Equipment

TaylorMade Aeroburner iron and mini driver
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The small-headed TaylorMade AeroBurner Mini Driver is for players who'd rather tee off with a 3-wood, while the AeroBurner irons are designed to create more distance.
 
TaylorMade unveiled its new AeroBurner driver and fairway woods back last fall – and the driver won three PGA Tour events in the last two weeks (Dustin Johnson at Doral, Alex Cejka in Puerto Rico and Padraig Harrington at the Honda Classic).
 
So the timing is perfect for the company to roll out the rest of the AeroBurner family – a Mini Driver, irons and two versions of an AeroBurner ball. 
 
The AeroBurner Mini Driver follows the successful launch of the SLDR Mini Driver, and is designed for players who prefer to hit tee shots with a 3-wood instead of a traditional driver. It also can serve as a replacement for the 3-wood.
 
"The SLDR Mini Driver captivated golfers on all skill levels by delivering better 3-wood performance from the tee," said Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade's Senior Director of Metalwood Creation. "With AeroBurner, we've now designed a metalwood that delivers even more speed and forgiveness to this new, popular club type."
 
 
The AeroBurner Mini Driver has a 253cc head (as opposed to the full-size 460cc heads on most drivers) and a 43.5-inch shaft, and TaylorMade's engineers say the club builds on everything they learned in creating the SLDR Mini. 
 
It's got a new aerodynamic shape with a shallow face designed to help get the ball up in the air, as well as a low-forward center of gravity to launch the ball on a boring trajectory. The head has a raised center crown and a hosel has a new fin to help maximize clubhead speed during the downswing. 
 
And like the rest of the AeroBurner metalwoods, the Mini Driver features the biggest open channel Speed Pocket of any TaylorMade metalwood in company history, which helps increase the size of the sweetspot while reducing spin. The club also has a new matte white finish, a black PVD face and linear crown graphic.
 
The Mini Driver will be available in both standard and TP models; the TP edition, for better players, is designed with a longer hosel, flatter lie angle and more open face angle. The standard version comes in three loft options (12, 14 and 16 degrees), while the TP comes in 12- and 4-degree options.  
 
The standard Mini will have a suggested retail price of $279 with a lightweight Matrix Speed RUL-Z 60 shaft, while the TP will have a suggested retail price of $349 with a Matrix Ozik White Tie 70X4 shaft. Both will be available at retail on March 27.
 
AeroBurner Irons
 
TaylorMade calls its AeroBurner irons "the ultimate distance iron," and explains that its engineers have optimized loft and center of gravity placement for consistent, powerful shotmaking from any lie. And by incorporating Speed Pockets, the long-bladed heads can promote higher launch angles and more ball speed on well-struck shots while also protecting ball speed on shots hit low on the face for more consistency on mis-hits.
 
 
Aesthetically, the AeroBurner irons feature a dark, matte head finish like that on TaylorMade's recent SpeedBlade irons. The darker finish reduces glare off the clubface while delivering a sleek look. 
 
The new irons will be available at retail on March 18. A standard eight-piece set (3-iron through pitching wedge) equipped with stock REAX 88 High Launch steel shafts will have a suggested retail price of $699, while a set with REAX 60 graphite shafts will have a suggested retail price of $799 in stiff, regular, senior or ladies flex. 
 
AeroBurner Soft and Pro Golf Balls
 
Created for the majority of golfers with mid to high handicaps, the AeroBurner Soft golf ball is TaylorMade's softest two-piece ball and was engineered to deliver distance with stopping power. The company calls the AeroBurner Soft "a distance balls that actually stops," and says it delivers high greenside spin to help amateur players where they need it most.
 
The keys to its performance are its new, softer REACT Core for greater ball speed on all shots and Low-Drag Performance Aerodynamics 342 high-lift, low drag dimple pattern, which was designed to launch high and sustain flight. 
 
 
By contrast, the Aeroburner Pro is a three-piece ball engineered for high ball speeds off the clubface – like the speeds generated by elite players. Its spin control and soft feel come from the interface of TaylorMade’s Sin Mantle and proprietary Iothane cover. 
 
Both balls are available at retail now. The Aeroburner Soft carries a suggested retail price of $19.99 per dozen, while the Pro model carries a suggested retail price of $26.99 per dozen.
 
 
 
TaylorMade Golf expands AeroBurner line with mini driver, irons and balls
Keegan Bradley at the Waste Management Phoenix Open
USA Today Sports Images
Keegan Bradley is using a regulation-length Odyssey Versa 90 Sabertooth putter in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
If you haven't seen Keegan Bradley play golf lately, you might have noticed something different this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Bradley carded a cool 6-under 65 Thursday using a regulation-length putter, and followed up with a 73 in the rain on Friday.
 
In fact, he put his famous long putter away right after the Ryder Cup, and has played exclusively with a conventional putter ever since. After trying a Scotty Cameron Futura X5 Tour Dual Balance putter recently, he's playing an Odyssey Versa 90 Sabertooth putter in Phoenix.
 
"I haven't touched it. I still travel with it, but I haven't used it or even thought about going back to it," Bradley said of his long putter.
 
So if he hasn't thought about going back to it, why bring it along?
 
"I don't know," he admitted. "I heard that Webb [Simpson, who is also making the switch to a regulation-length putter] snapped his putter. I think that's actually smart. I don't know why I travel with it, because I have no plans to use it. I feel like it's a lot of superstition. I can't explain it. You don't have a clue how many superstitions I've got."
 
The Phoenix Open is Bradley's fourth event since making the switch and he's pleased with the way he's been putting.
 
"I played China, didn't do very well [tied for 64th at the HSBC Champions]. I actually putted pretty well. Then Tiger's tournament [tied for 3rd at the Hero World Challenge], putted really well, probably the best I putted for a tournament in a long time, as a whole," he explained. "And at Humana [tied for 48th at the Humana Challenge], I putted just okay. I didn't putt bad, didn't putt great. Just middle ground. But, you know, I'm realizing the fact that I'm going to have bad weeks and bad days putting just like I would with the belly putter."
 
In terms of getting used to his new short putter, Bradley said he's finding both positives and negatives.
 
"I have so much more touch with my short putter. I feel like I have – best way to explain it, I feel like I have more of the hole to use," he explained. "With the belly putter, I felt like every putt I hit I had to hammer in the back. I couldn't finesse any putts in. I feel like I have more of the hole to work with. 
 
The downside, he is discovering, is that he has to worry about his set-up much more now than with the belly putter. 
 
"Now I'm constantly having to be aware of my ball position, where I'm holding the club, my posture," he added. "Those are things I didn't have to worry as much about. There are pluses and minuses to both."
 
He had one pretty good "plus" on Friday, draining a 49-foot putt for birdie on No. 8. Check it out:
 
 
Keegan Bradley's switch to regular- length putter going well
Nike Golf TW'15 golf shoes
Courtesy of Nike Golf
The TW'15 is the first golf shoe to feature the Flyweave technology that Nike implemented in its basketball shoes last year.
The buzz in Phoenix on Tuesday was all about Tiger Woods' 2015 debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Also making its debut is Woods' new golf shoe – the TW'15 from Nike Golf.
 
The shoe's headline: It's the first golf shoe to feature the Flyweave technology that Nike implemented in its basketball shoes last year.
 
Even though the movements of a basketball player's feet are different from a golfer's, Nike explained, both require stability and a natural range of motion. Flyweave, the company said, lets designers create a one-piece upper that is woven to provide great strength-to-weight support where it's needed most.
 
And due to the light weight of the Flyweave technology and the golf-specific Nike Free-inspired outsole, the company said, the TW '15 shoes are 10 percent lighter than last year's model.
 
 
"Nike keeps answering the bell every time I want to push the envelope," said Woods. "The new Flyweave technology provides even more stability and support for my foot, and when you pair that with the Free-inspired outsole, I noticed I can push off the ground better and finish my swing with power."
 
Woods provided detailed feedback that, Nike said, that led to the creation of an outsole three millimeters lower than the TW '14 shoes to maximize feel and longer contact with the ground. Meanwhile, Nike's Integrated Traction in the toe area offers more flexibility to help golfers swing fully without sacrificing traction.
 
Woods' love of diving and spearfishing also is reflected in the shoe's design. The first sketch from Tobie Hatfield, Nike's senior director of athlete innovation, had starfish-shaped traction elements, while the final product features traction elements in the toe shaped like octopus beaks and the rubber in the tip and heel are inspired by shark scales.
 
The Nike TW '15 shoes will come in three colorways: University Red/Black, Metallic Silver/Black and Black/White. They'll be available at retail on March 5 with a suggested retail price of $250 per pair, though a limited number will be available on nike.com beginning Feb. 2.
 
Here's a video introducing the shoes:
 
 
Nike Golf's new Tiger Woods golf shoe is stronger and more flexible
Puma TitanTour golf shoes
PGA.com
How cool are Puma's TitanTour golf shoes? These are packed in ice at the Puma booth at the PGA Merchandise Show.
In recent years, golf shoe makers have seemingly have been trying as hard as they could to make shoes as lightweight as possible. Light is still right, but many of this year's footwear releases include more comfort and stability to create a more well-rounded shoe.
 
PUMA: With Rickie Fowler carrying its torch, Puma Golf has always exuded coolness as a brand. And to hammer home its point that its new TitanTour shoes are the "coolest shoes in golf," the shoes in its booth here at the PGA Show are packed in ice.   
 
The reason: The TitanTour features proactive Outlast cooling technology – which was created to help astronauts stay comfortable in their spacesuits – to regulate the temperature in the shoes and keep golfers cool throughout their rounds. 
 
To achieve this, Puma applies its Outlast coating to the shoe's insole, and the coating stores excess heat away from the foot. If the temperature inside the shoe cools off, the shoe releases the warmth. And if not, it keeps the heat away from the foot.
 
The TitanTour also features Puma's Shapelock memory foam – like that in beds – for comfort and stability, an ultra-thin "Power Frame" in the midsole for flexibility and stability, and low-profile cleats. It's available in seven color options: black/white, white/vibrant orange, white/strong blue, white/gray violet, brown/mustang, white/black, and "flash" (a reflective material). 
 
They'll be available at retail on Feb. 1, with a suggested retail price of $190.
 
FOOTJOY: One of the shoes that hits this new sweetspot of comfort and stability is the HyperFlex from FootJoy – which looks more progressive and less like a traditional FootJoy release than perhaps anything the company has ever created.
 
The HyperFlex's most distinctive feature is its FlexGrid 2.0 exoskeleton, which is made of a high-performance material that helps to control the foot during the swing. If the exoskeleton pattern looks familiar to Northeasterners, it's because it was inspired by the cable-like structure that supports the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston.
 
"Our designers have carried out research in civil engineering and construction to create the distinguishing aesthetics of HyperFlex that are also fundamental to its performance," said Doug Robinson, FootJoy's vice president of  design and development worldwide. This outer layer also incorporates a breathable membrane that's guaranteed waterproof for two years.
 
MORE FROM THE PGA SHOW: Complete coverage | PGA Show video | Photo galleries 
 
Stability comes from the bottom as well as the top of the HyperFlex. An Optimized Performance Stabilizer (O.P.S.), which you can see on the rear of the shoe, provides support and motion control to the heel during the swing, and the sole is outfitted with SoftSpikes' brand-new Tornado cleats that provide even more grip that standard SoftSpikes models.
 
The HyperFlex comes in four styles (Navy/Electric Green, White/Grey/Blue, Black and Grey/Orange) for $190, along with three styles (White/Grey/Blue, Grey/Orange and Black/Red) with the Boa Lacing System ($210). The standard model will be available Feb. 15 for $190 per air, while the Boa version will be available April 15 for $210 per pair.
 
ADIDAS: In its new adipower Boost golf shoes, adidas focuses on optimizing energy return – storing and releasing energy during the golf swing. The company is adapting this technology from its running and basketball shoes to golf for the first time.
 
In the Boost, thousands of TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) energy capsules are imbedded in the show via a high-pressure steam molding process. The integrity of the EVA foam used in many other shoes can get hard in cold weather and break down in the heat, adidas says, but its Boost material retains its cushioning and responsiveness in all weather conditions.
 
"During the swing, the energy return is noticeable – as if you can feel the technology in action," said PGA Tour player Jason Day. "They feel good, and look good, too."
 
Adidas rounded out the shoe by adding gripmore spikes of varying sizes, and placing them in strategic locations on the outsole for improved traction and stability.
 
The adipower Boost will be available Feb. 27 in four colorways, and will carry a suggested retail price of $190 per pair.
 
NIKE: The big news about Nike's new Lunar Control 3 shoe is that incorporates a lot of feedback from world No. 1 Rory McIlroy. His big suggestion – make the shoe more stable so he can swing more aggressively without having to worry about slipping.
 
The Nike designers listened. They widened the shoe's base to improve its stability and remain in contact with the ground longer through impact. They also added a lightweight carbon fiber midfoot shank to make the shoe stronger yet still flexible.
 
The Lunar Control comes in four colorways: Black/Pure Platinum, Pure Platinum/Bright Crimson, White/Pure Platinum and White/Volt. It is available now with a suggested retail price of $210 per pair. 
 
ECCO: Danish shoemaker Ecco Golf is out with its BIOM Hybrid 2, the next generation of its best-selling golf shoe. This new edition – worn by Fred Couples, Ernie Els and Graeme McDowell – is 15 percent lighter than the original model thanks to an extra-thin midsole that helps bring players closer to the ground.
 
The shoe also has a dual-density TPU outsole, which is harder in areas that need the most stability and softer in the key comfort zones around the foot.
 
Like all Ecco golf shoes, BIOM Hybrid 2 is created using a direct-injection process that bonds the upper and outsole unit to make a one-piece shoe without glue or stitching. This, the company says, gives it an exceptionally water-tight seal as well as comfort and flexibility without the need for a break-in period.
 
The shoes contain soft and breathable uppers made of yak leather and treated to resist both staining and water. The bottom is outfitted with molded bars that offer hundreds of traction angles for superb grip.
 
They're available now at a suggested retail price of $195 per pair.
 
New golf shoes offer improved comfort and stability
SuperStroke + Plus Series putter grips
PGA.com
The SuperStroke + Plus Series grip allows golfers to unscrew the cap and easily screw a 50-gram core (shown) to provide a counterbalancing weight to the top of the putter shaft.
Few golf products have broken out more visibly in recent years than the oversized putter grips from SuperStroke. Jordan Spieth won multiple events with a Flatso Ultra grip on his Scotty Cameron putter last year, and an ever-growing legion of converts is discovering that the big grip can improve their performance on the green.
 
What can SuperStroke do for an encore? Well, two things. First, the company is debuting its + Plus Series grips, which let golfers add weight to the top of the putter shaft to provide counterbalancing. And second, it has begun making grips for clubs other than putters.
 
"Backweighting, when combined with a SuperStroke grip, can quickly promote a more repeatable, pendulum stroke, leading to less putts and lower scores," said SuperStroke Vice President of Marketing Greg Sabella. 
 
The new + Plus Series putter grip has what SuperStroke calls CounterCore Technology. Essentially, it's a threaded cap design that lets golfers easily unscrew the cap and screw in a 50-gram weight to provide counterbalancing. Adding weight to the top end of the shaft helps balance out the weight of the putter's head, and helps golfers make smoother, less wristy strokes.
 
The + Plus Series grips come in two diameters in the Legacy Profile (2.0, 3.0) along with a 2.0 Flatso version. Each grip is 13.75 inches long and retails for $29.99. The CounterCore weight is an additional $9.99. 
 
 
Along with the new putter grips, SuperStroke is expanding into grips for other clubs with the debut of its TX1 Tour Extreme Club Grips.
 
"We are extremely excited to bring a club grip to the consumers," said Sabella. "We've been working on this for a few years using feedback straight from the tours."
 
The new grips contain a proprietary blend of two rubber compounds. The top portion is made of a soft, tacky, cord-infused rubber that SuperStroke says provides excellent control, while the bottom portion is a softer, non-cord rubber for better feel and feedback, especially on shots around the green. 
 
And unlike the putter grips, these aren't oversized – they're much closer to the size of a standard club grip, though there is a slightly larger mid-sized model.
 
They come in five colors (Black/White, Red/White, Blue/White Grey/White, Green/White), and the mid-sized version is available in Black/White. They retail for $10.99 per grip, while the mid-size version retails for $11.49 per grip. All the new SuperStroke grips will be available online and at leading retailers this spring. 
 
SuperStroke unveils counterbalancing putter grips
Jordan Spieth
Chris Trotman/The PGA of America
Jordan Spieth says he usually needs to hit a club 2,000 or 3,000 times before he really trusts it.
The beginning of the new calendar year means that many PGA Tour players have switched to new clubs. Among those is fast-rising American star Jordan Spieth.
 
Updating his bag for 2015 proved to be a multi-month process, he revealed on Wednesday at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida, where he helped to introduce Titleist's new line of clubs and balls.
 
Speith switched to the 915F 3-wood and 915H.d hybrid last August, a few weeks after Titleist introduced them to their staff players. However, he held off on moving to a new driver and a new ball until near the end of the year – after the PGA Tour playoffs and the Ryder Cup (he upgraded his irons to the 2014 edition of the Titleist AP2 a year ago).
 
"I'm very picky with my driver and my putter," he explained. "They have to look and feel right, so that when I'm in a big tournament and everything is on the line, all I have to do is hit the shot.
 
"It is rare for me to trust anything right away," he added. "I usually need to hit 2,000 or 3,000 balls" to get comfortable with a new club.
 
For his driver switch – to the new 915D2 – Spieth and swing coach Cameron McCormick traveled out to the Titleist Performance Institute in Oceanside, California. On the range there, Spieth focused on remaining very "feel-based" in his swing, he explained, while McCormick focused on the numbers generated by a TrackMan swing analyzer so that together they could hone in on his preferred ball-flight characteristics.
 
 
While he was changing out his driver, he moved to the 2015 edition of the Titleist ProV1x ball at the same time. The biggest change wasn't stepping up to the brand-new generation of his previous driver or balls, he said, but to a new shaft.
 
"I had played the same shafts for six or seven years," he revealed. "Finally, now, I have switched to an Aldila Rogue [Black 60], which a lot of the tour players are going to."
 
Spieth also spent time at Oceanside updating his wedges, moving to the new SM5 wedges from Titleist's Vokey Designs. He spent an hour and a half, he said, testing them and "getting the grinds and the spin down" like he wanted. 
 
Updating his putter was the easiest task of all – because he's sticking with the Scotty Cameron 009 model he has used for seven years. "The 009 was my favorite putter" as a young junior golfer, he said, even though he didn't actually have one at that time.
 
"Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy, two of my favorite golfers, used it, and that got me," he said. "I've been using it since I was 15, and I won't be changing anytime soon. 
 
"I realize technology changes," he noted, "but it feels right for me."
 
Clearly, all of his new equipment feels right. After making his change, he won the Australian Open by six shots at the end of November, then returned to the United States and immediately captured the Hero World Challenge with a record-setting, wire-to-wire performance. He begins his 2015 campaign next week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
 
Here's Spieth's bag:
Driver: Titleist 915D2 (9.5 degrees of loft, Aldila Rogue Black 60 X shaft)
3-Wood: Titleist 915F (15 degrees, Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7 X shaft)
Hybrid: Titleist 915H.d (20.5 degrees, Graphite Design Tour AD DI-95 X shaft)
3-Iron: Titleist 712U (True Temper Project X 6.0 shaft)
4-9 Irons: Titleist AP2 714 (True Temper Project X 6.0 shaft)
46-Degree Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design SM5 (True Temper Project X 6.0 shaft)
52-Degree Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design SM5 (True Temper Project X 6.0 shaft)
56-Degree Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design SM5 (True Temper Project X 6.0 shaft)
60-Degree Wedge: Titleist Vokey Design SM5 (True Temper Project X 6.0 shaft)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron 009
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
 
For Jordan Spieth, new clubs "must look right and feel right"
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