Equipment

August 26, 2013 - 3:03pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Datrek Lite Rider golf bag
Courtesy of Datrek
The Datrek Lite Rider cart bag has seven pockets that are all easily accessible when the bag is on a cart.

One of the hottest recent trends in golf equipment is the rising popularity of putters with oversized grips. Datrek Golf has responded to this development in its new Lite Rider bag, which contains an expanded putter well designed to handle those extra-big grips.

The Lite Rider, part of Datrek's 2014 line-up, is designated as a cart bag. But as it weighs in at a mere 4.7 pounds, it could easily double as a carry bag. And as we've come to expect from Datrek, it also includes a 14-way organizer top and the IDS (Individual Divider System) to keep your clubs from banging around while the bag's in motion.

Made of durable nylon fabric, the Lite Rider has seven pockets that are all easily accessible when the bag is on a cart. The pockets include two oversized apparel pockets, a large ball pocket, a fleece-lined valuable pocket and an oversized insulated cooler pocket.  

The Lite Rider has two soft-grip lift assist handles for easier loading and carrying, along with a Velcro glove holder and holders for tees, a divot tool, a pen and an umbrella. The bag's bottom has rubberized feet for added stability on a riding or push cart.

The Lite Rider is available in seven color combinations: white/black, white/red, black/charcoal, black/red, black/royal and charcoal/pink and navy/lime. The suggested retail is $169.95 and it will be available in golf shops and golf specialty stores on Oct. 15.

 

Datrek Lite Rider bag can handle oversized putter grips
August 23, 2013 - 6:21pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Kenny Perry's Adams Golf driver
Courtesy of Adams Golf
Kenny Perry's Adams Super LS driver was reassembled by Adams Golf technician Scott Kraul.

The life of a tour pro might sound glamorous, but if you follow some of them on social media you quickly realize that they endure the same hassles as the rest of us (except for those lucky dogs who fly private all the time). Flight delays, cancellations and lost luggage happen to most of them at some point and, as is often the case, these problems always seem to happen at the worst possible times.

Mostly, the inconveniences are just that – inconvenient. Occasionally, though, they become truly problematic. That's the situation Kenny Perry finds himself in this week. He and his luggage made it from central New York to Seattle for the Boeing Classic, but somewhere along the way the shaft of his Adams driver was snapped right where the hosel meets the head.

This wasn't just any driver, either – it's ''the one I won all of my tournaments with this year,'' Perry told The Seattle Times after he discovered the broken big stick in his bag. ''It broke the head right off the shaft.''

Perry was upset, needless to say, in large part because he attributes much of his success this season to his driving prowess. And he has been quite successful – he won two senior majors – the U.S. Senior Open and the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship in back-to-back starts. He's amassed nine top-10 finishes in 13 starts this season, and is dominating the Charles Schwab Cup points list.

Adams Golf technicians on-site at TPC Snoqualmie were able to get Perry squared away, reshafting his Super LS 10.5-degree driver with a UST Mamiya VTS silver 60g X flex shaft. Now, it's up to Perry to get the confidence in his driving game back.

''I've been bombing it,'' Perry told the newspaper. ''I've been taking advantage of all the short holes and the par 5s. But that's the only driver I've used all year.''

The irony in this situation is that Perry, like many Adams staff players, is sponsored by Southwest Airlines. His clubs were in a Southwest Airlines-festooned bag – and the big break occurred while Perry was flying Delta.

 

Kenny Perry finds that driving and flying don't mix
August 22, 2013 - 8:51pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Dave Stockton
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Two-time PGA Championship winner Dave Stockton will share his insights on putters with Nike Golf.

No one has been more in demand than Dave Stockton as a short-game instructor in recent years. Now, he's getting a chance to influence flatsticks as well as those who use them.

Stockton has signed on with Nike Golf, where he will assist in product development and design – specifically in the realm of putters. 

''I'm thrilled to be a part of what I believe is one of the most innovative brands in sports,'' said Stockton. ''I look forward to sharing my putter insights with Nike engineers so they can continue to create amazing product that help golfers putt better.''  

Stockton, who received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from The PGA of America, already serves as putting instructor for some of golf's biggest names, including Nike Golf staff players Rory McIlroy and Suzann Pettersen. His list of students, past and present, also includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Morgan Pressel, Annika Sorenstam and Yani Tseng. 

He runs his own golf instruction program, Stockton Golf, with his two sons, Ron and Dave Jr. His book, ''Unconscious Putting,'' quickly became a best-seller after its 2011 release, and he followed it up with a sequel, ''Unconscious Scoring,'' earlier this year. He won the PGA Championship in 1970 and 1976, along with nine other PGA Tour titles and 14 Champions Tour victories, played on four victorious U.S. Ryder Cup teams, and captained the 1991 Ryder Cup team to victory.

 

Dave Stockton joins Nike Golf to help design putters
August 21, 2013 - 11:13am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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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 - 5:02pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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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 - 2:04pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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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
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