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Equipment

Why White Worked for TaylorMade

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By Zak Kozuchowski

GolfWRX Staff Writer

What company has the best new driver? Ask the three players in your foursome, and you’ll probably get three different answers. But if you ask them which company has the most recognizable new driver, they’ll all probably say TaylorMade.

The arrival of TaylorMade’s new line of drivers last January created more buzz than any other line of drivers for one reason – they were painted white. Six players debuted white TaylorMade drivers in the PGA Tour’s first event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. And it wasn’t players hoping that a change of scenery over the ball would spark their games, either. It was some of the best players in the world: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Camilo Villegas.

Then players started winning with white drivers. World No. 1 Luke Donald won the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship in February with an R11. Rory Sabbatini won with an R11 the next week at The Honda Classic. In all, 10 players won on the PGA Tour using a white TaylorMade driver, including Darren Clarke at the British Open, giving a white driver its first major championship win. The TaylorMade R11 became the No. 1 driver on the PGA Tour, and the No. 1 selling driver in the United States with a peak market share of 21.68 percent in February.

<<<< Click here to see the discussion in the forums >>>>

Like most successful products, development of a non-traditional colored driver began years ago. Sean Toulon, executive vice president of TaylorMade product creation, played rounds of golf with a fluorescent yellow driver as early as 2004, shortly after TaylorMade introduced another revolutionary driver, the R7. The R7 was the first driver that allowed golfers to quickly and easily make changes to the weighting of the club head. Golfers could move the weight forward, back, and toward the heel and toe to optimize their launch angle, spin rate and directional bias. Within weeks of its release, Sergio Garcia won twice with it. The R7 became the No. 1 driver on Tour and the number one selling driver in the United States with a 10 percent market share. It also became the first driver to be featured the cover of Golf Digest. Lead tape sales have suffered ever since.

As early as 2006, TaylorMade staff players were testing drivers with colors much different than the standard black and greys. There was red, orange, fluorescent yellow, and of course, white. But at that time, a color change was still not a priority at TaylorMade, according to Toulon. In 2009, TaylorMade released another No. 1 driver on Tour, the R9, which gave a golfer the ability to quickly change a club’s shaft, face angle, loft and lie. But this technology presented a new challenge for TaylorMade club designers.

With the R9, and many of the adjustable drivers that followed, changing one variable meant changing several others as well. For example, if a golfer changed the face angle of an R9 to the closed position, he or she would also add loft to the club. If a golfer changed the face angle to open, he or she would also decrease loft on the club.

“We had to solve the riddle,” Toulon said. “If we change one variable, we don’t want to have all these other variables change. We had to decouple these technologies.”

While the R9 became another top-selling driver for TaylorMade, Toulon and many others at TaylorMade felt that it underachieved. Despite the new technology, the sales of the R9 were essentially unchanged from those of the R7. By 2010, Toulon knew the R11 would be the best driver TaylorMade had ever produced. But it had to be different – it had to be anything but black.

Inspiration for the R11’s white color came from an unlikely source, a putter. Bill Price, senior director of Rossa, TaylorMade’s putter division, was working on a line of putters that would help golfers aim better. With the help of an eye doctor, Price figured out that putters with a matte white finish not only reduced glare, but because of the contrast between white paint and black alignment lines, they helped golfers aim better.

“There was real benefit on a putter for white, what an eye looks at and what the eye focuses on,” Toulon said.

The idea made even more sense for a driver. In putting, poor alignment might move a putt two to three inches off line. Because of the increased speed with a driver, poor alignment can send a ball 20 to 30 yards off line or more.

There’s quite a bit of science behind the white paint that goes on TaylorMade drivers, but with white Toulon also saw an opportunity for the company to differentiate itself from its competitors. TaylorMade wasn’t the first company to unveil a white driver (Ian Poulter used a white Cobra Limited Edition ZL driver in November 2010, two months before the release of TaylorMade’s white drivers), but it was the first company to build an entire marketing campaign around a white driver.

TaylorMade’s sales rely heavily in the pyramid of influence, the idea that golfers will follow the lead of the best players in the world when purchasing equipment. The company’s staff players told Toulon how much they loved the white drivers, so he knew white drivers would be in nearly all their bags when they were released. He also knew that for players like Justin Rose, the R11 offered adjustability that had never been possible before.

Rose told TaylorMade club fitters that he wanted a driver that had an opened face angle, but offered a left directional bias. Just a few years ago, the request would have boggled a club fitter. But with the R11, Rose’s request became a possibility. The R11 features an adjustable sole plate that allows golfers to change the face angle by two degrees. By rotating the sole plate to the open position, club fitters were able to give Rose the look he wanted. They could then adjust the face angle and head weighting until they got the left bias Rose wanted.

What to expect in 2012

 White is here to stay for TaylorMade, and the company’s 2012 product line will prove that. TaylorMade will release new drivers, fairway woods and rescues in February that will only be available in white. Look for the new line to be used by PGA Tour players before that time. Toulon called the performance of the new line dramatically better, saying it “absolutely obliterates” the 2011 line.

At a TaylorMade photo shoot at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga., Toulon said that Dustin Johnson hit the company’s new three wood 317 yards off the ground. Sean O’Hair was averaging 300 yards with the club, and Natalie Gulbis picked up 20-22 yards. According to Toulon, the average distance added by TaylorMade staff players was more than 25 yards.

TaylorMade’s Ghost putters will also see an update, with more belly putters, more long putters and more mallet designs. Toulon said the company has fixed a problem that caused last year’s line of Ghost putters to appear slightly larger than the company intended. The white paint used for the Ghost line is relatively thick, which caused some of the shapes and lines of the putters to be hidden.According to Toulon, the 2012 models will look much more crisp and precise. TaylorMade will also cease production of its EST 1979 putter series, meaning that TaylorMade’s 2012 lineup will include only white putters.

 <<<< Click here to see the discussion in the forums >>>

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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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Equipment

Jimmy Walker spotted testing a Titleist prototype driver?

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As spotted by GolfWRX Forum Member “anthony007,” Jimmy Walker was shown on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive hitting an unidentified driver at the Warrior Open.

In anthony007’s forum post, along with the photo, he asks the question “Is this a new Driver from Titleist?”

Well, it’s hard to tell from the grainy photo exactly what the driver says on the sole. But then Jimmy Walker himself posted on Twitter saying: “Great catch! Its always fun to test new prototypes and the [Titleist on Tour] guys have given me some cool toys to play with that are incredible – but unfortunately I can’t talk about them yet!”

While the response is a bit cryptic, it does seem that Walker confirms he was indeed testing a Titleist prototype driver.

What do you think?

Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the photo.

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Whats in the Bag

UNLV Rebels WITB: 2018 NCAA Men’s Championship

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The University Of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Men’s Golf team is participating in the 2018 NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma on May 25-30. Representing the Mountain West Conference, the team is led by Head Coach Dwaine Knight.

To see the team’s full roster, click here

Below, we highlight the clubs and shafts that each of the players on the team are using at the championship.

Shintaro Ban

Driver: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 70TX

3 Wood: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 80TX

Hybrid: Callaway Epic (20 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Steel 115

Irons: Callaway X Forged (4 and 5 iron), Callaway Apex MB (6-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Fourteen RM Raw wedge (50, 55 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (50 and 55), S400 (60)

Putter: Odyssey O-Works 7S

Harry Hall

Driver: Titleist 917D2 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 70TX

3 Wood: Titleist 917 F3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue M-AX 65TX

5 Wood: Titleist 917 F2 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue M-AX 65TX

Irons: Titleist 718 AP2 (3-9 iron)
Shafts: KBS Tour V 120X

Wedges: Titleist SM7 (48, 54 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S300

Putter: Evenroll ER5 Hatchback (36.5 inches)

Jack Trent

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7X

3 Wood: TaylorMade M2 Tour (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8TX

Hybrid: Titleist H2 818 (17 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X

Irons: Titleist T-MB (4 iron), Titleist 718 CB (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (50, 56 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X5R
Grip: SuperStroke Flatso 1.0 (35 inches)

Justin Kim

Driver: TaylorMade M2 2017 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7TX

3 Wood: TaylorMade M2 2017 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 8TX

Driving Iron: Titleist 712U (3 iron)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X

Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4-PW)
Shaft: KBS $-Taper 130X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Sm6 (50, 54 and 58)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Justin Chong

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-IZ 6X

3 Wood: TaylorMade M3
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X

5 Wood: Ping G30
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X

Hybrid: TaylorMade M1 (21 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD 85X

Irons: Miura CB-57 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52-09 F Grind and 58-08 M Grind)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Odyssey V-Line Fang O-Works

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Garrick Higgo

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver 60X 120MS

3 Wood: Titleist 917F3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana Black 70 TX

Hybrid: Titleist 816H2 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 85H X-Flex

Driving Iron: Titleist TMB (2, 3 and 4 iron)
Shaft: KBS C-Taper 130X

Irons: Titleist AP2 (5-PW, GW)
Shafts: KBS C -Taper 130X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 Matte Black (55 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper 130X

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X7M Black Tour Only

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

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Equipment

Spotted: New Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI shaft

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The official Tour launch of the Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI shaft is this week at the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational at Colonial, and we were able to snap a few photos on the range. MSI stands for millions of pounds per square inch, and basically, it refers to how stiff the fiber is — the higher the number, the greater stiffness it has.

Headed to retail later this summer, according to Aldila, the lower-launching, lower-spinning Rogue Silver 130 MSI is the successor to the Rogue Silver 125 MSI.

Per the company, the new Rogue Silver 130 MSI will feature the same tapered butt-counter-balanced design as the 125. The stronger 130 MSI carbon fiber produces slightly lower torque, however, and is the strongest material in a Rogue shaft to date.

Several Tour pros have already made the switch to the new shaft:

  • Jimmy Walker put the 70 TX in his driver for the first time at The Players. He had been gaming the 80 TX in his fairway wood since the Masters.
  • Kevin Chappell has been playing the 80 TX in both his 3 and 5-woods.
  • Martin Flores has put the 70 TX in his driver
  • Chez Reavie put the 60 TX in his driver at the Masters.

We’ll bring you more details as they become available closer to launch. Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the new shaft in our forums.

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