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My First Tour Club

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My driver is a venerable old thing that is practically wheezing and leaden compared to the latest generation of drivers but it does the job.

But after the farce of trying to get a new driver through an online friend (for the morbidly curious, the sad tale is covered in the Bag Chatter articles ‘Dude, Where’s My Driver’ parts 1 and 2) and being unwilling to buy one full priced from the local shop – and by unwilling I’m sure you know that I mean unable to justify it to my radiant beloved – I had to put the idea of getting a new one on hold for a while.

Like any budding club ‘ho’ a new driver was still on my mind when I went to my local driving range. I mean, once you’ve made your mind up that you need a new driver, it’s nigh on impossible to carry on using the old one. What was a perfectly good, if slightly old, club a little while before became the source of all my driving woes. If I sliced it OB, it was because I was using an old driver. If I stone-cold topped one, it was because I was using a old driver. The only way out of this would be to buy one, but how could I pick up a new driver built to my exacting – and somewhat finicky – standards without paying an arm and a leg. There was no way it was going to happen but I just couldn’t get it out of my mind.

That can only be the reason why I noticed a particular club so quickly as I walked through the shop part of the driving range and in one corner saw a driver jammed in amongst the swing trainers and starter sets. The fact that it was put in this area was odd as at first glance it certainly looked reasonably high end, so I stopped, picked it up and noticed it was a TaylorMade.

Now TaylorMade gets a lot of flak for having a product release cycle that is shorter than a Formula One lap time but it has made some corking clubs, especially drivers. Not every one is a hit certainly – the R5 XL was made for budget golf shops and resembles a baked bean can on a riding crop and plays about the same – but there are some genuine contenders for greatness, like the TP versions of the 510 and the R7 425.

When I turned the driver over, I could see that it was a mint version of the latter. Now everyone is different but in my personal pantheon of drivers, there are very few better than the R7 425 TP. I’ve demoed this club countless times and loved it every time but never found any way of justifying being able to buy it new. Buying it second-hand was always going to be a risk as TaylorMade seems to have the highest rate of fakes of any golf brand but here was one right in front of me, apparently brand new and in the correct loft too.

Years of rugby and aussie rules football have left me with a golf swing with a fair amount of head speed, even if it does resembles a man wrestling a snake when I’m at the top of my back swing. Because of this, I tend to like heavier and stiffer shafts than normal in an attempt to rein in my wilder shots from the tee and reduce the likelihood of decapitating my playing partners. I was fully expecting the shaft to be a fairly standard 65g regular or stiff flex shaft at which point I would have put it down and walked off, but when I turned it over to have a look it, it was a 75g extra-stiff Rombax shaft. The extra-stiff flex was one thing but a heavy extra-stiff shaft is another. Shafts that heavy and stiff aren’t usually seen in your average golf shop mechandise. Surely you’d expect to see something like this in the bag of a pro, wouldn’t you?

It turns out that you would. On the hosel was the serial number – as all bar some of the most recent TaylorMade clubs have them – except this one began with a “T” and had a faint “B” pin-punched next to it, signifying that this club was Tour-issue (the ‘T’) and had been tested for C.O.R limits (the ‘B’).

Now I’ve never quite got the fascination with Tour issue equipment that some people seem to have. No matter how many times the myths that surround them (higher grade titanium, special forgings or some other voodoo) are debunked people still go out of their way to and spend vast amounts of money on equipment that has been fitted for someone else. Yet in front of me was a club that could not have been better suited if it had been made especially for me – and it was ‘Tour Issue’ so it had that added magic sparkle that all Tour issue clubs have. Who knows, this club may have ‘rubbed hosels’ with the drivers of Sergio Garcia or Justin Rose – I could almost feel the extra 10 yards with Tour trajectory waiting to explode from the club face!

All joking aside, what really did it for me was the fact that the club was being sold for slightly less than half the price of the retail TP versions that the shop was selling. This thing looked like it had been at the range once – no scuffs or marks on the sole or crown and just barely the hint that the face had seen the backside of a ProV1 at speed – but because it wasn’t factory fresh it had a huge mark down.

I asked one of the guys behind the counter if he knew who was selling this club. He told me that it was one of the Touring Pros that occasional practised  there who was looking to clear out some of his equipment at the end of the season, ‘and he’s over there if you want a word’ he added, pointing at someone on the other side of the shop.

Over I leapt like a scalded cat and introduced myself and said that I was interested in buying the driver. I can’t reveal his name in deference to the fact that tour pros should not really be selling on their equipment (although let’s be honest the sheer amount of tour issue kit knocking around shows that most do) but he wasn’t completely unknown to me. He said that the driver was a great club but that he never used it so he thought he would get rid of it. The cynic in me may also have noted that he had a less than stellar year last year and might have been getting some cash for the Christmas season by getting rid of his unused clubs. He also confirmed that it was dead on spec as regards to loft and set up a degree open. So nothing that would exacerbate my bad shot, a high slinging duck hook. Better and better.

So what it meant was that here was a driver of confirmed tour provenance, with the right loft and the perfect shaft at the right price. I couldn’t resist and bought it there and then. Since then I’ve put it into play and it’s been everything I thought it would be. Of course, it’s not been a magic wand – no extra 30 yards or always splitting the fairway – but I have a phenomenal driver that plays exactly how I want it to and has that little extra bit of glamour every time I tee up with it and frankly I couldn’t be happier.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Dan G

    Jan 11, 2008 at 1:36 am

    As a former professional I do know that there is some difference between the tour clubs and the general public clubs, I have seen it first hand. And as being a former staff professional for TM, I have been to the Kingdom and seen some of the tour stuff…..(not going to see most of it on the shelves of the local pro shop any time soon!!!) The tour issued R7 TP 425 drivers that I had were not all that different from the TP versions sold in the store, aside from the shaft options and the work that was done to the driver head by the tour department at TM. They messed with the loft and the amount that the driver was bent open. That is the major difference is the fact that they adjust the driver to the users specs…whereas the driver you buy in the store is what it is, until you get it fixed…..If you know what your specs are and you can find a club or driver that is fit to those specs tour or not……it will work better than the traditional off the rack standard specs….(unless you fit in that category of a standard spec guy or girl)……
    Dan

  2. johnnypro

    Jan 9, 2008 at 8:47 am

    The r7 425TP might be the best driver I’ve ever played. I have a retail TP with the “stock” Rombax 75 shaft. Played it almost all of last year. Looks beautiful (to me, anyway), plenty long, plenty straight, plenty forgiving. And doesn’t sound like a tin can. I just bought a Tour head in the same loft. Haven’t shafted it yet but it sure looks more open than the retail which, for me, can only be a good thing. We’ll see.

  3. LaMont in AZ

    Jan 9, 2008 at 12:55 am

    Awesome story! I too am a slave to the “TOUR ISSUE” sort of stuff. I doubt that it is what I should have in my bag, but the aura of it always intrigues me.
    It is also great that you were able to meet the pro and get all the goodies on the set-up, face angle and such.
    I too have a Tour Issue R7 425TP in the bag and one day, when I get a driver swing back, it’ll probably live up to its reputation.
    Thanks for the great story.
    LaMont in AZ

  4. Kurren

    Jan 9, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Wow! You got pretty lucky.

    Congradulations though. Enjoy the new driver!

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Equipment

PXG expanding Battle Ready putter collection with Closer and Spitfire

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PXG is expanding its Battle Ready Collection of putters with the all-new: Closer and Spitfire models which are 100 percent milled and have been engineered to combine high MOI with prominent alignment features to increase confidence on the greens. 

“Golfers love options. And our new Battle Ready Closer and Spitfire are two of the very best putters you’ll ever use. Period. These putters are fully optimized, from CG and MOI to stability and alignment so that you can sink more putts” -PXG founder and CEO Bob Parsons

Battle Ready Closer

The Battle Ready Closer is a high MOI wide-body blade featuring high-density tungsten in the heel and toe to increase the putter’s stability compared to the previous model and optimize the center of gravity.

Beyond the flange sightline, the geometry of the head is intentionally built around parallel and perpendicular lines for easy alignment.

Battle Ready Spitfire

The Spitfire is a “wide-winged” mallet with the wings built using tungsten to create a very high-MOI and to also aid with alignment.

Technology

  • Optimized face pattern – Like with previous PXG putters, the pyramid face pattern optimizes the ball speed across the putter face by reducing speed on center strikes while also retaining speed towards the heel and toe, all providing a soft feel. The face ensures consistency in all parameters that affect roll including; initial ball velocity, launch angle, spin rate, and skid.
  • Tungsten weighting – For maximum stability, the putter has an added tungsten frame along the perimeter to boost MOI and create a deeper center of gravity. The Tungsten works alongside the lightweight aluminum frame to remove mass away from the center while still having ports for weight customization.

Price, specs, and availability

Both the Battle Ready series Closer and Spitfire putters will retail at $525 but are being introduced at a special introductory price of $295. For more information or book a putter fitting, visit PXG.com or call 844.PLAY.PXG.

Specs will vary based on putter configurations, but each putter will have the option for a plumber’s neck, Heel Shafted, Double Bend, or Armlock – provide additional customization based on a player’s unique stroke style.

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Equipment

Lots of new and old gear in play at Wells Fargo Championship

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With the next major of the golf season, the PGA Championship, coming up in just a few weeks at Kiawah Island, players are gearing up and pulling out all the stops when it comes to dialing in their clubs. For many players, this means getting news clubs in the bag, and for others, it also means potentially going back to some old favorites that just “feel right.”

Already this week, we spotted Rory McIlroy going back to his TaylorMade Rors Proto irons, and after closely inspecting the many tour gallery pictures from the Wells Fargo, there was a lot more we spotted.

Here’s the rundown.

Justin Thomas continues to stick with Titleist TS3

Although he did test the TSi Series drivers when they were released, Justin Thomas continues to stick with the same TS3 driver that helped him win The Players earlier this year.

Jason Dufner with new Cobra 3D printed putter

The Duf-man has been in tinker mode with the putter for a while now, and this week, he had a new (presumably) 3D printed fang style Cobra putter on greens at Quail Hollow. We did catch up to him later in the day where he had another Cobra putter he has been using for a while, so I guess it’s going to be a game-time decision come Thursday.

Patrick Cantlay getting used to his new Scotty Cameron

Patrick has long been a blade putter guy, but a few weeks ago he was seen with an Odyssey 2-Ball at the RBC Heritage, and this week in Charlotte he was using a Scotty Cameron T-5.

Corey Conners with new Ping i59 irons

The new Ping i59 irons are the talk of GolfWRX right now and for good reason — they look really cool! Ping staffers must be taking notice because not only has Viktor Hovland made the switch but so has Corey Conners (above) and Hunter Mahan (below).

The switch has also been confirmed thanks to Ping’s continuously updated WITB section of their website.

Bryson back to Cobra LTD

After testing a new “Bryson prototype” Cobra RadSpeed driver at the Masters in April, Mr. DeChambeau is back to the Bay Hill-par-5-driving Cobra LTD.  Considering his driving was such a strength in that win, it looks like it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Pat Perez with PXG Gen4 irons

Pat Perez changes his Jordan shoes a lot more often than he changes his irons, but this week he has a new set of PXG 0311 Gen4 irons in the bag, which are easy to spot thanks to their signature weight screw in the back of the head.

To keep up to date with all the discussion around equipment this week at Quail Hollow and to see all of the galleries head over to the GolfWRX forums: 2021 Wells Fargo – Discussion & Links

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Equipment

Anyone play a 9-wood? – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been discussing 9-woods. WRXer ‘Uglande’ wants to know if there is a place for the 9-wood in the bag, especially after the revival of 7-woods in the modern game, saying:

“4-iron is a tricky spot for a lot of us, and I have never gotten along with hybrids. Is bagging a 9 wood that crazy of an idea? If Dustin Johnson can hit a 7 wood, why isn’t a 9 wood a realistic choice for the rest of us mortals?”

And our members have been having their say on the matter in our forum.

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.

  • tbowles411: “Sure do. Love it. It gives me around 200 yards off the tee and off the deck. It makes the long game easier for me, by a LOT!”
  • Feelingofgreatness: “9 wood is generally higher MOI, higher launching and across the spectrum more backspin and less hook bias.”
  • Argonne69: “Yeah, I replaced my 4h with a 9w a few seasons ago. I had trouble getting the hybrid airborne at times, but the 9w launches easily. I also have a 7w.”
  • mosesgolf: “Yup. I love mine, which replaced the 4 iron. It is so much easier to hit and elevate.”

Entire Thread: “Anyone play a 9-wood?”

 

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