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Staff Predictions: 2011 Masters

Apr. 6, 2011     By     Comments (6)

Thrash TalkA year ago, Tiger Woods' return to competitive golf set the stage for a remarkable Masters week. While Woods had the attention heading in (and played what turned out to be his best tournament of the year), his long-time rival Phil Mickelson stole the show. Consecutive eagles on Saturday. A rousing final round to capture his third green jacket. Little did we know it would be the high point of both golfers' season.

A year later, we enter Augusta with Mickelson fresh off a birdie-fest victory and Tiger still limping along, having fallen to a once-unimaginable seventh in the world. Will this be the first time since 1999 that a European player — five of the top six in the world are from across the pond — emerges? Our experts weigh in.

Bag Drop – Masters 2011 Edition

Apr. 5, 2011     By     Comments (5)

Bag DropLast night, Stewart Cink tweeted "The Masters is the SWAG season", and that's probably the understatement of the week. In the past 24 hours, details and pictures of loads of limited edition apparel and accessories have made their way out into the public's eye and it looks like the goods this year is going to dwarf that of last year.

Though most of it is given only to Tour pros participating in the year's inaugural major, some of it is going to be released in limited numbers to the public, but all of it is extremely cool. I thought this would be a great time to wrap a lot of it up in one cohesive (though likely not comprehensive) post for your enjoyment.

I'll give you fair warning that we won't be spending a lot of time on minute details like we normally do, since, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I've got a lot of pictures.

Staff Roundtable: All About the 2011 Masters

Apr. 1, 2011     By     Comments (2)

Thrash TalkBefore each major, The Sand Trap staff offers up our (supposedly) expert predictions. But when it comes to Augusta National and the Masters, there's so much more to the event than winners and losers.

Today we held a virtual roundtable, weighing in on the history, tradition, and even controversies that make the Masters one of the highlights of the golf season.

Mizuno Launches JPX-800 Drivers, Fairway Woods, and Hybrids

Mar. 15, 2011     By     Comments (0)

Bag DropLast October, we covered the launch of Mizuno's new JPX brand, which marked the first time they had ever combined all of their R&D teams from around the world. The goal was to produce clubs that contained every possible technology from each of their shops around the world and put it all into one cohesive brand.

Part of that launch was the introduction of their JPX-800 and JPX-800 Pro irons, one of which I had the pleasure of reviewing. Their commitment to this brand continues as they are now adding to that brand all new drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids. So, what all technology and game improvement features can be found in the first woods in the JPX Series? Well, you'll have to read on to find out!

Nike Introduces New 20XI Balls, Method Core Putters, and VR Pro Cavity Irons

Mar. 9, 2011     By     Comments (5)

Bag DropNike Golf, it seems like, has always been a company to push the boundaries and buck the trends in order to produce equipment that legitimately does make positive differences in their customer's games. Such clubs as the SQ Sumo2 and the original line of Slingshot irons immediately come to mind. While those clubs aren't exactly synonymous with traditional clubs, they did go a long way in making the game more enjoyable for high-handicap players. Over the last couple of years, we've seen them tone down the appearances and even the sound in some cases, but don't mistake that as them resting on their laurels. Their VR franchise is proof of exactly that as well as Nike's commitment to give the players what they want. Even the SQ Machspeed line of drivers and fairways have a much more subdued, all black finish this year, which is a stark contrast to the light grays and bright yellows we've seen used in recent years.

As I said though, don't mistake those trends in aesthetics as a lack in progressive thinking. In fact, they're still pushing the limits as hard, if not harder, than before and a prime example is their newest golf ball, the 20XI. What makes it so revolutionary? Well, you'll have to follow along to find out. While you're at it, kick your feet up and take a look at the latest in the Method line of putters as well as the all new VR Pro Cavity irons.

Titleist 910D3 Driver Review

Feb. 26, 2011     By     Comments (17)

910D3 HeroIn the past several years, my "gamer" drivers have ranged from the TaylorMade r7 425 TP to the Callaway FT-3, various Titleist drivers, and last year, the Mizuno MP-630 Fast Track. Though I was always happy with the 909D3 I owned, the MP-630 gave me just a little more pop and fit a swing I'd worked to improve a little.

But I've always appreciated Titleist's clubs, and found their drivers largely under-appreciated, so I was excited to give the 910D3 a try. The club shipped in November, making for a great Christmas present for many, and after extensive testing I'm happy to share my thoughts on Titleist's first customer-adjustable driver.

Read on to see what I thought of this all-black driver.

Nike Victory Red (VR) Pro Combo Irons Review

Feb. 25, 2011     By     Comments (11)

The story of Nike Golf's ascension has been well documented. When they originally signed Tiger Woods way back when, they offered next to nothing as far as golf was concerned. Nike slowly introduced footwear, apparel, accessories, and finally they weaned Tiger off of Titleist clubs. After decent success with the Ignite line, Nike had a huge hit with the Sasquatch. They built upon the SQ line with the SUMO, and then the DYMO, and finally the Machspeed series. In the driver and fairway woods categories Nike has been successful and innovative, though sometimes criticized. They were among the first adoptees of square drivers as well as 460cc clubheads and adjustable shaft offerings, but they have been ripped for the sound of some of their drivers, which can best be described as "tinny."

In the iron category, Nike has been solid, but their huge successes have been few and far between. The original Pro Combo irons (and its several variations) did pretty well, and several pros even kept the long irons in their bags until just recently. They were also successful with the Slingshot irons, which, despite being as far from traditional as possible, packed loads of technology into a high-performing package. The last few years Nike has been heavily marketing their Victory Red line of irons, which were co-designed by none other than Tiger Woods. The Forged TW Blades were good looking, yes, but even Tiger took them out of his bag after half a season (though they have since been granted reentry). Many liked the Forged Split Cavity, which were supposed to offer forgiveness and great feel. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they lacked both of those, and the waffle pattern in the cavity wasn't particularly easy on the eyes either.

This year, Nike has gone back to basics. They have taken one of their most successful lines of irons, the Forged Pro Combo, and they have simplified them, similar to the original Nike Forged Blades that Tiger and other pros played for years. This has all come together to create a set of irons that not only looks great, but aims to offer great feel, forgiveness, and workability for golfers of a wide range of handicaps.

I've spent some time with the new Victory Red Pro Combo irons, so let's see how they stack up.

Maybe Tiger Really is Just a Terrible Human Being

Feb. 17, 2011     By     Comments (1)

Thrash TalkCall it the loogie heard 'round the world if you'd like, but Tiger Woods' spitting incident offers more than the fact he's missing some proper manners and common decency. It points out his fall from grace has taken him off the pedestal that once shielded him from all manner of criticism. From fellow players to television commentators, having a go at His Tigerness is now fair game.

For those who aren't European Tour junkies, and those who spend more time rooting on Bill Murray while thinking of funny Caddyshack clichés, the news may be passed you by at first. But in true Tiger fashion, a ripple in the sea can turn into a tsunami without much effort.

Dramatic Farmers Finish Proves TV Golf is Anything But a Snoozefest

Feb. 3, 2011     By     Comments (3)

Thrash TalkCall me a golf nerd, but as the theme song piped up and the sweet, sweet voice of Jim Nantz came through the TV, my blood was pumping. The season technically began a few weeks ago, but consider those preseason games. For my money, the PGA Tour year starts when CBS joins the party, with Nantz leading the way.

Sitting on the couch Saturday afternoon, a day after the winter blues had struck with full force, I expected a typical day of golf. The leader board was strong, with big names and exciting stories destined for lots of camera time. But when that Yanni-composed masterpiece started pumping, the feeling was more like a Yankee World Series game, or Sunday of the Masters. I was caught off guard by how excited I was. Just a two weeks earlier I'd lamented whether my golf fever had finally broken. Thankfully I'm as afflicted as ever.

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