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Titleist responds to Costco’s suit with 284-page countersuit

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Wondering how Acushnet/Titleist’s legal team would respond to Costco’s pursuit of a judgment that the Kirkland Signature ball didn’t infringe on any Acushnet patents? With creativity and overwhelming force, it seems.

Almost five months removed from Costco’s suit, Acushnet is predictably denying all claims, as well as filing a 284-page countersuit of its own. The substance of the suit: Alleging the Costco ball infringes on 10 Acushnet patents.

But this isn’t all: Titleist is also taking issue with the Kirkland Signature Guarantee. You know, the company’s proclamation that, “Every Kirkland Signature product is guaranteed to meet or exceed the quality standards of the leading national brands.”

Acushnet suggests there’s no way a Costco private label product of the same quality as the Titleist Pro V1. Thus, in this case, the Guarantee amounts to false advertising.

In this case, the Kirkland Signature Guarantee, Acushnet alleges, is intended to deceive consumers into believing the Kirkland Signature ball “meets or exceed the quality standards” of Titleist’s Pro V1 line. Further, Acushnet doesn’t believe Costco has conducted the comparison testing required to make the such claims and guarantees.

Kirkland_Signature_Box

Acushnet, in the countersuit, indicates it has done the requisite comparison testing between the Kirkland Signature ball and the Pro V1/Pro V1x. The company found Costco’s ball didn’t go as far across a range of swing speeds, had less back spin, and was less durable.

Not only should the court declare Costco is infringing on the 10 patents in question, the countersuit says, but Costco should pay three times “adequate damages” for the infringement. Even further, Acushnet wants Costco to hand over three times Costco’s profits on the K Sigs.

As of now, Acushnet is not asking for a specific amount in damages. Rather, the company is seeking a jury trial to determine infringement and damages.

This all began with a letter from Acushnet in December. The Pro V1 manufacturer told Costco it believed the company was engaging in false advertising and infringing on company patents. Costco filed its aforementioned suit in mid-March. Acushnet 284-page countersuit represents a response to that motion.

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Justin Rose signs multi-year deal with Lamkin; signature grip in development

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Justin Rose has signed a multi-year agreement with Lamkin grips. Interestingly, the Englishman’s relationship with the company goes back to a custom grip fitting at their U.K. office more than 15 years, and he’s been an official endorser of the grips since 2014.

“I’ve used Lamkin grips for as long as I can remember and they’ve been a part of every success in my professional career. The company is steeped in tradition but still stays at the forefront of grip technology,” Rose said.

He currently plays Lamkin REL ACE grips, and a Justin Rose signature grip will be released later this year.

Related: Justin Rose WITB

“Justin has represented Lamkin with incredible poise and dignity both on and off the course for the last four years. He’s an exceptionally gifted golfer and it has been our honor to share in his successes.” CEO Bob Lamkin said, “We’re especially excited to unveil Justin’s new grips in the second half of 2018. Without a doubt, these are the most innovative and performance-enhancing grips we’ve ever produced.”

The company indicated GolfWRX will be among the first to get in-hand looks at the design when the signature grip is released.

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GolfWRX Members Choice: The best players irons of 2018

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The bedrock of GolfWRX.com is the community of passionate and knowledgeable golfers in our forums, and we put endless trust in the opinions of our GolfWRX Members. No other group of golfers in the world tests golf clubs as frequently or as extensively, or is armed with as much in-depth information about the latest technology.

So we asked our GolfWRX Members, “What are the the best players irons on 2018?” (Blades excluded. The membership voted on those here). As part of the voting process, we allowed members to vote for up to three irons they felt most worthy of the title, based on their testing of the forged offerings from 17 different manufacturers.

GolfWRX members are both discerning and carry handicaps lower than the general golfing population, so OEMs ought to (and do) take note of their feedback.

With the votes tallied, it’s time to take a look at the top-five vote getters of the bunch. And many thanks to all who voted! (See the full thread here).

No. 5: Ping iBlade (8.26 percent of votes)

Ping’s new iBlades fit the broadest definition of blade irons; they have the narrow soles, thin top lines, short blade lengths, minimal offset, maximum workability, excellent feedback and soft feel blade players want. They aren’t forged like most blades or blade-like irons, though, instead opting for a multi-material, cast chassis that Ping uses to boost forgiveness and distance. Think of them as “intelligent blades;” they’re a much smarter choice for blade players who don’t compete for a living, and even some who do.

The iBlades offer more distance and more forgiveness than their predecessors, Ping’s S55 irons, as well as more refined look and feel that makes them more “blade-like” than they’ve ever been.

Related: Review: Ping iBlade irons

No. 4: Srixon Z 765 (8.41 percent)

Srixon’s no-frills approach to iron-making is refreshing in today’s golf equipment climate. The company forges its irons from 1020 carbon steel, and offers three distinct models than can please anyone from traditionalists (Z965) to forged cavity-back enthusiasts (Z765) to distance- or forgiveness-seeking crowds (Z565).

Low handicappers have a difficult decision to make between Srixon’s Z765 and Z965 irons. The Z965’s are musclebacks that are slightly more “workable,” as blade-lovers like to say. That’s another way of relaying that they’re smaller-sized irons that spin slightly more. Both irons, though, have similar profiles with little offset and thin top lines. Both also use Srixon’s Tour V.T. Soles, and utilize a new heat treatment to make the irons more durable. For blade players, the Z765 won’t look clunky or have too much offset. Low, single-digit handicappers could really go either way, or create a brag-worthy mixed set.

Related: Review Srixon Z765 irons

No. 3: Callaway X Forged (10.36 percent)

X Forged irons, like Callaway’s Apex Muscleback, are also single-piece forgings, the blade lengths are slightly longer, the overall head shapes are slightly larger, and they are cavity-back irons made for a bit more forgiveness.

Like the Apex MB irons, the soles of the X Forged irons are built for the turf interaction that’s desired by Tour players, and the head profiles are tour-inspired. The lofts are slightly stronger throughout the set than the Apex MB, but are still weaker than the game-improvement style irons in Callaway’s stable. That means better players will see the ball launch in the “desired window,” according to to the company.  The X Forged irons are “triple net forged,” according to Callaway, and they have progressive CGs with 20V grooves on the face.

Related: Callaway finally launches new Apex MB and X Forged irons

No. 2: Titleist 718 AP2 (16.22 percent)

With fast-face technologies and stronger lofts off the table (the 6-iron is 30 degrees), Titleist investigated new ways to improve the AP2 recipe. The result was a new main ingredient, a high-strength steel known as SUP10, which is used to make the forged bodies of the 3-6 irons. Titleist also used SUP10 to form the face inserts for the 3-6 irons. Because SUP10 is stronger and lighter than the 1025 carbon steel bodies and 17-4 stainless steel face inserts Titleist previously used to create the AP2, designers were able to move the CG of the new irons lower in the club heads for higher ball speeds and a higher launch angle.

Like the 718 CB, the 718 AP2 irons are also co-forged to concentrate high-density tungsten weights in the corners of the club heads to improve MOI and exactly center the CG of the irons.

Related: Titleist’s 718 irons offer endless possibilities

No. 1: Mizuno MP-18 SC (16.82 percent)

The MP-18 Split Cavity irons feature what Mizuno calls a half-cavity design. Mass has been taken of the upper portion of the irons, focusing CG (center of gravity) lower in the club head for an easier launch and more forgiveness.

The MP-18 SC irons are only fractionally longer from heel-to-toe than the MP-18 muscleback irons. They’re also 0.5 millimeters taller and have soles that are 1.5 millimeters wider. With identical specs (aside from swing weight in the longer irons) and offset, these irons are designed to blend seamlessly into a combination set with the MP-18 muscleback irons regardless of where golfers decide to split their set.

Related: Mizuno brings the MP family closer together

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SPOTTED: TaylorMade “GAPR” 2-iron

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We recently spotted a photo of a TaylorMade “GAPR” driving iron in our GolfWRX Forums, and some more photos from around the Internet. One of the photos in our Forum Thread has emojis and text added to the photo, implying that @haotong66 — which is HaoTong Li’s Instagram handle — originally posted the photo. Check out the photo from GolfWRX Member cvhookem63 for yourself…

Gavinkgreen7 — an Asian/Eurpoean Tour pro — also posted the photo below on Instagram that has an even clearer image of the TaylorMade “GAPR” iron.

In addition to the “GAPR” text on the back of the club, which one would have to assume means “gapper” for yardage gapping, it also appears to say “LO.” LO would certainly imply a lower ball flight, right? Either way, the club pictured above has what appears to be an adjustable weight in the rear cavity of the club head, possibly to adjust weight and/or launch angle.

Curious timing right before the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie for a photo of a driving iron to pop up in our forums, don’t you think? Could this possibly be a new prototype for Open Championship participants to use off the tee for more control in the wind… possibly with a LO-wer trajectory?

Additionally, TaylorMade Tour Rep Chris Trott posted a photo on his personal Instagram with what looks to be a low-lofted iron that has an adjustable hosel — the two “GAPR” irons pictured above do not appear to have an adjustable hosel. Is this the same “GAPR” iron? It’s hard to tell when covered by unicorns and skulls, but it does have a similar look aside from the hosels. The iron Trott posted has 17 degrees of loft on it (you can see just below the “shush” face emoji).

You can see below that the skull emoji does not cover the “lower” text, and a clearly adjustable hosel (pictured in the red circle below).

It’s all speculation at this point, since we haven’t heard anything official from TaylorMade. For now, check out more photos and discussion in the forum thread.

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