Edwin Watts debuts “ARC” club matching
Golf retailer Edwin Watts has announcing the debut of its new “ARC,” a system, which will be released as part of the company’s Clubsmarts Report and provide golfers with a matrix that will help them find the club that best matches their particular needs.
The ARC system is the results of robot testing, conducted to try and help golfers find clubs that suit them. Edwin Watts has tested most of the big name drivers in a variety of categories and posted the results on its site (http://www.edwinwattsgolf.com/ARC.aspx) in order to show golfers unbiased results of club testing, which can be viewed free of charge.
Unbiased club testing is a pretty important tool in 2013, because manufacturers have been bery aggressive in their marketing strategies, hoping to convince golfers that new products are considerably better than previous models.
That is not to say that Edwin Watts’ system is perfect, because it is not. Most golfers don’t swing clubs like robots do, although I imagine the results might be appreciated by someone like say, Martin Kaymer, who might actually be a robot. And some golfers aren’t going to be fit into stock-length clubs, or stock-shafted clubs. But it will be a good starting point for many golfers to begin their testing. Furthermore, Edwin Watts doesn’t suggest you buy clubs based on this test, only that you use it as a guide for further testing based on your swing/impact type.
So what does the ARC club matching system reveal? Well, it shows a list of top-three performers for various categories, further subdivided by the type of contact made by the golfer (in this case, a robot). Do you hit most your shots off the toe? If so, maybe you should consider lessons.
But if you believe that lessons are for sissies, you could check the ARC results and see that the Tour Edge Exotics gave the robot the most distance on toe hits. Or you could find out that the RBZ had the highest ball speeds, or that the RBZ Stage 2 was the most accurate in terms of dispersion.
What if you tend to hit your drives thin (low on the face)? Well, if you are looking for distance on thin shots you might want to test the Ping Anser, which also had the fastest ball speed on those shots. So let me put it to you this way: If you hit it thin, just go buy a Ping Anser, OK buddy?
Of course, if you are like me and you hit dead solid perfect basically every time, the robot tells you that the Cleveland Classic is a low-spin bomber, as is the TaylorMade R1. Did I recently want to buy a Cleveland Classic? Yes I did. And now I want to even more, so thanks Edwin Watts!
The tests show results in five different categories: most distance, highest ball speeds, highest launch, most accurate and lowest spin. Those categories are further broken down into as many as six different categories based on where golfers can impact their drivers — high on the face, low on the face, on the toe, heel, sweet spot and an “overall” rating. Using those categories, golfers can pick some clubs to test based on their tendencies and see if they get similar results.
The results also seem pretty unbiased. Why do I say this? I’ll give you two reasons: Wilson and D100.
That club, which we’re yet to see used by anyone on the PGA Tour, was sprinkled all over the test. It ranks in the top three in a lot of the distance and ball speed categories, so much so that I thought for a second that Wilson endorser Padraig Harrington hacked into Edwin Watts website and just started doing stuff.
Would you have tested a Wilson club in your 2013 driver shootout? Put your hand down Kevin Streelman, because we know you would have. Then again, you happily hit your Ping G20 en route to his first Tour win at The Tampa Bay Championship, so maybe not.
While the robot results likely aren’t perfect, golfers would be foolish not to consult the Edwin Watts ARC results before they do their next round of driver testing. There are a lot of club tests out there, but very few that actually rank clubs based on anything not subjective, or that don’t recognize many different clubs with the same award.
Anything that helps golfers filter through the hype and even make an attempt to classify things in an organized matter is OK in my books.
Of course, Edwin Watts’ test doesn’t tell you at what swing speed the robot was set to, and the ARC system has not yet tested 3-woods, hybrids or even irons. But these are things that can be easily be done in the coming months and years. And while my guess is people will demand they provide a bit more details into the settings and results of the ARC tests, the bottom line is they have released information to the public that no one else has, and it’s something that can help the average golfer.
So good for Edwin Watts, good for us, and good for Wilson!
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Spotted: Luke Donald’s new Odyssey Versa 12 CS putter
Luke Donald has been using a center-shafted Odyssey #7 putter for a very, very long time. Recently Luke decided that he wanted to change it up and try some new putters, according to Joe Toulon, Callaway’s PGA Tour manager.
The new putter is an Odyssey Versa Twelve CS mallet, center-shafted, of course. Odyssey’s Versa high contrast alignment system debuted in 2013 and brought back this year with a full line of head shapes. The Twelve CS is a high MOI mallet with a raised center section and “wings” on the sides. The head is finished in black and then a large white rectangle runs down the center of the putter to aid in aligning the putter towards the target. There is also a short site line on the top, right next to where the shaft attached to the head.
Odyssey’s famous White Hot insert is a two-part urethane formula that offers a soft feel and consistent distance control. The sole features two weights that are interchangeable to dial in the desired head weight and feel. The Versa Twelve CS usually comes with Odyssey’s Stroke Lab counterbalanced graphite shaft but Luke looks to have gone with a traditional steel shaft and a Super Stroke Claw 2.0 Zenergy grip in Red and White.
Our own Andrew Tursky asked Joe Toulon about the type of player who gravitates towards a center-shafted putter:
“Since it’s easy to manipulate the face angle with something center shafted, probably someone with good hands. If you’re a good chipper you may like the face control that a center shafted putter offers.”
Check out more photos of the Odyssey Versa Twelve CS Putter.
7 takeaways from an AWESOME equipment talk with Padraig Harrington
Fans of golf equipment have long known that Padraig Harrington is one of us. Throughout his career, Harrington has been willing to test new products, make changes from week to week, and play with a bag of mixed equipment brands.
What equipment fans may not know, however, is just how brilliant of an equipment mind Harrington truly has.
Ahead of the 2023 Valero Texas Open, I caught up with Harrington to pick his brain about what clubs are currently in his bag, and why. The conversation turned into Harrington discussing topics such as the broader equipment landscape, brand deals in 2023, his driver testing process, why he still uses a TaylorMade ZTP wedge from 2008, square grooves vs. V-grooves, and using a knockoff set of Ping Eye 1 irons as a junior.
Padraig Harrington’s 2023 WITB
Below are my 7 major takeaways from the extensive gear talk with Harrington.
1) Padraig’s stance on equipment contracts, and why he prefers Wilson
Harrington is a longtime Wilson staffer, and although he supports the brand and uses their equipment, he doesn’t use a full bag of Wilson clubs. He finds Wilson’s understanding of a player’s need for flexibility to be beneficial to the player, and it’s attracting more and more professional players to the company (such as Kevin Kisner and Trey Mullinax).
“Wilson wants me to play whatever I’m comfortable with. It’s very important. They’re not a manufacturer that says, ‘We want you to play 14 clubs.’ There’s always a club you don’t like. That’s just the way it is. So Wilson is like, ‘We want you playing well and playing the best clubs for you.’
“I am very comfortable with their irons. I’m very comfortable with their wedges, as you can see. They have an old hybrid 4 iron that I love. They have a new hybrid 4-iron that is too powerful. I put it in the bag last week and I had to take it out. The thing is, I use a 4-iron and a 5-wood. My 4-iron has to go somewhat relative to my 5-iron, and then I have to bridge that gap between 4-iron and 5-wood, so it has to do both. The new 4-iron was going 230 yards. My 4-iron goes about 215-235, maybe 240 on a warm day. And my 5-wood is like a warm-day 265 in the air, but I have no problem hitting it 235, so I can cross it over. But this 4-iron, the new version, it just went. I couldn’t hit the 215 shot with it; it’s just too powerful. That’s why I have the old 4-iron in the bag, but it does the job to bridge the gap…
“As players get more money, they’re less dependent on manufacturers. They need the service of a manufacturer – because, like I need to be on that truck and get things checked. But you’re seeing more players see Wilson as an attractive option because you don’t have to use 14 clubs. If you’re not happy this week with the putter; you know, Wilson has the putters, they have everything, but if you want to chase something else for a moment…remember, there’s two things you’re chasing. If you’re a free agent, it’s not good to be changing a lot. That is a distraction. But it’s nice to have the option that if somebody…like I feel Titleist has come out with a great driver. And I’m able to work my way straight into Titleist and say, ‘Hey, gimmie a go with that. Oh, this is a great driver, I’m going to use this.’ Wilson is aware of that. They want their players to be happy and playing well. Like it’s still 10 clubs, but it’s just not 14 and the ball.
“The irons are great, there’s no doubt about that. They’ve won the most majors. They make a gambit of irons. If you want to use a blade, they have the blade. If you want to use my iron, which is just a good tour composite, it has a bit of a cavity-back, you can do that. If you want to use the D irons that have rockets going off there, you can have them. Like the 4 iron, the one they gave me, it was a rocket! And guys are happy to carry driving irons like that, but mine has to match in with the 5-iron. It was just too high and too fast.
“So yeah, I think you’re going to see manufacturers go more of that way. Our players want to be independent, but the problem is that full independence is not great. You don’t want a situation where you’re turning up – as you see kids who make it into their first tournament, and the manufacturers start giving them stuff, and they’re changing. You don’t want to be the guy changing too much.”
2) The dangers of a 64-degree wedge
Although Harrington himself uses a Wilson Staff High Toe 64-degree wedge, he seldom practices with it. Here’s why he warns against it:
“The big key with a 64 wedge is DO NOT use it. No, seriously, do not use it. It’s a terrible wedge for your technique. That club is in the bag and it gets used on the golf course, and it gets used when it’s needed, but you don’t practice with it, because it’s awful. So much loft will get you leading too much, and you’re going to deloft it. Hit one or two shots with it, then put it away. You’re better off practicing with a pitching wedge and adding loft to be a good chipper instead of practicing with a lob wedge and taking loft off. A 64-degree wedge is accentuating that problem. It’s a dangerous club. It does a great job at times, but it certainly can do harm.
“It’s not bad having it in the bag for a certain shot, but it’s a terrible club to practice with. I literally hit one or two full shots with it, a couple chips with it, and that’s it. I know if I spend too long with it, I’ll start de-lofting.”
3) The interchangeable faces on TaylorMade’s ZTP wedges from 2008 were Padraig’s idea?!
I couldn’t believe it myself, but Harrington says that the idea for TaylorMade to offer interchangeable face technology on its ZTP wedges in 2008 was originally his idea…
“The TaylorMade is obviously attracting a lot of attention, but that was my idea! Myself and a consultant for Wilson, I got him to build changeable faces and he sold that to TaylorMade…that’s fully my idea. He sold that then to TaylorMade, and TaylorMade produced them, which I was happy about. But TaylorMade couldn’t sell them. You can’t get people to clean the grooves, so they weren’t going to buy a new face. Why have 400 faces at home? So I went out and bought these faces to make sure I had them for life. And I was home chipping a while ago, and I have a nice 58. I like the grind on that wedge, and the fact I can just replace the face and have a fresh face every three weeks, it’s just easy, so that’s why that’s in there.”
4) Driver testing isn’t all about speed
“The driver companies know I’m a free agent when it comes to drivers, so every time a new driver comes out, they’ll come to me and say, ‘Hey, would you have a look at this?’
“I will test everything, yeah, but it has to beat what I have in the bag. And Wilson’s new driver is the same. They brought out a new driver and it’s great, but I love the driver I’m using. So I say, ‘Look, guys, not only do you have to be as good as the incumbent, you have to be better, because I already know this and I’m familiar with it.’
“Wilson has built a very, very good driver. There’s know doubt about it. But I love the driver I’m using. And none of these manufacturers can build me a driver that’s better.
“Ball speed gets a driver into the conversation, and then you bring it to the golf course. So the driver has to be going as good as my current driver, and then I bring it to the course and see if I can hit the thing straight. I have gone down the road [of prioritizing speed]…I used a driver in 2014, and it never worked weekends. But it was fast. I used it for about six weeks I’d say – six tournaments – and I missed six straight cuts. It never worked the weekend. It was really fast on the range, but it just wasn’t good on the course.”
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5) Playing with knockoff irons as a junior
“I played as a junior for Ireland, under 18’s, and I owned half a set of golf clubs, and they were imitation Ping Eye 1’s. I borrowed the other half set off my brother. We had a half set each. I had the evens, he had the odds. In that tournament, there was a guy playing with Ping Berylliums with graphite shafts. They cost 1,900 pounds. Mine cost 100 pounds, and they were knockoffs. So I played, for my country, with a set of knockoffs. Before I used those knockoff clubs, I used a mixed bag of clubs. As in, I picked up whatever club they had. The 6-iron might go farther than the 5-iron. The 5-iron might go with a fade and the 7-iron might go with a hook, but I knew what my clubs did. Each club had a purpose.”
6) Using square grooves and V-grooves simultaneously
Square grooves – or “box grooves” – were outlawed by the USGA in 2010 because they were said to help golfers spin the ball too much. V grooves are said to provide less of an advantage because they restrict the sharp edges of the grooves, thus reducing the amount of friction imparted on the golf ball. Prior to the rule change, however, Harrington actually used both V grooves and box grooves, and he’d adjust his setup depending on the golf course.
“What’s interesting is, when the box grooves were around – very few people know this – I carried two sets of clubs at all times. I carried a V groove and a box groove.
“Yeah, see, the box grooves were unbelievable out of the rough, spin wise, but if the rough got to a certain level, the ball would come out so low and with spin that it wouldn’t go very far. Your 7-iron coming out of this rough would only go like 140 yards and it wouldn’t get over any trees because it would come out so low. What I was doing was, if I got to a golf course with this sort of a rough, I’d put in a box groove 7-iron and a V-groove 8-iron. If I got in the rough and I had 170 yards, I’d hit an 8 iron and get a flyer, because the 7 iron wouldn’t get there depending on the lie. And I couldn’t get it over things. So if there were trees, you needed the V groove to get over the trees. A box groove wouldn’t get up in the air.
“No one else was doing it. I played with the box groove for a couple years before I realized that in certain rough, you need the V groove to get there. Hale Irwin played a U.S. Open seemingly with no grooves. Off the fairway it’s meant to make no difference. I would disagree, but that’s what the officials would say. But out of the rough you needed the flyers to get to the green. The V grooves were doing that for me. You get your flyer to get of the rough to get the ball there, but then if it was the first cut of rough, or light rough, or Bermuda rough, or chip shots, it would come out so low and spinny that you’d have no problem.
“I can’t believe that people didn’t realize that I was doing this two-groove thing all the time. I swear to you, you could stand here, you would not launch a 7-iron over that fence there if it was box grooves out of light rough, and V groove would launch over it. The launch characteristics were massively different.”
7) Blame the person, not the putter
Interestingly, Harrington, for all his tinkering, has only used a handful of putters. It turns out, there’s a good reason for that — although he’d like his current model to be a few millimeters taller.
“I used a 2-ball when it came out. Then I used a 2-ball blade, which I won my majors with. I always had a hook in my putts, so not long after I won my majors, I went to face-balanced putter because it helps reduce the left-to-right spin. I started putting really badly in 2013 and 2014 – I had some issues. And then come 2016-2017, I just said, look, I putted well with this putter. If I use this putter, I can’t go back and say it’s the putter’s problem. It’s gotta be me. So I went back to the face-balanced 2-ball blade because I’ve had good times with it. I may have only used 5 or 6 putters in my career.
“I’m really happy that I’ve got a putter that I know I’ve putted well with, and I don’t blame the putter. I can’t say that anymore. I don’t blame my tools, I blame myself if I miss a putt. So it comes down to…I know the putter works, then it’s me. Me, me, me.
“You know, I’ve toyed with using other shafts in the putter, and I will look at other putters, but things are askew to me when I look down. So I can’t have a putter with a line on it. It doesn’t look square to the face. I’ve never putted with a putter that has a line on it for that reason. I line up by feel. I know that putter works, I know it suits me, so that’s why I go with that…
“I prefer a deeper putter (a taller face). The one issue I have is I hit the ball too high on the face, but they won’t remodel the whole system to make me a deeper putter. I’ve tried some optical illusions to try and get it where I hit the ball more in the center, but I hit it high. It seems to be going in the hole so I’m not going to worry about it too much. But in an ideal world, if someone came along and said they could make the putter 3-4 millimeters higher, I’d be happy with that.”
See more photos of Padraig Harrington’s 2023 WITB here
TaylorMade survey on ball rollback finds everyday golfers massively against introduction of Model Local Rule
In response to the USGA and R&A’s recent announcement that they plan on rolling back the golf ball for the professional game, TaylorMade Golf issued a survey asking everyday golfers to voice their opinion regarding the topic of golf ball bifurcation. Today, they are sharing the results.
Almost 45,000 golfers across more than 100 countries spanning a variety of ages, abilities and participation levels took the time to complete the survey and have their voice heard, with some of the major findings shown below:
- To the best of your knowledge, do you agree with the proposed golf ball rule?
- 81% No
- 19% Yes
- Do you think average hitting distances in professional golf need to be reduced?
- 77% No
- 23% Yes
- Are you for or against bifurcation in the game of golf (i.e., different rule(s) for professional golfers versus amateurs)?
- 81% Against
- 19% For
- How important is it for you to play with the same equipment professional golfers use?
- 48% Extremely important
- 35% Moderately important
- 17% Not important
- If the proposed golf ball rule were to go into effect, would it have an impact on your interest in professional golf?
- 45% Less interested
- 49% No impact
- 6% More Interested
The results also show that 57 percent of golfers aged 18-34 years old would be less interested in the pro game should the rule come into effect, while five percent said they would be more interested.
“The goal of our survey was to give golfers the opportunity to voice their opinion on this proposed ruling as we absorb the MLR and its potential effects on the everyday golfer. We are grateful that nearly 45,000 golfers across the world felt the need for their voice to be heard. The overwhelming amount of responses show the passion, knowledge and care for the game our audience possesses. Each response and data point is being reviewed as we will utilize this feedback in our preparation to provide a response to the USGA and R&A.” – David Abeles, TaylorMade Golf President & CEO
You can check out the survey results in full here.
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May 1, 2013 at 11:36 am
I appreciate any testing of clubs and i think ewg is less biased than say golf digest since golf digest does get big advertising dollars from the major companies but i love reading their testing also get all the info available and go enjoy the game more, make friends make birdies, make great memories.
Apr 20, 2013 at 8:23 am
As a data point I think this is great. Bottom line, you have to get fit. The hardest part for some of us is that very few fitting carts have X flex shafts. It becomes a guessing game after that.
Apr 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm
This relative ranking is next to useless without the associated data. You need to publish the means and standard deviations for each driver in each category as well as the configurations and environmental data for this to be meaningful at all.
Apr 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm
Well done Erwin Watts! A simple visual guide punters can understand. If Wilson has a $100 lower price point…………
Thats called winning market share.
If the TEE works real well, and has a more consistent flexing shaft
in true CPM numbers than this years Callaways (all over the place based on reader reports) then test it out and be Open Minded!
I will bag any brand that works Better Than What I Got Now
and hits More Fairways/Greens in Regulation. 44/45 inch Drivers will help you get Centre Impact…but we all knew that. Cheers.
Apr 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm
I agree that this very unscientific but a great place to get the ball rolling…
Apr 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm
This testing is flawed for sure; And they do need to provide more info. like clubhead speed, AofA, Path, etc. (i.e. full ‘trackman’ data points) and shafts utilized. That said, this is FREAKIN AWESOME. There is so little objective/’scientific data’ out there, I feel this is a big step forward; maybe will help get the ball rolling for more and help us see thru the haze of the manufacturers hype. Robot testing is fine as far as I can see to help establish a base line; particularly as it would relate to ball flight characteristics/spin rates on center /off center hits. I applaud EW for their efforts.
Apr 9, 2013 at 9:24 am
You want fitted clubs that work for you,go to a professional club fitter,and not some cut and glue guy.You want the same thing you currently have,clubs that don’t work as described for you,go to an “off the rack” store. Newer version than current heartache,but still a heartache. Bill Marshall, certified level 10 club fitter AGCP,Lakeland Florida
Apr 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm
So… The Wilson and the Exotics come with aftermarket real deal shafts.
Not sure, but the comment seemed like a backhanded insult to those drivers…
Seems to me that those are great driver options at a great price point with great shafts..
I don’t and won’t play either one of them but for someone’s money… Seems like a good deal
Apr 9, 2013 at 10:09 am
False…….TEE uses watered down versions of these high end shafts with the retail graphics. The CB 4 had a made for RIP and the XCG series has a made for DI shaft. Not big into following Wilson, but I’m sure it correlates respectivly.
Apr 10, 2013 at 1:00 am
I’m not surprised. Clubs would be too expensive if they used the real deal aftermarket shafts. The Graphite Design Tour AD DI, if that’s what you mean by the “DI”, retails for $380. The Aldila RIP shafts go for about $160.
What is even more amazing is that, some “made for” shafts are actually made by the same company that has the graphics, just watered down versions with lower technology, less graphite and more resin, higher torque, etc etc…
And some of those “made for” shafts are not even made by the company that has their name on them. This was revealed in a blog by component company Hireko’s Jeff Summit. The real deal shaft company just takes the money and lets the clubmaker use their name and graphics, but the clubmaker can have a totally different company make that shaft, which just might be a piece of garbage or it might be something reasonably decent, but hardly the quality of the real deal.
May 1, 2013 at 11:29 am
they are not aftermarket shafts they are the stock shaftsthose companies choose and most all major companies have the same ability to put whatever shaft in they like the pings and titleist do not have made for shafts in 2013 it is the true shfts which sell for big dollars as well as the callawy razr extreme with the same shaft as exotics in it’s option package
Apr 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm
I tried the Wilson D100 at the golf show when it came to town. What a great club. I hit it farther then the anser…
Apr 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm
I can say with 100% certainty that this testing is bogus. There is no way that the Ping Anser is the highest launching anything.
Apr 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm
I smell money being exchanged under the table on this testing. Like everyone else I was shockingly suprised with the outcome of this testing. 1)Wilson Staff D100 …. now that’s funny. 2) Where are all the Adams Drivers? 3)The lack of Callaway hitting better scores. I did my own testing this weekend for 4.5 hours hitting every driver possible at Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy and the “Winner For Me” in distance and accuracy was the Callaway X Hot 9.5 Standard Head with a FREE upgrade Project X Velocity Pro 5.5 Shaft cut down 1.5″ to make it feel more like a 6.0 . The “FREE UPGRADED SHAFT” is what made the “BIG DIFFERENCE”. Outdrove every driver with that shaft by 9 yards !
May 1, 2013 at 11:32 am
Funny you should say that since dicks doesnt carry wlson products anyway.
Apr 8, 2013 at 1:12 pm
This ARC system is not a scientific test. Unless they’re using the same shaft with the same length in each of these heads matched to the same swing weight, which wasn’t mentioned anywhere on the website, there are far too many variables to determine which head is really the best. After checking on the Wilson D100 and Tour Exotics specs, it turns out that both these drivers come with premium aftermarket shafts whereas the other heads come with “made for” shafts. I could put a premium shaft in a KMart driver head and it would perform better than most drivers with “made for” shafts. I guess if you just want to buy a driver off the shelf then this testing is fine. However, most good manufacturers have aftermarket shaft options that will make a world of difference compared to their “off the shelf” shafts. Those of you using premium shafts in your drivers know what I’m talking about.
Apr 11, 2013 at 11:56 am
This article simply states the ARC system gives starting information for people to consider based on manufacturer offering. It doesn’t pretend to be all encompassing. The majority of people can’t break 90 and a lot can’t break 100. I doubt premium shafts are going to make a difference. Until you have someone consistently in the low to mid 70s the premium shafts are just an ego trip and a waste of money.
May 1, 2013 at 11:26 am
Thw matrix in the exotics and wilson are stock shafts and the shafts for ping and titleist are not made for shafts anymore either the callaway raxr x has the same matrix shaft as the exotics also But just the comment itself is a little funny to me, if you go looking at a corvette and a chevy cruz do you ask them to put the ls9 in th cruz to check performance no you test what the companies produce so that arguement is kind of silly sounding.
Double Mocha Man
Apr 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm
Very good catch John.
Apr 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm
Very good article
Apr 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm
Wish this test would include a lot of the smaller manufacturers that have great products but limited marketing budgets.
Last I checked, I found 97 different companies that make a driver model…bet there would be some surprises in there.
Apr 8, 2013 at 11:59 am
This is awesome! Glad to see Wilson shine, but I really wish Adams would have been included.