Nothing brings about a heated discussion in the world of golf today quite like the long putter debate. Although the long putter made its debut on the PGA Tour way back in 1980; the controversy really did not heat up until the last few years when the belly putter started becoming more prevalent, and started winning big golf tournaments. I, myself, have been using a belly putter for two years now. Because of this I was the lucky enough to be chosen to try out the Metal X #7 Belly Putter by Odyssey. Lets see how it went.
Every hard-core golfer dreams of playing golf where the sport was born, and as I discovered over a glorious nine-day span in September, 2012, Go Ahead Tours Golf Vacations can make your dreams come true.
On September 22 I traveled from Buffalo, NY to Newark, NJ before leaving on an overnight flight for Glasgow, Scotland. Over the next six days I'd play seven rounds of golf on the links courses at Western Gailes, Turnberry's Ailsa Course, North Berwick, and the Castle, New, Jubilee, and Old Courses at St. Andrews. I'd run on the very beach made famous by the movie Chariots of Fire and tour castles once visited by Robert the Bruce and William Wallace (yes, that's Braveheart).
The trip, dubbed "Highlights of Scotland Golf Vacation" by Go Ahead, certainly lived up to the billing. Join me as I recap my trip, talk of some of my own highlights, and share as many pictures as I can reasonably fit in one article.
Who am I? A long-time avid golfer turned golf instructor. I've got a busy schedule, and though I could have arranged a golf trip myself, I chose Go Ahead's Golf Vacations division because they handled everything and did it at a price that was likely lower than I could have arranged on my own or with another tour company.
When TaylorMade first announced that the name for their newest line replacing the Burner series was going to be RocketBallz, the social media universe exploded. There were snickers, jokes, humorous pictures posted, threats to TaylorMade to never buy another club again and predictions that this signaled the end of this dominant golf company that we know TaylorMade to be. All this gossiping really did was give TaylorMade a lot of free advertising and created an enormous buzz around the product. Yes the name may have sounded goofy at first but TaylorMade knows what they're doing. TaylorMade made more money last year than every other golf equipment company in the world combined. To date, TaylorMade's market share in metal woods is 50% and their fairway woods make up 75%. The RocketBallz fairway wood is one of the most successful launches in golf history and yes there is also a driver and hybrid that is part of the line.
TaylorMade has never shied away from taking chances where technology is involved. The company that brought us three different ways to adjust a driver and a slot behind the face of a fairway wood to increase the CoR is back, and continues to up their golf ball game.
Already the first company to introduce a five-layer golf ball, TaylorMade has seen their golf ball line take off recently. The TP5 is the fourth premium golf ball TaylorMade has brought to market since their entrance in the mid-2000s, and they're gaining traction on the PGA Tour as well as in pro shops worldwide. 25 million Pentas were put into play around the globe in 2011, and Darren Clarke used a PentaTP en route to his Open Championship victory.
TaylorMade's golf ball market share doubled in 2011, continuing their inroads into a business dominated by the likes of Titleist, Bridgestone, Callaway, and others, and this year they're aiming to bring their (healthy) obsession with innovation back to the golf ball. Read on to see how they did.
It's a testament to TaylorMade's insane devotion to innovation that just about every TM-related equipment review starts like this: "Not long after the release of their last technology-packed golf club, TaylorMade is back with another highly-touted line." This time it's wedges.
After success for a few years marketing the groove design in their wedges (Y-cutter grooves, Z-grooves), TaylorMade came out with the world's first wedge with a replaceable sole, the xFT. It was a solid wedge on a number of levels, but not exactly on the Cleveland or Vokey echelon. This year they've gone away from the replaceable route, instead opting for a radical sole design.
Bounce is the name of the game when it comes to wedges. It's invaluable in sand shots, and the most consistent short game shots are those that utilize bounce. But instead of offering copious options (like Vokey), or an extensive fitting system (like Edel), TaylorMade has gone for a one-size-fits-all approach.
Does the uniform system benefit the most golfers, or is TaylorMade leaving something on the table when it comes to individuality? Read on to find out.
Callaway golf has fallen on some hard times lately. With the announcement of its intention to cut 12% of its workforce, it is obvious that things are not really going according to plan. I have to say some of Callaway's offerings in the past few years have left a little something to be desired in my opinion. The Callaway FT-iQ looked more like a spaceship than a golf club, the FT- i wasn't much better and the FT-9 looked like it was made from used parts the developers found lying around.
I long for the days of the Big Bertha. I remember when I first started playing golf, Callaway's Big Bertha line of drivers and fairway woods were by far the industry leaders. No other manufacturer was close in those days, Callaway reigned supreme. But a lot has changed since then, Callaway got a little weird, someone at TaylorMade thought painting a driver head white would be cool; and the rest they say…is history.
As many golfers know, Mizuno Golf is best know for designing some of the best forged irons in the world. First building their reputation by manufacturing muscle back blades, Mizuno grew to expand their line into forged cavity backs and forged game improvement clubs. All the while leading in quality, feel and sound. Some golfers fear the idea of playing a forged iron, thinking that it is only be for low single digit handicappers or tour level players. Mizuno Golf is looking to take some of the fear out of forged with their new MP-59 irons. The MP-59 is Mizuno's latest multi material forged cavity back. The MP-59 integrates a classic look with updated technology for a wider range of golfers.
Even Charles Howell III who grew up playing PING irons, and has always used a somewhat larger club head compared to most pros has made the switch to the MP-59 irons. Last year Howell used a moderate sized club with less offset from Mizuno's JPX series, the JPX-800 Pro. After testing the new MP-59 irons he quickly put them in the bag based on the initial results. On the other side of the iron spectrum, former muscle back blade users Luke Donald and Jonathan Byrd have also switched to the MP-59's for a little added forgiveness without sacrificing the club's esthetics. One great iron for all players? Let's take a closer look.
Building on the extremely popular i15 line of hybrids PING introduces the innovative i20 hybrid line. I was very lucky to get the opportunity to test the i20 hybrid and there are definitely some key changes that PING has made that improve both the performance and look of these new hybrids. PING has a very loyal following amongst serious golfers because of the custom fitting options they offer, as well as the consistent performance their clubs produce. Through the years I have used numerous PING club offerings and after using this hybrid I am left feeling they continue to churn out very reliable and high performing clubs.
Along with the i20 PING also released G20 hybrids targeted to higher handicap players looking for more forgiveness and they also released an Anser line of hybrids. PING states that these multiple hybrid models are for golfers of all abilities with loft options that give you the opportunity to add the combination of hybrids that helps you to play your best.
If one pays enough attention to the golf world, and more specifically the equipment industry of the golf world, it is easy to see that there are numerous trends. For example, one such trend is an increase in the use of belly and long putters. Keegan Bradley was the first player to ever win a major using one and now three of the last five had one in the bag for their major victory (Bradley, Simpson, Els). Another trend is the increased focus on speed that companies now have. We have seen companies creating lighter drivers for a good while now and the idea behind it is that the faster the club can be swung the further the ball will go.
Until now, this concept has not really been applied to irons. This is exactly what Nike has done with the new VR_S Forged irons.