Equipment

February 5, 2013 - 3:09pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Phil Mickelson and his Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver
Callaway Golf / Getty Images
Phil Mickelson enjoyed a record-setting victory in his first week using a Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver.

Back in the good ol' days of NASCAR when the race cars actually looked like street cars, there was a saying: ''Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.'' That meant, of course, that fans would want to buy the cars that prevailed on the track.

There's no similar adage in golf, but the same principle applies. That's why you so often see golf equipment ads touting the success of products on tour.

Seldom, however, is the correlation between tour success and sales as immediate and direct as it was over the weekend.

Phil Mickelson put a new Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver in his bag last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, then went out and shot a 60. Afterward, he spoke glowingly – and specifically – about the new club.

''I finally gave our new RAZR Fit Xtreme a chance,'' Mickelson said after his round. ''And I tell you what, on Tuesday, when I hit it, I kept looking up and I was almost in disbelief at how easy it was, how straight it was, and the misses weren't bad. I put it into play in the pro-am yesterday and I hit it great.

''I drove it phenomenal, and felt really good with it,'' he added. ''And the thing that's so great about it is I can make the same swing with my irons as I do with my driver and the ball goes very straight and easy. … So that was the big thing. I drove the ball much better here.''

Mickelson went on to a wire-to-wire win, tying the Phoenix Open scoring record and barely missing the PGA Tour’s 72-hole scoring record. And because of his performance, and his vocal support of the driver, sales began to pick up – and up!

Over the weekend, Harry Arnett, the senior vice president for marketing at Callaway, sent out this tweet: ''At 2:30pm it was already the most drivers we've sold in one day on our Ecom site. #xtreme #phileffect.''

I asked Callaway for details and, while they wouldn't provide specific sales figures, they did confirm that the weekend – even with the distraction of the Super Bowl – was one to remember.

Callaway sold more drivers on its e-commerce site on Saturday than any previous day, the company said. That record lasted exactly one day, when 20 percent more drivers were sold on Sunday. Sunday also ranked as one Callaway’s top five days ever for web traffic, the company confirmed, and the weekend in total was Callaway's biggest for web traffic.

There are two obvious lessons here:

--For all the recent talk of bifurcation (different equipment rules for tour pros and amateur golfers) last week shows very vividly that everyday golfers still pay very close attention to the gear that the pros play – and that they want to play the same gear that their favorite players use.

--Phil can still move the 'ol needle.

Are you interested in buying the equipment mentoned in this post? Check out the Pro Shops -- a one-stop destination for new and used equipment sourced, inspected and sold by an elite group of PGA Professonals nationwide.

 

 

 

Categories: RAZR Fit Xtreme
February 4, 2013 - 2:50pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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David Duval
Getty Images
Nike Golf has re-signed David Duval, who used Nike gear during the most successful portion of his career.

Around the first of the year, Nike Golf made a big marketing splash by unveiling a series of new signings – first, Nick Watney and Kyle Stanley, then Thorbjorn Olesen and Seung-yul Noh, and finally Rory McIlroy.

Almost a month later, the Swoosh has announced that it has re-signed David Duval. This is noteworthy in that Duval and Tiger Woods were Nike Golf's first big stars – and, in fact, Duval was the first player to win a major using Nike clubs at the 2001 British Open. His original deal with Nike ran out many years ago, though, and he recently has been endorsing clubs from boutique clubmaker Scratch Golf.

Now 41, Duval was on top of the world – even ranked No. 1 for a while – with 13 PGA Tour titles, three Ryder Cup teams and three Presidents Cup teams, but in recent years he has struggled to stay on the PGA Tour. He's been back to Q-School a couple of times – a broken toe kept him out of yet another trip to Q-School last fall. He apparently took a big hit when the housing market crashed, and couldn't even get an exemption into the Humana Challenge last month despite giving that tournament its defining moment by shooting a 59 there several years ago.

He had a miserable 2012 campaign, making only three cuts in 17 starts, and earning only about $32,000. As the new season dawned, though, Duval expressed excitement over his chances for 2013, but it's taken him this long to even get a PGA Tour start – he'll make his season debut this week at Pebble Beach. He has said he'll play anywhere, anytime – even the Web.com Tour if that's what it takes. And he said on Twitter at the beginning of the year that he was returning to the Nike stable, but stressed that, at the time, he hadn't signed anything with the Swoosh.

Well, the Swoosh just made it official, and that's got to give Duval some kind of a boost, even if the financial terms are nowhere near those of some of Nike's other big offseason signings. Tiger and Phil have dominated the PGA Tour headlines the last two weeks. It'd be nice to see Duval make a headline or two of his own this year.

Here's the gear he will play:

Driver: Nike VR_S Covert (8.5 degrees, Mitsubishi Diamana White Board 73X shaft)
3-Wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition (15 degrees)
2-9 Irons: Nike VR Pro Blades
48-Degree Wedge: Nike VR Pro Blade
53-Degree Wedge: Nike VR Pro
58-Degree Wedge: Nike VR Pro
Putter: Nike Method 006 prototype
Ball: Nike 20XI X
Footwear:  Nike Lunar Control

February 3, 2013 - 1:53pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade Ghost Spider S
Courtesy of TaylorMade

The Ghost Spider S putter from TaylorMade is big – and big on stability.

The oversized mallet delivers a Moment of Inertia (MOI) measurement of 6,030, dramatically higher than previous TaylorMade mallets like the Ghost Manta (4,900) and Corza Ghost (3,830). This high MOI makes the Ghost Spider S extremely stable, even on off-center hits, and makes it easier to control the head and square the face to the ball at impact. That's a key benefit, as articulated by the tour pros who have put it in play.

"Ghost Spider S isn't an evolution in mallet performance, it's a revolution," said Michael Fox, TaylorMade's product line manager for putters and wedges. "To create it, we started with the DNA of our most successful putter franchise and applied more than a year of obsessive feedback from our toughest customers, our Tour Staff professionals. In terms of the two most critical aspects of putting -- alignment and stability -- Ghost Spider S is the complete package."

The putter's multi-material head (aluminum and steel) combines a white-colored steel frame perimeter and top line with a new, non-transition black crown. The contrast between the white leading edge and black crown makes it easier to focus your eyes on the top line, TaylorMade says, making it easier to aim accurately.

In addition to the standard hosel, the Ghost Spider S is also available in a tour-inspired "short slant" hosel designed for the player who swings on an arc. Unlike the standard hosel, which promotes a straight back-straight through swing path, the short slant is toe-weighted to broaden the scope of players who can benefit from the Ghost Spider S.

"Mallet putter use on the PGA Tour has grown during the past decade to where, today, more than 30 percent of PGA Tour pros use a mallet," added Fox. "We're confident that tour pros and amateurs who favor a mallet will want to explore Ghost Spider S because the performance benefits are impossible to ignore."

The standard Ghost Spider S carries a suggested retail price of $179, and $199 for a belly model.

Categories: Ghost Spider S
February 2, 2013 - 9:35pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Mizuno MP-T4 wedge
Courtesy of Mizuno Golf
The MP-T4 wedges were engineered to enhance playability and turf interaction, as is evident by their new sole design, which provides more toe and heel relief.

Designed with insight from short-game superstar Luke Donald, the MP-T4 wedges from Mizuno are among the most versatile high-spin wedges on the market. Created with Mizuno's patented Grain Flow Forging process and 1025E "Pure Select" mild carbon steel, these new wedges provide a soft yet solid feel.

The MP-T4 wedges were engineered to enhance playability and turf interaction, as is evident by their new sole design, which provides more toe and heel relief. These new wedges also feature a CNC milled face along with Mizuno's exclusive Quad Cut Groove technology, which enables precise control of the width, depth, draft angle and shoulder radius of each groove to enhance spin control and ball-stopping ability in all playing conditions.

These new wedges are available in two exotic finishes – White Satin and Black Nickel. And combined with a True Temper DG Spinner shaft, they deliver increased spin and a lower launch at impact with an average of 250+ RPM as compared to True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts.

"Nobody knows how a wedge should perform better than Luke Donald, and he was instrumental in the design of this wedge," said Dick Lyons, vice president and general manager of the Golf Division, Mizuno USA. "With Luke's help, we have designed the MP-T4 to optimize every facet of wedge play. From feel to spin to shot versatility, no wedge can do more for your short game than the MP-T4."

The MP-T4s come in right-handed models with lofts of 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees, as well as left-handed models in lofts of 52, 56 and 60 degrees. And for the first time, Mizuno is offering golfers the ability to personalize their MP-T4 and MP-R12 wedges with up to six characters, letters and/or numbers, in 12 different colors. This customization is free, and requires only a two-week wait after an order is placed.

They carry a suggested retail price of $129.99 per club.

February 1, 2013 - 7:55pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Titleist 913D2 and 913D3 drivers
Courtesy of Titleist
The 913D2 driver (l) features a 460cc full-pear shaped head with a slight draw bias, while the 913D3 has a slightly smaller 445cc classic pear shape that is forgiving with no flight bias.

Titleist calls its 913D2 and 913D3 drivers the fastest, most consistent the company has ever designed. They are also Titleist's most playable and forgiving drivers, primarily as a result of improved launch conditions from a lower, more optimal Center of Gravity position, a new rear SureFit Tour weight and the fitting precision provided by the SureFit Tour adjustable hosel.

"The new 913D2 and 913D3 drivers offer the highest performance of any adjustable drivers on the market, particularly when it comes to speed and forgiveness," said Titleist Vice Preisdent of Research and Development Dan Stone. "Every serious golfer, from tour players to amateurs of all skill levels, will experience more distance potential and better driving performance with 913."

The 913D2 driver features a 460cc full-pear shaped head designed for maximum forgiveness and a slight draw bias, while the 913D3 has a slightly smaller 445cc classic pear shape that is forgiving with extra workability. Unlike the 910 series, both D2 and D3 models now offer the same launch and spin characteristics to provide maximum fitting flexibility.

"Golfers can now choose their 913 model based on size or shape preference, amount of forgiveness or workability, and amount of draw bias," said Stone. "They can then dial-in their launch and spin settings precisely using the SureFit Tour hosel."

The 913D2 and 913D3 drivers deliver faster, more consistent ball speeds across the face due to a new forged, variable thickness face insert that is the fastest face insert ever designed by Titleist.

The 913's 6-4 Titanium face insert has a thick central portion that mirrors the outer face profile. As you move out from the center, however, the insert is thinner and tapered so that it matches up with the body thickness at the edge of the face. It is also 2 grams lighter than the 910's face insert, and that mass is redistributed to the SureFit Tour weight low on the head.

"We are always engineering our center face ball speed to the maximum, but the new insert allows for a more consistent deflection across the whole face, which gives us more ball speed and more distance across a larger area of the face," Stone said. "The face insert is not a symmetric geometry, it's a complex structure and it required us to really think outside the box. We had to invent a new process just to produce it."

The new insert has increased the maximum ball speed area up to 11 percent from Titleist's previous 910 drivers. That, Titleist says, results in upwards of 2 mph of additional ball speed in certain hit locations, which translates to up to 4-6 additional yards.

While past generation D2 and D3 models each featured different launch and spin characteristics, the new 913D2 and 913D3 drivers have equivalent launch and spin because their Center of Gravity positions are equally low. To accomplish this, the Center of Gravity in the 913D2 was lowered to produce similar launch and spin to 913D3. To do this, Titleist engineers improved the casting and polishing process to produce an ultra-thin crown that allowed for more mass to be redistributed low and deep in the head.

The 913 drivers also feature a lower, flatter sole profile than the 910, and the new SureFit Tour weight on the rear sole further optimizes the Center of Gravity for speed and forgiveness. This weight has a new, flat geometry with a screw that holds the weight in place but doesn’t extend up into the driver head. Also, the standard SureFit Tour weight has increased from 7 grams to 9 grams, taking the 2 grams of weight saved from the new forged face insert and reapplying it in this lower, better position.

The SureFit Tour hosel, which debuted on the 910 drivers, allows golfers to set their loft and lie independently – higher or lower, and for more draw or fade – for improved shot control and maximum distance.

"We call it 'Tour Van-in a hosel' because that was our inspiration for designing SureFit Tour in that it provides all the power of a tour van – the ability to bend for loft and lie, and interchange shafts – right on the tee at the point of fitting," Stone said.

The dual angle SureFit Tour hosel features a sleeve and ring, each with four settings. The sleeve settings are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 and the ring settings are lettered A, B, C, D. In total there are 16 settings, each creating a unique loft and lie combination.

The 913s featuring an improved toe profile, and the head retains its black PVD finish with a new black body paint.

The 913D2 drivers come in lofts of 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees of loft in both right- and left-handed models, and a 7.5-degree right-handed model. The D3 also comes in a 7.5-degree right-handed model, along with right- and left-handed models in 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees. They carry a suggested retail price of $449 per club.

Categories: 913D2 913D3
January 31, 2013 - 11:32pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
Callaway debuted the RAZR Fit Xtreme driver in late November, billing it as the longest fully adjustable driver the company has ever measured.

Phil Mickelson came within a whisker of shooting a 59 on Thursday in the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, a score even more impressive because it was the first competitive round he played with a new Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver in his bag.

Mickelson carded 11 birdies to no bogeys in his 60, and hit 16 of 18 greens on the day. He shot a 7-under 29 on his first nine (the back nine at TPC Scottsdale) before cooling off a bit on the back.

''I finally gave our new RAZR Fit Xtreme a chance,'' Mickelson said after his round. ''And I tell you what, on Tuesday, when I hit it, I kept looking up and I was almost in disbelief at how easy it was, how straight it was, and the misses weren't bad. I put it into play in the pro-am yesterday and I hit it great.

''I drove it phenomenal, and felt really good with it,'' he added. ''And the thing that's so great about it is I can make the same swing with my irons as I do with my driver and the ball goes very straight and easy. … So that was the big thing. I drove the ball much better here.''

Callaway debuted the RAZR Fit Xtreme driver in late November, billing it as the longest fully adjustable driver the company has ever measured, and it is now available at retail. The Xtreme is the second adjustable driver Callaway has developed in the past year or so, following the original RAZR Fit Driver, and company officials say this one advances distance and overall performance over its predecessor.

Speed Frame Face Technology is the headliner of the technological advances in the RAZR Fit Xtreme. It combines Callaway's Variable Face Technology and Hyperbolic Face Technology to enhance the stress distribution across the club's titanium face for more efficient energy transfer from clubhead to ball. It also makes for a larger, more consistent sweet spot and increased ball speed, even on off-center contact.

The Speed Frame Face also saves weight that is then redistributed in the clubhead to improve the Center of Gravity and maximize Moment of Inertia, which leads to improved ball flight, stability and forgiveness. In addition, the face features a tighter bulge radius than the original RAZR Fit Driver for a more preferred look at address, along with more consistent sidespin and dispersion.

The driver's crown features Forged Composite – an advanced carbon fiber material that Callaway has been working with for more than four years. Using this patented, lightweight material, which weighs only 12.1 grams – and gives the RAZR Fit Xtreme the lightest crown in golf – allows Callaway engineers to precisely position saved weight to achieve the lowest Center of Gravity in any fully adjustable driver. This promotes higher ball speed and less spin off the tee for more distance.

Two OptiFit Technology elements make up the RAZR Fit Xtreme's improved adjustability: the OptiFit Hosel and OptiFit Weights. The hosel adjusts the face angle to Open, Square or Closed positions to improve accuracy and trajectory while allowing golfers to dial in their preferred look at address. The 13- and 1-gram OptiFit Weights shift the clubhead's Center of Gravity to promote noticeable Draw or Neutral ball flights. The higher lofts have more draw bias than lower lofts.

And speaking of lofts, the RAZR Fit Xtreme comes in more lofts that incorporate a greater range of face angle options, Center of Gravity bias options and CG height differences than the RAZR Fit Driver. Callaway has optimized the performance in each loft to suit the needs of the players that will use it. For example, they said, the 8.5-, 9.5- and 10.5-degree clubheads are 440cc (versus 460cc for other lofts) and feature a more open face angle.

The RAZR Fit Xtreme features two tour-grade shafts as stock offerings. The primary shaft, the Aldila Trinity, combines Aldila's three patented design technologies (RIP, S-Core, Micro Laminate) into a single shaft design. A secondary offering, the Matrix 7M3 Black Tie, is a heavier, lower launching, lower spinning option for players who generate higher head speed and higher spin.

And for golfers wanting to personalize their clubs, Callaway's udesign option has been expanded for the RAZR Fit Xtreme. Both the crown and the sole of the clubhead are now separately customizable with eight different color choices. And for the first time, custom laser engraving will also be available on the sole.

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