Equipment

January 1, 2013 - 4:06pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Kyle Stanley and Nick Watney
Courtesy of Nike Golf
Nike revealed its two new signings in a special announcement on New Year's Day.

The folks at Nike Golf aren't taking it easy on New Year's Day. Instead of sleeping in, the Swoosh has announced that it has signed Nick Watney and Kyle Stanley away from Titleist.

Stanley's story -- crushing defeat at Torrey Pines followed the very next week by a redemptive victory in Phoenix -- is a great one, but Watney is the big story here. He's a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, with the most recent of those coming at the Barclays, the first event of the 2012 FedExCup playoffs. And, of course, he won the FedExCup in 2011.

Watney, ranked No. 20 in the world, is making the first equipment switch of his 10-year pro career, Nike said. He will play a full bag of Nike clubs, use Nike accessories and wear Nike gloves, headwear, footwear and apparel as part of his multi-year agreement with the company.

In Watney's bag will be:

--VR_S Covert driver with 11.5 degrees of loft and in a neutral position
--VR_S Covert 3-wood with 14 degrees of loft
--VR_S Covert 5-wood with 18 degrees of loft
--VR Pro Combo irons (3-PW)
--VR Pro 55-degree and 59-degree wedges
--Method Prototype putter
--20XI ball
--Tour Performance Collection apparel
--Lunar Control II footwear

Stanley also has signed a multiyear deal to use Nike gear and wear Nike apparel. His bag will include:

--VR_S Covert driver with 9.5 degrees of loft and in a neutral position
--VR Pro Limited Edition 3-wood with 15 degrees of loft
--VR Pro Combo 2-iron
--VR Pro Blades (3- to 9-irons)
--Nike VR Pro 52-degree, 56-degree and 60-degree wedges
--20XI X putter
--Tour Performance Collection apparel
--Lunar Control II footwear

A few quick notes:

--Watney's 11.5 degrees of loft in his driver is the most loft of any top-level PGA Tour player that I'm aware of. Watney, who is switching to Nike from Titleist, had been using a 10.5-degree loft in his Titleist 913D3 driver.

--The list of Stanley's gear that Nike released doesn't include a putter. It's possible that he hasn't definitely decided on a new Nike model yet, but it's also possible that he's planning to stick with an old reliable putter of a different brand. I'm not sure what he's been using lately, but when he won the Phoenix Open last February, he used a Scotty Cameron Timeless GSS prototype.

--Both Watney and Stanley are scheduled to debut their new stuff in the PGA Tour's season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which starts this Friday in Hawaii.

--And finally, one more intriguing tidbit to start the new year. Nike is planning another announcement next Monday, Jan. 7, and the speculation is, of course, that it will be the official word on Rory McIlroy's much-reported switch to the Swoosh.

Update: Also, we have learned that:

--Chris Kirk has gone from Titleist to Callaway
--Gary Woodland has gone from Titleist to Callaway
--2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink has gone from Nike over to TaylorMade
--2010 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover also has gone from Nike over to TaylorMade
--2012 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year John Huh has gone from Ping to TaylorMade
--Ryan Moore has gone from Adams Golf over to TaylorMade (TaylorMade owns Adams Golf, so this is an in-house move)

 

December 26, 2012 - 12:59am
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Abe Espinosa, Denny Shute and Al Espinosa
PGA of America Archive
Was this club the inspiration for today's big-headed drivers? Well, probably not.

I know some of you lucky ducks out there found brand-new golf clubs under the tree on Christmas morning, and I'm sure the're awesome. I'm also sure they're not as awesome as this one.

This is the world's largest golf club, as of 1933 -- I ran across it the other day while searching for something else.

The head weighs 100 pounds, is three feet wide and is as perfectly proportioned as a normal-sized driver. The golf ball is 13 inches in diameter. The driver was built for the opening ceremony of the 1933 Pasadena Open Golf Tournament in Pasadena., Calif., and apparently was just one of several huge clubs constructed to use as an arch over the first tee at the Pasadena Muncipal Golf Course.

As for the golfers trying to swing that thing, they are (from left to right) Abe Espinosa, Denny Shute and Al Espinosa, all big-time players at the time. Abe Espinosa was a PGA Club Professional at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, and made history as the first Hispanic-American to win a significant championship, the 1928 Western Open. His younger brother Al was even more prolific, winning nine times on the early PGA Tour.

And Shute, of course, is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. He won three majors in the 1930s – the 1933 British Open at St. Andrews, as well as the 1936 and 1937 PGA Championship, In fact, he was the last man to win two straight PGA Championships until Tiger Woods did so in 1999 and 2000. Shute also played on three Ryder Cup teams, and totaled 16 PGA Tour victories between 1920 and 1939.

And oh by the way, that 1933 Pasadena Open was won by the legendary player, instructor and PGA Professional Paul Runyan.

December 20, 2012 - 2:54pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
Callaway Golf X Hot and X Hot Pro irons
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
In both the X Hot (left) and X Hot Pro irons, Callaway incorporated a Deep Undercut Cavity Design and its powerful Speed Frame Face Technology to strike a balance of high ball speed and great feel.

Callaway Golf set out to deliver measurable distance gains with its two new, aggressive iron sets, the X Hot and X Hot Pro.

"The X Hot Irons have been meticulously engineered – both in terms of physical characteristics and club configuration – to increase ball speed and promote overall distance optimization," said Callaway’s Senior Vice President, Research and Development Alan Hocknell. "And in doing so, I think we have raised the bar and created the standard in distance for the irons category."

In both of the new sets of irons, Callaway incorporated a Deep Undercut Cavity Design and its powerful Speed Frame Face Technology to strike a balance of high ball speed and great feel. The deep undercut design allowed Callaway to precisely position the Center of Gravity and move the hottest – and most compliant – part of the face lower, where more golfers make contact with the ball.

And for the first time, Callaway has incorporated Speed Frame Face Technology from such drivers as the RAZR Fit and RAZR X into the X Hot Irons. Doing so optimizes stiffness across the face – essentially creating a larger sweet spot – for more efficient energy transfer. This produces more ball speed and consistent distance, even on off-center contact, and saves weight that can be redistributed to the perimeter of the clubhead for more stability.

Rounding out the X Hot Irons is Feel Management Technology, a dual material medallion that fine-tunes sound by promoting a crisp, dynamic feel at higher ball speeds. The stock shaft offering is a True Temper Speed Step 85 Lightweight Steel Shaft.

The X Hot Pro Irons feature Callaway's 20-degree Close Spaced V Grooves, which are typically reserved for forged irons. They're included in the X Hot Pro Irons to offer up to 1000 rpm more backspin out of the rough (in comparison to their predecessor). These are Callaway’s most precise grooves, improving performance in an iron for better players.

The new irons will be available at retail on Jan. 25, 2013. The X Hot set will carry a new product introduction price of $699 with steel shafts and $899 with graphite shafts, while the X Hot Pro clubs will have a new product introduction price of $799 with steel shafts and $999 with graphite shafts.

For more information, visit www.callawaygolf.com

 

December 10, 2012 - 2:38pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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TaylorMade RocketBladez iron, Nike VR_S Covert driver
Courtesy of TaylorMade (left) and Nike Golf
TaylorMade's new RocketBladez irons registered their inaugural competitive victory in Florida, while Nike's VR_S Covert driver got its first tour win in South Africa.

The week just concluded was the next-to-last week of competition in 2012, but it produced a couple of firsts in the world of equipment.

Over at the Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa, Scott Jamieson of England chalked up the first competitive victory for the new VR_S Covert drivers from Nike Golf. And in the Franklin Templeton Shootout in Naples, Fla., Sean O'Hair (teaming with Kenny Perry) earned the first victory for the new RocketBladez irons from TaylorMade.

"Believe in your driver," tweeted Nike Golf after Jamieson's victory in the first event of the 2013 European Tour season, noting that Jamieson gained seven yards in carry distance with his new driver.

The VR_S Covert driver is the first to bring high-speed cavityback technology to a conforming driver, Nike says. The High Speed Cavity Back leads to more stability at impact, and is visible only from the sole – hence the name VR_S Covert. And by incorporating this new hidden geometry into the driver, Nike is able to move the weight of the club to the heel and toe, increasing Moment of Inertia (MOI) to increase forgiveness and add even more distance to off-center shots.

The VR_S Covert and Covert Tour drivers will be available in North America and Europe on Feb. 8, 2013, and the rest of world starting Feb. 15, 2013.

Meanwhile, "the first PGA Tour professional to play RBladez Tour irons (Sean O'Hair) became the first to win with them," tweeted TaylorMade, who also noted that Rory Sabbatini, who finished runner-up with teammate Charles Howell III.

The secret of the RocketBladez' success is their Speed Pocket, a narrow slot cut in the sole of the 3-iron through 7-iron that permits the face to flex farther and more easily upon impact, particularly when a golfer hits the ball low on the face. The improved flex, says TaylorMade, promotes increased springiness up to the USGA limit for high ball speed. In fact, TaylorMade says, these irons are as hot as many drivers, and could help most golfers add two to five yards per shot.

Higher-lofted clubs like the sand wedge and lob wedge don't include the Speed Pocket, but have redesigned cavities to improve their feel, and feature TaylorMade's ATV (All-Terrain Versatility) sole for improved workability around the greens. In addition, these clubs come equipped with heavier steel shafts to promote better rhythm and control in shorter swings.

RocketBladez irons are available now.

December 9, 2012 - 3:04pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
john.holmes's picture
STX Golf putter
Courtesy of STX Golf
Putters like the Envision TR are examples of the innovation encouraged at STX Golf.

STX, LLC, the parent company of puttermaker STX Golf, has been selected as one of the Baltimore Sun Top Workplaces for 2012.

The award, based on a survey of employees, recognizes Baltimore-area businesses that workers find rewarding, motivating and meaningful to work for. The survey was conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, LLP, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement.

"We are honored to receive this award from The Baltimore Sun and especially from our employees," said STX General Manager Jason Goger. "This award is particularly important to STX because we strive to create a workplace with talented, entrepreneurial-minded professionals who share our commitment to 'Never Stop' innovating."

In the survey, employees were asked about important organization qualities including company leadership, career opportunities, workplace flexibility and compensation.

STX employees said their organization has a clear sense of direction as well as brilliant execution and innovation and makes them feel valued, according to the survey. They also agreed that new ideas are encouraged within the company and that their jobs have exceeded initial expectations.

Along with putters, STX is a leader in lacrosse and field hockey equipment.

For more information, visit www.stx.com.

December 6, 2012 - 11:28am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
OptiShot
Dancin' Dogg Golf
The award-winning OptiShot Infrared Simulator features a redesigned user interface loaded with new software for a true-to-life golfing experience without leaving your home.

Still looking for the perfect gift for the golfer in your life this holiday season? We've got just the thing for you.

Dancin' Dogg Golf -- maker of the award-winning OptiShot Infrared Simulator -- has launched its next-generation software package, which includes a completely redesigned interface and enhanced graphics for an even more incredible experience on what many peg the ultimate in-home virtual golf system.

During the winter months, weather can prevent a lot of us from getting out to the course or the range to practice. However, don't let that be a reason to shove your golf clubs into the closet for a few months only to dust them off in the spring. With OptiShot, you can fine-tune your game throughout the winter and hit the course in the spring as though you never missed a beat.

The biggest enhancements to to the completely redesigned graphics package and user interface, include these cool features:

- Ability to set fairway and green speeds or select shot difficulty in light rough, rough and bunkers

- Pin-Point Practice Range with visual shot patterning, accuracy lines and precision rings

- Seven game types including Stroke Play, Match Play, Stableford and skins

- Option for complete in-system transition to Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, French or French-Canadian

The sleek new design, easier-to-read data, improved navigation, variety of putting modes, custom display options and the ability to preview premium courses have also been added to the system. These combine to further distinguish OptiShot (MSRP: $399.95) from competing in-home simulators that can cost more than $50,000.

"It's perfect for us to add so many exciting new features just as the weather turns cold and the holiday shopping season begins," says Brandon Theophilus, CEO of Dancin' Dogg Golf. "Our team of in-house developers has really taken things to the next level, ensuring golfers of all abilities can play more often, have more fun and improve their skills without leaving home."

OptiShot connects with Windows computers via a plug-and-play interface and requires only 8 1/2 feet of swing space. With their own clubs, up to four players per round can compete by hitting real balls, foam balls (provided) or no ball at all. Infrared sensors on a durable swing pad precisely record club-head speed, face angle, swing path, distance, tempo, face contact and ball flight. In addition to Core courses that come with the system, OptiShot users can practice on a realistic driving range, compete using the par-3 option or purchase premium course replicas of world famous layouts.
 
For more information, visit www.dancindogg.com.

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