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Equipment

Nike's Vapor drivers move in new direction

Vapor_Flex_Driver1.jpgThe adjustable driver is not new. It’s been around in the mass marketplace for the better part of a decade. While the vast majority recently have focused on changing loft, face and lie angles through rotating hosels, the cool trend from the beginning has been about repositioning center of gravity. 

There have been movable and sliding weights that shifted the CG horizontally toward the heel or toe to produce shots that, respectively, tone down a slice or calm a hook. There even have been drivers that independently from other settings can adjust the vertical center of gravity from high to low, an effort to either better match a player’s specific impact position or effectively let a player choose between low spin or mid-spin.

Now, Nike is offering the option to control CG location in a front-to-back dimension. It's an idea we've seen in some sense with the first TaylorMade r7 driver where the heavier movable weights could be put in the forward position or the rearward position, and most recently with Mizuno's JPX 850 driver that was put in play earlier this year by Luke Donald. The new Vapor Flex driver ($500, available Jan. 30) features a weight cylinder housed flush with the sole that can be flipped so the heavier end is toward the face or toward the back of the driver. The weighting change lets a golfer alter launch angle and spin rate independent of the driver's other loft and face angle settings.

“Often in the fitting process, there’s an opportunity for a final adjustment to develop the shot shape and ball flight the athlete is looking for,” said Nate Radcliffe, Nike’s director of engineering. “As the last step in the fitting process, that can be the difference between the athlete being comfortable with the fitting and really being able to compete with it on the golf course.”

According to Radcliffe, there’s about a two-millimeter difference in the CG location front to back. He says the change from front to back can increase launch angle by a degree, while the change from back to front can reduce spin by 300 rpm. The CG movement also affects the clubhead’s moment of inertia, which is a measurement of its resistance to twisting on off-center hits. On the Vapor Flex, this means the back CG position has about a 300-point higher MOI. Theoretically, some better players may prefer a club with slightly lower MOI, since off-center hits are not as large a concern and because they might find it easier to manipulate the clubhead. 

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Radcliffe says the weight cylinder system is made possible by the use of the company’s lightweight RZN polymer resin material found in its golf balls and also in the new Vapor irons. “The power of RZN is that it allows us to remove and relocate mass within a club head.” said Radcliffe.

The Vapor Flex (left) is built on the same technology platform as Nike’s Vapor Pro driver that Rory McIlroy recently put in play, as well as the Vapor Speed driver (below right, $300, available Jan. 30), which was also launched today. All three new Nike drivers include a redesigned sole cavity found previously in the Nike Covert and Covert 2.0 drivers. Radcliffe said the redesign included lowering and stiffening the back portion of the cavity to concentrate the flexing toward the front of the crown to improve ballspeeds. 

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Like the Vapor Pro, Vapor Flex also features the return of a sole channel toward the front of the club to improve the way the face flexes, particularly on low impacts. The channel, which was first part of Nike’s VR drivers in 2010, has been completely redesigned, including some 37 iterations before a final version was settled on. It’s designed to vary in flexibility (it's shallower in the center and deeper towards the heel and toe) to improve the way the face flexes on both on-and off-center impacts.
 
"This is a completely new channel," said Radcliffe. "It does not have a uniform depth."

The drivers also feature a rotating hosel adapter that allows players to independently adjust face angle and loft. The head adjusts between 8.5 and 12.5 degrees with one of three face angles for a total of 15 unique settings. The new hosel is 30 percent lighter than previous versions.

The Vapor Speed features a larger footprint and a slightly higher moment of inertia than McIlroy’s previously debuted Vapor Pro. The crown also slopes down more from front to back compared to last year’s Covert 2.0 to yield a larger face area.   
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Equipment

Wilson Staff pushing lightweight limits

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The theory about making clubs lighter is less weight should make the club easier to swing faster. But it’s not that simple. “Lightweight is fairly easy to do,” says Michael Vrska, director of innovation for golf clubs at Wilson Staff. “The key is to how you use the limited available mass.” 

Still, the company is pushing the limits of lighter weight. Fueled by ultralight shafts and grips and an adjustable driver head that is the lightest in the industry, Wilson unveiled its D200 line of woods and irons this week by talking about how to make lightweight clubs work for more golfers. The D200 line includes a driver with a total weight less than 270 grams, fairway woods and hybrids that use 49- and 54-gram shafts and a superlight super game-improvement iron that redistributes 48 grams to the heel and toe to improve stability on off-center hits.

Vrska says the most important aspect of the company’s new D200 driver is not just its lighter overall weight-just 268 grams-but something called club moment of inertia. While the MOI most golfers think of has to do with how stable the club is on an off-center hit (higher is generally better), the thinking on club MOI is just the opposite. Club MOI has to do with how resistant an object is to some force causing it to move (like say a golfer trying to swing it). A lower club MOI, theoretically, might mean a club is easier to swing faster. Vrska says the club MOI on the D200 is the lowest on the market. The D200, which also features a thinner, webbed, variable thickness crown through the use of a chemical etching process, also is the lightest adjustable driver in the game with a head weight of just 189 grams or about 15 grams lighter than most adjustable driver heads today. Each of the three lofts (9, 10.5, 13; $300) can be adjusted up or down one degree, and put in a draw setting.

The face size on the D200 also has been increased by 9 percent and redesigned compared to the D100. The thickness of the lower perimeter of the face has been decreased by 12 percent to further improve face deflection on off-center hits. 

Also fueling the lightweight design is a special 25-gram Golf Pride grip and a 44-gram UST Mamiya Elements Chrome shaft. 

The line includes fairway woods and hybrids with Carpenter 455 steel face inserts. Vrska says the high-strength Carpenter 455 is able to made 20 percent thinner than traditional 17-4 steel and 13 percent thinner than some Chines steels labeled “455.” The thinner face helps create the highest spring-like effect readings for Wilson’s fairway woods and hybrids in its history. Both the fairway woods and hybrids have extended low heel and toe regions for a 5 percent larger face area. The fairway woods (15, 18, 21 degrees; $250) use a 49-gram UST Mamiya Elements Chrome shaft, while the hybrids (17, 19, 212, 25, 28, 31 degrees; $180) feature a 54-gram version. Both use the 25-gram Golf Pride grip found on the driver.


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The D200 irons continue the lightweight theme, but while the saved weight is repositioned in the heel and toe, it’s how the weight is saved in the head that is especially interesting. The design features extending the same thickness of the already thin face around the leading edge and into the front part of the sole. The sole is thinnest on the longer irons and the weight is moved farther back in the cavity. As the lofts progress higher, the face-to-sole transition area isn’t as thin and the weight moves forward to control trajectory and feel. The saved weight, almost 50 percent of the club’s total mass in the 4-iron, is repositioned to the heel and toe to lower the center of gravity and to raise the head’s MOI by 9 percent, compared to the D100.

The D200 irons ($600 steel, $700 graphite) come with an 85-gram steel option and a 59-gram UST Mamiya Elements Chrome graphite option. 

All of Wilson’s D200 clubs will be in stores Jan. 16.
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Equipment

Callaway bolsters Big Bertha driver line

big-bertha-alpha-815.jpg“There’s really no one recipe for distance, there’s no one driver type that fits all,” said Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s R&D chief. “In fact, we found that there are three.” 

Those words herald today's introduction of two new Big Bertha drivers. The two new clubs complete a trio of fitting options with last month’s Big Bertha V-Series. While the lightweight, aerodynamic V-Series is aimed at enhancing clubhead speed, the new Big Bertha Alpha 815 and Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond (in stores Nov. 14) focus on spin reduction and forgiveness. The new introductions, each of which features two settings of vertical center of gravity positions come 10 months after the company unveiled the Big Bertha Alpha, its first driver to feature independent adjustability of vertical center of gravity, as well as loft and lie.

Both Big Bertha Alpha 815 and Alpha 815 DD feature lightweight composite crowns, the central core weight that can be flipped in a low or mid center of gravity position (the "gravity core"), heel and toe adjustable weights, an adjustable hosel and a revised face design that saves additional weight. In the Alpha 815 ($450; 9, 10.5 12 degrees), the weight is saved to provide lower spin and improved off-center hit stability compared to last December’s Big Bertha Alpha. 

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"We wanted this driver to get into the space where it's capable of delivering low spin but play with the character of being forgiving, as well," Hocknell said. "We don't think there's currently another driver in the marketplace that really accomplishes those two objectives."

When Callaway introduced its Big Bertha driver last December, it stressed forgiveness with a movable weight that slid to various degrees of draw and fade bias. It also debuted the Big Bertha Alpha, whose adjustable vertical center of gravity could alter spin rate by some 300 revolutions per minute depending on whether the core was positioned with its heavy end in the top or bottom position. But it was somewhat less forgiving, featuring a lower moment of inertia, or stability on off-center hits.
 
Fast forward to today and the new Big Bertha Alpha 815 promises to do both. Meanwhile, the Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond, as its name implies, is geared to more elite, higher swing speed golfers. Its emphasis is on extreme spin reduction.
 
The Alpha 815 utilizes eight materials (including titanium, stainless steel, tungsten, aluminum, ABS thermoplastic, and the company's trademark "forged composite" carbon fiber material) and has a lighter swingweight and overall club weight than the original Alpha along with slightly more draw bias. Also different is the head size—460cc compared to 430cc on last year’s model. The gravity core (which produces more spin in the “up” position and less when the end with more weight is in the “down” position) is identical to the original.
 
The most intriguing parts of the club, however, are the rib structures that connect from the face to the sole and the crown. “The combination of those ribs plus a thinner overall structure in the area around the face in addition to the composite crown makes the club lighter than it was before,” says Hocknell. “We have used that weight [between 5 and 6 grams] elsewhere to stretch the body in order to improve the forgiveness of the club.”
 
Hocknell went on to say that the face (which is .005 to .006 of an inch thinner on average) was designed to improve specific areas, noting that the center of the face already was at the limit and that the area near the sole of the driver is already flexible so there was no need to make it more so. Instead, Callaway engineers used internal ribs in the crown and sole to better control the flexibility of the boundary areas of the face while creating more ball speed by boosting face deflection. The company calls it RMOTO for "rib motion control"—in short, a more efficient transfer of energy to the ball while using up less weight in the face. That weight is then redistributed for more off-center hit stability than last year's Big Bertha Alpha.
 
The adjustability of the Alpha 815 expands beyond the gravity core with adjustable heel and toe weights (1 gram and 7 grams) as well as an adjustable hosel with settings ranging from minus 1 degree loft to plus 2 degrees loft, as well as draw and neutral lie angle settings. There’s also been an upgrade in the area of shaft selection as well. In addition to the stock Fujikura Speeder Motore 565, there are 13 additional premium shafts available at no upcharge from the $450 street price.
 
The Alphja 815 DD ($500, with two lofts: 9 and 10.5 degrees) version boasts most of the same attributes as the Alpha 815, but with a smaller clubhead footprint with a deeper, more open face angle and a taller gravity core that provides a larger spin difference. Furthering Callaway’s claim of a “extreme low spin driver” is that weight savings of 3 grams from the face were used to lower the CG to further lessen spin. The adjustable hosel is the same as the Alpha 815, with the movable weights of 1 gram and 5 grams.
 
Both drivers will be available in golf stores in November.
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Drivers

Titleist's sole groove is central to new metalwoods

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Titleist’s line of 915 drivers have been seen and heard at the PGA Tour level since June, even used in Geoff Ogilvy’s win at the Barracuda Championship in August. Now, they’re ready to make their official debut to the public. 

What many have noticed right away in the family of drivers (the 460 cubic centimeter 915 D2 and the 440 cc 915 D3; $450, in stores Nov. 14) is a deep groove toward the front of the sole labeled “Active Recoil Channel.” But don’t think it is just about making the flex face at impact, says Dan Stone, Titleist’s vice president of golf club research and development. “What really hasn’t been explained in the marketplace is that the channel isn’t just about ballspeed,” he says. “It also changes the spin to launch ratio, and that’s a really powerful tool. So it gives us two pops: it improves off-center ballspeed and it reduces spin.” 

The other benefit in the channel design is to produce a greater area on the face of both ballspeed and spin consistency. In short, it’s designed to make more shots perform in the neighborhood of perfect hits. 

Those bonuses are not so easily achieved. Stone says the Titleist R&D team solved a couple of problem areas that arose from having a flexible channel in the sole, particularly when it comes to center of gravity location. 

“I think acoustics is one area that we spent a lot of time designing for because of the changes in the internal structure,” he said. “The other is weight. In a way you’re adding twice the wall thickness in a place where you normally have a flat section. We worked really hard at making that as thin as possible, so we would still have a CG location that was not driving it significantly low and forward because we wanted to preserve the moment of inertia.”

Stone says the value of increased moment of inertia for increased stability isn’t just for average hacks. He says the 915 drivers achieve similar measurements for moment of inertia (or off-center hit stability) as the 913 series.  

“Tour players do tend to have a miss area on a driver that’s about the size of a nickel, as opposed to a half-dollar sized with a higher-handicapper,” he says. “But they do miss it, it just happens much less frequently. Of course, it usually comes with a shot under pressure. And with one shot meaning so much, that’s where inertia can help even them get more consistent ballspeed more often.”

Helping achieve a more stable head design and ideal CG location is the use of a lighter 8-1-1 titanium in the body, as well as a thinned out variable thickness face insert that Stone says “organically tapers” at the heel and toe to improve low, toe and heel shots. 

Both the D2 and D3 offer a slightly higher launch angle and less spin than its predecessor. Compared to each other, Stone says the 915 D2 will have a slight draw bias, while the D3 will offer less spin.

The drivers once again will feature Titleist’s 16-way adjustable hosel that allows players to independently change loft and lie angle. Each head can move loft by up to plus-1.75 degrees and minus .75 degrees, while lie angle can be shifted 1.5 degrees upright to .75 degrees flat. The 915 D2 will be available in five lofts (7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 12), while the D3 will be available in four (7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5). 

The drivers utilize five stock shafts, including the Aldila Rogue Black and Silver and the Diamana D+ White, S+ Blue and M+ Red.

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The 915 line also includes completely redesigned fairway woods (915 F, 915 Fd) and hybrids (915 H, 915 Hd), each featuring the sole channel geometry. The channel is deeper, narrower and more forward on the fairway woods than the driver to control spin. A Carpenter 455 face insert is the thinnest ever for a Titleist’s fairway wood. In each case, the “d” models are designed to yield a lower trajectory and less spin.

The 915 F comes in five lofts (13.5, 15, 16.5, 18, 21). while the 915 Fd is offered in two (13.5, 15). The 915 H is available in four lofts (18, 21, 24, 27), while the 915 Hd is offered in three (17.5, 20, 23.5). Both the fairway woods and hybrids feature the same 16-way adjustable hosel as the 915 drivers.

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Gear & Equipment

Lots of technology behind Srixon's 2015 line of metal woods, hybrids and irons

It has been known for some time the focus on golf equipment at Cleveland/Srixon was going to concentrate more on Srixon in 2015 -- and now we know what those products are going to be. Srixon unveiled its club line for next year, and it's an extensive, nearly full-line offering with two drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, a pair of iron sets and a utility iron.

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The drivers -- the Z545 and Z745 -- each boast a cup-face construction with a titanium body and high-strength 6-4 titanium face. The face has been thinned in the heel and toe areas to boost ball speed on mis-hits, and the clubs are adjustable for face angle, lie angle and loft (via a 12-way adjustable hosel). The center-of-gravity position is also moveable with the use of three adjustable weights (3, 7 and 11 grams). The primary difference between the two drivers is size. The Z545 is 460cc while the Z745 is 430cc. Both drivers come in lofts of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees and come standard with Mitsubishi's Kuro Kage Black HBP 60 shaft.

The company also touts a "Dual Speed Technology." The fancy term translates to a higher balance-point shaft, lighter grip and slightly heavier head. The theory behind it is that even though the head is slightly heavier, by reducing weight in the grip and raising the balance point in the shaft, the club can be swung faster and more efficiently, delivering more speed to the ball. This is similar to what Ping has done in recent years with its G and i series drivers, which have a higher balance-point shaft and heavier head as well. Both drivers sell for $400.

The Z F45 fairway woods (available in 3+-, 3- and 4-woods, $280) feature a similar adjustable hosel and weights as the drivers, along with a HT1770 maraging steel face for added zip. The same material is used for the face of the Z H45 hybrids ($230), which come in 2- 3- and 4-hybrid models. But unlike the drivers and fairway woods, the hybrids do not feature any adjustable elements.

loop-srixon-Z745-6-Iron-300.jpgThe hallmark of the Z 545 and Z 745 irons (both $1,000 for a set of eight, steel shafts) is a tungsten weight placed in the toe area of the 3- through 6-irons, to produce more forgiveness in the harder-to-hit long irons. Both irons are forged from 1020 carbon steel and feature a new sole design that increases the leading bounce and decreases the trailing bounce to enhance turf interaction.

On the face, a double laser-milling pattern (one parallel to the grooves and the other on an angle) is designed to augment spin consistency. The cavity-back Z 545, which is more of a game-improvement club than the muscle-cavity Z 745, has a thinner, stronger steel face to bolster distance.

The same face material as the Z 545 is used on the new Z U45 utility iron (lofts of 18, 20 and 23 degrees). The hollow-construction, iron-like club ($180) has plenty of weight placed low to assist launch.

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Gear & Equipment

Mizuno's JPX-850 driver is all about adjustability

Over the years, Mizuno has delivered drivers worthy of attention, including its new JPX-850.

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This latest club ($400) has a sliding adjustable-weight system with three weight ports (one on the heel, toe and center of the sole). You can move a pair of eight-gram weights into any port, allowing players to set up the club for a fade or draw. The adjustable hosel provides eight loft settings from 7.5 to 11.5 degrees.

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"This club allows players to adjust loft, shot shape and spin," says Chuck Couch, Mizuno's VP of product development. "Loft is the dominant factor, but to just do loft without dialing in shot shape and spin is giving the golfer less than they should get."

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Gear & Equipment

Callaway pursues lighter weight for a faster driver

By Mike Stachura

In the latest version of golf equipment's worst-kept secret, Callaway today officially unveiled the Big Bertha V Series driver. As expected, the club, which has been on the USGA's list of conforming drivers for more than two weeks and was put in play by several players at the recent WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, reflects an approach to helping the golfer create more distance through increased swing speed.

BB-v1.jpgTaking a cue from the formula for kinetic energy, which is engraved on the sole of the clubhead, the Big Bertha V Series ($400, available in stores Aug. 22) is a lighter total weight driver. The key idea behind enhancing the club's kinetic energy, whose formula is one-half times the mass times the velocity squared, is that by increasing swing speed you can have a greater effect on the energy delivered to the ball at impact than if you choose instead to increase the weight of the head. One way to increase swingspeed is to slightly reduce total weight.

At its lightest configuration, the Big Bertha V Series is around 290 grams, or about 20 grams lighter than the current standard Big Bertha driver and 30 or more grams lighter than several other drivers being played by many players on the PGA Tour. According to Evan Gibbs, Callaway's senior manager of product performance in metalwoods, the V Series is one possible solution among many kinds of driver and many kinds of players.

"One of the philosophies behind this driver is there are a lot of different recipes for distance," Gibb said. "Some players benefit from having a very low spinning driver, a lot of players need a little bit more MOI [moment of inertia, or improved stability on off-center hits for more consistent ballspeed and spin across the face], and another segment of players can really benefit from a lightweight driver. It helps them generate more head speed and in turn get more distance.

"The focus on this driver is really about optimizing the properties of this head, but constraining it to a very lightweight configuration."

The Big Bertha V Series achieves this goal by fashioning the crown out of the company's lightweight "forged composite" material. In addition to a lightweight grip, the standard shaft on the higher lofted versions (10.5 and 13.5HT models) is just 42 grams (Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara).

Furthering this idea that there are different drivers for different players, the V Series' 9-degree model features a slightly lower center of gravity position (for decreased spin) and a heavier shaft. The total weight of the 9-degree model is just above 300 grams and features the heavier Fujikura Speeder 565 shaft.

"One of the unique things is how we've optimized the design progression through the lofts," Gibbs said. "We understand that all these players are looking for more head speed and a lighter weight. It's a question of how do we translate that head speed into more distance. That's a little bit different in the 9-degree head than in a HT head because it's really a different golfer type."

The Big Bertha V Series also features a similar face technology as found in the company's Big Bertha and X2 Hot drivers. The "Hyperspeed" design aims to save weight in the face insert (traditionally the heaviest section of a driver) yet still improve deflection on off-center hits through more precise thickness variation. 

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All three lofts (9, 10.5 and 13HT) feature the company's eight-way adjustable hosel, which allows the user to change independently between four lofts (minus-one degree, standard, plus-one degree and plus-two degrees) and two lie angles (neutral and upright).

The Big Bertha V Series also will be available in fairway woods ($250), including the return of the Heavenwood. The Heavenwood is a fairway wood featuring a 7-wood loft (20.5 degrees) with a 4-wood shaft length. The stainless steel fairway woods continue the lightweight design of the drivers and utilize Callaway's "Warbird" sole, whose slight V-shape and recessed heel and toe regions are designed to improve versatility in various lies and turf conditions. The fairways feature a variable thickness face similar in concept to the "Hyperspeed" design in the drivers. In addition to the Heavenwood, the V Series is available in 3-wood, 7-wood and 9-wood lofts. 

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Gear & Equipment

Callaway offers physics lesson on the clubhead of its new V Series driver

By Mike Stachura

loop-callaway-vseries-driver-518.jpgCallaway isn't saying much about the Big Bertha V Series club that showed up on last week's USGA list of conforming drivers. But given the timing and some of the clues on the clubhead itself, you can make a good guess as to what this driver is all about.

Making the rounds on tour this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (Thomas Bjorn is said to be one interested candidate), the club definitely emphasizes less weight. You can see slight indentations in the sole that are reminiscent of the old Big Bertha Warbird sole.

Most telling, however, are the words and formulas emblazoned on the clubhead. Included is the phrase Speed Optimized Technology and the formula for kinetic energy. The latter is a clear reference to the importance of increasing velocity (swing speed) to generate more energy at impact.

The adjustable driver is available in three lofts, according to its listing on the USGA website (9.5, 10.5 and 13.5HT). The company plans to introduce the driver formally next week.


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Gear & Equipment

Letter from Japan: Honma refocuses brand with new driver

By Mike Stachura

loop-letter-from-japan-honma-300.jpgEvery so often we get an update from our expert in Japan, Yasuko Mukai, editor in chief of Golf Digest Online. Recently she said Honma is changing from a luxury brand for older players to an athlete-oriented tour-player brand. (Honma has limited U.S. availability but can be found through authorized distributors Premier Golf in North Carolina and Golden Pro Golf in California.) The company has signed more than 10 tour players, including Komei Oda and Bo-Mee Lee, the No. 2-ranked players on Japan's men's and women's tours, respectively.

The shift is reflected in its latest driver, the Tour World TW717, a compact (430cc) design constructed of three kinds of titanium. "Lee and Oda won on consecutive weeks with the TW717, and that has started to shift the Honma image," Yasuko says.

Also, Honma believes athletic golfers are less interested in adjustable drivers. So the TW717 isn't adjustable. However, the company plans to open more fitting studios to serve these players. 

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Gear & Equipment

Ping explains the turbulators on its new G30 driver, and why you might like them

By Mike Stachura

Ping officially unveiled its G30 driver to the public Thursday, and while the club's shape and its emphasis on stability continue the tradition of its G-series drivers dating back to the debut of the G2 in 2003, this iteration makes a fundamental and immediately visible change. 

It's what Bubba Watson, who is expected to put the driver in play this week at The Greenbrier Classic, recently called "speed humps," but the scientific community recognizes as "turbulators."

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The turbulators are a series of angled ridges on the crown of the G30. They are designed to improve the way the air flows around the clubhead. The result, according to a study Ping engineers will present at this month's Conference of the International Sports Engineering Association, is an average increase in clubhead speed of nearly 1 mile per hour when compared with a similar G30 head design without the crown features. 

Why is that an especially important achievement? In simple terms, the G30's large footprint and low and deep center of gravity allow it to feature one of the highest moment-of-inertia readings of any driver on the market. (Moment of inertia refers to the clubhead's ability to remain stable on off-center hits. That stability means mis-hits will lose less ball speed, so they're likely to lose less distance.) But oversized drivers with large faces and long front-to-back measurements can be less aerodynamically efficient that more compact designs, such as fairway woods. Engineers at Ping wanted to maintain G30's forgiving size, but not compromise on the efficiency of the swing. 

Related: Bubba Watson buys every Ping employee Chipotle

"Let's get the clubhead speed gains we might see with a smaller head, but not give up any of the advantages of a driver with maximum volume," says Marty Jertson, senior design engineer at Ping. "Essentially what we're after is the stability of a pickup truck with the aerodynamics of a Prius."

Ping's efforts to improve the aerodynamics included wind-tunnel testing conducted at Arizona State University's School of Engineering, Matter, Transport and Energy. The results were documented in a research paper titled, "Experimental investigation of golf driver club head drag reduction through the use of aerodynamic features on the driver crown." Among its conclusions, "The use of these aerodynamic features has shown significant decreases in energy loss due to aerodynamic drag, which has led to significant increases in delivered club head speed and total distance. ... [Turbulators] are proven to delay flow separation over the driver crown by influencing the behavior of the boundary layer. The quantitative drag measurements indicated about a 25-percent reduction in drag for orientations and speeds toward the end of a typical downswing with a 100 mph impact club head speed."


That's a lot of science, but the gist is the clubhead with turbulators moved through the air with less turbulence. These are not drastic changes in clubhead speed, but a 1 mph increase in clubhead speed can lead to approximately 2-3 mph in ballspeed. That kind of increase could lead to 6-8 additional yards in driving distance.

While the aerodynamic effort is the most notable enhancement to the new G30 driver, the club shows several new features. First, the G30 expands its range of adjustability, offering five settings that change the loft by plus/minus one degree. Second, the G30 utilizes two kinds of titanium in the head. There's Ti 8-1-1 in the body and crown, while a new, higher strength-to-weight ratio T9S titanium used in the face means it can be made thinner and lighter, saving four grams to be redistributed throughout the head. Third, the saved weight allows for the club's center of gravity to be lower and farther back than any previous Ping driver. Fourth, the G30 line includes a heel-weighted and lighter swing weight SF Tec version of the driver that's designed to combat a slice. Finally, the G30 continues the company's high-balance-point shaft technology, which features a center of gravity in the shaft that's closer to the hands to increase a player's ability to swing the club faster. 


The G30 driver (MSRP: $385) is available in 9- and 10.5-degree lofts, while the SF Tec version comes in 10- and 12-degree lofts.

loop-ping-G30-fairway-290.jpgThe G30 line also includes adjustable fairway woods (five settings that range between plus or minus one degree of loft), which for the first time in company history will feature a thin Carpenter 475 face insert for improved ball speed. In addition to the faster face design -- for those who want to get really technical, Ping engineers say the characteristic time reading has improved from 160 to 225 -- the club also includes turbulators on the crown for improved aerodynamics. The adjustable G30 fairway woods (right, MSRP: $275) are available in 14.5-, 18- and 21-degree lofts.

There are also new G30 hybrids (MSRP: $242.50), which are constructed of a special 17-4 stainless steel that's been processed with an H900 heat treatment to improve face deflection for more ball speed. The five lofts (17, 19, 22, 26, 30 degrees) feature progressive offset and CG locations to optimize ballflight. 

The G30 line of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids can be pre-ordered starting Thursday.

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