When one thinks of the golf manufacturers out there on the cutting edge of innovation, companies like TaylorMade and Callaway spring to mind. It seems that these companies always have some new technology that promises to add distance and increase forgiveness and some time later similar technologies are adopted by the rest of the golfing world. However, one of the original innovators in the golf world is PING, and they are doing it again with their new G30 line of drivers, woods, hybrids and irons. According to PING, they were able to achieve significant distance gains with the new clubs without sacrificing performance in any other key area such as forgiveness.
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A little less than a year ago, TaylorMade Golf introduced a set of woods that started somewhat of a mini revolution in the golf industry. The SLDR line of clubs strayed from the norm of a center of gravity that was low and back to one that was low and forward, and in doing so allowed golfers to hit the ball with a lot less spin. This, in combination with having golfers "loft up" has given many that extra distance that they were searching for, and thus, the SLDR driver has become one of the most popular available.
Some companies would be more than happy to sit back for a while, but that isn't TaylorMade. Since the SLDRs introduction last August, the company has expanded the line with a smaller 430cc version, a white crowned version, a mini version, and now a version without the adjustable hosel, the SLDR S. In addition to the new woods, the company has also released the first set of SLDR irons.
Over the last few years, Callaway has come out with a number of different products with all sorts of different names. From the RAZR Fit and X Hot to Octane and Diablo, it seems that the company has rolled out model after model in search of an identity. However, if there is one product line that defines the company, it is the Big Bertha. When the original version of the Bertha came out, it was all about distance but through the years the company has strayed from the name trying to capture the next great thing. Now it seems that the next great thing is an old one after all, or at least one with an old name. The new version of the Big Berth is bigger and meaner and promises even more distance than ever before.
Late last year Cobra Golf updated their driver line up with the release of the Bio Cell series of clubs. These clubs replaced the popular Amp Cell series of woods, which were the company's first to include their MyFly technology. The new Bio Cell clubs continued Cobra's multi-color approach by once again allowing consumers to pick from an array of colors for their woods. The Bio Cell Drivers came in two different variations; for the average golfer, they offered a 460cc standard version and for the better player they have the "+" version which had a smaller 440cc head as well as a few additional differences. Over the past few months, Rickie Fowler has been playing a slightly different version of the Bio Cell, the Bio Cell Pro.
Over the last couple of years there has been no company that puts out more products than TaylorMade. It seems that every time you blink an eye they have a new driver, wood or set of irons that is suppose to add another 15 or 20 yards to your game via different technologies that are built into the clubs.
That's all well and good, and during that time, they've done a great job marketing to the weekend warrior but at some point, it seemed like they lost touch with the more serious golfer. This year, that tune has changed and the company has brought back their "Tour Preferred" line of irons. The line has three different models; the first is their muscle back or MB model and is for the best of players. On the other end of the spectrum of the Tour Preferred line are the CB's. These clubs, as you can tell by the name, have a cavity back and have a much larger foot print. In the middle, there are the muscle cavity or MCs. These clubs combine ideas from the two sets around them to produce a club with a slight cavity, a smaller shape, and thin top lines in a package that also has some of the technology that's missing from the MBs.
Read on to find out if TaylorMade's newest irons are as good as they'd have you believe or if they are just another club that will be replaced in a few short months.
Mark your calendars folks, we are at eight months now since TaylorMade launched the SLDR line of clubs and they still haven't come out with a replacement that will give you another 30 yards. All joking aside, that is a long time for a company that was releasing four drivers a year at one point. However, that isn't to say that the company hasn't added or tweaked the SLDR line at all, because they have. When the club first came out in August 2013, it came in a 460 cc head and a few months later they added to that with a smaller 430 cc head. The company has now made a few more adjustments; first, TaylorMade is bringing back the white crown, which they seemed to have abandoned for a bit as well as introducing a new mini (260 cc) version of the SLDR.
Most golfers know Titleist as the "number one ball in golf," and sort of as a spin off of that, Bridgestone has deemed themselves to be the "number one ball fitter in golf." However, there is another "number one" ball in golf, and those are made by Volvik, "the number one colored ball in golf." While Volvik balls haven't yet found their way into the bags of too many male golfers, they have a huge share of the market in the ladies game and have many LPGA players in their stable. That is starting to change as of late as the company has added both Craig Stadler and Tim Petrovic to their list of players, as the former became the first player to use a green ball at the Masters just a couple of weeks ago.
TRUE Linkswear has long been one of my favorite brands of shoes and for good reason; they are super comfortable. While they have always had a slipper-like feel in the opinions of many, they were criticized early on for having, shall we say, a unique appearance. With each progressive release, the looks have improved without sacrificing any of the comfort. On top of that, the company continues to improve it's sole designs for maximum stability. The new 2014 line-up should have something for everybody as the new additions include a couple of street style shoes, oxfords, and wingtips as well as more options for women.
Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to review both the Mizuno MP-64 and MP-H4 irons. At the time, they were Mizuno's two newest offerings in the MP line and each brought something different to the party. The 64s were all business and were a true players irons. They had a thin top line, compact head, and little in the way of forgiveness. The irons were sleek and beautiful to look at but if you missed the center of the face, they could be punishing. The H4 irons on the other hand were aimed at golfers who wanted to play an MP iron but may not have had the skill set needed to do so. While they did share the simple look of an MP iron, they carried a much larger footprint with thicker top lines and the long irons had more of a hybrid appearance. Forgiving they were, and while they had the soft forged feeling one has come to expect from a Mizuno MP iron, there was just something a little off about them. Enter the newest MP iron, the MP-54.
With the MP-54, Mizuno has crafted an iron that falls nicely in between their two previous sets. They aren't quite as small as the MP-64 irons, but the slightly larger size along with some new design features means that they aren't as punishing either. The previous MP-H4 irons probably offered just a little bit more forgiveness, but not by much. Does Mizuno finally have the best of both worlds with the MP-54 irons? Read on to find out.