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Confessions of a gear junkie in Korea: My new Ballistic Golf irons

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As an avid golfer and a self-professed equipment junkie, few things in life are better than discovering a piece of shiny new golf gear that brings a smile to my face and a dent to my wallet. And in Korea, where outpacing the Joneses is a national pastime, one has to be vigilant to stay ahead of the crowd.

To onlookers, most Korean golfers might come across as posers who seem more interested in looking good than playing well. It is not unusual for a set of clubs and golf bag to exceed $10K, and the 500-plus custom golf fitting studios across the country are our playground.

The colorful world of Korean golf.

Searching for the latest and greatest

The equipment and fashion we use and wear here will probably make most golfers in the Western hemisphere question our masculinity. But as the saying goes, “When in Gangnam…”

Koreans have a word to describe this expensive affliction, called “Jang-bi-byung.: It translates into “equipment-itis.”

I’m sure that such an insatiable desire for the latest and greatest gear isn’t limited only to Koreans, but I’d wager it affects a lot more of us than in most golfing countries.

And our scope of search isn’t limited only to this side of the world either.

Ballistic Golf MB proto iron heads – bullets and ball not included.

Meet Ballistic Golf, a fledgling golf brand hailing out of Iowa. And if the initial reactions from my friends are any indication, it may well be the next “it” brand for many Korean golfers.

Love at first sight

Back in mid-December, I was scouring the internet, as usual, looking for that special something when I first came across the Ballistic Forged MB irons.

I was immediately won over by the universal language of the classic muscleback—the name and logo instantly resonated with me.

I’d like to say I did the due diligence and carefully weighed the pros and cons of owning these beauties. But the truth is, I didn’t.

Luckily, the price of the clubs was lower than initially expected, thanks to the DTC (direct-to-consumer) model, and I soon became a proud owner of a set of MB irons (5-PW) and two bad-ass looking Covert wedges (52, 56).

After arranging for the clubheads to be delivered to Korea, I reached out to chat with Kyle Carpenter, founder and CEO of Ballistic.

Here’s what he had to say about the brand

“Ballistic Golf launched in July 2019, but I’ve been focused on the idea of starting the company for quite a while. The name was chosen because one definition of ballistic is ‘of or relating to the science of the motion of projectiles in flight.’ And that fits golf so perfectly. My main goal was to design clubs that golfers could perform with, while also keeping a classic look and feel to them.

“Confidence is a major key to good play on the golf course. At Ballistic Golf, we feel that our clubs radiate that feeling right from when you open the package to when you take your first swings. Players irons require confidence and consistency to play well with them, and having irons with a sleek minimalist design and surprisingly good feel on slight mishits, gives you that confidence.

“Wage War on Par’ is our mantra. We really wanted people to have the feeling that they can go out and kick par’s ass. So we made a club that looks and feels great and build on the confidence it gives you to execute the shots you know in your mind that you can hit.”

The hard pelican case and the Ballistic Golf dog tag were a great touch!

A match made in fitting heaven

Long before they arrived, I was snooping around various fitting shops in anticipation, looking through the many options of shafts. My goal was to find shafts that would best suit my game, while at the same time, elicit oohs and aahs from those who have yet to discover the brand.

After an in-depth fitting session with Jay Chung, a master club fitter with over 20 years’ experience, I had decided on Fujikura MCI graphite shafts. I was looking to try something lighter than my usual True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shafts, as I have struggled with elbow pain over the summer.

Jay Chung, master fitter at Fujikura center in Gangnam, Seoul.

During the club-making process, the first thing I noticed was how meticulous he was in preparation. After measuring every component from clubhead, to shaft, and grip, he proceeded to walk me through various factors and that can affect a club from performing at its optimum. He left nothing to chance and wrote everything down on a spec sheet that would be saved on file for my future fittings.

In the end, I was holding one of the finest-looking set of clubs I have ever owned.

The first Ballistic Golf irons in Korea—mission accomplished!

Ballistic performance

My efforts were rewarded with the appropriate amount of praise from friends and begrudging envy from the Joneses. But now it was time to put these beauties to the test.

The clean club head looks great at address, checking all the requisite boxes for a traditional muscle-back blade. Made from forged 1020 carbon steel, the heads are compact with a thin top line and sole. The progressive blade length is optimized throughout the set, and the reduced offset and classic loft make these clubs a true player’s iron.

I am by no means a superb ballstriker, but it wasn’t difficult to find the sweet spot with the new irons. Even for off-center strikes, the ball traveled farther than expected with immediate feedback. The MCI 80 stiff graphite shaft complimented the head and helped to absorb the vibrations from off-center hits.

7-irons comparison on indoor screen golf simulator

The numbers from the first simulator trials were quite comparable to my current gamer (Yonex N1MB with Matrix Ozik 70R graphite shaft), which is fitted with regular flex shafts a 1/2 inch longer.

The look and feel of any club are subjective, but the Ballistic irons felt great in my hands. At impact, it felt as if the ball stayed a fraction longer on the face, then rocket off with a soft yet firm feel and a pleasing sound.

I later compared both clubs on a TrackMan, and although I don’t have the pictures, the launch numbers and overall distance were much closer to my gamer. I attributed the improved performance to becoming more familiar with the new irons and shafts.

The Covert wedges performed as well as they looked. The cast head is made from 8620 carbon steel and framed the ball squarely at address. The sole design is designed for a variety of shot-making options around the green, and the laser-etched micro-grooves reminded me of Cleveland’s RTX-4 wedge.

The Patriot wedge has the same specs as the black Covert wedge and features a satin finish with an American flag etched on the back of the head.

Specs and price

So far, the design and presentation of the clubs were more than enough to draw the attention of everyone who saw them. The pairing of the club heads with the graphite MCI shafts continue to produce good numbers, and I can see them being in my bag for the start of the season.

The best feature aside from the eye-catching design was the price. A set of MB proto irons (4-PW) with KBS Tour steel shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips is priced at $749, and each wedge is available at $109.

When I inquired about his plans to add new club models, Kyle said he will focus only on the MB irons and the two types of wedges (RH only) for the time being; to keep things simple and traditional.

For more information, visit Ballistic.golf

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James is a golf gear-nut living and writing about all things golf in Korea. A fan of Tiger, Fred, and Seve, he is forever seeking the holy grail of golf clubs that will lower his score. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada and has been in Korea to witness the explosive growth of golf since 1996. Despite playing golf for over 30 years and being a perpetual 10-handicapper, James steadfastly claims to be the embodiment of the Average Joe Korean golfer. He can be reached at jimmyinseoul@gmail.com, and often introduces cool new Asia-based golf gear on YouTube and Instagram.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Mike Honcho

    Feb 19, 2020 at 5:49 am

    Beautiful irons and price point. Is the Ballistic almost 9 yards shorter than your Yonex or am I reading this all wrong? With graphite iron shafts I’ve noticed that R flex feels stiffer to me than a typical R flex in steel regardless of manufacturer. Did you notice any difference going from an R flex to S flex?

    • James

      Feb 19, 2020 at 6:38 am

      My gamer was indeed 9 yards longer in the picture. It is one degree stronger, and 1/2 inch longer shafts. But as I got used to the Ballistics and the new MCI 80s shafts, it was almost the same. The S graphite shaft is definitely stiffer than R graphite, and about as strong as S300 but feels so much softer. That’s their advantage. Stiff for straight shots, but feels softer to go easy on the elbows. And the lighter weight helps to maintain my swing speed throughout the whole round and get tired less.

  2. Dennis

    Feb 17, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    Nice read!

  3. Nikegolf_mania

    Feb 17, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Great post~~~

    Ballistic…definatley on the top list to replacing my Nike vr2pro blades~~~

  4. TacklingDummy

    Feb 17, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    The clubs look really nice and the price is so reasonable.

  5. Al

    Feb 17, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Sweet sticks man

  6. 2puttom

    Feb 17, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Great read, did the heads go back to their country of origin ?

    • 3 Putz

      Feb 19, 2020 at 6:05 am

      If not than somewhere over there. The office is all thats in Iowa, lol.

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Whats in the Bag

Tiger Woods WITB 2020

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  • Equipment accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open

Tiger Woods WITB 2020

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 60 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max Rocket 3 (14 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 80 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7TW (3-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade MG 2 “Tiger MT Grind” (56-12, 60-11 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS
Grip: Ping PP58 Blackout

Golf Ball: Bridgestone TourB XS

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

More photos of Tiger Woods’ WITB in the forums

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GolfWRX Spotlight: Scotty Cameron Special Select Newport 2

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When you buy a Scotty Cameron putter, you know what you are in for: quality craftsmanship, stunning attention to detail, and of course—one heck of a flat stick. Cameron has been refining his designs for more than 25 years at Titleist, and the Special Select line has become a showcase for timeless shapes known the world over, including the Newport 2.

2020-scotty-cameron-select-2

Classic shapes never go out of style, and as far as the Newport 2 in the Special Select line goes, it brings me right back to my Art of Putting Oil Can Newport 2, the one putter I wish I had never sold from my collection.

Photo: Scotty Cameron Archive

It has a noticeably thinner top line than any recent Cameron releases, which may or may not appeal to all golfers, along with sharper lines along the bumpers.

Design as a holistic utility, ebbs and flows throughout history. What was popular for a very specific reason at one point may not appeal to the same people as tastes and preferences change. The Special Select line brings back a lot of classic influences, which as a whole, will appeal to a very large number fo golfers familiar with Camerons of the past.

2020-scotty-cameron-select-5

The benefit of the modern Special Select versus the classic designs are the customization options available. The Special Select head weight changes based on the length of the putter to keep feel the same, and if you want to go a step further, you can choose to have your putter built to either the “light” or “heavy” spec directly from the Titleist custom shop. With the trend of putter heads getting heavier, I can see this becoming a very popular option.

2020-scotty-cameron-select-7

Scotty Cameron has always had a keen eye for putters and this line is no different,

“With Special Select, I wanted to get back to the pure-milled shapes and faces that I’ve been crafting for tour players for over two decades now. We’ve brought those designs into the modern era with new setups, necks, faces, grips and weights. Every aspect of every putter has been redone. When it all came together, it was pretty special.” – Scotty Cameron

Special Select Line Update:

All of the changes made to the new Special Select line versus previous releases are tour inspired and include

  • Soft Tri-sole Design: to promotes the putter sitting square to the target line at address when the putter is soled.
  • New Tungsten Balanced Weighting: These new heavier weights not only assure each putter is properly balanced based on putter length, but also offer higher MOI thanks to the greater concentration of mass on the heel and toe.
  • Refined Hosel Configurations: Each model’s hosel has been tweaked for optimized performance. For example, the Newport 2 putter features a slightly shorter plumbers neck for more toe flow, along with a new socket radius (where the hosel neck meets the top line) to offer better visibility of the ball and leading-edge at address.

Scotty Cameron Special Select Details

There are eight models to choose from in the 2020 Special Select line; three blades, and five mid-mallet options with a look and toe flow for any player’s stroke.

  • Newport, Newport 2 ( featured here), Newport 2.5, Del Mar, Fastback 1.5, Squareback 2, Flowback 5, and Flowback 5.5.

Special Select putters retail for $399.

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Equipment

TaylorMade introduces yellow TP5 and TP5X golf balls

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TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

TaylorMade Golf has introduced their new yellow versions of the TP5 and TP5X golf balls which are available online and at retail today.

Designed for high visibility, the yellow balls feature all the same technology as the original TP5 and TP5X golf balls which includes a 5-layer construction as well as a low compression core designed to increase launch angle and reduce drag.

TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

As a reminder, the TP5 and TP5X also contain the brand’s HFM (High-Flex-Material). Described by the company as its “fastest material” ever, HFM is a tightly wound spring, which is designed to create more rebound energy when compressed for added ball speed.

TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

The balls also include TaylorMade’s Speed-Layer System, which is comprised of four increasingly stiff layers, creating a Speed-Layer System that enables a soft core to be wrapped by increasingly rigid materials. This system allows each outer layer to become progressively faster with the aim of controlling spin rates without affecting speed or distance.

TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

The yellow versions of the TP5 and TP5X golf balls are available to purchase on taylormadegolf.com and through their global retail partners at retail or online.

TaylorMade TP5, TP5X Yellow

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