2013 was a very good year for the Callaway Golf company. In addition to having it's marquee player win the Open Championship, the company released a couple of very popular line of clubs, the RAZR Fit Xtreme and the X Hot. The X Hot in particular did very well and many golfers ended up putting these clubs in the bag and adding more than a few yards to their drivers and woods. According to the company, the X Hot products were longer from everywhere, by up to 30 yards in some situations, but this year the company thinks that it has something even better in the X Hot's sequel, the X2 Hot. While the X Hot was the company's most popular line from the past year, probably the most iconic line of Callaway clubs is the Big Bertha, and in 2014 we will see the reintroduction of this line.
Tristan Hilton's Archive
This month, PING is rolling out a comprehensive line of new clubs with a common theme, and that theme is increased distance. While more distance is something that everybody wants, PING has also paid special attention to making sure that the new clubs are both forgiving and consitent as well. Among the new products is the i25 lineup of clubs which include a new driver, irons, fairway woods and hybrids. In addition to the i25 series, there is also the new Karsten hybrid irons which should provide higher handicap players with both the distance and increased forgiveness that they seek. The new 2014 line is rounded out with the product that made PING a household name, putters, with the introduction of the Karsten TR line.
Early in the year, Callaway made a splash in the golf world with the introduction of their new drivers, the X Hot (which had a standard and Pro model) and the RAZR Fit Xtreme. Both clubs were solid offerings and gained big followings. When I wrote both the X Hot Pro driver and iron reviews, I mentioned how Callaway had decided to scale back on it's product line, which was in my opinion a good thing. They had too many products going at the same time and I felt that it led to a bit of confusion on the part of the consumer. Put simply, there were too many choices. It seems that Callaway is starting to go back that way already, as they have introduced a third line of drivers, the FT Optiforce. This driver isn't aimed at replacing either the RAZR Fit or X Hot line (in fact, we'll see the X2 Hot line in early 2014), but as a third choice for consumers.
The new club has a number of features, some of which haven't been seen before with a Callaway driver, including a new hosel design. Read on to find out if this is the latest and greatest of Callaway drivers or just another club crowding the shelf.
Earlier this year, Callaway Golf kind of put themselves back on the map with the release of the X-Hot series of clubs. The drivers and fairways proved to be very popular and found their ways into the bags of many players. The same was true of the X-Hot and X-Hot Pro irons. Now Callaway is following that up with the release of a new product line; the Apex.
The new Apex irons will come in two different offerings, a standard model as well as a pro model. There is quite a few number of new features with the new sticks and according to Callaway, they are kind of going against conventional wisdom. On the forums here, we often will have members asking which clubs to choose and one question that comes up from time to time is "forged or cavity back." Now, while that really isn't the choice (one can get a forged cavity back or a cast blade/players iron), the general idea is that better player's clubs tend to be forged while those that lend more forgiveness to the high handicap players tend not to be. The big idea, so to speak, with the Apex irons is that they will give all the distance and forgiveness normally seen in a GI club in a forged iron.
If you remember a few years back all of the buzz around the golf world was about grooves. Manufacturers were making them deeper, wider, and sharper, giving golfers of all levels the ability to put an insane amount of spin on the ball from nearly any lie. One of the best examples we saw of this was, of course, the Mack Daddy grooves that Roger Cleveland developed for the Callaway X Forged Wedges. These grooves were mean and nasty and had the reputation for chewing up any ball that crossed its path. Then it all stopped… the ruling bodies of golf decided that enough was enough and put limits on the size of grooves that manufacturers could make and since that time everybody has been trying to figure out how to achieve those insane spin numbers while still conforming to the new regulations.
Once again, it seems that Roger Cleveland has done it, or at least, that is what Callaway would have you believe. With the introduction of the new Mack Daddy 2 wedges, Callaway has brought back a old favorite that conforms to the new rules. They say that the new grooves aren't only as good as the originals but even better. Read on to see if the mack is really back.
While they may not be as big as some of the names out there (Tilteist, PING, Taylormade, etc.) Mizuno Golf has garnered quite a following especially with their ever growing line of players clubs. Every year, the company updates their line of MP clubs and this year they have introduced the MP-4 and the MP-54 irons. The MP-4 is a full-on, traditional muscle back and the replacement for the MP-69, while the MP-54 replaces the two year old MP-53 and features a cavity back design. In addition to the MP line, Mizuno also has the JPX line of game improvement clubs, and they are adding to that line with the new JPX-EZ and JPX-EZ Forged.
PING golf knows a good thing when the see one; and that is exactly what they had in thier S56 irons. Those clubs have been used in more than 30 tour wins since they debuted including one at the Open Championship. That is why the company wasn't out to overhaul its lineup or start from scratch. However, what the company did do was listen carefully to the pros that it has on staff and make a few changes here and there that improved workability, control and forgiveness to the point that a vast majority of their players have made the switch to PING's new S55 irons.
While it seems that certain companies (and one in particular) continue to pump out new clubs promising the latest and greatest in golf technology, Titleist golf has taken a somewhat different approach. Every other year, the company reveals a new set of irons and in the years in between we get the new drivers and woods. This year is an iron year for Titleist and with it brings the introduction of the new 714 series of irons. As with the past handful of iron releases from Titleist, this group is comprised of updates to the four existing sets; the MB, CB, AP1, and AP2.
For a while, in my opinion, Callaway golf has been a company that has struggled from a bit of an identity crisis. It seemed that they were coming out with numerous offerings every season, trying to have something for everybody, and yet it wasn't clear what clubs were aimed at what golfer. Between the RAZR, Edge, Diablo, Octane, X, etc. it became hard to track what was what or even what was the newest. This year, Callaway as trimmed it back a bit and has just three new sets of irons. For the better player looking for minimal forgiveness but maximum feedback and workability there are the new X Forged irons. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the company has the new X Hot irons which give higher handicappers a bit more distance and a lot more forgiveness. For the rest of us caught in the middle, there are the new X Hot Pro Irons.
In many ways, the new X Hot Pro irons look to fill a very large middle ground in between the standard X Hot irons and the X Forged. In addition to this, players on both ends of the ability spectrum should see some desirable qualities in the X Hot Pro as lower handicap players looking for a little more help will appreciate them as will a mid handicap player that is making strides to improve their game. They are a set that one could pick up as they start to make serious improvements in their game and continue to play long after they have become a better player.