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Golf 101: 5 Tips to building your golf bag with CH3 (+ Charles Howell III WITB)

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I think at this point it’s safe to say that Charles Howell III is the adopted son and patron saint of WRX.

Not only is he a member of the site and visits regularly, but he’s also an avid club nerd and tester. I’ve become friends with CH3 over the past couple of years and have had some fun gear geek sessions with him. Want to know the coolest thing of all? He’s still as passionate and curious about gear as we are and not just Titleist (who he is on staff with) he’s curious about it all.

So who better to ask about how to build a great golf bag than with a man who knows it, does, and plays for his livelihood week in and week out?

These are 5 Charles Howell III golden nuggets that any golfer can learn from—and oh yeah, his take on the future is spot on.

Rule #1: Stability over speed no matter what

“Even for the guys on tour, stabilizing the clubface is paramount to good driving. One of the reasons I love testing shafts so often is to see if there is that magic combo of speed and control. However, the stability of the clubhead and shaft have to be there—I could find a combo that’s 20 yards longer, but if it’s something I can’t control, it doesn’t have a place in my bag. Extra yardage is fun until it isn’t.”

Rule #2: Find wedges that can do it all

“I chose the Vokey SM8 M Grind in the 56 and 60, because as the grind spectrum goes, they fall dead in the middle for me but everyone is different. I discovered that finding a middle ground grind wise solves the “different wedges for different grass problems” some players find themselves in. Even at Augusta, there was more Bermuda sticking out than normal which made shots from behind 15 different for example a little trickier. Not only are you chipping back towards a downslope with water behind, but it’s also now into the grain. Knowing I had wedges to combat either scenario made it that much easier. As a player, you have to put all the grinds through the paces and see what one checks off the most boxes. It might be something you never considered.”

Rule #3 Forgiveness looks different for every player

“Iron set makeups have changed so much in recent years. Pay attention to the soles when choosing your irons, even in the longer irons. It would be easy to think that bigger heads wider soles would be a no-brainer to hit, but to be honest, it’s not that simple. Sometimes finding a sole that will help the club get in and out of the ground easily will get you that center contact you were looking for. Although guys on tour may choose beefier long irons, it’s pretty rare to find one with a really wide sole. Soles that large encourage a player to try and sweep it off the turf which is counter-intuitive with an iron in your hand. When getting fit, pay attention to attack angles and center contact with your longer clubs; you may find that thinner soles help you more than anything else.”

Rule #4 Enjoy the process of learning and testing

“Obviously playing for a living gives me the advantage of testing a ton of stuff, but it’s just as fun doing the research at home (online) and understanding what certain equipment can do and the idea behind it. I still rely on testing as much as I can to see what works but it’s the pursuit of knowledge that keeps it all fresh week in and week out. Technology is so good these days but like anything you have to ask questions, look around try some stuff and then make a decision. Remember it’s your golf bag, take some pride in demanding that every inch of it works for you.

Eyes on the future…

“I think as we go down this Bryson/distance chase, the ultimate result on tour will be a lot of two driver bags. Look at it this way, having a 47-inch driver for long bombs, and a 44.5 inch for tighter drives, and a 4-wood isn’t all that hard to imagine. Players can tweak lofts in the irons and wedges easily to adjust to gapping. It’s not rocket science, and I don’t think we are that far from seeing multiple players on tour doing it that way.”

Charles Howell III WITB

Driver: Titleist TSI3 (10.5 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)

Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD XC 6 TX

3-wood: Ping G425 LST (14.5 degrees)

Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Black Tour Spec 8 X

7-wood: Ping G425 Max (20.5 degrees @20)

Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Black Tour Spec 9 X

Irons: Titleist T100 (4-6) 620 MB (7-9)

Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5 (hard stepped)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (48-10F @47, 52-12F, 56-08M, 60-08M)

Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron 009M

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Benny

    Dec 5, 2020 at 7:21 am

    JW- thanks for this article. Love it and love Chucky Hockey Sticks!

    Few things that I learned here and couple I had been thinking. Like the wide sole mention. I am not a high ball hitter but have had a few sets that allowed me to hit high (for me). All those previous sets that allowed a higher ball flight had more player standard soles. Thin soles.

    So while I went and found some longer irons this year to be like all these other guys hitting 190y 7i, I found it hurt me with flight and added length made things much harder.

    Awesome as always JW, thank you!

  2. ChpNRun

    Dec 4, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    On Forgiveness:
    “It would be easy to think that bigger heads wider soles would be a no-brainer to hit, but to be honest, it’s not that simple. Sometimes finding a sole that will help the club get in and out of the ground easily…”

    My Tour Edge CB Pro Tungstens do this. Due to heavy tungsten sole weighting to aid launch, the soles themselves are not all that wide. And, the beveled leading edges lessen chances club will hang up in turf.

  3. Randy Allen

    Dec 4, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Two drivers in the bag? Why not just build a 2w again?

  4. Pelling

    Dec 4, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    Charles is so good he has one career top ten finish in a major. One.

    • Joe

      Dec 5, 2020 at 9:50 am

      Well he’s maintained a Tour Card for damn near two decades. I’m sure that’s better than most people have done in the game (yourself included).

  5. Frank Crowe

    Dec 4, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Great comments from CH3. His bag is different with a 7 wood and no low irons. I agree chunky soles just don’t cut it!

  6. steve

    Dec 4, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Howell seems like a good guy and I know this article has the best of intentions. However, I find it difficult to believe a local shop is going to take the time to allow an individual consumer to come in to demo numerous shafts, club heads, combo’s etc. Heck, even the “Super Shop” in Sacramento, California, allows only one club to be taken out for demo at a time. And the only way they will put you on any kind of monitor is if you are willing to pay an additional fee. Even with that, I’m sure they are trying to get you in and out as quick as possible. Oddly enough, We don’t all have unlimited access to manufactures tour truck. CH3’s advice just doesn’t really apply to the general public.

    • Jacob

      Dec 4, 2020 at 11:26 am

      That’s a shame – I’m in the middle of north central Iowa. You would assume there would be a lack of fitters and folks who would allow demos out. Quite the contrary. Great golf around us, plus we have a few local options for fitters (one particular-Hanson’s Golf) that have no problem letting you take a club out to the course or come in and hit several different options depending on what’s available.

    • Matthew

      Dec 4, 2020 at 11:30 am

      You’re right, most will not. It’s something most pro shops at private clubs will allow you to do though. Another option is finding a ‘demo day’ near you where multiple oem’s will show up with all the components as well as launch monitors and allow you to try whatever you want in any combination you desire.

    • ChipNRun

      Dec 4, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      I know two shops where you can do this. You just have to schedule a fitting, rather than show up at noon on Saturday. They’ll let you try all the stock shafts.

  7. makaveli

    Dec 4, 2020 at 9:42 am

    what is CH3’s handle in the forums here?

  8. Kyle EricSon

    Dec 4, 2020 at 3:27 am

    And yet another pro who’s longest iron is a 4 iron and carries a 7 wood, yet I continually see comments and YouTube reviewers talking about how good they are and how they can’t play hybrids and/or 7 woods but “prefer a 2 iron instead”. A lot of ego involved in this game …

  9. Bryant Gumble

    Dec 4, 2020 at 1:59 am

    Yes, great insight and solid information!

  10. Karsten's Ghost

    Dec 3, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    One of the best pieces on this site ever. Bravo.

  11. Sam Larson

    Dec 3, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    I tested TSI fairway woods….they were forgiving, hot and straight. Wunder why he chose Pings over the TSI? TSI reminds me of the old Cally
    Steelheads which CH3 played for years.

  12. DukeOfChinoHills

    Dec 3, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    Rule #1: Stability over Speed is VASTLY underrated. Wise man.

    • Paulo

      Dec 3, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      Almost like he makes a living playing this game ? Very wise man

    • Craig

      Dec 4, 2020 at 1:52 pm

      Absolutely agree! So much for longer, faster, lighter BS!

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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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