Titleist has updated their AP1 line with the new 716 AP1 irons as their longest, most forgiving iron ever. The new 716 AP1 design has an unsupported face made of heat treated 17-4 stainless steel that provides more flex for faster ball speed. More high density tungsten in the toe than previous models lowers the center of gravity, improves MOI and increases launch angle. The 716 AP1 line includes a new high launching True Temper XP90 staft. Let's take a look and see how it performs.
The golf industry like any marketplace is constantly changing. In the late 1990s Callaway was as hot as any golf company could be. They were the first to really embrace titanium driver heads in a big way. Over the years that stranglehold on the top spot was lost. Callaway seemed to lose their way.
That is until the last few years where Callaway has gone back to utilizing the brand name that was so popular for them, Big Bertha. The last few drivers released by Callaway have been outstanding, and the latest release - the Great Big Bertha for 2015 - is the crème de la crème. The marketing campaign for this driver, "Leave no yard behind," is really a great theme. Because we are constantly blasted with marketing nowadays it might not get as much attention as it deserves, but if I were to sum up the performance of this club and someone mentioned that tag line to me, I would wholeheartedly agree.
Callaway has packaged almost all of the really good technology that they have developed in the past few years and threw it all together into one awesome driver. For the review I was given a 9° driver with a stiff shaft. With that introduction, let's get started with the review.
TaylorMade introduces its first multi-material driver, the M1 Driver, with a carbon fiber crown and new T-Track adjustable weight system. The carbon fiber crown allows TaylorMade to shift even more weight lower in the head for a lower center of gravity. The T-track's tungsten weights provide independent positioning to change both spin and flight. Let's take a look at the new driver and how it performs.
I have a love-hate relationship with my driver. Some days we're perfect for each other. Other days I wish I left it at home so I can enjoy a round of golf. It's such a fickle beast that I'll even have problems with it from hole to hole, never quite knowing if it's going to cooperate or not until I hit the ball.
I'd have to be in utter denial to think that the problem lies with my driver and not my swing. Still, I can't change my swing overnight and I certainly can't change it mid-round, so I need a viable option off the tee that's going to keep my ball in play. My backup option is usually my 3W, but it's significantly shallower than my driver which can cause issues sometimes if I start to miss the ball high or low. With this in mind, I started to look into Callaway's Bertha Mini 1.5.
One can point to Phil Mickelson's Phrankenwood and say that club started the mini driver craze, but that's not really the whole story. Club designers have been increasing the head sizes or offering deeper versions of their 3W as a better option off the tee for a while. Designed to be even more forgiving and longer than a 3W, the Bertha Mini 1.5 is Callaway's first official mini driver. Is it the club I've been looking for? Read on to find out more.
Physics tells us velocity multiplied by time equals distance. Distance is something that all golfers are looking for. We all want it; frankly we can't get enough of it. But just telling golfers that you are going to give them more distance just doesn't work anymore. We are tired of hearing it. Heck, if it were true I would be hitting 320 yard drives last season. We just won't believe you anymore.
So Callaway has come up with a creative strategy for telling us their XR line of drivers are going to help us hit it father. They don't simply tell us we are going to get more yardage, they tell us we are going to get more speed. Speed is really a simplified version of the velocity ingredient in our physics lesson above. The XR line of drivers is designed and built for outrageous speed. I for one appreciate the creativity from their marketing department and after getting to try their XR Pro driver I also appreciate their engineering department as well.
For this review I was given a 10.5 degree Callaway XR Pro driver with a stiff Project X shaft. Let's see how it performed.
It's been some four years since Bridgestone released the J40 line of irons. I had always admired the good looks of the J40 Cavity Backs. So when I heard that Bridgestone had a new line out, I had to take a look.
With Bridgestone and Tourstage, the company has owned two of the most popular brands in Japan for some time. In the U.S. Bridgestone sells a lot of golf balls, but you can hang out at a bag drop for the better part of a morning before a set of Bridgestones comes through. Maybe that should change.
Bridgestone's 2015 product line is their most extensive for the U.S. market in some time. (The entire J40 line featured just a Cavity Back set, a Dual Cavity Back set, and a Combo set that mixed the two. The J15 lineup includes, from most workable to most forgiving, the J15 Muscle Back, J15 Cavity Back, J15 Driving Forged (J15DF), J15 Dual Pocket Forged, and J15 Cast.
I typically play cavity-back irons on the more workable end of the spectrum (though I suffer from that choice at times). So initially it was the J15CBs that caught my eye with their sleek lines and no frills good looks. Not to mention that when I heard the words "dual forged" I pictured those older hollow-bodied, thick-soled driving irons that came out about a decade ago. But as I learned more about the Driving Forged irons, I became quite interested in finding out how they perform.
And then I saw them.
Mis-hits happen. TaylorMade's marketing strategy for their RSi lineup is to focus on the forgiveness of their irons as opposed to how long they claim the clubs will hit the ball. If you're like me, you're probably a little skeptical of TaylorMade's marketing claims. Year after year they have claimed to have created the longest clubs ever. I can only absorb so much hyperbolic marketing before I basically become immune to it and tune it out.
So now they have shifted the direction to forgiveness. Their studies have shown that 76% of shots hit by golfers are mis-hits, so they say that their engineers have set out to design the ultimate irons to help golfers have better mis-hits. They claim that you're going to shoot lower scores and hit more greens because of these clubs. While I'd love for that to be true, I just don't believe that I'll score better simply by switching a set of irons.
I know that sounds a bit negative, but I just don't buy into marketing hype. The more aggressive the campaign, the less I tend to pay attention to it, which is a shame because TaylorMade does make excellent irons. I've played with a set of TaylorMade irons for years: a set I never even wanted to try at first because I was turned off by the marketing. I didn't want to make the same mistake with the RSi 2 irons.
Yes, there's a lot of hype, but there's also a lot of technology and engineering that went into making them. Do they really make mis-hits better? Let's find out.
Last month the PGA TOUR released a new app called PGA TOUR LIVE. The app allows you to watch live coverage of two concurrent featured group pairings during morning competition prior to the start of the regularly scheduled television coverage. It is available for iOS and Android.
The app also offers live-streaming coverage from select holes after early-round group coverage has concluded, as well as on select weekends. In addition, the app includes video-on-demand content such as subscription-only highlights as well as feature and historical videos in an easy-to-access environment.
PGA TOUR LIVE, a subscription-based digital platform service, debuted in the first round of the Quicken Loans National. It's available on desktop, iOS, and Android devices. Other devices like Smart TV will follow soon.
The coverage is be available first as a seven-day free subscription when you register. After that, the subscription costs $4.99 per month.
The only live golf streaming I've previously done has been during the Masters. The Sand Trap.com has partnered with the PGA TOUR LIVE team for the review and after a few days with PGA TOUR LIVE I experienced plenty of pros and a few cons. I reviewed this app based on my experiences with the iOS version on an iPhone 6 and a fourth-geneeration iPad.
The debate between GPS systems and laser rangefinders hasn't ended, and probably won't for some time. GPS is convenient for a quick glance, and the course mapping is nice, but I always feel a little dissatisfied whenever I use a GPS unit. The touchscreens are generally poor, the distances take a few precious seconds to update (particularly annoying when you're driving in a cart), and you're still at the whim and mercy of whoever mapped the course in the first place (not to mention GPS accuracy, cloud cover, etc.).
The GPS systems in use for golf simply cannot match the accuracy of a laser rangefinder, and I've yet to come across a GPS unit constructed as well as even an entry-level laser rangefinder. (And that's without mentioning smartphone app GPS systems, which I find virtually unusable due to the massive amounts of cellular data and battery they gobble up.)
Oh, and did I mention membership fees? What about battery charging? Or course data syncing?