While its undeniable that Titleist makes some great clubs, they are who they are because of the balls they make. As of late, they have gone into a pattern of updating their flagship ball, the Pro V1 and Pro V1x, every other year with updates to their other balls coming in between. This is one of those in between years and thus, there are updates to the NXT Tour, NXT Tour S, Velocity, and DT Solo balls. Also on the way are some new putters from the company's acclaimed flat stick craftsman Scotty Cameron.
Tristan Hilton's Archive
Like most things, the golf equipment market tends to follow certain trends and this is no different with regards to golf balls. One of the trends that we've seen over the last handful of years is the development of "tour" quality balls built for the amateur. There are a lot of us that want to play the absolute best that we can get our hands on, but truth be told, many times balls in that upper echelon just don't fit our games properly. New from TaylorMade this golf season are three new balls. For those at the very top of the game, they have their new Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X balls. According to the company, these balls have over a decade of research in them and they believe that these are the best balls that they've created to date. In addition to the new Tour Preferred balls, the company has also released the Project (a). As you probably could have guessed, the (a) stands for amateur and TaylorMade says that these balls will give amateurs help where they need it the most.
Coming this month, PING has announced two new products, the Ketsch putter and the Rapture 3 wood. PINGs new putter incorporates the company's True Roll technology as well as providing a very high MOI all in a package that the company says is easy to aim and fits nearly any stroke. The new Rapture 3 wood is a great option for those who are looking for a driver alternative off the tee or want a hotter-faced fairway wood.
Perhaps one of the most popular accessories on the golf course today is the rangefinder. While not really a necessity on the course, both GPS and laser rangefinders allow the user to get accurate yardages to their target, and I can tell you first hand, once you get use to having one, you all of a sudden feel lost without it. Over the last few years, we have had plenty of debates on the forum about which type, laser or GPS, is better and the merits of both, but whether you like the pinpoint accuracy of a laser or simple functionality of a GPS Bushnell has you covered.
While Titelist may be the Number One Ball in Golf, there are plenty of other manufactures that make quality tour level balls, and in many people's opinion, Callaway has had one of those balls for quite a while. The Tour i/iz balls were very popular as were its most recent successors, the HEX Black Tour and HEX Chrome and Chrome +. With Those balls, Callaway gave golfers of differing abilities balls that would fit their game well. This year, the company is updating its ball offerings and is heading a slightly different way. Following the model that has be popularized by Bridgestone over the last few years, Callaway's new tour level balls will come in a few different models, with each one optimized for a particular swing speed. In addition to the new premium balls, the company is also debuting its softest ball to date with the new SuperSoft ball.
Alongside the new balls are new flat sticks from the companies putter division, Odyssey. For those wanting to make a move to an Odyssey putter but not wanting to give up a milled face, there are the new Metal-X Milled putters. In addition to the new putter line, Odyssey has added to both the Versa and White Hot Pro family of putters with the Jailbird and the Hacok.
TaylorMade is a company well known for multiple product lines and updating clubs with new releases seemingly just months after the "old" ones have come out. In the past couple of years, we have seen the R11, Burner 2.0, R11s, RBZ, R1, RBZ Stage 2, R1 Black, SLDR and JetSpeed. That's a lot of clubs over a fairly short span of time, and something that the company takes ridicule for every once in a while. That being said, the clubs that they are producing are good quality, and if there is any sort of edge to be had, you can almost guarantee that TaylorMade is going to be the company to find it. Just a few months removed since the release of the company's current flagship driver, the SLDR, the company has added to that line with a smaller, 430cc version of it. Also, one of its more popular lines, the Tour Preferred irons, has been updated with new versions of the MB, MC, and CB irons.
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.
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.