Friday, October 9, 2009

New irons from TaylorMade, Titleist

Titleist's new AP1 and AP2 are multi-material, dual-cavity irons that feature what the company calls its "Tuned Feel System," an insert made of molded medallion of soft elastomer and aluminum plate. Titleist says the technology increases speed in the larger AP1 and feel in the smaller-face AP2.

It also thickened the face of the AP1 to provide enhanced heel, toe, and deep weighting to the frame and moved the tungsten nickel material to the sole resulting in increased stability and forgiveness.

Suggested retail for the AP1 is $100/$125 per club for steel or graphite and $142/$167 for AP2.

Stock Shafts and Grip: Stock NS Pro 105T is a high performance lightweight steel shaft with a medium tip for control and softer mid section for feel. Stock graphite shaft is Aldila VS Proto-T 75 exclusively for Titleist. Stock grip is Tour-proven feel and traction of the Titleist Tour Velvet Rubber by Golf Pride. Other shaft, grip, length and lie options are available through Titleist Custom.

TaylorMade releases R9 Irons

TaylorMade's new R9 TP is for better players with compact head with design cues from CBS announcer and major champion Nick Faldo to help make them appeal to the better player.

The set gets progressively thicker to make longer irons easier to hit. The longer irons have a foam-filled chamber behind the head to promote more distance and enhance feel.

The R9 TP irons come equipped with KBS Tour Series steel shafts and retail for $1,125.

The standard R9 ($999 steel/$1,249 graphite) are more the everyday player and are designed for distance. The long and middle irons were designed separately from short irons to optimize performance and have the foam-filled chamber. TaylorMade has also tried to design the irons so they don't look so "fat" to the golfer, to aid with confidence

Custom-fit putter line to debut next month

Nike has gotten a lot of industry buzz around its new Method putter and has decided to give consumers an early peek. It'll go on sale in limited quantities Nov. 2 at 12:01 a.m. online at The sale will run through Nov. 30, or until the quantities run out.

The putter, available in five models, combines steel and polymer to make the putter generate forward roll almost immediately after impact, and the company says it minimizes bounce and helps keep balls on line.

Nike golfers Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink both used the Method putter to win the 2009 U.S. Open and Open Championship, respectively.

The $499 putters will be custom built at Nike's Research facility in Texas. They will be carved with initials or numerals personal to the consumer, made to desired length and lie angle - and each consumer will get a certificate signed by Tom Stites, Nike Golf’s Director of Club Creation and the actual club builder.

Monday, September 21, 2009

GPS vs. The Rangefinder

One way to make your golf rounds more enjoyable is to know your exact yardages - to the pin, to the sand trap, to the trouble. On some courses, the carts have GPS technology built in to give you rough estimates of yardage to the pin.

There are much better technologies out there to make the game even easier -- and faster since you are no longer walking off yardages to yard markers on the course.

There are many GPS devices, which you hold in your hand, almost like a cell phone, while they flash all types of information on the screen. Some of these devices, like the popular SkyCaddie, add an annual charge to download courses into the device. The Rangefinder, akin to holding binoculars in your hand, don’t come with any charge fees and allow you to measure direct distance to wherever you point the device.

But which is better?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve tested a SkyCaddie SG4 model against the new Bushnell Pro 1600 Slope Edition.

The Bushnell is simple to use. You remove the cap on one end, look through the lens and press a button to lock in on your target. The slope version, which is not legal for tournament play, will even adjust your distance for elevation. This way you’re not guessing how much extra club to take to reach an elevated green.

The unit is waterproof and has 7x magnification, allowing you to measure things up to 400 yards away.

The SkyCaddie displays yardages to different points on each hole. You simply look down and instantly get information. You can get yardage to different pins and measure how far your tee shots are going (tip: you don’t hit it as far as you think).

The Bushnell is neat because there are no restrictions on what it can measure, though you’ll need a steady hand. I’m never 100 percent sure I’m locking on to what I think I am. Thankfully, you can “drag” the viewfinder across a target and see a few different readings.

On the range, the Bushnell is king. You can measure exactly how far your 8-iron is going and exactly how far it is to the red flag. You can do this, kind of, with the SkyCaddie, but you have to walk off the distance in “edit” mode - and watch out for flying balls while you walk out on the range.

Ultimately, though, the SkyCaddie is faster and easier to use while playing. It’s a personal preference, but being able to immediately see your distances and punch up best layup yardages and ideal tee shot yardages, with no guess-work, is a neat addition to your game.

Both are great devices, but for us, the SkyCaddie is a little better.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New irons, weather gear now available

Equipment releases from Cobra, Nike, Antigua:

Cobra Golf has released the new Cobra S2 iron series. There are two models. The S2 are game-improvement irons made with lightweight materials and more weight pushed low in the heel and toe of the club to increase forgiveness and help golfers get the ball in the air.

The S2 comes with a lightweight graphite or steel shaft for $744 (steel) or $872 (graphite).

The S2 Forged is for the better player and has a more narrow shape. Made from forged carbon steel to provide soft feel, the cavity back irons are designed, Cobra says, to allow golfers to work the ball while providing forgiveness on off-center hits. The irons come with a steel shaft and a suggested retail price of $985.

For more information, visit

- Nike Golf ( has released new products designed to help golfers handle rain and cold. The company says its Storm Fit Elite jacket ($300) and pants ($200) are seam-sealed, waterproof and windproof but remain breathable. They are also designed to allow ease of movement.

A new high top shoe, Zoom Bandon, features a completely sealed upper to keep feet warm and dry. The laces are covered and the shoe features the company’s Zoom Air technology for comfort.

Nike also has released new all-weather gloves and mittens ($24 and $26).

- The Antigua Group’s new Desert Dry technology is debuting in its spring line. The company says the fabrics moisture wicks more rapidly than previous iterations, is lighter weight and keeps heat off the golfer. It’s also designed to be less restrictive (

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Srixon's new Z-Star balls get an A for effort

True story. In the past 10 months, I've played golf seven times. But I got out three times in the past 10 days, so I'm on a roll. I also got a chance to play the new Srixon Z-Star and Z-Star X golf balls, and I'm sold.

I always laugh when I see the PGA guys doing those commercials and holding up their golf ball right in the camera and talking about how they would never switch unless a ball made a difference and how "this ball" changed everything. Well, you know and I know that the real reason they're saying that is the same reason why NASCAR guys don't take off the shades when doing interviews: they're getting paid to do so.

Only there may be something to what all those Cleveland staffers like Vijay Singh and Boo Weekley are saying about how the new Srixon outperforms the ProV1 (Cleveland and Srixon are sister companies).

The new Z-Star retails for $39.99 for a dozen, so you'll be chasing them in the woods and trying to pluck them out of the lake, too.

They come in standard and spin versions (Z-Star X). Srixon says you need to swing it about 105 mph to get performance out of the X. In my launch monitor testings, I can hit 105, though not regularly, but I felt like I could launch the ball well and make it compress and perform -- and boy would it stop.

If you're the type that likes to play a lot of bump and run shots and wants to roll the ball up the green on full approach shots, well, this ain't your rock.

But the regular Z-Star might be. Both balls are incredibly soft and roll true off the putter. I hit so many iron shots with the regular Z-Star that felt like butter, I kept looking at my club to make sure something wasn't wrong.

The ball just plain feels good.

The Z-Star has an incredibly thin cover (0.02 inches thick) and a new 324-dimple design. All that mumbo jumbo means that it flies as far as a Top-Flite, but stops like you would want it.

There are lots of good balls out there, but this is one of the best, right up there with my current favorite the Taylor Made LDP Black.

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Bag Boys' mini-push cart a must have, and other cart news

I'm a big push cart guy and recently when I got a smaller car to save gas, my trunk got smaller and my old big Bag Boy push cart wouldn't fit in as easily with my golf bag (I carry a staff size adidas).

I love to walk the course. It's a great way to get 4 or 5 miles of walking in and golf, too. I've tried a number of push carts and always seem to come back to Bag Boy. Given my smaller car, I was curious about a smaller push cart.

So I tried a Mini GT push cart from Bag Boy. The thing folds down in one motion and is as small as an average sized suitcase. It slides into my 12 cubic foot trunk (told you it was small) and allows me to stick in my bag with ease. I can even get my son's stand bag in there as well.

Pushing the Bag Boy around is easy. The rubber tires don't require air -- or run out of it -- and glide along the grass or pavement. You almost feel like you're doing no work. The cart adjusts to any height easily. About my only quibble is I'd like the storage compartment a bit bigger for my iPhone to slide in comfortably with the SkyCaddie.

Even if I had a bigger trunk, I still think this is the cart I'd want to push. It's stylish, it's smart and it works well. I would grade it 3.5 stars out of 4. If the storage area was a tad bigger, this would be a perfect product.

Now, a little more push cart news:

The Bag Boy Company donated 24 Automatic push carts to the 2009 PING Junior Solheim Cup to be held on August 17 - 19 at the Aurora Golf Club in Illinois. Making it easy to identify the teams on the golf course, the Americans will be rolling red Bag Boy Automatic push carts while the Europeans will be pushing yellow carts.

Push carts are being allowed for the first time this year in the history of the PING Junior Solheim Cup. During the 2008 season, the AJGA permitted the use of push carts in Junior All-Star events or at any event where a player obtained a doctor’s note indicating a medical need and named the Bag Boy Company the “Preferred Push Cart of the AJGA.” Last year, many juniors used push carts in Junior All-Star tournaments and five pushed their way to victories. The positive acceptance of this new policy among players along with the health concerns associated with carrying bags prompted the AJGA Board of Directors to allow the use of push carts during all AJGA tournaments in 2009.

In 2009, over 260 AJGA junior golfers from 24 states and 6 countries have used push carts in play. Among those 260 golfers using push carts, 33 finished in the top-3. In addition, eight champions using push carts averaged 2.6 strokes fewer than their opponents.

“The rise in push cart usage among junior golfers has been very positive,” says Craig Ramsbottom, President of the Bag Boy Company. “Push carts are widely used and viewed as ‘cool’ among the European players so we are pleased to see the Americans following this trend.”

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Krank Golf's new RAGE driver

Krank Golf drivers were used by the winners of the Remax World Long Drive Championships for the past 2 years in a row (Grand Champion Division).

The company has released a new model, the Krank Golf Rage Driver, which conforms to USGA and R&A standards and is now the premier driver in the Sport of Long Drive.

Krank Golf positions itself as just a driver company. It does not make irons.

“For us to reach our goal of becoming the No. 1 Golf Driver Company in the world, we have to continue to produce drivers that exceed the performance of all the major manufacturers," said Lance Reader, president of Krank Golf. "Because of our commitment to the Sport of Long Drive, we must manufacturer drivers that hold up the highest scrutiny of any drivers in the world. Ball Speed, Spin Rate and Durability is the holy grail of the perfect driver. The New Krank Golf Rage Driver has all three elements."

Reader said those are:

-- Ball Speed. "We have extensive testing results on numerous driver heads at different swing speeds," Reader said. "The Rage Driver is at the top of the list without question. Our new Rage Driver is the only driver ever to exceed the record balls speed records set by our El Diablo Driver. Sure you might say we are biased by doing our own testing. Not true, all our data is immediately exposed to all the World Class Long Drivers doing the testing. What we do is expose the truth of some very expensive drivers that fall very, very short of the Krank Standard."

-- Spin Rate. "Spin is a very difficult element to test, because the shaft and the person swinging the driver have so much to do with spin rate," Reader said. "Our main testing is with House of Forged, LT and Ultra shafts, the best shafts in Long Drive. As well as, our Fujikura Diesel and Diesel Tour shafts, the best shafts in Golf. Our results across the board are slightly lower spin rate than the El Diablo which has a very low spin profile to start with. We know the importance of spin. The Rage driver is developed to reduce spin and it does."

-- Durability. "For those who are concerned about durability, let me make it very clear," Reader said. "To create a driver that holds up to 140 plus mile-per-hour swing speeds is a very, very difficult thing to do. The average golfer swings around 90 to 95 MPH. The Rage driver holds up to swing speeds in excess of 150 MPH. I think we have covered everyone else.
The Krank Golf Rage Driver is everything we hoped it would be. We believe golf starts from the Tee Box. Why not play from more fairways and closer to the greens. It makes putting for dough a lot more likely.”

Get more info at