Equipment

TaylorMade
TaylorMade
The TaylorMade R15 driver, along with the company's AeroBurner fairway woods and Rescue clubs were built for more distance and more forgiveness.

I have long been a big fan of TaylorMade's wide variety of drivers, fairway woods and rescue clubs. When the opportunity recently arose to try out the R15 driver, as well as the Aeroburner 3-wood and 3-rescue, it's safe to say I was pretty excited.

Just like everyone else, I'm always in search of more distance off the tee. I've always been pretty lucky as an accurate driver of the golf ball, but I'm not always the longest. With just a few more yards off the tee, you're set up with a shorter approach, with a more lofted club, which should lead to a more accurate shot to the greens and more looks at birdies and pars, right?

I took these clubs out for a test spin at my home course in Rhode Island. I wanted the test to be at a place I'm familiar with so I could compare landing area of shots with my game clubs. What was the difference? Was I still as accurate? Did I have shorter approach yardages?

2015 BEST OF SERIES VIDEO: Golf balls | Drivers | Hybrids/Fairway woods | Irons

I wouldn't recommend it, but my first time at the course with these beautiful new sticks was also the first time I had hit them, period. I took the plastic off in the parking lot.

The R15 driver -- I got it in white -- boats a lower and more forward center of gravity to promote higher launch and lower spin. The lower spin, obviously, allows the ball to roll out more once it hits the ground.

The 460cc head was nothing I'm not already used to. Several of my drivers in recent years were the same size, so it wasn't overwhelming. That said, as interested as I am in more distance off the tee, I'm equally as concerned with how a driver performs on mishits.

That's where the R15 really put an ear-to-ear grin on my face. The shots I mishit still felt solid and not as far off line as I would typically anticipate.

Overall, I found the driver to be very comfortable to hit right from the first tee on. Did I hit every fairway? Of course not. I've never done that. But, my misses were playable, which is important to any avid golfer.

Length-wise, I'd say the R15 was about 15 yards longer than anything I've ever hit on the button. When I walked out to some tee shots, I actually had to scratch my head because I was in spots on the course I had never seen before with my tee ball. That was fun.

While I've messed around with several drivers for the last three years, only one has remained in my bag over that period of time. Until now. It was time for an upgrade and the R15 is it. After that first round, it was immediately promoted to "gamer" status.

On to the Aeroburner 3-wood. Truth be told, my course isn't one that requires a lot of 3-wood shots. Maybe a few off the tees -- which I couldn't bring myself to hit seeing as the R15 was going further than anything I've ever unleashed -- but other than that, there's just one par 5 over water where you'd need the 3-wood even after a good poke from the tee.

That's where I used this club for the only time at the course. I would later take it to the range.

As is the case with most golfers -- I'd presume, anyway -- the aesthetics of a fairway wood are paramount to me. What does it look like at address? Anything too bulky and I'm visually intimidated. It needs to look right behind the ball, or I know I'm going to hit a lousy shot before I even pull the trigger.

At address, I immediately loved the look of the Aeroburner. That made me comfortable and I proceeded to smash that second shot from 240 yards out over the water... and over the green. Much like the R15, this club provided some extra yards I wasn't accustomed to.

The most noticeable attribute of the Aeroburner 3-wood, to me, was the sound upon impact. It just made this "pop!" like I haven't heard before with other fairway woods. Since I only hit one shot with it on the course, I was sure to take it out to the range a couple of times too.

At the range, the results were similar -- more distance than I'm used to and just a fantastic sound at impact. Like the R15, the Aeroburner 3-wood also allowed for more forgiveness on mishits. We have the Speed Pocket on the sole of the club to thank for that -- it increases the size of the sweet spot and reduces spin.

And when I really got ahold of this thing, I'd venture to guess it was traveling within 10 yards of my previous driver.

Lastly, there was the Aeroburner 3-Rescue (which I've also spent a lot of time with on the range). For me, this club was installed to replace three clubs -- a 5-wood, 3-iron and 4-iron. For years I've read and heard about how much easier it is to hit a hybrid than a long iron or fairway wood, but it's taken me time to believe in it and convert.

What I loved most about this club, which also boats a Speed Pocket on the sole, is the ease with which I was able to extract the ball from some typically tough lies. Whether it was in rough or on hardpan -- for the most part -- I didn't feel the need to hit a short iron to get the ball back in play. Instead, I could trust that this club would get through the thick grass without costing me loads of yardage. It gave me chances to save par instead of hoping to sneak away with a bogey.

I also tried it a couple of times from just off the green instead of using a putter. It was like adding another dimension to my game.

The R15 and Aeroburner clubs from TaylorMade were everything I expected and more. I can't wait to get out there with them again.

If you're interested in learning more about the clubs, visit http://taylormadegolf.com/.

The R15 driver retails for $429.99. The Aeroburner 3-wood sells for $229.99, while the Aeroburner Rescue is priced at $199.99. 

TaylorMade's R15 driver, Aeroburner fairway/rescue clubs longer, more forgiving
Nike Vapor Speed TW driver
Courtesy of Nike Golf
In addition to its eye-popping color scheme, the Nike Vapor Speed TW driver features a new Compression Channel that Tiger Woods helped to design.
 
Tiger Woods is back in action this week at the Memorial – and so is his driver.
 
Nike Golf is selling limited quantities of its Vapor Speed TW driver made to Woods' specifications, and they are available beginning today at Nike.com, and at select retailers beginning June 15.
 
"Stability has always been the most important thing to me when choosing a driver," said Woods, who put the driver in his bag at the Hero World Challenge in Decembrer. "I like the pear shape. It is appealing to my eye and it also has a slightly lower MOI (Moment of Inertia) that allows me to shape shots easier."
 
 
The Vapor Speed TW driver combines Nike’s FlyBeam-reinforced Covert Cavity Back design and a new Compression Channel in a smaller head – 420cc as opposed to a standard 460cc head. 
 
Woods' insights led Nike's design team to re-design the Compression Channel, which increases the spring-like effect off the mid-to-low portion of the face to increase overall distance. The cavity back design spreads weight toward the heel and toe to help stabilize the head at impact. This  redistribution of mass creates more stability, better launch conditions and faster ball speeds.
 
The Vapor Speed TW driver features a 10.75-degree loft and a Diamana Blue Board 73 shaft with a bonded hosel. It caries a retail price of $399.
 
Nike Vapor Speed TW driver, built for Tiger Woods, now available to public
Callaway Big Bertha Mini 1.5
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The Big Bertha 1.5 Mini is smaller than a driver but larger than a fairway wood, and designed for players of all swing speeds.
 
The latest addition to Callaway's expansive Big Bertha family is the Mini 1.5 driver, which is now available at retail.
 
As its name suggests, the Mini 1.5 is smaller than a standard driver but bigger than a typical fairway wood. Specifically, its head is 235cc, making it about half the volume of a standard 460cc driver head but 35 percent larger than Callaway's XR fairway wood.
 
Callaway bills the Mini 1.5 as a new type of weapon off the tee for players of all swing speeds. Its size and construction make it capable of generating more ball speed than typical 3-woods, while also making it more forgiving than than many drivers.
 
 
The club contains Callaway's Forged Hyper Speed Face Cup and a Forged Composite crown, both of which are bedrock features in Callaway's best drivers. The crown is strong and lightweight, and allows Callaway to move extra weight to the clubhead's perimeter for more stability and forgiveness. The Face Cup, meanwhile, flexes more than other clubfaces, especially on shots hit low on the face, and boosts ball speeds over a larger area of the face.
 
It also has a cambered Warbird Sole to make it easy to hit off the turf as well as off the tee, as well as a shaft that is 44 inches long – two inches shorter than a standard driver shaft. And it features an OptiFit Hosel that lets golfers choose from eight different combinations for their loft and lie angle configurations.
 
The Bertha Mini 1.5 is available in 12- and 14-degree lofts, and carries a suggested retail price of $299.99 per club. Here's a video from Callaway about the club:
 
 
Callaway's Big Bertha Mini 1.5 fits in between driver and fairway wood
Bubba Watson's pink Ping G30 driver
USA Today Sports Images/Ping Golf
Ping will donate $60 for each of the 5,000 pink G30 drivers it sells to aid the cause of children's health.
 
Over the past six months or so, the G30 driver from Ping has emerged as a true success story, as it has become golf's best-selling driver over that time period. Its popularity has been powered to some degree by two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, whose pink G30 is easily one of the most easily identifiable clubs in all of golf.
 
And now, just in time for Watson's title defense at Augusta National, Ping has announced that it will make a limited edition of 5,000 all-pink G30s and donate $60 for each one of the $550 drivers to the Bubba Watson Foundation.
 
The bright pink G30 drivers are available for pre-order now through authorized Ping retailers around the world.
 
 
"Bubba has a huge heart and continues to use his success on the golf course to help people in need, especially children," said Ping Chairman and CEO John A. Solheim. "As we've seen on the golf course with his shot-making skills, he's a creative thinker and his decision to distinguish himself by using a pink driver and shaft helped make this program possible."
 
The limited-edition G30 drivers will have a bright pink shaft and clubhead featuring the same technology, including turbulators on the crown, that has earned the standard G30 high marks for its performance. The pink G30s will be available in 9- and 10.5-degree lofts (adjustable +- 1 degree) for right-handed players and 10.5 degrees (adjustable +- 1 degree) for left-handers. It is available in R and S flexes, and comes with a matching pink-accented head cover. 
 
 
Watson has used a pink driver since 2012, and Ping conducted a similar charitable effort with its pink G20 driver. Those funds were donated to the Phoenix Children's Hospital and used to help build the new Bubba Watson-Ping Golf Motion Analysis Lab – the first and only dedicated facility of its kind in Arizona. The MAL uses advanced assessment tools to evaluate and treat children and adolescents who have movement disorders or walking difficulties caused by conditions like cerebral palsy.
 
"Besides making great equipment that helps me have success on the golf course, Ping and the Solheim family are incredibly generous in giving back to the game through ideas like the limited-edition pink G30 driver program," Watson said. "I'm excited golfers have the opportunity to participate in this great cause knowing they are also contributing to help improve the lives of the less fortunate."
 
 
Ping to sell 5,000 pink G30 drivers, share proceeds with Bubba Watson Foundation
Ryan Moore
USA Today Sports Images
The sole of Ryan Moore's new PXG driver features a circle of weight ports that enables extreme adjustability.
Most of us in the world of golf are spending this week looking forward to the Masters. But one newcomer to the golf industry is having a pretty good week right now.
 
Parsons Xtreme Golf signed PGA Tour player Ryan Moore to an equipment contract, and he is using the clubs at the Shell Houston Open. In fact, Moore has been using a selection of PXG clubs since January, and the endorsement deal confirms his belief in this fledgling company and its products.
 
Parsons is best known as the founder of web domain registrar GoDaddy, which coincidentally went public on Wednesday. Parsons sold his interest in the company back in 2011, is said to be worth $2 billion, and has been spending much of his time pursuing his two passions – high-performance motorcycles and golf. 
 
"Parsons Xtreme Golf was founded with the sole intent to design and develop the finest golf clubs ever made – I believe that is exactly what we have accomplished," he said. "Ryan's endorsement of our products gives testament to the quality of our equipment and I look forward to seeing the clubs in play in the hands of other professionals in the near future."
 
 
Parsons – who also owns Scottsdale National Golf Club in Arizona – enlisted a couple of well-respected industry veterans in Mike Nicollette and Brad Schweigert, both of whom spent many years designing clubs for Ping. Nicollette, formerly Ping's senior product designer, also played on the PGA Tour for almost a decade, while Schweigert, formerly Ping's director of engineering, holds more than 150 golf-related patents.
 
Charged to create the best clubs they could without any cost constraints or shortcuts, these two came up with a set that is distinctive in both appearance and technology. The heads feature a series of weight ports filled with high-density tungsten screws – 16 on the driver down to 11 on the irons – to create an adjustable weighting system that enables the golfer to determine the trajectory on each individual club.
 
Nicollette and Schweigert also created a sophisticated manufacturing process for their irons that includes forging, high-precision CNC milling, robotic plasma face welding and injection molding. To date, Parsons Xtreme Golf has received seven patents on its designs and has more than 40 additional patents pending. 
 
"The proprietary technology is one of the most innovative concepts to ever hit the market in the iron category," said Schweigert, the managing director at PXG. "The extremely thin-faced construction coupled with a proprietary thermoplastic elastomer core supports performance gains greater than a similar-sized cavity-back in both distance and forgiveness."
 
 
PXG had invited Moore – famous on the PGA Tour for eschewing club contracts so he could pick and choose the clubs he preferred – to test out their clubs and provide a little feedback. He put the prototype PXG 03x irons in play at events including the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the Waste Management Phoenix Open before signing his deal.
 
"I knew some of the guys involved in it, and they kind of asked me to look at some prototypes and sets to try," Moore told GolfDigest.com. "They sent me some, and I tried them and I really liked them. I've been searching for a set of irons, and these are the best set of irons I've hit in a really, really long time. I was excited and from the second I hit them I couldn't put them down."
 
Moore – who also owns a part of True Linkswear – has tied for 17th in Phoenix, tied for 22nd at Riviera, tied for ninth at Doral and finished fifth in Tampa.
 
His endorsement contract is the first big step for getting PXG into the public eye. The company hasn't said anything about its plans for bringing the clubs to retail or signing other brand ambassadors, though they'll obviously be very high-end when they do go on sale. Here are some other photos that PXG-related people have shared on social media:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ryan Moore signs to play clubs from PXG, GoDaddy founder's new company
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