124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2



Equipment

Vice Golf irons, wedges, putters: What you need to know

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Vice Golf, the direct-to-consumer ball brand that’s made a name with its edgy approach to mixing aesthetics with big-idea technology, takes a broader step into the golf-equipment arena with a new line of irons, wedges and putters. The clubs include two multiple-material, hollow-body iron designs, forged wedges and blade and mallet putters, developed with new partner HIO Fitting, Europe’s largest fitting center.

PRICE: Irons: VGI01, $160 per club (4-iron through pitching wedge); VGI02, $140 per club (5-iron through sand wedge). Wedges: VGW01 (50, 56, 60 degrees), $150. Putters: VGP01 (blade), $270; VGP02 (mallet), $320.

3 COOL THINGS

1. Irons. Vice Golf is not branching out into clubs as if it were some new accessory like hats or divot tools. Instead, it’s the result of a long-time working relationship and now partnership with HIO Fitting, which, in addition to working with the top club companies in the game, also has been developing its own line of clubs for more than a decade as Europe’s largest club fitter. So while it may seem like a sudden expansion, the club line, which has been tagged “Wunderkind” by company co-founder Ingo Düllmann, reflects HIO’s learnings about both clubs and individual golfer types.

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“Since we are a family now, we have joined forces and now we have all this experience,” Düllmann said, noting that the two German golf companies originally met at the PGA Show in Florida more than a decade ago. “It's kind of a reunion coming back as one company, making this kind of dream work, and obviously there are a ton of synergies. We have a database with over a million customers right now.”

Like the company’s family of golf balls that cater to a wide range of player types, the two irons in the line target both better players (VGI01) and those who are looking for some game-assistance (VGI02). Both of Vice’s new irons feature hollow constructions with thin C455 (VGI01) or C450 (VGI02) high-strength steel faces designed to boost ball speed and increase launch. On the players iron, the face thickness is constant while the VGI02 thins out heel and toe sections of the face to reduce lost ball speed on off-center hits. The VGI01 uses a forged 1025 carbon-steel body, while the cast VGI02 uses a 431 stainless-steel body.

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The mostly traditional shaping, which even includes less offset on the game-improvement VGI02, eschew any kind of foam or polymer fitting within the hollow constructions because that element didn’t provide any improvement in feel or performance, said Marco Bruger, Vice’s head of operations. “We found out if we have a very small section in the head, which is hollow, it gives you a very good sound feedback but still is not so loud as most of the game-improvement irons tend to be,” Burger said. “We spent most of our investment on the face and getting it thin and responsive so we can get better performance on off-center hits.

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“I think one of the key elements to get this pure unfiltered feedback is to work with the perfect-sized hollow section in combination with the thinnest face you can achieve. Using any extra material in the inside always kind of dampens the feedback and at the same time doesn't necessarily increase ball speed.”

2. Putters. The Vice brand’s dramatically different aesthetic values really take a stretch with the company’s new blade and mallet offerings. The widebody blade, the VGP01, is forged from stainless steel with a milled finish, while the mallet (VGP02) is milled from aluminum for a softer feel. The mallet uses heavy steel wing features that create a more stable forgiving design on mishits.

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One distinctive aspect of both models is their heavier stock head weights of 390 and 395 grams respectively. After 10 years of fittings at HIO, Burger said it became clear that heavier heads produced better consistency. “We would be carrying all the brands that offer all kinds of weights and every time we would get an order it would always be to go with the heavier weights,” Burger said. “Only like 1 percent were going for lighter weights.”

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The VGP01 blade also comes in a black PVD finish, and each offers five accent colors. The VGP02 mallet, which uses an oversized V-shaped bridge as an alignment aid, comes in silver, gray and black finishes, but the wings can be made in colors ranging from traditional black, gray and dark blue to the more adventurous rainbow purple, rainbow gold and rainbow dark green.

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3. Wedges. The VGW01 wedges are forged from 1020 carbon steel. They use full-face grooves. The three standard lofts include 50 degrees (10 degrees of bounce), 56 degrees (13 degrees bounce) and 60 degrees (8 degrees of bounce). The higher lofts feature more heel and toe grind to provide smoother turf interaction.

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