GolfWRX Member Pure745 has become one of the most trusted names in our forum when it comes to club testing. Each year, he purchases the latest driver heads and shafts and compiles a “shootout” of the numbers to gauge what shaft/head combos are performing best for him, and what he’ll play that year.
Enjoy his 2014 shootout of the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha, Fourteen GelongD, Nike Covert 2.0 Tour, Ping i25, TaylorMade SLDR 430 (Tour Head) and TaylorMade SLDR 460 (Tour Head).
Note: This story has been edited from its original form in the forums by GolfWRX’s Staff for front-page publication.
I thought I would post another one of these threads to give fellow WRX’ers some insight into some of the club testing experiments I have been doing. I have been posting pictures, information and feedback across a few different threads and thought it would be easier to have a centralized place to put some of the information. I have done similar threads over the years. Last year’s can be found here: http://www.golfwrx.com/forums/topic/804831-pure745s-2013-shootout-the-oven-setup-added-613.
Previously, I have done these threads to provided unbiased feedback since all of the testing is done on my own dime to give some opinions that were not influenced by GolfWRX trip and giveaways. Last year was a big golf year for me for a few reasons. One reason was that I was lucky enough to be chosen for the GolfWRX Nike Oven trip, and the other would be that I joined a country club and have played the most golf I have played since I played competitively as a junior. That said, my experience at The Oven and playing as much competitive/tournament golf this year as I have in many years, my game has improved and my taste in equipment has changed (slightly).
My index has gotten to a low of +2 this year, and my two low tournament scores are 67 and 69. That said, I still have a full time job, and golf is still 100 percent a hobby and for pure enjoyment. I can still put up a round in the 80’s. I do enjoy playing tournaments and interclub matches, but I have also been working on my game and my swing more than usual.
This year has had a lot of exciting new clubs to test. As you might remember, Titleist’s 913 D3 driver won my shootout last year for the best overall combination of length and accuracy. This was the driver I took The Oven, and it definitely held its own against the Covert Tour, which didn’t last more than one month (12 rounds) in my bag. The Titleist 913 D3 with Fujikura’s Motore Speeder Tour Spec 7.2X shaft was very solid. But I started tinkering this year because I wanted to see if I could find a driver with more distance that I could hit just as straight. Right now, my index is floating between +1 and scratch. I have been playing a decent amount of competitive matches and tournaments, so I feel my index pretty accurate. My home course has a lot of OB and is fairly long, so being accurate off the tee is very important to me; but when I hit one good, I definitely want to be rewarded with the distance.
I have always been a huge advocate of taking setups outdoors and on the golf course, and have always put huge value into seeing the actual ball flight over hitting balls into a net and getting numbers. This year’s shootout has definitely shown me the importance of this methodology if you have the resources available to you. I have been able to hit all setups extensively on the golf course except for the Ping i25 and Big Bertha Alpha, but through this year’s process of going to three different locations and taking more than 80 swings at each within four days gave me a great idea of how these clubs perform outdoors and indoors.
The locations and notes about each experience
Finding a location to provide reliable and accurate data for this was shootout was the hardest and most time consuming part. I will list the different methods I tried so that you can use the information as a “what to do” or “what not to do” when comparing your own setups.
Location No. 1 — TaylorMade Performance Lab: I picked this one because it is a nice facility, uses a FlightScope and is close to my house. Apparently, right before I went in for my scheduled 2.5 hours there, there was a malfunction with the ball washer that literally gashed every ball. Aside from the gashed balls, the location is in the midst of switching from the TaylorMade practice balls to its new Tour Preferred X practice balls to do their fittings. So needless to say, the balls were a huge issue and hitting gashed balls into a steady 15 mph wind was less than ideal.
Location No. 2 — Indoors at a New Superstore: Since it was so windy the day before and the balls were an issue, I thought I would make an exception and go indoors and use a TaylorMade Lethal for all clubs so that wind and balls were not an issue. The problem was that the launch monitors used cameras and they were not catching accurate spin numbers. The other numbers seem pretty close, but spin was WAY off. Every setup was averaging more than 3000 rpm of spin. Also, I had swing speeds up in the 130+ range, which is in the very upper range of my swing speed. The problem with indoor ranges is that I was in gym clothes swinging as hard as I could because I was just hitting into a net. This felt more like a cardio workout than a shootout. Needless to say, the swings did not feel like my normal on-course swing. When I looked at the numbers and saw they were bad, I did not want to continue.
Location No. 3 — Cool Clubs (Irvine): An outdoor Trackman, adequate range balls (brand new) specifically setup for this type of testing. The final location came highly recommended to me by a few people, and a few that knew what I was trying to do and saw my frustration and exhaustion in this process. I finally ended up working with Josiah at Cool Clubs in Irvine, Calif. This location is farther from my house, but my sources were right. This place was beyond top notch. They understood what I was doing and provided very professional help during the process. All balls were hit outdoors and off grass. I was wearing actual golf clothes and the golf shoes I would normally wear. This third session was also my best grouping of swings. My swing speed was in the 115-to-119 mph range the entire time. That’s my on-course swing; I was not trying to kill the ball or overswing to get “long drive” numbers. I was trying to hit the ball straight and solid.
TaylorMade SLDR 460 Tour Head (10.5 degrees)
- Adjustable hosel set to lower, or -1.5 degrees.
- Shafts tested: Aldila Rogue 70 (TX-Flex), Fujikura Speeder 661X, Graphite Design Tour AD BB-6X
TaylorMade SLDR 430 Tour Head (10.5 degrees)
- Adjustable hosel set to lower, or -1.5 degrees.
- Shafts tested: Aldila Rogue 70 (TX-Flex), Fujikura Speeder 661 (X-Flex), Graphite Design Tour AD BB-6X
Callaway Big Bertha Alpha (9 degrees)
- Set to 9 degrees with neutral lie angle
- Shafts tested: Graphite Design Tour AD BB-6X
Ping i25 (8.5 degrees)
- Set to 8.5 degrees
- Shafts tested: Graphite Design Tour AD BB-6X
Nike Covert 2.0 Tour (8.5 degrees)
- Shafts tested: Fujikura Speeder 661 (X-Flex)
Fourteen GelongD CT214 (8 degrees)
- Shafts Tested: Fujikura Motore Speeder Tour Spec 7.2X
Above: Tour-only TaylorMade 460 and 430 toe screws that are used to adjust swing weight.
Above: The head and shaft options at Cool Clubs in Irvine, Calif.
Above: The setup inside a Cool Clubs Trackman bay.
Above: Everyone’s favorite orange box.
Above: The brand new Nike Practice balls I hit at Cool Clubs.
This is about as transparent and detailed of any shootout I have done. The conditions were nice, but it had just rained the previous night and there was a swirling wind. I would say it only affected the numbers of two clubs: the Big Bertha Alpha and Covert 2.0 Tour, which got the benefit of a little downwind breeze that the other drivers did not have. I didn’t adjust the numbers, but just thought it needed to be mentioned. Also, for the SLDR 430 setup with the Fujikura Speeder 661 shaft, Trackman doubled the spin number due to a shadow, so the spin average was off and I have recalculated it to be 2576 rpm.
As I mentioned before, all of these swings were smooth swings, similar to what I would use on the course with an emphasis on hitting the ball solid and straight versus swinging 100 percent to get max long drive numbers. With each setup, I hit about 5-to-6 balls to get a good solid sampling of three shots to get a realistic averages. Sometimes it only took three swings to get this average, sometimes it took five or six. The data reflects the averages of three “good shots” with each setup.
- TaylorMade SLDR 460 Tour Head (Aldila Rogue): 314.5 yards
- Callaway Big Bertha Alpha (GD Tour AD BB-6X): 314 yards
- TaylorMade SLDR 460 Tour Head (Fuji Speeder 661): 308.5 yards
- TaylorMade SLDR 460 Tour Head (GD Tour AD BB-6X): 304.9 yards
- Nike Covert 2.0 Tour (Speeder 661): 304.4 yards
- TaylorMade SLDR 430 Tour Head (Aldila Rogue): 301.1 yards
- TaylorMade SLDR 430 Tour Head (Speeder 661): 299.5 yards
- Ping i25 (GD Tour AD BB-6X): 297.5 yards
- Fourteen GelongD (Fuji Motore Speeder Tour Spec 7.2): 297 yards
- TaylorMade SLDR 430 Tour Head (GD Tour AD BB-6X): 288.9 yards
Trackman Ball Speed
- TaylorMade SLDR 460 Tour Head (Aldila Rogue): 175.6 mph
- Callaway Big Bertha Alpha (GD Tour AD BB-6X): 175.1 mph
- TaylorMade SLDR 430 Tour Head (Aldila Rogue): 174.9 mph
- TaylorMade SLDR 460 Tour Head (Fuji Speeder 661): 174.7 mph
- TaylorMade SLDR 430 Tour Head (Speeder 661): 174.5 mph
- Ping i25 (GD Tour AD BB-6X): 174.2 mph
- Fourteen GelongD (Fuji Motore Speeder Tour Spec 7.2): 173.9 mph
- TaylorMade SLDR 430 Tour Head (GD Tour AD BB-6X): 173 mph
- Nike Covert 2.0 Tour (Speeder 661): 172.1 mph
- TaylorMade SLDR 460 Tour Head (GD Tour AD BB-6X): 170.6 mph
The Winner: TaylorMade 460 with Aldila Rogue shaft
Final thoughts and comments
- TaylorMade SLDR 460/430: For me, the SLDR 460 head is hands down better than the SLDR 430. Smash factor plays a huge part in these comparisons, and some heads you can just hit better more consistently. The SLDR 460 is definitely the head for me; it’s not even close. I do LOVE the way the SLDR 430 looks, but looks only go so far. The SLDR 460 with Aldila’s Rogue and the SLDR 460 with Fujikura’s Speeder 661 were really, really good and VERY straight.
- Callaway Big Bertha Alpha: This club is legit. I can tell by the way the balls come off this club that the Alpha was no joke with the Graphite Design Tour AD BB-6X shaft. The club looks good at address and sounds nice. This review is more about performance, but the fit and finish of the Callaway leaves something to be desired in my opinion. This club was also very accurate and long. I would say it was the third most accurate behind the SLDR 460 with Aldila’s Rogue and the SLDR 460 with Fujikura’s Speeder 661.
- Ping i25: This was a very nice club with a very loud at impact, and it looks pretty good at address. The racing stripes are kind of silly, but I adjusted to them easily (unlike the red crown on Nike’s Covert drivers). It was a very solid performer overall. Ping fans definitely can dial this thing in to be very long.
- Nike Covert 2.0 Tour: The numbers and the slight tail wind definitely made this club look a lot better than it was. The Covert 2.0 Tour was one of the worst performing clubs in this shootout. It had one of the lowest ball speed outputs and highest spin rates. I saw this across all three sessions. The third and final session on Trackman was the best I hit it, and it still wasn’t that great. I’m thinking that the Covert 2.0 Performance model will be better for me than the Tour model, but at this point I’m not sure I want to throw another $500 at an experiment. The red crown still looks terrible to me and with the head being so heavy, I think has a huge effect on the shafts causing the toe to droop at impact and make it very fade biased. I did hit a few that were absolutely killed, but overall this driver was not as consistent as the SLDR, i25, or Big Bertha Alpha.
- Fourteen GelongD: Not many people will ever see this one in person, but it is one of the best looking heads I tried. It has a simple, all-black pear-shaped head with some tech in the face. I think this driver was one that actually did better than the numbers reflected (the opposite of the Covert 2.0 Tour). It offers very low launch and low spin, and is fairly consistent consistent across the face. It wasn’t as accurate as the Big Bertha Alpha and SLDR: maybe one notch below that. If you are looking for a fade-biased and really low/low setup, this one is worth a shot.
Forum Thread of the Day: “Scotty Cameron Albertsons Boise Open putter covers”
Today’s Forum Thread of the Day showcases Scotty Cameron’s Albertsons Boise Open putter covers. The vibrant french fries themed covers have been receiving plenty of love from our members in our forums, with one WRXer calling the new additions their “favorite headcover in a long time.”
Here are a few posts from the thread but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say on the covers at the link below.
- jschwarb: “Gave up french fries many months ago … this cover makes me happy and sad. I’ll probably grab one for my T22 Fastback.”
- manVSgolf: “This is my favorite headcover in a long time. Can’t wait to receive mine. Orders are still available for Club Cameron members.”
- chrisokeefe12: “Those are so sick would love to get my hands on one of those.”
Forum Thread of the Day: “TaylorMade Albertsons Boise Open putter covers”
Today’s Forum Thread of the Day showcases TaylorMade’s Albertsons Boise Open putter covers. The covers have impressed our members, who are hoping that the new additions will now come to retail.
Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire thread and have your say on the covers at the link below.
- Green In Reg: “Name your price TM!”
- chrisokeefe12: “Those are super cool. Would be sweet if they did one for every major college.”
- Titletown: “Those are great.”
Forum Thread of the Day: “Why Adam Scott believes driving is no longer a skill on tour”
Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from KrazyTrain18 who created a discussion dedicated to Adam Scott’s comments that the art of driving will disappear unless officials build “smarter golf courses.”
Scott was speaking to the AAP following his third round at the BMW Championship where he stated
“They haven’t figured out yet that long means nothing to us; you can’t build it long enough. I’m not (surprised to see low scores at Medinah); if a golf course is soft we are just going to tear it apart. I’m not challenging (PGA Tour officials and course designers) to build longer golf courses; I’m challenging them to build smarter golf courses. If you require us to shape tee shots to get it in play we’re going to struggle.
“(Now) we just play straight, everything is straight. While there is an option to go over trees and over bunkers, it is just relentless. The driver is the most forgiving club in the bag now; it’s just swing as hard as you can and get it down there far. It’s not a skilful part of the game anymore and it’s really unfair for some guys who are great drivers of the golf ball. I don’t think their talents are showing up as much as they should.”
Here are what some our members have been saying in our forum concerning Scott’s comments, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.
- JaNelson38: “Been saying it here for a long time – shorter courses with more angles and hazards to make landing areas less accessible and poor shots penalized.”
- imakaveli: “Thanks Adam Scott for telling the truth they don’t want to accept. Apart for some rare exceptions course we see every week are dull and lead to boring tournaments.”
- dlygrisse: “Roll back COR. Huge mistake by USGA, the long hitters picked up 50 yards, the short hitter maybe 1/2 that. Make the ball spin more off the driver. If the ball spun off the driver like it did with balata it would reduce the high flat bombs and make them work the ball and reduce carry and rollout. You used to have to make a decision with the ball. Do I pick a ball with spin, or distance? Now you get both. Playing a soft cover ball should add 1000 rpms to the driver.”
- el_b00t: “Rollback drivers, everyone plays the same ball, and let the rough grow in certain areas to penalize the long hitters that are off-target. I believe they touched on this in the Trap Draw podcast ‘commissioner for a day’.”
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