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Stanley, Watney sign with Nike Golf

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PGA Tour standouts Kyle Stanley and Nick Watney have entered into a multi-year agreement with Nike Golf, according to company press releases.

Both players signed deals that includes clubs, balls, footwear, glove, apparel, headwear and accessories.

“I love the equipment, Stanley said. “I wouldn’t have switched if I didn’t think it was stuff that would take me to the next level.”

Stanley, 25, previously played Titleist equipment. He was the winner of the 2012 Waste Management Pheonix Open, and is one of the PGA Tour’s brightest young stars, earning more than $2.3 million dollars in 2012 and finishing 31st in the Tour’s FedExCup. He will make his tournament debut this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Stanley said the hardest equipment change for him will be his putter. He played a 2012 schedule that finished at the Australian Open in early December, limiting his practice time with a Method prototype putter that Nike made him. He’s excited about Nike’s VR_S Covert driver and 20XI X golf ball, a combination that he said has given him a 5-mph increase in ball speed, a change that can result in as much as 10 to 20 more yards off the tee.

“I’ve always been a high speed player,” Stanley said. “The ball has a little bit of a harder cover and doesn’t spin as much, which will allow me to be more aggressive with my irons”

Stanley said he feels very comfortable with the equipment changes. In 2013, he hopes to get back in the winner’s circle and take “the next step” — contending in major championships.

Here’s a list of what Stanley plans to play this week in Hawaii:

Driver: Nike VR_S Covert — 9.5 degrees, set in neutral

3 Wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition — 15 degrees

Irons: Nike VR Pro Combo 2 iron, VR Pro Blades 3 through 9 iron

Wedges: Nike Pro 52-degree, 56-degree and 60-degree wedges

Ball: Nike 20XI X

Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance

Footwear: Nike Lunar Control II

Stanley attended Clemson University, where he broke 19 school golf records. He was the first player to earn both ACC Player of the Year and ACC Freshman of the Year, and was a three-time first team All-ACC and two-time first-team All-America Selection. He won the Ben Hogan Award, which is given to the top collegiate golfer in the United States, and was also a member of the winning 2007 Walker Cup team.

“Kyle is a solid player with incredible talent,” said Mark Thaxton, global director of sports marketing operations at Nike Golf.  “He’s a terrific ball striker with incredible confidence. We know Kyle will shine as a Nike Golf athlete and we are thrilled to welcome him to the Nike family.”

Nick Watney, 31, has won five times on the PGA Tour, most recently at The Barclays in late August and at the CIMB Asia Open in late October. He is currently ranked No. 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings, earning more the $3 million on the PGA Tour in 2012.

Watney said he decided to join Nike Golf because he was pleased with the direction the company is headed. He said he’s also looking forward to being on the same staff with Tiger Woods, and is looking forward to picking his brain.

“Nike Golf is making huge strides and have shown a dedication to move forward with all their stuff,” Watney said.

Like Stanley, Watney moves over from Titleist, and will make his debut as a Nike athlete at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii this week. Watney said he is not a “launch monitor guy,” so he wasn’t able to provide data on the performance of his new equipment. But he said he likes the feel and sound of his equipment, particularly his 11.5-degree VR_S Covert driver.

“It looks like nothing else out there, but it feels very stable and sounds like a classic driver,” Watney said.

Watney called his 20XI golf ball “very consistent,” and said the transition from his Titleist AP2 irons to Nike’s Pro Combo irons will be his easiest equipment change.

“I’ve heard all the stories about guys changing equipment, and from my testing over the last couple months, I really feel like it’s not going to be as hard as I expected,” he said. “The guys down at The Oven are very equipped.”

Watney will be using Nike wedges, which aside from the stampings honoring his hometown baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, are almost the same as his Vokey models. He said the Nike Method Prototype putter he will use is the same as his Scotty Cameron putter in every way, with the exception of the Method groove technology on the putter face, and that it feels very similar to his old putter.

Even though Watney won two tournaments in 2012, he said the first half of the season was “not what I was looking for.”

“I’d also like to get off to a better start this year,” Watney said. “As golfers, we’re all judged on winning. I’d like to get into contention as much as I can and win as much as I can.”

Here’s a breakdown on what will be in his bag this week:

Driver: Nike VR_S Covert — 11.5 degrees, neutral position

Fairway Wood: Nike VR_S Covert 3-wood — 14-degrees, Nike VR_S Covert 5-wood — 18 degrees

Irons: Nike VR Pro Combo 3 through PW

Wedges: Nike VR Pro 55-degree and 59-degree wedges

Putter: Nike Method Prototype

Ball: Nike 20XI

Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance Collection

Footwear: Nike Lunar Control II

Click here to see what people are saying in the “Tour/Pre-release equipment” forum. 

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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.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Primo

    Jan 11, 2013 at 12:48 am

    I’m loyal to Mizuno irons and switch between TM and Callaway woods. I am not a Nike fan and their shoes are sometimes stylish but don’t last. With that said, I spent the better part of a day swinging unmarked/masked clubs during a fitting. I reluctantly but honestly will state I had Nike products in the top 3 of every category. The masking eliminated some of the bias (I know a Ping, callaway, TM, Mizuno more or less without having to see the label). The weren’t the best according to the launch monitor for me, but weren’t far off. The pro felt mizuno and ping have the best production quality, but Nike has the most money and is going crazy with R&D and hiring top designers and engineers.

  2. Judy Felton

    Jan 7, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Such promising stars. They made the right decision in signing contracts for Nike because it is a very popular brand that can provide them with the gears and equipment they need to pursue their dream of going to the top.

  3. Danny

    Jan 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Nike has to spend billions for the weekend golfers who don’t know anything about great equipment. Fact is that most of these guys play Titleist by choice until Nike pays them to use their garbage. Titleist is one of only a few brands that guys play even when they are paid by another company.

  4. old school harry

    Jan 3, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Hey, “no love”, ever heard about those new machines that adjust loft and lie? He tweeks the gaps so he can dump an iron and pick up a scoring wedge. Pretty common, how else do you think Zach Johnson can hit a 180 yd. 7 iron in Florida during March?

  5. pinhigh18

    Jan 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    With Nike (well many of the other OEMs as well, but maybe more so with Nike), it seems to me that there is a huge gap between their product lineup between what their pros use and what we see a lot of on the store shelves. I agree with Hipper above, I see something from Nike as a giveaway and it doesn’t get my pulse going at all because it is nothing like the pro lineup. Enjoyed everyone’s input, but for some reason, I kind of hate to see the Titleist stable moving to Nike.

  6. Nate

    Jan 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    What is with all the hate for Nike? I wonder how many people that say how bad their product line is have even swung a Nike anything! I ditched my Titleist irons and driver because the Nike VR line is just better. The TW blades are unreal and VR Pro LE driver is a beast and so easy to hit. My AP irons were numb and the 910 D3 was just a dud. Worst $1500.00 dollars I’ve spent in my life. Bring on the hate, but if the Titleist stuff was better, I’d still be playing them and wouldn’t have spent the money to switch clubs.

  7. Hipper

    Jan 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Funny to read how the Nike product is so close to what both of these players played before. Maybe, someday Nike can produce quality products that players can use without getting big dollars for using. Nike is the King of Tee Prizes at Pro-Ams. Why? The stuff doesn’t sell and that is how Nike dumps their product. I play in many pro-ams on LPGA and Web.Com tours and Nike is always available. I have asked why to many tournament directors, and the answer is always the same…..Nike’s stuff is so cheap we can make it look like we are offing a great Tee Prize!

  8. Ron Faldo

    Jan 3, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Do people really think that with all of the money and resources Nike has that at this point in the game they will put out inferior equipment? Rory changed and tweaked his new weapons in a day. It’s the amateurs and the hackers that try a new driver or irons and in 2 rounds say “oh these are garbage I can’t hit these” As a teaching professional and 2 handicap I se this everyday. I played Hogan blades, then Titleist, went back to Hogans because they were more precise and now to the Nike VR Pro blades because of the technology and feedback. I have already hit the Covert and it is solid. Nike will be the winningest brand on tour this year and oh yeah….Schwartzel back to back by more than 10 shots…….

  9. Greg

    Jan 3, 2013 at 10:13 am

    With these kind of deals, it is not about the equipment regardless of what the players say. It is a money deal only, as it always is when players go to Nike. Nobody goes there because of the quality of the equipment – they go there in spite of the equipment. The switch occurs because of the mountain of cash Nile puts on the table. It is all about marketing with that company.

  10. Cesar

    Jan 2, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Whether a fan or not for the big swoosh, you have to give it to them. They have marketed extremely well and have taken a huge leap of faith into the golfing industry and have been extremely successful in doing so. Just like a current Nike player by the name of Tiger changed the golfing tour and paychecks some of these guys get, they are also changing the way other companies go about getting new and improved products out for its consumers. Like them or hate them, you have to love the fact that they are pushing your favorite golf gear company to keep up with all the technology out there, giving you the best available items out there.

  11. Huge

    Jan 2, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    NIKE is certainly starting to do waht they said they would do…can’t wait to get my hands on the new COVERT driver…and yes I would take it even if I had to pay for it!

  12. luke keefner

    Jan 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Didn.t Nike start out as a sneaker company? My son and I have had several pairs of Nike golf shoes and they have all self destructed during the second season. My Foot Joys are the most comfortable shoes I own and they are still going strong after 4 years

  13. luke keefner

    Jan 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I always thought the Nike “swoosh” looked like a check. As in big paycheck. Won’t be no tinky sounding Nike driver in my bag. Nope

  14. Mike

    Jan 2, 2013 at 3:06 am

    I dont see Rory picking up the latest Covert driver. Guess the VR gear is not that bad after all. However I will mot buy into Nike. Titleist will remain the best OEM

  15. G

    Jan 2, 2013 at 12:53 am

    But in return, who did Titleist pick up? Titty must have picked up some players too, I bet.

    • Trey

      Jan 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      They lost Stanley, Watney, Woodland, and Rory. Also failed to pick up Ryo. Tough offseason for Titleist.

  16. Dtowngolf

    Jan 2, 2013 at 12:18 am

    A 11.5 degree driver, must be one of the lowest spinning shafts on tour. Seems like a lot of loft for a tour player

    • ph84

      Jan 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      11.5 is nothing. guys out there have used 12, 13 deg drivers. all about high launch and low spin

  17. tim

    Jan 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    great move for the swoosh!!!!! nike will hold 3 of 4 majors if not all in 2013!!!! been loyal nike player for 6 years now….gets better every year

  18. Gerald

    Jan 1, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Titleist: the new Wilson!

  19. nick

    Jan 1, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Whatever Mike, you’d take that nike equipment for any deal if they gave it to you.

  20. Mike

    Jan 1, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Don’t care how many players Nike will sign over next years. Non of this gear will go in my bag. Non of this red painted drivers nonsense for me thanks very much – won’t take it for free.

  21. Brandell

    Jan 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Kris… Are you suggesting that he looked any better before? Lol. At least now he can wear some colorfull trending apparel and not just plain white or black from Boss. Smart move by the “SWOOSH”to sign these guys. I think Nike will own the golf industry before you realize it. Product looks amazing.

    • kris

      Jan 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      I am just a loyal titleist player and hate to see them losing all their stars

  22. kris

    Jan 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Good for Kyle, Wish Nick would have stayed with Titleist, looking kinda dorky in the NIke SWOOSH

  23. Wojtu?

    Jan 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    last year Kyle Stanley had iron set 4-9
    so it is little bit surprising
    and he had 13.5* 3 wood and now he will have 15*
    will see how it work for him

  24. BMoooooore

    Jan 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Man Titleist lost a bunch of horses this year to NIKE. I will be interested to see the adjustment to new equipment and how that goes. Probably brought over their titleist stuff to NIKE and said copy that exactly and I am in.

  25. No Love

    Jan 1, 2013 at 11:45 am

    3-9? No love for the pitching wedge? Is Nike gonna make him a 48*?

    • 14 club rule

      Jan 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      He is looking to carry a 2 iron and 3 wedges… no room for the PW unless he ditches his putter…. 14 is the golden number.

  26. chris

    Jan 1, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Not crazy about his swing…time will tell if this is a good deal for Nike.

    • Trey

      Jan 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Which swing aren’t you crazy about? Tough to decide which one of these two guys have a swing that you can’t love…

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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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