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The Big Review – Radius Classic 2 Putter

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Due to launch on Thursday 27th at the PGA Merchandising Show, Radius is a new putter manufacturer and is the brainchild of Graham Webb and Peter Lord, the two guys behind the design and success of VEGA throughout Europe.

After 5 years of working on the European PGA Tour, they saw many players trying to make putters work for them rather than finding a putter that fits their own stroke and decided to do something about it. From the path the putter head takes came the name and from their experience of working with some of the best players in the world came the designs – some influenced by classics such as the anser and some distinctly more modern day offerings.

The first 3 putters designed are now known as the Path Concept line and are based around the 3 most popular strokes taught today. Inside to Release (ITR), Inside to Square (ITS) and Square to Square (STS). The finished products are very similar to the prototypes that first appearance at the 2010 PGA Show in Orlando but have also been expanded to include the Classic line.

CAD designed in the UK, Radius putters have a unique crosshatching pattern on the face. To combat the dimple effect when putting, Radius looked at ways of minimising the contact area without increasing spin. In house testing showed grooves had little to no effect and in fac the crosshatching gave them the results they were looking for.

There is the standard range of combination of lengths and lies: 31-37″ length, 3.5 degrees loft, 71 degree lie and with a standard weight of 340g . Full customisation is available – all heads are available from 4 degrees flat to 4 degrees upright with any weight or length. And since they build to order, every customer gets what they want. Putters are made from either SC20 or 304 steel depending on the head shape and the sound.

Appearance

As a long-necked anser model, what’s not to like? The version that we had to test was actually an early release prototype of the Classic 2. The gorgeous clean lines produced by the CNC milling make this one very desirable club. The Classic line has a fantastic black finish (the Path Concept line are satin plated) that reeks of quality. The milling work really is excellent and the overall look is flawless. The Radius logo, concentric red/orange/yellow circles, sits small at the heel of the face (see below).

Performance

With only 1/8 toe hang, this putter is almost face balanced. This means that it works best for STS and to slight ITR strokes. The putter is very easy to line up with the white sight line showing strongly enough against the black finish to clearly indicate both your intended line and your swing path when in motion. On this long neck model the sweet spot is right in the middle of the face, lining up with the sightline.

So how does it roll? in a word beautifully. The crosshatched face feels unbelievably soft. When you hit a quality ball like a ProV1 or a Z-Star it feels like a balata coming off the face. When you hit a distance ball, you lose some of that sensation of softness but not enough to affect your distance judgement. Speaking of which, the distance control with this is top notch. The combination of the sight line and the feel makes it just as easy to drain short putts as it is to lag long ones so they cosy up to the hole. And don’t be surprised if you hole a few more of the long ones than you thought you might.

The Feeltec (reviewed a few weeks ago here on golfwrx) grip provides a great connection to the club and comes in either pistol or oversize styles. Iomic grips are offered at no extra charge.

Conclusion

For any new putter manufacturer, getting the product in the bags of Tour players signifies that what you are making is the real deal. Radius have already had some prototypes out on Tour and plan to off a full tour service in 2011, extending that out to include the US PGA and the Asian Tour. Radius say that they are only looking to release putters when they have something that is an improvement on their current range. The Classic range is unlikely to change but the Path Concept range is likely to see additions like a high MOI putter.

The Classic 2 is a gorgeous putter that performs as well as it looks but ultimately it’s how well the putter suits the golfer that makes the difference. Given the spectacular looks and performance along with the full customisation on offer, that doesn’t seem to be a worry. Radius products look like a great addition to the putter line up and we can’t wait to see what else they have to offer.

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Talking New Level Golf with founder Eric Burch

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“If you want to make a small fortune, start with a big fortune”

It’s a phrase I’ve heard many times before, not just with the golf industry but in other industries that are, let’s call them — leisure or sports-focused. It’s an uphill climb to enter any market, but golf might be on another level. There are the big players that are worth BILLIONS, and spend millions of dollars in research and development, along with equal amounts marketing, to make sure that every golfer is aware of their new club technologies. They also have well-oiled systems of distribution.

But in this new world of brand-agnostic fitting centers, boutique brands, social media, and the ability to reach your target demographic like never before there are a LOT of new companies creating high performance, high quality, well-engineered products. But when it comes to forged irons for golfers of all abilities, industry veteran Eric Burch’s New Level Golf stands on its own.

If you don’t know Eric Burch, and you’ve gone through a custom fitting recently, then you are at least partially aware of some of the breakthroughs he’s helped create in the golf industry, including the Club Conex system. His newest endeavor New Level Golf was only started in 2017, but in that short time, it has made some very big strides including distribution in over 150 brand agnostic club fitting facilities and now some professional golfers signed to the roster (including PGA Tour winner Ken Duke).

So how do you go from designing club fitting components to designing forged irons and starting a company that has products on the Golf Digest Hot List? I got the chance to talk to Eric about New Level Golf, his background and how after his years in the golf industry he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

RB: Based on your history in the golf industry you seem to be a real problem solver with a “Be your own boss” mentality, is that how you would describe your self?

EB: I’ve been in business for myself since my early 20s. Other than a few short stints for other golf companies, I have primarily been my own boss involved with golf. I would consider myself a problem solver. Not necessarily by design, but mainly due to starting companies that have always been undercapitalized which forces your hand to learn a variety of tasks to help the business move forward.
Although I’ve received notoriety as a club fitter/retailer, Club Conex, and now New Level. I’ve been fortunate to have won the professional Clubmaker’s Top Shop Award (2004), Golf Digest Top 100 Club Fitters (2016),  & have products I’ve designed be on the Golf Digest Hot List (2019).

RB: What was the first product & club head you ever designed, and how does the workflow go now with New Level?

EB: The first golf products were, of course, the Club Conex prototypes and those were generated from hand-rendered sketches. I still believe, given what I did with Club Conex and the universal system I designed, I hardly get the credit I deserve. I bought a milling machine without really knowing how to use it and over the course of 6-7 months taught myself how to use it and started creating prototypes. Those prototypes eventually became the Uni-Fit system.

The first clubs I ever designed were putters dating back to the mid 2000s, but in terms of New Level, I know what I am trying to accomplish in design as well as fitting into player categories that comes from my years working at my own shop and fitting golfers from professionals to higher handicaps. Since product is made overseas, the engineers I work with at our factory have done a very good job of helping bring my concepts and designs to fruition. I really enjoy doing the designs and creating something that will one day be in someone’s golf bag.  The only current issue with the success we’re seeing now is if the company continues to push forward we will at some point be forced to bring on an industrial design engineer to further help with product development, but that would be in 2021 as most of our products for next year are in development, or have already been developed.

RB: On that note, how long from having an initial concept to that first set of irons or at least a prototype head in hand?

EB: This is heavily dependant on the complexity of the design. The 4995 HB took almost 9 months to get it where we wanted, whereas the 902 took just about four months. Typically we can get a first article sample of a playable sample in less than 60 days.

RB: When you consider the logistics and tooling involved, that’s quite an impressive turnaround time. From a design perspective, what do you think is the most misunderstood part of creating an iron head and the manufacturing process that you face?

EB: This is a hot topic with me since most people just don’t understand the depth of the manufacturing process. A lot of people think of the term open model (a factory’s in house design produced to create a starting point for some companies), they think we are just stamping our name on a head that is already been refined and finished by someone else which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Like with many aspects of club designs some of the tooling we use are openly available, but for example the raw forged blank head is on average 407 grams on a 6 iron that needs to be designed into a profile that weighs just 262 grams. So as you can imagine a club head overweight by more that 35 percent, it’s far from being a finished product. We call all the shots when it comes to every pertinent parameter and specifications of our design. The only thing incorporated into using this process and something we can’t change is the offset of the club. All other facets of the design are facilitated by my directive and incorporated into the final design.

I chose this method of manufacturing for New Level because it allows a far more flexible range of experimentation before a final design is consummated and brought to market. As a new company starting out it would have been near impossible to use a process similar to other OEMs that create a final tool for each and every design solely based on scale. We had several designs that were not used because they didn’t make the cut when it comes to performance and if we had gone the other route we would have had hundreds of thousands of dollars in tooling alone from products that never saw the light of day.

This process is called the “near net” process, and I find it to be much more in tune with today’s industry. I will take it one step further by saying regardless how good one may be at hand grinding and polishing, a human will never be as consistent and effective as a CNC machine. This entire process allows us to keep our costs reasonable and offer a…uniquely designed, full one-piece forged club for a fair price. There are a lot of other companies using this process you’d just never suspect it.

RB: As a club builder and fitter myself, I have encountered my fair share of misconceptions from golfers, what do YOU feel is the number one thing golfer misunderstand from a design perspective of their clubs?

EB: I can only speak from my experiences, but most golfers are scared of the word “forged” as it has been far too long associated with blades and hard to hit designs. I believe the average weekend warrior still views forged as a design methodology as opposed to a manufacturing process. That is a major objective for New Level to prove that forged clubs can be forgiving, can produce great ball speed, & can be used by your average mid handicap player. Our 1126, for example, is longer from heel to toe, has a shallow profile, and deep undercut – lots of forgiveness for any level of player. From a fitting perspective, I’d say that over 80 percent of players are using shafts that are too heavy, and too stiff for them.

RB:  We’ve talked a lot about the product, and now I need to know – How many retail outlets currently carry your irons and wedges. And lastly, what advantage do you believe New Level irons and wedges have over the competition?

EB: New Level products can be found at roughly 150 locations worldwide and growing almost weekly. If I had my way, we’d never sell another club off the website since I truly believe getting fit by a professional is the best way to get the right set, but saying that as the brand is growing and during the infancy stages, I am trying to get as much product in the field of play as possible to spread brand awareness. We get positive feedback on a daily basis. We have an extensive questionnaire on our site to help those that are not close to one of our retailers, and we also have a lot of people that see our clubs, like what they see and order to their known specs.

As far as our advantages go, I believe it’s pretty simple — being small allows us to pay more attention to each and every client and ensure they are getting the attention that they deserve. The mentality is always to be big enough to make money, yet no matter how we grow, act small and care about every single customer. Currently, we have the care part down very well. My belief is with any business I’ve ever been involved with is that if you do the right thing and stay focused eventually the money will take care of itself. It’s funny because I experience many of the same challenges with New Level as I did with Club Conex early on. Although I am mixed in with a ton of larger players in the golf industry, with New Level I am starting to see our awareness with golfers grow. I hope that this growth continues and we still maintain a great rapport with our customer base.

If you are interested in New Level products check out their website, or call and check with your local club fitter for availability.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “New irons from Mizuno”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day showcases new irons that are on the way from Mizuno. Reportedly two years away from being released, but that hasn’t stopped our members from discussing and speculating on the new irons from the Japanese manufacturers.

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.

  • halfsumo: “I told myself no new irons until the new MP line comes out. Chris Voshall on TXG’s youtube said something along the lines that the new irons are “not what you’d typically expect from Mizuno”….”
  • deep18: “The one on the left in the bottom pic kinda looks like a 919 Tour.”
  • BlackM00Nlight: “Bottom picture, iron on the right appears to have a beveled leading edge, CB design, and chrome finish.”

Entire Thread: “New irons from Mizuno”

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Callaway ERC Soft Yellow now part of “Play Yellow” campaign to benefit Children’s Miracle Hospital

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Callaway Golf has today announced its ERC Soft Yellow golf ball is part of a new program: Play Yellow.

The Play Yellow campaign is an initiative from Callaway where the company will donate $4 for every dozen ball pack sold of their ERC Soft Yellow golf balls in support of Children’s Miracle Hospital Network (from today until the end of May).

The campaign runs from April 19 to May 31, and speaking on the initiative Callaway President & CEO, Chip Brewer stated

“Callaway Golf is honored to support the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals — an outstanding organization — through this Play Yellow initiative. We’re inspired by the golf industry’s broad effort to rally around this important cause and campaign.”

As a recap, the ERC golf ball from Callaway features their Hybrid cover which is designed to create a combination of faster ball speeds for longer distance, softer feel, and higher spin for excellent control around the green. The ball contains a Graphene-infused Dual SoftFast Core which through a larger inner core seeks to maximize compression energy while minimizing driver-spin for high launch and greater distance. The balls also include Triple Track lines for improved alignment.

 

 

 

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