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GolfWRX Spotlight: Tour Edge Exotics EXS Blade wedge review

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At GolfWRX, we leave no stone unturned to find the best golf equipment on the market. Although this may come across as an insinuation that some golf equipment can be found under rocks, that is not that case. One of the names that has long intrigued me is Tour Edge. I consider it the next Mizuno (with apologies to anyone who finds fault with that characterization.)

For the longest time, Mizuno flew well under the radar, preferring to spend dollars on research and development, rather than self-promotion and tour sponsorships. Guess what? Same business model at Tour Edge. Those who play TE stand by the equipment as if defending a fortress. That was enough for me to reach out to the company, to find out what is really up with the Illinois firm.

Supplied to me were 54-degree and 58-degree Tour Edge Exotics EXS Blade wedges, with a True Temper Dynamic Gold 115 shaft in each. Over the course of one month, I had the opportunity to put them in play on a variety of golf courses. I decided to not test them in practice circumstances, as that is not the modus operandi of the majority of recreational golfers. Instead, my thinking was, I’ll pull them out of the bag when I need them, and we’ll see how they feel, how they connect, how the ball reacts, and how my confidence wanes or grows. In other words, I gave them a real-world, weekend-golfer assessment.

After my on-course review, I dug into the true technology behind the release of the EXS Blade series. After a thorough inspection, three elements of the clubhead construction stood out, and I feel justified in sharing them with you here. These aspects are: milling, the flared toe, and sole grind. Each is unique to this club, and separates it from wannabe peers.

1. Milling

The first aspect of milling, as related to these wedges, concerns the milling out process of moving weight up and down for distance control. We are fallible swingers of clubs, and our strikes are not always where we anticipate. Tour Edge anticipates this. If we deloft or proloft the club face, weight is there to save us to a degree.

The second aspect of milling is milling for precisely-forged tolerances. The grooves are exact. Their spin communication is exact. Our pitches and chips are more exact, thanks to individually-milled faces.

2. Flared Toe Design

My word of the day is chamfer, which is a cut into a right angle, for transitioning purposes. Like a bevel, it is a carpentry term. There is a chamfer on the rear of the face, directly above the words Milled Forging. What appear to be aesthetic, is actually part of the weight-positioning process. The flared toe allows for continued distribution of weight (see milling out above) to enhance shot values.

I’m an aesthetics guy, and the wedges I used previous to receipt of these (54 and 58 degree) models, had a traditional toe, with more of a gentle pear shape. The Tour Edge flared toe stands out to me, or at least it did, over the rounds I’ve played. Reminding my own self that I had to trust the tech, it wasn’t long before the form took a back seat to the function.

3. Dual Groove Construction

Something I had not encountered in wedge development, is dual groove construction. The grooving for the lower lofts (50 and 52 degree) differs from that found on the higher-loft (54, 56, 58, 60 degree) clubs. According to Jon Claffey, vice president of marketing at Tour Edge Golf,

The dual groove construction optimizes groove edge contact, maximizing the spin needed for the diverse array of shots around the green.

What this means to me, then, is that shots that come in lower (and hotter, even fractionally) will benefit from deeper grooves (more spin.) This will align those wedges with the higher-lofted ones, whose descent into the green will be steeper and softer, and will not require the same bite as their more vertical siblings.

Verdict

These wedges will stay in my bag, replacing the Mizunos that were there before. I’ll look forward to seeing how they wear over time, as five rounds become ten, become twenty, and more. If something magical (or unfortunate) occurs, I’ll speak up below in the comment space, to apprise you of the realization.

If you haven’t heard of Tour Edge before, and also if you have, give them a look. Golf club companies don’t stay in business on pity and charity; they need solid product that emanates from quality research and development. Tour Edge has four golfers on PGA Tour Champions on staff. Consider this for a moment: you’re in the twilight of your career (sad, happens to all of us) so you decide to use inferior equipment? NEVER going to happen. That’s why Lehman, McCarron, Petrovic, and Waldorf opted in on Tour Edge golf for their PGA Tour Champions livelihood.

 

 

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Dave Bryce

    Nov 20, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    Have the 56 degrees bent too 55,love this wedge,looks,feel and spin are great!

  2. boydenit

    Oct 17, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    A lot of milling, milling, milling for a club that look like it was made in China for a few dollars a head!

    • Ronald Montesano

      Oct 18, 2020 at 7:43 am

      Beauty and all things are in the eye of the beholder. Exclamation points should be used sparingly. Here is a link to their description page: https://www.touredge.com/exotics-exs-pro-forged-blade-wedge

      They have contact information on site, and would be happy to discuss the process with you. Worth a call, I suspect.

    • Wedge Guy

      Oct 19, 2020 at 8:55 am

      Wow. I’m a club fanatic from way back and I’m shocked you would say that. These scream premium to me. I guess beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

      • Ronald Montesano

        Oct 23, 2020 at 8:55 am

        They play so well. I was invited to a premium course in Buffalo last weekend, and had so many 50-100 yard shots into greens (had to punch out a lot 🙂

        I was so darned comfortable with them. Hit the ball inside 15 feet on all of those 3rdies into par 4s. Putter was balky, but wedges were stellar.

  3. Milo

    Oct 17, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    I’m looking for a 46° to take the place of my PW. Probably end up being a Mizuno. I have a 60° mack daddy • forged raw and a 56° S5 blue ion.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Oct 18, 2020 at 7:46 am

      Are you a “looks” player or a “feel” player? As I revealed above, the look matters to me, so I had to get used to a bit different toe on the Tour Edge club. How do the Mack Daddy and Blue Ion toes and top lines compare, or doesn’t that matter? If it doesn’t, awesome…you can pick the best-feeling wedge to fill the 46 degree gap.

      If looks do matter psychologically, you’re handcuffed a bit, but there are so many options available. I can’t wait to see how the new Tour Edge lines/toe compare with the one I just reviewed.

  4. ChristianR

    Oct 17, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    They’re also known for their hybrid and fairway woods, but latest models of drivers have got lot of positive reviews, looks like they have the numbers of the big ones despite a lower price.

    • Ronald Montesano

      Oct 18, 2020 at 7:48 am

      I bet that you were waiting for this review. You have a nice understanding of their product. As I posited, they became the company that Mizuno used to be. They have sincere quality and are just not “out there” yet. I can’t wait to read about all the new models, and with luck, will have an opportunity to test them. Good luck with your game.

      • ChristianR

        Oct 18, 2020 at 3:50 pm

        It’s not a case my irons are Mizuno!
        Thanks for the answer Ronald.

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Equipment

You can (finally!) buy Rickie Fowler’s Rev33 irons: Cobra releasing limited RF Proto irons

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After much anticipation, Cobra Golf is set to release the limited edition RF Proto irons—an exact replica of the Rev33 irons developed and used by Rickie Fowler on the PGA Tour.

Rickie worked closely with long-time Director of Tour Operations, Ben Schomin from start to finish to create an iron that offered him everything he ever wanted from looks, to feel, and, ultimately, performance.

The Rev33 stamp is a nod to 33 iterations the iron went through before the final design was selected.

 “We worked closely with Rickie to determine his favorite features of several of his previous sets that we were able to combine into one very sleek package. These are a must-own for better players who appreciate the finest of iron craftmanship or Rickie fans who would jump at the opportunity to own the same sticks their favourite player uses.”
– Ben Schomin

If you are looking for a full in-depth discussion with Ben on the irons be sure to check out our piece from when Rickie originally put them into play: GolfWRX Insider: Inside the development of Rickie Fowler’s Cobra irons

RF Proto technology and design

The set was designed around Rickie’s preferred 7-iron look with a square/straight topline from the longest iron to the pitching wedge, which is unique since most irons progress to a more rounded shape in the shorter irons.

The RF Protos feature a distinct sharp toe profile reminiscent of many classic blades and a zero offset look thanks to a “no-taper” hosel design.

The irons are produced through a two-stage forging process and then 100 percent CNC milled to the final shaping. The milling process alone takes over two and a half hours per iron head to produce the most precise geometry possible.

The final piece of the design is the tungsten weight positioned on the toe of the iron—just like Rickie’s gamers—to locate the center of gravity and deliver a superior feel.

Price, specs, and availability

The RF Proto irons are available in right hand only 4-pitching wedge and will retail for $2,499.

Sets can be pre-0rdered starting today January 25th, at Cobragolf.com with sets shipping out starting January 29th.

The limited-edition irons are shipped in a custom box, which celebrates the partnership between Fowler and Cobra, complete with a card of authenticity autographed by Rickie Fowler.

The standard set components are KBS C-Taper shafts with Golf Pride Align grips fitted with Cobra Connect powered by Arccos, but a full selection of custom shafts and grips and also available.

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New Bridgestone E12 Contact golf ball features tire technology, major performance gains

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It’s not very often that a golf company touts huge technology gains with its mid-level priced products. Large scale changes are generally reserved for the premium price point and performance category, and then those technologies funnel down to the mid-price point in the next generation.

Bridgestone is flipping that model on its head, however, with the release of the all-new e12 Contact, which looks to offer one of the biggest performance jumps in the mid-price golf ball category ever developed.

Bridgestone e12: The science

The focus for Bridgestone with the e12, just like it was for the re-engineered Tour B series and its ReActive cover in 2020, is contact science—it’s where the e12 Contact derived its name from.

“Bridgestone has long been a pioneer in bringing to market unique dimple shapes, sizes and constructions in the golf industry, but up until this point that has primarily been a means of achieving optimal aerodynamic performance,”
-Elliot Mellow, Golf Ball Marketing Manager for Bridgestone Golf.
“In the new e12 CONTACT, dimples actually serve as a source of increased power and distance as well. They also contribute to minimizing hooks and slices, making the newest e12 a golf ball that provides performance you can actually see in terms of straight distance.”

The breakthrough comes in the form of a new dimple design to increase the ball contacting the face for both soft feel and additional distance. The new dimple design places a raised area in the middle of the traditional dimple, which when hit with a direct force, creates a whopping 38 percent for more face contact at impact.

  • This face contact and compression promotes a longer amount of time for the ball to stay on the face resulting in more efficient energy transfer to engage the core layer of the ball which from Bridgestone’s testing has resulted in a gain of over 1.5 mph ball speed.
  •  On the other end of the spectrum, in the short game, the additional contact helps increase spin in the scoring clubs and compared to the previous generation results in over 600 rpm more spin.
  • Although less scientific, Bridgestone also says that many players will experience a benefit when putting thanks to improved putter face contact.

Why not put this into a premium ball?

This is the million-dollar (or millions and millions of dollars) question, and it actually has a fairly simple answer—the new dimple design increases the peak trajectory of the e12 Contact and also makes it fly straighter. This makes it the perfect fit for a golf ball designed to enhance distance and reduce total golf ball curvature but less ideal for a tour-level ball designed for maximum trajectory control.

I realize that makes it sound like a negative, but in reality, it’s the exact opposite—the engineers at Bridgestone have closely analyzed the target golfers and designed a ball to fit their needs. The new e12 Contact is so efficient at creating the desired results from both distance and scoring clubs, they have eliminated the previous “Speed” and “Soft” balls and made one better with the e12 Contact.

Price and availability

The new Bridgestone e12 Contact will be available at retail and online starting February 26 at the price of $29.99 a dozen.

Beyond the traditional white version, the e12 Contact will also be available in Matte Green, Matte Red and Matte Yellow color options.

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2021 Mizuno ST-X and ST-Z drivers, fairway woods: Moving Mizuno woods forward

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Since 2019 and the launch of the ST190 series, Mizuno has quickly changed the perception around its metal woods. With the new ST-X and ST-Z drivers, along with the new ST-Z fairway woods for 2021, it is once again proving Mizuno isn’t just an iron company anymore.

The ST-X and ST-Z drivers represent the next evolution for Mizuno and are a culmination of a focused team effort to prove that, when side by side with the industry leaders, Mizuno drivers can both compete and win the battle of ball speed, spin, and dispersion.

A global effort to produce better (The “how’d we get here?”)

As a global brand, Mizuno used to have a small issue with market segmentation when it came to its club releases, meaning that depending on where you were in the world, there were different metal wood sub-brands to cater to various consumers.

This worked OK for the individual markets, but overall, it wasn’t working worldwide for one simple reason—more designs meant Mizuno engineers had to stretch their biggest resource, time, thinner. It also didn’t create a lot of continuity in the products, which from a consumer-level, always made it feel like Mizuno’s approach was just “let’s give this a try!”and it really wasn’t working.

This brings us to the “New Mizuno.” Since the original ST190 series was released in 2019 (don’t forget development started long before the release date), Mizuno has had a fully dedicated team in place working on metal wood development and technology. This has allowed engineers to work tirelessly on creating drivers that win on both a technology front as well and where it matters most: in fittings and on the course where golfers care about performance.

The technology inside the 2021 Mizuno ST-Z and ST-X drivers

  • SAT2041 beta-titanium faces: This titanium material is not new to the world of aerospace engineering, but as golf clubs are concerned, it had mostly been found previously in high-end JDM (Japanese domestic Market) drivers because of cost but was first used last year in the ST200 series drivers. SAT2041 has higher strength and rebound properties allowing Mizuno engineers to improve the multi-thickness areas behind the face for higher ball speed, and save mass to reposition around the head.

  • New CorTech face design: Now, speaking to the faces, thanks in part to the material and Mizuno engineers’ ability to tweak and adjust based on continuous R&D, the faces of the ST-Z and ST-X drivers have been made thinner in certain areas to further optimize CT and COR, which contributes to more consistent ball speeds and additional discretionary mass.

  • Using discretionary mass differently: A few grams here or there mean a lot in the golf club design world, especially when it comes to drivers. Mizuno shaved mass around the head to boost MOI in both of the new drivers and create performance separation in how they will work best for the intended players. Both of the new drivers have a carbon crown and also feature carbon panels around the sole skirt to help precisely locate the center of gravity.

Meet the 2021 Mizuno drivers

Mizuno ST-Z driver

The ST-Z replaces the ST200 and has been designed to offer the highest MOI possible without sacrificing lower spin—this driver is all about stability. Mass saved around the head, thanks to the carbon panels, along with the better-optimized face has allowed the designers to position the CG as close as possible to the neutral axis, to raise MOI, and create a neutrally biased driver. 

Compared to the ST-X, the Z is longer heel to toe and slightly shallower to once again use any and all available options to maximize performance and playability.

Mizuno ST-X driver

Although the new STX driver shares a similar name to the previous ST200X designed to be an exclusively lighter weight draw-biased driver, the new STx is for any golfer seeking slightly more spin compared to the STz and also greater workability, thanks to a center of gravity positioned slightly more forward and closer to the shaft.

From the bottom, the easy way to separate the ST-X from the Z is the reduced amount of carbon on the sole and slightly more heel-biased back weight to aid the engineers in repositioning the CG.

The ST-X’s slightly deeper face and shorter heel-to-toe length help to make the driver ever so slightly more draw-biased than the ST-Z but also happens to make the driver more workable.

For those still in need of a premium lightweight option, the new ST-X has the ability to be built to a lighter and longer spec similar to the ST200X thanks to the adjustable weight in the sole, which goes from a stock 11-gram weight to just four grams when built to J-Spec. This brings the head weight to 194 grams vs. 201 grams in the standard ST-X configuration and 204 in the ST-Z. When matched with the M-Fusion shaft, you get a driver that competes against any other in the ultra-lightweight category.

2021 Mizuno STX and STZ drivers prices, specs, and availability

The ST-X and ST-Z stock shaft options are directly driven from popular profiles on tour and feature a familiar story of high, mid, and low launch. The drivers will also carry a fourth shaft option, which is a carryover from the previous ST200X.

High Launch – Project X Riptide CB 50g and 60g

Mid Launch – Fujikura MotoreX F3 60g

Low Launch – ProjectX HZRDUS RDX Smoke Black 60g

High Launch and ultra-lightweight – M-Fusion

Mizuno will also continue to offer upcharge shafts options including:

  • Tensei CK Pro Orange and White 60 and 70g
  • Fujikura Ventus Blue and Black 60 and 70g
  • Graphite Design Tour AD Di6 & 7 along with XC6 & 7

STX and STZ drivers will be priced at – $399.99

The Mizuno STX and Z driver’s pre-sale starts today January 25th, with products on retail shelves starting February 18.

Mizuno ST-Z fairway woods

Technology and design

  • 3rd gen MAS1C high strength steel face: Last year, with the ST200, Mizuno completely overhauled the internal structure of its fairway woods, and the ST-Z is the next evolution. Similar to the driver, engineers have improved the CorTech multi-thickness pads behind the hitting area to raise ball speeds while also improving sound and feel

  • Carbon crown: When it works, it works, and the carbon steel crown of the ST-Z fairway woods reduces mass from higher in the head and gives the engineers the ability to better position it to deliver the performance variables they are searching for.

  • New shaping: After all the material and sciencey stuff were figured out, the last part of the new fairway woods to consider was the shape. It seems simple, but the shape not only has a huge impact on the club’s physical performance, but it plays a major factor in how golfers perceive it in the address position. The leading edge and the hosel transition have been adjusted to appeal to the target players and make it more efficient from the turf, which is where most players will use their fairway woods the most.

Specs, prices, and availability

The ST-Z fairway woods will be available in the lofts of 15 and 18 degrees, and with Mizuno’s Quick Switch adjustability, the fairway woods can go up and down two additional degrees.

The stock shaft configurations for the ST-Z will be the Fujikura MotoreX 7 in stiff flex and the ProjectX RipTide CB in regular.

The ST-Z fairway woods are priced at $299.99 with pre-sale and fitting tools available starting today January 25th with the product on retail shelves on February 18.

 

 

 

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