The Local Knowlege


Mizuno's latest MP irons mix traditional looks with contemporary tech

The subtle difficulties presented to the iron design team at Mizuno rest in pursuing a certain level of forgiveness in a shape that doesn’t appear to be either forgiving or powerful. That’s why they have to attack the problem in non-traditional ways that still look and feel traditional.

While its two new irons still comfortably adhere to the company’s long tradition of precision forged muscleback players blades, the new MP-5 and MP-25 iron infuse new life into those proven shapes with a subtle shape change (for the MP-5) and a new material (in the MP-25). 

The MP-5 features a channel cut across its muscle-back shape to provide more forgiveness to the traditional blade shape. Says David Llewellyn, manager of research and development at Mizuno, “The challenge was how can we get this as much looking and feeling like a muscleback while trying to match the forgiveness in our most popular shallow players cavity.” 

Meanwhile, the MP-25 is forged from the same boron-infused carbon steel found in the company’s successful JPX-850 Forged game-improvement iron. The boron allows for a thinner clubface, as well as a unique hidden slot behind the face that provides additional ballspeed potential. 

“The boron is giving us a tremendous amount of design flexibility,” says LLewellyn. “It allows us to develop a meaningful COR [coefficient of restitution, or spring-like effect] without sacrificing feel.” 

The MP-25 has a slightly reduced head size compared to the MP-54, which helps reduce spin by comparison. But by cutting the slot through the sole, the face gets as thin as 2.2 millimeters to create more freedom structurally for the face to flex at impact. Llewellyn says that without boron, a more common face thickness might be in the 2.7-3.0 millimeter range. The slot is covered with a thin weld line at the sole and within the back cavity so that there is no external indication that there’s an opening between the top and the bottom of the club. 

Like all of Mizuno’s irons, the MP-5 and MP-25 are offered with no upcharge for any steel shaft, as well as no upcharge for any grip. The clubs will be available in September ($1,000).


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Ping's boosts horsepower on new irons, adds wedges and putters

Ping has enjoyed much success recently with mid-year product introductions, witnessed by its G30 driver (launched last July) reaching the No. 1 spot in driver sales at on- and off-course shops according to Golf Datatech.
The Phoenix-based company is again taking an aggressive approach to a mid-year launch, this time with two new iron lines, and extensions to its Glide wedge series and Cadence TR putter line. The clubs are available for pre-order starting today.
With its latest iron offerings Ping is bringing distance to the forefront in two completely distinct categories and for two different player types. First, in the new i irons (Ping is no longer adding a number to its naming convention), the distance emphasis comes in the form of selective shaft length and loft tweaks. Shafts are 1/4-inch longer in the 3- through 9-irons than the i25, and the heads feature 1 degree stronger lofts in the 3- through 8-irons. 

PING_i.jpgDistance, however, is not the sole point of emphasis as Ping’s engineers also spent much time trying to optimize the peak height of each iron as well as boosting the moment of inertia by expanding the perimeter weighting and using tungsten in the toe area of the 3- through 7-irons. The custom tuning port—visible on previous Ping irons—has been hidden in the i irons ($1,080, set of eight, steel), and is now positioned deeper in the cavity and lower with respect to the center of the face to better align with the impact area for better sound and feel.
There’s an even more aggressive take with the new game-improvement GMax ($972, set of eight, steel), which replaces the Karsten irons from a couple of years ago. A special heat-treating process has produced a face that is 40-percent stronger than the Karsten iron in the 4- through 8-irons for added ball speed. Lighter swingweights in the 4- through 6-irons also make it easier to square the club at impact. The company’s Core-Eye technology helps allow the face to be 31-percent thinner on the perimeter and helps activate the sole and top rail to produce 1 to 3 mph additional ball speed off the face. Cosmetically, there is an addition of a ferrule for the first time ever on a G-Series iron.
Both irons come stock with Ping’s CFS Distance steel shaft, however numerous aftermarket shafts are available at no upcharge.
The extension to the Glide wedges is the addition of the ES wedges. ES stands for Eye Sole, as the clubs utilize a high toe, sole design and tapered hosel inspired by the company’s classic Eye2 wedge. “This hosel promotes less drag force through the sand,” says Erik Henrikson, Ping’s innovation and science fitting manager. “The hosel area is 11 percent less than in previous models and that results in 7 percent less hosel drag that makes it easier to get the club through the sand.”
The scooped sole design provides more versatility from a variety of conditons, especially out of the sand, while a moisture-repelling 431 stainless steel clubhead boosts friction. The wedges ($140 each, steel) are available in 56, 58 and 60 degrees.
A pair of additions to Ping’s Cadence TR putter line are the Ketsch Mid (a semi-mallet with a head approximately 30-percent smaller than the original Ketsch) and the Craz-E-R, an update of the company’s popular mallet that boasts a sightline that extends from the top of the face to the rear of the putter for better alignment. Both utilize the company’s variable depth groove insert for more consistent roll across the face.
In keeping with the company’s commitment to matching putters to player stroke types, each is available in models designed for straight, slight arc or strong arc stroke types. The company also has incorporated the ability to choose different weights to match tempo. For the Ketsch Mid ($245), there is a choice of a typical or heavy sole plate that can boost the putter weight by 25 grams. On the Craz-E-R ($215), a standard weight face insert or heavier insert (33 grams more) are available. Both putter are available in adjustable length models for an additional $35.


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

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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Those Ryan Moore prototype irons are coming to a fitter (sort of) near you

It is beyond unusual for a tour player, especially an established tour player, to endorse an equipment company that technically isn’t ready to sell any of its designs. But that’s what Ryan Moore has been doing from the beginning of the year with a startup company with big plans and seemingly even bigger stores of cash behind it.

Now, Moore and Parsons Xtreme Golf are ready to begin the next stage of their public phase. PXG announced today that it will begin selling limited sets of its PXG 0311 irons and wedges at Cool Clubs. The high-end clubfitting retail chain has 18 locations worldwide including a dozen in the U.S.

The startup company was founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Parsons, the man behind who’s also building the world’s largest Harley-Davidson dealership in Scottsdale, Ariz. Parsons, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes at $2.1 billion, is the owner of Scottsdale National, which is also the home to his nascent golf equipment company. That company is led by two noteworthy equipment minds, Brad Schweigert and Mike Nicollette, both formerly longtime veterans at Ping.  

Moore started the year playing the PXG 03x prototype irons (now known as the PXG 0311), telling in January at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, “I knew some of the guys involved in it, and they kind of asked me to look at some prototypes and sets to try. 

"I'm someone who they like to get an opinion on things. They sent me some, and I tried them and I really liked them. I've been searching for a set of irons, and these are the best set of irons I've hit in a really, really long time. I was excited and from the second I hit them I couldn't put them down."

The irons also have been put in play by Rocco Mediate on the Champions Tour, and Moore also has played the PXG 0811 driver.

The PXG 0311 irons are a unique multiple-piece construction. While they take on the shape of a traditional muscleback blade, they’re actually hollow. The clubhead starts as an open face forged body. Then, designers milled an internal cavity and plasma welded a thin HT1770 maraging steel face insert out front to create more face flexibility. The PXG 0311 then adds  a ring of tungsten screw weights on the back of each iron, while the internal cavity is also filled with a thermoplastic elastomer. 

PXG is looking to expand availability of the irons by adding more retail partners, but its emphasis will be on locations that offer high levels of custom fitting, like Cool Clubs. 

“PXG is committed to building the best golf equipment on the planet,” Parsons said in a company statement today. “While the equipment will speak for itself, we want to make sure that every golfer is fit for his or her clubs by a professional. Cool Clubs’ commitment to fitting their customers with the very best golf equipment makes them an ideal first partner."

That complex construction and high-performance fitting means the PXG 0311 irons and wedges will not be a purchase every golfer can make. In addition to the $175 fitting fee, each individual club’s starting price will be $300, or $2,400 for a set of eight clubs. The irons are available 3-iron through pitching wedge, while the wedges, which feature a computer milled face design, are available in six lofts (50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60 degrees).
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Golf balls

TaylorMade adds irons, balls to AeroBurner line

TaylorMade's AeroBurner line of metal woods, introduced in November, is about to go full service, including not only new irons but golf balls, too. Just like the metal woods, which also will expand to include a Mini Driver now, the irons and golf ball are focused on the average golfer and his search for distance. 

If TaylorMade’s current lineup of irons with face-flex-producing slots in both the sole and face are about making conventional irons yield more consistent distances across the entire face, its latest entry seems less subtle, or shall we say, more focused: The new AeroBurner is clearly dedicated to souping up the ballspeed on wider-soled, oversized, distance irons, with an additional focus on affordability. 

AeroBurner irons feature a new sole slot designed to help shots launch not only faster but higher. It's the fourth iteration of TaylorMade's sole slot technology that began with the RocketBladez irons in the fall of 2012. Unlike the slot (what the company calls a "speed pocket") on the RSi irons, it is not cut all the way through the back of the iron.

"This gives us more distance, but it also acts like a hinge to help shots launch higher," said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade's director of product innovation. The lowered center of gravity on the set also frees up the design to include stronger lofts for more direct energy transfer while maintaining higher launch.

Missing from the set is the additional face slots found in the RSi irons. The main reason, Bystedt says, is that the face slots were designed to make the compact face size more forgiving, not an issue for an oversized face like on the AeroBurner.

"When you look at face slots, you're looking at a technology that's essentially designed to make a club face play bigger than it is," Bystedt says. "It expands the boundary where the face starts to get rigid farther away from the middle. Going to a bigger face in this iron, it isn't going to have as much of a benefit. And the secondary reason obviously is cost. We think with all the other technologies of a thinner face and a higher moment of inertia that there are other ways to get forgiveness in this iron and keep it at a better price point."

The face includes the company's variable thickness design called inverted cone, which is specifically modified for the larger face area in AeroBurner. The shaping is shifted toward the toe to prevent shots from flying too far to the right, one of the learnings the TaylorMade team developed in understanding ultra-thin face iron designs like SpeedBlade and RSi. The AeroBurner face thickness is at 1.7 millimeters. For additional flexibility, the long irons are made of a 450 stainless steel and the short irons (8-SW) are made of 17-4. AeroBurner irons are $700 in steel, $800 in graphite and will be in stores March 18.

The extra speed idea for the AeroBurner line continues with the next installment of TaylorMade's Mini Driver franchise. With lighter materials and designs that enhance face flex at impact, there’s been an emergence of specialty low-lofted, oversized fairway woods (TaylorMade, Ping, Callaway) that are ideal for elite players on tighter driving holes and long shots into par 5s. 

But these new designs, with their extra loft and shorter shafts, may actually work better on most tee shots for average golfers, too. Their larger size makes them more forgiving than a traditional 3-wood, and their extra loft helps shots launch on a better angle. TaylorMade is bringing out its second version, the new AeroBurner Mini Driver ($280, available March 22). In addition to having a wide slot in the sole to provide extra give, the club has a slightly smaller size than last year’s model (for increased playability), a shallower face and a crown ridge and hosel fin to enhance aerodynamics. 

The head will be made of the same construction as the AeroBurner fairway woods, including a high strength nickel-cobalt-molybdenum martensitic steel alloy. The wider slot features a cut-through opening that's covered with a thermoplastic urethane insert. The cover maintains the flexibility of the open slot while preventing debris from lodging inside the opening. It also adds an element of vibration damping for better sound and feel. 

The slot aims to increase face deflection, particularly on low-face impacts and is designed to create a larger area of the face that approaches the USGA limit for spring-like effect. The head also continues TaylorMade's low-forward center of gravity location aimed to produce shots with reduced spin and higher launch.

The AeroBurner line also now includes two golf balls that will focus on average golfers in terms of playing requirements and price. The AeroBurner Soft ($20 a dozen, available March 6) is a two-piece model with a softer core and an ionomer cover. It’s designed for higher flight that should help the initial launch angle on tee shots as well as steepen the landing angle on short approach shots. There’s also the AeroBurner Pro ($27), a three-piece ball that features an intermediate mantle layer and a thin, resilient cover designed for softer feel than traditional ionomer-covered balls. 
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Cobra shows it's got better players in mind, too

Cobra may have had notable success in making clubs for average golfers who need help getting the ball in the air as easily as possible, but it isn’t taking a pass on players with a more sophisticated array of demands. 

It’s certainly made the case in drivers and fairway woods with the Cobra Fly-Z+, and now the company is bringing the same better player focus to the iron game. Two new forged irons, the Fly-Z Pro and the Fly-Z+, will be in stores this week and the emphasis is on precision and shot-making in a compact, better-player-friendly shape and sole width.

A key element in both irons is the five-press forging process. That methodology is designed to limit the post-forging hand grinding and improve the consistency of the internal structure of the carbon steel from head to head, as well as better control of the head weights. Furthering the precision are a CNC-milled face and grooves.

The Fly-Z Pro is a traditionally-shaped blade that progresses into a slight cavity back through the set into the longer irons. The short irons (9-PW) feature a traditional muscleback look, while the middle irons (7-8) have a slight cavity low in the back and the long irons utilize a dual cavity shape in back. Developed with input from Cobra staff player Rickie Fowler, the irons include a tungsten plug in the toe that helps reposition the center of gravity more in line with the center of the clubface. Fowler’s AMP Cell Pro irons were specially retrofitted with this feature last year. The Fly-Z+ is a multi-piece design that includes a milled undercut in the back cavity on the 3- through 8-iron for improved off-center hit forgiveness. The longer irons (3-7) also feature tungsten in the sole to help position the center of gravity in line with the center of the face. A thermoplastic urethane insert rests in the undercut and an aluminum badge encased in to create a softer feel. 

Both sets will be in stores March 1 ($900, for an eight-piece set, True Temper Dynamic Gold for Fly-Z Pro, KBS Tour for Fly-Z+).
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Callaway's "X" line gets its broadest launch with XR's nine new products

xr-driver-sole-b.jpgCallaway’s “X” family of products goes back to the late 1990s and the introduction of the X-12 irons 17 years ago. Back then, the story was the revolutionary thinned out cavity construction and extreme low center of gravity on the cavity back oversized iron. Big news that almost immediately set sales records for the company.

But there may never have been a broader range of new technologies in the history of the X family than there is this year.

Callaway today announced nine new products under the new XR moniker, including two drivers, three fairway woods, two hybrids and two irons. The theme consistently across each category seems to be speed. Whether it’s the lighter face in the XR drivers or the metalwood-like face cup on the traditionally-shaped, cavity XR irons, Callaway’s engineers are chasing new ways for golfers to produce both more ballspeed and, in some cases, more clubhead speed. 

But the breadth of offerings (at least two styles in the driver, fairway wood, hybrid and iron offerings) also seems focused on helping individual golfers better dial in the size and shape of head that’s going to produce the best results for them.

Evan Gibbs, Callaway's senior manager of product performance in metalwoods, was referring to the new XR fairway woods, but his summary could easily apply to the whole XR family: “We tried to understand where golfers use these clubs, how they use them and how to most effectively design a club for that situation.”

All clubs in the XR line are expected to begin to be available in shops by Feb. 20.

XR/XR Pro drivers
The natural question with Callaway introducing its fourth and fifth drivers since August is how could it be any better. But Callaway is not shy about making its case with the new XR and XR Pro drivers ($350/$400). First, there’s a move toward improved aerodynamics. The XR features a pair of distinct speed steps at the front part of the crown designed to reduce drag. It also helps boost swing speed potential through a lighter overall weight (just TK grams on the XR model). According to Gibbs, the lighter weight features draw bias to help average golfers square the face and fight a slice. 

Second, the face on the XR is 10 percent lighter, and the center of gravity (CG) is 17 percent lower than last year’s X2 Hot. Similar to this fall’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers, it utilizes a ribbed structure toward the front of the crown and sole to help increase the area of the face that yields the fastest ball speeds. Third, the XR Pro uses a forged composite crown to produce the lowest CG of any Callaway driver ever. 

“The advantage of having forged composite is you can create very aerodynamic shapes, which typically means the crown apex is higher and further aft, without paying a cg penalty,” Gibbs says. “You have such a lightweight material that you can pull the crown up and shape it to be aerodynamically efficient without the cg going too high.”

Each of the four lofts in the standard model (9, 10.5, 12 and 13HT) and two in the Pro (9, 10.5) include Callaway’s eight-way adjustable loft hosel. The hosel allows the user to reduce loft by one degree or increase it by one or two degrees and then also independently alter lie angle. One further benefit of the XR driver is its lighter weight. 

XR/XR Pro fairway woods, hybrids
The distinct shape differences in both the XR fairway wood and hybrid lines grew from how players of different ability levels use the clubs. The fairway wood line includes three varieties (standard, Pro and 3Deep) and the range accommodates 10 lofts, including the only stock 11-wood from a major manufacturer ($230 for the XR, $240 for the XR Pro and XR 3Deep). 

“The standard XR was designed with an emphasis put on performance and utility from the fairway,” Gibbs said. “The Pro version was designed with more of an equal usage from the tee and fairway in mind. And the Deep version was designed with an emphasis of performance off the tee.” 

The club’s primary technology is a redesigned cupface that’s thinner and lighter to help boost ballspeeds and lower the CG. The internal weighting updates the wave-like feature toward the front of the sole, pushing more weight forward while still freeing up the area low on the face. This helps to reduce spin and improve ballspeeds for shots hit low on the face. 

The XR and XR Pro hybrids offer similar differences to the fairway woods in size and shape (the Pro is decidedly more compact to appeal to better players), and the cupface and low CG design have been updated. Gibbs says the CG on the XR is 46 percent lower than the X2 Hot, while the CG on the XR Pro is the lowest ever for a Callaway hybrid. 

XR/XR Pro irons
The problem with creating irons with face structures that attempt to flex like drivers is that they end up looking and feeling more like drivers than irons. That means hollow construction irons that often are oversized and excessively wide-soled. 

Callaway’s effort with the XR iron line is to incorporate the flexibility in the face produced by its cup face design but wrap the technology in a more traditional, cavity-back iron shape. Both the XR and XR Pro feature a two-piece construction where the face cup wraps over the entire perimeter of the face and is fused to the sole and back of the iron. This allows for more control of how thin the face can be made to improve rebound across a greater area.

“The benefits of the 360 face cup that we see in an iron are very similar to what we see in a fairway wood or a hybrid,” said Luke Williams, senior director of  product strategy in fitting and irons. 

Within the cavity is an internal wave-like structure that improves performance on low-face impacts and lowers the center of gravity. The XR ($800) features more offset, while the XR Pro ($900) uses a thinner top line and narrower sole.
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Gear & Equipment

Wilson Golf leans on tour-player input with design of its new FG Tour V4 irons

Although Wilson Staff irons might not get the first look from golfers, the FG Tour V4 has some meaningful technological achievements. Gone is the boxy toe of recent Wilson models, replaced by a rounder shape and a sole grind that matches that preferred by staff player Kevin Streelman.

loop-wilson-FG-iron-300.jpgThe irons are forged from a soft 8620 carbon steel and have an 18-gram tungsten weight in the sole of the 3- through 7-irons. The idea is to help players hit shots with irons that are often the toughest to launch and stop shots on greens using a steeper trajectory rather than relying on spin.

The upper portion of the face area, where impacts are least likely to occur, was thinned by 11 percent with the saved weight moved lower and to the heel and toe areas to assist mis-hits.

The irons ($900) come standard in a 4-iron through gap wedge set and will be available Jan. 15.

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.


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Cleveland's latest take on the might of light

CG_BLACK_DRIVER3.jpgAt the elite level, it seems golf is increasingly becoming a power game. That’s all well and good when you have plenty of power to burn. For average golfers, though, power often isn’t so easy to come by. In fact, Cleveland Golf estimates that average golfers, particularly seniors and recreational players, may have swing speeds 15 or more miles per hour slower than the average on the PGA Tour (113 miles per hour).

One solution that’s been offered successfully in Japan for years is clubs with lighter than traditional overall weights. Most notable has been the XXIO brand of drivers launched by Dunlop Sports, which repeatedly have been that country’s top seller, pushing well below 290 grams in total weight. That’s a good 10 percent below the weight of many typical drivers played in the U.S. 

Cleveland, whose parent company is Dunlop Sports, has been developing lighter overall weight golf clubs since the beginning of this decade with clubs like the original CG Black, a driver introduced in 2011 that weighed just 265 grams or about 60 grams lighter than some of the leading drivers in the game at the time. Now comes the new family of CG Black metalwoods and irons, all aimed at average golfers and all featuring an ultralight platform. It’s what Cleveland’s engineers call an emphasis on “increasing the average golfer’s ease of swing.”

Says Jeff Brunski, director of research and development at Cleveland Golf/Srixon, “We looked at the typical average golfer’s swing and ball-flight inefficiencies, and targeted our technologies specifically geared toward them.” 

The new CG Black driver weighs five grams less than its predecessor, is the lightest driver on the market from a major company and features the concept of lower “swing MOI.” This refers to the moment of inertia of the entire club from head to the butt of the shaft. Instead of a measurement of how stable the club head is on an off-center hit, swing MOI is a theory having to do with how little resistance a particular club might have to being moved. For example, a sledgehammer might have a high swing MOI in that it requires more force to move it faster, but a 260-gram driver like the new CG Black might have a lower swing MOI, making it easier for those less skilled or strong to manipulate it. The concept of swing MOI was also front and center with the recent introduction by Wilson of its adjustable D200 SuperLight driver, which weighs just 268 grams. 

The new CG Black ($350; 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees), which is not adjustable, features the lowest swing MOI of any 460cc driver in company history, and includes a Golf Pride Tour 25 grip that is less than half the weight (25 grams) of a typical rubber grip. 

The CG Black line also includes a sub-300-gram family of fairway woods ($200; 15, 16.5, 18, 20, 23 degrees), which features a 24 percent lighter face that allows the weight to be distributed for higher clubhead stability at a lower total weight. The CG Black hybrids also are about 25 grams lighter than typical hybrids and come in a range of five lofts ($170; 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 degrees). 

Rounding out the new CG Black line is a mixed set of irons ($700) that includes hollow hybrid-like long irons with 1770 high-strength steel faces, two-piece middle irons with a high-strength steel face insert and traditional one-piece cavity back short irons. It features a center of gravity slightly farther back and lower than last year’s super game-improvement 588 Altitude irons.  

The full line of CG Black clubs is scheduled to arrive in stores next week.
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TaylorMade's new irons have slots--on the face

RSi 1Face.jpg
Right away, the new RSi family of irons from TaylorMade look different. With vertical slots framing the hitting area of the face, TaylorMade is suggesting the thinking about iron design needs to change.

RSi 13qtr.jpg
“Gone are the days in irons when you worry about just moving the center of gravity or raising the moment of inertia five percent,” says Bret Wahl, vice president of R&D for irons at TaylorMade. “There are a lot of other complex variables that you’re considering, and they all factor in getting faster ball speeds across the face of an iron.” 

What Wahl is talking about, and what he and his team at TaylorMade have been talking about since the early days of the r7 CGB Max irons nearly a decade ago, is the idea of creating an iron face that flexes at impact the way a driver does. Specifically, it’s about creating a larger area of the face that’s “unsupported.” 

To that end, it’s not just about building a deeper or larger cavity, Wahl says. Instead, it’s using a cut-through opening in the sole and now similar openings on the heel and toe side of the face in an effort to make it flex more not just on center shots but on mis-hits. TaylorMade says their research shows 78 percent of iron-shot impacts occur low on the face (heel and toe) and 61 percent are towards the toe (both low and high).

RSi 2-3qtr.jpg
To combat these mis-hits, TaylorMade built the RSi line with face slots in the 3- through 8-iron and sole slots in the 3- through 7-iron. Each opening is cut fully through the iron, and each slot is filled with compounds designed to allow the metal to flex. 

The RSi line (available for demo today, for purchase Nov. 14) includes RSi 1 (a game-improvement iron designed as TaylorMade’s longest iron); RSi 2 (an iron shaped like a cavity-back players iron but with enhanced distance capability); and RSi TP (the most compact iron, but still featuring a cavity back and face and sole slot technologies). 

RSi 1 ($800) features the thinnest face ever on a TaylorMade iron, just 1.5 millimeters thick at the extremes. It has the widest sole and the deepest undercut cavity of the three new irons, but like each it features TaylorMade’s proprietary variable face thickness design known as “inverted cone”.

The more compact RSi 2 ($900) is cast of a high-strength steel alloy (Carpenter 450) in the 3- through 7-irons, while the short irons feature forged faces and the gap wedge is forged entirely. The 3- through 5-irons also utilize tungsten in the toe to lower the center of gravity for help in launching shots higher. 

The RSi TP ($1,200, available Jan. 15) mixes one-piece forged short irons with a two-piece design in the 3- through 7-irons. The two-piece middle and long irons use a forged 1025 carbon steel face and neck that is plasma welded to a 431 stainless steel piece that forms the back cavity and sole slot. 

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