The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

Hogan's secret? A hands-on approach to clubfitting

By E. Michael Johnson

In less than a month, some lucky collector is going to be the proud owner of a set of Ben Hogan's clubs that The Hawk used in 1953 when he won the Masters, U.S. and British Opens, because one of two sets used by Hogan that year is going up for auction (the other is owned by the USGA).

ben-hogan-club-fitting.jpg
Photo: Augusta National/Getty Images

What the winner will receive is not just a piece of history, but an intriguing set of sticks with so much variation from club to club that it might drive a modern-day player berserk.

That's because Hogan's clubs were from a time well before constant loft, lie and swingweight checks became routine. Manufacturing tolerances were almost an oxymoron. As such, Hogan worked on his clubs and whatever felt good to him is what he went with.

"He set his clubs up for feel so the specs are a little all over the place," said Tom Stites, now a consultant for Nike Golf who learned the art of club design from Hogan himself. "On today's golf courses a player would really dig into the turf with those 8- and 9-irons. Those clubs would be pretty tough to play. But back then when the turf was firmer they were perfectly good."

Related: Ben Hogan's Timeless Tips

That's because those 8- and 9-irons had zero bounce. Today, most clubs start with 1 degree bounce on the 3-iron and progressively move up 1 degree of bounce per club, resulting in a pitching wedge with 8 degrees bounce. Hogan's bounce angles, however, were all over the lot from minus-2 degrees on his 4-iron, to 5 degrees on his pitching wedge. Although only 5-foot-8, Hogan had his irons made a half-inch longer than standard.

The lofts would be considered extremely weak today. Comparing Hogan's personalized MacGregor forged irons from 1953 to current forgings reveals that, on average, modern irons have lofts approximately 2.5 degrees stronger. According to Stites, they also have more than five times the offset of Hogan's old blades. Additionally, Hogan's irons weighed nearly 5 percent more than today's clubs, although the swingweight (between D-0 and D-2.25) is similar.

One club where the swingweight definitely was not similar is the driver, which checked in at a swingweight of G-2 -- reported to be the heaviest ever measured at the USGA test center. Conversely, today's titanium drivers routinely tip the scale at a swingweight of C-8 or C-9. That heavier clubhead was also in a considerably more compact package. Hogan's driver head was approximately 145cc. Virtually every driver currently used on the PGA Tour exceeds 400cc, and many are at the 460cc limit.

Hogan preferred very firm cord grips with a "reminder" pattern. A close look reveals that the reminder (a raised rib in the back) was set at 5:30 instead of 6 o'clock -- a slightly "weak" hand position. Although Hogan never explained why, it is a reasonable assumption he did so to combat the hook that plagued him early in his career.

Many professional golfers have idiosyncrasies when it comes to their equipment, but Hogan was really finicky. He inserted two extra cleats in the middle of his left golf shoe for added traction and also inserted an extra screw in the middle of the insert of his fairway woods, believing the hard metal would propel the ball farther than the plastic insert. He also routinely soaked golf balls in salt water in order to find ones that were perfectly round. Hogan's personal quality-control test on balls also went a step further. He would inspect them by holding a magnifying glass up to each, searching for excess paint in the dimples.

Related: Ben Hogan: Resurrection Days

Hogan's quest for perfection wasn't brand-specific. Although under contract with MacGregor at the time, Hogan routinely used Spalding Dot and Titleist golf balls. In fact, Hogan won the 1953 U.S. Open with the Dot and then the British Open using specially made 1.62-inch Titleist balls.

Ultimately, Hogan's lack of satisfaction with MacGregor equipment led him to create the Ben Hogan Golf Co. in late 1953. Still, the equipment he used for that magical season holds significant historical importance. So much so that it is likely the clubs will sell for more than Hogan's single-season high in earnings of $42,556 in 1946, when he won 13 times.

TOUR STORIES

jerry-kelly-putter.jpgJERRY KELLY // What's in a name?

Small putter companies are the Davids amid golf's Goliaths. In fact, at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Puerto Rico Open, five companies (Odyssey, Titleist, Ping, TaylorMade and Nike) accounted for more than 90 percent of the putters being used, leaving few opportunities for upstart or long-standing smaller companies to get their flat sticks in play -- this was a far cry from 1999 when José Maria Olazábal used a Kevin Burns 9304 model in winning the Masters. That win helped spark a run where in 2002 putters from Burns were the fourth-most-used on the PGA Tour according to the Darrell Survey 2002 Equipment Almanac.

All of which made Jerry Kelly's solid showing in the Puerto Rico Open with a Kevin Burns putter notable. "I worked with him at John Deere last year and made him a new putter for this season," said Burns, who said he first met Kelly a few years ago at the Frys.com Open. The club is a redesign of Burns' 705 model and is 33 inches long with a mid-slant neck. Kelly used it to finish T-9 while ranking third in putts per round.

NEW STUFF

callaway-speed-regime-golf-ball.jpgCallaway Speed Regime
PRICE: $48/doz. (Three models: 1, 2, 3)

Patrick Reed used a version of the SR3, a five-piece ball that features a HEX dimple pattern specifically designed for players with swing speeds above 105 mph.

CallawayGolf.com


BAG ROOM

Those spotting Hunter Mahan using a Ping Eye2 lob wedge at the WGC-Cadillac Championship can rest easy. Mahan wasn't wielding one of the old Eye2s not permitted in competition but rather a conforming Eye2 XG model. . . . Russell Henley had Nike's tour technicians check the loft and lie angle on his Method 006 putter at Trump National Doral. Henley regularly has his putter inspected because the long neck makes it more likely that the loft or lie will get unintentionally altered when traveling. . . . A Yes! C-Groove Sandy 12 putter was back in the bag of Ryan Moore in Miami. The putter is the one he used in winning the CIMB Classic in Malaysia last October. Moore finished T-25 at the WGC, ranking 44th in strokes gained/putting. . . . Ernie Els had some new fairway woods in Miami. The four-time major champion employed Adams' new Tight Lies model for his 3- and 5-woods (14 and 19 degrees, respectively). . . . Francesco Molinari wanted a slightly different feel with his Nike Method 006 putter so he practiced with one at the WGC-Cadillac Championship that did not have weights like his gamer. After a few putts on the practice green at Trump National Doral, Molinari put the lighter putter in the bag, eventually finishing T-25 while ranking 37th in strokes gained/putting.


... Read
Gear & Equipment

It's a little disheartening to compare your swing to Rickie Fowler's, but it's really cool that you can

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

ORLANDO -- In a TrackMan-fueled era of golf, some of the game's fastest adaptors have been equipment companies. They figured out quickly that measuring every feasible aspect of the golf swing actually comes in pretty handy for clubfitting (and, ultimately, club selling).


I took a spin on GEARS, Cobra-Puma's latest addition to this fast-growing space, and it was pretty astonishing. Retailing for about $39,500, it's more geared towards high-end facilities and Cobra's custom clubfitters. All of Cobra's tour pros -- Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter among them -- have their swings stored on GEARS.

The way GEARS works is pretty simple: the user puts on a suit which features tiny, white sensors all over them. After standing still and facing the camera so it can recognize all the points it needs to, all you have to do is swing. GEARS will do everything from telling you your clubhead speed, to showing where you hit the ball on the face, to sketching a 3D simulation of your entire golf swing. It has a margin of error of about .2 of a millimeter, and it even allows you to overlay your swing onto one of Cobra-Puma's staffer's.

If you dare. . .


... Read
Gear & Equipment

FlightScope Xi offers a portable launch monitor for less

By Stephen Hennessey

ORLANDO -- Golf pros and clubfitters have used launch monitors since the early 2000s. One obstacle for the average player? The cost. Now FlightScope is adding a more affordable, portable launch monitor. 

Flightscope.jpg
Starting at $2,500, the new Xi uses much of the same technology as its FlightScope X2, which sells for around $11,000. Real-time stats--from distance to clubhead speed and ball speed--are viewable on the device, and you can connect through your smartphone to view your shot trajectory and other graphics. 

It's available for ordering now at flightscope.com, with first deliveries coming in mid-March. 


... Read
Gear & Equipment

Social-media campaigns are the buzz at the start of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day

By Stephen Hennessey

ORLANDO -- Today marks the start of golf's version of shopping in a huge, outdoor toy store.

Equipment, grips, shafts and other products are on display from dozens of manufacturers at Outdoor Demo Day at Orange County National, the one-day prelude to the 61st PGA Merchandise Show, which runs Jan. 22-25.


photo.JPG
Some of the hardest working folks at Demo Day: Volunteers and staff from Orange County National cleaning and redistributing range balls.

Related: Why there's a positive vibe expected at this week's PGA Show

Of course, you have traditional the equipment rollouts with every major manufacturer having its latest line of clubs to try out.

Yet in this first hour of the Demo Day, it's hard to miss the enormous social-media push from many of the major equipment companies hoping to get attendees not only to try their products but help promote them.

Specifically there are a handful of social-media campaigns reaching out to golfers to tweet or Instagram about a specific product. While it was prevalent the last two years, it's an even bigger push this time around.

Some quick examples:

-- Ping is introducing a new glove, the Sensor Cool, which Bubba Watson will wear on the PGA Tour. There's a cardboard cut-out of Watson at Ping's Demo Day setup, where you can take a photo and use the hashtag #FeelTheGlove to get a Ping T-shirt. It's a great cause, too. Ping will donate a portion of all sales it generates from its three models of the Sensor Glove to the Bubba Watson Foundation, Ping spokesperson Pete Samuels said.

-- Cobra/Puma, like it did last year, has an enormous station with a DJ blasting loud music and drinks started being served at 10 a.m. (You know, because it can.) Jesper Parnevik and Blair O'Neal are slated to mingle with fans, too. By using the #GoLong hashtag on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook you're entered into a contest to win a Bio Cell driver.

-- Fujikura has one of the most innovative promotions at Demo Day. Taby and Christine, two Florida natives, are dressed as police officers--complete with handcuffs and Aviator shades. If you take a photo with these girls, and tag it with #Fujikura on Instagram, you're entered to win tickets to all four majors this year. The 10 posts with the most likes are eligible to win, and the Fujikura folks with pick the best photo. You win a free hat by participating.

Other events going on:

-- Peter Jacobson and Dave Pelz are giving a show at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Srixon/Cleveland setup.

-- Former Re/Max World Long-Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski is demonstrating his driving abilities with the new Callaway line of drivers at 11 and 2.

-- TaylorMade's "Loft Up+" campaign features a gigantic leader board onsite. The highest differences in driving distance--from your old loft to a new, higher loft--are featured in an electronic leader board. It's all in an effort to educate golfers on the benefits of playing a high launch, low spin driver like TaylorMade's SLDR line, spokesman Dave Cordero said.

The hardest-working folks on the expansive 360-degree range at Orange County National have to be the team of 20 who are sorting and distributing golf balls from the range. There are 15 volunteers helping a team of five employees from Orange County National. They have an assembly line of loading, sorting and shipping out balls via large garbage cans.

"We'll go through 80,000 golf balls, and that's probably low," said Brian, one of the employees from OCN who deserves a golf clap from everyone demoing the new clubs here.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

Harris English's motto for transitioning to a new equipment company? Go slow

By Brendan Mohler

At the start of last year, Rory McIlroy's switch from Titleist to Nike Golf sent shockwaves through the industry as well as the Twitter-sphere. One reason was the sheer enormity of the deal (in the nine figures). The other was the claim that it was a huge risk for the then-World No. 1 to make a wholesale change when at the top of his game.

harris-english-golf-world-equipment-0113.jpg
Harris English testing his clubs. Photo: Erik Isakson

McIlroy's results in 2013 hardly allayed concerns, but that didn't stop a slew of players from changing clubs and balls for this year. One is two-time PGA Tour winner Harris English, who left Ping to join Callaway. According to English, it's how one goes about making a change that makes the difference.

"Not really," English replied when asked if McIlroy's struggles through much of 2013 had given him pause. "You have to have some controls. You have to keep some stuff the same. You can't switch everything at one time. That's definitely not what I'm doing. You have to change over time."

For English that process began by speaking with several staff players to get a feel for Callaway equipment and how the company works with players coming over.

Related: What's in Harris English's bag

"Chris Kirk is a good buddy of mine who switched to Callaway," said English. "I talked to him a lot. I also talked to Phil Mickelson about the new stuff. Players who switch know what it's like going through it."

A large part of which is product testing. Golf World sat in on a recent clubfitting session with English at Callaway's Carlsbad, Calif., test center. The day started with English hitting a mere 10 half-wedge shots before he started pounding drivers with Randy Peterson, Callaway's director of fitting and instruction, and Nick Raffaele, the company's VP, sports marketing, carefully looking on.

"For the driver we started with the specs of his Ping G15 and made tweaks along the way," said Peterson. "We don't want to change too much, too fast."

That's not a worry for English when it comes to drivers, as his preference for testing the big stick is to hit relatively few balls on the range to narrow down the choices and then do extensive on-course testing. One of the primary reasons is that English is not a "numbers" guy, but rather a shot shaper who needs to work the ball both ways off the tee.

"I grew up on south Georgia golf courses," English said. "You know, dogleg left, dogleg right, every hole is a dogleg. I like to get on holes where I'm teeing it up on the right side of the box and hitting a cut off the left bunker, or I have to turn it right to left and hit a high draw out there. It's hard for me to do that on the driving range."

That's not to say testing isn't useful for English, who realizes the importance of someone being able to interpret the data to make sure the club is working efficiently. It's also an opportunity to focus on small details. For example, English asked if the chevron alignment aid, which is on the company's new Big Bertha Alpha but not the X2 Hot Pro, could be added to the latter.

Related: Harris English's Chattanooga

During testing, but particularly with the irons, Raffaele constantly reminded English to "make the swing you make--don't adjust to the club." His point is simple: Tour pros are good enough to adapt to almost anything, but you want to build the clubs to the player's swing, not the other way around.

For English there was an added element to the iron testing--as a Ping staff player he had never played a forged iron before. "It feels so different but so much better," English said of the Callaway RAZR X MB irons he put in play at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. "It's a lot softer off the face. Sound is so important. I like a more muted sound."

Although English didn't require any work with wedges, having played the company's Mack Daddy 2 late in 2013, designer Roger Cleveland offered some instruction tips, leveling English's shoulders (his right shoulder was lower than his left on bunker shots) to help keep the depth of each strike in the sand equal.

For putters, English prefers mallets (his two wins last year came with Ping's Nome TR and Scottsdale Hohum models) and has no qualms about changing. "Typically, I switch every six months or so," he said. "Confidence is 90 percent of putting. If it looks good to me, that's all that matters." Still, English stuck with the Hohum at Kapalua, where he finished T-11.

Another piece of equipment English won't be changing in the near future is his ball. Subscribing to the theory that too much change at once can get confusing and make the comparison of old clubs versus new more difficult, English continued using the Titleist Pro V1x dot ball, likely switching to Callaway's Speed Regime model later this season.

Although English doesn't own the credentials of McIlroy, he too has had people ask him about switching after such a successful year.

"That's a tough question," English said. "I think getting better equipment in my hands can lead to more wins, and I feel like the guys at Callaway can do that. ... I want to be in the hunt in some majors, and really shoot towards that Ryder Cup team. I played Walker Cup in Scotland, and I loved playing for the United States. I think that's a pretty realistic goal for me, and I'm going to work hard and shoot for it."

A task he takes on both intelligently and incrementally.

NEW STUFF

ping-i25-driver.jpgPing i25
PRICE: $400 (Lofts: 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 degrees, all adjustable)

The titanium head features a pair of tungsten weights on the perimeter of the sole to boost forgiveness. A stripe on the crown assists alignment.

Ping.com


BAG ROOM

It was a busy offseason for players changing equipment companies. Perhaps the biggest name to make a move was Ernie Els, who left Callaway after six-plus years to sign with Adams Golf. Although Adams has some iconic players on its Champions Tour staff (Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer among them), the signing of Els marks the company's first significant PGA Tour player to use its equipment in more than a decade. Another multiple major winner making a move was Vijay Singh, signing with start-up Hopkins Golf to play its wedges, wear its hat and carry its staff bag. Callaway was also active, adding FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson, Harris English, Matteo Manassero and Lydia Ko, among others. TaylorMade was busy as well, inking Trevor Immelman and Scott Langley after having previously signed Carl Pettersson. ... Not everybody was on the move, however. U.S. Open champ Justin Rose re-upped with TaylorMade for five years. ... After cracking the face of the Titleist 910D2 he used for three years, including during his win at the PGA Championship, Jason Dufner had a new driver in play at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions -- Titleist's 913D2. Dufner finished fifth in Hawaii while ranking T-3 in driving accuracy. ... Dustin Johnson changed to TaylorMade's new Tour Preferred MB irons in the offseason and had the clubs in his bag at Kapalua. Johnson finished T-6, ranking T-2 for the week in GIR, hitting 60 of 72 greens. Johnson also used the company's new Tour Preferred X ball.


... Read
Gear & Equipment

Five questions with The Club Fix founder Bronson Wright

From the Dec. 11 edition of Golf Digest Stix:

Bronson Wright is the founder of The Club Fix, a California clubfitter that just opened locations in New York City, Thailand and Mesa, Ariz. He took five questions from Stephen Hennessey

the-club-fix-bronson-wright.jpg
Fitting in: Wright's shops expanded to Asia in 2013.

Q: Are these new markets different for you?
No question. Thailand is the most interesting. We've coupled with a company over there that does 35,000 lessons a year. And they weren't doing any clubfitting. So that was a no-brainer for us.

Q: How are Asian clubfitting customers different from Americans?
To be blunt, they want quality, whereas a lot of American customers are just looking for a deal. Really, Asian golfers are willing to spend top dollar for the proper golf club to get the most out of their game. Also, I think they work harder at their game. So they can really notice a difference when something is clicking or not.

Q: Tell us a recent success story from one of your locations.
We had one guy who had gotten a clubfitting somewhere else. But they didn't custom-build the clubs. He's now hitting his driver 60 yards longer after having his clubs custom-built by us. That's beyond a Wow moment. It shows that just because you've been custom-fit doesn't mean you can't go through another fitting and still obtain more.

Q: What's the key to expanding a golf business in this economy?
There's nothing that's going to provide more quality growth than customer service and expertise. The experience a person has had better be 110-percent quality or they're going somewhere else.

Q: What's the biggest problem with most golfers you see?
They get a custom-fitting, but they're not getting a custom club. If they're not custom-built for you, you won't get optimal results.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

How Phil Mickelson's equipment moves have both worked (Muirfield 2013) and failed (Torrey '08)

By E. Michael Johnson

Phil Mickelson is an equipment writer's dream -- the gift that keeps on giving. Whether it's using two drivers to win the Masters or the mistake of no drivers at Torrey Pines in 2008, Lefty never disappoints, with the British Open being the latest example.

phil-mickelson-golf-equipment-0729.jpg
Photo: J.D. Cuban

The Champion Golfer of the Year again fiddled with his set makeup, opting for no driver and not even a Phrankenwood, but rather a Callaway X Hot 3Deep 13-degree 3-wood as his longest club in the bag, just as he did at Merion for the U.S. Open. This time, however, the results were different as Mickelson took home his fifth major. Here's a look at some equipment changes Mickelson has made leading up to the majors (not counting the infamous switch to Callaway just prior to the 2004 Ryder Cup) -- moves that resulted in memorable wins or epic losses.

Two drivers at 2006 Masters
Mickelson is known for preferring to play the week before a major and at the 2006 BellSouth Classic, he used the tournament to try out a potential strategy for the following week at Augusta National -- a pair of 9.5-degree Callaway Big Bertha Fusion FT-3 drivers.

He did this in hopes of working the ball both left and right without altering his swing. Although comfortable hitting his "baby cut" with his gamer, Mickelson had to change his move to hit a draw. The second driver was one inch longer (46 inches as opposed to 45 on his gamer) with a lower center of gravity. Along with moving some internal weight to make it more draw-friendly, the club provided Mickelson the desired shot with his normal swing.

Related: The clubs Phil used to win the Open

"I knew I was going to [use two drivers] at Augusta," he said at the BellSouth. "I wanted a week where I did this before the Masters, to see if I could go from one driver to the other and still hit fairways and not have it be a big change."

The change was big, but in a good way. Mickelson won the BellSouth in runaway fashion and his second Masters the following week.

A 64-degree wedge at Winged Foot
In the weeks leading up to the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot GC, Mickelson had Callaway make him a 64-degree X-Tour wedge to combat the touchy little shots around the course's tricky greens.

Although Mickelson wasn't alone in carrying a high-lofted weapon, he did face the problem of what club to leave out. During a trial run at the Memorial, Mickelson left the 7-iron out to make room for the club. At Winged Foot, however, Lefty dropped the 3-wood. Still, the 64-degree proved handy. After 54 holes Mickelson said, "That one club has saved me a lot of shots, more than one or two a round possibly. If I'm able to be successful tomorrow, I will give credit to that one particular club for being the little extra edge." Unfortunately, his memorable double bogey at the last prevented that.

No driver at 2008 U.S. Open
On the longest course in U.S. Open history, Mickelson decided to go without a driver, opting instead for a Callaway FT Tour 3-wood -- a 13-degree version bent to 11.5 degrees. Mickelson had a 43-inch Mitsubishi Diamana White Board shaft installed and used the club as his primary weapon off the tee the first two days.

Mickelson's rationale was that his driver would go too far and quite possibly land him in trouble. "The 3-wood carries 275 [yards]," he said. "So it's running about 300 here. And it's just easier to hit fairways at 300 than 320. It just felt more comfortable."

Unfortunately, the plan backfired as he had trouble finding the short grass with the shorter club, forcing him to go back to the driver on the weekend.

Related: The defining shots of the 2013 British Open

Phrankenwood at 2013 Masters
At this year's Masters Lefty kinda sorta tried two 3-woods in the bag and the results were mixed. Mickelson promised a "special club" for the Masters and was true to his word, unveiling the "Phrankenwood" -- a 250cc "driver" that came about because of Mickelson's affinity for Callaway's X Hot 3-wood, which he noticed spun less than most 3-woods.

Mickelson asked the engineers at Callaway to take that technology and put it in a slightly larger clubhead, effectively making the club a small-headed driver. However, unlike most drivers that are titanium or titanium/composite combinations, Phrankenwood was made from stainless steel with a Carpenter 455 face insert to help boost ball speed. The club had a 45-inch Mitsubishi Fubuki shaft and 8.5 degrees of loft.

The club performed well enough as Mickelson ranked sixth in distance at 298.12 yards and T-9 in accuracy at 71.43 percent, but the result that mattered most wasn't very good as the three-time Masters champ had his worst Masters performance ever, finishing T-54.

The "Hot" 3-wood at 2013 U.S. and British Opens
Earlier this year Mickelson expressed a desire for a fairway wood that was long enough to use as a second driver, but also playable off the ground. The company responded by making the X Hot 3Deep with a face 10 percent taller than its X Hot model, thus raising the center of gravity slightly, making it more in line with the impact area on tee shots (higher on the face), leading to more ball speed.

Mickelson used the club at this year's U.S. Open at Merion GC and again at Muirfield. Although the results were mixed at Merion (he could barely reach the fairway from the back tee on No. 18 and the club came up short on the brutally long par-3 third in the final round), the strategy played to perfection in Scotland. Mickelson kept the ball in play and then, on the 71st hole, struck a pair of shots that essentially put the tournament away.

"That is exactly why I don't have a driver in the bag," Mickelson said afterward of the two 3-woods that reached the par-5 17th in two blows. "Those two 3-woods were the two best shots of the week."

Which brings us back to where we started. Whether he continues to play well or fails, Mickelson's equipment decisions will continue to be debated and dissected. Like we said, an equipment writer's dream.

NEW STUFF

odyssey-versa-golf-equipment-0729.jpgOdyssey Versa #9
PRICE: $170 (Lengths: 34, 35 inches)

Versa putters feature a high contrast alignment technology that accentuates the face angle at address. Phil Mickelson used this model at the British Open.

odysseygolf.com



BAG ROOM

After taking to Twitter to solicit putters, Ian Poulter settled on an Odyssey White Damascus iX #1. Currently a Japan-only product, the club is made from the same Damascus steel that has been used in samurai swords. Poulter rallied to finish T-3 at the British Open, ranking T-16 in total putts. ... Another player making a putter change was Lee Westwood, who went back to a Ping Redwood Anser -- a model he has won with nine times. ... Although drivers were not used often at Muirfield, some big names had a new big stick in the bag. Most notable was Tiger Woods, who added a Nike VR_S Covert Tour prototype driver. The non-adjustable driver features the same cavity back as the retail version; however the head is more pear-shaped, which Woods prefers to help shape and control his shots.


... Read
Gear & Equipment

Out With The Old: Last-minute equipment tweaks common, even at majors

By E. Michael Johnson

tianlang-guan-stix.jpg
Draw it up: Tianlang Guan played two new fairway woods. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

You might think players would be reluctant to make equipment changes at the year's first major. But the challenges of Augusta National (the need for a right-to-left tee shot, firmer-than-normal turf, greens that are more receptive to higher shots) had several players making changes or tweaks.

Adam Scott had a new driver, changing from Titleist's 910D3 driver to the newer 913D3. Scott kept the same specs, including 9.5 degrees of loft and a Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8X shaft.

Lee Westwood recently tried a Ping Scottsdale TR Anser B putter, 38 inches long. For the Masters, Westwood was back with the TR Scottsdale Shea he'd been using, at a conventional 35 inches.

Tianlang Guan [above], 14, tested a Callaway X Hot 3-wood and 4-wood in Augusta before the tournament. The 3-wood was 43 inches with 14.1 degrees of loft. The 4-wood was 42 inches with 17.1 degrees of loft. Guan liked that he could draw the clubs, so he putt hem in his bag

Tiger Woods added a Nike VR_S Covert 3-wood, preferring the way he could turn the ball right to left with it.


... Read
Gear & Equipment

Video: Previewing the Golf Digest Equipment Insider on NBC

By Mike Stachura

You can watch a pro golf tournament on television multiple times a day every weekend of the year, but only once a year will you see an hour of network golf coverage devoted to the stuff that really matters to average golfers: the hottest gear in the game. That hour comes this Sunday when Golf Digest and NBC Sports combine for the fifth annual edition of the Golf Digest Equipment Insider, a tour through the game's latest technologies in clubs, balls and fashion.

Related: Check out Golf Digest's 2013 Hot List

The show will be hosted by Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" co-stars Holly Sonders and Gary Williams, and will feature insight from Golf Digest Senior Editor for Equipment Mike Stachura; Golf World Senior Editor E. Michael Johnson and Golf Digest Fashion Director Marty "Mr. Style" Hackel.

The Golf Digest Equipment Insider will feature segments on every equipment category in the bag from drivers to putters, as well as a special segment on club-fitting and a closer look at the problem of counterfeit clubs. Throughout the show the leading experts in equipment technology at all of golf's top manufacturers will offer their perspective of how modern innovation is making the possibility for improvement not only commonplace for the top players in the world, but for average golfers, too.

The show will air at 1:00 p.m. ET, prior to Golf Central Pre-Game and the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a sneak peek.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

There's benefit in using oversize grips

By John Strege

superstroke-grips-stix.jpg

Oversize and non-tapered, SuperStroke putter grips are growing in popularity among professional golfers. The movement largely began with Jason Dufner finishing second at the 2011 PGA Championship using one. At the recent Northern Trust Open, Charlie Beljan (second) and Fredrik Jacobson (tied for third) used them. Amateurs might benefit, too, says Jason Guss, one of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers.

"Because the grip is so big it takes away a lot of grip pressure, so your hands are a little more relaxed. When they're more relaxed, it takes the wristiness out. And changing the thickness in the grip erases bad memories from your mental bank." Pictured is the Mid Slim, selling for $25 each. More info.


... Read
. Close

Thank you for signing up for the newsletter.

You will receive your first newsletter soon.
Subscribe to Golf Digest

Subscribe today
Golf Digest Perks