History lesson: Hot List irons from '09 and their trade-in values.
Golfers tend to hold onto their irons longer than most of their other clubs. Many assume that iron technology doesn't change as rapidly as other categories. It's also partly economic: A set of new irons likely will cost between $600 and $1,000. To make that investment a bit more palatable, consider this: You can trade in your old irons for good money.
Since 2004 the PGA.com Value Guide has been an easy-to-use vehicle for turning used clubs into currency. The guide lists about 60 brands with more than 6,500 models that are accepted as trade-ins by more than 10,000 PGA professionals at over 6,600 locations. Here we show the six game-improvement irons that earned gold medals on the 2009 Golf Digest Hot List -- clubs that could use an upgrade -- along with their sale price then and trade-in value today.
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.
Then and now: Callaway's 2003 Big Bertha irons and TaylorMade's 2013 RocketBladez.
Golfers' shift away from the muscle-back blade irons -- once the only kind of irons you could buy -- is almost complete, according to the most recent numbers from Golf Datatech.
A Golf Digest review of sales data shows that nearly 96 percent of the irons purchased in January could be labeled as "game improvement." That's a 10-percent increase from 2003. What epitomized game improvement back in 2003 was the wide-soled, oversize Callaway Big Bertha iron. Now it seems game improvement is taking on a more compact look (evidence: TaylorMade's RocketBladez).
Why the shift? Designers today are able to build more forgiveness into smaller packages with thinner face designs and select use of denser materials. Also: Everyday players tend to follow tour trends, and three-fourths of PGA Tour players are using game-improvement irons.
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.
You'll probably never play like a tour player, but now there's at least a chance you can look and feel like one.
Mizuno Golf has launched a new ad campaign, dubbed "Play Famously," in which it is signing 12 "average everyday golfers" to contracts. The company will give these players everything a tour player would get, from a staff bag full of new clubs to clothes.
Lee Baughman was the first person to be selected and his treatment as a tour player went as far as to include a mock press conference documenting his signing alongside Luke Donald, Mizuno's top playing pro. Check it out:
Like some weight watchers, game-improvement irons have struggled with the size of their bottoms for years. Extra sole width offers a lower center of gravity and more stability on off-center hits, but it also can be harder to manipulate and tough to look at. The new Ping G25 irons, in stores this week, feature a more compact shape and a narrower sole than previous G-series irons.
Brad Schweigert, Ping's director of design, notes a subtle relief on the back half of the G25's sole. "The key is to get the sole to play narrower than it looks by positioning the low point a little closer to the ball,'' he says.
Other wide-sole irons playing the shape-shifting game include Cleveland 588 MT (the rear chamfer on the bottom of this hollow construction decreases the sole-contact area), Mizuno JPX-825 (the deep-pocket cavity design features a triple-cut sole for better turf interaction) and Tour Edge EXOTICS XCG-6 (the tungsten weights sit low and wide in the heel and toe of its split-level sole).
When Ping first introduced its G-series irons in 2003, the idea was to create the most forgiving iron in Ping's history. That message of forgiveness has held true for the last decade, but with the release today of the G25 iron, Ping's engineers are looking to continue that level of forgiveness in a sleeker package.
The G25, the sixth installment in Ping's cast stainless steel game-improvement iron line, will feature similar moment of inertia measurements compared to its predecessor, the G20. But the topline, sole width and offset have been refined in each iron within the set to optimize playability. While the G20 maintained a nearly constant sole width of more than an inch, the G25's sole width gets narrower as the irons move from the 3-iron to the pitching wedge. The idea is the wider sole's greater forgiveness and lower center of gravity are more important on the longer irons, while the reduced sole width on the short irons will improve playability. In addition, the topline is thinner on the G25 vs. the G20, and the offset on the middle irons is 12-13 percent less on the G25 vs. the G20.
The other key enhancement on the G25 iron is the repositioning of Ping's trademark elastomer custom tuning port lower behind the face. Designed to improve feel, the port is notched near the sole and aligned directly behind the impact area to help lower the center of gravity and help launch shots higher. The G25's design also employs support bars behind the impact area to improve distance control.
Available in mid-February the G25 irons will have a MSRP of $97.50 per club with Ping's proprietary CFS steel shaft.
Reengineering the face of an iron to make it behave with the same flexibility idea seen in drivers has been a big story with some of the introductions we've already seen this fall, and Callaway is the next to embrace this idea of bringing distance to the iron game.
The company's new X Hot and X Hot Pro irons employ a thinner face design for improved ballspeed. That's not new, but through a unique undercut cavity, the X Hot and X Hot Pro are designed to lower the area of the face that is most flexible in an effort to put it in line with where most iron shot impacts occur: low on the face.
"The X Hot Irons have been meticulously engineered - both in terms of physical characteristics and club configuration--to increase ball speed and promote overall distance optimization," said Alan Hocknell, Callaway's Senior Vice President, research and development. "And in doing so I think we have raised the bar and created the standard in distance for the irons category."
The new irons borrow a piece of technology long seen in its driver technology. The irons look to increase energy efficiency on hits by optimizing stiffness to different degrees across the face.
The X Hot iron line's deep undercut cavity is meant to allow engineers to lower the "sweet spot" on the club. The redesigned face is meant to increase ball speed on off-center hits. But both the X Hot and X Hot Pro have removed the undercut from the top line, an effort to lower the most compliant section of the iron. The X Hot features more offset and a wider sole than the X Hot Pro, and the latter features a more compact size and blade length. But the X Hot sole utilizes a rear chamfer that reduces the actual ground contact area, and the X Hot short irons are more compact than the RAZR X irons, introduced two years ago.
Along with the irons, Callaway's also introducing its X Hot and X Hot Pro hybrids, which feature a thin-faced design for distance and a reconfigured sole plate with more relief in the heel and the toe meant to increase forgiveness on a variety of lies.
The new irons, which join Callaway's X Forged irons in its 2013 products, will be available Jan. 25, 2013. The X Hot irons, which in a departure for the company will feature two flex options on the True Temper Speed Step 85 lightweight steel shaft as standard, will be available on Jan. 25 for $700. The X Hot Pro irons, which will be offered with the True Temper Project X 95 shaft in three flexes as standard, will sell at $800. The X Hot hybrid, available in 3- to 6-iron lofts, and the X Hot pro, with a more compact head in lofts of
To complement the company's recently unveiled Super S hybrids, fairways woods and driver, Adams has announced the release of its new game improvement iron: the Idea Super S. The Super S irons will include either the Super S or Super LS 3- and 4-hybrid in the set, have expanded on many of the technological features of the Adams Redline irons, which adopted aspects of hybrid design to promote faster ball speeds and straighter ball flight.
The Super S game improvement irons feature an enclosed cavity that sits behind the lower half of the face and supports the face for better forgiveness. The design moves some of the cavity's weight higher and closer to the face for better energy transfer, less vibration through impact and more consistent ball-club interaction. The cavity in the Super S has been made heavier than that in the Redline iron, which allows engineers to more precisely position the clubs' center of gravity, in an effort to improve the consistency of impact.
Another notable improvement in the Super S irons is the face thickness. The new irons have a consistent face thickness of only 0.1 inches because of the enclosed cavity design. Adams has also improved the moment of inertia in the Super S irons by placing weight inside the toe section of enclosed sole cavity.
The Super S irons have a more compact appearance through a reduced offset and a very thin top line that is consistent throughout the set. The Super S set is priced at $700 with Super S hybrids and $900 for the set with Super LS hybrids.
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.