A couple of players are the proud owners of some special clubs these days, and I thought you'd like to see them.
On the left in the image above is a 54-degree wedge that Cleveland Golf made for Keegan Bradley to commemorate his Presidents Cup debut this week. Instead of the usual stamping on the back, it's got a map of the world like you’d see on a globe, and the white-on-black color scheme makes this about the coolest design I've ever seen on a wedge. Kudos to the craftsmen at Cleveland for that bit of work.
On the right is a gold-plated putter that Odyssey Golf created for Will Wilcox as a salute to the 59 he shot in the Web.com Utah Championship a few weeks ago. Lots of players receive special commemorative clubs to mark their big achievements – Ping is well-known for its expansive vault full of gold putters for wins by tour players – but this White Rize V-Line model is somewhat unusual in the United States and it looks especially pretty in the photo.
Ping staff professionals like Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan have won more than 30 events worldwide using the company's S56 irons, so it's no surprise that Ping didn't feel the need to completely overhaul them. Instead, Ping went for small but significant upgrades in its new S55 line to make the irons more workable and forgiving.
''We're motivated by pushing innovation, and we were able to elevate performance with the S55 in key areas,'' said Ping chairman and CEO John Solheim. ''Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ángel Cabrera are some of the players who switched right away, and validation from the game's best players tells us that we got it right.''
Watson, in fact, has switched to the S55 after playing the same model of irons since 2004.
''They're able to work the ball more easily and flight it up and down like never before,'' Solheim said of his Ping staff players, adding that they're also getting more distance with the S55s.
The compact 17-4 stainless steel head features tungsten toe weighting to help improve the club's stability, and includes a vertical stabilizing bar for distance control. The face is thinner than on the S56s, which helps to provide more ball speed, and the face, grooves and back cavity are precision-machined for consistency.
Behind the face, the custom tuning port – which is made of a thermoplastic elastomer to soften the sound and feel upon impact – is larger and sits lower in the back cavity, which positions the Center of Gravity lower and deeper in the head to promote a higher launch with greater energy transfer. And the head is completed with a brushed satin-chrome finish.
The new S55s – from 3-iron through pitching wedge – can be ordered now, and will be available at retail in November. They carry a suggested retail price of $138.75 per club with steel shafts and $166.25 per club with graphite shafts. The stock steel shaft is Ping's CFS, while the stock graphite shaft is the Ping TFC 189i.
Jack Nicklaus is introducing a line of golf balls that the Golden Bear says can help simplify your golf game and help sick children as well.
The line of three balls – the Nicklaus Black, Nicklaus Blue, and Nicklaus White – was designed to accommodate three skill levels of player, using the tees from which they typically play. A percentage of the proceeds from every ball sold will be donated to the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation to support pediatric programs and hospitals nationwide, and visitors to Nicklaus.com can support the foundation by making a voluntary contribution.
''We are trying to simplify the decision-making process of selecting the right golf ball and at the same time provide consumers the highest-quality golf balls and at a price that encourages charitable support,'' Nicklaus said of the balls, which will be available this fall. ''By buying these balls, players will get the added benefit of supporting these wonderful charities that help children in need as well as the families that dearly love them.''
The Nicklaus White ball is designed for the players who typically play from the white (forward) tees. The Nicklaus Blue is designed for players who usually play the blue (middle) tees, and the Nicklaus Black is for the single-digit handicapper who generally plays from the back (black) tees.
Nicklaus and members of his family tested and perfected the balls, and Nicklaus says the new spheres will outperform other top-of-the-line golf balls. Each ball, Nicklaus explains, incorporates the most cutting-edge multi-layer technology to achieve the optimal compression for the level of player it is designed for.
''For more than three years, we have contemplated entering the golf ball business, so over that time, I have been researching and testing golf balls,'' Nicklaus explained. ''There are a lot of very good balls on the market, but I was not able to find a ball that fully met my expectations and hopes – not just for me or other professionals, but more important, for the everyday golfer.
''So I simply decided not to enter the business until I found that ball,'' he added. ''Well, I found that ball. Actually, I found three.''
Nicklaus' ball strategy is based on a simple principle: Skill level is an extremely important factor when selecting the right ball. ''From the tees you play, we know your swing speed; this is paramount when choosing a golf ball,'' he said. ''But no matter the percentage of players who know their swing speed, 100 percent of them know the tees they play.''
The Nicklaus Black will sell in golf shops for $50 a dozen, while the Nicklaus Blue and Nicklaus White will retail for $46 in golf shops. By ordering directly from Nicklaus.com, however, golfers will pay only $32 for the Black and $28 for the Blue and White, and will be able to make a voluntary contribution of up to $20 if they so choose. And during a month-long pre-order period, customers can order the ball for the discounted introductory prices of $30 (Black) and $26 (Blue and White) per dozen.
For more information and to place your order, visit www.nicklaus.com.
PGA of America Championships
Baltusrol Golf Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club
Trump National Golf Club
Olympia Fields Country Club
Olympia Fields, Illinois
Quail Hollow Club
Charlotte, North Carolina