Equipment

November 18, 2012 - 8:38pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Steve Elkington's new Titleist golf balls
Steve Elkington via Twitter
‏"Titleist has 2 new balls out for next year.... I'm going to test them tomorrow," said Steve Elkington on Twitter, showing us the new Pro V1 and Pro V1x models.

This past week was a huge one around the world of golf, with star players like Luke Donald, Adam Scott, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Henrik Stenson earning victories in all corners of the globe. It was an even bigger week for Titleist, which earned the very first victories for both its 2013-14 Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls with a matter of hours of each other.

Scott chalked up the first triumph for the new Pro V1 model at the Australian Masters, while Donald rolled the Pro V1x to its first title at the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan PGA Tour. The photos I’ve seen from those events didn’t show any distinctive shots of the new balls but, coincidentally, former PGA Champion Steve Elkington tweeted a photo of the test models he received on Friday, and I have posted his photo above.

Since the original Pro V1 balls were introduced a dozen years ago, Titleist has released new models every two years. The company unofficially debuted the 2013-14 editions at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals Open in Las Vegas in October, when Titleist staff players began receiving plain white boxes containing the precious spheres to begin testing and evaluating.

Officially, Titleist has said very little about the new balls, though maybe we’ll hear more about them this week now that they’ve found their way into the winner’s circle.

To refresh your memory, the current Pro V1 is designed for increased spin control and a more consistent flight, thanks to a large, solid polybutadiene core and an ionomeric casing layer inside a urethane elastomer cover outfitted with a 352 tetrahedral dimple design.

The current Pro V1x ball is designed for longer distance and what Titleist calls its Drop-and-Stop greenside control. It features a large, high-velocity dual core with a soft center inside an ionomeric casing layer and a urethane elastomer cover with a 328 tetrahedral dimple design.

November 16, 2012 - 12:45am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Cleveland Golf 588 RTX CB wedge
Courtesy of Cleveland Golf
The faces of the new Cleveland 588 RTX CB wedges feature a unique direction milling pattern that helps increase the spin imparted on balls, especially on open-face shots.

Not only did Charlie Beljan overcome severe panic attack symptoms to earn his first PGA Tour victory at the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic last Sunday, he also chalked up the first victory for the new 588 RTX CB wedges from Cleveland Golf. And in a case of perfect timing, these new wedges are officially hitting the stores on Friday.

The new wedges are the latest extension of Cleveland’s famed 588 line, and include the company's most advanced spin technology ever.

These advances begin with Cleveland's ROTEX face pattern. This directionally milled face pattern adds roughness and enhances spin, especially on open-face wedge shots in which impact tends to be closer to the toe. The ROTEX milling process creates semicircular, downward-oriented marks that are perpendicular to the direction the ball moves up the face on shots when the clubface is opened way up.

In addition, the milling on the faces is rougher and more durable than before to create more friction at impact – and maintain that level of friction long after the clubs are new. The faces also feature U-Grooves, which Cleveland says are 16 percent larger by volume than its previous Tour Zip Grooves to promote cleaner contact and maximize spin on critical scoring shots.

Inspired by Cleveland's popular CG14 and CG16 wedges, the RTX CB models come with a wide, constant-width sole that combines heel and toe grinds to improve performance from bunkers and deep rough. The new wedges also boast an undercut cavity (the CB stands for cavity back) to enhance their perimeter weighting for more forgiveness on off-center hits.

The 588 RTX CB wedges come in eight different lofts between 46 and 60 degrees with standard bounce in both Satin Chrome and Black Pearl finishes, and a women’s version is also available. The clubs carry a minimum advertised price of $119.99 per club.

 

November 14, 2012 - 3:02am
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Graeme McDowell
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Some golf officials believe that the long putter "takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke," says Graeme McDowell.
Do golf’s governing bodies believe they’ve made a mistake by not banning long putters that can be anchored to the body? They do, according to Graeme McDowell.

U.S. Golf Association Chief Executive Mike Davis told him that their research indicated that putters anchored to the belly, chest or chin give golfers an edge in pressure situations, McDowell told the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper on Tuesday as he prepared to play in this week’s Australian Masters.

"They're convinced the research has shown that under pressure on a Sunday afternoon the long putter just kind of takes one extraneous movement out of the putting stroke," McDowell told the paper. "It just makes it physically easier to stroke the putter when the nerves are there (and) I think we should be levelling the playing field (by banning it).

"I think it's probably something they're disappointed in themselves that it's got to this point," he added. "They probably should have nipped it in the bud many, many years ago."

November 13, 2012 - 10:42pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver
Courtesy of Callaway Golf
The OptiFit Hosel adjusts the face angle to Open, Square or Closed positions, while the OptiFit Weights shift the clubhead's Center of Gravity to promote noticeable Draw or Neutral ball flights.

Callaway Golf debuted its RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver on Tuesday, billing it as the longest fully adjustable driver the company has ever measured. 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.

"The RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver is worthy of its extreme designation," said Callaway Senior Vice President of Research & Development Alan Hocknell. "We worked tirelessly to improve on the best distance characteristics of our longest drivers, and the result is incredibly fast ball speed off the Speed Frame Face, plus the lowest CG of any adjustable driver in golf. This driver is very long and consistent. It will not be matched."

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, CG 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 will feature 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 will be expanded for the RAZR Fit Xtreme. Both the crown and the sole of the clubhead are now separately customizable with eight different color options. And for the first time, custom laser engraving will also be available on the sole.

The RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver will be available at retail on Jan. 18, 2013, and will carry a new product introduction retail price of $399.99.

Callaway has had great fun teasing the introduction of his new driver on social media over the past couple of days before officially unveiling it late Tuesday. To check out their tweets and see promotional videos of the RAZR Fit Xtreme Driver, click here.

November 8, 2012 - 9:27pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Chromax Distance golf ball
Courtesy of Chromax Golf

Chromax Golf has introduced the Distance ball to its line of high-visibility, metallic finish golf balls. The Distance, a premium ball designed for players of all abilities, is Chromax’s first 90-compression ball.

"We tested the Chromax Distance at a highly respected industry testing laboratory in San Diego and the results showed that at a clubhead speed of 90 mph, the total distance (carry and roll) equaled the major brands," said Chromax founder Stuart Lin, the inventor of the Chromax golf ball. "When the Chromax Distance was tested at a field average of 108 mph, it outperformed the major brands."

The ball’s high-energy large titanium core is made of a polybutadiene rubber compound blend and molded for improved feel, durability and elasticity, and it provides maximum energy transfer at all swing speeds. The ball features a 482-dimple design that optimizes trajectory and distance with a medium spin rate, while its translucent Surlyn cover provides soft feel around the green and helps the better player shape shots with optimal spin.

The Distance ball comes in Electric Green and Galactic Gold, and – as with all Chromax balls – the High Visibility Technology Metallic layer helps reflect sunlight for better visibility in all lighting conditions, allowing golfers to easily track the ball in flight and on the course. The illuminating color also improves putting by assisting golfers in seeing the line.

The new Chromax Distance ball is available now with a suggested retail price of $42 per dozen.

For more information, visit www.chromaxgolf.com.

 

November 6, 2012 - 6:52pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Adam Scott
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Adam Scott thinks golf's governing bodies should leave long putters alone and concentrate their energy more on dealing with the ever-expanding distances that modern clubs can hit the ball.

Before long, it seems, every player who uses a long putter will have come out against the proposed rule change to banish them. The latest to speak up is Adam Scott, who said on Tuesday that he spoke with European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady last week to stress his opinion that a ban on the long putter he has used since 2011 would be unfair.

"It is very hard to find a good reason to do that (get rid of long putters) at this stage, so my conversation was to find out where things sit because it is very hard to get information," Scott told Reuters at the Barclays Singapore Open. "My opinion would be I don't think it is in the best interests of the game to ban the long putter. I think there are some more important issues that probably should have time spent on them than putting."

Scott went out of his way to shoot down a suggestion from Tiger Woods that the putter should be the shortest club in a player’s bag.

"His voice carries some weight on the issue -- a lot of players have been quite outspoken about it and certainly when Tiger Woods speaks about it generates a lot of interest," said Scott. "But I'm not necessarily sure his views on what the putter should be are correct at all. I don't think the putter should be the shortest club in the bag -- that has never been a rule in golf so I don't know why it should be now."

Instead of worrying about putters, Scott would prefer to see golf’s governing bodies focus more on reining in the distance that contemporary clubs are capable of hitting the ball.

"I think that it is fairly well acknowledged that length generally is probably the biggest issue in the game and it doesn't just mean how far pros hit it,” Scott told Reuters. "Some of our courses, great courses, are too short these days.

"If we are talking about equipment side of things, the length issue is probably the most important because tees are moved back," he added. "Greens are not changed because people are putting with a long putter."

 

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