Road Noise from Byron Nelson

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Editors Note: GOLF CHANNEL business reporter Casey Bierer hits the practice ranges, putting greens and tour trailers of professional golf to speak with company owners, tour reps and players in this new series, Road Noise.
 
This week, Casey reports recent business and equipment news from the EDS Byron Nelson Championship being played in Irving, Texas.

 

PING / Matt Rollins, PGA TOUR Representative
 
PingFor Ryan Moore, we made a i-Wedge with a special grind on it. We took a lot of heel out so he has a really easy time opening it up on a tight lie. He loved the standard i-Wedge in the bunker but he had a tougher time on a tight lie in the fairway. So the relief in the heel will help him a lot.
 
Kyle Reifers is going to put a new driver in his bag this week. He has been playing the G-5 with a Aldila NV 75 gram X flex shaft. And I believe he is going to put the Rapture in play this weeka Rapture 9-degree with a Grafalloy Tour X shaft to kind of flatten his ball flight out and take a little spin off the ball.
 
And, Hunter Mahan recently changed driver shafts. He uses a Rapture 9-degree head and is now using a prototype shaft that our guys at PING designed in-house and UST is making for us. Since he made that switch he has moved to second on the PGA TOUR in Total Driving. So, this has been pretty big for Hunter and for PING.
 

ClevelandCleveland Golf / Rob Waters, PGA TOUR Representative
 
Steve Flesh has tried a couple different drivers this week and has decided to switch over from the 460 Comp to the HiBORE XL. Hes playing it in a 9.5-degree loft with a Matrix OZIK Xcon-6 shaft. These shafts cost $600 dollars apiece and it takes them eight days to make one shaft. So, its a completely new driver for Steve.
 

Nickent Golf / Josh Trivett, Director of Tour Operations
 
NickentOur new 4DX driver is absolutely off the charts. I have never had so much interest in a club so quickly on TOUR as this driver. This driver is hands down the talk on the Nationwide Tour right now. I cant even begin to tell you how many guys have told me this is the best combination of looks, feel, sound and performance out of a driver they have ever hit. My biggest problem is I havent had many pieces for guys to try. I only had eight heads out there this week and they were gone in a flash. It is not an easy driver to make. The tolerances are very tight; thin walls and a very light crown. And actually, weve only had .350 hosel diameter heads in play that are shimmed so these drivers will be even better once we have .335 hosel product out here. The new prototype Graphite Design ' the 2419 tour only shaft theyve got ' everybody seems to be falling in love with this shaft and it responds really well in our new head. I think when we get rolling with product here in the next few weeks youre going to see a lot of these new 4DX drivers in play.
 

Odyssey Putters / Jon Laws, PGA TOUR Representative
 
The most compelling story for us was the storm that ripped through here on Tuesday. Torrential rains, tornadoes touching down in Plano, TXhail coming downit really broke loose here. It was quite an adventure, let me tell you. We got boxed in to our tour trailer and the rain was literally coming down sideways and wind was blowing like crazy. We were in the trailer really, really hoping the storm was going to blow over. It was interesting to say the least. As far as player activity, things are going extremely well for us right not. Players I worked with when it wasnt raining: Eric Axley with a TriHot #2 left-handed. John Cook with an XG7 after seeing some good things happening with Tommy Armour and Fred Funk and Pat Perez playing so well. Nathan Green coming back to a TriHot #3. Gavin Coles playing the TriHot #3. Just a lot of exciting things going on for Odyssey right now. With the greens being in tough shape this weekI mean, there are about four guys on the practice putting green right now and there are 40 guys hitting balls on the range. So, that will give you some idea of the condition of the greens. As a result we have added loft to quite a few of the putters; guys bumping up anywhere from a degree to a full degree in an effort to get the ball rolling better out of a depression on the green. So, its going to be an interesting game of patience rather than confident aggression this week at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship.
 

Mizuno / Jeff Cook
 
Well, guys arent too happy with the TPC greens, I can tell you that. I guess the Cottonwood greens are OK, but theyre having a tough time with the fairways there. So, between that and all the rain, guys are a little bit on edge this week. We have our full staff playing this week and to tell you the truth, we did not have to do any equipment work that I can think of. Guys came in here happy with their gear and it stayed a very light work week for us. We changed grips for one guy and thats about it. I mean, our guys are pretty low maintenance anyway, but this week in particular, we really didnt have to do much. Luke Donald was happy with his set up, J.J. Henry I didnt do anything for, Jeff Sluman was good to go, Billy Andradewe did flatten his putter by two degreesBrian Gay was set. Kris Cox was here this week and he was happy. I cant think of one club we built for one guy. And Tuesdays rain kind of killed it anyway. Then with the Wednesday pro-am, not much happens then anyway. So, all and all, a very quiet week for us at the Nelson.
 

Callaway Golf / Barry Lyda, PGA TOUR Representative
 
CallawayWe did a bunch of work with Rich Beem and Craig Kanada fitting them in to new sets of irons. Rich had a new set of custom grind X-Forged irons. Ronnie McGraw from over in our Hogan plant in Fort Worth did the grind work and he brought them over for Beemer so we did some fitting with him. And the grind work is beautiful to look at. Rich was in the trailer raving about it to us so thats always nice to hear. Ronnie does a great job with that for us. Craig Kanada swapped out an old set of X-Tour irons for a new setso, the same model irons but a brand new set. Lets see, what else did we do? Oh, yeah, also with Craig Kanada we got him in to a new FT-5 driver with a little bit more loft so his spin numbers are looking really good now. You know, a lot of the week for us was regular maintenance workchecking lofts and lies, grips, that kind of stuff. I think we did maintenance work for Charles Howell, Brandt Jobe, Marco Dawson, Rich Barcelobecause when there is a big storm like we had on Tuesday the guys see that as an opportunity to come in to the trailer and get stuff checked out. So, I certainly would say it wasnt one of the busiest weeks weve ever had. I mean, honestly, guys are pretty happy right now. Our product line is so strong this yearguys are happy with the drivers, happy with the irons, happy with wedges and putters and ballswere in very good shape with our tour staff at present.
 

TaylorMade-adidas Golf / Keith Sbarbaro, PGA TOUR Representative
 
TaylorMadeI think the biggest thing for us on TOUR right now is our Burner fairway wood that was released out here a few weeks ago. We are absolutely blowing through those heads. And whats most interesting to me about this is that this 3-wood head was not designed with the TOUR in mind. It was designed as more of a game improvement 3-wood. Its got a little bit bigger of head than most of the guys are used to playing but they are taking to this head like crazy. Guys who in the past have been very reluctant to change out of their existing 3-woods are not hesitating at all in switching to this new fairway wood. And that really is pretty unusual. Weve got a lot of guys making the move: Sergio, Retief Goosen, Tim Heron, John Daly, Sean OHair, David Toms, Tim Petrovic, Shaun Micheel, Tim Clark, Vance Veazeya bunch of guys. So, for a 3-wood that we didnt even think we would be using out on TOUR, to have all these guys switching to it, thats pretty cool. There are probably twelve guys in this new head and its only been on TOUR for four events. Kind of like how well the Burner driver has been received out here. So maybe there is some carryover from that. But, its been fun to see this new 3-wood get such a good reception.
 

Nike Golf / Rob Burbick, PGA TOUR Representative
 
NikeOur main change work this week was with K.J. Choi. He likes to experiment. He is very open minded to new equipment and I think he really enjoys trying different thingsseeing what different clubs feel like to him. He has extremely deft touch in his hands and he can feel even the slightest difference between different types of equipment and different specs that we do for him. K.J. has several sets of irons that he likes to test and re-shaft from time to time. He actually spent a little bit of time at our office in Fort Worth and a little time in our TOUR trailer this week. As his gamers this week he is playing a set of our Slingshot Tour irons and I think he is doing that with an eye towards getting ready for the U.S. Open. Because the Slingshot Tour irons have a deeper center of gravity than some other irons, I think K.J. is looking to be able to launch these irons a little higher and maybe use them at Oakmont where its going to be very hard to stop the ball on the greens. This particular set of irons this week has Matrix Studio graphite shafts in them and they will also tend to launch the ball a little higher. I would say K.J. is just about the most open minded player I have met in terms of trying new technologies. Dont forget, he was the first of our players to put the new Sumo driver in play and he won right out of the gate with it. So, I think he just really likes to try new stuff. You know, he hits everything so solid and so good I think there is a real enjoyment he gets out of seeing what different equipment feels like.
 
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