By Zak Kozuchowski
GolfWRX Managing Editor
TaylorMade is the biggest, baddest golf company on the planet, and continued its momentum at this 2012 PGA Merchandise Show. At demo day on Wednesday, golfers stood in long lines to test TaylorMades’s new RBZ product line, which included new drivers, woods, hybrids, irons and wedges. Many doubted the success of the line, but the much hyped clubs lived up to the company’s promises. They look beautiful, and perform even better.
I tested the RBZ Tour Driver, 3 wood and hybrid on a Flightscope. Here are my results.
The RocketBallz driver continues in the tradition of TaylorMade’s Burner series. The 460cc head comes in a regular and tour version, which is a lower spinning model. Its classic shape is great to look at, and even more fun to hit. With the help of a TaylorMade custom fitter, I was launching a 9 degree Tour version at 13 degrees with 2600 rpms of spin with a stock Matrix HD6 X-stiff shaft. The results? 317 yards, an improvement over my current Adams 9023LS gamer.
What I was most impressed with, however, was the forgiveness of the driver. Even on the drives I badly missed, I was still in the 280-290 yard range.
THE 3 WOOD
The RBZ fairway woods were the most buzzed club of the RBZ family, and for good reason. TaylorMade promised double-digit gains over their previous model. Being a high-speed player, I doubted I would see that much of an improvement. I was wrong.
The RBZ Tour 3 wood I tested was the same loft as my TaylorMade Burner HFS 3 wood (14.5 degrees) and the same length (43.5 inches). The Tour version is a little smaller and lower spinning than the standard RBZ 3 wood. I tested the Tour version with the stock X-stiff Matrix XCON shaft. The RBZ head is bigger, more forgiving, and amazingly 14 yards longer than my gamer. My best swing produced a high, low spin shot that went 279 yards. You’ll see it in my bag soon.
I tested the RBZ Tour 3 hybrid (18.5 degrees). Again, the Tour version is lower spinning than the standard RBZ hybrid. I was impressed with its compact shape and clean look. From heel to toe, it was shorter than my gamer, and Adams a7 19 degree hybrid, and had a slightly taller profile. It launched higher and with less spin than my A7, and it went forever. My best swing sent the ball 245 yards.
RocketBallz is for real. I’m convinced that the slot in the sole of the woods and hybrids not only improves ball speed, but adds significant forgiveness as well. If you can handle the aggressive name and white-and-lime-green color scheme, these are the woods for you. If you can’t, read tomorrow’s story on the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show’s biggest winners. I tested another company’s lineup that killed it at this year’s show.
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Review: FlightScope Mevo
In 100 Words
The Mevo is a useful practice tool for amateur golfers and represents a step forward from previous offerings on the market. It allows golfers to practice indoors or outdoors and provides club speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, spin rate, carry distance and flight time.
It also has a video capture mode that will overlay swing videos with the swing data of a specific swing. It is limited in its capabilities and its accuracy, though, which golfers should expect at this price point. All in all, it’s well worth the $499 price tag if you understand what you’re getting.
The Full Review
The FlightScope Mevo is a launch monitor powered by 3D Doppler radar. With a retail price of $499, it is obviously aimed to reach the end consumer as opposed to PGA professionals and club fitters.
The Mevo device itself is tiny. Like, really tiny. It measures 3.5-inches wide, 2.8-inches tall and 1.2-inches deep. In terms of everyday products, it’s roughly the size of an Altoids tin. It’s very easy to find room for it in your golf bag, and the vast majority of people at the range you may be practicing at won’t even notice it’s there. Apart from the Mevo itself, in the box you get a quick start guide, a charging cable, a carrying pouch, and some metallic stickers… more on those later. It has a rechargeable internal battery that reaches a full charge in about two hours and lasts for about four hours when fully charged.
As far as software goes, the Mevo pairs with the Mevo Golf app on your iOS or Android device. The app is free to download and does not require any subscription fees (unless you want to store and view videos of your swing online as opposed to using the memory on your device). The app is very easy to use even for those who aren’t tech savvy. Make sure you’re using the most current version of the firmware for the best results, though (I did experience some glitches at first until I did so). The settings menu does have an option to manually force firmware writing, but updates should happen automatically when you start using the device.
Moving through the menus, beginning sessions, editing shots (good for adding notes on things like strike location or wind) are all very easy. Video mode did give me fits the first time I used it, though, as it was impossible to maintain my connection between my phone and the Mevo while having the phone in the right location to capture video properly. The only way I could achieve this was by setting the Mevo as far back from strike location as the device would allow. Just something to keep in mind if you find you’re having troubles with video mode.
Using the Mevo
When setting up the Mevo, it needs to be placed between 4-7 feet behind the golf ball, level with the playing surface and pointed down the target line. The distance you place the Mevo behind the ball does need to be entered into the settings menu before starting your session. While we’re on that subject, before hitting balls, you do need to select between indoor, outdoor, and pitching (ball flight less than 20 yards) modes, input your altitude and select video or data mode depending on if you want to pair your data with videos of each swing or just see the data by itself. You can also edit the available clubs to be monitored, as you will have to tell the Mevo which club you’re using at any point in time to get the best results. Once you get that far, you’re pretty much off to the races.
Testing the Mevo
I tested the FlightScope Mevo with Brad Bachand at Man O’ War Golf Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Brad is a member of the PGA and has received numerous awards for golf instruction and club fitting. I wanted to put the Mevo against the best device FlightScope has to offer and, luckily, Brad does use his $15,000 FlightScope X3 daily. We had both the FlightScope Mevo and Brad’s FlightScope X3 set up simultaneously, so the numbers gathered from the two devices were generated from the exact same strikes. Brad also set up the two devices and did all of the ball striking just to maximize our chances for success.
The day of our outdoor session was roughly 22 degrees Fahrenheit. There was some wind on that day (mostly right to left), but it wasn’t a major factor. Our setup is pictured below.
The results of our outdoor testing are shown below. The testing was conducted with range balls, and we did use the metallic stickers. The range balls used across all the testing were all consistently the same brand. Man O’ War buys all new range balls once a year and these had been used all throughout 2017. The 2018 batch had not yet been purchased at the time that testing was conducted.
You’ll notice some peculiar data in the sand wedge spin category. To be honest, I don’t fully know what contributed to the X3 measuring such low values. While the Mevo’s sand wedge spin numbers seem more believable, you could visibly see that the X3 was much more accurate on carry distance. Below is a quick summary of the percent differences between each of the parameters as presented by the Mevo and the X3 in our outdoor session when separated out for each club. As previously mentioned, though, take sand wedge spin with a grain of salt.
The first thing we noticed was that the Mevo displays its numbers while the golf ball is still in midair, so it was clear that it wasn’t watching the golf ball the entire time like the X3. According to the Mevo website, carry distance, height and flight time are all calculated while club speed, ball speed, launch angle and spin rate are measured. As for the accuracy of the measured parameters, the Mevo’s strength is ball speed. The accuracy of the other measured ball parameters (launch angle and spin rate) is questionable depending on certain factors (quality of strike, moisture on the clubface and ball, quality of ball, etc). I would say it ranges between “good” or “very good” and “disappointing” with most strikes being categorized as “just okay.”
As for the calculated parameters of carry distance, height and time, those vary a decent amount. Obviously, when the measurements of the three inputs become less accurate, the three outputs will become less accurate as a result. Furthermore, according to FlightScope, the Mevo’s calculations are not accounting for things like temperature, humidity, and wind. The company has also stated, though, that future updates will likely adjust for these parameters by using location services through the app.
Now, let’s talk about those metallic stickers. According to the quick start guide, the Mevo needs a sticker on every golf ball you hit, and before you hit each ball, the ball needs to be placed such that the sticker is facing the target. It goes without saying that it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to spend time putting those stickers on every ball, let alone balls that will never come back to you if you’re at a public driving range. Obviously, people are going to want to avoid using the stickers if they can, so do they really matter? Below is a table of data showing the percent difference between the Mevo’s data and the X3’s data of what we collected outdoors with a driver and range balls with and without the use of the stickers.
The FlightScope website says that the metallic stickers “are needed in order for the Mevo to accurately measure ball spin.” We observed pretty much the same as shown in the table above. The website also states they are working on alternative solutions to stickers (possibly a metallic sharpie), which I think is wise.
Another thing we thought would be worth testing is the impact of different golf balls. Below is a table of data showing the percent difference between the Mevo’s data and the X3’s data of what we collected outdoors with a driver and range balls as compared to Pro V1’s. All of this data was collected using the metallic stickers.
As shown above, the data gets much closer virtually across the board when you use better quality golf balls. Just something else to keep in mind when using the Mevo.
Indoor testing requires 8 feet of ball flight (impact zone to hitting net), which was no problem for us. Our setup is pictured below. All of the indoor testing was conducted with Titleist Pro V1 golf balls using the metallic stickers.
The results of our indoor session are shown below.
Below is a quick summary of the percent differences between each of the parameters as presented by the Mevo and the X3 in our indoor session when separated out for each club.
On the whole, the data got much closer together between the two devices in our indoor session. I would think a lot of that can be attributed to the use of quality golf balls and to removing outdoor factors like wind and temperature (tying into my previous comment above).
As far as overall observations between all sessions, the most striking thing was that the Mevo consistently gets more accurate when you hit really good, straight shots. When you hit bad shots, or if you hit a fade or a draw, it gets less and less accurate.
The last parameter to address is club speed, which came in around 5 percent different on average between the Mevo and X3 based on all of the shots recorded. The Mevo was most accurate with the driver at 2.1 percent different from the X3 over all strikes and it was the least accurate with sand wedge by far. Obviously, smash factor accuracy will follow club speed for the most part since ball speed is quite accurate. Over every shot we observed, the percent difference on ball speed was 1.2 percent on average between the Mevo and the X3. Again, the Mevo was least accurate with sand wedges. If I remove all sand wedge shots from the data, the average percent difference changes from 1.2 percent to 0.7 percent, which is very, very respectable.
When it comes to the different clubs used, the Mevo was by far most accurate with mid irons. I confirmed this with on-course testing on a relatively flat 170-yard par-3 as well. Carry distances in that case were within 1-2 yards on most shots (mostly related to quality of strike). With the driver, the Mevo was reasonably close, but I would also describe it as generous. It almost always missed by telling me that launch angle was higher, spin rate was lower and carry distance was farther than the X3. Generally speaking, the Mevo overestimated our driver carries by about 5 percent. Lastly, the Mevo really did not like sand wedges at all. Especially considering those shots were short enough that you could visibly see how far off the Mevo was with its carry distance. Being 10 yards off on a 90 yard shot was disappointing.
The Mevo is a really good product if you understand what you’re getting when you buy it. Although the data isn’t good enough for a PGA professional, it’s still a useful tool that gives amateurs reasonable feedback while practicing. It’s also a fair amount more accurate than similar products in its price range, and I think it could become even better with firmware updates as Flightscope improves upon its product.
This is a much welcomed and very promising step forward in consumer launch monitors, and the Mevo is definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for one.
Ari’s Course Reviews: Riviera Country Club
Riviera Country Club was designed by George Thomas and opened in 1927. Construction was done by Thomas’ right hand man, Billy Bell, whom he worked with on all of his great projects in California. Instantly regarded as a top test of golf, Riviera Country Club has hosted 3 major championships. When the pros tee it up this week at Riviera for the Genesis Open (formerly the Los Angeles Open), it will be the 55th time the course has played host to this now annual test of the best in the world.
The clubhouse is one of the most amazing in golf; it sits up on top of a hill with the golf course (other than the first tee and 18th fairway/green) laid out in the lower canyon, continuously bisected by a set of barrancas that are integral to the strategy of the course. The first tee is right next to the pro shop and is one of the most unique and best in all of golf. Literally feet away from the pro shop and the starter shack, each player gets their name and home town announced as they prepare to tee off, an experience that gives the place an even more special feel. Sometimes it’s the little details that matter. The first tee shot drops 75 feet to the fairway, giving you the feel of standing on the edge of a cliff as you tee off on the first hole.
George Thomas was all about strategy and angles in his course design. It was a constant theme in the courses he designed, as well as the books he wrote. This can be seen in most of the holes at Riviera. The best angle into the green is almost always the angle off the tee with the most trouble. You can see this on holes 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 13, 17 and 18. If you challenge the fairway bunker, or barranca, or stay tight to the tree line, you get a much more open angle into the green. If you play out to the open side of the fairway, you have a much more difficult shot into the green.
There are only two or three par 5s on the course, depending on if you’re talking about member play or the PGA Tour. The first hole is just a shade over 500 yards and sometimes plays as a par 4 for the Tour. After the extremely memorable drop-shot tee shot, you descend into the valley that most of the course occupies. A barranca crosses the fairway at about 300 yards. The green is wide and wraps around a deep centering bunker. There is a deep fairway bunker on the left side of the fairway past the barranca that does not really come into play for the Tour, but for the members if you can challenge this bunker you generally get a better angle into the green, unless the hole is cut on the far right side of the green. The 11th hole is tight between two stands of trees and crosses another barranca on the way to the green with a deep bunker guarding the right side. The 17th is a long, challenging, uphill par-5. The fairway is heavily bunkered on the left side. The right side is up tight to the tree line with only a single bunker back in the fairway. The green is large and double tiered. It is open on the left and guarded by and extremely deep bunker on the right. The best angle into the green is as close to the fairway bunkers on the left as possible.
Riviera has a great set of par 3s. The 4th hole was called the greatest par 3 in America by Ben Hogan, and it’s a long, Redan-style hole with a huge bunker short of the right-to-left sloping green. A shot out to the right with a draw can catch the contours on the right side and send the ball close to the hole just as easily as a high spinny shot right at the hole. The 6th is a true Thomas original and one of the most unique holes in the world. It’s a mid-to-long iron uphill to a large green with a bunker in the middle. The genius in this green is that it is contoured in such a way that you can get the ball close to the hole from just about any spot on the green to just about any hole location. The 14th is a mid-to-long iron to an elevated green that is wider than deep, and fronted by deep bunkers. The 16th is a gem of a shot hole, just 166 yards from the tournament tee to a very tiny, almost island of a green surrounded by sand. Besides being tiny, the green is fantastically contoured for its size and seems to fold up on itself. Hit the green and have a great chance to make birdie… miss into one of the deep green side bunkers and good luck making par!
The par 4s are nicely varied in length and challenge. Hole No. 2 is very difficult and plays uphill to a green banked into a hill that is long and skinny. Challenge the fairway bunker on the right for the better, open angle into the green. Hole No. 3 plays slightly downhill to a fantastic fallaway green. Challenge the fairway bunker on the left for the better more open angle into the green. Hole No. 5 is a standout hole with a semi-blind tee shot that bends softly to the left around the edge of the property. Its unique feature is a large grass mound that extends out into the fairway short and right of the large back to front sloping green. Hole No. 7 is a very tight driving hole; the fairway is tightened severely at about 275 yards by a huge, winding bunker that cuts in from the left side. The more you challenge this severe hazard, the better your angle into this very narrow green protected by a barranca and deep bunker on the right. The left is a bailout area cut as fairway, but the slope up to the green is steep and the up-and-down from there is not an easy one.
The 8th hole starts one of the most interesting 3-hole stretches in PGA Tour golf. It’s a split fairway par-4 with two distinct fairway sections that are bisected by a deep barranca. Depending on the hole location and ones preferred shot shape, and what fits the eye, the hole can be played any number of different ways. In general, the left fairway is a little more demanding to hit, but sets up better to most hole locations. The right fairway is a little more accessible, but leaves a more demanding shot into the green. This was one of George Thomas most famous holes and the right fairway was originally washed away in 1938. It was brought back in play around the recent turn of the century, and, while not an exact replica of what was there, provides the strategic design that Thomas intended when he designed the hole.
The 9th is one of the most difficult holes on the course and plays uphill to a deep, narrow green that falls hard from back-to-front. The tee shot is pinched by a pair of bunkers, but in true Thomas strategic fashion, they are staggered by about 55 yards so the player can plot their best line and try to execute on their strategy.
The 10th is simply one of the best holes in golf. An absolute masterpiece of a short par 4… maybe the best short par 4 in golf. The player is presented with a multitude of options off the tee. The easiest shot off the tee again yields the toughest shot into the green. A mid-iron just short of the cross bunkers carries very little risk, however, the player is then left with an extremely difficult short-iron shot into this tiny sliver of a green from absolutely the worst angle. The safest way to play this hole is to take this route from the tee and then hit your second shot short left of the green. This will give you a chance to get up-and-down for par from the best place, but intentionally missing a green on a par 4 that is barely over 300 yards is not a choice most are willing to make. The next safest option off the tee is a long iron or fairway wood down the left side towards the far left fairway bunker. This leaves a shorter shot into the green from a much better angle. Then there is also the play of hitting driver between the bunkers right at the green. Pull this off and leave yourself the best chance for par or birdie, but miss the tee shot at your peril. There are a lot of big numbers waiting on this hole for the aggressive player. The green is extremely narrow and slants hard from right-to-left. It is extremely difficult to hit from any distance. This is a hole that has perplexed the best players in the world for 90 years and has been studied by anyone that is interested in golf course architecture. Truly deserving of its reputation as one of the best in the world.
Hole Nos. 12 and 13 play along the edge of the hill that defines the property line across the valley from the clubhouse. A line of Pacific Palisades mansions look down on these holes as the land slopes gently towards the ocean. Hole No. 12 bends to the right and crosses the barranca, while 13 bends left and is tight and is lined with trees. Hole No. 15 is a hard dogleg right with a deep bunker guarding the inside of the dogleg. Play out to the safe left side and the hole plays longer but more open. Fly the fairway bunker and get into the fairway and shave some yardage off the hole. The green is huge, bisected by a large swale, and is my personal favorite on the course. The 18th is one of the most difficult and famous finishing holes in the game. A long, uphill par 4 with a blind tee shot over a hill that bends gently to the right along the tree covered hillside. The closer to the tree line on the right you find your ball, the better angle you get into the small green that is set into a natural amphitheater in the shadow of the clubhouse.
Aside from a great collection of holes, Riviera is one of those courses that is more than the sum of its parts. The routing is tight and extremely walkable, and the greens and tees are all in very close proximity to each other. Other than walking down the big hill off the first tee, and up the big hill after 18 tee, the course meanders up and over some nice rolling terrain, but there are no strenuous walks. The bunkering is stunning and fits the sense of place that you get from the course and the site well. They give the feeling that every square inch was sculpted perfectly as intended. They have lips that are built up and over which makes them extremely deep and difficult.
The site is fantastic too, ringed by mansions of the rich and famous up on the hillside and laid out mostly in the canyon below that cascades gently towards the ocean. The barrancas that run through the property are used strategically over and over again by Thomas and they add immensely to the character of the course. Unfortunately, George Thomas did not design that many courses and equally tragic even less of them are in existence today. Fortunately, Riviera is still there today, so George Thomas can still show us how much fun a course full of strategy, beauty and challenge can be.
A day at Riviera is a very special one and this is one of the PGA Tour events I most look forward to watching every year.
If you liked this review, read Ari’s review of Oakmont Country Club!
On the course? Off the course? Adidas’ new adicross line has you covered
Furthering golfwear’s trend toward the more casual and versatile in a big way, Adidas today unveiled a new line extension: Adicross.
Urban inspired. Decidedly non-traditional. The Adicross line (styled “adicross”) leverages Adidas’ clothing and footwear styles from other arenas and reimagines them for wear on the fairway. Available December 1, the line brings Anorak jackets, henleys, hoodies, joggers, and even an Oxford to the golf course.
And before you clutch your saddle shoes in terror, remember, this is a line extension targeting a particular segment of the golfing population, not a total change of course for the entire Adidas Golf brand. If you’re wondering who represents the segment in question, think Erik Anders Lang: filmmaker, irrepressible golf enthusiast, and host of Skratch TV’s Adventures in Golf.
Lang hosted a launch event in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District warehouse space where he sat down with Adidas execs and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for a chat about the new line. He praised the performance aspects of the five-pocket pant and the footwear styles, in particular.
As for golf’s top-ranked player, regarding the Adicross line, DJ told us the line is much more in keeping with stuff he’d actually wear than the baggy shirts and khakis that were the uniform of golf when he started out on tour.
“This is a line that I’ll wear all the time,” Johnson said. “I can wear it to the course and then go meet some buddies for lunch, and I’m not a walking poster for golf.”
From the Stretch-Woven Oxford, to the jogger pant, to the Adicross Bounce footwear, every item Dustin Johnson wears in picture below is intended for both on- and off-course wear.
“Adicross is the lifestyle brand that golfers everywhere have been waiting for,” said the world No. 1. “This is something that I’ll wear when I’m traveling to a tournament, practicing at home, or even headed to the gym.”
The aforementioned versatility of the Adicross line is very much a function of the materials: No-show sweat wicking technology, nylon-spandex blends (featured in the five-pocket pant and short), Primeknit (featured in Icon Polo and Jacket). These are clothes that are ready to wear to the office, but stretch, are light enough, and offer enough comfort to play 18 holes in.
“We wanted to challenge ourselves to design a line that would aid in helping athletes in their game, their life and in their world,” said Chad Alasantro, senior designer, men’s apparel at adidas Golf. “adicross is a perfect blend of hidden technology, fused with a creative aesthetic.”
The Adicross line also boldly brings street-inspired footwear to the golf course, retooling Adidas’ ultrapopular Bounce design to support the foot and grip the turf during the golf swing (and resist water during dew-sweeping early morning rounds)
“Adicross was designed as a result of the feedback we were hearing from our core consumer,” said Dylan Moore, Creative Director, Adidas Golf. “Like everyone else, golfers live in a complex, busy world with many diverse interests. They expect more from less and demand performance out of what they wear.”
The centerpiece Bounce features an ergonomic fit, offset wrapped saddle with multiple eyelet rows for customizable lacing, and a non-marking adiwear rubber spikeless outsole that features 181 strategically-placed lugs for a green-friendly grip.
The Bounce will be released in January, and additional styles will follow in February.
Regarding said “additional styles,” you can spot a few in this promo video.
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