Golf Buzz

December 2, 2013 - 12:05pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha drivers
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The new Callaway Big Bertha driver (l) features a sliding weight system to adjust shot bias, while the Alpha model has a Gravity Core to adjust center of gravity height.

Callaway Golf has unveiled a steady stream of innovative new clubs in recent years, but none of them was as important to the company as the new edition of the Big Bertha driver and its tuned-up companion, the Big Bertha Alpha.

How do I know this? Because the Big Bertha name matters more to Callaway than anything. The company wouldn't put that name on new products unless it had the highest of confidence – and hopes – in them. 

The original Big Bertha driver, introduced in 1991, changed Callaway Golf's fortunes forever, catapulting it from the ranks of aspirational club companies into one of the world's biggest and most influential. That driver – made of stainless steel instead of persimmon wood and far larger than almost anything else on the market at the time – was one of a handful of metal woods that kicked off a revolution in club design and construction unlike anything that had preceded it.

Callaway followed that original Big Bertha with several brand extensions, including the Great Big Bertha and Biggest Big Bertha woods and even a couple of models of Big Bertha irons. And now, the Big Bertha brand is being resurrected in the form of these two new drivers.

The Big Bertha Alpha is the most ambitious club in company history. It is best suited for elite players with above-average swing speeds who prefer low-spinning drivers to produce flatter drives that typically result in more roll.

It's the first driver to let golfers independently adjust four significant performance characteristics to optimize trajectory, control and distance. These four variables are loft, lie, shot bias and, for the first time ever, center of gravity height.

GOLF BUZZ: Callaway X2 Hot clubs emphasis distance and speed

Callaway calls the latter of these features Gravity Control Adjustability and, essentially, it lets golfers adjust spin independently of launch angle – an option never before offered.

To enable this adjustment, the Big Bertha Alpha comes with a Gravity Core, which fits in a carbon tube in the head that connects the crown and sole. It has a glass fiber-reinforced body that weighs in at 1.5 grams connected to a tungsten end weighing 10.5 grams. 

Either end of the core can be inserted into the clubhead, allowing golfers to raise or lower the center of gravity and thereby alter their spin rate. When the tungsten end is closest to the sole, it lowers the center of gravity and reduces backspin; when the tungsten end is closest to the crown, it raises the center of gravity and increases spin.

Generally speaking, players with above-average head speeds or those trying to prevent excessive spin will benefit from the lower center of gravity, which a creates a flatter, more penetrating trajectory accompanied by more rollout, Callaway explains. Golfers looking for a more controlled and workable ball flight and less roll, they add, might be better served by using the higher center of gravity.

How much difference can the center of gravity placement make? Player testing has shown as much as a 600 rpm spin differential between the two settings without a change in loft, Callaway said.

The Big Bertha Alpha also enables golfers to adjust its center of gravity bias, which helps influence shot shape. The driver has screw ports in the heel and toe, and comes with four interchangeable weights of 1, 3, 5, and 7 grams that provide a lot of flexibility in controlling both shot shape and overall head weight. The 1g and 7g screws are installed as standard and deliver a D3 swingweight, but the swingweight can be adjusted from D0 to D5.

 
In comparison to the Alpha model, Callaway calls the new Big Bertha a ''total performance driver'' that provides a balance of speed and control. It's designed for the broadest segment of the player population – those golfers seeking forgiveness and solid performance on off-center impacts.

The new Big Bertha doesn't have the weight ports or the gravity core. But it is the first Callaway driver to feature Adjustable Perimeter Weighting – a sliding 8-gram weight that golfers can move along a five-inch track around the perimeter of the head to help optimize shot shape and trajectory. The placement of this weighting system also helps give the driver more stability through the swing.

The faces on both the Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha are built around Hyper Speed Face technology, which Callaway engineers use to determine how thick or thin to make the various parts of the face. It's based on their understanding of the probability of where players will make contact on the face and, Callaway says, results in an extremely lightweight face that helps deliver more ball speed where players need it most.

And speaking of lightweight, the new Big Berthas also contains the Forged Composite material found in other recent drivers. This high-strength, lightweight composite material enables Callaway to keep the total head weight under 200 grams even while including multiple forms of adjustability.

In addition, the Big Berthas' Advanced Adjustable Hosel helps golfers to independently adjust their loft and lie angle to help translate their added ball speed into more distance. Golfers can chose from four different lofts to optimize launch angle and backspin and two different lies, denoted by 'D' for Draw and 'N' for Neutral, to optimize the directional bias. This new hosel, the company says, is the only adjustable hosel that allows changes in loft and/or lie without having to rotate the shaft on its axis between settings. 

The Big Bertha comes in lofts of 9, 10.5 and 13.5 degrees, and its stock shaft is the Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki Z graphite shaft. It carries a suggested retail price of $399 and will be available at retail on Feb. 14, 2013.  

The Big Bertha Alpha comes in lofts of and 10.5 degrees, and its stock shaft is the Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki ZT graphite shaft. It carries a suggested retail price of $499 and will be available at retail on Feb. 14, 2013.  

Here is a Callaway video previewing the new Big Bertha driver:

 
And here is a Callaway video previewing the Big Bertha Alpha driver:
 
 
 
 
November 30, 2013 - 8:56pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture

Golfers, as we all know, are huge sports fans, and a whole bunch of them were tweeting while they watched the incredible end of the Auburn-Alabama game Saturday afternoon. Here is a selection of some of the best tweets from tour players, PGA Professionals and even a few golf media folks as Auburn ran back Alabama's last-second field goal try for an improbable victory:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 30, 2013 - 2:49pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Lucas Glover in front of Ailsa Craig
With the Ailsa Craig looming in the background, Lucas Glover lined up a putt during the 2009 British Open at Turnberry.

One of the most famous sites in the world of golf is the Ailsa Craig – that big dome-shaped rock that dominates the Firth of Clyde about 10 miles off the southwestern Scottish coast near Turnberry. The uninhabited island, covering 220 acres and the result of an ancient volcano, is a staple of photographs whenever the British Open is played at Turnberry – on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry, to be precise.

And despite having ''no inhabitants, no electricity, no fresh water and no arable land,'' according to The New York Times, the Ailsa Craig is making news for not one but two reasons:

--First, it is the source of the distinctive strain of microgranite used to make most of the stones used in the Olympic sport of curling. In fact, all the stones used in every Olympics since 1924 (and including the 2014 Games in Russia) have been made from granite mined on the Ailsa Craig. The Ailsa granite – prized in curling circles because the melting ice can't penetrate it – is transformed into 44-pound curling stones at a factory in Mauchline, about 25 miles away. 

WHAT TO GIVE? WHAT TO GET? Check out John Kim's 2013 list of 'Ultimate Golf Gifts'

Second, the Ailsa Craig is for sale. And what a bargain – the asking price is a mere $2.4 million.

The rock has been controlled by the same landowning family for more than 500 years, but – in true "Downton Abbey" fashion – its current owner, the eighth Marquess of Ailsa, has been dealing with dwindling financial resources for several decades. The family actually put the craig up for sale in 2010 with an asking price of $4 million. But nobody has bitten, so the price now has been reduced to $2.4 million.

Ailsa Craig is a Scottish icon – it's been featured on Scottish bank notes (just like Jack Nicklaus), was memorialized in a sonnet by Keats and now serves mainly as a seabird sanctuary. And, the newspaper story explained, ''with Scotland approaching a referendum on independence from Britain next September, it remains an icon in the country's national consciousness, redolent of the rugged, stand-alone character many Scots pride as their birthright.''

The Times story has much more on the craig's colorful history and the efforts to sell it. The paper also had one another item somewhat related to golf and the Winter Olympics. Did you know that the U.S. Winter Olympics community not only includes Tiger Woods' girlfriend, skier Lindsey Vonn, but also a ski jumper named Lindsey Van?

 

November 30, 2013 - 1:22am
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Natalie Gulbis
TaylorMade Golf Experience via Facebook
Natalie Gulbis signed a poster of herself during the grand re-opening festivities at the TaylorMade Golf Experience in Las Vegas on Friday.

Most golfers who live in or have played in Las Vegas are familiar with the Callaway Golf Center – the popular nine-hole-course/practice facility at the south end of the Strip. On Black Friday, it began a brand-new chapter of its life.

After a multi-month makeover that cost more than $1 million, it's now known as the TaylorMade Golf Experience. Brothers Ron and John Boreta – who have owned the complex since it opened in 1997, along with a pair of Las Vegas Golf and Tennis locations – didn't renew their sponsorship agreement with Callaway when it expired last summer. 

TaylorMade, obviously, has taken over the title sponsorship, and the company marked the grand re-opening with TaylorMade staffer and Las Vegas resident Natalie Gulbis on hand to mark the occasion. Gulbis is known to drop by the center for practice sessions, and has even tweeted from there.

GOLF BUZZ: TaylorMade unveils JetSpeed famiy of drivers, fairways and hybrids

''We are very excited to be expanding our long-running partnership with TaylorMade/adidas Golf," Ron Boreta told GolfLasVegasNow.com. "We have a long and positive history of working with TMAG and our Las Vegas Golf and Tennis stores that we anticipate will continue in this partnership at the Golf Center. The renovation efforts that have been undertaken are unprecedented in the golf industry. Our customers can expect great things."

The renovated facility – which still boasts its impressive views of the Strip – now includes around 4,500 square feet of retail – roughly double what existed before. The number of indoor hitting and fitting bays was expanded as well.

The nine-hole par-3 course remains open for both day and night play, and the practice range is the largest in Las Vegas, with 113 stations featuring synthetic or natural turf. There is also a restaurant on-site along with the retail area, which is now stocked with gear from TaylorMade and its sister companies incuding adidas and Ashworth.

 

November 29, 2013 - 8:16am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture

In golf, the clubs you hit from 100 yards and in are referred to as your "scoring clubs."

They're the clubs you hit most often (which is why the best players spend the abundance of their practice sessions with these clubs) and have the biggest impact on your score. Wouldn't it be great to be a lot better with these types of shots -- especially those touchy pitch shots?

In today's golf tip, PGA Professional Chip Sullivan shows you how simple it can be to hit those pitch shots.

 

 

 

Categories: Chip Sullivan, PGA
November 29, 2013 - 8:03am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Nike Golf
Nike Golf
Nike Golf's new VRS Covert 2.0 driver.

Nike Golf has introduced the new VRS Covert 2.0 family of drivers, promising to be bigger, faster and longer than last year's industry game-changing VRS Covert drivers.

The new driver -- the world's first to feature conforming High Speed Cavity Back technology -- delivers more forgiving distance, faster ball speed and simple, intuitive customization to meet the swing needs of every athlete. High-Speed Cavity Back technology redistributes weight to the heel and toe allowing for increased distance and more stability across the face of the driver.

"We re-engineered the VRS Covert 2.0 with enhancements to our High Speed Cavity Back technology that allow athletes to experience more forgiving distance than ever before," says Nate Radcliffe, Nike Golf Director of Engineering. "The new VRS Covert 2.0 driver features a redesigned cavity with Fly-Brace technology that ties the sole to the crown. By stiffening the rear portion of the club, more energy is transferred to the face at impact. The end result is even greater ball speed and up to six yards of distance gain over last year's model."

RELATED: Nike RZN ball franchise gets four new models with improved core

"It's similar to an automotive frame design," Radcliffe adds. "Fly-Brace technology reinforces the rearward portion of the club head to focus impact stress, flexing and subsequent energy transfer to the point of impact."

Several Nike athletes, including Rory McIlroy, Kevin Chappell and Nick Watney, have put the VRS Covert 2.0 driver into play in 2013.

"We work very closely with our athletes and the new VRS Covert 2.0 drivers deliver on the shape, stability, and speed they have asked for," Radcliffe says. "The added stability and speed realized by our athletes with VRS Covert 2.0 allows for an aggressive approach off the tee which is essential in the modern game."

The VRS Covert 2.0 drivers feature two additional proprietary technologies: A larger, re-engineered NexCOR face for increased ball speed and distance, and FlexLoft adjustability, which allows athletes to easily customize loft and face angle positions for 15 drivers in one.

The redesigned NexCOR face incorporates variable face thickness for a faster, hotter face and as a result, more speed at impact. It is 15-percent larger in the VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver and seven-percent larger in the VRS Covert 2.0 driver.

Nike Golf's patented FlexLoft system offers the same, intuitive adjustability system featured in the VRS Covert driver. Athletes can adjust lofts from 8.5 to 12.5 degrees while independently modifying for three different face angle positions to optimize launch and spin conditions for maximized distance and accuracy.

The second generation of Mitsubishi Rayon's Kuro Kage shafts are the standard graphite option for both models. In the VRS Covert 2.0 Tour, the Kuro Kage Silver 60 graphite, featuring Titanium Nickel fiber in the tip section, creates more stability and lower spin. The VRS Covert 2.0 utilizes the Kuro Kage Black HBP Graphite 50 shaft with a higher balance point, allowing for higher swing speeds without adding shaft length.

Both drivers will be available for pre-order on Nike.com on Jan. 6, 2013. The VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver and VRS Covert 2.0 driver will be available on Nike.com and at select retailers on Jan. 31, 2014 for a suggested retail price of $399 and $299, respectively.

VRS Covert 2.0 Tour Driver Specifications: 8.5-12.5 degrees, RH/LH: R, S, X

VRS Covert 2.0 Driver Specifications: 8.5-12.5 degrees, RH/LH: A, R, S, W

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.