With all the buzz this week surrounding a driver that never was from a company that stopped making golf clubs more than two years ago, we thought it more prudent to turn some of your attention back to reality and some new equipment that is making real-live public debuts right now.
News broke in recent days of sneak previews (or maybe not so sneaky) of new products from Callaway, Mizuno, Ping, PXG, TaylorMade and Titleist showing up on the pro tours, social media outlets and various other places. It may be the official start to the PGA Tour regular season, but for equipment junkies, it’s all about the anticipation of the new products preseason.
The first place to check new developments is the USGA’s weekly conforming list of new drivers. On the list last week were two new drivers from luxury brand PXG, and while the company is mum on the details of the club, members of the PXG R&D team were especially excited to see Ryan Moore use the company’s 0811X GEN2 driver in finishing second at the Safeway Championship. It was Moore who was the first tour player signed by PXG when he put prototype versions of its irons in play back in January 2015.
Meanwhile this week, Mizuno added its two new drivers to the conforming list, the ST190 and ST190G. Both drivers are followups to last year’s ST180 and GT180, which featured SP700 titanium. The clubs were seen on the range at both the PGA Tour’s CIMB Classic and the European Tour’s British Masters, and were in the bags of tour players Keith Mitchell and Marcus Fraser. Based on the cosmetics, both the ST190 and ST190G will again feature the rare SP700 titanium alloy. The ST190 appears to be the larger of the two drivers with a deep fixed weight chip in the sole, but both feature a channel in the front of the sole labeled “Wave Technology.” The ST190G seems to be the update of last year’s GT180, offering weight channels in both the heel and toe on the sole and a pair of movable weight chips.
Another driver also was drawing some buzz as reported on Golfwrx.com. According to the equipment website, one of its forum members posted comments on a new driver from Callaway called Epic Flash, presumably the next followup to the company’s top-selling Epic drivers from 2017.
While drivers may get all the attention, Ping was making news at the other end of the fairway. It looks to have a broad array of new mallet and blade putters under the Sigma2 name, the next generation of face insert flat sticks following 2016’s Sigma G lineup. Hunter Mahan used the Tyne version of the new putter at the recent Safeway Open. The new Ping putters again feature the company’s multiple depth and variable spacing groove design in the face. There also appears to be a blue layer underneath the face insert. The original Sigma G putters used Pebax, a compound designed to provide support and energy rebound in running shoes.
While most of these appearances were of the soft-launch type, TaylorMade took to its tour staff’s social media outlets to broadcast its new tour-oriented iron, the P760. In the posts, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Jason Day talked effusively about the new irons’ performance, which could be in line to be the company’s most played iron on tour in 2019. According to the posts, the irons are filled with the company’s trademark Speedfoam, a polymer foam that’s also been used in the popular P790 irons and GAPR hybrid clubs.
Finally, there’s even some rumblings on the golf ball front as many members of the media have received a white dozen box of two new balls from Titleist. The balls, which have been circulating for the last two months, are stamped “2019 PROTO.” Given the company’s usual timeline, they have all the appearance of the latest installment of the latest version of golf’s No. 1 balls, the Pro V1 and Pro V1x. In many years past, the company has debuted the prototype versions of the following year’s Pro V1 and Pro V1x at a tour event in the fall, often the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, which is scheduled for Nov. 1-4. Those balls generally have been on a two-year launch cycle, and with the last Pro V1/V1x debut coming in January 2017, the timing seems right for the next version to be readying for its moment in the spotlight.
All of those products have not been officially launched, but it’s safe to say that with all this activity, it seems we are well past the prototype stage. Stay tuned.