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Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Billy Horschel used to win the BMW Championship

Billy Horschel hits greens -- lots of them. Coming into the BMW Championship the former Florida Gator ranked fourth on tour in GIR. Of course, that tee-to-green advantage has been mostly offset by what can only be described as mediocre-at-best putting, his rank of 100th in strokes gained/putting serving as evidence.
 
At Cherry Hills, however, Horschel continued to hit greens, ranking among the best in greens in regulation for the week with an odd iron configuration consisting of a Ping S55 3-iron, no 4-iron, then picking up the rest of the iron set 5-iron through pitching wedge. The difference maker, however, was his putter -- a Ping Karsten TR B60 model that Horschel switched to earlier this year at the RBC Heritage Classic.

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Horschel used the putter -- which features grooves milled directly into the face as well as a SuperStroke Flatso Ultra oversize grip -- to rank first in strokes gained, picking up an average of 2.975 strokes on the field per round. For this one week, Horschel not only hit greens, but performed well on them as well.
 
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Driver: Ping G30 (Aldila Rogue 60x), 9 degrees

3-wood: Ping G25, 15 degrees

5-wood: Ping G25, 18 degrees

Irons (3-, 5-PW): Ping S55

Wedges: Ping Tour Gorge SS (50, 56, 60 degrees)

Putter: Ping Karsten TR B60

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Equipment

There's a chandelier made of Ping golf clubs at The Belfry Hotel

Walk in through the front door of The Belfry Hotel and look up -- just as Andrew "Chubby" Chandler did on Monday -- and you'll see something rather unique: a chandelier, made entirely of Ping golf clubs. It was built by Chantelle Lighting and the Belfry's owners, KSL Capital Partners LLC, installed the structure in January.

"The Belfry is a special venue for amateur and professional golfers," Chantelle Lighting told GolfMagic.com. "We are sure the PING chandelier will become an iconic part of The Belfry Hotel, welcoming amateur and professional golfers to the venue for many years to come."

In case you think it would look good in your own living room, here are some more pictures:

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Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Camilo Villegas used to win the Wyndham Championship

Camilo Villegas burst onto the PGA Tour as one of the strongest players on the circuit. But at the Wyndham Championship, Villegas got his first PGA Tour win since 2010 using a 13-degree TaylorMade JetSpeed driver. Villegas used the driver to average over 300 yards off the tee (300.9 yards) while ranking T-5 in accuracy at 76.8 percent.

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Ball: TaylorMade Tour Preferred

Driver: TaylorMade JetSpeed, 13 degrees

3-wood: TaylorMade SLDR, 17 degrees

5-wood: TaylorMade SLDR, 21 degrees

Hybrid: TaylorMade SLDR, 24 degrees

Irons (5-PW): TaylorMade Tour Preferred CB

Wedges: TaylorMade Tour Preferred TP ATV (52, 58, 60 degrees) 

Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist Newport Square Select

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Equipment

Callaway unveils two new better-player options

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Callaway routinely prides itself on the strength of its engineering team in designing its latest products. CEO Chip Brewer recently said, “One of the great assets here is the quality of the people and the R&D resources.”

But the company is unveiling two new products today that got a lot of fuel from some folks who technically aren’t on the research and development payroll. Callaway’s new Apex MB irons and Apex UT utility iron were built based on the input and ideas of the company’s staff of tour players.

“This is an exercise in attention to detail,” Alan Hocknell, senior vice president of research and development, said of the Apex MB. “There was a lot of tour player feedback on subtle shaping changes and subtle changes to the sole camber in the way it interacts with the turf.

“We think the effect of that attention to detail really comes through when you actually do get a chance to hit it.”

The Apex MB is forged from 1020 carbon steel and features the wider groove pattern found in the Apex Pro. It’s also designed with a progressive center of gravity height through the set, slightly lower in the longer irons to make them easier to hit and slightly higher as the irons get shorter to control trajectory.

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That same tour player influence was seen in the development of the Apex UT driving iron. Callaway drew some attention when it unveiled the X-Utility Prototype two years ago, and the Apex UT offers distinct changes, all based on tour player thoughts. 

“A lot of players use these off the tee and were very interested in ballspeed consistency up and down the face,” Hocknell said. “So we've built a slightly taller face and that face is more robust for ballspeed when you make impact at different locations. Another thing that came back from these players is the club played with a little too much left tendency from these better players, so this is a little more neutral in terms of its center of gravity bias but still with a very low center of gravity.”

The Apex UT (18-, 21- and 24-degree lofts) features a cup face design (where the face slightly wraps around the topline and sole) made of the same Carpenter 455 steel found in Callaway’s X2 Hot fairway woods and hybrids. The hollow body is supported by a wider sole for a lower center of gravity.

The Apex MB ($1,000) and Apex UT ($230) will be in stores Sept. 12.
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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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Equipment

And you thought you had too many old golf clubs in the garage?

By Geoff Shackelford

Thinking maybe you had a hoarder streak after keeping a few too many old clubs laying around the garage? Think again!

Related: More weird golf news

Placed in the Orange County section of Craigslist and updated since, the seller lists just about every conceivable brand as available from the, uh, collection. There is a catch: the buyer must take it all. That's 20,000 clubs for $7,500, which, as the seller notes, amounts to 38 cents a club. The 50 bags mentioned are thrown in as part of the package based on the seller remarks.

The reader who tipped us off to this sale had a friend stop in for a visit and reported that this club collector "had irons everywhere at two houses, two garages, inside a truck (with flat tires) and in a shed out back too. Very remarkable in all my years of collecting."

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Click here if you're interested.

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Equipment

Cleveland's tour-only wedges now for sale

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By Mike Stachura

In this era of widely available high-tech custom fitting, personalized accents on nearly every club in the bag and even drivers that can be built to colors matching your favorite football team, it is increasingly easy to experience what it's like to be a tour player. Now, Cleveland Golf is offering not merely the opportunity to be treated like a tour player, they're literally selling special versions of their wedges originally made only to be used by tour players. 

Certainly "tour-only" products have been available in select ways and on ebay for years, but Cleveland is making a specific effort with its new Tour Rack wedges to offer exclusive limited editions of its wedges that were made only for tour players' use. According to the company, these clubs previously never would have been available to the general public, but were set aside literally on a rack at the company's headquarters in Huntington Beach, Ca. (Having seen the boxes of heads before myself, I believe the expression "kid in a candy store" would be a fair assessment.) As Cleveland's Keith Patterson says, "These are wedges we allow our Tour guys access to, and if they love it, it goes in their bags." 

The company expects there likely will be a few different models of these wedges introduced periodically, but for now they will remain in limited edition (just 300 have been made) and only sold at highly selective locations, not on the company's website (call 800-999-6263 for participating shops). The Tour Rack Limited Edition No. 38 ($250) will be available in 56- and 60-degree models.

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News & Tours

The real takeaway from Rory McIlroy's course-record 64 at the Scottish Open

By John Huggan

loop-rory-mcilroy-iron-aberdeen-280.jpgABERDEEN, Scotland -- On the eve of this Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen, Rory McIlroy was making strangely positive noises about a Round 1 weather forecast that promised much in the way of precipitation.

"You've got to relish the challenge," said the man who, three years previously, had openly expressed a deep and profound distaste for a similar combination of links courses and less-than-perfect meteorological conditions. "I'm trying to adopt more of that mind-set, especially for these two weeks of the year."

Well, it's working, so far at least. When the predicted rainfall failed to materialize -- there's a shock -- McIlroy took advantage. In a breeze that was strong enough to help him drive the green on the 436-yard 13th, the 25-year-old Ulsterman made eight birdies and one bogey in an opening-round 64. By two shots, it represented a new course record for the glorious Balgownie links.

"I was really pleased with how I controlled my game," he said. "To be able to go out and trust the shots I have been practicing over the last 10 days was great."

That it was. On a classic out-and-back links, McIlroy mastered the more difficult front-nine -- wind blow against and from the left -- to be three under at the turn: "That was a good score today, a really good nine holes of golf."

Four more birdies followed on an inward-half that Phil Mickelson's caddie, Jim (Bones) MacKay, described as "made for Rory." Indeed, it was the helping right-to-left wind that allowed McIlroy, a natural drawer of the ball, to produce that monster drive on the 13th and reduce many holes to "drive and kick."

The differences between the two nines were more than marked, of course, a fact McIlroy underlined with a variety of examples.

"I hit a really good drive into the wind on the seventh," he said. "And they measured it at 255 yards. Then on the 12th I drove it 373 yards. On the third hole I hit a 4-iron and it pitched at 187 yards and ran out another 40 yards. Then on the seventh I hit the same club 160 yards. That's nearly a 70-yard difference."

Most pleasing to the former U.S. Open and PGA champion, however, was his ability to control the flight on his shots, inevitably a key factor on a fast-running links.

"I've always been a natural player in that I can hit a high fade or low draw," he explained. "But today I was hitting little 6-irons from 150 yards and 4-irons 165 yards with the aim of keeping the ball down. I feel very confident with those shots at the minute."

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Gear & Equipment

Vokey's SM5 wedge line turns blue

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By Mike Stachura

Increasingly in today's equipment landscape what used to be thought of as special and reserved only for elite players and extreme gearheads is now nearly as accessible as a polo shirt with an Augusta National logo. In short, if it's desired, everyone will be able to get it. 

Case in point is Thursday's announcement that Titleist will begin offering a new Limited Edition Vokey Spin Milled 5 Indigo wedge. The line extension incorporates the design technology of the SM5 line in a blue PVD finish that previously was only available through the Vokey Wedgeworks site and only in the 400 series Vokey wedges. 

"People went crazy for them," veteran Titleist wedge designer Bob Vokey said. "We took them to the PGA Show this year and everyone was gravitating towards the Indigo finish and asking us when we would offer it in SM5. Even some of the tour guys saw it and loved it, so we've decided to put out a limited release." 

It is available in two of the Vokey line's mid-bounce grinds, M and S, in 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees. Like all SM5 models, it features a revamped groove that's 7 percent larger in volume for improved control on shots from the rough. The finish will wear over time, but will not rust. 

The Vokey Design SM5 Indigo wedges are available for a limited time through vokey.com ($185).

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Equipment

Dunlop is marketing a naked lady tee. Yes, really.

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

If you're trying to impress your boss the next time you play golf together, you should probably stay away from these. That said, British manufacturer Dunlop's "Nudie Tees" will certainly generate a conversation.

The Nudie Tees, sold in packets of six, are the latest form of naked lady tees to enter the market. The product isn't necessarily new; you may remember Rodney Dangerfield's Al Czervik character in "Caddyshack" buying a set.

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"These Dunlop Nudie Golf tees will spice up your game," the company says in its description of the product. "Add a little humour to your game or, why not get these as a fun present for someone who takes the sport a little too seriously."

Perhaps predictably, but not incorrectly, some people are using this as a stick to beat the whole sport with.

"It’s definitely sexist...you're hitting the ball off a headless, naked woman," one reader told the New York Daily News. "The online sale of such garbage is part of a larger picture, one in which sport is simply the easiest playing field for men to behave badly on," writes Jane Martinson for the Guardian.

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