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

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
Callaway Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha 816 Double Black Diamond drivers
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The new Great Big Bertha driver (l) has a sliding weight around the sole's perimeter, while the Big Bertha Alpha 816 DBD has two gravity cores.
Callaway made a great big splash last year with the release of a brand-new generation of Great Big Bertha drivers – the Great Big Bertha, the Great Big Bertha Alpha 815 and the Great Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond. This week, the company unveiled the 2016 editions of these clubs.
The new drivers are the result not only of technological advances but also of Callaway's study of thousands of golfers that it custom-fits each year. The company's research shows that many golfers are forfeiting considerable distance off the tee because of three specific factors: Low ball speed, poor direction, and poor launch angles and spin rates.
So, Callaway designed its new drivers to address these shortcomings in golfers' swings. In fact, the company says these 2016 clubs have more distance-enhancing features and technologies than any they've ever created – and that the new Great Big Bertha drivers have a blend of aerodynamics and multi-material construction unlike any other drivers they've ever  built.
The standard Great Big Bertha – which Callaway says is best for the vast majority of golfers – features a 10-gram sliding weight that moves on a track around the perimeter of the sole. Golfers can set the weight wherever they prefer along the track, giving them the most options yet for dialing in their shot shape. The Bertha also features Callaway's Optifit Hosel, which provides eight different configurations to fine-tune loft, lie, and face angle.
In its studies, Callaway discovered that the one area where most golfers have the greatest room for improvement is the "smash factor." To help golfers generate more ball speed, even on mis-hits, Callaway's R•MOTO clubface technology employs a system of internal ribs that run from the center of the interior sole to the clubface, adding strength to the perimeter of the face. The heads also have Callaway's Variable Face Thickness, in which the face is thinner in strategic places to expand the area in the middle of the face that delivers fast ball speed.
The Big Bertha Alpha 816 Double Black Diamond – Callaway's Top-Fuel dragster – doesn't have the sliding perimeter weight because golfers good enough to handle this club don't need that. Instead, it features what the company calls Dual Distance Gravity Core Chambers.
Callaway pioneered the gravity core in the original Big Bertha Alpha. One end of the core – essentially a small stick – has a heavier weight while the other has a lighter weight; golfers can move the club's center of gravity up or down depending on which way they insert the gravity core into the head. 
The new 816 Alpha DBD has two gravity cores, one in each hemisphere of the sole. This, the company says, provides even more options for golfers looking to fine-tune their ball flight to increase their ball speed and distance along with their shot shape. The DBD also features the standard Big Bertha's upgraded R•MOTO Face and Opti-Fit Hosel, buthas a deeper face and a low center of gravity for a blend of forgiveness and workability that elite golfers are seeking. 
Callaway is offering a wide variety of custom shaft options to help golfers find their optimal blend of swing speed and control. These shafts range in weight from 295 grams to 325 grams, and come from such prominent shaftmakers as True Temper, Mitsubishi, Matrix and Aldila.
The new Big Bertha driver will be available for pre-order beginning August 14, and will arrive in stores on August 28 with a suggested retail price of $449.99. The Big Bertha Alpha 816 DBD also will be available for pre-order on August 14, and will hit stores on September 18 with a suggested retail price of $499.99.
Here's a video on the Alpha 816 DBD driver:
Callaway unveils 2016 editions of Big Bertha driver line
Ping GMax and i irons
Courtesy of Ping Golf
The Ping GMax irons (left) have a Custom Tuning Port housed in the cavity structure behind the face, while the i irons feature a head and hosel geometry that ensures trajectory control.
Ping has dramatically expanded its iron family with the release of two innovative and complementary new sets.
The GMax irons introduce what Ping calls its COR-Eye Technology, which increases the flex across the entire face for faster ball speeds and enhanced forgiveness. The new i irons, by contrast, have softer players-style heads – the first Ping has ever made from soft 431 stainless steel – for improved feel and ball-flight control. 
The COR-Eye Technology in the GMax irons simultaneously activates the sole, face and top rail to increase ball speed up to 3 mph over previous Ping models, the company explains. COR-Eye creates faster ball speed that is consistent across the entire face, so even off-center strikes deliver longer, straighter results. 
The cavity structure behind the face houses a Custom Tuning Port that connects to the sole. With the port, positioned deep in the wide sole, Ping says, each iron's center of gravity is moved lower and farther back to increase its stability for more forgiveness, accuracy and consistency. 
Ping also optimized the lengths and lofts of these irons to provide more consistent gapping and the distance control and high trajectory needed to hit and hold more greens. An enhanced leading edge, more trailing edge relief and refined bounce help optimize turf interaction. 
The set also has a unique swingweight progression in which the 4,- 5- and 6-irons have lighter swingweights to help square the face at impact for longer and straighter shots. And the faces on the 4- through 8-irons are heat-treated with a special process that strengthens them by approximately 40 percent, which allows the face to be thinner for greater flexing and faster ball speeds. 
The GMax irons are available in 4- through 9-irons, plus pitching wedge, utility wedge and sand wedge. They come with a stock steel Ping CFS Distance shaft (in Soft R, R, S and X stiffnesses), or you can get them outfitted with True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 or X100 shafts; True Temper XP 95 (R, S); Project X 5.0 or 6.0 shafts; or Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 105 (S, X) shafts at no extra charge. They carry a suggested retail price of $121.25 per club with steel shafts and $136.25 per club with graphite shafts.
Where the GMax irons fall into the game-improvement category, the i irons are most definitely players' irons. Ping engineers created them out of 431 stainless steel, they explained, because of its high strength-to-weight ratio and softer feel, which helps the clubs deliver more workability. 
A good part of that workability comes from a head and hosel geometry that ensures trajectory control for precise shotmaking, and a deep position for the Custom Tuning Port that allows for expanded perimeter weighting and extra stability. An elastomer weight that tucks into the tuning port helps provide a more solid sound and feel, while a tungsten toe weight in the 3- through 7-irons increases forgiveness. 
The i irons are available in 3- through 9-iron, plus pitching wedge and utility wedge. They are available with a steel Ping CFS Distance shaft (Soft R, R, S or X stiffness) or a Ping CFS Graphite (65 Soft R, 70 R, 80 S) shaft. They also can be outfitted with True Temper Dynamic Gold S300 or X100 shafts; True Temper XP 95 (R, S) shafts; Project X 5.0 or 6.0 shafts; or Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 105 (S, X) shafts. They carry a suggested retail price of $135 per club with steel shafts or $150 per club with graphite shafts.
Here are a couple of videos:
Ping unveils GMax distance irons and i irons for precision players
Callaway Mack Daddy 3 wedges
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
They circular weight ports in the back of each Mack Daddy 3 wedge allow Callaway the company the freedom to reposition weight for better shot-making.
Callaway's Mack Daddy family of wedges has become so popular on the PGA Tour and among everyday golfers that its next generation is both bigger and better.
The Mack Daddy 3 Milled wedges, of course, follow the current Mack Daddy 2 generation, and offer three different sole grind options, along with a variety of custom choices for finishes, shafts and grips. As with the previous Mack Daddy wedges, the new MD 3s were designed by Callaway's famed club builder Roger Cleveland, and the company calls this the most complete wedge line it has ever produced. 
They have a high toe profile and a semi-straight leading edge, and the circular weight ports in the back of each wedge allow the company the freedom to reposition weight for better shot-making, especially out of the deep rough. They also have what Callaway calls Progressive Groove Optimization that optimizes spin for each loft.
The grooves milled into the faces are designed to create a smoother spin transition from irons to these wedges. The narrower 30V grooves in the pitching and gap wedges are best for shots that require a steep angle into the ball, while the 20V grooves in the sand wedges are designed for full shots and bunker shots. And the wider 5V grooves in the lob wedges provide better control for shots out of the rough and around the green.
Callaway also has focused on the sole grinds as much as the face grooves. The three available are:
--the C-Grind creates a thinner contact area on the sole, and is designed for firmer conditions and versatility around the green. The grinding on the heel and toe allow for a number of shots, Callaway says, especially those shots where you need to open up the face and keep the leading edge low.
--the S-Grind is the line's most versatile option. Callaway says it's best for a wide range of conditions, shot types, and swings ranging from steep to sweeping. It'll dig a moderate-sized divot.
--and finally, the W-Grind creates a slightly wider sole, which the company says its preferred in softer conditions – bunkers, most notably – and for golfers with a steeper swing. It'll take a larger divot.
A handful of players have put the MC 3 wedges in play at this week's John Deere Classic. They'll be available for pre-order in mid-August in lofts from 48 to 60 degrees, and will be available at retail on Sept. 4. 
Here's a video:
Callaway expands wedge offerings with new Mack Daddy 3 wedges
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