Drivers with a twist

By David AllenMarch 20, 2009, 4:00 pm
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In the not-too-distant future, the most popular question being asked on driving ranges everywhere will be, Do you have a wrench? Its already started on the PGA Tour with the recent introduction of Nike Golfs SQ DYMO STR8-FIT and SQ DYMO2 STR8-FIT drivers and TaylorMades R9, all three of which make it easy to change the face angle, loft and lie angle of the club with a few twists of a wrench.
 
Nikes STR8-FIT (pronounced straight fit) technology offers up eight different head positions from open to closed, allowing you to correct a slice or hook or change your shot shape to fit the course youre playing. Trevor Immelman won last years Masters employing Nikes STR8-FIT technology, setting the face angle on his SUMO 5000 driver to 1 degree open (from 2 degrees open) so hed have the ability to draw the ball more easily at Augusta National. Immelman wound up hitting 48 of 56 fairways that week.
 
Instead of tweaking the face angle with a wrench, however, the shaft in Immelmans driver had to be removed from the clubhead, reset, and then glued into the hosel by one of Nikes equipment specialists on site, a process which took approximately one hour. Now, Immelman can feasibly do it on his own in 30 seconds or less with the aid of the STR8-FIT shaft adapter, which is built into the hosel. Using the six-inch long torque wrench that comes with each SQ DYMO STR8-FIT driver (found in the headcover), you unscrew the head from the shaft, find the loft and face angle combination that works best for your game, and then reconnect; a red LED light and sound indicates when the clubhead is locked into place and its safe to hit.
 
The good news for consumers is you dont need a Nike Tour Van nearby to help you customize your driver. You can modify your driver before or after your round, not mid-round, per USGA rules.
 
If Im a slicer and I start with a club that has a naturally hooked face, then no matter how right Im going to hit it, its going to hit it less right, said Tom Stites, Nike Golfs director of club creation. It wont fix every slice, but you will move the ball more toward the desired location you want.
 
For maximum correction on a slice, you remove the head from the shaft and turn the shaft adapter two teeth marks (from neutral, represented by the yellow arrow) to the left so the L matches up with the black line on the hosel. This is a 2 degrees closed setting and should aid in bringing your slice back toward the center of the fairway or green. One turn to the left (1 degree closed) will give you a slight draw bias (right to left) whereas three turns to the left will assist in your trajectory and promote a higher draw. Conversely, to correct a hook, you turn the shaft one mark to the right from neutral for a slight fade bias (1 degree open), two marks (2 degrees open) for a maximum fade bias (left to right), and three marks for a high fade. Once you have the face angle and loft combination you desire, you lock the head and shaft back into place using the wrench.
 
For the average golfer, if your tendency is to slice the ball, youre going go be able to buy this driver, change the setting on it, and see your slice straighten out, Immelman said. It gives you a whole new driver.
 
The more traditional-shaped SQ DYMO STR8-FIT and square-shaped SQ DYMO2 STR8-FIT drivers hit stores on March 19 with a street price of $399. They are available in lofts of 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 11.5 degrees, and HL (High Launch).
 
The R9, which combines TaylorMades Movable Weight Technology - launched in the r7 back in 2004 - and Flight Control Technology, or FCT, debuted at the Bob Hope Classic in mid-January. Thirteen pros used it, including winner Pat Perez, making it the first driver to debut at No. 1 in its first week on the PGA Tour. Its been the No. 1-played driver on Tour every week since, including this weeks Transitions Championship, where 24 were in play.
 
With FCT, you can rotate the shaft and special metallic hosel sleeve to change the clubheads face angle from 2 degrees open to 2 degrees closed, affecting the amount of side to side adjustment (right and left ball flight) by as much as 40 yards. That number can reach as high as 75 yards if you combine FCT with the three moveable weights, which help relocate the clubs center of gravity. The driver comes equipped with one 16-gram and two 1-gram weights. To promote a draw and the maximum amount of right-to-left movement capable, youd set the face 2 degrees closed and place the 16-gram weight in the heel of the clubhead. For a straighter shot, youd set the face to the neutral position and the 16-gram weight in the center of the clubhead, and for a max fade youd adjust the face to 2 degrees open and move the heavier weight to the toe of the clubhead.
 
Were able to do in 25 seconds what used to take us 16 weeks to do, said Harry Arnett, TaylorMades senior director of equipment. Six, seven years ago, we would have had to build a totally new golf club. Now, we can change the face angle, adjust the draw-weighting and produce a super game-improvement club in a matter of seconds.
 
The procedure for adjusting the face angle, loft and lie angle in the R9 is slightly different from the Nike STR8-FIT system. Using the T-shaped FCT wrench, you loosen the FCT screw in the sole of the clubhead to remove the shaft from the clubhead (the screw remains in the head). Once the head is removed, you choose one of eight desired FCT settings marked on the sleeve and end of the shaft, and align it with the serial number on the back of the clubhead. From here, you slide the sleeve into the hosel of the clubhead until the tip of the sleeve catches in the well of the clubhead. Once secure, you tighten the FCT screw with the wrench until you hear a loud clicking sound.
 
To close the clubface 2 degrees and promote a draw, you align the L or Left setting on the sleeve with the serial number on the hosel; conversely, for a 2 degrees open clubface and a fade-bias, you align the R or Right setting on the sleeve with the serial number. A neutral upright setting (NU) creates a 1 degree upright lie and a slight draw bias.
 
The first time I hit it, it went long and straight, said Perez. It comes off the face hot. Its got that new shaft technology, its awesome. You can hit it anywhere you want. If youre a fader, you can set up to hit a draw. Its phenomenal technology. I look forward to where the driver is going after this.
 
The R9 and R9 TP drivers hit retail stores on March 6. They have a street price of $399 and $499, respectively, and are offered in lofts of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees.
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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.

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Chappell returns to Valero as defending champ

By Will GrayApril 18, 2018, 9:48 pm

It's impossible for any of the players at this week's Valero Texas Open to forget who captured the trophy last year.

That's because most players stay at the JW Marriott hotel that's a short walk from the first tee at TPC San Antonio, and the defending champion's face is emblazoned on the hotel's room keys. This week, that honor belongs to Kevin Chappell.

"You get some sly comments from players about their room key," Chappell told reporters Wednesday. "'Oh, I'm tired of looking at you.' And I'm saying, 'Believe me, I'm tired of being in everyone's room.'"

The position of defending champ is one Chappell relishes this week as he returns to the site of his maiden PGA Tour victory. A one-shot win over Brooks Koepka led to a euphoric celebration on the 72nd green, and it helped propel Chappell to his first career spot on the Presidents Cup team in October.

Chappell has missed the cut each of the last two weeks, including the Masters, but he also recorded top-10 finishes at the CareerBuilder Challenge, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Arnold Palmer Invitational. It's reason enough for Chappell to feel optimistic heading back to a course where he was a runner-up in 2011 and finished T-4 in 2016.

"This year's been a little bit of a strange year for me. I usually don't find form until about here, usually a slow starter," Chappell said. "But having three top-10s before this event, I've kind of found some form. I'm looking to turn those top-10s into top-5s, and the top-5s into wins. That's the challenge moving forward this year."