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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 [email protected], 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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Equipment

Longest hybrid of 2021? – GolfWRXers discuss

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In our forums, our members have been taking a deep dive into the latest hybrids. WRXer ‘Russian7’ kicks off the discussion saying

“Anyone compare or hit G425, SIM, RadSpeed or Tsi to compare? I am dying to find something that can replace my Jetspeed 3 hybrid, but after all these years, there is nothing as long as it that I’ve found, but I would really like something new that looks a lot better but performs the same as my jet speed. I was looking at the G425 possibly..”

And our members have been sharing their thoughts in our forums.

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.

  • Jwin323: “Callaway Super hybrid.”
  • JoeFrigo: “Like mentioned above, if you’re looking for flat out distance, nothing will beat the Callaway super hybrid, and it’s not close. But for 2021 release I’m seeing some impressive numbers with the PXG Proto hybrid. Sim2 Rescue is a close 2nd. Ultimately PXG was surprisingly very forgiving for the profile, and it’s honestly my favorite club to hit at the moment.”
  • Drivingrangehero: “Tour Edge Exotics C721. They picked up where Adams left off, in my opinion.”
  • Hollywoodtlb: “Got fit into the G425 17 degree with tour shaft x-stiff and was hitting bombs with it. Never hit any 3 wood or hybrid straighter. Obviously when I get it, I’ll go back to hitting awful, but I’m very excited to get it. Gets off the ground very easily.”

Entire Thread: “Longest hybrid of 2021?”

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Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (06/14/21):Toulon Garage San Diego

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buy and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a Toulon Garage San Diego ($600).

From the seller (@tgoodspe1991): Brand new Toulon Garage San Diego customized in a likeness of TW’s flat stick. Never used, will ship in Toulon box with the ball marker, repair tool, and plaque that it comes with. Length: 36″, Lie: 68*, Loft: Standard, Finish: Tour Satin with Black and Dark Red paint fill, Shaft: All black steel shaft, Grip: Dark Red Larkin Deep Etch, PRICE: $600 shipped OBO.

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Toulon Garage San Diego 

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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Whats in the Bag

Garrick Higgo’s winning WITB: 2021 Palmetto Championship

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Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue  7 X

Hybrid: Titleist TSi3 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos HB Tour Spec Blue 8 X

Irons: Titleist T100 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (50-12F, 56-14F, 60-06K10S)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x (2021)

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