The 2013 PGA Show was all about Adjustability (Clubs) and Light Weight (Footwear) Equipment
As usual, the most looked forward to products at the Show each year are the drivers. This year, almost as popular, were the new lightweight line of shoes being exhibited. These “hot” shoes will be covered in Part Two of this article next month.
Long lines were the order of the day for TaylorMade, Callaway and Nike’s booths, both on show floor and on the outdoor demo day range.
Adjustability has reached to such an extent that many drivers no longer have their lofts stamped on the club head. The lofts and face angles are on the hosels – one driver that can tune to any loft, any look and any flight.
With already 4 Tour wins, TaylorMade, the masters of adjustability, has again produced another driver that had golfers at the Show salivating.
The 460 cc R1 driver has a black clubface, non-glare white crown and new gray/orange/black crown graphic, combined together to promote easy alignment.
The following three factors detailed below offer golfers the ability to fine tune the R1 168 ways to specifically fit their swing while optimizing accuracy and distance.
This driver offers 7 standard and 5 upright loft options between 8° and 12° (±2°) to obtain optimal launch angle.
With its adjustable sole plate you have 7 face angle options: N/square, open, medium-open, maximum-open, closed, medium-closed, maximum-closed. Two movable weights allow for further customization.
Lastly, shot-shaping movable weights promote a neutral/straight flight or a distance-enhancing draw, while TaylorMade’s famous Inverted Cone Technology is milled into the inner side of the clubface that expands the portion of the face that delivers high ball speed.
In addition to the stock Aldila shafts, we tested Graphite Design’s new 65 gram Tour AD GT 6 shaft resulting in 15 -23 yards additional distance and a tighter dispersion pattern!
The R1 is offered in 2 models: R1 – $399.00 (Aldila RIP Phenom 55-gram shaft) and the R1 TP Driver – $499.99 (Aldila RIP Phenom 65-gram shaft).
NIKE VR_S COVERT Drivers
Both on Tour and at the Show , extreme interest was shown when it came to Nike’s bright red and swooshed driver. Part of the buzz generated was because Rory McIlroy, Nick Watney, Carl Petterson and Kyle Stanley are using the driver, the other part from the buzz created was the distance performance of these drivers.
Aside from being a work of art, the driver, available in two models, performs admirably.
According to Nike, the crater of mass the company removed from the driver’s sole helps move the club’s center of gravity more forward, which in turn makes it more forgiving than other drivers. Plus, with the cavity back design, the resulting mass in the heel and toe areas will resist twisting more effectively on off-center hits and allow you to hit the ball straighter, more often.
Nike’s grouping of its 3 proprietary technology platforms, i.e. FlexLoft adjustability, NexCOR face and a high-speed cavity back, combines to give these drivers more stability at impact, which in turn produces and delivers increased energy to the ball, resulting in greater distance and control.
At address, the Nike VR_S Covert 460 cc Performance driver features a red crown and a single white swoosh. The word “Covert” acts as the alignment aid.
In addition to the Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Black 50 stock shaft, we tested Graphite Design’s new 65 gram Tour AD GT 6 shaft resulting in 10 -27 yards additional distance and a tighter dispersion pattern!
The Covert comes with one head and features 15 adjustable-loft settings. The dual-axis hosel allows for loft adjustments between 8.5 and 12.5 degrees, and there are three independent face-angle settings for each loft. In addition, the cavity in the sole is designed to improve perimeter weighting.
Two models are available – the VR_S Covert and the VR_S Covert Tour. The VR_S Covert Tour, has a 430cc head with a Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Silver 60 stock shaft and retails for $399.00, while the VR_S Covert has a 460 cc head and retails for $299.00
ADAMS SUPER LS Driver
Our testing group found that the driver’s matte white crown with a contrasting PVD face increases the apparent club head size and allows the golfer to improve the way they align the club head with ball, resulting in more confidence at address.
The lofts within this single head design range from 9.5 to 11.5 degrees, with face angles open on the lower lofts and closed on the higher lofts.
The thin velocity slot design in the sole that runs from heel to toe, enhances the size of the sweet spot and the flexibility of the lower section making it incredibly easy to hit the ball straighter and further.
A reduced rear skirt helps lower the CG Center of Gravity),.
The Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 60 gram shaft is the stock shaft.
Our testing group overall liked the performance of this driver especially its color scheme.
CALLAWAY X HOT/ X Hot Pro Drivers
WOW! was the most used word heard from attendees at the PGA Show and from our testing group.
Callaway has designed a driver that performs extremely well, is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and remarkably easy to hit and adjust. But really what is causing the Wow! utterances from golfers is the way the ball is coming off the face of the driver – hot! Distances were between 17 and 25 yards longer for many of the golfers.
Each club head (four lofts: 9.5, 10.5, 11.5, 13HT) is adjustable to three face angles. The longer shaft (46 inches) and lighter overall weight (303 grams) is intended to help you swing the club faster. The draw bias and bulge radius change with each loft.
The X Hot is the adjustable driver for the casual player, while the X Hot Pro’s open face angles are what the better players will gravitate to.
For the X Hot, lofts are available in 9.5, 10.5, 11.5 and 13 HT (high trajectory). For the X Hot Pro, lofts are available in 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 all being adjustable.
A Project X Velocity Graphite shaft is available in Senior, Regular, or Stiff flex
COBRA AMP Cell, AMP Cell Pro and AMP Cell Offset Drivers
If you like a different colored driver, the AMP Cell is for you. It comes in blue, silver, red and orange, and each head adjusts to six loft and lie-angle settings across three degrees: 8.5, 9.5, 9.5 Draw, 10.5, 10.5 Draw and 11.5. Unfortunately, black is not an option.
The driver adjusts to six lofts – neutral to draw bias in the standard model and neutral to fade bias in the Pro version.
The AMP Cell is one of the few drivers you will find that with hits low on the face, shots are easier to launch. The sole is designed with a reduced area of ground contact to allow for a more square appearance at address, regardless of the setting. The driver performs admirably and is very responsive. The Cell gets high marks for its accuracy/forgiveness, distance and feel. The easy-to-use adjustment system delivers noticeable shot-shape changes.
$299.99 AMP Cell, $399.99 for the Pro Version and $249.00 for the Offset.
Tour Edge Exotics XCG6 Driver
Tour Edge, a privately owned company in Illinois, has been gaining traction and acceptance on the PGA Tour. Many top players primarily use Tour Edge’s fairway woods and hybrids. At one time or another, K.J. Choi, David Duval, Matt Kuchar, Brian Gay, Luke Donald, Ryan Moore and Zach Johnson have used Tour Edge products.
The Exotics XCG6 driver is Tour Edge’ s first adjustable driver. It is also extremely responsive and easy to hit.
The XCG 6’s Shot Control Technology (SCT) allows for the adjustment of four face‐angle/loft settings to optimize launch characteristics for maximum distance and control.
With a simple twist of the SCT wrench, golfers can adjust the face angle, loft, and lie of the XCG6 driver. For example, to promote a draw or a hook, select the “C” (closed position) on the SCT hosel or the “U” (upright position) for slightly less draw.
To hit a fade or slice, select the “O” or open position and for a mostly straight
ball flight, select the “N” or neutral position. With the Exotics XCG6 driver, you simply twist the shaft to dial in the distance.
The Exotics XCG6 driver boasts an advanced multilevel face design that maximizes ball speed by incorporating multiple levels of variable face thickness. By thinning and thickening the forged titanium face, the XCG 6enhances feel and rebound across all striking points on the face.
Additionally, the driver enhances forgiveness by maximizing heel/toe weighting compliments of four hexahedron weight pads that deliver a higher moment of
inertia for greater stability and forgiveness.
The XCG6 driver features Tour Edge’s lifetime warranty and 30‐day play guarantee.
Both the Matrix Ozik HD and Graphite Design Tour AD shafts are available for $349.00.
PING G25 Driver
It is unusual to have PING bring so many drivers to the market, in what for PING is a relatively short space of time.
Following the Anser driver, the new G25 is PING’s first adjustable driver. With its speed-generating shaft, large forgiving head and their Trajectory Tuning Technology, this makes the G25 a great choice for all skill levels looking to improve their distance and accuracy.
The adjustable and lightweight hosel sleeve design makes it very easy for the golfer to optimize launch conditions and provides adjustability without sacrificing the performance that’s often lost in clubs with larger, bulkier hosel designs. The ultra thin crown technology distributes weight to the perimeter for increased MOI (Moment of Inertia).
Each loft can be adjusted half a degree up or down. Another great feature of this club is the TFC 189D high-balance point shaft. A high-balance-point shaft is designed to help golfers swing the slightly heavier club head faster.
Lofts: 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 12 degrees
PRICE: $349 www.pingolf.com
TaylorMade Lethal Golf Ball
Now that you have your new driver selected from above, you must be looking for a great performance ball? The Lethal ball by TaylorMade is your answer.
This 5- layer ball, with its seamless 322 LDP cover, offers control and feel, especially around the greens and in windy conditions.
The thin STA White Cast Urethane cover used on the Lethal ball has excellent durability.
The benefits of 5 layers are softer core compression equaling a softer feel for longer tee shots, reduced spin off the driver, and as mentioned above, extremely great feel and control with chipping and putting. A “layer for every type of player”.
$45.99 per dozen
As we always suggest, take a test drive with any of the aforementioned clubs, either on the range or on a store’s launch monitor to determine what works best for you. You are sure to find that one of these new drivers are fully capable of delivering your perfect club.
In Part Two, we will visit the newest trend in golf equipment, the lightweight shoe.
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, the California Golf Writers Association, and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry. He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers”, “How to Build Business Relationships through Golf” which is in the Top Ten Golf Business Book’s bestseller list. His latest book,” The Right Mind for Golf”, released in February is used by many PGA Tour members, is already in its third printing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org