Ping's tour pros will be showing their "stripes" this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and Puerto Rico Open.
The company has unveiled a limited edition "Racing Stripe" hat that staffers will wear exclusively at this week's two PGA Tour stops. The stripe is designed to promote the "racing-stripe" alignment technology on the Ping's new i25 driver and fairway woods.
The hats will be available in four colors: black, gray, blue and red. They'll then be sold at retail starting next week for $22.
ORLANDO -- Chief tinkerer.
That ought to be the job title listed on Bob Vokey's business card. The Titleist club designer has spent decades fine-tuning wedges to help tour pros and average golfers alike, a task that never seems to end.
Case in point: the newly released Titleist Vokey Spin Milled 5 wedges that debuted Jan. 21 during the PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day at Orange County National. To maximize spin and improve trajectory and distance control, the Vokey SM5 incorporates a deeper groove design that channels away grass and sand. Company officials boast that each groove (with seven percent larger volume than previous models) is individually cut using its proprietary spin milled technology to the maximum dimensions allowed by the Rules of Golf.
As with his other designs, Vokey worked in consultation with tour players, leaning on the like of Adam Scott, Steve Stricker and Jason Dufner ("I've always said I have the best R&D facility in the world -- the PGA Tour," he quips). The trio helped offer feedback on bounce and grind options; the Vokey SM5 line is available in 21 different loft/bounce/grind combinations and six "tour-inspired" sole grinds. The wedges also feature a more compact profile with three finish options: tour chrome, gold nickel and raw black.
The wedges with be available in retail shops starting March 14 (suggested price: $145 each). They have already found their way into the bags of several tour pros. Jordan Spieth put them in play when he finished second at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Other players who are using them, according to the company, are Stricker, Bill Haas, Scott Piercy, Brendon de Jonge, Scott Stallings, Marc Leishman, John Merrick, Geoff Ogilvy, Morgan Hoffmann, Bud Cauley, Greg Chalmers and Charley Hoffman.
ORLANDO -- Today marks the start of golf's version of shopping in a huge, outdoor toy store.
Equipment, grips, shafts and other products are on display from dozens of manufacturers at Outdoor Demo Day at Orange County National, the one-day prelude to the 61st PGA Merchandise Show, which runs Jan. 22-25.
Of course, you have traditional the equipment rollouts with every major manufacturer having its latest line of clubs to try out.
Yet in this first hour of the Demo Day, it's hard to miss the enormous
social-media push from many of the major equipment companies hoping to get attendees not only to try their products but help promote them.
Some quick examples:
-- Ping is introducing a new glove, the Sensor Cool, which Bubba Watson will wear on the PGA Tour. There's a cardboard cut-out of Watson at Ping's Demo Day setup, where you can take a photo and use the hashtag #FeelTheGlove to get a Ping T-shirt. It's a great cause, too. Ping will donate a portion of all sales it generates from its three models of the Sensor Glove to the Bubba Watson Foundation, Ping spokesperson Pete Samuels said.
-- Cobra/Puma, like it did last year, has an enormous station with a DJ blasting loud music and drinks started being served at 10 a.m. (You know, because it can.) Jesper Parnevik and Blair O'Neal are slated to mingle with fans, too. By using the #GoLong hashtag on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook you're entered into a contest to win a Bio Cell driver.
-- Fujikura has one of the most innovative promotions at Demo Day. Taby and Christine, two Florida natives, are dressed as police officers--complete with handcuffs and Aviator shades. If you take a photo with these girls, and tag it with #Fujikura on Instagram, you're entered to win tickets to all four majors this year. The 10 posts with the most likes are eligible to win, and the Fujikura folks with pick the best photo. You win a free hat by participating.
Other events going on:
-- Peter Jacobson and Dave Pelz are giving a show at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Srixon/Cleveland setup.
-- Former Re/Max World Long-Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski is demonstrating his driving abilities with the new Callaway line of drivers at 11 and 2.
-- TaylorMade's "Loft Up+" campaign features a gigantic leader board onsite. The highest differences in driving distance--from your old loft to a new, higher loft--are featured in an electronic leader board. It's all in an effort to educate golfers on the benefits of playing a high launch, low spin driver like TaylorMade's SLDR line, spokesman Dave Cordero said.
The hardest-working folks on the expansive 360-degree range at Orange County National have to be the team of 20 who are sorting and distributing golf balls from the range. There are 15 volunteers helping a team of five employees from Orange County National. They have an assembly line of loading, sorting and shipping out balls via large garbage cans.
"We'll go through 80,000 golf balls, and that's probably low," said Brian, one of the employees from OCN who deserves a golf clap from everyone demoing the new clubs here.
By Marty Hackel
From the Dec. 11 edition of Golf Digest Stix:
Holiday gifts can be tricky in my household. We don't give a lot of presents, so the ones we select need to be special. Here are some of the items I've come across lately -- with the help of my colleague, assistant editor Stephen Hennessey -- that you might want to consider. Most of what we've compiled is directly connected to golf, though a few are just things that I think most golfers would like. What they all share is a commitment to high quality. Here's to that!
G/Fore Gallivanter: Lightweight and stylish, they're perfect on and off the course ($225, more info).
House of Fleming belt and buckle: PGA Tour pros might play a bit better than you, but you can be their equal around the waist ($450, more info).
Ralph Lauren RLX Wool Hybrid jacket (left): Merino wool, Elastene sleeves and a coated Teflon body to keep you extra warm ($225, more info). J. McLaughlin Jonah Cashmere sweater (right): Indoors or out, it feels "like butter." I love the suede detailing on the half zipper ($378, more info).
Peter Millar Napoli Wool Reversible vest (left): Wear it like this for windproof water resistance or flip it for a tailored wool look. How cool is that? ($395, more info). Dunning Merino wool turtleneck (right): Ralph Dunning is from Canada, so he understands staying warm. This real turtleneck will not disappoint ($99, more info).
Citizen Eco-Drive World Time watch (top left): Solar-powered, it never needs a battery, covers 26 time zones and comes with a perpetual calendar ($575, more info). Rose & Fire puttercover (top right): This California company makes gifts in authentic camo and denim ($60, more info). Personalized balls (lower left): Titleist.com allows three lines and your choice of number on any dozen ($28 and up). Other brands are available at TGW.com. Customized ball markers (right): Upload any photo at photoballmarker.com and choose from combination packs ($25 and up).
Jan Craig headcover: Design your gift at jancraigheadcovers.com. These handsome accessories make a colorful statement ($30 to $57 each).
Tivoli Albergo clock radio: Connect it to any Bluetooth-enabled device and stream your playlists to a beautiful AM/FM radio with great sound ($300, more info).
Bushnell's Tour Z6 Wingman pack(left): The range finder has Pinseeker technology and 6x magnification and comes with a Folds of Honor towel ($400, more info). Play Nine (right): The card game, great for families, is based on golf's scoring principles ($15, more info).
SuperFlex for Golf kit: A lightweight and durable way to work out on the road or at home ($80, more info).
By John Strege
The catalog of gifts that President Obama received from foreign dignitaries in 2011, released last week by the State Department, included a Kramski HPP 340 putter, courtesy of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, its value estimated at $1,400.
Kramski Putter, a German company founded by Wiestaw Kramski in 2002, is largely unknown in the U.S. But its putters have had tour success in Europe; Laura Davies has won on the Ladies European Tour using a Kramski putter.
The HPP (High Precision Putter) 340, according to the website, is a "high-speed milled premium putter made of stainless steel in a discreet mocha hue (ruthenium coating). Sandblasted, featuring multiple coatings and fitted with a flexible plug & play training aid (which can be removed by hand during tournaments), this high-quality blade model was engineered with the needs of the ambitious golfer with exclusive taste and certain shortcomings in aiming in mind. The steel striking face is precision milled to a tolerance of a few thousandths of a millimeter, and the contact surface's strike zone is polished to a glossy finish. The shaft features a double bend, putting the ball's position below the left eye."
The president is not using the putter, incidentally. It has been turned over the National Archives.
By John Strege
The Rickie Fowler effect is evident at any PGA Tour stop, notably those in which Fowler is playing. Kids are seen wearing Fowler's trademark orange Puma hats and often orange clothes to match.
Cobra Golf is now presenting kids with the opportunity to play an AMP Cell Junior Driver, featuring the same technology and orange color that Fowler's Cobra AMP Cell driver has.
"While Rickie bridges the generation gap, there's no question a lot of youth golfers look up to him as a role model," Cobra Puma Golf president Bob Philion said in a news release. "We felt it was time to deliver the same, high performance technology and 'Rickie Fowler' look to the junior golfers out there."
Cobra's MyFly Technology, which in the AMP Cell driver allows six loft adjustments, also allows for six adjustments, from 11.5 to 14.5 degrees (along with two draw bias options), in the AMP Cell Junior Driver.
Its recommended fitting chart suggests a 39-inch club length and the clubhead set to 14.5 degrees of loft for eight and nine-year-olds. It also offers a 41-inch club length (and suggests 12.5 degrees of loft) for 10 and 11-year-olds and a 43-inch club length (and suggest 11.5 degrees of loft) for 12 through 14-year-olds.
The cost is $299, and those who register their drivers are entitled to one free upgrade to a longer, firmer shaft as they grow, the company said.
By John Strege
The color green is a perpetual golf industry favorite in the run-up to the Masters next month, and, accordingly, Cobra Golf is issuing a limited-edition of its new Amp Cell driver in what it calls Season Opener Green.
Cobra already had fully embraced color, offering the Amp Cell driver in blue, orange, red and silver. It also has a colorful array of staff players in Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Jesper Parnevik and Lexi Thompson.
But this is the season for green, and Cobra is offering 1,800 green Amp Cell drivers beginning on March 15. Each driver is stamped with "1 of 1800' on the sole.
The Amp Cell drivers feature what the company calls MyFly technology, that allows the golfer to adjust the loft from 8.5 degrees to 11.5 degrees. Its SmartPad technology allows the clubface to sit square regardless of loft adjustments.
The limited-edition Amp Cell driver will retail for $399 and comes with a headcover and grip in Season Opener Green as well.
By John Strege
ORLANDO -- Fred Daly won the British Open in 1947, won the British Matchplay Championship three times, played on four Ryder Cup teams and designed and developed his own equipment under the name Fred Daly Golf.
Today, his son Robin Daly operates Fred Daly Golf and he is at the PGA Merchandise Show here, introducing his putter line to a U.S. audience for the first time. It's called the Peanut Putter.
Robin has removed weight from the top and bottom of the putter in the hitting area, hence the resultant shape of a peanut. But there is a utility in having done so, even beyond allowing the weight to be distributed to the perimters. It gives the putter a platform on which to set on the ground, what is called the Repeatable Anchor System.
"The club sets down right every time," Daly said. "It's a very simple idea. A lot of amateurs, a lot of pros, too, whenever their game goes off a little bit -- hands too high, too low -- this just keeps you in the same position."
Steve Webster, a winner of two European Tour events, has been using the Peanut Putter in Europe. It has been available there for five years, but is new to the U.S.
By John Strege
There is a point of diminishing return, surely, in wedge lofts for better players, but for those who don't fit that category, there's this: A new conforming 73-degree wedge from Feel Golf.
"I think it helps the recreational golfer more so than a tour player," Feel Golf CEO Lee Miller said. "The nice thing about it, we designed it for the player to take their full swing, which is without a doubt the most repeatable swing anybody has. I have a guy here that's got to be about a 120 handicap. The only club that he can hit three or four times out of 10 is a 73. When he does, he makes it talk."
The object of the 73-degree wedge, Miller said, is to eliminate the need for the recreational player to open the clubface in an attempt to hit the ball higher and have it land softer. Just aim at the pin, he said.
Phil Mickelson uses a 64-degree wedge, the highest loft in play on the PGA Tour.
Feel Golf previously had introduced a 73-degree wedge, but as part of its wedge offerings with non-conforming grooves. This new one, in a satin finish, has been deemed conforming by the USGA.
What is the market for 73-degree wedges? "I did an interview on PGA Tour XM," Miller said. "I have never ever, ever, seen such a deluge of 73 wedge orders. Since Friday morning, I bet we've sold 200 of them."
The obvious question, of course, is that should you elect to open the face up, would you hit yourself in the forehead with the ball? Miller laughed. "That's the same thing they said about the 60, the same thing they said about the 64," he said.
The partnership of Ferrari and Cobra is not about fast cars (wrong Cobra), though it is about performance and speed. It is a new driver, the centerpiece of the new Ferrari Golf Collection in partnership with Cobra Puma Golf.
"We had an opportunity to work directly with Ferrari engineers," said Tom Preece, vice president of research and development at Cobra Puma Golf. "They had suggestions on material usuage and they thought they could improve the aerodynamics."
They started with the shape of Cobra's ZL Encore driver and began tweaking it. "The surfaces are much smoother," Preece said. "The front face has a different radius top and bottom. The trailing edge is lifted off the ground. Essentially that's helped optimize the aerodynamics to get a little more clubhead speed. It's a different construction. We used a lightweight titanium alloy for the body, brazing tungsten inside for weight optimization. It's slightly different materials and different surfaces."
The upside for Cobra products going forward is that the company can incorporate much of what it has learned through its association with Ferrari. "Absolutely," Preece said. "That's kind of the whole idea. We've got this partner we can work with, an extra resource to bounce ideas off of."
The Ferrari driver features a Fujikura Motore Speeder Shaft and premium leather grip. It will retaiil for $2,000, which would explain the small quantities available. Then again, it's a Ferrari. Ever priced a Ferrari Enzo?
-- John Strege