Equipment

April 6, 2013 - 6:52pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Titleist 712U utility irons
Courtesy of Titleist
The heads of the Titleist 712U utility irons are chrome plated with a satin finish, and are slightly larger than the standard 2-irons, 3-irons and 4-irons in the Titleist MB 712 and CB 712 series.

Last fall, Titleist quietly seeded some of its prototype 712U utility irons among its staff players, and said that their reaction would help the company determine whether the clubs would be released to the public. Not quite six months later, we know what that determination is – they'll be available to the public by custom order starting May 15.

Three irons will be available – an 18-degree 2-iron, a 21-degree 3-iron and a 24-degree 4-iron.

All three clubs are forged from 1025 steel and include a high-speed 455 steel face insert. They have a traditional profile with a rounded back design that many better players prefer over cavity back long irons with more offset. 

''During the development of 712U, we worked closely with our tour players to design a utility iron that delivers a great combination of consistency and control,'' said Titleist Golf Clubs General Manager Steve Pelisek. ''The deeper CG (Center of Gravity) results in a higher MOI (Moment of Inertia) that increases stability at impact, helping players achieve more consistent distance and trajectory control, whether hitting shots high or low.''

The heads are chrome plated with a satin finish, and are slightly larger than the standard 2-irons, 3-irons and 4-irons in the Titleist MB 712 and CB 712 series. They have a wider, camber-sole design than traditional long irons, which promotes clean turf interaction and is more effective for a variety of attack angles. They also utilize a tapered-tip iron shaft for additional trajectory control.

Each iron carries a suggested retail price of $235 with a steel shaft and $259 with a graphite shaft. Custom up-charges may apply.

After their introduction to Titleist staffers last fall, 712U clubs are currently in the bags of such players as Adam Scott (2-iron), Tim Clark (4-iron) and Geoff Ogilvy (2-iron), who prefer a utility iron over a hybrid as an alternative to traditional long irons. In fact, Titleist says, the 712U already has become the most-played utility iron model on the PGA Tour this season.

''I don't like the look of hybrids, but the 712U (2-iron) looks great at address,'' said Ogilvy. ''It is a bit stronger than a 2-iron, it goes farther than a 2-iron and it's easy to hit. It feels great, performs how I need it to, and I like having it in my bag.''

 

Titleist makes 712U utility irons available for custom order
April 5, 2013 - 5:55pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Jim Furyk at the Valero Texas Open
Getty Images
Jim Furyk, at the Valero Texas Open, is finding his 9.5-degree Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver to be longer and the 10.5-degree model a little more accurate.

Jim Furyk has two drivers in play this week at the Valero Texas Open, and he's thinking he might use them both at the Masters, too. After all, Phil Mickelson won the 2006 Masters with a pair of Callaway Fusion FT-3 drivers.

Furyk is working with a pair of Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme drivers, one with 9.5 degrees of loft and the other with 10.5 degrees of loft. He's alternating them, more or less, and has ended two rounds at 5-under 139, high up on the scoreboard – and that's despite not getting in a full practice round. (He arrived in San Antonio on Tuesday, then only got in four holes of his pro-am round on Wednesday before it was washed out, so he played a video game to see where to hit the ball on the various holes.)

''I wanted to give it a practice run,'' he told PGATour.com about employing the dual driver strategy in Texas before heading to Augusta National. He added that it might take him until next Wednesday before he's completely settled on which clubs will be in his Masters bag.

So far, Furyk said, he's finding the 9.5-degree driver to be longer and the 10.5-degree model a little more accurate, which is what you'd expect. 

Adding the second driver to his bag caused him to remove his gap wedge, and that's what he said he'd do again next week – he's learned over the years that he seldom hits a gap wedge at Augusta National.

 

Jim Furyk trying two-driver strategy at Valero Texas Open
ASICS
ASICS
The ASICS Gel-Ace Pro retails for $185.

 

Asics, long recognized as the makers of some of the best, most comfortable running shoes on the market also happen to be in the golf business these days.
 
I stumbled upon the shoes at a recent trip to the local Golfsmith and was intrigued, seeing as I love my Asics running shoes.
 
As I learned more, it turns out Asics has been making golf shoes for three years now. Not sure how I missed that.
 
Here's more information from a press release about the company's GEL-Ace Pro model, endorsed by Japan's Shingo Katayama, who finished fourth at the 2009 Masters:
 
Best known for performance oriented running shoes, ASICS has translated key technical features and craftsmanship into a golf shoe that enhances athletic performance. Most notably, an extended trusstic that contours the heel and provides a solid base of support under the heel and arch, leading to a reduction in fatigue while also enhancing foot stability during the golf swing.  
 
Additional features include waterproof inner lining that keeps the foot dry while maintaining breathability; a sockliner that is reinforced for additional arch support; hidden lacing system that allows for a snugger fit and slimmer profile, and replaceable Scorpion Stinger Spikes.  
 
“We are thrilled to enter the golf category and bring ASICS technology to today's golfer,” says Matt Donnelly, Footwear Manager for ASICS America Corporation. “Based on the excitement and interest Katayama generated wearing the shoes at the Masters, we feel confident consumers are interested in a functional yet stylish golf shoe.” 
 
ASICS Corporation, with more than 50 years of footwear manufacturing experience, offers a full line of performance-driven athletic shoes and technical active sports apparel and accessories. 
 
The GEL-Ace Pro is just one of several models offered by Asics. It retails for $185.
 
Asics also offers sneaker-looking golf shoes like the Match-Play Classic ($95) and the MatchPlay33 ($80), among others.
 
For more information, click here to check out all of the Asics golf offerings.
 
You can also visit Asics on Facebook, or via the Asics Twitter page, @ASICSamerica.
Asics no longer just for runners thanks to golf line
April 3, 2013 - 1:54pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade Lethal golf ball
Courtesy of TaylorMade
The success of such TaylorMade balls as the new Lethal has prompted the company to construct a new golf ball plant.

TaylorMade will build a new golf ball manufacturing plant, company officials announced Wednesday. The 120,000-square-foot facility will occupy 25 acres in Liberty, S.C., about 28 miles east of TaylorMade's current facility in Westminster, S.C.

The company expects to break ground on the new plant in May and open up next January. The transition from Westminster to Liberty will be complete by July 2014, they said.
 
''The innovation by our R&D team, the passion of our work force in South Carolina and the rapid adoption by the best players in the world have dramatically improved our position in the golf ball category,'' said TaylorMade Executive Vice President John Kawaja. ''The byproduct of this success was the need for a new ball plant that will improve our unit production, quality and margin position.''

The new Liberty plant is expected to be more energy efficient and require less maintenance than the current Westminster plant, TaylorMade said, while also allowing the production process to be revamped to be more efficient.

The current plant turns out about 72,000 balls per day (6,000 dozen) and 24 million balls per year (2 million dozen).

TaylorMade currently markets close to a dozen models of golf ball across the price spectrum, including the RocketBallz, SuperDeep (white and yellow), Burner (white and yellow) and Noodle (white and yellow). Its newest ball, which debuted earllier this year, is the Lethal, a premium five-piece sphere that TaylorMade says is the second-most popular ball on the PGA Tour as well as its best-selling high-end ball ever.

TaylorMade to build new golf ball plant in South Carolina
April 3, 2013 - 10:00am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Mizuno JPX
Mizuno Golf
The new Mizuno JPX game-improvement irons were built to help the Average Joe play like a pro.

 

Mizuno has long been a brand name associated with only the most elite golfers. 
 
Though that may be the perception, it's not actually true. With its new campaign dubbed, "Play Famously," Mizuno sets out to prove just that. 
 
Here is the email that was sent to me describing the campaign:
 
Mizuno Golf -- world renowned iron manufacturer and global leader in golf technology and innovation -- announced the Play Famously campaign which will add “average Joe” golfers to its stable of PGA pros, including world No. 4 Luke Donald, Charles Howell III, Jonathan Byrd and 2012 Rolex LPGA Player of the year, Stacy Lewis. The campaign aims to build the company’s momentum in the game-improvement category by championing the legions of “amateur” golfers who are supporting the golf industry through their passion for the game and meticulous quest to improve.
 
An absolutely average player sporting a 16 index, Lee Baughman from Pittsburgh, Pa. was announced the first member of “Team JPX.”  The 12-man “game-improvement” roster will be filled with everyday golfers who will be treated as famously as Mizuno pros. 
 
If the name Baughman doesn’t ring a bell, it shouldn’t; you didn’t miss him during last Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tournament or even on the Web.com Tour. He possesses arguably no legitimate strengths, but Mizuno will supply him and 11 other “Team JPX” members with the JPX-825 game-improvement irons and the other necessary tools to elevate his game and “play famously” with the help of Mizuno’s superior design and performance.
 
In addition to being swaged out like the pros with Mizuno irons, drivers, woods and apparel, “Team JPX” will receive tips and instruction from PGA Master Instructor Dr. Gary Wiren.  Additionally, each member of the team will receive the chance to compete in September’s inaugural “JPX Invitational” at Country Club of the South in Atlanta.
 
To kick-off the “Play Famously” campaign, Mizuno, Luke Donald and the Mizuno Golf team welcomed Lee Baughman as the latest member of their crew during a press conference.   
 
I love the idea of this campaign -- it's a lot of fun.
 
 
To get all the details for this campaign, click here to visit the Mizuno Golf Play Famously page.
 
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.
 
Mizuno Golf invites the Average Joe to 'Play Famously'
April 1, 2013 - 10:39pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
D.A. Points at the Shell Houston Open
Getty Images
D.A. Points' victory in Houston came with what can only be described as a mixed bag of equipment.

If you're a major golf equipment company, the Shell Houston Open surely left you with mixed feelings.

D.A. Points waited out a long rain delay Sunday afternoon, then grinded out a one-shot victory that also earned him a spot in the Masters. In his bag was a mix of clubs from TaylorMade and Ping – but most of those clubs were several years old.

Anyone who watched the tournament on TV heard the story of how Points borrowed an old Ping Anser putter from his mother. That putter, Points said, has been in his garage since about 2005. And that's just the beginning of the story of his equipment mix.

--His driver is a TaylorMade R11S. TaylorMade still lists it as a current model, though the R1 and RBZ models are newer. And if you go to the TaylorMade site, you can buy the R11S for $100 off and the R11S TP model for $200 off.

--His 3-wood is a TaylorMade Burner, which was popular four or five years ago but is now out of production. The current model is the Burner SuperFast 2.0.

--One hybrid is a TaylorMade Rescue 11, which is a 2011 model.

--Another hybrid is a Ping G10, which has been discontinued.

--His iron set consists of Ping i5 clubs, which are also out of production.

--His wedges are Ping Tour models with Gorge grooves, which are brand new.

A couple of observations:

--First, good for Points for sticking with clubs he likes and trusts.

--Second, TaylorMade and Ping might not get a lot of marketing mileage out of Points' victory with all those older clubs. On the flip side, Points proved that these clubs, though most are several years old, are still darn good.

We all get bombarded each year with marketing claims that the newest clubs are the greatest ever made – and they probably are. But that doesn't mean their predecessors are obsolete. In fact, all the big club companies have been making excellent product for years – unlike, for instance, all the major car companies.

So while there's no denying the appeal of golf's new products, everyday golfers like you and me should feel good that our couple-of-years-old sticks are still plenty good and that we shouldn't feel pressured to upgrade until we're good and ready. So if you're truly in the market for the latest and greatest, go right ahead and buy whatever your heart desires (and make sure you get a proper clubfitting from a PGA Professional to get the most out of your new gear).

But if what you have is working for you, then why mess with success?

Besides, playing his tried-and-true equipment was just one of Points' keys to success. He also worked diligently with PGA instructor Gary Gilchrist on restoring his balance and power last week, and got a special putting lesson from Lamar University golf coach Brian White.

So remember, the key to improving your game is part equipment and part instruction – and part timing.

To see a photo gallery of Points' winning clubs, click here. And to see this week’s edition of What’s in the Winners’ Bags, click here.

 

The lesson we learn from D.A. Points' equipment
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