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Talking with Golf Pride’s president about the new grip fitting studio at Pinehurst Resort

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The world’s leading manufacturer of golf grips is heading to Pinehurst. Golf Pride plans to open a new facility at America’s Home of Golf as early as 2019. The facility will serve as an incubator for new technology, house the company’s global management and professional teams, and most excitingly, feature a consumer grip fitting studio.

Golf Pride’s new facility will be located within the Pinehurst Resort, next to the Tom Fazio-designed Pinehurst No. 8 course. The company considered a variety of sites, but decided to leverage the location and partnership opportunity with Pinehurst Resort.

The grip fitting studio aims to replicate the service tour professionals get on the range and in the tour van on the PGA Tour. The appointment-only experience will offer personalized concierge-quality service, as well as the opportunity to test new products before they hit the market and offer feedback.

We spoke with James Ledford, president of Golf Pride, about the new facility.

GolfWRX: Where did the idea for the move to Pinehurst in general, and the fitting studio in particular, come from?

James Ledford: A lot of this comes out of what we’ve been doing since about 2012. We launched a lot of new products into the marketplace: CP2, MCC PLUS4, Tour SNSR.

We’ve been doing a lot more prototyping and golfer testing for the last four years to try to bring a lot more innovation to the marketplace. If there’s one thing I could point to, it’s that, and that’s why we’re moving to this new facility. A bunch of avid golfers from all around the world will be driving by this facility to play No. 8, so it’s a great opportunity to connect with them and share some of our latest product ideas, vet them [the ideas] and refine them.

As we started thinking about this new site, we want to take our brand to a different place and start offering experiences to golfers. That’s totally new territory for Golf Pride. We’ve been a product brand, and there isn’t necessarily a Golf Pride experience, so we’ve challenging ourselves to create that.

This area is a golf mecca. Beyond the nine courses at Pinehurst Resort, there’s like 30 golf courses within 10 to 15 minutes of our location. Notable designers. High-quality golf. And I don’t know if that’s top-of-mind to golfers like it could be, so we hope that golfers will take a fresh look at the region.

Grip selection is often something of an afterthought, isn’t it?

JL: The grip in our view is a very personal decision, but honestly a lot of golfers don’t know that much about grips. Even really avid golfers who have been playing a long time might know more about spin rate on drivers.

Guys get fit for everything now, and there’s a lot of great places to do that, but the reality is, after you’ve been fit for a whole set of clubs, you’re kind of exhausted. Our idea is a lot of the guys that make the effort to travel to Pinehurst, they’ve been fit, but they probably were not fit well for grips.

We’re not really doing it as a revenue generating type of thing, but we think we’re going to learn a lot. Grips still are not a heavily studied equipment choice. We see this as an investment in getting to understand golfers even better and coming up with even better ideas.

Is part of the goal here battling some perceptions about the golf grip?

JL: All the power and all the accuracy is translated through that one touchpoint with the golf club, and it matters. If you go from a standard taper to to a plus-four taper, you’re going to feel that impact. Grips matter, but a lot times people don’t know how they matter.

A lot of people see their grip as a sort of handle. We’re trying to transition from “handle” to “equipment choice.” And it may be as important as some of the other equipment choices you’re making, but people haven’t learned structured ways to make that choice. We want to develop the easiest, fastest way to make good decisions about the best grip for each golfer.

What will the studio fitting experience look like?

JL: We’re treating the development of this fitting experience like the development of a new product. We do it in a number of settings, but it isn’t a paid service we offer, so we’re going through concept development right now. We’re going to be testing different ways to walk golfers through, leveraging what we know works on tour and for our OEM partners. But we’re going to try and reinvent the process; we’re not just going to cobble something together and put it out there.

So it’s not going to be “just show up and screw around with some grips?”

JL: That’s a great way to put what it’s not going to be. But I think we have to recognize that a lot of grip choice is that. I do a lot of secret shopping. I wander around golf shops and listen and meet with associates. I saw an avid golfer come in a store once and he was meeting with an associate, and the grip discussion didn’t get any more complicated than, “I like blue ones.” And I think sometimes that’s where the grip knowledge is, and we really want to fight against that. Blue is the last thing we should be talking about, we have to start with performance. We want to turn this into a structured problem-solving session, so that you come out with a grip that complements your game.

Grips are kind of like footwear. It’s not a perfect analogy, but when we look at the most inspiring footwear brands out there, there three elements. It starts with performance, but then there’s this intangible element of “what feels good on your feet might not feel good on my feet.” And with grips, all of hands are different, so there’s a lot of variables there. Then, the last element is style. We’re trying to introduce a bit of style. So, with the fitting, we have to work through those three elements.

I think we have to go into this with humility as well. To go really deep into the fitting process; to be willing to really spend some time with some guys so that we can get it right. We’re hoping that it makes us smarter when we only have five or 10 minutes at the end of a fitting with a manufacturer or Golftec or Hot Stix. So when you only have five minutes, we want to know how to walk through that. We want to make the best use of that time at the end of a fitting and do better with that time than we do today. I think that’s a secondary objective for us [with the fitting studio].

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Equipment

New XXIO Prime woods, hybrids, and irons aim for lightweight power

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XXIO’s latest club offerings, XXIO Prime, looks to offer easy distance and easy accuracy for the moderate swing speed golfer, according to the company.

XXIO Prime woods

xxio-prime

XXIO Prime Woods feature a new re-designed hosel structure, and reduced stiffness at the tip of the driver shaft, which is designed to help moderate swing speed golfers to close the clubface through impact.

Forged from Super-TIX PLUS Titanium, the new cup face includes a sweet spot that is noticeably larger than previous designs, which aims to increase distance performance significantly. The Super-TIX PLUS Titanium Cup Face is thinner, lighter and stronger than previous additions, creating a maximum COR across the face, which aims to increase ball speed and distance.

According to Chuck Thiry, Vice President of XXIO USA

“The speed increases, higher launch angles, and draw bias of the new Prime will show immediate results from swing one. It’s legit lightweight power for the players that absolutely need it the most.”

Featured in the XXIO prime woods is the SP-1000 shaft, with TORAYCA T1100G carbon fiber and NANOALLOY resin, which creates a strong but lightweight club. Along with the lightness in the shaft, XXIO has made weight savings in the grip and club head, which aims to produce woods that are both fast and easy to swing.

The XXIO Prime woods feature an expanded toe and narrowed heel, a tungsten-nickel inner weight that is low and deep, a lighter hosel repositioned closer to the center of the face, and reduced stiffness at the tip of the shaft, all with the aim of offering golfers with maximum forgiveness from their woods.

The XXIO Prime woods will be available from March 1 and will cost $579,99.

XXIO Prime hybrids and irons

The new XXIO Prime hybrids feature an expanded COR and a lower center of gravity, which is designed to increase distance and ball speed while delivering a straighter ball flight.

The hybrids from XXIO contain a Forged Maraging Steel Cup Face which includes a large sweet spot which aims to increase distance performance.

Just as with the woods, the XXIO irons also feature the Super-TIX PLUS Titanium Cup Face, though along with this, they also contain a CNC milled speed groove, which significantly increases the COR, creating a larger sweet spot, designed to provide greater distance, ball speed and accuracy.

Both the hybrids and irons include the SP-1000 Shaft, with TORAYCA T1100G carbon fiber and NANOALLOY resin. The hybrids and irons also feature weight savings in the grip and club head, with the aim of increasing swing speed.

With an expanded toe and narrowed heel, plus a crown step that moves weight low and deep, XXIO claim that this is their most forgiving suite of Prime hybrids. While with two high-density tungsten nickel sole weights and an overall profile that is 3mm shorter than the previous model, the company also claims to have created their most forgiving irons yet.

Speaking on the new XXIO Prime series, Chuck Thiry stated

“XXIO Prime is, quite frankly, the most unique and beneficial product ever available to moderate swing speed players. Period. People might think that is marketing hype, but they simply haven’t hit Prime yet.”

Both the XXIO Prime hybrids and irons will hit retail stores on March 1. The Prime hybrids will cost $379.99, while a single graphite iron will be available for $259.99.

 

 

 

 

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Equipment

SPOTTED: 2019 Mitsubishi shafts

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The Diamana shaft line from Mitsubishi Chemical is probably one of the most iconic in the sport. Released in 2005, Blueboard, Whiteboard, and Redboard, were the first generation of shafts.

Photos of the full fourth generation Diamana lineup, offering new materials and technology, along with new names, have surfaced in the GolfWRX forums. Like previous generations, each color shaft offers different ball flight and spin characteristics.

“RF” is the highest launching and spinning in the Diamana line, offering high launch and mid spin, while the “BF” is the mid-launch and mid/low-spin model. Finally, the “DF” is mid/low-launching and the lowest-spinning shaft in the lineup.

All of the fourth generation Diamana shafts use updated technologies and materials that you would expect from a premium lineup. DIALEAD pitch fiber is helps reduce shaft deformation, while still producing exceptional energy transfer.

Each shaft contains MR70 carbon fiber that is 20 percent stronger than conventional materials and Boron fiber for its compression strength and shaft reinforcement. ION plating has been done before in the Diamana line, in vacuum chambers — silver alloy ions are bonded to the shaft to give it a chrome-like finish that can’t be replicated by paint.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying in the forums.

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Equipment

SPOTTED: 2019 Aldila shafts

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With the beginning of the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing on now, we are really starting to see more 2019 gear work it way onto tour trucks, and onto the range for player testing…and into our forums (in picture format, at least).

Some of the most recently spotted pieces are the 2019 Aldila ATX shafts, including what appears to be an 85g hybrid shaft and a 120g iron shaft.

aldila-2019-shafts

We can only speculate that the hybrid is a low launch shaft — based on the PGA  Tour testing being done, but this could be a shaft more suited for the growing popularity of the driving iron category vs. wood-like hybrids in the previous couple of seasons.

The 120g iron shaft has a lot of people talking, since Aldila has leaked some information in our picture thread

“It utilizes a custom prepreg made at our facility in Poway that features a “Metal Mesh” material that is combined with Carbon Fiber to help add stability and weight in the irons.”

aldila-metal-mesh

By using this custom material, Aldila could be solving the common problem that a lot of people have with graphite, and that is the club total weight — although in this case 120g is similar to a lot of steel iron shafts already being used on Tour. As prototyping goes, this material could be put to use in lighter versions of the shaft and have a greater benefit in the sub-100g category — if they plan on going that route.

For the drivers, if previous versions and colorways are any indication, it looks like we will have some new technology packed into popular bend profiles like the NV (Green) and the VS (Blue).  As some members on the forums have already discussed, these shafts will be utilizing graphene (an extremely strong carbon material) for additional stability. 

We also have new Rogue 130 MSI models following along similar lines with both a black and silver.

Here’s some additional information from Aldila

“Building off of the success of the ROGUE® Limited Edition – which featured 125 M.S.I. Graphitic Carbon Fiber, we have taken ROGUE® to performance to another level by incorporating even stronger 130 M.S.I. Graphitic Carbon Fiber. The ROGUE® Silver 130 M.S.I. is a low-launch, low-spin shaft with a low torque tip-section fortified with 130 M.S.I. Graphitic Carbon Fiber, a higher balance point, and a premium ion plated finish.”

Join the discussion in our forums

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