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Sole Brothers and Sisters

Is wider better, as one car makers ad campaign would have us believe? For golfers, it may be. But as with everything else in golf equipment, it depends who you are.
While trolling for technology in your local golf shop, you may have noticed that many modern irons feature wider soles. Pings G2 was one of the trend-starters, and its G5 and Rapture lines have continued broadening movement. Callaway has its Fusion Wide Sole model, which it describes as a super-premium iron with game-improvement styling and performance. On Golf Central last Monday, you saw Wilson Golfs new Di7, whose wider sole promotes better turf interaction, but not at the cost of a pleasing look, say Wilson product mavens. These are just a few examples of the wide-out, with you as the intended receiver.
And the wide sole option may not be just for chops ' er, excuse me; I meant recreational players (and Ill be the first to plead guilty to the chop charge.) Actually, the wide-sole design feature helps people who dont chop: mid- and higher handicappers who sweep their irons more than hitting down on them.
A wider sole is a very effective way to lower center of gravity [to help get the ball in the air], says Tom Stites, a long-time iron designer who studied at the right hand of Ben Hogan. (Stites is now director of product creation for Nike Golf.) Its also a very good way to increase the dynamic and effective bounce. It doesnt change the degrees of designed-in bounce angle, but it does keep the sole from digging [into the turf] in the same way that a knife doesnt cut if you turn the flat side to the apple. Thin soles cut into the turf like the sharp edge of a knife. The width must be balanced with bounce angle and the golfer's personal angle of attack.
Aha! Personal angle of attack: fitting comes back into the equation. As weve found so many times before, its best to have a PGA professional or qualified clubfitter watch your swing, check your divots, evaluate your ball flight ' all to fine-tune your final club selection and adjustment.
But its also important to have more than a skin-deep understanding of your home course, as well as other tracks you might be playing.
Turf types are not as important as the underlying soils, Stites says. Sand-based, loose, well-irrigated fairways can [make clubs] dig easier. Steep angles of attacks on these kinds of courses can be played easier with [slightly] wider soles. But this same kind of sole can also be less helpful if the soil is tight, hardpan, or dry.
Wide-sole irons must also have trailing edges rolled up or the back edges will bounce. Any bounce contacts should occur near the center of the sole.
As usual, shop happy, and get fitted.

FootJoy Reel Fit heel
FootJoy's ReelFit shoe.
Speaking of soles ' hows that for a segue ' the ones on your feet may suffer less from rubbing and benefit more from a solid fit, says golf shoe leader FootJoy. The company has introduced its ReelFit line of shoes, which feature a revolutionary lacing system developed by Boa Technologies Inc.
Actually, this is so different, its hard to call it lacing. Steel micro cables inside the shoe connect the lacing/instep area to a dial on the heel, which the wearer turns and locks in place for a constant snug fit from first tee to last green. To loosen or remove the shoes, one pulls the dial, and the cables release.
Boas idea has appeared in ski boots, snowboard footwear, and other performance categories. FootJoy has exclusive rights to the technology for golf.
Other FootJoy technologies already familiar to users are in the ReelFit, including the OptiFlex area under the forefoot for sole flexibility and IntelliTemp cooling in the gel collar. No word on pricing or in-store date yet, but a ReelFit microsite is planned for the Internet.

Winn Grips has added LPGA star Natalie Gulbis to its endorsement staff, which already included John Daly and Butch Harmon. Terms weren't disclosed. Gulbis will use a Winn G8 model on her tee-to-green clubs and a Winn Excel 21 on her putter. She has been field testing them for some time, a Winn spokesman said, using them to get as far as a playoff in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
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