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Equipment

Spotted on tour: New Ping i iron at the Greenbrier Classic

With Ping's i25 iron now in its second year, the logical assumption is that a replacement would soon be unveiled. That occurred this week at the Greenbrier Classic, where the Phoenix-based equipment maker showed off its new i iron to tour staff.

 

Related: Golf Digest's 2015 Hot List

Although the company was mum on details, photos reveal a couple of things. First, there isn't a number accompanying the i name, so it appears Ping is attempting to build a microbrand for the irons rather than continuing its previous method of changing the model number. The clubs also appear to have a slightly more rounded shape in the toe area than its predecessors.

 
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One tour player testing the clubs in West Virginia is two-time major champ Angel Cabrera. No word on whether these irons will be in his bag come Thursday, but it's worth remembering that Cabrera put the G30 driver in play at Greenbrier last year and won the tournament, shooting 64-64 on the weekend. 

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Equipment

Winner's bag: The clubs that Jordan Spieth used to win the U.S. Open

It was a wild ride for Jordan Spieth en route to his second-straight major at the U.S. Open, and while the newly crowned national champion was T-5 in greens in regulation, it was his 15-degree Titleist 915F 3-wood that hit the key shot into the 18th green to set up what was eventually the winning birdie.

 

Spieth's Scotty Cameron by Titleist SC-009 prototype putter -- a model Spieth has used since he was 15 years old because Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy used the same model -- also deserves a tip of the cap for the birdie putt on No. 16 that gave him the cushion to help offset the double bogey on 17.

 

Then again, maybe we should simply pay homage to Spieth's entire bag, filled with 14 Titleist clubs and Titleist ball.  

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Titleist 915D2 (Aldila Rogue Black 60TX), 9.5 degrees
3-wood: Titleist 915F, 15 degrees
Irons (3): Titleist 712U; (4-9): Titleist AP2 714; (PW): Titleist Vokey SM5
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM5 (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist SC-009 prototype

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Equipment

Odyssey tees up new alignment feature

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Every spring Odyssey principal putter designer Austie Rollinson makes a trip to Japan to see what new ideas might be developing on the pro tours there. Usually, those ideas involve high-end concepts or metals like the limited run White Damascus iX putters that got some attention two years ago. 

But last year’s trip brought a more practical and affordable application. Rather than a new metal, Rollinson got a look at a new take on alignment. 

“I saw a player in Japan who had added a thicker line to one of our mallet putters,” Rollinson says. “That got me thinking of mixing the alignment lines in a thicker T shape.

“It was one of those a-ha moments.”

Rollinson quickly made a sketch that day, and the result first was seen in this year’s Odyssey Works Versa V-Line model, which featured the company’s black and silver contrasting lines in a thick T-shape with the top of the “T” parallel to the face and the body of the “T” extending through the center.

Now, Odyssey is introducing a full line of Works putters under the moniker Big T. 

“Our Versa technology had the contrasting alignment stripe that was perpendicular to the path to help you line up the putter,” Rollinson says. “We also had some putters where we turned those lines at a 90-degree angle to line up front to back. We found that some players liked it perpendicular to the path and some liked it parallel. This kind of gives you the best of both worlds and makes it almost foolproof to see whether you’re square to your target.”

Unlike the Odyssey Works Versa line, the Big T putters will feature black and white contrasting lines. The shaft is also black to further emphasize the contrast. 

The putters also incorporate the Odyssey Works face insert known as Fusion RX. Fusion RX combines the soft polymer insert material found in the White Hot putters with a pattern of oval ridges similar to the Meta X line of putters. It features a thin mesh sheet of stainless steel over the White Hot insert. Just .406 millimeters thick, the steel sheet is perforated with ovals in an effort to produce better launch and less skidding.

There will be five models including a #5, V-Line, V-Line CS, and a new head shape, Big T Blade. All four models will retail for $180.

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Equipment

With Titleist's Made To Order program, you can get fit for an exclusive Titleist set

loop-titleist-915_D4_sole__hero-250.jpgIn an era of increasing specialization, Titleist just announced a program to offer clubs with what it's calling "specialized performance characteristics that make them the optimal fit for a limited group of golfers." Labeled Titleist MOTO for "Made Only To Order," the product family will include two new offerings to start: the 915D4 driver ($550, shown) and an 18-degree 915Fd fairway wood ($280). 

These woods are technically already out, but only on tour. Now, these clubs will be available through Titleist's network of 110 fitting locations, which will be equipped to dial in which players are ideal for these club's unique specifications. Three thousand additional fitting events will be held each year all over the U.S. 

A line extension of the 915 driver family, the 450cc D4 moves its sole weight closer to the face for a lower, more forward center of gravity and approximately 250-300 rpm less spin than the 915D3. The head features more curve in the crown for a rounder overall appearance and also employs the 915's platform technology of a sole channel for enhancing face rebound. Among the handful of players who have used the 915D4 are Justin Thomas, 19th in driving distance at 300.6 yards. 

The 915F.d 18-degree also emphasizes low spin, as well as low launch. Last year, these woods were available in 13.5 and 15-degrees. Player feedback is what inspired Titleist to add the 18-degree option. 

Irons will also be part of the MOTO product line, but there are no specs on them yet. 

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Trending

Some married dude forced into giving up golf just posted the saddest Craigslist ad of all time

For most people, getting married means playing less golf. But playing no golf? That sounds like cruel and unusual punishment.

Sadly, that appears to have happened to a man in the Delaware area we can only identify as "Tim K." Tim K claims he's selling his new-ish golf clubs because his wife won't let him play anymore. We feel for you, Tim K.

Related: Read these hysterical fan letters from kids to Jimmy Walker

If you can stomach it, here is the full Craigslist ad, which will undoubtedly be the saddest thing you read all day:

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We can only hope Tim K actually hates the clubs and this is just a sympathy ploy to get more money for them.

(h/t Skratch TV)

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Equipment

Winner's bag: The putter Steven Bowditch rolled to victory with at the Byron Nelson

Steven Bowditch is notorious for changing putters. Not just from tournament to tournament, but even round to round. But Bowditch's latest switch seems to have agreed with him. At the AT&T Byron Nelson, Bowditch used a custom-made Bettinardi Queen B Model 6 made from double-aged stainless steel (as opposed to carbon steel used in the production model). The putter, which is 34 inches in length with 2 degrees of loft, also has some 10 grams of lead tape.

"I felt it was getting light in my hands and, you know, I often do those things, just add some weight or take some weight off depending on how it's feeling. It's a pretty easy solution," said Bowditch, who ranked first in strokes gained/putting in winning the Nelson for his second PGA tour title.   Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: TaylorMade AeroBurner (Fujikura Pro Series), 9 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade JetSpeed, 15 degrees
Hybrid: Adams Pro Mini, 18 degrees
Irons (4-PW): Mizuno MP-4
Wedges: Cleveland 588 Precision Forged (50 degrees); Cleveland 588 Custom (54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Bettinardi Queen B Model 6

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Equipment

Jack Nicklaus was so good he used the same 3-wood for 37(!) years

Of all Jack Nicklaus' accomplishments -- 18 professional majors, 73 PGA Tour titles, etc. -- one number might stun golf fans more than any: 37. As in the 37 years Nicklaus used the same MacGregor Tommy Armour 3-wood.

Related: The most important clubs in Masters history

The magical club is on display with other artifacts from Jack's storied career at the USGA's new Jack Nicklaus Room in Far Hills, N.J. Nicklaus used the 3-wood from 1958 through 1995, meaning he won all of those majors (beginning with the 1962 U.S. Open and ending with the 1986 Masters) and PGA Tour titles with it in the bag.

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This would be incredible in any era, but in an age when even amateurs update clubs on an annual basis, it's downright astonishing. Can you imagine Rory McIlroy winning the 2035 Masters with the same 3-wood he had in the bag to win his first major at the 2011 U.S. Open? Will the 3-wood even exist in 2035?

And it wasn't just that 3-wood. Our Mike Johnson wrote about Nicklaus' tendency to stick with clubs he liked in the June 7, 2010 edition of Golf World.

"Jack hardly changed anything," said Clay Long, who worked on Nicklaus' equipment at MacGregor.

Sounds like an easy gig.

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Equipment

A driver designed only for Tiger Woods now can be yours

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There are many aspects of Tiger Woods that remain distinct, anomalous and separate from the rest of professional golf. One of the more complicated and unique might be his driver.

Nike announced today that it is making available a limited edition version of Woods’ specific Vapor Speed driver, a club that director of engineering Nate Radcliffe says is “very different” in terms of its properties compared to the stock versions of the Vapor Speed and Vapor Pro drivers.

“Certainly anybody on our staff who wanted to play this driver could,” Radcliffe says. “But Tiger is so unique from an athlete perspective that he is really the only player that this driver appeals to. Most of our tour players have moved to larger parts.”

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The new Vapor Speed TW is a 420cc model, smaller than the standard issue Vapor Speed  or Vapor Pro (460 cc), the latter preferred by Rory McIlroy. Its center of gravity is both closer to the face and to the hosel axis compared to the standard clubs. Players with a little more hand action in their swings are likely to prefer a center of gravity that’s more forward. When the center of gravity is positioned deeper, those types of players tend to have a sense that they have less effect on how the club moves in the swing.  

While Woods has played and had success with full-size 460cc clubheads before, he believes he is better able to shape shots with a smaller head that has less moment of inertia, or stability on off-center hits. Radcliffe says Woods remains that rare player today who “shapes shots by intentionally missing the center of the face. He’ll hit hold-off cuts by teeing it lower and then heels it a little bit. You just don’t see very many modern guys doing that, but he will strike the ball at different places on the clubface.” 

That’s where Woods believes he can take advantage of some of the baseline technology in the Vapor Speed driver. Specifically, the channel in the sole behind the face on all the Vapor drivers is designed to improve the face’s flexibility on off-center impacts. It’s an idea Nike originated in its VR line of drivers, and one Woods encouraged the design team to bring back with the Vapor drivers.

Originally, Nike’s designers built the shape and size of the Vapor Flex driver thinking Woods would gravitate toward it. As it turns out, the shape is correct, but the center of gravity locations on that adjustable driver is different. The Vapor Speed TW’s CG is actually located more forward than any other Nike driver, with the exception of the more forward position in the  Vapor Flex, which adjusts between a forward and rearward CG. 

“He’s certainly impressed me more than a few times in what he can feel,” Radcliffe says. 

Unlike the standard Vapor drivers, the Vapor Speed TW is only offered in Woods’ loft (10.5) and is a bonded, non-adjustable head. It comes standard with the Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana Blue 73X, Woods’ preferred shaft. 

“I think this is fair to the player who wants exactly what Tiger has,” Radcliffe says. “Everything is exactly the same as what we give to him.”

The limited edition club will go on sale June 1 ($400).
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Equipment

Winner's bag: The putter that propelled Chris Kirk to a win at Colonial

At a shorter course such as Colonial C.C., putting is at a premium and Kirk did well on the greens with his Odyssey ProType 10 putter, ranking third in strokes gained/putting and first in putts per GIR. Kirk needed all the help he could get picking up strokes with his putting as he was below the tour average for the week in driving distance, driving accuracy and greens in regulation.

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Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Driver: Callaway XR Pro (Mitsubishi Diamana S+ Blue Board 60x), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Callaway X2 Hot, 15 degrees
Irons (2-3): Callaway Apex UT; (4-9): Callaway RAZR X MB; (PW): Callaway Mack Daddy 2
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 2 (52, 58 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey ProType 10 Putter

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Equipment

Best ever April in golf ball sales, the one category that drives the whole industry

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The April monthly sales reports from golf industry researcher Golf Datatech show positive signs for revenue, especially in the one category that might best reflect the health of the game: golf balls.

Overall sales of golf balls in April at on- and off-course shops were up 4.9 percent in units and nearly 10.9 percent in dollars, compared to April 2014. According to Golf Datatech, it was the best April for golf ball sales in terms of dollars (just over $48.5 million) since the research firm began publishing monthly sales figures in 1997. Part of the reason is an ever-increasing shift by golfers to play the more expensive, multilayer urethane construction ball preferred by tour players. The average selling price for a dozen golf balls broke the $30-a-dozen barrier for the first time ever. Still, a little more than half of the top 20 selling golf balls retail for less than $25 a dozen.


Balls is an obvious indicator of interest in the game because you’re not buying golf balls if you’re not also playing. Although rounds played data is not available for April, the numbers were up in March by 5 percent and were also up for the year (4.1 percent). According to PGA Performance Trak, 26 states had reported positive year-over-year growth through March. 

Other categories showed mixed signs but clearly positive interest in new products as compared to discounted, older products. Sales of metalwoods were down in units (-3.2 percent) but up in dollars (4.7 percent) compared to last April, while irons were flat in revenue and down in units (-7.6 percent). In both woods and irons, the average selling price is markedly higher, up $10 per iron since April 2013 and $15 per metalwood since last April. 
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