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WRX Spotted: TaylorMade “Original One” Mini Driver

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It’s been said before — what’s old is new again, and in the case of what just popped up on the USGA Conforming List, it appears the new “Original One” from TaylorMade could be 40 years in the making.

Although we have no official word from TaylorMade on any of the specifics of “Original One” yet, there sure are a lot of conclusions we could draw from the standard single black and white image that accompanies a new inclusion on the conforming list.

  • First off its clearly a Mini Driver (hopefully this proves I’m literate now). We’re not sure of the CCs of this club, but based off the previously released AeroBurner Mini, we would expect it to fall between the 255-300cc mark. Which on a side note is kinda funny because 300cc used to be considered an oversized club…
  • It’s adjustable: Unlike previous iterations of the “Mini,” this club will be fully adjustable. This means that it will have adjustability +/- two degrees from the standard lofts, currently listed as 11.5 and 13.5 degrees and on the USGA list; fantastic news for anyone concerned about fitting or shaft testing.
  • Original One (Pittsburgh Persimmon): Like I said off the top, this club is 40 years in the making because 2019 is TaylorMade Golf’s 40th Anniversary. The name is a throwback to its Original metal driver — the Pittsburgh Persimmon. (A TM spokesperson did confirm “This is a cool product to celebrate our 40th anniversary…more info to follow)
  • Technology aplenty: Just from the sole alone, we can clearly see that the “Original One” has hosel adjustability, a speed pocket, and a titanium crown. This is pure speculation but it will be interesting to see if it will also include TwistFace and the company’s new speed injected face.
  • Screws on the sole: To maximize mass properties, these screws could be holding a very heavy sole plate to the bottom of the club to move mass to the furthest reaches of the club’s shell. Again this is speculation, but taking a close look at the lines of the black and white photo (I’ve been staring at it for 10 minutes now), I have an inkling this might be the case.

This is not the first time TaylorMade has brought a mini driver to market. There was the SLDR Mini in 2014, and after that, there was the AeroBurner. Both clubs were great for both professional and recreational players alike to give another confidence inspiring option for off the tee — and for the truly brave souls with some speed to hit off the deck.

We will probably be seeing this on tour very soon as players fine-tune their setups for major season. In other words, we shouldn’t have to wait long to see our technological speculation confirmed (or refuted).

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Ryan Barath is a writer & the Digital Content Creation Lead for GolfWRX. He also hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on GolfWRX Radio discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club fitter & master club builder who has more than 16 years experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour professionals. He studied business and marketing at the Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop in Hamilton and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers, including True Temper. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, from course architecture to physics, and share his passion for club building, and wedge grinding.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Brian Moyse

    Apr 15, 2019 at 1:35 am

    I had one of those SLDR’s but couldn’t get any benefit from it so changed to an older TM R7 and W/S Ti td5, love them both. Had a lot of time for TM and good to see Tiger using them.

  2. LoPro

    Mar 28, 2019 at 2:00 am

    From the looks of where the screws are placed, this one has “Speed Injected Anus” for a better pounding effect and at least 20 more “Crap” yards ????

  3. Bob Castelline

    Mar 27, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    I carried the original Pittsburgh Persimmon. Carried it for a long time (back in the days when you didn’t change drivers every year). I wish I still had my old Taylormade. Loved that stick. I happen to be a guy who hits his 3-wood more solidly and more consistently than his driver, so this club makes sense for me, if it feels right. Can’t wait to test it out (because after all, my current driver is now a year old, which means it’s sorely out of date).

  4. Mike Cleland

    Mar 27, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Wonderful…get it out…

  5. HDTVMAN

    Mar 27, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I had the Callaway Bertha Mini and really liked it. 3-Wood length shaft and easy to hit. Traded it when the Fusion was introduced. But the new drivers are so forgiving, I don’t see the reason for this club.

  6. J Mytro

    Mar 27, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Loved the MINI DRIVER when it came out but switch back to Tmad driver and cut 2″ off the shaft for more control and distance.

  7. joro

    Mar 27, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    April Fools !!!!!!!!

  8. juststeve

    Mar 26, 2019 at 11:21 am

    I carried the original “Original One” back in the day. Used it as a three wood. Easy to hit off the turf and very long. First mewtl headed wood I ever owned.

  9. Richard Douglas

    Mar 26, 2019 at 2:53 am

    I’ve been gaming the SLDR Mini since its introduction. It’s the only wood I carry besides the driver–it’s 3-iron through LW from there. I love it and use it as my fairway insurance device.

  10. Ricky

    Mar 25, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Reliable insider sources report that this club is specifically coming to market in advance of the Masters as Augusta National will announce that the maximum size of clubs for this years tournament will be 300ccs. It is rumored that the announcement from Augusta is coming on April 1st. Instead of rolling back the ball the club has reportedly decided to take a stand against increasing distance in the game through the size of drivers and not the “Masters Ball” as discussed by many talking heads last year. All other manufacturers are working on similar products for their staff players at the Masters.

    • Simms

      Mar 25, 2019 at 9:01 pm

      Now I have to say they are going to announce this April 1st?? that would be crazy, if they have equipment requirements they would let the pros know a lot more in advance then that…do you really think giving the player less then a month to get a new club and put it in play…if this was so how come no one was hitting one on the range or playing one in the last few tournaments…reliable insider sources from one of the most private golf clubs in the world..Yea I believe that..

    • Richard Douglas

      Mar 26, 2019 at 2:50 am

      Ahh, the ground-breaking April 1st announcement. Of course.

      Did you know the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary. Go ahead, look it up.

  11. Curt

    Mar 25, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Time for them to be the size pros have to use. Maybe they’ll have to think a bit more about swinging as hard as possible.

  12. ND Hickman

    Mar 25, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Now waiting on Callaway to re-release some form of Big Bertha Mini / Phrakenwood … which I will probably end up buying anyway.

    • Pack7483

      Mar 26, 2019 at 8:28 am

      If they would add jailbreak I will definitely buy.

  13. Shallowface

    Mar 25, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Love it! I was around for the original “Original One.” Maybe 125cc. The club was 43 inches with a steel shaft, and with a Top Flite 300 yard carries were not out of the question. Then on long par 5s you could hit it again for the second shot as the face depth was around 1.25 inches and the loft was 12 degrees. I didn’t work for TaylorMade, but letting guys hit my club sure sold a lot of them for them.

  14. C

    Mar 25, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    Cool! Can’t wait! TM is the best! Beat the rest!

    • Jon

      Mar 30, 2019 at 7:51 am

      You have been brainwashed by TM’s marketing, get help.

  15. JP

    Mar 25, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Too late. The mini driver craze has ended. They didn’t realize, we’re at the tail end of the driving iron craze. You get rich knowing what’s coming NEXT!

    • Mike Rohmann

      Mar 25, 2019 at 5:05 pm

      I don’t necessarily agree. I have been gaming a 16 degree Slider mini driver for 4 years. It’s a superb club off the tee and is easy to get in the air from the turf. I have 1 that I game and another back up. I think that for many this club is a great alternative to any kind of driving iron. I have tried many and this is much easier for the regular play to use.

      • Alex

        Mar 25, 2019 at 8:20 pm

        Why do you play a 16 degree mini driver?

        • B

          Mar 26, 2019 at 3:24 am

          He obviously has problems getting it up

        • Benny

          Mar 26, 2019 at 8:41 am

          I play the same. 16* Mini as my 3w. Super easy off the tee and has great height while being able to shape it well. Off the deck I needed the 16* to get some loft.
          I had a 12* and 14* but the 16* was best for me as I am a low ball hitter. I have tried replacing it with a normal 3w but I have such issues with how the club sits and why I tend to game the Sldr Mini.

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Talking New Level Golf with founder Eric Burch

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“If you want to make a small fortune, start with a big fortune”

It’s a phrase I’ve heard many times before, not just with the golf industry but in other industries that are, let’s call them — leisure or sports-focused. It’s an uphill climb to enter any market, but golf might be on another level. There are the big players that are worth BILLIONS, and spend millions of dollars in research and development, along with equal amounts marketing, to make sure that every golfer is aware of their new club technologies. They also have well-oiled systems of distribution.

But in this new world of brand-agnostic fitting centers, boutique brands, social media, and the ability to reach your target demographic like never before there are a LOT of new companies creating high performance, high quality, well-engineered products. But when it comes to forged irons for golfers of all abilities, industry veteran Eric Burch’s New Level Golf stands on its own.

If you don’t know Eric Burch, and you’ve gone through a custom fitting recently, then you are at least partially aware of some of the breakthroughs he’s helped create in the golf industry, including the Club Conex system. His newest endeavor New Level Golf was only started in 2017, but in that short time, it has made some very big strides including distribution in over 150 brand agnostic club fitting facilities and now some professional golfers signed to the roster (including PGA Tour winner Ken Duke).

So how do you go from designing club fitting components to designing forged irons and starting a company that has products on the Golf Digest Hot List? I got the chance to talk to Eric about New Level Golf, his background and how after his years in the golf industry he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

RB: Based on your history in the golf industry you seem to be a real problem solver with a “Be your own boss” mentality, is that how you would describe your self?

EB: I’ve been in business for myself since my early 20s. Other than a few short stints for other golf companies, I have primarily been my own boss involved with golf. I would consider myself a problem solver. Not necessarily by design, but mainly due to starting companies that have always been undercapitalized which forces your hand to learn a variety of tasks to help the business move forward.
Although I’ve received notoriety as a club fitter/retailer, Club Conex, and now New Level. I’ve been fortunate to have won the professional Clubmaker’s Top Shop Award (2004), Golf Digest Top 100 Club Fitters (2016),  & have products I’ve designed be on the Golf Digest Hot List (2019).

RB: What was the first product & club head you ever designed, and how does the workflow go now with New Level?

EB: The first golf products were, of course, the Club Conex prototypes and those were generated from hand-rendered sketches. I still believe, given what I did with Club Conex and the universal system I designed, I hardly get the credit I deserve. I bought a milling machine without really knowing how to use it and over the course of 6-7 months taught myself how to use it and started creating prototypes. Those prototypes eventually became the Uni-Fit system.

The first clubs I ever designed were putters dating back to the mid 2000s, but in terms of New Level, I know what I am trying to accomplish in design as well as fitting into player categories that comes from my years working at my own shop and fitting golfers from professionals to higher handicaps. Since product is made overseas, the engineers I work with at our factory have done a very good job of helping bring my concepts and designs to fruition. I really enjoy doing the designs and creating something that will one day be in someone’s golf bag.  The only current issue with the success we’re seeing now is if the company continues to push forward we will at some point be forced to bring on an industrial design engineer to further help with product development, but that would be in 2021 as most of our products for next year are in development, or have already been developed.

RB: On that note, how long from having an initial concept to that first set of irons or at least a prototype head in hand?

EB: This is heavily dependant on the complexity of the design. The 4995 HB took almost 9 months to get it where we wanted, whereas the 902 took just about four months. Typically we can get a first article sample of a playable sample in less than 60 days.

RB: When you consider the logistics and tooling involved, that’s quite an impressive turnaround time. From a design perspective, what do you think is the most misunderstood part of creating an iron head and the manufacturing process that you face?

EB: This is a hot topic with me since most people just don’t understand the depth of the manufacturing process. A lot of people think of the term open model (a factory’s in house design produced to create a starting point for some companies), they think we are just stamping our name on a head that is already been refined and finished by someone else which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Like with many aspects of club designs some of the tooling we use are openly available, but for example the raw forged blank head is on average 407 grams on a 6 iron that needs to be designed into a profile that weighs just 262 grams. So as you can imagine a club head overweight by more that 35 percent, it’s far from being a finished product. We call all the shots when it comes to every pertinent parameter and specifications of our design. The only thing incorporated into using this process and something we can’t change is the offset of the club. All other facets of the design are facilitated by my directive and incorporated into the final design.

I chose this method of manufacturing for New Level because it allows a far more flexible range of experimentation before a final design is consummated and brought to market. As a new company starting out it would have been near impossible to use a process similar to other OEMs that create a final tool for each and every design solely based on scale. We had several designs that were not used because they didn’t make the cut when it comes to performance and if we had gone the other route we would have had hundreds of thousands of dollars in tooling alone from products that never saw the light of day.

This process is called the “near net” process, and I find it to be much more in tune with today’s industry. I will take it one step further by saying regardless how good one may be at hand grinding and polishing, a human will never be as consistent and effective as a CNC machine. This entire process allows us to keep our costs reasonable and offer a…uniquely designed, full one-piece forged club for a fair price. There are a lot of other companies using this process you’d just never suspect it.

RB: As a club builder and fitter myself, I have encountered my fair share of misconceptions from golfers, what do YOU feel is the number one thing golfer misunderstand from a design perspective of their clubs?

EB: I can only speak from my experiences, but most golfers are scared of the word “forged” as it has been far too long associated with blades and hard to hit designs. I believe the average weekend warrior still views forged as a design methodology as opposed to a manufacturing process. That is a major objective for New Level to prove that forged clubs can be forgiving, can produce great ball speed, & can be used by your average mid handicap player. Our 1126, for example, is longer from heel to toe, has a shallow profile, and deep undercut – lots of forgiveness for any level of player. From a fitting perspective, I’d say that over 80 percent of players are using shafts that are too heavy, and too stiff for them.

RB:  We’ve talked a lot about the product, and now I need to know – How many retail outlets currently carry your irons and wedges. And lastly, what advantage do you believe New Level irons and wedges have over the competition?

EB: New Level products can be found at roughly 150 locations worldwide and growing almost weekly. If I had my way, we’d never sell another club off the website since I truly believe getting fit by a professional is the best way to get the right set, but saying that as the brand is growing and during the infancy stages, I am trying to get as much product in the field of play as possible to spread brand awareness. We get positive feedback on a daily basis. We have an extensive questionnaire on our site to help those that are not close to one of our retailers, and we also have a lot of people that see our clubs, like what they see and order to their known specs.

As far as our advantages go, I believe it’s pretty simple — being small allows us to pay more attention to each and every client and ensure they are getting the attention that they deserve. The mentality is always to be big enough to make money, yet no matter how we grow, act small and care about every single customer. Currently, we have the care part down very well. My belief is with any business I’ve ever been involved with is that if you do the right thing and stay focused eventually the money will take care of itself. It’s funny because I experience many of the same challenges with New Level as I did with Club Conex early on. Although I am mixed in with a ton of larger players in the golf industry, with New Level I am starting to see our awareness with golfers grow. I hope that this growth continues and we still maintain a great rapport with our customer base.

If you are interested in New Level products check out their website, or call and check with your local club fitter for availability.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “New irons from Mizuno”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day showcases new irons that are on the way from Mizuno. Reportedly two years away from being released, but that hasn’t stopped our members from discussing and speculating on the new irons from the Japanese manufacturers.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • halfsumo: “I told myself no new irons until the new MP line comes out. Chris Voshall on TXG’s youtube said something along the lines that the new irons are “not what you’d typically expect from Mizuno”….”
  • deep18: “The one on the left in the bottom pic kinda looks like a 919 Tour.”
  • BlackM00Nlight: “Bottom picture, iron on the right appears to have a beveled leading edge, CB design, and chrome finish.”

Entire Thread: “New irons from Mizuno”

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Callaway ERC Soft Yellow now part of “Play Yellow” campaign to benefit Children’s Miracle Hospital

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Callaway Golf has today announced its ERC Soft Yellow golf ball is part of a new program: Play Yellow.

The Play Yellow campaign is an initiative from Callaway where the company will donate $4 for every dozen ball pack sold of their ERC Soft Yellow golf balls in support of Children’s Miracle Hospital Network (from today until the end of May).

The campaign runs from April 19 to May 31, and speaking on the initiative Callaway President & CEO, Chip Brewer stated

“Callaway Golf is honored to support the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals — an outstanding organization — through this Play Yellow initiative. We’re inspired by the golf industry’s broad effort to rally around this important cause and campaign.”

As a recap, the ERC golf ball from Callaway features their Hybrid cover which is designed to create a combination of faster ball speeds for longer distance, softer feel, and higher spin for excellent control around the green. The ball contains a Graphene-infused Dual SoftFast Core which through a larger inner core seeks to maximize compression energy while minimizing driver-spin for high launch and greater distance. The balls also include Triple Track lines for improved alignment.

 

 

 

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