Equipment

August 21, 2013 - 12:13pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
PING
Here is the gold-plated putter PING made for Hunter Mahan to celebrate the birth of Mahan's daughter Zoe.
In late July, Hunter Mahan famously left the RBC Canadian Open -- while leading -- moments before the start of his third round to head home to his wife, Kandi, in Texas after learning she had gone into labor with the couple's first child.
 
Mahan made it home in time to witness the birth of his little girl, Zoe Olivia.
 
As a gift to the Mahan's, PING (Mahan's club sponsor) presented Hunter with a gold-played Scottsdale TR Anser putter on the practice green Tuesday at Liberty National, where the Barclays Championship is taking place this week.
 
 
Ping Golf, maker of all 14 of Mahan's clubs, traditionally presents the winner of professional events with a gold-plated replica of the putter used to earn the victory. (Solid gold putters are given for wins in majors.) However, to celebrate the Mahans' joyful arrival, the company decided to give Hunter a gold-plated Scottsdale TR Anser 2 putter on the practice green Tuesday at Liberty National Golf Club, site of this week's Barclays Championship.
 
"We'll never know if Hunter would have held on to win that week," said John Solheim, Ping's chairman & CEO, in a statement. "But the circumstances were so unique, we wanted to create a lasting memory for Hunter, Kandi and Zoe that would forever remind them of that special day. The birth of a child is a win any way you look at it, so we thought we'd have some fun with it."
 
Another gold-plated Scottsdale TR Anser 2 putter also will permanently reside in Ping's gold putter vault – along with more than 2,800 Ping putters – inside the company's Phoenix headquarters.
 
"This goes way above and beyond, guys," Mahan said when Chance Cozby and Matt Rollins, Ping's head PGA Tour reps, gave him the club. "Way above and beyond."
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
 
PING presents Mahan with gold-plated putter for newborn
August 19, 2013 - 6:02pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
TaylorMade SLDR driver
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The weight cap sits right below

For any golfer using an adjustable driver, an incident over the weekend is well worth a good look.

Charles Howell III was disqualified from the Wyndham Championship before the start of the third round on Saturday for using a non-conforming driver. But the reason why the driver was declared non-conforming is a new one.

Howell began the week using a new SLDR driver from TaylorMade. Golfers can adjust the SLDR by moving a small weight along a track that runs from the heel to the toe along the sole. Next to that track is a small weight port covered by a cap. The cap can be removed if the golfer wants to switch in a lighter or heavier weight.

While Howell was warming up on the range before the second round on Friday, that cap somehow came off. Howell checked with company officials, who told him that wouldn't affect the club's performance, so he used the driver minus the cap and finished the round tied for 10th place.

On Saturday, however, rules officials told Howell that the missing cap made the driver non-conforming – and because he had used it on Friday, he was disqualified. 

''Prior to teeing off, I spoke to the guys at TaylorMade about the toe-cap coming off to be sure that it wouldn't impact the performance of the club. I was assured it would not affect the club's performance,'' Howell said. ''The idea that the club would no longer be conforming, because of the missing toe-cap, never entered my mind.''

Under the rules, if the cap had come off during the round, Howell could have finished the round without penalty and then fixed the club before his next round. But because it happened before the round, he was out.

Discussions among some of my golf buddies raised two specific questions about the ruling:

1. Was the driver ruled non-conforming because officials thought the missing cap might provide a bit of an aerodynamic advantage?

2. Or was the driver ruled non-conforming because it was approved with the cap in place, but not without the cap? 

The answer, basically, is both.

"TaylorMade has been making drivers with movable parts since 2004," said TaylorMade Public Relations Manager Dave Cordero. "What happened in the case of Charles Howell III's driver is very rare and we will make the necessary adjustments to ensure this does not happen again."

Adjustable drivers have been around for the better part of a decade now, and are more popular than ever. This is the first time I'm aware that this particular issue has arisen, but it is a lesson for every golfer using a club with any kind of movable part. This ruling is more than enough reason to check your gear before every round and make sure everything is just as it should be.

Approximately a dozen TaylorMade staff players have been using SLDR drivers in recent weeks, and Howell plans to use his this week at The Barclays as he begins the PGA Tour FedExCup playoffs.

"I put this driver in play two weeks ago and it is the best performing driver I've played," he said. "This driver will be back in play [this] week."

 

Charles Howell's DQ in Greensboro is reminder to us all
August 16, 2013 - 3:04pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Michael Hoey
Getty Images
Michael Hoey uses a driver with only 8.5 degrees of loft, which is even less loft than the European Tour average.

The 2013 professional golf season has rounded the curve and is heading down the final stretch. As we await the FedExCup playoffs on the PGA Tour and, a little later, the final events of the Race to Dubai on the European circuit, here are some interesting stats from the first 20 events on the European Tour. 

I haven't seen corresponding stats from the PGA Tour, but I would suspect they're fairly similar. These stats, by the way, come from SMS, the company that surveys equipment usage on the European Tour:

--The average loft of drivers is 9.0 degrees
--The average loft of fairway woods is 15.0 degrees
--The average loft of hybrids is 18.4 degrees

That 9-degree loft for drivers just shows that most professionals generate much more clubhead speed than most of the rest of us. 

--The average number of fairway woods in each bag was 1.18
--The average number of hybrids and/or utility irons in each bag was 1.06

No surprises here. Most professionals generally carry a driver, a 3-wood and a hybrid. 

--0.07% of players used a 2-iron
--52.2% of players used a 3-iron

The lack of 2-irons isn't shocking, but maybe the fact that only half the players use a 3-iron on a given day is a little eyebrow-raising. It just confirms that the pros also have eschewed long irons in favor of hybrids, and most professionals carry three or four wedges.

--The average loft of a sand wedge is 53.6 degrees
--31.5% of sand wedges are 52 degrees
--36.7% of sand wedges are 54 degrees

--The average loft of a lob wedge is 59.2 degrees
--38.2% of loft wedges are 58 degrees
--55.6% of lob wedges are 60 degrees

--A 64-degree wedge has been used 16 times

-- 8.6% of players used a long/belly putter

The usage of long and belly putters was said to be as high as 20 percent at the height of the craze a year or so ago, but clearly many of the professionals who tried long putters have reverted to standard-length models – likely in large part because of the forthcoming ban on the anchor putting stroke. One stat I’d love to see going forward is how many players have and will move to counter-weighted putters, which to me provide much of the same feel as long putters do while also allowing golfers to swing them normally.

Players have used:
--45 different models of golf ball from 11 different brands
--88 different models of drivers from 18 different brands
--360 different models of putters from 30 different brands

Two quick thoughts. One is that, even with all the different types of golf balls reported, a good 70 or 80 percent of the players use Titleist ProV1 or Pro V1x balls. So obviously even the balls in third, fourth or fifth place in the count are only being used by a handful of players.

Second, that putter stat illustrates what we all know – even the game's elite players switch putters in and out all the time. This reminds me of a stat I saw about a year ago, which showed that 35 players at the European Tour's 2012 Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland used a different putter than they did in their previous start. No club in the bag is as personal, and as fickle, as the flatstick.

 

Golf equipment usage on the European Tour
August 12, 2013 - 11:18am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Cardiff ADC golf shoes
Ashworth Golf
The new Ashworth Cardiff ADC golf shoes.
Today, Ashworth Golf announced the release of its new Cardiff ADC spikeless golf shoe, available for men and women. 
 
This next-generation model features a revamped look, spikeless versatility and a focus on all-day cushioning.
 
Here's the release our friends at Ashworth Golf sent over:
 
CARLSBAD, Calif. (August 12, 2013) -- Ashworth Golf, an authentic golf brand dedicated to bringing modern style to the golf course, has announced the release of the new Cardiff ADC spikeless golf shoe to its expanding portfolio of versatile golf footwear.
 
Available in men’s and, for the first time in the company’s history -- women’s models, the new Cardiff ADC has been redesigned to deliver enhanced comfort, functionality and the performance of a traditional golf shoe with the revamped styling and versatility of a casual shoe.  To maximize all-day cushioning and comfort, the Cardiff ADC features a premium redesigned leather upper, advanced comfort last and super-soft polyurethane sockliner on a poured PU midsole.
 
“I’ve always loved the style and comfort that the Cardiff offers,” said Justin Rose, 2013 U.S. Open Champion and Ashworth Tour Staff professional. “I first wore the new Cardiff ADC at The Open Championship in July and really like the updated look and feel. This new version takes comfort to another level, plus I can wear them both on and off the course.”
 
To maximize performance, the Cardiff ADC’s new spikeless outsole was recreated to deliver even more stability and traction in both dry and wet conditions with new strategically-placed traction lugs designed to deliver optimal grip both in varying conditions and surfaces. The soft and pliable molded rubber outsole provides a more flexible, low-profile fit without the sensation of traditional spiked models.
 
Backed by a two-year waterproof warranty, the men’s leather Cardiff ADC will be available in six colorways: Collegiate Navy/Airforce Blue/Pebble, White/Neutral Grey/Airforce Blue, Brown/Dark Brown/Fairway and Black/Cardinal/White  available on September 1, 2013 and White/Dark Grey/Fairway and Neutral Grey/Dark Grey/True Red available on March 1, 2014 with an MSRP of $120 USD.
 
The women’s leather Cardiff ADC will be available in four colorways beginning September 1: New Navy/Khaki/Bordeaux, White/Light Aqua/Airforce Blue, Light Khaki/Khaki/Spring Green and Black/Dark Orange/White with an MSRP of $120 USD.
 
To learn more about Ashworth Golf's offerings, visit http://taylormadegolf.com/ashworth/.
 
Ashworth Golf unveils new Cardiff ADC golf shoes for men and women
August 11, 2013 - 6:03pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Srixon Z-STAR golf balls
Courtesy of Srixon
The new editions of the Srixon Z-STAR and Z-STAR XV balls are the most technically advanced tour-performance balls the company has ever produced.

All the marketing in the world can't save a product if it's not very good. Conversely, sometimes a product proves itself so quickly and convincingly that all a company has to do is spread the word.

That's the happy situation Srixon finds itself in as it unveils its new generation of Z-STAR golf balls.

As you might be aware, two players have shot 59 on the Web.com Tour in the last month – Will Wilcox at the Utah Championship on July 14 and Russell Knox at the Albertsons Boise Open on July 26. You might not be aware, however, that both did so using a new Srixon ball. Wilcox used a Z-STAR XV Tour Yellow ball – making him the first player to card a 59 with a colored ball – while Knox used a Z-STAR Pure White model.

And presto – there's your marketing campaign!

OK, so maybe there's a bit more to marketing than that. And, in fact, the new balls already have amassed 40 tournament wins worldwide this year. In any case, Srixon is launching its new spheres on a nice wave of momentum.

These 2013 editions – the regular Z-STAR and a hotter Z-STAR XV – are, Srixon says, the most technically advanced tour-performance balls the company has ever produced. The new balls, the company adds, have been re-designed, re-calculated and re-formulated to produce the best balance of high-level performance across all clubs in the bag. 

Both boast enhanced spin control and softness as well as improved flight characteristics. Their covers feature Srixon's new ''Spin Skin,'' a coating the company says is two times softer than any previous Srixon coating, which helps create a 20 percent increase in friction. That enables players to hit approach shots with plenty of backspin, while experiencing a softer feel as the clubface grips the ball.

The Z-STAR model is built around a new, large-diameter Energy Gradient Growth (EGG) core. Its characteristics help provide more contrast between inner softness and outer hardness, resulting in more lift, less spin and longer flight distances. By contrast, the Z-STAR XV features a two-layer Neo EGG core, which delivers more lift and less spin for a quicker launch and greater overall flight distances.

Both balls carry Srixon's new 344 Speed Dimple design, which helps reduce air resistance for a strong, long-carrying trajectory. The new design increases the ratio of dimples to surface area by more than 4 percent, which Srixon says makes it possible to play more aggressive golf under all conditions. 

Both the Z-STAR and the Z-STAR XV carry a suggested retail price of $44.99, and are both available in Pure White or Tour Yellow.

For more information, click here.

 

Srixon launches new Z-STAR golf balls
August 8, 2013 - 9:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Bag by Nick Raffaele of Callaway, coins by Harry Arnett of Callaway
The Callaway staff bags for the PGA Championship feature an oak leaf in honor of Oak Hill, while the each of the four challenge coins for 2013 features a distinctive design element.

I said a few days ago that one of my favorite parts of major championship weeks is the special products that some of the big golf equipment companies create.

Callaway, of course, outfits its staff players with limited-edition bags themed for each major, and you can see Phil Mickelson's oak leaf-adorned PGA Championship bag above.

Also above is something truly unique that Callaway creates – they're called ''challenge coins,'' and there's one for each major of 2013.

This year's designs include a magnolia blossom for the Masters, a star for the U.S. Open, the Union Jack for the Open Championship and, of course, an oak leaf for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Callaway mostly distributes to the coins to its employees and staff players, though a lucky few civilians have gotten a few as well.

Challenge coins have a long military history, and I've also seen them created for colleges and companies. Few of them, I have to say, look as distinctive as these. 

 

Callaway up to the 'challenge' with coins and bags
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