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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
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    delicious. And naturally, thank you in your sweat!

  2. Nadine

    Jul 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm

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  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

K.J. Choi WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Valero Texas Open (4/18/2018).

Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-6x

Driver: Ping G400 Max (9 degrees)
Shaft: Ozik Matrix MFS M5 60X

3 Wood: Ping G400 (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7x

5 Wood: Ping G400 (17.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8x

Hybrid: Ping G400 (22 degrees)
Shaft: Atlus Tour H8

Irons: Ping G400 (4-PW)
Shaft: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 120X

Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50-12SS, 54-12SS, 58-10)
Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Ping Sigma G Wolverine T
Grip: Ping Pistol

Putter: Ping PLF ZB3
Grip: Super Stroke KJ

Putter: Ping Sigma Vault Anser 2
Grip: Ping Pistol

WITB Notes: We spotted Choi testing a number of clubs at the Valero Texas Open. We will update this post when we have his 14-club setup confirmed. 

Related:

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

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Accessory Reviews

I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went

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Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.

Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.

It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.

The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.

But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.

Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.

“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”

“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.

On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.

The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.

We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.

Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)

Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.

Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.

But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.

Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.

Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.

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Equipment

Titleist AVX golf balls passed the test, are now available across the United States

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Titleist’s AVX golf balls first came to retail as an experiment in three markets — Arizona, California and Florida — from October 2017 to January 2018. AVX (which stands for “Alternative to the V and X”) are three-piece golf balls made with urethane covers, and they’re made with a softer feel for more distance than the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls.

After proving their worth to consumers, Titleist’s AVX golf balls are now available across the U.S. as of April 23, and they will sell for 47.99 per dozen (the same as Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls) in both white and optic yellow.

According to Michael Mahoney, the Vice President of Golf Ball Marketing for Titleist, the AVX is a member of the Pro V1 family. Here’s a basic understanding of the lineup:

  • AVX: Softest, lowest trajectory, lowest spinning, less greenside spin and longest
  • Pro V1x: Firmer than the Pro V1, highest spinning and highest trajectory
  • Pro V1: Sits between the V1x and the AVX in terms of feel, spin and trajectory, and will appeal to most golfers

Different from the Pro V1 or Pro V1x, the AVX golf balls have a new GRN41 thermoset cast urethane cover to help the golf balls achieve the softer feel. Also, they have high speed, low compression cores, a new high-flex casing layer, and a new dimple design/pattern.

For in-depth tech info on the new AVX golf balls, how they performed in the test markets, and who should play the AVX golf balls, listen to our podcast below with Michael Mahoney, or click here to listen on iTunes.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the AVX golf balls

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