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.
Callaway Golf is set to bring back an old favorite in the Big Bertha while updating last years popular X Hot line with the X2 Hot.
PING has a little bit of something for everybody this year with the i25 Series of drivers, irons, fairway woods and hybrids as well as the new Karsten Hybrid/Iron set and TR putters.
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.
Let's kick-off 2014 with me giving my predictions for this upcoming golf season.
I can freely admit that I am pretty bad when it comes to making predictions. Still, being bad does not stop me from making new ones. Why? Because it is fun to try to predict the future. I am probably as accurate as most of the political talking heads on Fox News or MSNBC. Even though officially the 2014 season has already started, I think it is okay to post the predictions now.
But before I go into my predictions for 2014… let's see how my predictions from last season panned out. I first predicted that Tiger would win the Masters. Yes, I was wrong, but barring a flagstick on the fifteenth hole Tiger probably would have come through for me. That flagstick did not stop him from winning five times during the season, but it caused me to be wrong about my prediction. I also said that he was only going to win two times, and he easily surpassed that.
Is golf technology in a rut? I discuss how we got here and a little of what the future holds.
In my line of work, we talk often about technology stagnation. We often find that new products hitting the market have only slight improvements from the products offered a short while ago. The market then becomes extremely competitive, prices drop, and growth becomes a thing of the past. The most recent example is the personal computer market. Many people feel today that there is little incentive to by a new computer. I feel the golf industry is very near to a similar rut.
This came to me while playing golf a few weeks ago. All three of the guys in my group had R11 drivers in their hands. R11 is almost three years old and TaylorMade has released so many new drivers since then it begins to spin your head even thinking about it. But for the most part these new drivers were not driving my golfing buddies to ditch the old driver and switch over to the new ones. I asked them why the newer drivers hadn't tickled their fancy. They mentioned the improvements just didn't justify the price tag.
I get a little nostalgic for 2008.
During the PGA Championship coverage, as it became clear that 2013 would be another winless major championship season for Tiger Woods, CBS aired a graphic that included the exact date of Tiger Woods' last major win.
June 16, 2008.
What were you doing on June 16th, 2008, besides watching a wounded Tiger limp around Torrey Pines, while Rocco Mediate slowly let his only real shot at a U.S. Open slip through his grasp? I was finishing my sophomore year - of high school. I couldn't so much as drive a car.
It's been over 5 years since that date. For comparison, Tiger won seven majors in the five-year span from 1999 to 2003. He won six over five years from 2005 to 2009. And he hasn't won a single one since.
Here's what the world has been up to.
After making a splash earlier in the year with the X Hot and RAZR Fit line of woods, Callaway golf is back at it again with the introduction of a third new driver, the FT Optiforce.
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.
In the coming months, Callaway Golf will be releasing two new sets of irons; the Apex and Apex Pro.
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.