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Bubba being Bubba meets Oakley being Oakley

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There might not be a more interesting golfer on the PGA Tour than Bubba Watson, and it’s nothing he tries to hide.

He’s the longest driver on the PGA Tour, which comes with its own level of notoriety. Now add that the five-time tour winner is left-handed, self-taught and one of the most talented ball strikers on the PGA Tour. From the middle of the fairway, he’s known to curve his shots 30 yards this way or 30 yards that way, because that’s what seems right to him.

Adding to Watson’s fame are his media feats, which include his part alongside Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler in the golfing boy band the “Golf Boys,” and his decision to trade in a traditional golf cart in favor of a hovercraft last April. 

Watson’s unique equipment needs are something out of golf folklore as well. He wields a pink driver with a pink shaft and golf grips that are more similar in size to the handle of a baseball bat than a golf club.

When Oakley signed the golfer to a contract to wear its apparel in 2013, its leadership knew that it was challenging itself with one of the most distinctive, untraditional golfers in today’s game. But by building products for him, the company knew it would be on a path to building better products for all golfers.

Bubba’s Masters Scripting

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Bright colors dominates Watson’s 2014 Masters apparel, just as the 35-year-old Bagdad, Fla., resident likes.

“He’s pretty untraditional relative to the rest of the golf community,” says Kristin Debany, Oakley’s global director of performance apparel and accessories. “He’s more vocal with his opinions and likes to stand out more. He gravitates toward the bigger, bolder prints and wants to be noticed on the course.”

Key to the bright colors that Watson sports on the course is Oakley’s printing technique called sublimation, which prints the colors and graphics on Oakley apparel when it’s still in the fiber stage. It’s a process Oakley borrowed from its production of surfing board shorts, and gives the company’s apparel a more dimensional, textural look, Debany said. 
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Of course, there are performance considerations to the process as well. In Oakley’s shirts, sublimation keeps the fabric light and breathable since it doesn’t require extra material to create patterns. And its seams are pulled forward and flatlocked to limit the friction between a golfer’s skin and clothing that is often a problem: especially for golfers like Watson, who swings his driver a PGA Tour-leading average of 124 mph.

All of the polos that Watson will wear at the 2014 Masters: The Ellis ($70), The Lyons ($75, pictured right), The Ashland ($80) and The Delta ($65) also use Oakley’s moisture-wicking “O Hydrolix” yarn and have added UV and anti-bacterial protection.

At the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Watson debuted a new piece of Oakley equipment: the company’s Carbon Pro 2.0 golf shoes. They could be the most important part of Watson’s outfit, and golfers who have seen his swing in slow motion know why. His unique swing and clubhead speed can cause both of the golfer’s feet to come off the ground as his club moves through the impact area.

Bubba Watson Oakley Carbon Pro 2.0

Above: Oakley made Watson a custom pair of Carbon Pro 2.0 shoes in green for the Waste Management Open. It also produced a University of Georgia-inspired shoe (pictured below) to wear at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, where players highlighted their alma mater with their apparel in Round 3. 

Bubba Watson Georgia shoes

Dave Ortley, Oakley’s head of worldwide footwear, said that often times its just as hard to get professional golfers to change their footwear as it is their golf clubs because of the long periods of time they spend on their feet. That’s why when Oakley landed Watson to a shoe deal for 2014, the company went to great lengths to ensure that Watson had a proper fit, starting with a 3D digital scan that measured the length, width, volume and curvature of his feet. The information was used to build Watson a custom last, or foot form, to make sure his shoes fit like a second skin.

The selling point for Watson on the Carbon Pro 2.0 shoes ($200) he wears wasn’t just a custom fit, however, but a promise that the new shoes could actually keep him better grounded during his swing. Like the retail version of the shoes, Watson’s custom-fit model sits extremely low to the ground has real carbon fiber in the midfoot, which adds stability and reduces the overall weight of the shoes. There’s also a silicon print on the surface of the footbed that better connects a golfer’s foot to his footwear.

“Everyone of these guys is unique in what they’re looking for,” Ortley said. “The beauty with Oakley is that we’re making [combat] boots, athletic shoes and sandals … so we tend to think a little broader. The inspiration, innovation and styling comes from other product categories and adds a fresh, unique perspective and inventiveness. We’re able to load that all into a golf shoe.”

Fresh, unique and inventive? Those words describe both Watson and the Oakley brand, and that’s the beauty of their partnership.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Maf

    Apr 10, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I see nothing bold about these color schemes or patterns. Is this what we consider bold now? Those are the most yawn-worthy pants, ever. And what is that blue? Goodnight-blue, or something?

  2. patty

    Apr 10, 2014 at 8:18 am

    negative nancies in the building!!!!!

  3. Cwolf

    Apr 9, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    I hope those shoes come with a free bowl of soup.

  4. trapp120

    Apr 9, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Wow, this is ridiculous. I’ve got an old homeless looking geezer staring at me on a background full page takeover and then an Oakley ad. WRX really sucks now.

  5. thefullsp

    Apr 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Trolls. #oakley 😉

  6. paul

    Apr 9, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I thought it was interesting, Zak.

  7. Ben

    Apr 9, 2014 at 11:16 am

    TIL that WRX gets kickbacks from Oakley

  8. igor

    Apr 9, 2014 at 10:39 am

    wow, nice PR article, how much did they pay you for it ?

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Equipment

What GolfWRXers are saying about the best “5-woods under $125”

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@golfexchangeapp

In our forums, our members have been discussing 5-woods, with WRXer ‘gary3aces’ looking for a 5-wood for between $100 and $125. He’s looking to replace his current “M2 5 wood with something a little easier to hit”, and our members have been discussing the best options in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • C6 Snowboarder: “Take a look at a used Callaway Heavenwood in the Epic Flash model = pretty Friggen sweet. It is Heaven!”
  • Golf64: “Bang for the buck, hard to beat Cobra, but find Ping one of the easiest to hit off the deck. Since you are limited in the funds dept., maybe an older model Ping 5W would do the trick?!”
  • tilasan1: “G400 7 wood turned down or just use it as is.”
  • jbandalo: “Fusion fairways. Highly underrated, cheap, easy to hit and go for miles.”
  • RyanBarathWRX: “PING G fairway would be hard to beat and easily in price range:
  • Nelson.br.1515: “Another vote for the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion. Great stick!”

Entire Thread: Best 5-woods under $125″

 

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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In our forums, WRXer ‘ballywho27’ has asked for thoughts on combining his current Ping i500 irons with the brand’s Blueprint irons. ‘Ballywho27’ is considering going “i500 in 3-4 iron and blueprint 5-W” and has asked for fellow member’s thoughts on the idea – who have been sharing their takes in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • jblough99: “I had a combo set for a minute, 3-5 I500 and 6-PW Blueprint. I could not get used to the transition, HUGE difference in looks at address. If I had it to do over I would just go 4-PW Blueprint and maybe a 3 I500 with graphite shaft as a driving, iron.”
  • animalgolfs: “iBlade{5i} – BP{6i-pw}. That’s my combo.”
  • Chunky: “I have i500 4-5 and Blueprints 6-PW. As mentioned above, there is a significantly different look at address. More importantly for me, the i500s are 1/2 to 1 club longer than the BPs (they fly much higher, too). Make sure you account for that added i500 distance when blending lofts or you’ll have a large gap.”
  • howeber: “I’ve done that exact set — 3 and 4 i500 and 5-PW Blueprint. It’s perfect for me since the 3 and 4 are more like a traditional 2 and 3.5. 4 is usually the longest iron I carry, so I like a little extra oomph out of it. At the end of the day though, when I finally tested them vs my MP4s, the Blueprints performed identically, while the i500 launched a little higher (same specs same shafts). Mizzys are still in the bag.”

Entire Thread: “Blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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GolfWRX Vault: Avoid these 5 club building disasters

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It’s never too late to go back to basics, especially when it comes to club building.

Even with modern new club release cycles the do’s and don’ts of building clubs haven’t changed much in the last few decades except for clubs with adapter sleeves and greater amounts of multi-materials incorporated into the design.

With that in mind its time to revisit an article from the GolfWRX Vault from June 2016.

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I’ve been fitting and building golf clubs for more than 15 years, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of really poor workmanship—stuff that would make most GolfWRXers cringe. But like anyone who ever did anything new, I didn’t start being naturally good at putting together clubs. It took a lot of time, ruined components, and trial and error to get where I am today.

I believe my attention to detail now stems from the fact that my dad was a machinist by trade, and anytime we ever worked on something together his attitude was to take your time and do it right the first time. My dad’s approach always had an impact on me, because I feel that if you do something right — even when it takes a bit longer — the job is not only more satisfying but also makes things work better and last longer.

The goal with this article is to help WRXers avoid the most common mistakes and assumptions in club building that lead to broken or ruined clubs, as well as real danger.

Over-prepping a graphite shaft

The shaft on the left has been prepped properly. The one of the right, which has noticeable taper, shows signs that layers of graphite have been removed.

This happens far more than it should, and can ruin an expensive new shaft purchase. To prepare a shaft properly for installation, you only need to remove enough of the paint to make sure that the epoxy adheres to the graphite. This is also true for the inside of the hosel.

Be careful to remove residual epoxy, dirt or rust (common with forged carbon steel club heads that have been sitting around for a while), or some type or solvent like the one used to put on grips, as it can cause of bond to break down very quickly. A proper reaming tool, a wire brush and some compressed air (either a small can or a large air compressor) can make cleaning simple, and prevent a golf club from falling apart.

UPDATE: Over prepping specifically applies to shafts that are designed to go into parallel heads and is especially important for 335 shafts with less material at the tip going into drivers and fairway woods. For information on how to properly taper a shaft to go into a tapered head, check out the video below:

Overheating a Shaft When Pulling it

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated.

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated, and the resin holding the graphite sheets together breaks down. It’s not always as noticeable, but if the shaft starts to fray it means the bonds have been compromised and it’s more likely to fail. 

Overheating a shaft when pulling it is another common mistake that can result in ruining a golf shaft. It also highly increases the chance of breakage. There are quite a few methods I’ve learned over the years to remove a shaft from a club head, from heat guns to large propane torches, but personally I find that using a small butane torch with a regulator for graphite offers the best results. It allows a club builder to easily control and focus the heat only where it’s needed. Bigger torches are fine for iron heads, as long as you don’t damage any plastic badges in the cavity or materials in slots around the head.

One of the best advances in club technology has been the invention and mass adoption of adjustable hosels. They not only help golfers adjust the loft, lie and face angle of club heads, but have also greatly decreased the need to pull shafts. So as long as a golfer is staying with the same metal wood manufacturer, they can usually test several different clubs heads with the same shaft, or vice versa — several different shafts with the same clubhead.

That being said, one of the most important tools that any hobbyist club builder should have or have access to is a high-quality shaft puller. It’s a necessary tool for anyone who wants to do repairs and helps prevent damage to a shaft while pulling it. The more linear pressure that can be applied to the clubhead, and the less heat used to break down the epoxy, the better. It makes sure both the shaft and the head are reusable in the future. For steel shafts, you can use a bit more heat, and twisting isn’t a problem. Again, with increased heat, be careful not to damage any of the badging, or permanently discolor an iron head.

Botching a Grip Installation

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

This one seems simple, but when really getting down to professional level detail, it is quite important. We ALL have a preference and different opinion of what feels good in a golf grip, as well as different sensitivities. For example, we all have the ability to figure out what apple is bigger, even if blindfolded because over time we all develop brain function to understand shapes and sizes. This also applies to grips. If you use the same grips on your 13 clubs, you could potentially have 4-5 different final sizes depending on how many different types of shafts you use, because many shafts have different butt diameters.

Some shafts have larger butt diameters, while others taper faster than others. That’s why it’s very important to own a quality set of vernier calipers, and know how to properly use them. It’s also the same for putters, since many putter shafts are smaller in diameter. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had people bring me, putters, where the bottom half of the grip is twisting and turning because the installer never paid attention to the interior diameter of the grip, the exterior diameter of the shaft, and how it changed from top to bottom.

Using epoxy that’s doomed to fail

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

I’m a bit of a physics nerd and garage engineer, so this is one of those topics that goes beyond just the physical aspects of club building and into the realm of chemistry.

Here comes my nerd-out moment: In the simplest of explanations for a 0.335-inch driver hosel with an insertion depth of 1.25 inches, the amount of calculated surface area the epoxy can bond between the shaft and the head using the internal dimensions of the head is 1.49 square inches. That’s not a whole lot of area when you consider the centrifugal force being applied to a driver head traveling at 100 mph, and then the forces of torque that also come into play when a shot is struck.

In a PERFECT world, almost zero torque is applied to a shaft when a shot is hit on the center of gravity (CG) of the club head, perfectly aligned with the center mass of the ball, while traveling in the intended direction. This is vectors 101 of physics. Unfortunately, almost every single shot is NOT hit like that, and this is where the epoxy bond is put under the most amount of stress. Lap shear strength of epoxy goes beyond me, but it proves that building a golf club is not just cut and glue after all.

Note: For those of you curious, the most popular epoxies are rated for 4500 psi. 

As far are actually working with epoxy, first things first. Always check to see if the epoxy has a best-before date (yep, just like milk). Also, never store epoxy in direct sunlight. If you are using epoxy from a tube in a dispensing gun, you are using what is an almost foolproof method. Plunge out the necessary amount, mix for about a minute (mix! don’t whip), and remember, the less air that gets into the epoxy the better. If air gets in and the epoxy cures with bubbles in it, then you end up with a club that will often “creak.”

For those using two parts in larger bottles, the best way to ensure proper ratios is to pay attention to the weight ratio rather than volume. This isn’t arts and crafts; it’s chemistry, so by using the weight to calculate the ratio you will get the right amount of each part every time, and help decrease the risk of failure down the road. If you have mixed a larger batch and plan on building quite a few clubs at a time, you really have to pay attention to the consistency and viscosity as time goes on. You don’t want to glue a club head with epoxy that has started to set.

Turning an Extension into a Shank

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

This is one of those subjects I don’t even like to talk about. I very much dislike using extensions when building clubs, especially clubs with graphite shafts. Going back to my “do-it-right-the-first-time” mentality, extensions are a Band-Aid fix to a problem that requires surgery. They also counter-balance the club, and by their very nature create a weak point because of the small wall thickness at the butt end of a shaft. The only clubs I don’t mind extending on a regular basis are putters since they are never put under the same level of stress as a club being swung at full speed. I also never extend a club more than 1 inch, because I have been witness to horror stories of clubs that have been overextended that not only break but rip through the grip and cut people’s hands very badly.

If you are going to extend a club, it’s important to make sure the fit is very snug and doesn’t cause the extension to lean in any direction. It’s also best to have the epoxied extension cure with the club on its side to avoid an excess epoxy from running down the shaft and breaking off and causing a rattle.

 

 

 

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