December 5, 2012 - 6:40pm
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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 - 2:52pm
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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.

December 4, 2012 - 10:41pm
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John Holmes
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Rickie Fowler at the World Challenge
Getty Images
His Vibrant Orange driver was one of 12 clubs from the 2013 AMP Cell line of clubs from Cobra Golf that Rickie Fowler played last week at Tiger Woods' World Challenge.

The fourth quarter of the year is a time when many players begin seriously checking out new gear to see what they might put in play next season. Rarely, however, does a player field-test a whole new bag of clubs in tournament play.

Rickie Fowler, however, did just that at Tiger Woods' World Challenge last week. A total of 12 of the 14 clubs in his bag at Sherwood Country Club came from Cobra Golf's brand-new 2013 AMP Cell line.

"Rickie and I have been working together with the R&D team all year," said Cobra Puma Golf Tour Manager Ben Schomin. "Rickie has been giving feedback on shape, design and performance, and he was extremely excited and pleased with the final results."

According to Cobra, here's what Fowler played:

--AMP Cell Pro driver, 7.5 degrees of loft in Vibrant Orange with MyFly
--AMP Cell 3+ fairway wood, in Vibrant Orange with MyFly
--AMP Cell 3-hybrid, in Vibrant Orange with MyFly
--AMP Cell Pro MB 4-9 irons
--Prototype Tour Trusty Rusty Wedges in 47-degree, 51-degree and 55-degree lofts

MyFly, by the way, allows golfers to change between six different trajectory settings. The driver, fairway woods and hybrids come in a choice of four different colors, and it’s no surprise that Fowler selected Vibrant Orange. The AMP Cell line will be available in the United States next February, though some clubs in the line are already out in Australia now.

Fowler tied for fourth at 9-under 279, deadlocked with Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, at Sherwood. He makes his final start of the year this week at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, where he will pair with fellow youngster Bud Cauley in the three-day, two-man competition. Presumably, he'll give those dozen sticks another workout.

For more on the AMP Cell line, visit

December 4, 2012 - 11:57am
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John Holmes
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Adam Scott at the Australian Open
Getty Images
Adam Scott practiced his putting Tuesday at the Australian Open using a claw grip with his bottom hand but keeping his top hand separated.

Adam Scott is playing the Australian Open this week, and he spent part of Tuesday practicing with a "normal" putter.

Scott was spotted on the practice green working with a traditional putter that had a slightly extended shaft, according to British news service PA Sport, and then used it during his practice round.

As you can see in this photo from Getty Images, Scott used a claw-style grip with his right hand, but kept his left hand slightly separated toward the top of the grip to produce a stroke similar to the one he's used with his broomstick putter for the past 18 months or so. However, there was a clear gap between the end of the putter and his body, meaning the stroke would be legal under the anchoring guidelines proposed by the USGA and R&A last week.

Judging by the photo, the putter appears to be a shorter version of the Titleist Scott Cameron Studio Select Kombi he usually plays.

Scott – who won the Australian Masters on Nov. 18 with his broomstick putter -- had said that he planned to keep using his long putter next year, but now looks to be changing his mind. We haven't heard from him yet, and it'll be curious to see if he uses the shorter putter during the tournament itself.

November 30, 2012 - 12:51pm
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John Holmes
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Odyssey Metal-X Arm Lock putter
Courtesy of Odyssey Golf
The Odyssey Metal-X Arm Lock putters allow golfers to brace the shaft against their lead forearm, which would be legal under the proposed ban on anchoring putters.

Well, somebody was clearly planning ahead -- a mere 48 hours after the USGA and R&A announced their proposed ban on anchoring putters, Odyssey Golf unveiled its new Metal-X Arm Lock Putters. According to Odyssey, the new long-shafted putters conform to the anticipated ruling and offer an alternative method of stabilizing the putter through a natural-feeling extension of the golfer's arm.

''We have been working toward solutions for the proposed ban on the anchoring technique for some time now, and working with our Tour players, have identified an alternative and Tour-proven putting method,'' said Odyssey Golf Global Director Chris Koske. ''We're now moving quickly to deliver the Arm Lock products that promote a stable and consistent putting stroke for both professionals and amateur golfers.''

The Metal-X Arm Lock Putter will be available initially in two models, the Metal-X #7 and the Metal-X DART. The specs of these two putters have been optimized through research and testing, said Odyssey, which explained that they allow golfers to extend the shaft and grip up their lead forearm for more consistent performance and control through the stroke.

''We have more Tour players around the world playing and winning with Odyssey putters than any other company,'' said Odyssey Principal Designer Austie Rollinson. ''We worked closely with many of them to dial in the new Arm Lock Putters to ensure they perform at the highest level.''

The Arm Lock Putters will be available at retail in January 2013, and will carry an introductory retail price of $189.99.

November 29, 2012 - 2:17pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Bernhard Langer
Getty Images
If there is anything illegal about long putters, Bernhard Langer wonders, why did golf's governng bodies not stop their spread right away?

As the golf world began to digest Wednesday's announcement of a proposed rule to ban anchoring, prominent long putter users like Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley seemed to be accepting the decision.

Half a world away, however, Bernhard Langer doesn't sound like he's going to surrender so quietly.

On Thursday in South Africa, Langer launched a strong defense of the long putter he has used so successfully for 15 years, saying that the proposal to change the rule was not "the end of it" and hinting at a legal response from users.

"It has been out for" about 35 years, said Langer, who is playing in the Nedbank Champions Challenge at the Sun City Resort, about the long putter. "If there is anything illegal about it, why did they not stop it right away? If it is that easy with a long putter, a belly putter, why aren't 90 percent of the pros and 100 percent of the amateurs using it?

"There are pros that are on tour that grew up with that putter," he added. "They have invested 15-20 years in practicing, maybe 30 years practicing with a long putter or belly putter, and now they have to switch and they make a living doing that."

"I do not think it is the end of it," he said.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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