Golf gear manufacturers release a lot of new equipment during the year. While the vast majority of offerings are simply updated, tricked-out versions of existing models, interesting stuff does come down the pike every now and then.
Here are a few equipment items that caught our attention in recent weeks.
Bellying up – way up
TaylorMade's Ghost Spider putter.
Every golfer of a certain age remembers Jack Nicklaus’ stunning Masters triumph in 1986. Most have forgotten the explosion of putter sales that followed his win. Specifically, sales of the mammoth-headed MacGregor Response ZT putter Nicklaus used to make all those back-nine bombs.
In the 2 ½ years following Nicklaus’ sixth Masters victory, MacGregor sold an astounding 350,000 Response ZTs. A similar boom is mushrooming now in the belly and long putter market.
Late-season victories by Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson put extended flatsticks front and center in the public’s eye. TaylorMade recently tripled fourth-quarter sales expectations for long and belly putters, and accelerated the timeline for launching long versions of its popular Corza Ghost and Ghost Spider models.
Cleveland and Odyssey have reported similar success and product plans.
adidas joins street shoe brigade
Constant innovation is a key benefit of the free-market system. And whenever something original breaks through to a mass audience, copy-cats are sure to follow.
adidas' new adicross golf shoes
Hence, Nirvana begat Bush, the Android rode the iPhone’s coattails, and adidas joined the parade of companies mimicking Ecco’s Street Premiere golf shoes.
The adicross is adidas’ entry into this expanding category, which FootJoy, Nike and startups like Kikkor Golf have joined. (For the record, we consider TRUE Linkswear shoes a somewhat different breed.)
What does adicross offer? Lightweight, full-grain leather, five color combos and, of course, a spikeless sole.
Not to be confused with soul-less tripe. For that, we recommend listening to a Bush album.
Rejoice: Mizuno intros new irons
Few golf brands inspire the loyalty of Mizuno, specifically, the company’s forged irons. (You’ll get my Mizzies when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.)
There’s a new member of the esteemed MP family, the cavity-back MP-59. Like its forebear, the MP-58, the 59 features a hunk of titanium forged into the back of the blade. The company claims a 5-percent larger sweet spot on the MP-59s than the 58s.
Mizuno aims these irons at golfers in the plus-2 to 13 handicap range. In other words, you need to be a decent stick, but not a world-beater, to wield them properly.
The Nike VR Pro Tour and Nike VR Pro driver is Nike's brand new brainchild with a huge push to tour level control as well as shot-shaping. This Nike VR Pro's motto includes "It allows you to imagine more. You can imagine more choices for more distance upon more shots."
The 4 piece titanium forging alongside the thin crown in order to save weight will make the Nike VR Pro beautiful to behold. The hosel will feature thirty-two adjustable settings which permit you to target nearly all imaginable shots. Variable thickness cupface will improve the off-center hits with a larger degree of accuracy than the additional drivers. The best in tech talk includes the "Compression Channel," that’s made to equate to quicker ball speed for both off-center as well as on-center hits.
Lofts: 11.5, 10.5, 9.5 and 8.5.
Here include some actual golfer feedback:
"The appearance works for everybody...feel and sound is powerful!"
"A sweet hit is nearly hydraulic, and the hang time is awesome!"
"The appearance is a lot more conventional."
"If Tiger places it inside his bag, he may find his game once again!"
Golf Gear Select Cons and Pros
Adjustability of the driver is amazing, albeit more enjoyed by the better golfer for shot-shaping. The brand new appearance ought to fit a majority of players. The only channel is a brand new technology which is keen upon raising ball speed... a fantastic concept. Finally, including the brand new Project X Graphite is absolutely no slouch. It is still early, yet the major driver makers are fiddling with the shaft length. This one includes 45-3/4 that might affect a few golfers who are used to the 46-- this remains to be seen. Also, it seems most players don’t yet believe Nike to be a major player within the driver field. It shouldn’t be an issue for the marketing mogul Nike, yet nonetheless, will be intriguing to witness if they could push the driver upon the exact same scale as the Callaway as well as the TaylorMade.
My Rating includes a:
My Final Thoughts on the Nike VR Pro Driver
There isn’t any doubt that the brand new Nike VR Pro Tour, as well as the Nike VR Pro driver will gain a bit of traction. Every bit of this technology that is bundled into a single driver will be enough to make most players salivate!
The golf world was abuzz this week, anxious to see how Tiger Woods would play after a three-month layoff and trying out a brand new… pair of shoes.
OK, so maybe Tiger’s new caddie, Byron Bell, commanded a bit more attention in the wake of Woods’ ugly public parting with long-time looper Steve Williams.
But as equipment geeks, we’re more interested in Tiger’s new Nikes -- which look suspiciously like some of the innovative models intro’d by other brands in recent months. (More on them in a moment.)
Here’s the lowdown on Tiger’s kicks:
Having worked out in a pair of Nikes featuring the company’s new Free technology, Woods asked designer Tobie Hatfield to work up a similar pair for golf. Hatfield obliged, constructing the prototypes that Woods is sporting this week in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club.
Nike heralds Free as “technology that is designed to mimic and conform to the natural motion of the foot.” Based on appearances, it’s a lot less stiff than traditional golf shoes. A lot less formal-looking, too.
Hatfield says the shoes improve stability by freeing the front of the golfer’s foot. He believes the increased range of motion will enhance Tiger’s power, and perhaps protect his oft-wounded left knee from further damage.
No matter how Tiger fares in his return, it’s doubtful the shoes will receive any credit (or blame). That said, the Nike Frees are bound to turn the heads of not just fans, but of the apparel giant’s competitors.
Specifically, shoemaking heavyweight ECCO and upstarts TRUE Linkswear and Kikkor might be interested in what Nike’s up to. ECCO’s Street Premiere models have famously adorned the feet of Fred Couples, while TRUE’s low-profile, made-for-walking shoes are worn on Tour by ever-fashionable Ryan Moore. Kikkor, founded by former NCAA champion James Lepp, offers a street-inspired shoe as well.
Wearers swear by the comfort and performance of the ECCO, TRUE and Kikkor kicks, all of which are spikeless and suitable for off-course activities. They seem to have started a trend, at least, toward a more casual, form-fitting golf shoe style.
Of course, none of those brands can match the marketing power of the mighty swoosh. We’ll see what kind of, um, traction Nike gets with its own street-style golf shoe.
Today, there is a lot of debate and discussion on what the top longest drivers on the market are. As a matter of fact, each person has their own opinion regarding this based on what kind of hitting drivers they are using when they play golf with their friends or family. And most major manufaturers and even retailers claim that what they have in their store is the longest driver on the market and those are usually the most sellable brand items to them.
When we are to determine what the top five (5) longest drivers on the market are, we are going to seperate those in the price range of over $350 and under $350, based on some surveys by well known major manufacturers of golf drivers on the market.
On top of the list which rate over $350 is the Callaway FT- 9 that ranks as the highest of all golf drivers that combine versatility, distance and control in one driver. Unlike other drivers, this kind of gold driver sounds great. Nike SQ Dymo and Dymo2 Str8- Fit are revolutionary drivers that everyone is raving about since they offer eight (8) different clubhead positions that a player can adjust depending on the swing he or she wants to target. Among the best golf drivers that are under $350 is the Adams Speedline. Consistently this is rated as the number 1 top golf driver since it represents a new technological shift in driver design. The club head is crafted mainly to increase speed and distance. Next in the list is the Callaway Big Bertha Diablo, which is one of the longest and straightest drivers that anyone can purchase but has one major setback as considered by some to be big and ugly. Cleveland Hibore Monster XLS is big and aggressive. It is not a subtle driver and the loud noise off the tee sounds like a cannon has just been fired. The Cleveland Hibore Monster XLS also has one of the highest MOI available.
Whatever kind of driver you have and want to purchase you should determine the type by its design and most of all the consistency and distance it offers when YOU use the driver yourself.
When it comes to the top 10 easiest drivers to hit straight, golf enthusiasts vary on which of these drivers were the most outstanding. Golfers value drivers which are versatile and have optimal distance and control. Golfers insist on having the straightest drivers available and club heads which are aerodynamic to increase the speed and distance of the ball.
One of the most valued gold club drivers in the top 10 easiest drivers to hit straight was the Callaway FT-9. The Callaway FT-9 is said to be a forgiving driver which gives the golfer a combination of versatility, control and distance.
Another driver that helps hit straight is the Adams Speed driver. Adams Speed Drivers are valued for their innovative driver design and aerodynamics.
Golfers looking for a quality hybrid driver may be looking for a consistent handicap hitting like the Cleveland HALO and the Cleveland Launcher drivers. The Cleveland HALO may not be as valued in the top 10 easiest drivers to hit straight list with its shaft, it is valued for its ability to clearly outdistance most driver hybrids with consistency. The Cleveland Launcher is valued for its thin crown and horseshoe-shape which allows the golfer to maintain low weight in the club head for distance and stability.
The Cobra S9-1 scores on overall consistency with distance and accuracy. Golfers also appreciated the drivers which are versatile in their adjustability like in the Cobra L5V. The setting in the Cobra L5V include straight or draw and is said to be an excellent driver in hitting. Another Cobra noted for its driving consistency is the Cobra DWS driver. Although the Cobra DWS driver is said to be lacking in weight, it launches the ball a good bit of distance and height.
Additional hybrid drivers in the top 10 easiest drivers to hit straight are the Nike SQ Series of drivers. These drivers are said to be equivalent to putters in the way they have to personally fit the golfer’s swing, and many of the Nike SQ Series fit the bill. Nike SQ Series has become favorites with amateurs and with the pros for their adjustability, square clubheads and low profiles.
Golfers who have a minimum handicap may like the sleekness and performance of the Nike Slingshot 17. It is said to be easy to hit from the rough and fairway and when it comes to hitting off the tee. The Nike SQ Str8-FIT is said to be one of the best adjustable-head drivers designed by Nike as of yet.
Also making the list of the top 10 easiest drivers to hit straight is the Ping G10. The PingG10 is said to be an outstanding solid performing driver which has an excellent range of the ball on the freeway. Even if it is the last driver on of the top 10 easiest drivers to hit straight it still has the ability to combine speed and power for a high launching ball.
The top 3 cleanest looking blade irons according to golfing enthusiasts seem to be the Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons, the Snake Eyes 600B Forged and the Nike Forged Blades. As the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons, they bring something different to the greens with price, quality and distance. They are used by a variety of golfers, pro and amateur, young and old alike.
Rated as among the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons is the Snake Eyes 600B Forged combos PW-5 iron and 4-3 600C iron. Either in wet or dry conditions these two irons are said to be easy to hit and workable in rough conditions. The pros for these Snake Eyes irons being in the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons are in their unique ability for spin control, excellent height achievement and excellent control on distance. The stability of the Snake Eyes irons are valued as well as their good feel with on impact and off impact functions.
Other golfing enthusiasts also value the Snake Eye 600MB for being one of the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons for its club-face center and how it allows for favorable heel center hits. The excellence is encountered with the Snake Eye 600MB when it comes to the flight trajectory, spin control of the ball and distances. The fact that the blade of the Snake Eye 600MB forces the golfer’s attentiveness of the quality center face hit, and not the speed and power, speaks well of its ability for proper ball compressions.
Classified as having some of the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons the Nike Forged Blade have irons that are valued for their distances achieved with shorter forged blades. Although some golfing enthusiasts insist that the Nike Forged Blade irons are traditionally lofted, other golfing enthusiasts believe that the newer Nike Forged Blade irons are modern lofts, yet still look and perform as well as the older versions of the Nike Forged Blade irons.
Other golfing enthusiasts agree that the Nike Forged Blade irons may out perform the MP57’s, yet are still valued for their durability and are less likely to have to need a re-shafting overhaul resulting from bad pitting. This makes the Nike Forged Blade irons, especially when in set combos, some of the most favorite of the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons.
Constructed of 1020 carbon forged steel, the Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons are valued for their weight distribution and the golf pride tour velvet grip. Bridgestone has been designing golf clubs for nearly 40 years and are well known for their golf balls. Designed to appeal to the mid-handicaps to the professionals, The Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons have high quality Project X Flighted shafts.
Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons are a sound compliment to the Bridgestone J38 460 driver with a classic look to its forged cavity backs. Solidly rounding out the top 3 cleanest looking blade irons, Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity Irons are valued because of their tapered sole design and excellent versatility when it come to shot making.
Becuase of the success of the Victory Red irons and wedges, Nike has decided to extend the line into hybrids, woods, and drivers.
Nike worked closely with it's sponsored professionals to develop the new VR line up, which is considered to be much more traditional looking than what Nike currently offers in their Summo models.
Nike Victory Red Hybrids
The new Victory Red hybrids were created with the mid to high handicapper in mind. They offer a substantial amount of workability and distance. Engineers at Nike decided to open the face slightly and move the center of gravity forward, allowing for this increase in forgiveness, distance, and workability.
"We have accomplished what we wanted to with these hybrids. We wanted to achieve a higher launch angle with significantly less spin. We've done that through altering the face angle and finding the proper center of gravity measurements." - Tom Stites, Director of Club Creation for Nike
The new Nike VR hybrid also features a 455 Ultra Thin steel face with a Split Compression Channel, for more distance across the entire clubface.
Loft options range from 15° up to a 24°, with all but the 15° available for both right-handed and left-handed players.
The Nike Victory Red Hybrid will also come with a standard Aldila VooDoo graphite shaft, Nike Golf Crossline grip, and a suggested retail price of $203.99.
Nike Victory Red STR8-Fit Tour Fairway Woods
First, and maybe most importantly, the new VR fairway woods are much different than last years SQ Dymo fairway woods. The most noticeable difference is no square headed option, which is great because those were gross. However, if you're looking for the forgiveness of a square head, Nike will be releasing it's Machspeed lineup shortly.
Secondly you will find the added STR8-Fit adjustable(32 different options) technology that was only seen in previous 2009 SQ Dymo STR8-Fit drivers. The Nike Victory Red Fairway Woods will also feature the 455 ultra-thin steel face and Split Compression Channel for added distance, similar to the new VR Hybrid, and actually a variation of the new Victory Red Driver.
"Our athletes prefer a smooth sole design for optimized playability on tight fairway lies. In order to achieve that, we split the compression channel on the sole to provide improved performance from every lie." -Tom Stites
Loft options range from 13° strong 3 wood (for righties only), 15° 3-wood, 17° 4-wood, and 19° 5 wood.
The Nike Victory Red Fairway Woods will also come standard with an Aldila Voodoo shafts(A, R, S, or X flex) and a suggested retail price of $299.
Victory Red Tour and Victory Red STR8-Fit Tour Drivers
As you can see in the pictures, Nike has created two versions of the new VR Driver - the 420cc VR Tour(right top two pics) and the 460cc VR STR8-Fit Tour(right bottom two pics). Again, the most noticeable difference from past drivers is that they look more traditional, and basically badass. No more crazy yellow or boxy heads. Just smooth clean lines, with a techie graphical look on the sole of the head. It's seems as though Nike really did listen to the feedback from players, and as a result created some incredible new drivers.
Both drivers sport Nike's new Compress Channel Technology, which can be seen in the form of a red channel that stretches across the sole of the club. And like we said before, this compression channel creates a more consistent compression across the entire face of the club,promoting more distance.
The other very noticeable difference between the two clubs is the lack of STR8-Fit(32 different options) Technology on the 420cc head. We can only assume that Nike wanted to create a model for two kinds of players. The ones that like the big head, latest technology, and adjustability - and the ones that prefer a smaller cleaner head. Brilliant in our opinion.
Nike will offer a few different size variations with the VR STR8-Fit Tour as well, as the 8.5° and 9.5° are a 440cc head, while the 10.5° and 11.5° are 20cc larger at 460cc.
The STR8-Fit comes standard with the Aldila VooDoo graphite shaft, while the VR Tour comes with the Project X graphite shaft. Both are available in Regular, Stiff, and X-Stiff flex profiles. Suggested retail price on both models is $479.99. Nike is also offering their "Signing Bonus" program, where upon the purchase of one of their new products, you're given credit to purchase other products such as apparel or balls.
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Recent rumors have been circulating that Nike is holding sales meetings about the new Nike VR wood line up. Some say we could even see the new 2010 Nike VR driver released as early as the end of November. This all sounds interesting and we will be sure to let you know as soon as we hear anything; however, not sure we will be in a rush to try one out. Obviously, if the numbers(price & distance increase) are right, we might consider it. But for right now the busy look and massive size arent too attractive.
Here are some spy pics of the Nike Dymo 380cc driver (click read more to see more). So far it's only been seen on tour, and notably in the hands of players like Tiger, AK, and Duval. There are no official reports on whether or not Nike will release the driver to the public, but we hope there will be eventually. It seems to be a cleaner tour version of the Dymo drivers that are currently available. It also has a really cool black finish on the crown and is supposedly not that much harder to hit than the larger versions.
(Click read more to see more Nike Dymo 380 Tour spy pics)
Nike will soon be releasing the Dymo series drivers for 2009
Sources claim that these new drivers have better feel, forgiveness, and added distance.
These Dymo Drivers will be replacing Nike's SQ line-up, which was not all that great in our opinion.
These new clubs will be offered in STR-8 Fit(above left) and Square(above right). The STR-8 Fit system is said to be similar to the Callaway I-MIX drivers in that they will be able to easily change shafts based on your own preferences. Needless to say its pretty exciting that Nike may be venturing into some decent driver designs.
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