It took awhile for consumers to latch on to hybrids, but once they did, the movement was swift and substantial. During the past five years, hybrid sales have often accounted for 30 percent or more of the metalwood market. However, Golf Datatech's February sales report (the latest available) reveals that hybrid sales comprised just 24 percent of the metalwood market.
Is the trend reversing?Probably not. Craig Zimmerman, general manager of RedTail Golf Center in Beaverton, Ore., says that more clubmakers are integrating hybrids into "combo" iron sets.
Some of these sets have two or three hybrids included," he says. "So although fewer individual hybrids are being sold, the total number is likely the same. These are still extremely helpful clubs for a large number of golfers."
Draw it up: Tianlang Guan played two new fairway woods. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images
You might think players would be reluctant to make equipment changes at the year's first major. But the challenges of Augusta National (the need for a right-to-left tee shot, firmer-than-normal turf, greens that are more receptive to higher shots) had several players making changes or tweaks.
Adam Scott had a new driver, changing from Titleist's 910D3 driver to the newer 913D3. Scott kept the same specs, including 9.5 degrees of loft and a Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8X shaft.
Lee Westwood recently tried a Ping Scottsdale TR Anser B putter, 38 inches long. For the Masters, Westwood was back with the TR Scottsdale Shea he'd been using, at a conventional 35 inches.
Tianlang Guan [above], 14, tested a Callaway X Hot 3-wood and 4-wood in Augusta before the tournament. The 3-wood was 43 inches with 14.1 degrees of loft. The 4-wood was 42 inches with 17.1 degrees of loft. Guan liked that he could draw the clubs, so he putt hem in his bag
Tiger Woods added a Nike VR_S Covert 3-wood, preferring the way he could turn the ball right
to left with it.
Tee it up: The X Hot 3Deep clubface is 10-percent taller than the X Hot.
If 60 is the new 40, then 3-wood is the new driver. Or at least it's the second driver. That's one reason Callaway released the X Hot 3Deep fairway wood -- a supersize version of its X Hot line -- to its tour staff. The impetus was Callaway staff player Phil Mickelson's desire for a fairway wood that is long enough to use as a second driver but playable off the ground. The face on the X Hot 3Deep is 10-percent taller than the X Hot, so the center of gravity is slightly higher and more in line with the impact area on tee shots, leading to more ball speed. Look for Mickelson to have the club in his bag this week and at the Masters.
You can watch a pro golf tournament on television multiple times a day
every weekend of the year, but only once a year will you see an hour of
network golf coverage devoted to the stuff that really matters to average
golfers: the hottest gear in the game. That hour comes this Sunday when
Golf Digest and NBC Sports combine for the fifth annual edition of the
Golf Digest Equipment Insider, a tour through the game's latest
technologies in clubs, balls and fashion.
The show will be hosted by Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" co-stars Holly
Sonders and Gary Williams, and will feature insight from Golf Digest
Senior Editor for Equipment Mike Stachura; Golf World Senior Editor E.
Michael Johnson and Golf Digest Fashion Director Marty "Mr. Style" Hackel.
The Golf Digest Equipment Insider will feature segments on every equipment
category in the bag from drivers to putters, as well as a special segment
on club-fitting and a closer look at the problem of counterfeit clubs.
Throughout the show the leading experts in equipment technology at all of
golf's top manufacturers will offer their perspective of how modern
innovation is making the possibility for improvement not only commonplace
for the top players in the world, but for average golfers, too.
The show will air at 1:00 p.m. ET, prior to Golf Central Pre-Game and the
final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a sneak peek.
Cobra's new line of AMP Cell metalwoods will be noticeable for its array of colorful choices (Silver, Directoire Blue, Barbados Red and Vibrant Orange) but that shouldn't overshadow the technology housed inside and around the flamboyant clubheads.
The drivers feature what Cobra is calling MyFly technology, which allows golfers to select from six different loft/trajectory settings--the theory being that golfers will alter the loft on their driver throughout the season based to adapt to their swing or course/weather conditions.
The 460cc AMP Cell driver ($299) can be adjusted to the following lofts: 8.5 degrees, 9.5 degrees, 9.5 degrees with a draw bias, 10.5 degrees, 10.5 degrees with a draw bias and 11.5 degrees. The 440cc AMP Cell Pro version ($399) can be adjusted to 7.5, 8.5, 8.5 with a fade bias, 9.5, 9.5 with a fade bias and 10.5 degree. An offset model ($249) also is available.
The real meat of the club, however, rests in Cobra's face technology which utilizes an elliptical face shape that is 12-percent larger than its Cobra AMP predecessor with a canted bulge and roll that aids distance and accuracy on mis-hits from heel to toe and above and below the centerline. Further, the Cell technology saves and redistributes weight to optimize the center of gravity position.
The AMP Cell fairway woods use much of the same technologies (and same colors) and are available in a 3-4 wood model (13 to 16 degrees with two draw settings) and a 5-7 wood (17 to 20 degrees with two draw settings) that can be adjusted into eight different lofts. The hybrids are available in 2-3 (16 to 19 degrees, two draw options), 3-4 (19 to 22 degrees, two draw options) and 4-5 (22 to 25 degrees, two draw options) models that can be adjusted into 10 different lofts, providing golfers the ability to dial in distance gaps. The fairway woods will sell for $219 with the hybrids selling for $199.
The drivers, fairway woods and hybrids all will be available at retail in February, 2013.
Ever since Adams Golf announced on Jan. 4, 2012 that it was "examining strategic alternatives," there has been speculation about what would happen to the brand. In the interim, rumors that TaylorMade was interested in acquiring Adams circulated. Those rumors became reality Monday morning as TaylorMade announced it had reached an agreement to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Adams Golf for $10.80 per share in cash, or roughly $70 million. According to a statement from TaylorMade, it will maintain Adams' headquarters in Plano, Texas.
"This acquisition reflects our commitment to continued growth in the golf category," said Herbert Hainer, CEO of adidas Group, TaylorMade's parent company. "The proposed combination of Adams Golf and TaylorMade-adidas Golf brings together two highly complementary sets of brands, combining Adams' focus on game-improvement as well as senior and women golfers with TaylorMade-adidas Golf's focus on the younger and the low-to-mid handicap golfer."
The acquisition by TaylorMade caps a whirlwind few weeks for Adams, which posted sales of $96.5 million in 2011. CEO Chip Brewer left Adams for Callaway Golf on Feb. 28 with company founder Barney Adams taking over as interim CEO.
The follow-up to TaylorMade's highly successful white R11 and Burner SuperFast woods was officially unveiled today by TaylorMade and the name of the product line is certain to raise a few eyebrows: RocketBallz.
Although the moniker (originally conceived by the R&D team when they wrote the name on a prototype after gathering some impressive test data) is different, the technology goals of the clubs remain true to TaylorMade's focus on creating speed for golfers. Specifically, the fairway woods and hybrids each boast a slot in the sole designed to enhance the flexibility of the head and face.
The clubs (which boast a slightly deeper face) are cast from stainless steel and feature a web-like crown structure that gets as thin as 0.4 millimeters. The weight saved from the crown is then used to create a center of gravity position that is low and forward to create a faster ball speed with low spin.
To illustrate the club's performance, TaylorMade has provided a video of Dustin Johnson testing the RocketBallz fairway wood, complete with ProTracer graphics:
Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade's chief technical officer, explained the slot was positioned in the sole because it is an area that is normally not very flexible due to the amount of weight positioned there. The other benefit, he said, is that golfers tend to make contact with fairway woods and hybrids low on the face. Placing the slot in the sole adds speed to those shots.
Lofts on the fairway wood (street price: $230) are 15, 17, 19, 21,
21 and 24 degrees while the hybrid (street price: $160) comes in 19, 22,
25 and 28 degrees. A Tour version of the hybrid is available in 16.5,
18.5, 21,5 and 24.5 degrees.
fairway wood and hybrid are non-adjustable, the RocketBallz driver has
an adjustable hosel with eight loft/lie angle settings, making it an
attractive proposition at the $300 price point. The driver does not
feature the slot technology (drivers have larger, springier faces that
are already close to the USGA limit on flexibility and therefore a slot
is not needed),
The club also continues
TaylorMade's work in the area of lightweight clubs (299 grams overall
including a 50-gram Matrix Ozik XCON 5 shaft) with thin crowns and
inverted cone technology in the face. The shaft, at 46 inches slightly
shorter than the Burner SuperFast 2.0, is still long enough to help
boost swing speed.
Two versions of the driver
are available. The standard model features a larger appearance at
address with a standard face height and a slight draw bias while the
tour model appears slightly smaller with a deeper face and a neutral
face angle. Lofts are 9, 10.5 and 13 degrees on the standard model and 9
and 10.5 degrees on RocketBallz Tour.
the RocketBallz woods serve as the headliners, TaylorMade unveiled
several other notable products. Rounding out the RocketBallz line are
two irons models -- RocketBallz and RocketBallz Max.
game-improvement RocketBallz set features 3-, 4- and 5-irons that are
made from a high-strength steel alloy and feature a hollow construction
to optimize distance. The large face is as thin as 1.8 millimeters in
some areas to boost the springlike effect. The clubs (which come with
85-gram steel shafts as well as the ability to bend the hosel for lie
and loft adjustments) cost $700 for a set of eight.
seeking distance in irons may gravitate to the RocketBallz Max iron set
($1,400). The strong-lofted irons use tungsten weights that are located
inside the hollow areas of the sole (primarily in the heel and toe
areas) to improve forgiveness. Designers also stiffened the clubface in
the toe area to help promote a slight draw bias.
also followed up its R11 driver with the R11-S. The 460cc club ($400,
two lofts: 9 and 10.5 degrees) have the same three areas of
adjustability however the soleplate now offers five positions. In all
the club boasts 80 combinations -- that's 32 more than last year's R11
that cover a range of 3 degrees of loft, 6 degrees of face angle and
four millimeters of CG movement.
fairway woods come in five lofts (14, 15.5, 17, 19, 22 degrees) and
feature a thin crown that saves weight that is used to move the center
of gravity forward in an effort to reduce spin and provide more ball
speed. The club ($250) has an adjustable hosel and rotating soleplate
provide 24 options. All RocketBallz and R11-S clubs will be available at
retail Feb. 1.
At the Bob Hope Classic the field of 128 players had a combined 166 fairway woods in their bag. The field also had 115 hybrids in play. Why is this significant? Consider that in the same tournament just five years ago the ratio was 228 to 51 in favor of fairways.
What does this mean? Well, a few things. First, the design of hybrids has evolved with more companies producing hybrids with larger heads and longer shafts that can easily substitute for fairway woods. But the more likely explanation is simply that more pros are coming around to the idea that hybrids are a valuable weapon to have in their arsenal. Players such as Derek lamely.
During the opening round of the Hope, Lamely eagled the par-5 sixth hole at the Palmer Private course en route to a 63. Lamely hit driver and a 2-hybrid to 20 feet and made the putt. Not exactly unusual for a tour pro--except in this instance.
"The funny part is, today's the first round I ever played with a hybrid," said Lamely. "I got Callaway's new hybrid in the bag and it goes just as far as my normal 2-iron, but it's a lot easier to hit it. It's funny, I've never been able to hit one [before]."
Lamely's hybrid was an 18-degree Callaway Razr X Tour (a Gold medal winner on the 2011 Golf Digest Hot List). But Lamely wasn't the only player adding a new hybrid at the Hope. Twenty players, including David Duval (Nike VR, 18 degrees); Harrison Frazar (Titleist 910H, 20 degrees) and Vaughn Taylor (TaylorMade Rescue--the white version), added hybrids this week.
Of course, with so many of the game's best players seeing the benefits of these easy-to-hit clubs, if you don't have one in your bag, perhaps you ought to think about that.