Gear & EquipmentJanuary 27, 2011

What's relevant, or not

If I were to highlight the most interesting thing that was revealed to me today at the first day of the PGA Merchandise Show here in Orlando, it wouldn't be the Prazza Golf Ball Finder, although it might be close. The device, which sort of looks like an iPhone and comes with a handful of microchip-loaded golf balls (three-piece, ionomer cover), is said to be able to find a golf ball within a distance of 100 meters. The device scans a ball and then homes in on any wayward shot with relatively idiot-proof accuracy. Cool, but if it worked on any golf ball then I'd be all in.

It wouldn't be the new app being developed by Srixon for its adjustable Z-Star driver (a 2011 Hot List selection), although it's pretty slick. The app helps coordinate the settings of the weight screws and hosel angle (there are 84 combinations), based not only on the trajectory you're hitting the ball today, but also on the particular weather conditions predicted for the course you're playing today or the one three time zones away you'll be playing tomorrow.

No, it wouldn't even be the idea that titanium might be making a comeback in fairway woods, curious as that may be. Look for new ones from TaylorMade and Adams to come in the near term, both involving the numeral "11."

And even though it clearly is the most interesting bit of news that I uncovered during the day, the rumor that certain U.S. government agencies are interested in co-opting the proprietary composite material that is the core feature in Callaway's new Diablo Octane and RAZR Hawk drivers (both Gold in the 2011 Hot List) still didn't take top honors for Thursday's most compelling moment of the day.

No, the most telling revelation of the day concerned the real effect of the new groove rule on performance. It came from the head of golf ball R&D at one of the industry's major players who described how he had designed a 2010 tour ball to feature more short game spin as a response to the anticipated loss of spin thanks to the new, supposedly less effective grooves. In 2011, the ball in question is being tweaked in the opposite direction. Said the industry veteran, "I wouldn't have made some of the design changes I made if I knew how irrelevant the rule would actually be."

Reason eough to give this 2011 Hot List category another look-see, eh?

--Mike Stachura

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