Bobby Jones has long been known as one of the more high-end lines when it comes to golf apparel.
One thing we know for sure - golfers love to buy golf toys. Whether it's clubs, clothes, accessories, shoes, souvenirs, whatever -- there may be no better demographic for advertisers than the 26 million golfers in the United States.
You know what else golfers love? Deals. Not necessarily being cheap, but golfers definitely have an eye toward value for the dollar spent. I'm as guilty as any of them. I don't need a new wedge, I have more than enough golf shirts for any foursome -- but if I spot a good deal online or at the local pro shop, I have to purchase
This week, in our "A Quick Nine" franchise, we asked our 175,000-strong Facebook nation what they liked to buy (and where they bought it) when shopping for golf items online. The results were interesting, but not surprising. Again, golfers love to shop and find deals.
However, when coupled with another recent story I read -- this from The Wall St. Journal on the prevalence of counterfeit clubs for sale online -- it does give me some pause about what I buy (and even more, where I buy it.)
Hey, here's a good spot to plug the 'PGA on eBay' shop on eBay, where you can shop with confidence that the merchandise you're purchasing has been carefully vetted and approved by a PGA-staffed facility.
OK, that's enough as far as advertising. But just thought I'd share the read -- and wish you well in your hunting for great golf items.
No one has been releasing more compelling new equipment and marketing it more aggressively this year than Callaway and TaylorMade. So maybe what happened on Tuesday was inevitable.
On the practice green at the Shell Houston Open, TaylorMade unveiled its new Spider Blade putter. The TaylorMade rep who goes by the Twitter handle @CharlieTour tweeted out a photo of it, and said, ''Here's a first-look @TaylorMadeGolf's new Spider Blade putter - coming soon - from the practice green @ShellHouOpen.''
Clearly, the introduction didn't escape the notice of Callaway Golf, whose Odyssey division has been actively promoting its new Versa putters this spring. An hour after the TaylorMade tweet came a reply from Callaway Senior Vice President Harry Arnett, who responded: ''Just got pictures sent to me by our guys @ Houston event. The Versa knockoffs have made their way to Tour already! #thatdidnttakelong.''
The putter on the right is the Odyssey Versa #1 blade, one of several putters in the Versa line whose dominant feature is the striped head – the thick black and white stripes running laterally down the head to make alignment easier.
The putter on the left is the TaylorMade Spider Blade. We don't know much about it yet, but it also has a distinctive black and white color scheme.
TaylorMade didn't respond to Arnett's tweet, but we have a feeling this discussion is just beginning.
Callaway Golf is embracing the generation of distance off the tee like at no time in the company's history. The new RAZR Fit Xtreme and X Hot drivers are providing a big leap forward from previous models, and the company is actively marketing its new roster of staff players, which includes some of the PGA Tour's biggest bombers.
The latest development in Callaway's drive for distance is the HEX Chrome+ ball, which delivers high ball velocity for maximum distance at mid to high clubhead speeds, especially with the driver.
''HEX Chrome+ is hands down the fastest tour ball we've ever designed at Callaway,'' said Dave Bartels the senior director of Golf Ball R&D at Callaway. ''This new four-piece construction has a single-piece core and dual-mantle system that were designed in unison to create more ball speed with the longer clubs without generating excessive spin, leading to longer distance.
''However, what makes the distance of this ball special is that is achieves that distance and features a soft DuraSpin cover,'' he added. ''This urethane cover material not only has great durability, but provides exceptional 'tour-level' control around the green that the best players in the world demand in a premium ball.''
The ball's extremely resilient core helps to generate more distance over a wide range of clubs and swing speeds. Its dual mantle unlocks distance by increasing speed and minimizing spin off the tee.
The proprietary cover formulation uses a thermoplastic urethane (TPU) blend with excellent durability characteristics, while the cover's softness promotes control on approach shots and shots around the green. And the refined aerodynamics of the HEX dimple pattern helps to reduce drag and promote a stable, penetrating ball flight that holds its line in the wind.
The HEX Chrome+ is Callaway's latest offering in the HEX Chrome family of balls. The original HEX Chrome ball is a three-piece model designed for a high performance from tee to green and a soft feel for players with moderate swing speeds.
The new HEX Chrome+ carries a suggested retail price of $35.99 per dozen.
In recent years, we've enjoyed seeing Nike Golf's ''apparel scripts'' – the outfits the Swoosh staff players wear in the majors. This year, Oakley is jumping into the preview game, showing us what reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson will don during his return to Augusta National.
The photo above shows Watson's wardrobe for Thursday through Sunday, running from left to right.
Watson, of course, made a very high-profile jump from Travis Mathew over to Oakley last winter, and the Masters will mark his first major in Oakley garb.
Here's a summary of his shirts from Oakley:
Thursday: Oakley Fade Polo. Sublimated stripes give big rippers like Bubba a look that sets them apart from the common crowd. Our O Hydrolix yarns keep him dry, and engineered flat seams free movement, eliminate abrasion and max out comfort.
Friday: Cross Cut Polo. Soft on the skin and built to breathe, this performance polo is optimized with Oakley O Hydrolix yarns to manage moisture. Angle stripes play off each other for original style while engineered flat seams let Bubba play hard by making sure every swing, pitch and putt is friction-free.
Saturday: Must Have Polo. This Oakley original takes Bubba beyond the links when the look and feel of a favorite lifestyle polo, and when he's swinging his signature pink driver, the fully treated O Hydrolix yarns keep him cool, dry and comfortable.
Sunday: Side Door Polo. One of the quickest drying yarns in the industry, Oakley O Hydrolix optimizes comfort to keep Bubba cool and focused when he's up against tough putts. Engineered burn-out side panels maximize ventilation, and the look salutes Bubba's pure originality.
When you hear the name Barber Pole Golf, it'd be natural to think it's a red-blooded American clubmaker. Truth is, Barber Pole is based in Dublin, Ireland.
The boutique putter company makes its flatsticks in the United States, though, and is bringing them to the American market this spring.
Barber Pole specializes in solid brass putters with Radius Face Technology, which the company says helps each putter produce topspin immediately upon impact to get the ball quickly rolling on line. In essence, Radius Face Technology removes the loft found on many modern putters and, the company says, makes Barber Pole putters a good choice for putting out of the fringe as well.
"Radius Face Technology is designed to stroke the golf ball above the equator," says Barber Pole Putting Technologist (yes, that’s his title!) A.J. Crinion. "The connection produces immediate topspin and a true, forward roll for improved control and accuracy."
Each putter face is carved from a block of solid brass, which the company says eliminates dead spots or air pockets, which can happen with cast putters. By using CNC (Computer Numerical Control) milling technology, Barber Pole guarantees the quality and integrity of each putters.
Barber Pole is bringing the four models in its Irish Links series, all of which conform to USGA and R&A standards, to the United States:
--The Ballybunion mallet features a double-bend shaft to help align the shaft with the center of the face, making the putter face-balanced. The crown contains a single alignment dot, and the putter retails for $369.
--The Portrush blade has a classic plumbers neck design. It features a single alignment dot on the crown and an alignment line on the flange to help square the face up. It retails for $349.
--The Waterville mallet has a thicker crown between the face and the rounded-off back cavity for a solid feel. It also contains both an alignment dot and line, and retails for $369.
--And the Lahinch blade has a flow-neck design for a clean view of the ball at address. The overall design has a touch of the old ''Bullseye'' in it and the crown also contains a single alignment dot. It retails for $349.
All four putters come in 33-, 34-, 35- and 36-inch lengths, and can be bought with either a standard tour grip or a red and white striped Barber Pole grip.
For more information, visit BarberPoleGolf.com.
PGA of America Championships
Benton Harbor, Mich.
Sahalee Country Club
Baltusrol Golf Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club