The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

Ernie Els isn't just a major winner. He's also a club designer

By Mike Stachura

Some were surprised when Ernie Els signed an endorsement contract with Adams Golf in January, but the real surprise might be that Els helped design the iron he has played since the spring.

loop-adams-iron-518.jpgThe XTD Tour uses the same cross braces in the cavity found in the company’s more game-improvement-style XTD iron, plus a slightly smaller sole slot to increase the face’s ability to flex at impact. The cross braces deepen the center of gravity for extra stability on off-center hits.

Els helped refine the shape on his more compact version of the XTD, including a squarer toe on the short irons. The XTD Tour will be available in September ($700, seven irons).

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

The next Callaway driver hints at swing speed

By Mike Stachura

When a company starts putting physics formulas on its products, it's probably not a stretch to assume the nod to science has something to do with the product's performance intent. 

Vseries.jpg
So when the USGA updated its conforming list of clubheads this week to include a driver emblazoned with the equation for kinetic energy, it's safe to assume the driver is going to be pushing the idea of creating swing speed. In golf, kinetic energy is best described as the energy created in the clubhead coming into the ball as a result of its speed. In scientific terms, it is the product of the mass of an object (like a clubead) and the velocity (or swing speed) squared, times one-half. Because velocity is squared in the equation, this means that for an object like a clubhead, whose mass might change only a relatively small amount, if you can develop a way to increase speed, you can deliver more energy into the ball at impact. More energy at impact can lead to more distance. In simpler terms, the theory might be that it may be much more important to figure out how to produce a driver that can be swung faster than to figure out how to swing a heavier driver clubhead as fast as you can swing a standard- weight driver clubhead. The idea of pursuing ways to increase clubhead speed has been seen in several companies' drivers in the past, including Cleveland's Launcher DST, TaylorMade's Burner SuperFast, Adams' Speedline and most recently Ping's new G30.

Enter the Callaway Big Bertha V-Series. Although the company is mum on specifics, the USGA's listing describes the club as having a sole that includes the company's trademark caricature of Sir Isaac Newton and its catchphrase, "You can't argue with physics." The sole also includes the words "Speed Optimized Technology," as well as the aforementioned equation for kinetic energy. The listing references 9, 10.5 and 13HT lofts, and from the image the club appears to be adjustable. It would not be a stretch to suggest the "V" might stand for "velocity." 

Given that it's been a year since Callaway launched the FT Optiforce, which promoted the idea of increasing swing speed through a more aerodynamic head shape and lighter overall weight, it seems natural the Big Bertha V-series with its reference to kinetic energy could be the next evolution of those ideas. Last year, the FT Optiforce actually drew some interest and success from tour players; both Chris Kirk and Patrick Reed won with one in the bag in late-season events last year, and Jim Furyk used one to shoot a 59 during the BMW Championship. 

It is not clear whether the Big Bertha V-Series will be played or even tested at any tour events this week, but being on the conforming list means the club is available to be used in competition immediately. More details are sure to be available fairly, er, quickly.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Rory McIlroy used to win the British Open

By E. Michael Johnson

HOYLAKE, England -- There was something about Rory McIlroy that was lost in the glare of the glitzy unveiling of his mega deal with Nike last year in Abu Dhabi.

When it comes to equipment, he's a bit of a gear head.

The fact was evident during a sitdown with him last month to discuss his Nike clubs.

"I was really into different shafts and everything," McIlroy said. "I guess now I've got a little more to think about and worry about than just being focused on new equipment. So I let the guys that know more about it than I do help me on that. I let them put the stuff in my hands that they think is going to work, and then we go forward from there."

Not that McIlroy doesn't provide valuable input into the process. "This is really the first time I've worked with a manufacturer where I've been so involved," he said. "We might discuss something, and the guys will come back a couple of weeks later and right away we're working on how does this look, how does it feel, is it what you imagined it to be like. I've worked really hard with the guys on developing stuff that's going to work for me."

Those clubs worked quite well for the newly crowned British Open champion at Royal Liverpool, specifically his Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver.

loop-rory-equipment-driver-518.jpg"I remember having a conversation at the Barclays last year at dinner," McIlroy said. "We talked a lot about Covert 2.0 and what it was going to be like and what I'd like to see in the driver and what sort of things I'd like to change from the current model."

And what did McIlroy want to alter? "Everything is related to the details," he said. "I want it to look a certain way. I want the face to sort of look a little longer so I can square it up at impact. Then there's the technical: Why they do certain things like a cavity back in the driver. It all makes sense to me now."

Enough sense to get the third major win of his career. Here's the clubs and ball McIlroy had in his bag at Royal Liverpool.

Ball: Nike RZN Black
Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70X), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 15 degrees
Irons (2): Nike MM Proto (3-9): Nike VR Pro Blade; (PW): Nike VR Forged
Wedges: Nike VR Forged (54, 59 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 006

... Read
Gear & Equipment

All the Callaway staffers have a Latin phrase stitched on their bag at the British Open. Here's why

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

HOYLAKE, England -- If you've been paying especially close attention to the British Open, you might have noticed that the 17 Callaway staff players in the field this week all had a Latin phrase stitched into the bottom part of their Liverpool-themed bag.

Phil Mickelson:

452320790.jpg
Henrik Stenson:

452338930.jpg
Here's a better look:

british-open-bag-518.jpg
It turns out the expression is part of a special British Open-themed collection of accessories the company put together in honor of the 2014 British Open. Players were given Union Jack-colored headcovers, bags and ball makers, which have an artful image of a coastal bird (the symbol of Liverpool) and the roman numeral XII (a nod to Royal Liverpool hosting its 12th Open).

The saying on the bags -- "Respice et Prospice" -- translates to "Remember the past, look to the future." It's the same phrase featured on Hoylake's coat of arms.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

Justin Rose started his first round at the British Open without his driver, but he can explain

By E. Michael Johnson

loop-justin-rose-driver-518.jpgHOYLAKE, England -- Justin Rose's opening round at the British Open on Thursday got off to what he called "a comedic start" when he discovered upon arriving at Royal Liverpool G.C. that the TaylorMade SLDR 430 driver in his bag wasn't actually his.  

"My driver was misplaced," Rose said with a mischievous grin after shooting an even-par 72. "It was in a car heading to Bedford, but was returned promptly."

Rose went on to explain that his caddie, Mark Fulcher, had two drivers built for friends and placed them in Rose's bag. When Fulcher gave his friends the clubs Wednesday night, he mistakenly kept one of theirs and handed over his boss' big stick.

"I noticed it wasn't my shaft," said Rose upon he pulled the driver from his bag this morning and discovering the issue.  

Rose started his round with just 13 clubs, allowing him to put the missing driver into his bag after it was retrieved and returned while he was on the third hole. The hiccup didn't appear to throw him off at all.

"I saw the humor in it," said Rose, shown above hitting the driver on the 16th hole. "I knew the club was on its way back and that I didn't need it until the seventh hole. I knew it would be back before that. It didn't affect the game plan at all."

Which likely was lucky for his caddie.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

The thinking behind Scotty Cameron's new California gallery

By E. Michael Johnson

If there is one thing Scotty Cameron has been good at -- in addition to designing putters tour players and everyday golfers alike drool over -- it's his ability to create mystique. Not a small part of that has been the exclusivity of his putting studio in San Marcos, Calif., which has been off limits to all except tour pros, leaving everyday players wanting the Cameron fitting experience with their noses pressed up against the glass.

scotty-cameron-gallery.jpg

That now changes with the official opening of the Scotty Cameron Gallery, a putter-fitting facility in Encinitas, Calif., that is open to the public combined with a retail store and high-end product gallery.

"This is something I have wanted to do for some time," Cameron told Golf World. "But since the studio is also our R&D area, that wasn't doable. But I wanted to fit putters for the public. It's so enlightening and eye-opening to do that. And there's definitely demand."

Related: Golf Digest Hot List Putters

That there is. The Gallery is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers two fittings a day (a fitting takes two hours and costs $350). Before the doors even opened, more than 300 fittings had been scheduled. Cameron plans to expand to three fittings a day and to open seven days a week in the coming months.

Those coming in for a fitting can expect the same experience Cameron offers in his studio. "We have the same cameras, flooring and force plates so it mimics exactly what we do for the tour pros," Cameron says. "But we also felt people who came to get fit want to be able to leave with something too. So it's a fitting experience, but we also have a full workshop where we can put in the proper weights and the length and the grip size with all the colors. So you cannot only get fit, but actually walk away with a custom-fitted putter. It's the whole experience."

The "experience" is critical to Cameron, who has combined his love of retail with his passion for creating putters. The Gallery is not only a fitting studio, but also a boutique shop, one where classic Beatles and Eagles music plays and everything in the shop -- including display cases (some weighing as much as 1,000 pounds), shelving, doors, doorknobs, etc. -- was created by Cameron's team.

On the product side, visitors can ogle (and purchase) anything from Cameron headcovers, grips and T-shirts to more elegant items such as sportcoats, ties and alligator shoes. For putters, Cameron has created some with his own stamping and paintfills that he refers to as MOTO -- made only to order. In essence, these are stock putters with custom touches. Also for sale will be putters returned from the various tours around the world, each with its own certificate of authenticity as to which tour it came from. And for those wondering what a surfboard is doing there, it's a one-of-a-kind creation from surfing legend Rob Machado -- fitting for the beach-town setting.

Related: My Shot: Scotty Cameron

If this seems out of the ordinary for a puttermaker, it's not -- at least not for Cameron, whose aficionados have an infatuation with the man and his creations unlike anything in golf. People pay north of $1,000 for one of his . . . headcovers. Ball markers often fetch more than $100 at online auctions. Original putters often bring in tens of thousands of dollars.

Cameron's passion for retail shows when he speaks of the Gallery. "I've always liked the East Coast way of retail, where there are manners and people are dressed sharply," he says. "I hired a retail expert to come in and train my staff on proper etiquette. So it's not like a surf shop where they have flip-flops and swim trunks. This is much more proper. It's unique because it doesn't feel like golf. It's more elegant."

It's also a place Cameron plans to spend a fair amount of time. Asked how often he plans to darken the doors of the Gallery, Cameron quickly replied, "Every day. This is my personal shop, and I want to watch the personal buying habits to see what people love and are drawn to and what they don't like and what they are asking for. This isn't just a business venture. It's personal."

And now it's public as well.


TOUR STORIES

jeff-sluman-golf-equipment.jpgJEFF SLUMAN // A bad break

After a tee shot on the seventh hole at Oak Tree National Saturday at the U.S. Senior Open, Jeff Sluman and his playing companion, Doug Garwood, knew something wasn't right. "[It had a] way different sound, little different feel," said Sluman. The reason was the head on Sluman's TaylorMade R11S had cracked, a situation Sluman took in stride. "You know, all drivers eventually will crack," he said. "Unfortunately, mine cracked right there, and it was a big gash. So it was unusable. My backup is in Chicago. Really not doing me much good right now. I guess that's kind of my fault. It was 3-wood the rest of the day."

Although players such as Billy Andrade and Fred Funk attempted to come to Sluman's rescue by offering their backup drivers, they weren't the same model and the adjustable cog wouldn't allow Sluman to put his driver shaft in them. Although Sluman went to a local golf store and found a replacement, he was prepared to go with just his 3-wood in the final round. "I think it's a better 3-wood course than driver course," he said of the layout in Edmond, Okla. "You know, there are a few holes you'd like to have the driver, but it's really not a huge deal."

NEW STUFF

taylormade-tour-preferred-udi-irons.jpgTaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI
PRICE: $199 (Lofts: 16, 18, 20 degrees)

A 455 Carpenter Steel face and a slot in the sole boost ball speed in this driving iron-type club. Justin Rose had one in the bag for both of his recent wins.

TaylorMadeGolf.com


BAG ROOM

Colin Montgomerie changed putters after 36 holes of the U.S. Senior Open, using an Odyssey Versa 90 #7 for the weekend. The counterbalanced putter had a standard SuperStroke grip. . . . Rory McIlroy unveiled an addition to his bag via social media, posting a photo on Instagram prior to the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open of a Nike prototype iron stamped "MMPROTO" with the comment, "A little something new this week." McIlroy was expected to use the club at the British Open. . . . Inbee Park had a one-of-a-kind Ping putter in the bag at the Ricoh Women's British Open. The putter was a Serene Craz-E Too model that borrowed technological attributes from other Ping putters. The 33-inch club had a face insert used in the company's Scottsdale line, and its alignment plate was from the Scottsdale TR line.


... Read
Gear & Equipment

With two wins already, UDI is TaylorMade's new hot product

Tour Preferred UDI 2 Iron.jpg
By Mike Stachura

Unlike with many of its introductions, TaylorMade's newest technology already had wins before it was introduced. The company today unveiled its UDI (as in "Ultimate Driving Iron"), a day after Justin Rose completed his second victory in as many weeks with the 2-iron version of the new club in his bag.

UDI is a hollow iron design that features a thin Carpenter 455 steel face for more ballspeed potential. The sole, wider than the company's Tour Preferred MC and CB irons, features a slot designed to further enhance the way the face flexes at impact for improved ballspeed. The hollow construction helps the center of gravity move lower than in a typical cavity back iron.

The compact design is preferred by tour players as they look for an ideal back-up driving club in the usually windy conditions found at the Open Championship. According to TaylorMade's Todd Chew, tour product specialist, it's expected to find its way into the bags of perhaps a dozen players this week at Royal Liverpool.

"You've got a club with the benefits of a hybrid in the shape of an iron," Chew said. "So you've got hybrid performance, but it also allows guys to flight it down, something a lot of them feel like they can't do as well with hybrids."

UDI is available in 1-, 2- and 3-iron lofts (16, 18, 20 degrees), although Chew said several players have requested clubs with 4-iron lofts, as well. "We're learning a lot from players about how much further up the set they might be willing to go with a design like this," he said.

In stores today, UDI will retail for $200.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

Vokey's SM5 wedge line turns blue

vokeyindigo1.jpg
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).

... Read
Gear & Equipment

Scotty Cameron's new California gallery just opened and more than 300 putter-fittings have already been booked

By E. Michael Johnson

Scotty Cameron aficionados have an infatuation with the man and his creations unlike anything else in golf. People will pay north of $1,000 for one of his … wait for it … headcovers. Ball markers can fetch more than $100 at online auctions. Original putters bring in tens of thousands of dollars. But the one thing Cameron-ites couldn't buy was a fitting from Team Cameron.

Until now.

With the official opening of the Scotty Cameron Gallery, a putter-fitting facility in Encinitas, Calif., the public can now enjoy the same kind of fitting treatment Cameron has offered tour pros combined with a retail store and high-end product gallery.

loop-scotty-cameron-gallery-518.jpg

"This is something I have wanted to do for some time," Cameron told GolfDigest.com. "But since the Studio is also our R&D area, that wasn't doable. But I wanted to fit putters for the public. It's so enlightening and eye-opening to do that. And there's definitely demand."

That there is. The Gallery is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers two fittings a day from Cameron's staff (each fitting is two hours long at a cost of $350). Before the doors even opened more than 300 fittings had been booked. Cameron plans to expand to three fittings a day and be open seven days a week in the coming months.

"It's a fitting experience, but we also have a full workshop where we can put in the proper weights and the length and the grip size with all the colors," Cameron says. "So you can not only get fit, but walk away with a custom-fitted putter. It's the whole experience."

The "experience" is critical to Cameron, who has combined his love of retail with his passion for creating putters. The Gallery is a boutique shop as well where visitors can ogle (and purchase) anything from Cameron headcovers, grips and T-shirts to more elegant items such as sports coats, ties and alligator shoes.

For putters, Cameron has created some with his own stamping and paintfills that he refers to as MOTO—made only to order -- in essence a stock putter that has custom touches. Also for sale will be putters returned from the various tours around the world, each with their own certificate of authenticity as to what tour it came from.

It's also a place Cameron himself plans to spend a fair amount of time. Asked how often he plans to darken the doors of the Gallery Cameron quickly replied, "Every day. This is my personal shop, and I want to watch the personal buying habits to see what people love and are drawn to and what they don't like and what they are asking for. This isn't just a business venture. It's personal."

  And now, it's public as well.

... Read
Gear & Equipment

A little later than expected, Sun Mountain rolls out Combo Cart

By Keely Levins

Sun Mountain recently announced the roll out of the Combo Cart, an all- in-one golf bag/pushcart. If this sounds familiar, it's because the company made a similar reveal in early 2013, anticipating the Combo Cart would hit the market later that year. Design tweaks delayed the launch, but its summer 2014 introduction works well given the emerging category of hybrid golf bag/pushcarts.

loop-sunmountain-combo-cart-blk-orange-518.jpgSun Mountain's version has three wheels, an aluminum-frame cart with a foot braking system and a built-in seat that folds flat when not in use. The bag has full-length individual club dividers and eight pockets for clothing and other accessories. It connects to the cart via velcro straps and can be replaced with another Combo Cart bag (one of the changes made from the original design). The Combo Cart comes in four colors with a retail price of $469.

... 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