As a guy who grew up playing woods made of a strange substance called wood, I find many of today’s drivers unappealing to the eye. There’s only one form a driver should take, and that’s pear-shaped.
So my heart skipped a beat when I saw Cleveland Golf’s new Classic Driver, due out early next year. Mahogany finish. Brass-colored face “insert” and sole plate. The word “Classic” scrolled on the crown as an alignment aid. Even a black leather head cover in a shape the company calls “RetroBarrel.”
Cue Homer Simpson drooling sound.
In a word, this is one gorgeous golf club. But that’s the end of the Cleveland Classic’s similarities with its ancestors. (You know, the ones made from trees.) The Classic maxes out the USGA volume allowance at 460cc, about three times the size of a persimmon driver head. Its face is massive – the deepest on the market, according to Cleveland. And off-the-rack models are powered by an ultralight Miyazaki graphite shaft.
While it’s not yet for sale to the public, the Classic has already been tested on Tour. In fact, 2011 Rookie of the Year Keegan Bradley used it en route to winning (with Brendan Steele) the Franklin Templeton Shootout last weekend.
Bradley, who strikes me as the traditional type, instantly fell for the club’s old-school aesthetics. “When I looked at the new driver, honestly, I loved it,” he gushed. “I love the gold face on it… You look down at the face and the thing that you focus on is the sweet spot. I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s gonna change the way drivers are made.”
Of course, Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade et al will have something to say about that. In fact, TaylorMade just introduced its new wood lineup, which carries a decidedly non-traditional name: RocketBallz.
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.
TaylorMade Golf has unveiled Corza Ghost, a mallet specially designed to be easy to aim, and easy to use to roll the ball down your intended line. It was designed with significant input from putting instructor Dave Stockton.
"We started with the intention of designing a putter that's easier to aim than any other," said Bill Price, Rossa senior director. "That led us to experiment with a white finish. We consulted Dr. Steven A. Hitzeman, a professor at the Indiana School of Optometry and he felt we were onto something."
"Corza Ghost's white putterhead stands out so clearly against its background - the putting surface - because of the high contrast between white and green," said Dr. Hitzeman, who is also a past president of the Indiana Optometric Association and a past chairman of the American Optometric Association's Sports Vision Section. "That high contrast maximizes stimulation to the retina and highlights the head's shape and features. The contrast would be lower if the putter were black or gray because these colors are closer in luminance to the color of the putting green than white. White creates the biggest difference in luminance, hence maximizing contrast and promoting focus. Many golfers use the leading edge of the putter as part of their alignment strategy (by positioning the edge perpendicular to the imagined target line). So, this high contrast for the leading edge gives the golfer the best chance of squaring up the putterface at address. Also, the lines on the top of the putter are painted black to achieve maximum contrast against the white surface of the putter. All of these high-contrast alignment elements give the golfer the best possible chance of accurately aiming the putter."
(Click "Continue Reading" For More Information and Spy Pics)
Behold, the TaylorMade R9 SuperDeep! Were extremely excited about this new driver. It's the successor of the R9 510 TP and comes in a sweet black finish. At address the SuperDeep looks like a 410cc-420cc driver, when in fact it stands tall at a beefy 460cc's. The sheer depth of the face is what makes this club look smaller than it actually is. It's also the deepest face TaylorMade has ever produced, but were not exactly sure how many millimeters yet.
The new Taylormade Super Deep driver is setup to provide a medium trajectory, but it's new MWT and FCT technology will allow for a total of 448 setup combinations. These combinations will allow you to alter the variable spin and variable launch. It's also got 8WMT weights that will provide a total of 56 different center of gravity positions.
The Super Deep will come standard with the new Aldila R.I.P shaft that was selected and adjusted to feature a more tip stiff design, which helps maintain the launch angle through impact. It will be released to the public in March and available in 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 lofts. Can't wait to hit one! And we'll let ya know when we do!
Here are some great spy pictures and tour van video of the 2010 TaylorMade XFT removable face wedge. The main point of creating this club was so that the player can easily remove the face and replace it with a new one when the grooves wear down. Thus, eliminating the need to replace the entire wedge every time. (Click "continue reading" below for more spy pics)
Great TaylorMade tour van video that shows the easy process of replacing the face of the TaylorMade XFT wedge. (Via SandBox8.com)
Click "continue reading" below to see more spy pics.
Retief Goosen was testing the new 2010 TaylorMade R9 TP Version "B" out at the BMW Championship. These heads are Cast 8620 soft like the Burner Version "B"; however, you will see that they have a darkened color. Goosen really seemed to like them. He and his caddy said they were impressed with them on day 1, but he wont switch till after the tour Championship. The Black insert feels soft to the touch like a Rubber material. Pretty sick grinds and shape. They seem to be more like a typical players blade that you would expect the average tour pro or low handicapper to have.
Here are the latest spy pics of the new TaylorMade R9 Max Driver. It's very similar to the original R9, but it's a bit larger at 460cc's instead of 420cc's. It has been reported that it should be released in the US around June or July in the price range of $300 to $400 retail. We will keep you updated.
For now, here are a list of the main differences between the original R9 and the R9 Max:
R9 Max -460cc, One back weight port, Face angle adjustable by 3°, Loft adjustable by 1.5°, 45.5″ standard length
R9 - 420cc, Three weight ports, Face angle adjustable by 2°, Loft adjustable by 1°, 45″ standard length