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Equipment: Predictions for 2013

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By Zak Kozuchowski

GolfWRX Managing Editor

Winston Churchill called golf “a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into a even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.”

With that outlook, it’s no wonder that Churchill eventually abandoned the game. But had Churchill been born into the current era of golf, where golf balls last until they’re lost and putters swing themselves, he may not have stopped playing so quickly. That brings to mind another of Churchill’s quotes:

“To improve is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed a lot.”

Golf equipment has improved tremendously in the last two decades, making it almost unimaginable that golfers could have played their best using equipment like balata balls and 180cc drivers. But even those products were revolutionary in their day. While seasoned golfers sometimes wonder how much better golf equipment can get, new materials and breakthroughs in technology have shown that perfection is still likely a long way off.

There were a handful of products from 2012 that sent shockwaves through the golf industry, equipment that made the game easier, more stylish and more fun. And since it’s that time of year again, when the rumors of next year’s gear are heating up, we created a list of predictions for each major equipment category for 2103.

No one can be sure if 2013 will be a year characterized by small improvements, or if the refinements of last few years will pave the way for something revolutionary. But based on some of the winners from 2012, we can project what we’re going to see next year (or at least what we hope to see).

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release” forum.

 

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release” forum.

Drivers

No other piece of golf equipment brings more excitement to golf’s landscape than a groundbreaking driver design. But USGA limits on clubhead size and clubface rebound mean game-changing technologies are going to be harder to come by. Golf equipment companies have spent a substantial amount of money on driver R&D as well, which means drivers are likely at the top of the performance pyramid until the next breakthrough.

In 2004, TaylorMade became the first company to release an adjustable driver, the r7, which had four moveable weight ports. Recently, we’ve seen TaylorMade and other companies add even more adjustability to their releases, such as adjustable hosels and adjustable sole plates.

Other major OEMs, including TaylorMade, Callaway, Cobra, Nike, PING and Titleist currently have at least one adjustable driver in their product line, proving that driver adjustability is here to stay. Companies like TaylorMade and Cobra have also had success getting their staff players to use drivers that are untraditional colors, such as white and orange, which has translated into retail success.

Prediction: The advancement of driver adjustability means that one day we won’t need to buy drivers in different lofts — golfers will be able to adjust them to a wide range of lofts, face positions and center of gravity (COG) profiles. This will save manufacturers money and cut down on the amount of heads retailers need to carry. It will make consumer buying simpler as well. Look for major steps to be made toward a “uni-driver” in 2013.

Also, expect manufactures to continue to experiment with bold colors and/or custom color options. In the not too distant future, golfers will look back and wonder why they once preferred drivers with glossy black finishes.

 

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release” forum.

Fairway woods/hybrids

Before this year, there was a good chance that the oldest club in a tour pro’s bag outside of a wedge or a putter was a fairway wood. But that changed for many top players in 2012 with the introduction of high-coefficient-of-restitution (COR) fairway woods that were long, forgiving and pleasing to the eye. The Adams XTD Super Fairway Wood and TaylorMade’s RocketBallz were the most talked about clubs in the fairway woods category since the release of the modern game’s most successful fairway woods, the Adams Tight Lies and the Orlimar TriMetal that debuted more than a decade ago.

The Rocketballz and XTD Super Fairway Woods use slot technology to give the clubs a rebound effect similar to the most cutting edge drivers. The Super Fairways, which have a titanium body, have a slot on the crown and on the sole to achieve high ball speeds and more forgiveness. The Rocketballz fairway woods, which have a steel body, have an extremely wide slot on the sole.

Prediction: The success of slot technology means fairway woods are no longer going to receive simple hand-me-down technology from drivers. Going forward, look for fairway woods to be treated as a separate entity similar to the way hybrids have been uniquely engineered for years. But there’s a problem — what happens when fairway woods and hybrids simply go too far? Look for manufacturers to find a way to use slot technology or something similar to make the most forgiving fairway woods we’ve ever seen. They will be high-launching, low-spin canons.

 

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release” forum.

Irons

When Titleist released its AP2 iron in 2008, the company set the standard of what a large-faced forged iron should look like. By using exotic materials such as tungsten that increase the movement of inertia (MOI) in irons, designers were able to move even more weight toward the perimeter of the irons. This allowed them to squeeze even more length and forgiveness out of forgings and still maintain a profile that appeared to serious players. That’s why for all but the best players in the world, blades are dead and are not coming back.

Game-improvement iron designs have improved as well, bringing golfers “hybrid irons,” as well as a variety of options that are not only longer, straighter and more forgiving, but won’t be called shovels by their playing partners.

Prediction: Cobra scored a slam dunk with its AMP Forged iron, an AP2-esque design with an orange color scheme. Expect iron aesthetics to go the way of drivers — the back cavities of irons will become the canvas for OEMs to showcase the energy of their brand. And it’s not hard to imagine an iron that will provide golfers the ability to change the aesthetics in the back cavity of their irons through adjustable parts.

 

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release” forum.

Wedges

Many consumers buy a new wedge for only one reason: to get more spin. But 2012 proved that wedges purchases are no longer just about what wedge has the sharpest grooves. TaylorMade’s ATV wedge was designed to perform well from most lies for most golfers, and the majority of GolfWRXers that had the opportunity to review the ATV agreed.

Customization options of wedges also increased increased in 2012. Growth in custom wedge design can be sourced to Scratch Golf, which was founded in 2003 and was one of the first companies to provide golfers with the access to custom grinds that professional golfer enjoy. Now almost every major company provides the custom grind options, finishes, stampings and paint fill options that Scratch pioneered.

Predictions: One-size-fits-all wedges may not appeal to every golfer, but a simpler approach to wedge fitting and a focused effort on wedge-fitting education will certainly benefit the majority of golfers. Expect versatile sole grinds become the norm, not the exception, and for custom options to continue to become more popular.

 

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release” forum.

Belly/Long Putters

Whether you love them or hate them, every golfer will admit that 2012 was the year of the belly putter. Golfers should expect the popularity of belly and long putters to continue in 2013, but it’s not a certainly. The success of tour players that have used anchored putting styles have led to a decision by golf’s major ruling bodies to evaluate the legality of the putters, and many experts believe that the USGA has already drafted language that will outlaw them.

Prediction: The uncertainly looming over belly and long putters has likely effected production of 2013 belly putters, meaning golfers won’t see much of a change in next year’s line even if the putters are not banned.

 

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release” forum.

Short Putters

There’s been a (golf) war taking place in short putter design for years — those who like putters with inserts and those who don’t. Inserts are a great way to save weight in putter designs, making putters more forgiving, more stable and in many cases providing golfers with a softer feel. But many prominent putter designers believe that the use of synthetics in putter faces can cause durability issues, especially in extreme weather.

Whether you’re a fan of inserts or not, a new technology has taken hold of putter design in recent years: groove technology. Some putter designs are “groovier” than others, as some have actual grooves in the putter face while other designers prefer high-friction milled faces. These manufacturing techniques are said to get the ball rolling off the putter face as soon as possible.

The problem with putter face technology is that there’s no consensus in the industry about what works best. Tiger Woods uses a putter with grooves, but Rory McIlroy doesn’t. But Luke Donald uses an insert putter, which means the top 3 players in the world can’t even agree on what works best.

Predictions: With the exception of a few brands, putter makers have stuck to a standard color palate of black, gray and brown. Nike’s Core Concept putter debuted in 2012 in an aggressive red-and-black color scheme. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more brands experiment with brighter colors in their putter lines. Also, the acceptance of larger putter grips means that grips like SuperStroke’s Fatso and Slim will come stock with new releases. These grips, as well as standard putter grips, will be made in colors that will accent the untraditionally colored putter shafts and putter heads that are sure to come.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release” forum.

Love the predictions? Hate them? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. bushnell tour v3

    Dec 16, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Fantastic web site. A lot of useful information
    here. I am sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in
    delicious. And naturally, thank you in your sweat!

  2. Nadine

    Jul 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    It’s very easy to find out any topic on web as compared to textbooks, as I found this post at this web site.

    Stop by my webpage; jewellery valuers (Nadine)

  3. Daris

    Feb 20, 2013 at 12:05 am

    A nice article, but as always, another statement that blades are a dying breed. LOL! More Pros on tour play blades than folks will admit. Plus his comment on blades are never coming back is definitely not the brightest statement. The big OEM’s are ALWAYS going to offer blades! Not everyone likes the look of a game improvement mallet, regardless of their handicap. There are a lot of us out there, who absolutely hate thick top-lines, bulging backs and wide soles. If you have a decent swing and feel that you can hit a blade, ho ahead and hit it! Get fitted first of course. ;p

  4. Herve

    Jan 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Decent article content. I see some potential in the predictions. Cant take it seriously because of the typo’s and grammar issues. Wasn’t sure if it was written by an adult or some middle school blogger. Sad…

  5. Darryn

    Oct 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Pretty sure you will find that when the R & A measure a driver for volume they do cover up any holes in the head… And a speed slot in a driver that is already at .830 COR would push it over the speed limit….. Just saying!

  6. Kyle

    Oct 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

    @ Rod. there are already slots on drivers. but the size getting larger because of it now thats a goos prediction! o ya the nike vr pro has a slot in it. I know cuz thats the driver i play with.

  7. Pingback: GolfWRX.com – Equipment: Predictions for 2013 | Discount Golf Gear

  8. Willy

    Sep 22, 2012 at 2:59 am

    The issue with the slot technology is that it is used in steel clubs. Titanium drivers require a different approach. A challenge which will be solved but I think Expensive!

  9. Rod

    Sep 19, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    As I understand it, the 460cc size on drivers is measured by water displacement. The slot that has been showing up on fairway woods would allow a bigger head size with out exceeding 460cc. I predict we will see slots on driver heads and continued evolution on weight disbursement and size.

  10. Adam

    Sep 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    The only thing that’s guaranteed is the Tim Finchem is ruining the game.

  11. Patti

    Sep 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Great article Zak, love all your stuff

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Whats in the Bag

Austin Cook’s Winning WITB: The 2017 RSM Classic

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Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 661 Evolution TX-Flex

3 Wood: Ping G400 Stretch (13 Degrees)
Shaft: Fujifuke Motore Speeder VC 7.2 TX-Flex

Hybrid: Ping G400 3 Hybrid (19 Degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Altus Tour H8 91X

Hybrid: Ping G400 4 Hybrid (22 Degrees)
Shaft: Matrix Ozik Altus Tour H8 91 X

Irons: Ping S55 Orange Dot (5-PW)
Shafts: KBS Tour S-Flex

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 SS (50-12, 56-12), Ping Glide 2.0 WS (60)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Tour Issue

Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne 
Grip: SuperStroke Mid-Slim 2.0

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

5095fce33e880406a172796becbc64f8 6900daf1b0d2a2751ffa5557ac3865f7 2340677acd0b3c6d0f53ae8fa46c2024 80f602716821fd9518f148951913c9c0 4df372aac347ad61f031f519a1fd1edb 48039d9dfced6272ba047b51e6265d03 6fecf1d551cb1559587f1f17392ba7c8 0519679f5fdaaae2ffbaf2d97c0def72 5445ea5d9987cddfda04efba5d2f1efd

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Whats in the Bag

Jon Rahm’s Winning WITB: 2017 DP World Tour Championship

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Driver: TaylorMade M2 2017 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Green 75X

3 Wood: TaylorMade M1 2017 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Tour Green 75TX

5 Wood: TaylorMade M1 2017 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8X

Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52 and 56 degrees), TaylorMade “Hi-Toe” (60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Golf Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Equipment

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about Mizuno’s new ST-180 driver

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Mizuno has recently released a new ST-180 driver that we spotted on Tour at the 2017 RSM Classic. The company’s “wave sole” technology makes an appearance for the first time in a Mizuno driver; the design is used to push weight low and forward to reduce spin rates, and the construction contracts and expands during impact to increase energy into the golf ball. The result is a lower-spinning driver, especially for those who hit down on the golf ball, and increased ball speeds across the face.

The ST-180 drivers have a new Forged SP700 Titanium face insert that allows the faces to be made thinner — saving weight from the face while increasing ball speeds — and they feature what the company calls a “Internal Waffle Crown” that saves weight to help shift CG (center of gravity) low and forward in the head.

There’s a slew of custom shafts available for no upcharge. The stock grip is Golf Pride’s M31 360, and the drivers are selling for $399.99, available in stores now.

Below is a collection of early feedback from GolfWRX members, and make sure to join the full discussion. See more photos of the ST-180 driver here.

Note: The posts below have been minimally edited for grammar and brevity.

GolfWRX Members comment on the new Mizuno ST-180 driver

TeeGolf: I’ve seen the ST180 driver [in person] and it looks like it sits perfectly square to me. And this is coming from someone who has been playing a Titleist driver set 1-degree open for the past 3 years. It doesn’t look closed at all. 

trhode: I’ve been playing the M2 all year. In comparison at address, the ST is very closed. I had 3 customers look at it yesterday too and they all had the same reaction: closed. That being said, I did play 18 on the simulator and hit some monster drives. The head, with the Raijin shaft, seems to be just a little lower spin than my TaylorMade M2. The blue finish doesn’t bother me either. 

akjell: Hit this yesterday at the Mizuno demo day yesterday at Eagle Ridge in Gilroy, CA. Far from a hook machine but definitely a bomber. The Mizuno’s reps put me in a Mitsubishi Tensei White 70X and I could hit this this driver on a string possibly a bit better than my M1. Of the Mizuno drivers of late, this has to be the best one.

odshot68: Ordering it today. Was fit and played a round with it. Optimal launch and spin. Tensei Blue 70x at 9.5 degrees. This is definitely not left bias; first Mizzy driver ever.

nmorton: Hit this today and it’s going in the bag. Just a classic head shape that suits my eye. Been messing around with a number of drivers over the past year and haven’t singled one out. Last long term driver I had was the 850. The ST checks all of the boxes for me…looks great down by the ball, sounds solid and performs as good as any other. What really sold me was how well slight mis-hits performed. I had the 12.5 dialed down so it definitely sat open a bit. Didn’t hit the fairway but it looks sharp as well. 

evoviiiyou: Had a chance to test the driver with a couple shafts last night. The head is definitely deeper than the JPX900 and the footprint seems bigger from he set up position, very confidence inspiring like the JPX900 but a little improved. Finish and graphics are very similar to the 900 which is very nice if you like the satin Mizuno blue and I do love it just like the satin black I recently had done to my JPX driver and 3 metal. 

regiwstruk: My current gamer is a Titleist 917D3, and this is definitely replacing that. I used a JPX 900 from November 2016 through June 2017 — biggest differences are the sound and that the distance is up there with at least one of the leaders in the market. Anxious to see how it does on the course! 

Paul065: It is high launch, low spin yes but I wouldn’t say it was targeted at the average golfer. It’s basically their version of Callaway Epic Sub Zero. Rory used the Sub Zero. 

Tommyj: I went down to Carls yesterday specifically to look at the ST180. I’ve read some comments that the face looks closed. When I picked it up it was in the 10.5D position and did look slightly closed but then looked perfectly square at 9.5D and also square at 10.5D which seemed sort of odd. The shape is not for me, I had a Cobra F6 and while the ST180 footprint isn’t that big its still substantial. I like blue on drivers and the ST180 has a real quality look to it with the matte finish, having said that I’m not sure I’d want to be looking at that shade of blue all the time. The sound was an absolute killer for me, it was completely unexpected because I always associate Mizuno with being traditional and understated… ST180 launch was lower than G400 in the neutral setting, about the same when I lofted the Ping down.  ST180 was noticeably lower than D2. Longest driver of the three was G400, followed by ST180 then D2. For me the ST180 had the widest dispersion with G400 being the most accurate (by a wide margin).

Discussion: Read more comments about the ST-180 driver here

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