What TaylorMade has done (at least judging by the 3 samples they sent us) is make subtle refinements to what are admittedly the staples of most any putter lineup. Of the 3 models TaylorMade sent (Daytona 12, Seabring 62, and Fontana 72), the Daytona 12  (Anser 2 style) is the one that most appeals to me, perhaps because it’s not dissimilar from my current gamer.

Unlike the relatively bland (grey or black/white) finish on the sole of previous Ghost releases, TaylorMade chose to put a mirror-black, ion-plated finish on the new Tour series. While it’s a small detail, and largely inconsequential as far as functionality goes, it’s TaylorMade’s best sole work in recent memory…maybe ever.

If you can get past whatever issues you have with white paint, and inserts…strip all of that away and what you’re left with is a putter with soft flowing lines, a perfectly balanced sole, and (let me chose my words carefully) feel – at least for the 2 blade designs – that’s not unlike what you get from carbon steel millings.

Feel in the Fontana mallet is more muted, and insert-IER…more inserty…insertish…you get the point.

Sans the white paint, if the same designs came out of Cameron’s studio, nobody would think any less of him.

The feel thing might come as a shock to those of you who have experience with other TaylorMade inserts. Feel, in my opinion, has never been the strength of the TaylorMade putter line, but with the new lineup, that may have changed a bit.

The new Ghost Tour series features a new insert which TaylorMade is calling the 8020 Pure Roll. While the name 8020 might suggest some form of steel-based metallurgy, the latest incarnation of PureRoll is actually 80% Surlyn and 20% Aluminum (I see what they did there).

For the sake of comparison, the current generation of counterbalanced putters (Spider Blade, Daddy Long Legs, etc.) features a 100% Surlyn insert, which offers a much more muted (really insert-like) feel.  The counterbalanced design actually benefits from the muted feel, but my hunch is that I’d like Daddy Long Legs a whole lot more with the 8020 in it.

It’s All About Alignment

Sure…you can tweak feel, and refine the design aesthetics, but short of doing something different (like counterbalancing) it’s pretty difficult to make any actual performance improvements to the putters themselves.

Nobody is looking for 10 more yards, or even 10 more feet from their putter.

Instead, the putter performance story is often one of alignment.

Odyssey basically won the Pulitzer with their Versa alignment story, but TaylorMade has an alignment story of their own to tell…and it’s not the worst one I’ve ever heard.

As with most things TaylorMade these days, the story includes a chapter on contrast. The white top line contrasts with the green hues of the putting surface, and while it’s not a story TaylorMade appears to be telling, the contrasting black, non-insert portion of the face can provide a visual indicator if you’ve got the face open at address.

That’s not bad, but the alignment ‘trick’ I find most useful is what TaylorMade calls the First and Second Read Alignment System. The linear alignment system, which  is also built into the counterbalance series, features a primary sight line inside the cavity that’s paired with a series of contrasting (white), narrow secondary alignment lines which frame the ball perfectly, and in theory, make it much easier to align the putter to the target.

It works very well for me. Actual mileage, especially for guys who loathe any sort of sight line,  may vary.

The Verdict

Like I said…I mostly like TaylorMade putters (their wedges…umm…not so much), and there’s definitely nothing in this new crop that makes me think any less of them. The refinements are relatively subtle but come together nicely in a series of designs that are arguably the most sophisticated TaylorMade has released since Kia Ma’s name was on their putters.

It nearly goes without saying that if you’re not a fan of white, the new Ghost Tour Series doesn’t offer much incentive to give TaylorMade another look. This is, however, TaylorMade we’re talking about, so wait 3 months…you never know.

For those who were on the fence, or just didn’t get on-board with the counterbalance thing, it’s conceivable you’ll find something you like in this group.

Me…as intrigued as I am by the Daytona 12, I’m sticking with my current gamer.

Couterbalance, baby!

Models, Price, and Availability

The new Ghost Tour Series features three blade styles (Daytona 12, Daytona 62, and Seabring 62) and four mallets (Maranello 81, Fontana 72, Monte Carlo 12, and Corza 72). As you would expect the new putters will be available in lengths of 33″, 34″, and 35″ inches.

Retail availability begins September 1st. All models will retail for $149

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look! – TRUE Linkswear 2014 Lineup

First Look! – TRUE Linkswear 2014 Lineup

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We know lots of you are fans of TRUE Linkswear. It’s almost insane to think that 2014 will bring the fourth generation for the minimalist golf shoe that took the world by storm (relatively speaking of course). 4 years…already.

We don’t have much in the way of info yet, but we do have some pics of Ryan Moore wearing the new shoes at The Barclays at Liberty National.

What do you think? Do these look like something you’ll be adding to your shoe rack in 2014?  And if so, which one do you like best.

 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look! – Mizuno JPX-EZ Lineup

First Look! – Mizuno JPX-EZ Lineup

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Mizuno’s First Adjustable Driver

This is a Mizuno story, and I’m leading with the driver. You can file this under It’s about F’n time.

The guys at Mizuno have finally gotten around to creating an adjustable driver; joining the ranks of…well…everyone…accept maybe Wilson who, by the way, will also be releasing an adjustable driver this season.

I believe that’s everyone.

We can argue all day about whether or not anybody really needs an adjustable driver (I know…just get properly fit). We can argue over whether or not they actually do what they say (does loft really change). And we can certainly argue about whether or not it’s all pointless anyway because the average guy simply doesn’t understand what the various adjustments actually do.

We can argue all day and it won’t matter. When you’re the odd man out – one of the last…if not the last…golf company of sizable consequence not to offer an adjustable driver you could be seen by the average golfer as lagging behind.

Even if the average golfer doesn’t need it, you still have to offer it…at least when you’re playing at Mizuno’s level.

How Does It Work?

While we don’t have details yet, I’m not expecting anything revolutionary from an adjustment standpoint. Past Mizuno releases also suggest that retail options will be limited (I doubt we’ll see an 8.5° model for example). In case it matters to you, Mizuno is calling their adjustment technology “Quick Switch”.

One of the more important aspects of Mizuno’s new driver is what I’m willing to bet is a replaceable weight screw. Unlike some others, I don’t expect Mizuno will be telling any sort of associated ball flight story. Instead, the replaceable weight is for swing weighting purposes, which again, while lost on the average golfer should allow the experimental gearhead types to try shafts of different lengths and weights…assuming they have the proper plug.

The JPX-EZ Woods lineup also includes fairway woods and hybrids. I’m just spit-balling here since it’s not clear from the images, but my guess is they’re not adjustable. Unlike drivers, adjustable fairways and hybrids, while more common, haven’t evolved to the point where not offering adjustability stinks of antiquation.

And Yes . . . There are Irons Too

It’s Mizuno, so of course the JPX-EZ line includes irons.

The photos released so far suggest a game-improvement iron (a given for all irons in the JPX series). Like the newly announced MP-54, the EZs feature a pocket cavity design, so you can expect a story about the repositioning of discretionary weight, and perimeter weighting for maximum forgiveness.

As with the driver, I’m not expecting anything ground-breaking in terms of the technology, but we’re still talking about a Mizuno iron…a grain flow forged Mizuno iron. While there’s still a segment of golfers who believe that forged irons…any forged irons are more difficult to hit than basically any cast iron, Mizuno’s commitment to offering forged irons for what most of the industry still regards as a non-forged audience.

Mizuno almost never misses when it comes to irons, so my guess is the JPX-EZ irons will continue what Mizuno started with the JPX-800 series. While it’s not easy to shake the reputation of producing irons exclusively for better players, the EZ irons are clear evidence that Mizuno is serious about game improvement.

Have Your Say

  • Does the introduction of an adjustable driver change the way you think about Mizuno woods?
  • What’s your initial response to the JPX-EZ Irons?
  • And while I’m asking questions…does anybody else think it’s weird that all of a sudden Mizuno is using oranges and golds while TaylorMade’s SLDR (and presumably more of the 2014 line) is blue?

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

First Look! – Mizuno 2014 MP-Series Irons

First Look! – Mizuno 2014 MP-Series Irons

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Cutting right to the chase, this is a post about eye candy. More specifically Mizuno eye candy. And I think many are in agreement that when it comes to iron-based eye candy, nobody in golf does it any sweeter than Mizuno.

I can try and sugarcoat it for you (like a Sour Patch kid, for example), but many of you probably aren’t interested in anything more than a gratuitous picture thread. There’s no denying that what we’ve seen so far is basically golf porn of the highest order. It’s hot…like classy European hot. No fat chicks here.

My point is, for those of you whose pants are suddenly fitting a little tighter, feel free to skip ahead to the pictures. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of instant gratification every now and again.

For the select few of you who are a little more curious about what Mizuno is up to (and in reality, I’m not able to provide any design and engineering details), I’m willing to make the case for you that Mizuno, along with a few others have jumped on to a new trend in golf equipment marketing. Until I come up with a better name, I’m calling it The Zero Information, Non-Release-Release.

Seen, But Not Heard

When Mizuno’s European division started releasing pictures of Mizuno’s new irons and wedges my thought was that with the Open Championship in town (at least in terms of relatively geography), the guys in Europe got overly excited (who can blame them), and let the proverbial cat out of the bag ahead of the Mizuno’s oft-predictable schedule.

With media types like myself blowing up their phones, what a nightmare this must be for Mizuno USA.

It turns out, that’s not remotely close to what happened…except for the part where we blew up their phones.

Recent History Repeats Itself

You might recall that not too long ago, pictures of Titleist’s 714 series irons started showing up on the company’s social media channels. Titleist called the irons “Tour Prototypes”, offered next to zero design details, and promised to release more information in the fall.

Golfer’s loved the eye candy while I (and I assume other writers) lamented the total lack of actual information. We (MyGolfSpy) even suggested that the Titleist release was a blunder of sorts that reflected Titleist’s inability to keep pace with the rest of the golf world. It turns out they may have been ahead of the curve.

Fast-forward to July 8th…seemingly out of nowhere TaylorMade begins releasing photos of their “Tour Prototype” driver through the company’s social media channels. When pressed for information, company representatives remained largely mum on the curious bits of technology (the SLDR weight, the gaping hole (with apparent screw hole) next to said slider…err SLDR, and what if any new hosel technology has been baked into the design). When I pressed for the smallest of details, I got the shortest of replies; “Speculate“.

TaylorMade being TaylorMade, they one-upped Titleist a bit by posting tour player reaction videos. And speaking of those tour pros, despite the driver not initially making its way into the hands of any TaylorMade A-listers, guys like Boo Weekly, Ken Duke, and others took to Twitter to rave about how much ball speed the new driver had given them. Some even posted launch monitor photos. I’m sure that all happened organically. TaylorMade had nothing to do with it.

And yet, despite the photos, and the tour validation (be it real or scripted), TaylorMade remains silent with respect to any of those design and performance aspects that hardcore gearheads crave.

In both cases, Titleist and TaylorMade have basically said, you can see the product, but you can’t hear about it (except when our tour guys tell you how awesome it is).

Fast-forward again…this time to the beginning of this week when pics of Mizuno’s new MP-4 and MP-54 irons started showing up on the company’s social media channels (stop me if you’ve heard this before).

To Mizuno’s credit, they didn’t bother to insult anybody’s intelligence by calling anything in the new MP-series a “Tour Prototype”. This is real product, folks, and Mizuno’s willing to own up to it.

As with Titleist and TaylorMade, Mizuno is also being extremely tight-lipped on the actual design of the products. The photos give you just enough to create rampant speculation. All that R&D stuff…that can wait until closer to the actual launch.

What’s the Deal with This Strategy?

While chances are you won’t find anybody who will flat out admit to it on the record, the controlled release of pictures (and nothing but) is all about control and buzz building. I would suggest to you that while a steady trickle of photos is the best way to build excitement and anticipation, the release of actual information can kill that buzz just as quickly.

“With this new release we’ve incorporated very subtle, minute, performance enhancements that the overwhelming majority of golfers, upwards of 99% really, will never actually notice either on the range or out on the course. We’re obviously going to make the repositioning of mass and the relocation of center of gravity foremost in the technological discussion since we know these are the kind of things that golfers want to hear. However, if we’re being completely honest about this release, what we’re really talking about are significant cosmetic changes that provide the justification for putting a product with very little to differentiate performance from its predecessor on the shelf. At the end of the day all the average golfer really wants is something newer than what’s in his buddy’s bag. With this release we’re offering him just that”. – Nobody at Any Golf Company…EVER.

Despite being among the first, Titleist probably benefits the least from the strategy. They’ve controlled the release, and that’s a win (and that’s plenty good enough), but Titleist is almost certainly going to remain true to tradition. You basically know what you’re going to get. With new product, particularly new irons, there very likely aren’t going to be any surprises. Titleist fans like it that way, and it’s definitely part of what makes Titleist Titleist.

For TaylorMade the strategy is even more divine. Right now, with almost no actual information, SLDR could be almost anything. Does the actually SLDR work, OMG! check out the ball speed, what’s the deal with that hole near the Fade Setting? Even if they’re not, the possibilities are endless.

Maybe you love it. Maybe you hate it. It doesn’t matter. Right now SLDR could be anything. SLDR is everything you’d ever want a driver to be. And even if our keen sense of reality tells us that in all likelihood SLDR is just another driver like most any other, there’s still an aura of mystery that surrounds it. That’s what TaylorMade wants.

Once the actual details are released, they mystery disappears, and the excitement along with it. Once we know exactly what we are dealing with, it can only be what it is. Nothing more.

And That Brings Us Back to Mizuno…

In this game, Mizuno isn’t really any different than anybody else. Even for Mizuno there’s plenty of momentum to be built from photos alone. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, why bother putting so much as a single character in print before you have to?

Pictures are made all the more powerful when you’re Mizuno and you habitually create among the most beautiful irons in golf. In that respect the pictures suggest nothing has changed, and that’s what Mizuno fans crave. If you’re Mizuno you’d be foolish to say anything before necessity forces your hand.

We Know a Little…But Not Much

While Mizuno is as tight-lipped as Titleist or TaylorMade about their new releases, here’s what we know about the forthcoming Mizuno releases right now:

The MP-4 continues the cycle of provide a replacement for Mizuno’s most player-centric (blade) iron every 2 years. The MP-54 replaces the now 3 year old MP-53; which as it happens falls at the opposite end of Mizuno’s MP series (it’s the most forgiving in the MP series). The MP-64 (released about this time last year), and the awesome MP-59 (released about this time 2 years ago) remain current.

While I’m not at liberty to discuss the specifics of what I may or may not know right now, this fall is shaping up to be big…maybe the biggest ever for Mizuno. There is plenty more to come, and you can expect a similar approach (trickle the photos, info to follow much later) with the other new stuff as well.

Mizuno wants you to be excited about the M-4, and the MP-54, and everything else that comes behind it. Most of you already are.

For now the MP-54 is nothing less than the most exciting new cavity back on the market (or soon to be on the market). The MP-4…my god, it’s destined to be one of those timeless Mizuno irons that’s talked about for decades to come. It’s a classic, and it hasn’t even been released yet.

This is exactly why the strategy works, and while we’re going to see more of it. For fans of any given brand, the zero-information photo releases offers the consumer a product that offers everything that’s possible. And while that can open the door for tremendous disappointment if your product fails to deliver on the promises your photos make, when you’re Mizuno and your irons basically never fail to deliver on the their promise, what do you have to lose?

Seriously…Look at These Things…They’re Perfect

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)