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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.

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

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    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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pga tour

Gary Woodland WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Honda Classic (2/19/2018).

Driver: TaylorMade M3 440 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Acra Tour-Z RPG

Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M2 2017 (15 degrees)
Shafts: Accra Tour-Zx 4100

Driving Iron: Titleist 716 T-MB (2)
Shaft: KBS Tour C-Taper 130 X

Irons: Titleist 716 MB (4-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited Edition Black PVD 130 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (48-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S), Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind (60-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited X (48), KBS Hi-Rev Black PVD S-Flex (52, 56, 60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T 009
Grip: Scotty Cameron Pistol

Golf Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Woodland’s clubs. 

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Equipment

Cobra launches King Forged Tec Black and King Black Utility irons

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We first spotted Cobra’s new King Forged Tec Black irons (in both One-length and variable length) and King Black Utility irons (in both One-length and variable length) at the 2018 PGA Show. The company wasn’t dishing out any information related to the clubs at that time, however, electing to await for the official launch to provide details.

Well, Cobra officially launched the clubs on Tuesday, so we now have all of the tech info, specs and more.

Read below for all of the details, and click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the clubs in our forums.

King Forged Tec Black irons

Cobra first launched its Forged Tec irons in 2015; “Tec” stands for Technology Enhanced Cavity. They used five different materials in the club head to produce an iron with more forgiveness and distance.

The 2018 Forged Tec irons have gotten a material upgrade with a new Forged 4140 Stainless Steel face, allowing them to be made thinner and produce greater ball speeds across the face. They also have the new “dimonized” black finish that appeared on the company’s King Forged MB/CB irons in the past (and the irons that Rickie Fowler uses). Cobra says the finish is more durable than any black finish on the market.

“The handsome new Dimonized Black Metal (DBM) Matte Finish boasts the industry’s most durable satin black finish ever, reducing glare and providing extreme wear resistance while maintaining the look and feel of a classic forged iron,” Cobra said in a press release.

Additionally, the irons have tungsten weights to lower CG (center of gravity), and move CG more toward the center of the face, and they have carbon fiber medallions to dampen vibrations for a softer feel.

Forged Tec Black One Length

At the 2018 PGA Show, Cobra representatives said that One-length irons represent at least 60 percent of all its iron sales. Yea, wow. So it’s no wonder why Cobra is coming out with Forged Tec Black One-length irons in addition to its variable length offering.

The one-length irons sets match the weight and length of the 7 iron throughout the set, and have progressive tungsten weighting to achieve different launch characteristics — that means the longer irons will launch a bit higher, and the shorter irons a bit lower. New in this set is also progressive lie angle configurations; the longer irons will have a more upright lie angle, while the shorter irons will have a bit flatter lie angle.

The goal here is to allow golfers to take one swing no matter what the number says on the sole of their irons, but still produce desired results.

Both of the Forged Tec Black irons come equipped with Cobra Connect (powered by Arccos) in the butt end of the grips so golfers can retrieve data on every shot they hit during a round of golf or practice session. Golfers who purchase a set of these irons will also receive enough Arccos sensors to put in the remaining clubs in their bag, as well.

The irons come stock with steel True Temper AMT Tour White shafts, with a powder-coated black finish to match the black club heads, or graphite UST Recoil ES SmacWrap shafts. The 7-piece sets (5-PW, GW) sell for $1,099 in steel or $1199 in graphite, and will hit retail on April 6.

King Utility Black irons

Cobra also announced the launch of its King Utility Black irons, including variable length and one-length options.

They’re each made with Cobra’s familiar PwrShell face technology, which adds stability around the perimeter to make the clubs more forgiving while also allowing the faces to be constructed thinner. The faces use forged 455 high-strength stainless steel inserts to optimize ball speed across the face. Also for greater ball speeds, they have full, hollow-body constructions, and they have Tungsten toe weights (67-73 grams in the variable length irons and 90-94 grams in the shorter, one-length irons). For more precision and consistent spin, they have CNC milled faces and grooves.

The utility irons are also adjustable, with +/- one degree of adjustability using their MyFly8 hosel.

They have black PVD coats to achieve their black finishes, rather than the dimonized finish of the Forged Tec irons. Like the Forged Tec irons, however, they come equipped with Cobra Connect in the grips.

The Utility Black irons hit retail on April 6, and will sell for $219 in graphite and $199 in steel. The variable length heads will be available in 3 (18-21 degrees) and 4 (21-24 degrees) irons, while the One-length irons are available in 3 (18-21 degrees), 4 (21-24 degrees) and 5 (24-27 degrees) irons. Each come stock with steel true Temper AMT Tour White shafts with black powder coating, or graphite UST Recoil ES SmacWrap shafts.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Cobra’s new irons here

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Equipment

The Elder and Younger 2-Ball, #teamkiradech, and a very boring wedge on the Honda Classic range

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course  in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. And there was plenty to see on the range Monday.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, making his first U.S. start since the 2016 Web.com Finals, was in his glory. We got WITB looks at (the very yellow bag) of Brandt Snedeker, Gary Woodland, and Chesson Hadley, too.

Here are a few of the best shots from t-minus three days until tournament time.

Chesson Hadley is gaming this superb, decade-old, lead tape-laden, Odyssey 2-Ball.

We also spotted Odyssey’s latest 2-Ball offering, the Exo Two-Ball. No word on whether Mr. Hadley is upgrading…

Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s putter cover is everything you’d expect (and perhaps more).

The leader of #teamkiradech also has his emoji self embroidered on the back of his shirt. This would only be made better if emoji Kiradech also had an embroidered emoji on his shirt.

Chesson Hadley is also gaming one of Vokey’s new SM7 wedges with a bit of weight removed in a very boring fashion.

As if there weren’t enough yellow in this picture… Banana Snedeker?

All joking aside, you gotta love Snedeker gaming a Tourstage X 5-wood.

…with this wear mark, no less.

Laundry service for Bronson Burgoon, please?

Chad Campbell loves three things: UNLV, shaving cream, and Arnold Palmer. The Palmer-Barbasol thing makes sense, as the King reportedly abhorred facial hair on professional golfers (really).

A lovely assortment of Piretti covers. It’s probably frowned upon as a professional to walk away with this whole bag, but tempting nevertheless…

Ditto: Bettinardi.

Check out all our photos from the 2018 Honda Classic below!

Monday’s Photos

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums.

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