Equipment

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"
golf balls
PGA.com
Many of golf's top ballmakers are focused on creating softer balls that feel better on impact and react more precisely.
Titleist kicked off the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show bright and early Wednesday by formally introducing the 2015 editions of its Pro V1 and Pro V1x. The new models of Titleist's flagship ball – which is marking its 15th anniversary this year – are softer than ever, and "soft" is a common characteristic among the new golf balls on display here in Orlando.
 
The new Pro V1 and Pro V1x are designed "for total performance from tee to green," said Titleist Vice President Mary Lou Bohn, and are "the best-performing golf balls for all golfers." They offer "softer feel, and spin a little bit more," she added.
 
The soft feel of these 2015 editions comes from a reformulated thermoset urethane elastomer cover that helps to deliver more short-game spin and control, which Titleist says helps gives golfers the confidence to hit the ball closer to the hole.
 
On its cover, the new ProV1 has a spherically-tiled 352 tetrahedral dimple design. Inside the three-piece ball is a very soft-compression ZG process core and an ionomeric casing layer. The new formulation also creates a penetrating trajectory and more durability than previous models.  
 
The four-piece ProV1x also features a ZG process dual core – which helps generate much of the distance the ball is famous for – along with an ionomeric casing layer, softer thermoset urethane elastomer cover and spherically-tiled 328 tetrahedral dimple design. These characteristics create a higher launch and less spin than the ProV1 to help achieve that extra distance.
 
CALLAWAY: "Soft" is so important to Callaway that the company even put the word in the name of its newest ball. The company is so high on the Chrome Soft ball that it says it will "completely redefine golf ball performance" because golfers no longer have to sacrifice distance to gain more feel and vice-versa.
 
The Chrome Soft is built around a new proprietary SoftFast Core. This core creates a very low compression without sacrificing ball speed, Callaway says, which helps retain energy off the driver to maximize distance, while still allowing golfers to compress the ball enough on shorter shots to enhance its feel and gain control on shots into the green.
 
Surrounding this core is a mantle layer that helps to retain the energy stored in the core, which aids faster ball speed. And covering that middle layer is a DuraSpin cover that Callaway says is its softest and most durable cover to date. The cover also helps to optimize lift and reduce drag to increase distance.
 
WILSON: Wilson Golf calls the new editions of its Wilson Staff Duo ball nothing less than the world's softest golf ball, and says its new Duo Spin is the world's softest multilayer ball.
 
The Duo achieves an extremely low 29 compression via a larger, rubber-rich core for extremely soft feel and increased velocity off the tee and with long irons. Its feel, Wilson says, also improves its playability around the greens, while its two-piece construction delivers minimal spin off the driver face to aid in accuracy and its seamless 302 dimple pattern produces a consistent ball flight. 
 
The Duo Spin ball has similar distance and feel characteristics to the Duo, but has a slightly higher 35 compression rate. It was created for golfers seeking more workability around the green, but also want soft feel and low spin off the driver. 
 
 
The Duo Spin's three-piece construction adds an inner mantle made from a soft DuPont HPF material that increases spin on mid- and short-iron shots and provides increased resilience for ball velocity and distance. The ionomer cover on both balls helps to generate high-lift characteristics on tee shots and long approaches from the fairway. 
  
BRIDGESTONE: One of the prominent new ball lines promoting distance over soft feel comes from Bridgestone, which is out with a newly redesigned E-Series family dedicated to help golfers overcome what the company calls their "ballflight challenges" while also adding significant distance.
 
This is possible, Bridgestone says, because of its new WEB Dimple Technology, which is implemented in every model of the 2015 e-Series line. 
 
The new dimple design deploys a cutting-edge "spidering" pattern that affords 10 percent more dimple-surface-coverage than the previous e-Series models. This new pentagonal pattern combines with the aerodynamics of Bridgestone's Dual Dimple design to reduce drag for a more penetrating ball flight and greater distance. 
 
"We're very pleased with distance increases we've seen from WEB Dimple Technology during testing. In both robot and live testing, we have seen substantial distance increases versus previous models," said Director of Marketing Corey Consuegra. "The distance increases are consistent and significant."
 
The e-Series family consists of three models. The two-piece e5 is features urethane construction for golfers seeking a higher ball flight, more distance and greater control. 
 
The multilayer – and extremely soft – e6 is designed to help players eliminate slices and hooks. And the multilayer e7 is best for players wanting to produce longer, more penetrating shots and reduce "ballooning" in windy conditions.
 
All these new balls are either available now or will be in stores within the next few weeks.
 
Soft feel is common characteristic of 2015 golf balls
Odyssey works putters
Courtesy of Odyssey Golf
The Odyssey Works 2-Ball Fang mallet (left) has curved "fangs" for extra stability, while the #7 has weighted alignment wings. Both have Odyssey's new Fusion RX mesh and Versa alignment stripes.
 
The best way to describe the new line of Odyssey Works putters from Odyssey Golf? Let's just call them Odyssey's version of a greatest hits album.
 
The faces of the 11 putters in the Works family feature a thin (0.406 millimeters) stainless steel mesh laid across a White Hot insert – the insert found in some of Odyssey's best and most popular putters over the past several years. The mesh, called Fusion RX, is similar to the insert in the company's recent Metal-X line of putters, helps get the ball rolling straight and true.
 
The idea behind blending these two elements in one face is to combine the mesh's skid reduction with the feel provided by the White Hot insert, and Odyssey says the new Works putters reduce skidding even quicker than the Metal-X models.
 
This new impact zone is housed in 11 putter heads outfitted with Odyssey's popular Versa color scheme – the bold black and white stripes that serve as very distinctive alignment aids.
 
Two of the putters stand out from the group – the Versa 2-Ball Fang mallet and the heavier Tank Versa 2-Ball Fang mallet. Both contain Odyssey's 2-Ball alignment system with a pair of "fangs" – curved bars arcing from front to back that add perimeter weight to increase their stability through the swing.
 
The 2-Ball Fang has a 360-gram head with a full shaft offset, while the Tank model has a slightly heavier 380-gram head and is counterbalanced by a weight in the butt of the shaft to improve its stability. It also has a full shaft of offset. The 2-Ball Fang retails for $199.99, while the Tank version goes for $219.99.
 
MORE FROM CALLAWAY AND ODYSSEY: Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers | Versa Jailbird putter
 
The other Odyssey Works models are the:
 
--#1. A 350-gram heel-toe weighted blade with a crank-neck hosel and a full-shaft offset. $179.99. 
 
--#1 Wide. A 350-gram blade with a wide flange, double-bend shaft and full-shaft offset. $179.99.
 
--Tank #1 Wide. A 380-gram blade with heel-toe weighting and a wide flange, it also has counterbalancing weight in the butt of its double-bend shaft and a full-shaft offset. $199.99.  
 
--Arm Lock #1 Wide. A 400-gram blade with heel-toe weighting and a wide flange. It has a full-shaft offset and its double-bend shaft is 43 inches long to "lock" into the golfer's arm for more stability and control. $199.99.
 
--Tank Rossie #1. A 380-gram face-balanced mallet with counterbalance weighting in the butt of its double-bend shaft, and a full-shaft offset. $199.99.
 
--V-Line. A perimeter-weighted mallet with a new "Big T" version of the Versa alignment system and a full-shaft offset. $179.99.
 
--#7. A modified 350-gram mallet with weighted alignment wings, a double-bend shaft and a full-shaft offset. $179.99
 
--Tank #7. A modified 380-gram mallet with weighted alignment wings and counterbalance weighting in the butt of the double-bend shaft, and a full-shaft offset. $199.99.
 
--#9. A 350-gram flanged blade with toe weighting, a heel shaft, a long hosel and a half-shaft offset. $179.99.
 
All the putters except for the Arm Lock model can be outfitted with an oversized SuperStroke grip for an extra $20. They're all available for pre-order now and will be in stores on Jan. 30. 
 
Here's a quick introductory video from Odyssey:
 
 
 
Odyssey Works putters combine best of previous models
Jack Nicklaus golf balls
Courtesy of Nicklaus Golf
Last fall, Jack Nicklaus came up with a clever twist on your basic golf ball – he came up with three models, designed to make them easy for golfers of all skill levels to know which one was most suited to their game.
 
A year later, the Golden Bear is at it again. On Monday, Nicklaus unveiled a new subscription service in which golfers can sign up to receive a dozen balls delivered directly to their home.
 
Even better, subscribers get a discount off the balls' retail price, and a percentage of their payment goes to children's charities. Since the balls were introduced, Nicklaus has donated a minimum of $1 per dozen sold on Nicklaus.com to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation. 
 
In addition, subscribers will be able to make their own voluntary charitable contribution. To date, Nicklaus said, nearly 80 percent of golf ball buyers have chosen to do so.
 
VIDEO SWING COMPARISON: Jack Nicklaus vs. Bubba Watson 
 
"We wanted to make it easy for our devoted customers to receive product year-round, without having to visit the website or pro shop every time they needed golf balls," said Howard Milstein, co-chairman of the Nicklaus Companies. "By simplifying the process, we've introduced yet another innovation alongside our unique commitment to offering the highest quality golf balls at unmatched prices and helping to support pediatric charities."
 
The Nicklaus balls come in three versions – Black, Blue and White – and golfers make their choice according to the color of the tee markers from which they usually hit. Based on the premise that swing speeds can be accurately estimated by knowing the tees golfers regularly use, Nicklaus designed each model to help players who swing within specific speed ranges.
 
The balls are made in the United States, and sold online and golf shops at more than 200 domestic Nicklaus Design courses. They retail for $28 to $32 per dozen. You can check out the subscription service by clicking here and looking at any of the three balls for sale.
 
Nicklaus launches monthly golf ball subscription program
October 29, 2014 - 8:00am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Rukket
Rukket
Clockwise from top left: The RukkNet Portable Driving Range, Chipping Target, Monster Cage and Range Marker.

I love to work on my golf game. A certified golf junkie, that's me.

The problem these days is finding the time to get to the driving range, let alone the course for a round.

I'm a new parent, which is incredible, and I don't want to take all that time away from home to go to the range or the course. But, I still want to work on my game.

I've tried out a bunch of golf nets from golf stores, but they don't cut the mustard. They're flimsy, a pain to set up and if the wind blows, so too will that net.

Recently, I had the opportunity to try out three products from Rukket Sports: The RukkNet Portable Driving Range, Range Marker & Chipping Target and, the ultimate, Rukket Monster Cage.

Here's a breakdown of my experience with each...

The RukkNet Portable Driving Range

I was really a big fan of how the RukkNet Portable Driving Range is so compact in its packaging. It literally folds up into a perfect circle, into a carry bag that makes it easy to bring anywhere.

And the best part? There's very little set up time. You simply unzip the carry bag, pull out the net, and it pops out like a jack-in-a-box. Hammer down a couple of stakes just to keep it steady and you're ready to let some shots rip.

The net itself is high quality, too. You don't need to worry about hitting driver and sending a golf ball through the net into an unsuspecting neighbor's window.

This could be the most practical net on the market today. It doesn't require a ton of space to set up, you can take it with you to a friend's house and -- perhaps most importantly -- it takes up less storage space than one of grandma's folded quilts. Heck, if you have the room, you can even easily set if up indoors.

Like anything new, it took some getting used to folding the net into the carrying case, but once you practice a couple of times, it's a breeze.

The RukkNet Portable Driving Range sells for $219.99.

Rukket Range Marker & Chipping Target

The ease of use on the Range Marker & Chipping Target -- much like the Portable Driving Range -- is impressive. It just pops open, you hammer a couple of stakes down and you're ready to go.

For any golfer this is a great practice companion, because it really forces you to focus on the target. I spent most of my time working with the chipping target, going as far back as 25 yards. From there, I worked on shots with all my wedges, attempting to envision which of the three holes I wanted to hit and then trying to hit it there.

Of course, I didn't hit the target I intended every time, but over the course of about 15 minutes, my misses were much closer to my intended target.

And, if I'm being honest, the net wasn't used for just practice, but also for fun. My brother has come by for a couple of visits strictly to square off against one another in chipping contests.

I also found the Range Marker to be useful. Instead of pacing off a yardage, I used my rangefinder to lock in the marker at 50 yards. It really helped to develop a feel and consistency. I tried a variety of shots with different clubs, trying to hit the marker on the fly and one-bouncing it to the marker.

I'm not sure I'll use the marker part of this tool as much as the chipping target, but for those with a bigger yard, it could certainly be useful in essentially setting up your own personal backyard, short-iron driving range (the yardage "flaps" go up to 150 yards).

The Rukket Range Marker & Chipping Target costs $43.99.

Rukket Monster Cage

Last, but not least, the mother of all golf nets -- the Rukket Monster Cage.

I'm not going to lie -- this thing was not easy to put together. It took two of us (not very handy guys, mind you) roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes to get the job done. The assembly video on Rukket.com was helpful, but we both laughed at the video when the narrator suggested it would take two people about 20 minutes.

Basically, there are just a lot of pieces. Two things about that, which I realized not long after we got it assembled though: 1. There's a reason for all the pieces; 2.This isn't the type of net you're going to keep putting up and taking down. This is a heavy, heavy duty net. So, yes, it may take longer than the estimated 20 minutes to set up (or, maybe not for you), but once it's up, it's got that "wow" factor. I mean, really.

My advice would be to set it up exactly where you want it to be located. It's certainly moveable with just two people, but it's a little awkward because of the size.

OK, now let's talk about performance after we got it set up.

In a word: unreal.

Just like its name suggests, this net is, in fact, a "monster." Like Rukket's other products I tested, the net was such high quality that there wasn't a single worry about letting a driver rip.

What also separated the Monster Cage from other nets I've tried is that it's an actual cage. There's a "ceiling" net and three "wall" nets (right, left and center). It's pretty much mishit-proof (well, you can still mishit, but it won't cause unwanted damage) to something in your yard, neighbor's yard, or house).

It's also built to last. It's the kind of net you'd expect to see in a simulator, pro shop or trade-show booth. The frame is made from three-part steel tube construction with nickel-plated fasteners and the powder-coated frame ensures long-term outdoor use. The frame tubes and corners have extended ends for greater stability and the corners have PVC base plates that won't scratch floors if you're lucky enough to be able to assemble this indoors.

While I'll get plenty of golf use out of the Monster Cage, I also love the fact that it's so much more than a golf net. The quality and sturdiness, make it perfect for a growing family like mine that will be able to kick soccer balls, hit baseballs and softballs, throw footballs, or whatever else, right in the comfort of the backyard. It's an all-sports cage.

With a price tag of $599.99, it's certainly not cheap. But trust me, you get what you pay for. This is a net for the long haul. When you think of all the money you spend on golf balls at the driving range over the course of a year (if you're a serious golfer), or the money you spend for your kids to go to the batting cages, you quickly realize that having the luxury to do both in your own backyard has the Monster Cage paying for itself in no time.

To learn more about Rukket's offerings, visit www.rukket.com

Rukket provides driving range experience right at home
Adams Golf Idea Tech Hybrid Iron set
Courtesy of Adams Golf
The Adams Idea Tech Hybrid Iron set is designed for players with swing speeds of 85 mph or less.
Golfers with slower swing speeds often struggle to get the most out of high-performance clubs that perform better when swung faster – especially long irons. The Idea Tech Hybrid Iron set from Adams Golf, however, is designed specifically for golfers with slower swing speeds (85 mph and lower) who want to launch the ball high and achieve greater distance than they can manage with traditional irons. 
 
There are different sets:
 
--Men's: 3-5 Hybrid, 6-7 Driving Hybrid and 8-pitching wedge Hybrid Irons  
--Senior: 4-6 Hybrids, 7-8 Driving Hybrids and 9-gap wedge Hybrid Irons
--Women's: 4-6 Hybrids, 7-8 Driving Hybrids and and 9-sand wedge Hybrid Irons
 
"From the highest lofted iron to the lowest lofted hybrid, each club in the new Idea Tech hybrid iron set is intended to enhance the golfer's enjoyment of the game," said Michael Fox, director of product category management at Adams Golf. "This set was specifically made for the golfer who doesn't generate a lot of speed, but wants to experience the thrill of hitting high and straight launching golf shots."
 
By adding an external 24-gram weight to the back of the 3-5 hybrids, engineers could position the center of gravity lower and further back in the head than in any previous Adams hybrid. This low-and-back design gives slower swing-speed players higher launch and increased spin, helping them keep the ball airborne longer.
 
 
As in the previous generation, the Hybrid Irons (6-pitching wedge) feature an enhanced wrap-around slot that stretches from the toe across the sole and into the crown. This expands the sweet spot across the entire face, delivering better performance on off-center strikes. 
 
In addition, a refined barbell-shaped slot on the crown reduces stress on the face while improving ball speed. This, Adams says, results in the fastest and longest Idea hybrid and iron combination in the company's history.
 
The set also features a new progressive shaft design in which the shaft tip diameters get thinner towards the lower end of the set. This makes it easier to generate speed and launch on the downswing, making it ideal for slow swing speed players. 
 
The men's set carries a suggest retail price of $799.99 with steel shafts and $899.99 with graphite shafts. Both the women's and senior sets retail for $899.99 with graphite shafts, and all will be available at retail on Oct. 24.
 
Adams Golf unveils new Idea Tech Hybrid Iron set for slower swinging players
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