Equipment

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
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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
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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.

December 6, 2012 - 2:08am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Adam Scott at the Australian Open
Getty Images
Adam Scott used his usual long putter on Thursday at the Australian Open, and said he is likely to keep the putter but alter his putting motion in the future.

After practicing with a short putter earlier in the week, Adam Scott had his usual long putter in the bag for Thursday's first round of the Emirates Australian Open in Sydney.

The reunion didn't go particlarly well, though, as Scott needed 29 putts to card an even-par 72 at The Lakes Golf Course that included three birdies and three bogeys.

"I'll probably putt with the long putter," Scott had said on Wednesday. "The other one I was messing around with was my first go and it is not quite what I want it to do. It is not quite set up right for me. I'll have another go at another time if I feel I need to."

Scott said he had ordered the shorter putter, which actually has a 40-inch shaft – a bit longer than the 34- or 35-inch shafts found in most flat sticks – some time ago, and was just experimenting with it on Tuesday. And, he stressed, he very likely will continue to use the broomstick putter next season.

"I think I putt fine with any putter. I have spent the last two years learning a skill with the broomstick putter and that is what I am going to use this week, most likely," he said. "Until I invent a better way to putt for myself, I'll stick to the broomstick. I certainly like a lot of the philosophies of putting with a broomstick."

And, he revealed, he probably will continue using a long putter with a slightly different motion even if the ban on anchoring becomes the law of the land in 2016.

"Whatever way I putt in the future, if I just move the hand off my chest an inch or a centimeter or whatever it is, I'll be making an honest stroke," he said. "It will look exactly the same.

"It is simple," he added. "I can move it slightly off my chest and use the same putter, but I think there are better ways than that. We are all searching for the best possible way and I think there are still better ways for me to go about it."

December 5, 2012 - 7:40pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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John Spitzer of the U.S. Golf Association
John Mummert/USGA
John Spitzer is taking over the USGA team in charge of explores and adjudicates all issues concerning golf equipment and equipment technology at the USGA Research and Test Center.

John Spitzer, the U.S. Golf Association's Assistant Technical Director, has been named to replace Dick Rugge as Managing Director of Equipment Standards, the USGA said Wednesday in a letter, obtained by Golf Digest, sent out to its staff. Rugge recently announced that he would retire next February, and Spitzer will take over at that time.

In his new job, Spitzer will direct the group that explores and adjudicates all issues concerning golf equipment and equipment technology at the USGA Research and Test Center. That, of course, is one of the highest-profile and challenging positions within the governing body as it continues to deal with a wide range of equipment questions.

"John's impressive breadth of experience and knowledge, along with his many accomplishments at the USGA, will make him a strong successor to Dick in this critical role," Bodenhamer wrote in the letter. "John and his colleagues are sure to build on the outstanding achievements of the Research and Test Center, as well as the standards they have set, under Dick's stewardship."

Bodenhamer also cited Spitzer's intimate involvement in the creation of some of the USGA’s most important rules and research over the last decade, including the spring-like effect limit, the limits on clubhead construction, and the studies that led to the formulation of new groove regulations.

"He's a very solid engineer, and I've relied on his technical skills throughout my time here," Rugge said. "He is a familiar figure to manufacturers and that will be helpful in our relations with them."

December 5, 2012 - 3:52pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Nike Golf 20XI golf ball, 2013 edition
Courtesy of Nike Golf
The larger RZN core in the new Nike Golf 20XI balls improves feel on all shots while maintaining driver distance, while the added RZN mantle produces longer shots off irons while providing a softer short-game feel.

More is better, at least when it comes to what's inside Nike's 20XI golf balls.

The current iterations of the Swoosh's flagship spheres begin with a core made of a material called RZN (pronounced 'resin'), which is lighter and less dense than the rubber found in many other balls. Using RZN allows for more of the balls' weight to be placed out closer to its perimeter – which, Nike says, makes them more stable in the air and helps them maintain their spin on the way down from the apex of their flight.

For 2013, Nike is adding even more RZN material to the core and mantle of its 20XI balls – in fact, there is two times as much RZN in the new balls compared to the previous generation. This larger RZN core, Nike engineers say, improves feel on all shots while maintaining driver distance, while the added RZN mantle produces longer shots off irons while providing a softer short-game feel.

"The added RZN mantle provides faster speed off irons and, therefore, more distance," said Rock Ishii, Nike Golf's product development director for golf balls. "Not only did we increase speed with 20XI, but we added softness for improved feel around the greens, creating a balanced tour model golf ball."

Internal tests with Nike Golf staff players showed an average of two or three miles per hour in ball speed, Nike said, and each mph gained equated to an additional two or three yards' worth of carry distance.

The lighter RZN core and heavier outer layers produce the kind of perimeter weighting that creates stability and forgiveness in many golf clubs. This stability, often referred to as MOI (Moment of Inertia), helps to reduce ball spin off the driver and to maintain spin as the ball is coming back down toward the ground, In fact, Nike says, the new 20XI has the highest levels of MOI in a golf ball to date.

The 20XI will be available in two versions, the 20XI and the 20XI X.  While both balls deliver faster speed and high levels of MOI, the 20XI ball is designed for improved feel and enhanced short game control. The 20XI X, meanwhile, delivers maximum distance and reduced spin for greater accuracy off the tee, making it the longest tour model Nike Golf has ever created.

Both models will be available on Feb. 1, 2013, and will carry a suggested retail price of $58.00 per dozen and a street price of $45.99.

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