Titanium Graphite and Steel - Oh My
Cant buy a game, theyre likely to say, as they club-toe another ball into place, take their stance, and pure it once again.
In the strictest sense, theyre right. Without a sound swing, any advantages equipment offers will be only temporary.
On the other hand, golf is a hard game. We should no more play with substandard gear than a carpenter should make do with outdated tools.
The premium golf equipment industry couldnt agree more. This year, as they have every year in recent memory, the top companies are offering a veritable smorgasbord of science at the end of graphite shafts.
Since persimmon gave way to steel and titanium in drivers, the name woods for the bigger clubs in the bag has been largely ceremonial. With its new C4 driver, Callaway Golf gives us a look at what may be beyond metal. The name stands for Compression Cured Carbon Composite. Thats right, graphite has moved from the shaft into the clubhead. Its not the first time weve seen composite clubheads (remember models by Kunnan and Yonex?), but Callaway says its new club takes the genre a step further.
Callaway designers placed tungsten-loaded urethane weight strips in the clubhead to move the weight away from the center of the clubface, resulting in a more forgiving hit. Theres plenty of room, too: The clubhead is 360 cc, one of the biggest on the market. And because its mostly graphite instead of metal, the clubhead is very light. So expect to get it going faster, Callaway says ' and enjoy the extra yardage. The C4 will be available in February; the suggested retail price will be $540.
Metal certainly hasnt been abandoned. Callaway offers the third generation of its dependable Steelhead line. The Steelhead III drivers and fairway woods feature larger heads ' theres that forgiveness again. The clubs also incorporate the companys variable face thickness technology, which allows metal faces to be thinned and remain strong, so more mass can be moved to the outside edges of the clubhead. The new design also extends the clubhead from heel to toe, to make a bigger hitting area.
Titanium golf club prices still cause a lot of sticker shock, so major companies have used their steel lines to keep potential customers from fleeing the pro shop. TaylorMade-Adidas Golf is doing that with its new 200 line of metalwoods. The clubs offer all the advantages of the companys successful 300 titanium line, which was the talk of the PGA Tour in 2001, but in a less costly steel version. And the clubs have the highest coefficient of restitution (spring-like effect off the face) ever in a TaylorMade club on the legal side of the U.S. Golf Association limit, the company says.
The 200 Series is out now. Suggested retail prices are $329 per club with graphite shafts; $249 with steel shafts.
Of course, cost consciousness can be quickly forgotten in the search for a long drive, so titanium is still a big seller. Ping is updating its popular TiSI driver into the TiSI Tec, keeping the enormous head but adding weight pads inside the sole plate to distribute the mass just right. Ping also employs its own variable face thickness knowledge to move weight around a stiff clubface.
And that ET number on the club isnt loft, but effective trajectory. Thats the loft of the clubhead at impact, once that shaft bends and stores up all that energy youll use to out-drive your foursome compadres. ET is 1.5 degrees less that the static (at-rest) loft. The whole idea is to reduce spin. Less spin on the drives equals more distance.
The TiSI Tec is available now. The suggested retail price - $515.
Some companies like to keep the wraps on their latest and greatest until the PGA Merchandise Show, the big golf industry confab set for Jan. 24-27 in Orlando. The biggest mystery on golf gearheads minds is what the new Nike golf clubs will be like.
The worlds largest sporting goods company has grabbed a foothold in the highly competitive golf ball market, and got the worlds No. 1 player to use its products. Presumably hell do the same with Nike golf clubs. But what will be available to us mortals?
Two forged titanium (read: expensive) drivers will be in the line, along with forged, muscle-back irons and a collection of wedges. The drivers will be available in February, with the other clubs to follow in the spring. Some tour pros, most notably David Duval, have had prototype irons in their bags already.
Forged clubs, with their sweet feedback but small sweet spot, are usually the province of better players. But its unlikely that Nike would cut itself off from a big segment of the golf market by making clubs only the experts could hit. And Nikes clubs were designed by Fort Worth, Texas, club master Tom Stites, whose clubmaking pedigree goes back to working with the great Ben Hogan.
This is only a sampling of a multitude of offerings from an industry thats hoping for a big year in 2002. And no matter what the swing purists say, theres likely to be new equipment out there that can help you tune up your game ' or at least have a darn good time trying.
For more from Adam Barr, LIVE from the PGA Merchandise Show, catch Golf Central every night at 7:30 p.m. ET during Tune Up Your Game Week Jan. 21'27.
Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.
Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.
''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''
First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.
''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''
David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.
The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''
The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros
Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.
Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.
I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.
One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.
So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?
You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?
Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?
I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.
This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.
Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:
Once we give 'em a lesson, we are faced with:— Trackman Maestro (@TrackmanMaestro) January 16, 2018
A. Will they do what we asked them to do
B. Can they do what we asked them to do
C. Will they put in the practice time
D. The fact that golf is a hard game
We face multiple barriers as golf instructors.
On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.
The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:
“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”
Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.
Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.
Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.
Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.
Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.
After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth.
Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.
Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.
“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”
After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).
Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129.
The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.