The snow may be on the ground and temperatures making inside more appealing than outside but ardent golfers can do lots of things in preparation for next season. Hitting a bucket of balls (or two) at an indoor driving range is good to keep in practice and good exercise too and of course you could always take some lessons from a PGA Professional to get your swing ready for spring. Plus, should you feel the new season calls for some new equipment, winter is a good time to take a look at what club makers have in the way of new offerings to suit your needs and your game.
Up until a few years ago most companies waited for what has been called Disneyland for golf-nuts or by its official name the PGA Merchandise Show each January to make a big splash announcing new models. However, it is now the norm for product announcements to be made in the fall before the golf season is over so even now in wintertime, we have a good understanding of what is going to be in golf shops when spring finally arrives.
Golf Oklahoma has taken a look at the equipment coming to market and here’s information about new clubs from some of the leading companies for you to begin your purchase decision-making process.
Callaway has some interesting products for 2014 including resurrection of a couple of iconic names. First is the Big Bertha which is being introduced in two models. The regular Big Bertha is meant to be used by recreational players and has a new twist or should I say "slide" in player controlled adjustment. Specifically there is an 8-gram weight that slides along a 5-inch track at the rear of the clubhead thereby adjusting the club’s draw or fade bias. The second model is the Big Bertha Alpha does not have a sliding weight but a reversible carbon tube in the center of the sole that effects the amount of backspin without effecting the trajectory. This tube and other features of the Alpha are designed to help higher swing speed players get a lower trajectory-lower spinning ball flight. The Big Bertha model is $399 and the Alpha model $499.
The name Apex maybe 40 years old but it still has the cachet of its creator Ben Hogan and his Hogan Apex irons. Callaway bought and then sold the Ben Hogan brand but retained the Apex nomenclature and for 2014 is using it for a new forged iron. The design is a cavity back targeted at any player wanting the feeling provided by forged irons plus game improvement forgiveness. A set, 4-iron through PW with steel shafts, carries a suggested retail of $960.
The dominant company in metalwoods has a new driver, the JetSpeed, to compliment the SLDR driver introduced last August. The JetSpeed, aggressively priced at $299, employs a very successful feature first seen on metalwoods from TMaG’s Adams Golf division, the Speed Pocket. This is a slot behind the clubface to increase clubface flex and rebound to promote faster ball speed. Research found the typical golfer hits the ball towards the bottom of the clubface which puts too much spin on the ball. This means the ball flies too high and lands short and the Speed Pocket helps to counteract mishits of that type.
TaylorMade’s new irons, the SpeedBlades, replace last year’s popular RocketBladez and share several design features most notably the slot cut in the sole behind the clubface to allow the clubface additional flex at impact for more distance. Similar to the one designed into the JetSpeed driver and there for the same reason to help with low on the clubface impacts, this "Speed Pocket" is found in 3-iron through 7-iron and is slightly longer than the one in the RocketBladez plus there is are little "handle bars" on either end. SpeedBlades–4 through PW, steel shafts–sell for $700.
Titleist has the policy of introducing irons in even numbered years so for 2014 its new irons carry designation of 714. Neither the 714 AP1 and AP2 models break new ground but both are improvements on the previous 712s. AP1s ($800 steel and $1,000 graphite) are a cast game improvement design with a dual cavity back and tungsten weighting in the long and mid irons while the short irons have a slightly higher center of gravity and 1 degree stronger lofts to flatten the trajectory for better control. For better players the AP2s also have a pair of rear cavities with the upper being 25 percent thinner. As with the AP1s there is tungsten weighting and an additional tungsten weight near the heel, forged during the clubhead making process (called "co-forging," a technique pioneered by Titleist). Suggested retail is $1,100 with steel shafts and $1,300 with graphite.
Tour Edge Golf
One club that particularly stands out among the new introductions is the Exotics CB Pro, a limited edition fairway with a smaller "retro-look" clubhead and a sole design that is getting a lot of comments. Tour Edge wanted to minimize turf interaction at impact particularly for better players and they did it with what they call a "Slip Stream" sole. The combination of the unique sole and a beta titanium cup face construction allows for maximum energy to be imparted to the ball giving more distance and better control. At a suggested retail of $499 the CB Pro may not be for everyone but for players looking to get the most out of their fairway game it’s worth consideration.
Finally, since one of golf’s great joys is walking, a push cart makes sense and certainly will increase your enjoyment of the round.
The Bag Boy C3 model is really compact and in fact folds down to 21 inches by 13 inches by 18 inches so it’s not a trunk space hog. However, even though it’s compact when folded, unfolded there are several features that caught our attention. First was the price, which at $200 is easy on the budget but not to be overlooked is the one-step adjustment for the handle or that the parking brake mounted right on the handle. The C3 also accommodates either a stand bag or cart bag because the upper bag bracket has easy-to-adjust support arms. It even comes in a choice of colors, either matte black, silver/black, white/yellow or navy/white.
Another attractive choice is the Speed Cart Push Cart V1 Sport from Sun Mountain, a new version of their popular Speed Cart push cart. The V1 has an improved design to make unfolding easier and an updated pin brake system replacing the old caliper brake. The quick release latch is very handy as is the weight at only 17 pounds. We especially liked the solid foam tires mounted on synthetic wheels making them rugged and maintenance free essentially for the life of the cart. The V1 is in stores now at a suggested retail of $199 in either white/lime, silver/pink, black, blue, gunmetal/red, silver or gunmetal/orange.