Golf Buzz

July 29, 2013 - 3:05pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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TaylorMade Golf, SLDR, driver, golf
TaylorMade
TaylorMade's SLDR driver.
TaylorMade Golf is no stranger to reinventing the driver game.
 
Just a couple of years removed from turning the golf world upside down with the release of its smash-hit, white driver heads, the folks at TaylorMade are at it yet again with the introduction of its latest invention (available to the public beginning August 9): the SLDR driver. 
 
Moveable weight in your driver head is nothing new, but on the SLDR the system to move the weight is. 
 
Here's the official release from TaylorMade:
 
CARLSBAD, CALIF. (July 29, 2013) -- Following three weeks of buzz on the PGA and European tours sparked by the release of a prototype driver, TaylorMade Golf today announced the official arrival of SLDR – a revolutionary new club featuring a sliding weight system engineered to launch the golf ball high, fast and long. How long? Tests show that SLDR is the longest driver in company history.*
 
Key to the leap in distance is a lower and more forward center of gravity (CG) that promotes a hotter launch, low spin and faster ball speed. Similar to the impact the “Speed Pocket” had on the performance of the RocketBallz fairway and Rescue clubs, TaylorMade engineers believe SLDR’s low and forward CG placement will redefine driver distance.  
 
“Without a doubt, this is the longest driver we have ever created,” said TaylorMade’s Chief Technical Officer Benoit Vincent. “Our expertise at positioning the CG low and forward sets us apart from our competitors, and is vital to making SLDR the spectacular distance machine that it is.”
 
In addition to the low-forward CG benefits, SLDR also incorporates a complete reinvention of TaylorMade’s movable weight technology (MWT), making it more effective and easier to use.  SLDR features a blue, 20-gram weight that slides on a track located on the front of the sole. 
 
Movable weight shifts the clubhead’s CG horizontally toward either the heel, to promote a draw, or toward the toe, to promote a fade. SLDR delivers six millimeters of movement – that’s 50% more than R1 – promoting a shot-dispersion range of up to 30 yards. The SLDR weight slides on a 21-point track system and never comes loose from the clubhead. To position the weight in any one of  them simply loosen the screw, slide the weight to the point selected, then tighten the screw. Golfers can adjust for a “draw” or “fade” by sliding the weight across the slider track into the appropriate position in as little as 10 seconds. 
 
Nearly 10 years ago, TaylorMade brought to market its first movable weight driver, the r7 quad –which featured four small weight cartridges that could be used to change the head’s CG location and influence ball flight. Since that release, TaylorMade’s R&D team has been searching for a way to improve and simplify MWT. The company believes SLDR’s new sliding system is a significant leap forward in its quest to engineer a driver that offers outstanding performance with simple and intuitive technology.  
 
SLDR also incorporates TaylorMade’s Loft-sleeve Technology, which allows the golfer to easily adjust the loft. Golfers can choose from 12 positions within a range of plus-or-minus 1.5 degrees of loft change. The more loft added, the more the face closes and vice-versa.
 
In addition to its performance and easy-to- use MWT system, golfers will also take note of SLDR’s look and sound. At address, golfers will see a driver that possesses a classic shape and a rich charcoal-gray crown color that contrasts with a silver face to aid with alignment. At impact, the sharp and crisp sound that echoes from the tee box will undoubtedly be that of a TaylorMade driver.
 
“TaylorMade is well-known for creating technologies that help golfers hit better shots, but we also revere in the beauty of a golf club,” said Executive Vice President Sean Toulon. “It’s a very special feeling when you sole a club for the first time and fall head-over-heels in love with what you see.  SLDR is that club. And it is going to make you fall in love with your driver all over again.”
 
Love at first sight happened when TaylorMade brought a small quantity of SLDR’s to the PGA and European Tours. In its first three weeks on Tour, TaylorMade’s Tour representatives were met with overwhelming player demand to see and hit SLDR.  The tour staff even received texts and phone calls from players who followed other tour pros reaction about SLDR on twitter, demanding they get one to test at the Open Championship.
 
Via twitter, player feedback included:
 
- Justin Rose (@JustinRose99): “It’s Solid. Great acoustics and Hot Flight.”
- Ken Duke(@DukePGA): “I love this driver.”
- Justin Hicks (JustinHicks2010): “(SLDR) works right out of the box. Hit 100% of fairways in first round using it.”
- Shawn Stefani (ShawnStefani1): “Best driver I have hit in a long time.”
- Darren Clarke (DarrenClarke60): “It goes like a dream.”
 
In week one, nine SLDR’s were put into play at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic, while four players played the driver at the Scottish Open. Given the scarce availability of SLDR’s, a total of 13 in play worldwide in its first week was unexpected. The following week, 14 players put SLDR in the bag at the Open Championship.  TaylorMade expects SLDR to become the No. 1 played driver as early as the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
 
Pricing, Options and Availability:
 
Available in four lofts – 8°, 9.5°, 10.5° and 12°, SLDR is equipped with a Fujikura Speeder 57 graphite shaft and TaylorMade high-traction grip. The Tour Preferred version, SLDR TP, combines the same clubhead with the tour-caliber Fujikura Speeder Tour Spec 6.3 graphite shaft. A variety of custom shafts are also available. Availability for SLDR and SLDR TP begins August 9 at a suggested retail price of $399.
 
*driver claim based on robot testing of 9.5 drivers in neutral setting at approximately 150mph ball speed.
 
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
 
 
Bushnell's Tour v3 Slope Edition Laser Rangefinder, golf
Bushnell
The Bushnell Tour V3 and Tour V3 Slope Rangefinders provide the most accurate yardages you can get on a golf course.
One of the easiest ways to get better at the game of golf is to know just how far you hit your clubs.
 
Seems pretty elementary, doesn't it? But, time after time, I see guys that I'm playing with who think there's a standard for the distance that each club should travel. For instance, some of these guys think their pitching wedge should travel 130 yards. Hey, maybe it can. But, most likely, that's what it will travel when a shot is flushed -- and for recreational players like me, you might only flush one out of every five shots.
 
Over the last couple of years in a valiant effort to get better at this game I love so much -- basically to try and become a single-digit handicap -- I've decided to check my ego (not that I'm even worthy of one) at the door. I hit the club that I know will get me relatively close to my target... not the one I think I should be hitting to get to my target.
 
To help me to that end, I've tried a number of GPS devices over the last few years. Many of them have been nice, but not always precise. Of course, when I say "precise" I don't mean I'm the type who needs "perfect" yardage. But, if I know exactly how far away my target is, I have a much better chance of getting it closer than if I'm guessing, or even walking off yardage.
 
And that's where the single greatest tool I've ever come across -- aside from a PGA Professional -- comes into the equation. I'm talking about the new Bushnell Tour v3 Laser Rangefinder with Slope.
 
Whenever I have any spare time, I try to head over to the driving range. The GPS golf devices I was using were great on the course, but they couldn't help me at the range. Recently, I was able to spend some quality time with the Bushnell v3 Tour with Slope and I've been blown away by the results.
 
I've never been one of those people who like to go to the range and "hit balls." As wise a teaching professional once advised me: "Instead of hitting balls when you go to the range, hit shots."
 
This means approaching each shot on the range the way you would each shot on the course. Breathe. Think. Imagine where you want to hit the ball and hit it there.
 
Thanks to the Bushnell Tour v3 with Slope, I'm able to shoot a target to learn it's precise distance (and, surprise, the yardages they display at the driving range for various flags are rarely accurate). That allows me to hit a variety of shots with a variety of different clubs. I know close to how far a certain club will send the ball when I hit it perfect and not so perfect. 
 
Here's how Bushnell describes its Tour v3 line:
 
With its new ergonomic design and its award-winning PinSeeker with JOLT Technology, the Tour V3 sets the standard for being the complete laser rangefinder package -- design, performance and feel.
 
JOLT Technology eliminates all doubt by delivering short vibrating bursts to reinforce the laser has locked onto the flag. Use what the Pros use, feel the exact distance.
 
Features:
 
- PinSeeker Technology with JOLT Technology to zero-in on the flag
- Accuracy within 1-yard
- 5 yards - 1,000 yards ranging performance. 300+ yards to a flag
- 5x Magnification
- Ergonomic design provides a stable grip
- Posi-Thread™ Battery Door
- 3-Volt Battery and Premium Carry Case included
- Rainproof Construction
- 2-Year Warranty
 
As stated, the model I've used was "with slope." It's amazing. It takes into account the terrain your playing and -- depending on the terrain -- might give you two yardages. The first is the "actual yardage," or, how far away your target is. The second yardage takes slope/elevation into consideration, which means it will be more or less than the actual yardage.
 
Say you're playing a hole where the actual yardage is 150, but it plays severely downhill. The yardage with slope might be adjusted to 135 yards. So, while the hole is 150 yards long, the Bushnell Tour v3 with slope is telling you: Hit your 135 club.
 
I've had the chance to use the Tour v3 with Slope both on the range and for two casual rounds of golf. While the Tour v3 doesn't actually hit the shot for you, the results speak for themselves -- my two best rounds this season were the two with the Tour v3.
 
It should be noted that he Tour v3 is legal for use in competition, while the Tour v3 with Slope is not. That said the Tour v3 with Slope is an outstanding tool for practice.
 
There's no denying -- distance control will make you a better player. You won't believe how much the Tour v3 by Bushnell can help you to that end.   
 
To learn more about the Bushnell Tour v3 and Tour v3 Slope Edition, as well as other Bushnell golf offerings, click here
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
 
July 28, 2013 - 3:26pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Hunter Mahan
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Hunter Mahan tweeted that his wife and new daughter are "doing great."

Hunter Mahan has made the happy jump from tournament leader to proud father. 

He announced the birth of his daughter Sunday, a day after he withdrew from the RBC Canadian Open while leading after his wife went into labor. 

"What a whirlwind of a day," he tweeted on Sunday, after Zoe Olivia Mahan was born at 3:26 a.m. in Dallas. 

He said in another tweet that his wife and daughter are "doing great." He thanked his sponsors for appreciating "what's important in life" and saluted his fans for "being Awesome!" 

Mahan was leading the tournament after 36 holes and was preparing to tee off in the third round when he got the news that his wife had gone into labor about a month before her expected due date. He would have already been out on the course when his wife began having labor pains, but his tee time was delayed 80 minutes by a thunderstorm.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 
July 28, 2013 - 12:57am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bob Toski and Ken Duke
Ken Duke via Twitter
Bob Toski and Ken Duke won the PGA Tour event in Hartford six decades apart.

This might be the coolest photo I saw on Twitter all week. 

It was posted by Ken Duke, who's there on the right, along with legendary PGA Professonal Bob Toski there on the left. Toski is Duke's instructor, but that's just the beginning of this story.

Duke, you might remember, won the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., in late June to become, at age 44, the oldest first-trime winner ever on the PGA Tour. But, you probably didn't know, Toski won what was then known as the Insurance City Open at Wethersfield Country Club in Wethersfield, Conn., back in 1953.

Which means that teacher and student won the same PGA Tour title exactly 60 years apart. I don't have any proof, but I'd sure bet that's some kind of record.

Toski, by the way, is still going strong at age 86 – in fact, he analyzed Duke's victory for PGA.com's "A Lesson Learned" column last month. He also was inducted into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in March, and you can read more about him here.

 

July 26, 2013 - 11:01pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Phil Mickelson at the New York Stock Exchange
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Phil Mickelson and the claret jug were popular attractions on the stock exchange floor.

On Wednesday, Phil Mickelson wore shorts and flip-flops to Callaway headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., where he celebrated his British Open victory with the troops responsible for his clubs and ball. On Friday, he put on a suit and made the rounds in New York City, where he and wife Amy rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

The Mickelsons also used the visit to promote their Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, which for the ninth year is putting on a week-long program at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., to help get grade-school students exposed to and interested in math and science. The program isa collaboration between the Mickelsons, ExxonMobil, the National Science Teachers Association and Math Solutions.

"Math and science is huge for me and my success," Mickelson said on CNBC's Squawk on the Street. "Winning this championship, I look at the one thing that has really changed my game and it's been the 3-wood that I have been using. I'm a high-spin player and this 3-wood takes off half the spin that I was putting on it, which gets the ball boring through air. Consequently, I hit the two best 3-woods of my life on the 17th hole to win."

The science and technology behind modern club design, he said, is helping him play some of the best golf of his career, even as he approaches his mid-40s.

To help promote the education program, the Mickelsons were joined at the closing-bell ceremony by some of the teachers from across the country that'll lead this year's programs, which are held in Texas and Louisiana in addition to the one in New Jersey. To date, more than 3,600 teachers and 230,000 students nationwide have participated in the academy.

 

 

 
July 26, 2013 - 7:00pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Tom Stites of Nike Golf
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Tom Stites has overseen the development of every major Nike golf club – including the ones in Tiger Woods' bag.

Tom Stites, the chief club designer at Nike Golf since the company entered the club business, is retiring. He will stay with the company as a consultant.

''Officially, Tom has retired,'' Rob Arluna, Nike Golf's global golf club business director, confirmed to Golfweek. ''He is moving into a consultant's role, and we call him the Chief Imagineer.''

Stites made his name as a club designer at Ben Hogan Golf in Fort Worth – under the watchful eye of Hogan himself – and had formed a popular boutique firm, Impact Golf Technologies, when Nike knocked on his door in 2001. Nike Golf's first club launches under Stites came in 2002, and he has overseen the development of every major Nike golf club – including all the ones in Tiger Woods' bag – ever since.

Nike Golf established a research and development facility nicknamed ''the Oven'' in Fort Worth, where Stites has created dozens of clubs, including the recent VR_S Covert line of woods and irons. Stites will continue to work there, but instead of focusing on day-to-day operations going forward, he'll concentrate on conjuring up the clubs that'll make up Nike's long-term future.

Stites' move has been in the works for some months and, late last year, Nike Golf hired Cleveland Golf veteran Nate Radcliffe as director of engineering for golf clubs. Also, Golfweek said, Mario Lafortune, director of the Nike Sport Research Laboratory for the past 15 years, will move to Fort Worth from Nike's headquarters in Oregon.