Equipment

July 7, 2016 - 2:39pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Holderness and Bourne
Holderness and Bourne
Holderness and Bourne offers fine polos and plenty of accessories for the golf course.

Over the course of a given year, I'm able to get an up close look at some incredible golf gear. Periodically, I like to compile a product round-up of some of my favorites.

Here's a peek at a list of items I've had the opportunity to test in the last couple of months that you may want to consider for your own game -- everything from clubs, to gadgets to apparel and more.

Let's break them down by product type.

BAG:

TactiCool BAMF: You've never seen a golf bag like this one.

The BAMF (abbreviation for words that are NSFW) bag by TactiCool is an incredibly functional golf bag with a nod to our military. Available in Stealth Black, Coyote Brown, or Olive Drab, the BAMF bags utilize a MOLLE webbing system that allows you to attach as many or as little accessories you want.

TactiCool's Expeditionary Mode BAMF bag comes preloaded with accessories for your sunglasses, smartphone, water bottle, and more.

"We knew it was an excellent way to change out and customize parts and pieces, and we knew enough people with some kind of tactical background who also had other hobbies," said Jake Richmond, TactiCool's Chief Brand Officer, an Air Force veteran. "The tactical sensibility naturally includes the compulsion to customize your own 'loadout,' so when you combine that with other hobbies, it was clear to us that we weren't the only ones who would appreciate a MOLLE golf bag."

Another beautiful thing about this bag? You're not limited to just the sweet accessory offerings from TactiCool.

"We want our customers to know they can buy accessories from any MOLLE gear manufacturer, and it'll fit on their BAMF bag," Richmond said. "In other words, we're liberators, not monopolizers."

Added Chris Holland, TactiCool's founding partner and also an Air Force veteran: "The goal was to create something that empowered people to make their own loadout, instead of enslaving them to our little cult of products and forcing them to buy accessories from us. Buy the bag, then buy a pouch here, a patch there, and its all up to you."

If you're looking for a bag that's extra cool and like nothing anyone else has (for now), this is the bag for you.

Learn more at www.tacticoolcac.com.

SHOES:

Canoos: If there's a better crossover shoe for the summer, I have yet to see it. In a word, Canoos are "awesome." They're the type of shoe I never knew I wanted, never knew existed and -- now -- not sure I'd want to live with out.

The concept is brilliant. These are high-quality boat shoes with built in soft spikes on the sole. The soft spikes underneath are relatively short, which I love. There's plenty of traction on the course, but when you where them off the course, you don't feel as though you're wearing golf spikes.

You can wear them on the course, to the beach, out to dinner, with shorts, with slacks, with jeans -- whatever.

Quality golf shoes are expensive. Quality boat shoes are expensive. With Canoos, it's as if you're getting both for the price of one. Price: $150. You can learn more at www.canoos.com.

Ecco Speed Hybrid: When it comes to fashion these days, we're seeing lots of "throwback" gear -- a new spin/twist on an older look. Or, in the case of the Ecco Speed Hybrid, a new and improved spin on a throwback look.

The best way I can describe the Ecco Speed Hybrid is that they look like an old-school sneaker. But the technology behind this killer Ecco offering makes it way better than that old-school sneaker sitting in the back of your closet.

Ecco describes it like this: An outsole with molded traction bars combined with groundbreaking E-DTS® hybrid technology provides enhanced stability throughout your swing. The breathable leather uppers have Ecco's unique HYDROMAX™ treatment, which has water repellant characteristics.

Trying to save space in your luggage? With that sneaker look, these are fantastic to wear through the airport and then straight to the course when you land. Price: $180. us.shop.ecco.com.

PUMA Ignite Spikeless: An argument could be made that these are the most comfortable golf shoes ever created. They're light and they fit and feel like your favorite pair of slippers.

Even when you wear these shoes for the first time, there's no "stiffness" whatsoever. It's as if they're already been broken in for you.

A "running performance foam" was used to give these shoes incredible cushioning. Along with the comfort, they look great too. Price: $120. www.puma.com.

HEADCOVERS:

Fore Ewe Knitted Headcovers: Another example of that "throwback" look in golf, Fore Ewe knitted headcovers will let you add some spice to your golf bag with a nod to the past.

Mary Jackley, an avid knitter from Minnesota, is the mastermind behind Fore Ewe. All of Fore Ewe's yarn is skein dyed to make sure the colors are rich and consistent. Since June 2012, Jackley says she has designed and sold over 11,000 headcovers.

My favorite thing about Jackley's business is the fact that -- along with her catalogue of beautiful offerings -- she gives you, the customer, the ability to design your headcovers with the colors and patterns you want. And the turnaround time is amazing -- usually 2-3 weeks.

Overall, these are just beautiful, beautiful headcovers. Price: Starting at $35 and up depending on club and custom options. www.foreewe.com.

Headgear Golf Leather Headcovers: Again, for me, it's all about customization these days. With companies like Headgear Golf, you can get the same level of customization as your favorite Tour pro.

Headgear Golf carefully cuts and manually stitches only the highest quality leather hides and line the inside with soft fleece for easy slip on and off. A double elastic pinch keeps the snug fit.

Headgear Golf has a bunch of stock offerings that are spectacular, but you can really make it personal with a custom design -- your favorite colors, the colors of your favorite sports team, etc. Price: $39 and up. www.headgeargolf.com.

CLUBS:

TaylorMade M2 3-wood: This club goes long... and straight. What more can you ask of a fairway wood? I suppose it's "look." When it comes to "look" I'm not sure anything tops what TaylorMade has done with its M1 and M2 offerings. They're just gorgeous to look at with the Carbon Composite Crown.

The sound upon contact is phenomenal. It just pops right off the clubface and is as solid a sounding club as I've ever hit.

The best part of the M2 fairway woods? They're not going to break the bank, ringing in at $249. www.taylormadegolf.com.

Wilson Staff C200 Irons: Looks aren't everything when it comes to golf clubs. It's all about performance. Luckily for Wilson Staff, the companies new C200 irons have both attributes going for it -- they're gorgeous, they're easy to hit and they're long.

Categorized as "crossover" irons, the C200s are made for the player seeking a midsize head shape and moderate offset with the type of distances you don't get from traditional irons. Wilson Staff's proprietary FLX Face Technology minimizes the contact points between the body and the thin face. These minimized contact points -- combined with a series of Power Holes around the entire perimeter of the face -- maximize face flex upon impact, resulting in increased ball speed and distance.

They're easy to swing and provide what every golfer is looking for: forgiveness on mishits. Price: $799.99 (steel 4-PW, GW). www.wilson.com.

APPAREL & ACCESSORIES:

Holderness and Bourne: When it comes to golf polos (starting at $88), Holderness and Bourne aren't looking to recreate the wheel. These are just classic, timeless polos made with modern fabrics that are lightweight and move with your body instead of getting stuck while swinging.

And when I say they're not "looking to recreate the wheel" I simply mean that this isn't "trendy" stuff. It's beautiful apparel that stands the test of time. It's all class.

The same goes for Holderness and Bourne's accessories. I was able to test out their Ouimet Scorecard & Passport Cover ($90); The Travis Valuables Case ($65); and The Crosby Shoe Bag ($125). Each of those accessories comes in three colorways: Annapolis Blue, British Khaki, or Nantucket Red.

The accessories all feature a premium water-resistant cotton duck canvas exterior, while the Ouimet Scorecard & Passport Cover and Crosby Shoe Bag also include pebble grain leather, a premium polished nickel zipper and blue bengal stripe oxford cloth interior.

Unlike a lot of valuables cases/pouches out there, the Travis Valuables case is long and easily accommodates today's bigger smartphones. It's thin design also makes it easy to slip in and out of the bag.

For more information, check out www.holdernessandbourne.com.

Galvin Green: The same apparel that has been used to outfit European Ryder Cup teams, Galvin Green prides itself on making the types of garments that do not interfere with your golf swing.

With its VENTIL8 line, Galvin Green uses materials that transport moisture and excess heat away from your body twice as quickly as conventional offerings that come in polyester. The material disperses perspiration and moisture over a larger area, which allows it to evaporate faster.

As has been the theme here with apparel, we're all about ultimate comfort on hot summer days. This is the epitome of what Galvin Green offers with its VENTIL8 polos and trousers. They're light and they don't stick to you. What more can you ask for?

For more information, visit www.galvingreen.com.

Lululemon: If you've heard of this Canadian brand, it's likely because of its high-quality yoga gear. You may also think of it as a brand mostly for women.

If that's all you thought, please think again, because you're missing out... big time.

Lululemon also makes a bunch of great gear for men. And it's not just for yoga or working out. They have clothing for the golf course too -- polos, shorts and pants.

I tried out the Evolution Polo ($88). It is the lightest polo I've ever worn. Lululemon describes it as: A sweat-wicking, four-way stretch, and engineered to feel like your favorite broken-in tee.

They're not kidding. It feels just like a broken-in tee and there's nothing better than that feeling when you're spending a hot summer's day on the course. The shirts are a bit form-fitting, so if you like a little more room, go up a size.

For shorts, I tried out the Commission Short QWICK CHINO ($88) and the Works Short ($88). The pants included the ABC ($128) and the Commission Urbanite Swift ($128). Both the shorts and the pants include a stretch material that make them feel more like a pair of lightweight sweatpants than more golf-course/boardroom appropriate attire.

Being 100 percent honest, the ABC pants are the most comfortable pants I've ever worn. And on the golf course, they're just perfect. The back pockets are the ideal size for a yardage book or scorecard.

Speaking of which, I was recently on the road for the Senior PGA Professional Championship presented by KitchenAid, as well as the PGA Professional Championship. You know when you get a new car and you don't realize how many people drive that car until you're driving it yourself? The same can be said for the Lululemon ABC pants. I had no idea how many golfers wore them until I had them on myself.

The bottom line is this: Lululemon is no longer just for the ladies. Guys -- you don't know what you're missing if you don't try them out.

Find them at www.lululemon.com.

Kentwool socks: Are you more of a walker, or the type that takes a cart when playing a round of golf?

Either way, Kentwool makes the perfect sock for you. Why socks don't seem like a big deal to many is beyond me. Golf is uncomfortable enough with everything you face on the course. Your feet shouldn't be a part of that equation.

Kentwool socks, made in the USA, are constructed with 58 percent Merino Wool, 31 percent Nylon, 9 percent Stretch Polyester and 2 percent Spandex. The best part about the socks? They have a blister-free guarantee.

For more information, visit www.kentwool.com.

Devereux: I'd classify Devereux as a luxury golf brand without sacrificing comfort. Devereux's polos (65 percent Pima Cotton and 35 percent Polyester) have a touch-of-class look to them.

The thin material on the polos make them exceptionally comfortable and perfect for those hot and humid days on the course.

The same goes for Devereux's short, which are 90 percent Polyester and 10 percent Spandex.

Overall, it's an apparel brand for when you need to be a little more dressed up.

For more, check out www.dvrxgolf.com.

Garmin Approach X40: I have a confession to make... Since smartphones these days are practically attached to our person at all times, I figured it had eliminated my need for a watch.

Now, however, technology has turned toward the enhanced development of "wearables." Picking up on that trend is Garmin with its Approach X40 band. It's not just a watch. It's not just a golf GPS preloaded with over 40,000 golf courses. It also measures your shot distance, tracks stats such as putts per round, greens and fairways hit, is a digital scorecard and -- when connected to your computer or smartphone -- allows you to review your scorecard and round.

In addition to all of that -- and what separates the Approach X40 from its competition -- is its fitness tracking capabilities. It counts your steps, measures your heart rate, tracks your sleep, allows you to set fitness goals and more.

This is a golf watch that you never have to take off... except to charge, which you'll only need to do every 5 days in activity mode, or every 10 days in GPS mode.

Oh, and for good measure -- when synced with your smartphone, you can have text messages and call alerts sent to your wrist.

For more, visit www.garmin.com.

Golf Pride Tour SNSR Putter grips: Putting is all about feel and that starts with the grip you're cradling in your hands.

Golf Pride's Tour SNSR putter grips -- available in two styles and two sizes -- promote light grip pressure in the hands for superior control.

The counter of the grip encourages a more consistent, repeatable putting stroke. We can all use more consistency on the greens.

Visit www.golfpride.com to learn more. 

15 golf items you'll want to try out this summer
New golf equipment
Courtesy of Nike Golf, Ping Golf, Cleveland Golf and Mizuno Golf
Among the most intriguing new gear at the PGA Show this week is the (clockwise from upper left) Nike Vapor Flex driver, Ping G Crossover irons, Mizuno S5 wedges and Cleveland TFI 2135 putters.
 
 
ORLANDO – Walking the floor at the PGA Merchandise Show, it's easy to get caught up in the thousands of eye-catching new products on display. The fact is, however, that the vast majority of best-selling equipment comes from a handful of golf's most prominent equipment makers.
 
Here is a round-up of some of the biggest releases from golf's most prominent equipment companies – it is not in any way a complete list of the new offerings – presented in alphabetical order:
 
CALLAWAY: Riding a wave of momentum into 2016, Callaway is out with its XR16 driver and fairway clubs, which have a unique backstory. As clubhead aerodynamics become more prominent, the company teamed with aircraft maker Boeing to design the heads of these new clubs to cut through the air more easily than ever – Callaway bills it as "where forgiving meets fast."
 
"To make a driver as advanced as the new XR16, we had to think outside the box and come up with new techniques to break the common mold of driver design," says Alan Hocknell, Callaway's senior vice president for research and development.
 
The XR16 has a large head (450cc) like those of many modern drivers, but it is shaped to allow for more stability through the swing and positions the center of gravity lower and deeper than previous models. The Speed Step Crown is thinner and stretched out to lower drag.
 
 
The driver also contains the latest version of Callaway's R*MOTO face that's lighter and almost 20 percent thinner than before to help generate faster swings and more ball speed. It is available in lofts of 9, 10.5 and 13.5 degrees, and retails for $349.99. The tuned-up Pro model comes in lofts of 9 and 10.5 degrees, and retails for $399.99.
 
The XR16 fairway woods feature a larger head and a bigger footprint than you might expect. The crown is lighter than previous models, and the sole is cambered to get move more easily through the turf. Its Forged Hyper Speed Face Cup provides for more spring and forgiveness. 
 
The XR16 comes in 3+, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 models, and retails for $229.99 each. The Pro woods have a more compact head design, and are available in lofts of 14, 16 and 18 degrees with a retail price of $249.99 each.
 
CLEVELAND: At Cleveland, a lot of the focus right now is on proper alignment while putting. The company's latest advancement is small but crucial – they've raised the alignment bar on the flange of their new family of TFI 2135 putters.
 
On most putters, the alignment bar – the little line behind the face that helps you aim – sits on the flange, near the bottom of the putter. That's fine, Cleveland says, if your eyes are directly over the ball. But most golfers – the company says the number is 80 percent – don't actually set up with their eyes in that position, which can led to incorrect alignment and missed putts.
 
 
So on these new models, Cleveland's designers raised the alignment line up to where it is equal to the midpoint of the ball – 21.35 millimeters. At that level, they say, the line will never give you a misperception no matter where your eyes are when you address the ball.
 
The "2135" obviously stands for the 21.35-millimeter level of the alignment bar, while the "TFI" stands for True Feel Innovation, the name of the copper-colored face on these new models. Specifically, it is a Milled Copper Infused Face Cap over a Copolymer Insert for improved feel and consistency across the face. The three new putters retail for $129.99 (blade and mid-mallet ) and $169.99 (counterbalanced blade with a heavier 405-gram head weight).
 
COBRA: Cobra Golf got a nice boost over the weekend when Rickie Fowler won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship over a star-studded field that included Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Fowler won with a brand-new King LTD driver in his bag, and Cobra has five versions of the new King driver to choose from.
 
Cobra calls the King LTD the longest and straightest driver it has ever created. It has a 16-gram weight near the back of the head to lower the center of gravity for more stability and forgiveness. Its TexTreme Carbon Fiber crown is 20 percent lighter than standard carbon fiber, while its re-engineered Forged 8-1-1 Titanium E9 face is hotter than previous versions while also boasting a larger "sweet zone." 
 
 
Golfers looking for more adjustability can choose from the King F6 and F6 Pro Custom versions, which feature moveable weights, and there is also a standard King F6 model that has a "front-to-back" weight system that allows you to select your center of gravity. All the King models have Cobra's MyFly system that lets golfers choose their loft settings.
 
The King LTD and LTD Pro retail for $499, while the F6 and F6 Pro Custom retail for $399 and the standard King F6 retails for $349.
 
MIZUNO: Among the most eye-catching products on display this week are the "Blue Magic" S5 wedges from Mizuno. They get their nickname from their dazzling Blue Ion finish and their cache from the fact that Luke Donald not only helped design them but also uses them.
 
The S5 wedges have a new "silhouette" head shape that gives them a clean look and helps them interact more cleanly with turf and sand. They're made from 1025 mild carbon steel using Mizuno's famous Grain Flow forging process to produce a soft but consistent feel. 
 
 
These new wedges also boast Mizuno's Quad Cut Groove technology, in which the width, depth, draft angle and shoulder radius of each groove are precisely rendered to enhance spin control and ball-stopping ability in all playing conditions. For greater control on the high-bounce options, 15 percent of the center trailing edge is beveled, while 25 percent is removed on the low-bounce options. 
 
Along with Blue Ion, the S5 wedges come in a White Satin finish, and are available in 25 different loft and bounce combinations ranging from 49 to 62 degrees via Mizuno's Performance Fitting System. They retail for $129.99 per club.
 
NIKE: While Luke Donald was giving his input on the new Mizuno S5 wedges, Rory McIlroy was helping to fine-tune the design the new Vapor Fly line of clubs from Nike Golf. They're called Fly because the goal in creating them was to provide an overall higher launch angle.
 
"We've verified that if we can launch the ball higher, while managing spin, it will ultimately fly farther," says Nate Radcliffe, Nike Golf's director of engineering. "We are using innovative designs that consider mass distribution, tuned compliance and stiffness to help the ball consistently fly high and long."
 
The vanguard of the new line is the Vapor Flex 440 driver, whose 440cc head is made primarily of carbon fiber-reinforced RZN, the proprietary material that Nike uses in both clubs and golf balls. RZN is extremely light and strong, allowing the company's engineers to position more weight forward and down for extra adjustability and forgiveness.
 
 
The HyperFlight face is thinned out around the perimeter to help produce extreme ball speed across the entire face, while the FlyBeam Reinforced Covert Cavity Back stiffens the head and redistributes weight to the heel and toe for better ball speed and forgiveness. 
 
The Vapor Flex 440 also features FlexFlight technology – a RZN tube with a high-density weight on one end. Golfers can adjust their launch angle, spin rate and other characteristics by inserting either the light or the heavy end of the tube into the head. And Nike's FlexLoft 2.0 technology lets golfer select from among five lofts and three face angles to fine-tune their ball flight.
 
The Vapor Fly family also includes the Fly and Pro drivers as well as fairway woods and hybrids, and Vapor Fly and Fly Pro irons. The Vapor Flex driver retails for $600. 
 
PING: The new G Driver – the follow-up to its hit G30 driver – is obviously Ping's headline this year, but the company's most intriguing new offering is its G Crossover club. Ping says it combines the precision, workability and control of an iron with the ball speed and forgiveness of a hybrid. 
 
"People love the look and feel of the Crossover because they haven't seen anything like it," says Ping CEO John Solheim said. "It shouldn't be confused with a driving iron. It's higher-launching and much more forgiving, and offers a lot of versatility."
 
 
The distinctive gray head resembles a huge muscleback, yet the club has a narrow top line. The head also has extreme heel-toe weighting to keep the center of gravity low and back for extra stability and forgiveness. The high-strength Carpenter 455 steel face is machined for greater flexing and faster ball speed, while a cascading internal sole helps the entire face, sole and top rail to flex and maximize distance. 
 
The Crossover is available in three lofts – 18 degrees, 21 degrees and 24 degrees – and retails for 
$247.50 per club.
 
TAYLORMADE: Whenever TaylorMade introduces a new driver, it immediately generates worldwide attention. The company's other releases, however, often fly under the radar. The latest case in point might be its new M2 irons.
 
TaylorMade's focus for these new irons was to achieve maximum distance without sacrificing peak trajectory. For starters, the company's designers utilized a Thick-Thin Fluted Hosel, which removed three grams of weight from the hosel and distributed it as low as possible around the clubhead's perimeter to help lower the center of gravity and promote a higher launch.
 
 
MORE: The face is thinner than on the previous irons – it doesn't include the Face Slots found on some recent TaylorMade irons – and works with the Speed Pocket – the channel cut into the sole that helps the face flex – to increase the launch angle and ball speed, even on shots struck below the face's equator. Additionally, the 360° Undercut expands the unsupported face area for more ball speed across the face, and removes weight from the top line to allow for stronger lofts that maximize distance.
 
The M2 irons retail for $799 per set with steel shafts and $899 with graphite), while the tune-up M2 Tour version retails for $899 with steel shafts.
 
TITLEIST: There's no shortage of new gear at Titleist, most notably all the new irons that appeared last fall. But the big newsmaker at the PGA Show is the company's Vokey SM6 wedges.
 
The center of gravity is progressive through the set because, the company says, aligning it with the impact position of each loft produces precise distance and trajectory control. Lowering the center of gravity in the pitching and gap wedges moves more mass behind the ball, while the sand wedge has a mid-level center of gravity and the higher-lofted wedges raise the center of gravity even higher.
 
 
The wedges' TX4 grooves feature a new parallel face texture that creates a more consistent groove edge and tighter quality tolerances to generate more spin. The lower-lofted clubs (46 to 54 degrees) have narrower, deeper grooves, while the higher-lofted clubs (56 to 62 degrees) have wider grooves. These distinct designs, the company says, optimize contact with the ball for maximum spin.
 
The SM6 models also offer five different grind options and three different finishes, and they can be customized in many different ways. They retail for $169 per club. 
 
Most prominent new equipment releases from golf's biggest companies at the PGA Show
Callaway golf balls
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The new Callaway Chrome Soft ball (l) features a proprietary Dual SoftFast Core, while the color pattern on the TruVis version provides unprecedented visual feedback.
 
 
In the world of golf balls, everything revolves around the launch of new models of the Titleist ProV1 and ProV1x. They come out as regular as clockwork every two years, and dominate the high-end ball market. 
 
This year, however, is not one of those years, and that gives us a great chance to explore some of more intriguing models that are fresh to market. Several of these, in fact, are Titleist products – the company has brand-new editions of its Pinnacle balls as well as its Velocity, DuoSoft and NXT models.
 
As its name implies, the Velocity ball delivers fast initial ball speed on full-swing shots for explosive distance. Its larger LSX core provides much of this power, while its spherically tiled 328 tetrahedral dimple design delivers a more penetrating trajectory with a shallower angle of descent for even more roll. It retails for $35 per dozen.
 
The Titleist NXT Tour remains a high-performance ball that delivers low spin on long shots with solid ball-stopping control on shorter shots. This multi-component sphere features a large dual core with a soft center, a soft Fusablend cover and a spherically tiled 302 octahedral dimple design.
 
The "S" in the NXT Tour S ball's name stands for soft. This model delivers the same performance characteristics as the standard NXT Tour, but with a significantly softer feel thanks in large part to its reformulated soft-compression core. It also features a Fusablend cover and a spherically tiled, 302 octahedral dimple design, and comes in white and high optic yellow.
 
While the NXT Tour S is soft, the new iteration of the DT TruSoft offers Titleist's softest compression feel while also delivering impressive distance and good short-game playability. The ball boasts a new soft core and ionomic cover formulation that delivers very low spin, and results in what the company says is its best combination of very soft compression feel and consistent performance.
 
Finally, Titleist's Pinnacle brand is out with two new models, the Rush and the Soft. As you might guess, the Rush advances the brand's well-known pursuit of distance. It's got a proprietary high-energy core that produces fast ball speed, along with an advanced 332 icosahedral dimple design for a consistent ball flight and a soft ionomer cover for improved feel. It comes in both white and optic yellow.
 
The Pinnacle Soft is also a distance demon, but offers a softer feel thanks to its high-energy, extremely low-compression core – it's Pinnacle's lowest compression core ever. The core combines with an incredibly soft ionomer cover to produce the softest-feeling Pinnacle ever made, and it too has a 332 icosahedral dimple design. It comes in white, white with a pink play number and side stamp, and optic pink. 
 
Here is a round-up of some of the other more prominent golf balls for 2016, listed alphabetically:
 
BRIDGESTONE: Bridgestone is out with updated versions of its top-of-the-line Tour B330 andTour B330S (the "S" is the higher-spin model) balls, both of which are created for players with tour pro-level swing speeds – 105 mph and above – as well as its B330RX and RXS, which are for the rest of us.
 
The B330 and B330S balls feature a new Tour Core that is 6 percent larger than its predecessors. The core is softest closer to the center and gradually firmer as it gets closer to the cover, resulting in faster ball speeds and reduced spin off the driver. This type of core, as opposed to a two- or three-layer core, improves the balls' energy transfer for more power, the company says.
 
The new models both have a SlipRes cover that creates higher friction for more spin out of the rough and less spin off the driver for increased distance. Amazingly, Bridgestone says the cover is self-repairing for longer playability. And its dual dimple cover pattern features smaller inner dimples that reduce drag at launch for faster elevation and larger outer dimples that promote a shallow angle of descent for increased rollout on landing. 
 
The B330RX and RXS – the "S" here is for Spin as well – meanwhile, have a softer Amatour Core designed to maximize compression for longer distance. It is, the company says, 28 percent softer than the average tour ball core which, like the B330 and B330S, is softer toward the center and firmer toward the outside to help generate faster ball speed and reduced spin off the driver. These balls also have the SlipRes Cover and Seamless Cover Technology for improved performance.
 
CALLAWAY: Callway continues its aggressive push in the ball market with its new Chrome Soft and Superhot 55 balls. Phil Mickelson is among the pro players who have been using prototypes of Chrome Soft model on tour.
 
The four-piece Chrome Soft ball introduces a proprietary Dual SoftFast Core, which leads to fast ball speeds off the driver for exceptional distance. The core also lets golfers compress the ball on irons shots for long, straight flight, the company says. The ball also includes a mantle layer and a Tour Urethane Cover for even more control throughout the bag, especially with the scoring clubs.
 
Perhaps the most intriguing ball out new this year is the TruVis version of the Chrome Soft. It's the same ball as the Chrome Soft, but with a TrueVis cover – a distinctive red and white pattern that makes it look like a tiny soccer ball. It's not a gimmick, though – the pattern helps you identify the ball's spin and roll far better than you can with a one-color cover. This kind of visual feedback is invaluable, and this ball has the potential to become a true breakout hit.
 
The Superhot 55, meanwhile, has a low 55 compression and is designed for long and straight shots. Its HEX Aerodynamics promote low drag and optimal lift for a strong ball flight, while its soft mantle layer and cover system work to lower spin for reduced hooks and slices.
 
NIKE GOLF. The big golf ball news out of Nike Golf comes from its RZN Tour ball, which Nike staff player Rory McIlroy says provides him the best combination of distance and feel that he's ever played. 
 
Made with RZN 4.0, the newest iteration of Nike's RZN material, the blue center core is not only softer but also 10 percent bigger than the previous generation. That, Nike says, gives the ball what amounts to a bigger engine, unlocking faster ball speeds. The core uses Speedlock X technology, with deeper grooves and a X-shaped surface pattern, to allow better energy transfer through the ball and provide more distance and faster ball speeds. 
 
The ball's Flight Suit cover features 344 dimples and 13,558 micro dimples strategically placed to improve lift and drag properties, especially at the end of the ball's flight. It will be available in two versions: Black for lower-spin distance and Platinum for mid-spin control.
 
The company is also rolling out two new RZN Speed golf balls, the Red (for longer carry) and the White (for softer feel). Both three-piece models boast the same Speedlock X Core technology as the RZN Tour ball to help maximize energy transfer, while a softer RZN formulation provides a softer feel without sacrificing distance.
 
ONCORE. Oncore is a small company that came out with a big idea few years ago – a ball with a hollow metal core. This week it's showing off a new two-piece model called the Avant, which features a soft core and promises long distance.
 
The Avant – a product of the Oncore R&D team led by former TaylorMade Vice President of Research and Development John Calabria – uses a unique polymer blend for its core composition. That results in, the company says, a high coefficient of restitution that delivers exceptional velocity and distance. If you're counting, its compression value is 65. 
 
VOLVIK. Volvik is well known in Asia and in recent years has been making a push on various tours with its brightly colored golf balls. In fact, the company bills itself as "the #1 Color Golf Ball on Tour," with more than 75 professionals using its balls worldwide.
 
New this year is the latest iteration of Volvik's Crystal model, a premium three-piece ball that is the company's most famous product. This new model features a 322-dimple pattern, which the company says helps it fly higher and farther, along with a Power Core for distance and a softer Surlyn Crystalline cover that helps generate optimal spin rates. Notably, the company says the 80-compression Crystal is best for players with swing speeds under 95 mph. It comes in orange, green, yellow, pink and ruby colors.
 
Also new this year is the Vivid, which the company calls the world's first matte-finish golf ball. It is essentially the same construction as the Crystal, but eschews that model's Crystalline translucent cover for a unique matte finish – in several neon colors – that helps it stand out on the ground and in the air. 
 
The Vivid is a three-piece, 80-compression ball is softer than the original Crystal ball but still capable of generating Crystal-level distance. And like the Crystal, it is designed for people with 95 mph or slower swing speeds. It comes in green, orange, red and pink.
 
WILSON STAFF. One of the great names in American sports equipment, Wilson Golf has been marching back toward prominence in recent years. This year, it adds to its Duo line of balls with the Duo Urethane, a 55-compression model that joins the 29-compression Duo and the 35-compression Duo Spin.
 
Wilson bills the new three-piece model as the world's softest urethane ball, and says it is designed for feel players who still want to maximize their distance. It features a soft, thin-cast urethane cover that the company says is the most premium matetrial available, and provides exceptional spin and control in approach shots. It also features a new 362 seamless dimple pattern for optimized distance, along with a DuPont HPF inner mantle layer to encourage more velocity when struck.
 
New crop of golf balls blossoms in year without ProV1 launch
Jason Day's putter
TaylorMade via YouTube
Welding the hosel into the proper position is a key part of the construction of Jason Day's TaylorMade Itsy Bitsy Spider putter.
 
Jason Day could probably sink putts with a monkey wrench these days, but the fact is that he's won three of his last four starts – the RBC Canadian Open, the PGA Championship and the Barclays – with a prototype model of TaylorMade's Ghost Itsy Bitsy Spider mallet.
 
Earlier today, TaylorMade posted a video that shows how its technicians build Day's putter from scratch. It is definitely worth the 152 seconds it'll cost you to watch it.
 
TaylorMade describes the putter as an Itsy Bitsy Japan model whose hosel is cut off and then hand-welded with a #3 short slant neck. Day prefers no sightline, TaylorMade says, so the technicians hand-weld in the existing line and buff the top until it's smooth. The head is then coated with a custom acrylic to give it its grey finish. 
 
 
The face insert is the 80/20 insert from the Ghost Tour line, TaylorMade explains. However, the insert must be hand ground to fit into the head, which is slightly smaller than other similar models.
 
The most interesting thing to me is how many individual parts and pieces TaylorMade uses to create this one putter. More specifically, I should say, I'm impressed with how well all these individual components fit together and work together. I don't yet have the details on Day's Itsy Bitsy Spider prototype, but the Daddy Long Legs  – also a large, high-MOI mallet– includes 16 different pieces made out of eight different materials ranging from carbon steel to Surlyn.    
 
The video is also a welcome reminder of the creativity and craftsmanship it takes to produce not only these putters but all of today's best golf clubs. And I'm glad to see that the TaylorMade technicians who assemble these putters get to take a bow at the end of the video – they, and their counterparts who make high-quality equipment at companies large and small around the world, deserve some recognition.
 
By the way, TaylorMade hasn't yet announced any plans to bring Day's putter to market. The company did create 20 exact replicas (since Day set the PGA Championship scoring mark of 20 under par) for sale at $750 apiece, but as you might guess they sold out awfully fast.  
 
Here's the video:
 
 
TaylorMade shows how Jason Day's putter is made
Sun Mountain's ClubGlider
Sun Mountain
Sun Mountain's ClubGlider luggage.

MISSOULA, Montana -- ClubGlider revolutionized the golf travel bag with the introduction of extendable legs that support all of the weight. That same technology has now been applied to a line of wheeled-luggage that includes a suitcase and a carry-on.

ClubGlider Suitcase offers the same ease of use as the golf travel bag thanks to the extendable leg that supports 100 percent of the weight and then simply retracts away for travel. The suitcase is constructed with the same highly durable, ballistic-style nylon as the ClubGlider Meridian golf travel bag. The ClubGlider Carry-On coordinates with the suitcase and is sized to fit in airplane overhead bins.

Both pieces are available now at $349.99 for the suitcase and $239.99 for the carry-on. For the retailer nearest you call 800-227-9224 or visit www.sunmountain.com.

The ClubGlider Suitcase is H 30" X W 13" X D 13" and weighs 17 lbs. with multiple internal pockets and a main compartment that expands 2.5” for added capacity. The wheeled-suitcase features multiple handles for ease of use and comes with a TSA-approved lock.

The wheeled-carry-on was designed to coordinate with the other pieces in the ClubGlider line. The bag's multiple handles help with maneuvering it in and out of car trunks and overhead bins. The carry-on is H 23" X W 13.5" X D 11.5" and weighs 8 lbs. with a main compartment that expands 2.5" for added capacity. ClubGlider Carry-On offers external pockets and two, inside mesh pockets to organize gear and comes with a TSA-approved lock.

ClubGlider golf travel bags are available in four different models -- Pro, Tour Series, Meridian, and Journey -- offering protection for golfers ranging from weekend warriors to touring professionals.

All of the bags in the ClubGlider line glide from parking lot to luggage counter thanks to legs that extend and support 100 percent of the weight and pivoting caster wheels that handle corners, curbs and escalators with ease. Once checked-in, the legs easily tuck away securely for carefree travel. 

Sun Mountain's ClubGlider technology expands to luggage
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