Golf Buzz

October 23, 2012 - 8:50pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
TaylorMade RocketBladez irons
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The TaylorMade RocketBladez (upper left) irons have more of a cavityback than the RocketBladez Tour models (upper right). The Speed Pocket, as shown in bottom view and side view, helps the face flex to provide more springiness upon impact.

TaylorMade Golf made a huge splash earlier this year with the release of its RocketBallz line of clubs. The company did it again on Tuesday, unveiling its new RocketBladez irons with a marketing push so successful that the number of people trying to watch its live webcast briefly knocked TaylorMade’s servers out.

TaylorMade officials are hoping the new RocketBladez and RocketBladez Tour irons are a knockout, too. The irons’ signature feature is the Speed Pocket, which TaylorMade is billing as ''that little thing'' but which they believe will make these clubs the next big thing.

The Speed Pocket is a 2-millimeter-wide slot cut in the sole of the 3-iron through 7-iron that permits the face to flex farther and more easily upon impact, particularly when a golfer hits the ball low on the face. The improved flex, says TaylorMade, promotes increased Coefficient of Restitution – or springiness – up to the USGA limit for high ball speed. In fact, TaylorMade says, these irons are as hot as many drivers, and could help most golfers add two to five yards per shot.

The Speed Pocket is sealed with a specially formulated polyurethane developed by 3M that keeps grass and other debris out. More important, it dampens vibration for better, more solid feel upon impact. The Speed Pocket, combined with a shorter hosel, also helps TaylorMade to redistribute 17.5 grams of weight to lower the Center of Gravity, promoting a higher launch angle, higher peak trajectory and a steep, quick-stopping descent.

Higher-lofted clubs like the sand wedge and lob wedge don’t include the Speed Pocket, but have redesigned cavities to improve their feel, and feature TaylorMade’s ATV (All-Terain Versatility) sole for improved workability around the greens. In addition, these clubs come equipped with heavier steel shafts to promote better rhythm and control in shorter swings.

Careful management of the RocketBladez’s face thickness, Center of Gravity location and the Speed Pocket help enlarge the effective sweet spot, which makes for more consistent shotmaking – and therefore more consistent distance gaps throughout the set.

The RocketBladez irons will be available at retail in December, and come standard with 85-gram ''Rocketfuel'' steel shafts for $799.99 per set or $899.99 per set with 65-gram ''RocketFuel'' graphite shafts.

The RocketBladez Tour irons will debut next February. They boast the same attributes as the standard RocketBladez models, but are tuned a little hotter. The heads are more compact, with a squarer toe, a thinner topline, minimal offset and a shallow cavity. There is also a slight camber on the sole, which also features what TaylorMade calls a ''tour-designed'' leading edge.

For more on the RocketBladez and RocketBladez tour irons, visit www.TaylorMadeGolf.com

Categories: RocketBladez
October 23, 2012 - 7:43pm
Posted by:
Steve Eubanks
john.holmes's picture
Yao Ming at the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am
Getty Images
Yao Ming's golf game needs some work.

Plenty of retired athletes have harbored dreams of crossing over and playing competitive golf at some level. Johnny Bench and John Brodie did it. John Smoltz gave it a good shot.

Retired Houston Rockets star Yao Ming will not have those urges, especially after his display in his homeland of China last week at the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.  A video of Yao struggling with a pitch shot is chewing up the Internet. His mortified glare after a whiff and a flub is priceless.

Yao should have called Charles Barkley before committing to the televised event. Sir Charles would have certainly told him: blocking Lebron James in the paint is easy. Golf is hard.

To see the video, click here.


 

October 22, 2012 - 12:53am
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Bubba Watson Ryder Cup headcovers and shirt
Courtesy of eBay
Bubba Watson's headcovers and Sunday shirt are among the items up for auction.
The latest of Bubba Watson’s many charitable efforts is an auction of some of his Ryder Cup gear and souvenirs.

Up for auction on eBay are these items:

--Ryder Cup pin flag signed by Watson and the rest of his U.S. teammates
--White U.S. team golf shirt worn by Watson during Ryder Cup week
--Watson’s U.S. team headcovers
--White U.S. team visor worn by and autographed by Watson
--Blue U.S. team visor worn by and autographed by Watson
--Striped U.S. team Sunday shirt won by Watson

The proceeds will benefit Bright Pink, a national non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women while providing support for high-risk individuals. Watson also plays his now-famous pink Ping driver to show his support for this organization.

The auction began over the weekend and runs another week, so there’s plenty of time for you to get involved – and, hopefully, land an amazing souvenir for your collection.

For more information and to bid, visit http://celebrity.ebay.com/bubba-watson

October 21, 2012 - 1:51pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Miyazaki B. Asha shaft
Courtesy of Miyazaki Shafts
The B. Asha series’ artwork was created by Miyazaki artist Ash Baharin, whose designs were inspired by the speed and accuracy of ancient Japanese swordsmen.

The new B. Asha series of premium ultralight graphite shafts from Miyazaki Shafts is a follow-up to Miyazaki’s breakthrough C. Kua premium ultralight series, which launched in 2010 and was golf’s first sub-60-gram shaft to be used in significant numbers on tours around the globe.

The B. Asha series builds on the gains made by the C. Kua series with even more weight reduction, elevated balance points and more stable International Flex Code profiles.

The B. Asha models push the limits of weight reduction across the series through the use of advanced shaft materials and manufacturing techniques. They offer three distinct driver and fairway wood International Flex Code profiles in up to four different flexes. Miyazaki created these IFC profiles to replace less specific measurements of frequency, kick point and torque.

The B. Asha 5 and 7 profiles were designed to feel extremely stable in the top 3/4ths of the shaft, with a slightly softened section under the hands to promote feel and a penetrating ball flight. These attributes are coupled with an active but stable tip section to produce a mid-trajectory ball flight with added ball speed and a slight fade bias. Miyazaki says the 5 and 7 series are excellent choices for players who value a very stable feel in an ultralight graphite shaft.

The 4 flex profile offers a stable feel similar to the 5 and 7 series, but with a slightly stiffer butt section and slightly softer tip section to help produce a mid- to high-trajectory ball flight. It has been engineered with a standard butt diameter to make it compatible with all standard golf grips, and Miyazaki calls it the ultimate combination of speed and stability.

The 3 series shafts for fairway woods features slightly softer mid-tip and tip sections to create a powerful loading and release, added swingspeed and distance with a mid-high trajectory ball flight. The 3 series is the lightest that Miyazaki offers, and is available only in a 0.350 tip configuration. Miyazaki says this shaft is best for players with a smooth tempo and transition in search of a faster swing speed.

Like the C. Kua shafts before them, the B. Asha shafts are covered with graphics inspired by a talented but previously unknown artist. The B. Asha series’ artwork was created by Miyazaki artist Ash Baharin, whose designs were inspired by the speed and accuracy of ancient Japanese swordsmen.

Miyazaki Shafts is a division of Dunlop Sports, which also owns the Cleveland Golf, Srixon and XXIO brands.

For more on the B. Asha series, visit www.miyazakigolfshafts.com.

October 20, 2012 - 11:24pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Getty Images
The famed Harbour Town Golf Links is just one of many amenities at the Sea Pines Resort.

Fall is just settling over most of the United States, but it’s not too early to book a golf vacationfor next year. One to consider is the "Escape Vacation" package at the Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Hrad Island, which fatures a bonus three-night return getaway for $99 if you book before Jan. 31.

The Escape Vacation special offers a stay at Sea Pines anytime from Mar. 2-Sept. 6, 2013, that includes a $100 resort credit for golf, dining and activities and up to 15 percent off a choice of weekly home or villa rental. Kids 12 and under get free golf on Heron Point and the Ocean Course with each paid adult round, and the youngsters also eat free at the Harbour Town Grill and Surfside Outdoor Restaurant & Bar.

Then, of course, there’s the three-night "Escape Twice" return visit – for $99 plus tex, you will get a bonus three-night return stay in a two-bedroom, two-bath villa.

The package also includes a complimentary beach family photo session; children under 12 cruising free on a dolphin ocean excursion; choice of a complimentary Eco-Adventure, two-person Sea Pines activity or visit to Coastal Discovery Museum at historic Honey Horn; complimentary access for two guests to the Harbour Town Lighthouse; unlimited use of fitness center equipment; two hours complimentary tennis per day at The Sea Pines Racquet Club; and free wireless internet access in all accommodations.

One of the crown jewels of American golf, Sea Pines is home to Harbour Town Golf Links (home of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage) as well as Heron Point and the Ocean Course. The resort also boasts 23 clay tennis courts, Eco-Adventures, water sports, fine and casual dining, 14 miles of bike and walking trails, horseback riding and five miles of unspoiled beaches. Guests can choose from an array of accommodations, including 300 villas, 100 rental homes and the luxurious 60-room Inn at Harbour Town.

For more information, visit www.seapines.com.

October 19, 2012 - 11:37pm
Posted by:
John Kim
john.kim's picture
Hickory Sticks Classic
Photo courtesy Rob Matre
It was as if Atlanta went 100 years back in time at the Hickory Sticks Classic at Ansley Golf Club

 

I am fortunate enough to get invitations to play in many great golf events.  I am unfortunate enough that I rarely get to accept these invitations. I've never had a bad invite; never seen a tournament or event that didn't appear to be a great time or for a great cause - and I'd love to play in each of them.  We all know, there is no better day than a day on the golf course.  But to be honest, I'm probably able to play in one out of every ten events that come up. The other nine that I miss, I spend pouting all day wishing I was out there. 
 
But at the last minute this week, I received an invite that I KNEW I had to accept and make whatever adjustments to my schedule I could. No, it wasn't to go to Augusta or Cypress (though if you send me one of those invites, I'll make more adjustments, I promise) - it was to Ansley Golf Club's Hickory Sticks Classic.
 
Ansley Golf Club is one of the country's hidden gems.  Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, it is actually a nine-hole facility that uses different tee complexes as a front and back nine differentiator, giving players a true 18-hole experience. The layout is championship, the conditions are always tremendous and the staff is as impressive as you'll find at any course in the country. The club is private, prestigious and to the locals who are lucky enough to secure an invite, it is memorable. Ansley can boast a number of prominent Atlantans - past and present - as members; including a number of Tour players and high-profile names in business, media and sports. It is more than an Atlanta landmark, it is a vital part of Atlanta history.
 
This weekend, Ansley celebrates it's 100 year anniversary. As part of the celebration, the club put on a "Hickory Sticks Classic" tournament, hiring Stirling Hickory Golf (out of Nashville, TN) to supply the club a number of bags and balls - exact replicas of the equipment used a century ago.  
 
How many times have you wondered how the best of yesteryear would fare with today's equipment - or how today's top players would do with equipment from a few generations ago.  Well today, a group of us learned how we'd do trying to play the sticks like the ones Bobby Jones had to use.
 
Brandon Clay, the owner of Stirling Hickory Golf, did give every group a quick tutorial on using the clubs - explaining that there was a little different technique in hitting the clubs (they are designed to dig down more than today's clubs - so be sure to hit the ball first) and a little more body shift and wrist hinge are helpful (think of old films of Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen).
 
The names of the clubs were both entertaining and confusing. Mashie? Mashie Niblick? Spade Mashie? Brassie? You are constantly looking at a little chart to figure out what you should hit - with the distance spreads of most of the clubs being 30 yards or so as to what most golfers of today have in their clubs (typically 10 yards.) The club heads are smaller, the hickory shafts obviously do not flex as much (and have only one standard flex). The ball is also different, a modern day replica (using current materials that look and react as the same gutta percha balls from the early 1900s.) The balls will not go as far and will react a bit differently than today's high-tech golf balls.  So the weight of the club, the feel at impact, the sound of the metal and the spin of the ball were going to be different - but other than that...
 
This might seem like it would lead to a day of frustration and bewilderment. No way. It was one of the most fun days on the golf course I've ever had.
 
Playing with a group that included a +1 handicap and a 20-something handicap, we all had more laughs, more great shots (and poor shots), and more camaraderie than you'd find in most current golf settings. There was constant talk, strategy and encouragement.  Many of the players dressed up in ties, knickers and dress shirts. My partner and I walked (I let him caddie as we shared a bag).  It was a throwback day in the best way.
 
It took us a couple of holes to acclimate ourselves to the clubs and distances, but the poor shots seemed just as fun as the good ones. And once we became comfortable, we actually started playing really well.  To make a long story short, collectively, our team missed a half dozen short putts (play your own ball, best two net scores per hole) and we ended up losing by one shot! (Actually, had the lead and made two bogeys on 17th hole!).  But in reality, there were no losers on the day - everyone learned, had fun and remarked how much they'd like to do this again.
 
And as a student of golf history, to play with those clubs was not only a great education in golf equipment and the advantages of today's technology - but it enhanced my appreciation of the skill and talent that the greats of yesterday possessed.  Nothing against Tiger, Rory or even Jack and Arnie - I don't see how they could put up the numbers that Bobby Jones and company could put up using the same set of equipment. 
 
At the end of the day, it was like any other golf outing. Food and drinks were enjoyed, stories were shared about putts that should have gone in and promises were made to get together again soon.  But every golfer walked away with a little more passion and love for the game. If you're looking for a different perspective and a great way to love golf even more - going "old school" will give you a whole new appreciation for the greatest game we know.