The distinctive black Wilson Staff FG Tour M3 drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and irons are designed for feel players.
The 2014 PGA Merchandise Show, held Jan. 22-24 in Orlando, showcased thousands of new products great and small from hundreds of vendors. After walking the 10 miles of aisles in the Orange County Convention Center for two days, I've come up with a list of 10 products that caught my eye, and I'm rolling them out over a 10-day period. Here is the fourth one:
For much of the 20th century, Wilson Staff one of the dominant brands in both clubs and balls. Players like Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen helped bring golf into the mainstream in the United States with Wilson Staff equipment, and the company's pedigree runs through Sam Snead and Armold Palmer, Payne Stewart and Ben Crenshaw, John Daly and Vijay Singh.
And though Padraig Harrington has won three majors sporting the Wilson Staff shield in recent years, the brand has slipped down out of the ranks of the top clubmakers over the past decade or two – at least in the United States (it's maintained a bigger presence in Europe).
There have been signs of life lately, though. Sales in the United States were up about 20 percent last year, and the company is poised to make even more gains as it rolls out an impressive club line this spring to mark Wilson's 100 years in golf. Getting back into the ranks of elite clubmakers is an incredibly tall task, but its new FG Tour M3 family of clubs is a solid start.
These new drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and irons are designed for better players, and all but the irons feature what Wilson calls its Multi Fit System. Golfers can use the six adjustable hosel settings and three interchangeable sole weights to maximize their clubhead and ball speeds, while selecting the proper launch angle and spin rate to enhance their distance.
The FG Tour M3 driver is Wilson Staff's first adjustable driver – the head comes set at an initial loft of 9.5 degrees, but can be adjusted in half-degree increments from 8.5 to 11.5 degrees. Along with its adjustability features, the 460cc head contains a variable thickness face that maximizes the sweet spot. A light, chemically-etched crown helps create a favorable sound and allows for weight to be redistributed around the perimeter of the head, while the deep face and pear shape make the head appear more compact at address.
The fairway woods feature the same adjustability options and similar variable face thickness and perimeter weighting. The three head options come standard at initial lofts of 13.5, 15 and 17 degrees, and can be adjusted from 12.5 to 19 degrees in half-degree increments, depending on the respective head.
The hybrids offer three loft settings in each head and the same three lofts at 2-degree upright lie angles – along with three sole weight options – for optimized trajectory and increased clubhead speeds. The loft changes allow feel players to optimize their distance and trajectory, the company says, while the lie changes improve control and turf interaction.
The four head options come standard at initial lofts of 17, 19, 21 and 23 degrees. The lofts can be adjusted from 16 to 24 degrees in half-degree increments with upright options, depending on the respective head.
The FG Tour M3 irons were built with the goal of providing the feel and workability of a forged players' iron while also delivering a significant level of forgiveness. The topline is thin on all the irons for a better look and to help lower the Center of Gravity to get the ball up in the air more easily.
The heads also feature a progressive cavity design to optimize the weight placement from club to club. Much of the weight is moved to the heel and toe in the long irons for more stability and forgiveness, transitioning to a more uniform thickness in the short irons for consistency and repeatability.
All the FG Tour M3 clubs are finished with a distinctive black coating, making them stand out in every bag. The driver retails for $349.99, while the fairway woods go for $219.99 per club, the hybrids for $199.99 per club, and the irons for $899.99 per set with graphite shafts and $799.99 per set with steel shafts. They will be available this spring at select golf shops and online at www.Wilson.com.