The new product introductions, or at least sneak peeks, continue their relentless pace this week as TaylorMade shows off its latest creation. At the John Deere Classic and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, the company is giving its staff players their first look at a brand-new driver known as the SLDR (''slider.'')
The club, as you can see in the photos, gets its name from the sliding weight on the sole. Golfers can slide the weight along a rail to easily create the specific draw or fade bias they desire. Recent TaylorMade drivers like the R1 are adjusted by using a wrench to screw weight ports in and out of the head.
One area in which the SLDR is similar to some of its TaylorMade kin such as the RBZ Stage 2 is its adjustable hosel, which golfers can use to select their loft.
Another thing that stands out on first look is that the SLDR also features a black crown. TaylorMade, of course, recently came out with a black-crowned R1 driver after making nothing but white-headed models for the last couple of years. There's no indication yet as to whether a white-crowned SLDR might be in the works as well.
In any case, the initial reaction to the new driver is quite positive. Boo Weekley tweeted that ''it's awesome,'' while Lucas Glover described it as ''#sillygood.'' And TaylorMade's Dave Cordero said the company brought 20 SLDR heads to the John Deere Classic on Monday, and they were all spoken for by day's end.
It's the end of an era – Ian Poulter is retiring the putter he used to fuel Europe's shocking comeback victory against the United States at the 2012 Ryder Cup.
''I am sacking my putter, I will use a new putter at the Open,'' Poulter tweeted on Sunday about the Odyssey White Hot XG #7 that he says ''needs a rest in my trophy cabinet.''
Poulter stressed that it's not the putter's fault that he's underperformed this season – he's yet to win on the PGA Tour, has two top-10 finishes and is 87th in the FedExCup points.
''I'm not blaming the putter, I'm saying I want to use a new one,'' he explained on Twitter. ''Every time I change, I've had big success with a new look. Just some times you just need to look down on something new.''
As every golf fan in America most likely remembers all too well, Europe was looking down and out on Saturday afternoon at Medinah before Poulter and Rory McIlroy rallied against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson in the afternoon four-balls to pull out an unlikely 1-hole victory on the 18th green. And though McIlroy made a crucial birdie on the 13th hole to begin the turnaround, Poulter transformed defeat into triumph by making birdie putts on each of the last five holes – including a 12-foot sidehiller on the final green to clinch a full point that would prove crucial.
That turnaround victory made the Saturday night score 10-6, and gave Europe just the glimmer of hope it needed to mount its record-setting Sunday rally. Poulter won his singles match on Sunday to go a team-leading 4-0-0 for the week as Europe pulled off the 14/5-13.5 shocker.
After announcing his decision, Poulter invited equipment companies to send him putters to try out, and apparently he's getting quite a response. It'll be very curious to see what he turns up with next week at Muirfield – and how long it stays in the bag.
Meanwhile, Steve Stricker expressed sentiments no doubt shared by Poulter's opponents at Medinah and American golf fans everywhere.
"I wish you would've put that putter in your trophy cabinet before last years ryder cup!," he tweeted to Poulter, adding the hashtag # madeeverything."
To commemorate Justin Rose's victory at the U.S. Open last month, TaylorMade is selling 99 exact replicas of his Ghost Spider Blade putter.
Each of these limited-edition models is built to Rose's specs – they're 37 5/8 inches long, equipped with a black Ghost Tour shaft and a red Tour Only Counterbalanced grip with a yellow top. Every head is numbered and stamped with Rose's personal ''JR'' logo.
There are only 99 of them, TaylorMade says, because 99 is the number on Rose's Lethal golf ball. That number is on his ball, Rose says, because 9 is his wife's favorite number, so he doubled it to make 99 for extra-good luck.
You can order your putter from TaylorMade now. They cost $299.99, and are expected to be available on July 16.
TaylorMade calls the Ghost Spider Blade, which became available at retail last month, the most stable blade-style putter it's ever made. That's partly due to its construction, in which the vast majority of the head weight is positioned in the heel and toe.
In addition, the Spider Blade's head is counterbalanced with a 130-gram grip that's twice as heavy as a typical putter grip. Counterbalancing increases the stability of the club, making it easier to keep the head moving on your intended swing path.
The Spider Blade is available in two lengths, 35 inches and 38 inches. To properly use the Spider Blade, TaylorMade says, you should grip the club with two or three inches of the butt-end of the grip extended above your hands to provide the maximum benefit of counterbalancing. Therefore, the company explains, if you normally use a 35-inch putter, you should use a 38-inch Spider Blade; if you normally go with a 33-inch putter, you should use a 35-inch Spider Blade.
The Spider Blade also features a PureRoll Surlyn insert for a soft feel and smooth roll, and has a white leading edge and linear alignment aid in the cavity to make aiming easy. It carries a suggested retail price of $199.99.
The Futura X mallet from Scotty Cameron is new, but if you think it looks a familiar, you're right. It's the putter Adam Scott used to win the Masters.
Scott called his Futura X prototype ''the most stable putter I have ever played,'' and that's exactly what Cameron was shooting for as he and Scott worked together to refine the design.
Precision milled from high-grade 6061 aluminum, the Futura X combines a rear balance bar with deep heel-toe weights plus perimeter weighting under the face. The resulting deep Center of Gravity provides stability throughout the stroke, Cameron says, while the perimeter weighting adds forgiveness and feel.
The Futura X contains four stainless heel-toe weights, two 20-gram weights on the rear balance bar and two adjustable sole weights (configured depending on the length) in the front corners of the putter under the face. The total headweight is 20 grams heavier than a standard Cameron Select putter, but because much of the weight is located behind the axis of the shaft and not directly under the golfer's hands, says Cameron, the putter feels stable but not heavy during the stroke.
''Futura X is what I call a 'force balanced' design,'' Cameron said. ''While the putter has a near-face balanced shaft configuration that would normally produce a slight toe hang, there's so much weight off the back of the putter that it forces the face to hang flat. The rear balance bar allows us to add considerable weight a fairly long distance away from the shaft axis, which is really what drives the high MOI [Moment of Inertia, essentially a measurement of stability].''
The Futura X will come in standard lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches -- as opposed to Scott's long model. A double-bend, stepless steel shaft with one shaft of offset provides a square, technical visual at address.
The putter has a Frozen Titanium finish that helps reduce glare, two black sightlines and red cherry-dot weights in the sole and balance bar. It carries a suggested detail price of $375, will be available at retail on Aug. 1.
To celebrate the Fourth of July, I thought I'd pass along a little bit of golf Americana that I ran across recently.
On June 27, the Project X division of shaftmaker True Temper tweeted out the photo posted above. It's a schematic of a steel shaft from 1941 – ''here's what we looked like without computers,'' the tweet said.
My favorite part, though, is at the top of the drawing – at the time, True Temper was a division of the American Fork & Hoe Co., whose roots can be traced back to the early days of the United States.
True Temper was formed in 1800 when several small companies that specialized in forging got together. In 1902, True Temper and several other toolmakers merged to create American Fork & Hoe in Cleveland. By the 1930s, it had become the largest hand-tool company in America, supplying about 90 percent of the hand tools used on American farms.
Along with rakes and pitchforks, the AF&H plant in Geneva, Ohio, began making fishing rods, ski poles and golf shafts. As early as 1931, True Temper was displaying its steel shafts at tournaments and other events as golfers began switching from hickory shafts to steel.
True Temper got a big boost in 1940, when an up-and coming professional named Byron Nelson began using its shafts, and AF&H changed its name to True Temper in 1949. In 1967, True Temper created the first mechanical club-swinging robot for testing – its name, of course, was Iron Byron. And in 2010, True Temper's plant in Amory, Miss., built its billionth shaft as the company remains the all-time leader among shaftmakers in wins around the globe.
True Temper isn't the only American golf company that's been around so long – Wilson Sporting Goods has created in the 1920s, for example, and Titleist was founded in 1932. But it certainly played a unique and crucial role in the growth and development of both American agriculture and American golf.