2003: Knife, MAC showcase intriguing technology

In today’s golf marketplace, it is difficult to listen to any prolonged discussion of golf equipment without hearing the phrase “visible technology.” Manufacturers are fond of innovative products that convey a strong visual image.

Among new equipment at the 2003 PGA Merchandise Show, MAC metalwoods from Burrows Golf and Knife hybrid fairway woods from La Jolla Club Golf are eye-popping, attention-grabbing examples of visible technology.

The MAC woods (MAC stands for magnitude amplification cavity) have a hole in the sole of the club. An intricate design can be seen inside the hole. This cavity, constructed of thin titanium, is intended to reduce the shock and vibration that might be transmitted up the shaft and to channel this energy out through the clubface and into the ball.

The Knife fairway clubs have three distinct blades, or runners, on the sole. The large center blade is built as a rudder, its mission to keep the clubhead straight. The outside blades, although slightly smaller, also are designed for contact with the turf. A perfectly hit shot off a tightly mowed fairway will leave three small Knife marks in the ground.

The objective behind the Knife was to produce a versatile club with a low center of gravity and superior stability. It was designed for a variety of lies, including balls embedded in heavy rough.

These products demonstrate once again that some of golf’s most tantalizing inventions come from small companies.

The MAC woods are the brainchild of Bruce Burrows, who has been perfecting his shockwave concept for seven years. He unveiled Burrows Golf late last year.

Burrows is so confident about his MAC drivers and fairway woods that he said, “I encourage people to go out on the course and compare. I encourage them to intentionally hit the ball offcenter – on the toe and heel – and see how great these clubs are. We didn’t set out to absorb the shock; we just wanted to use it, and I know that we succeeded.”

Finetuning the geometry of the cavity was crucial to achieving the proper coefficient of restitution for the MAC drivers, which have been approved by the U.S. Golf Association.

“Many of our designs exceeded the limit,” Burrows said, “but we brought it (COR) back where it needed to be.”

An advantage of the fairway woods, according to Burrows: “Much of the soleplate isn’t there. A large percentage of the grass (rough) goes up in there. It’s a whole new experience.”

Initially the MAC clubs will be sold only in green-grass golf shops.

The Knife fairway clubs were conceived by La Jolla Club founder Paul Herber, who advocates a technique of “hitting down on the ball, like an iron” with his creation. The Knife, available in 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 woods, will have a wider retail base but will not, Herber promised, be overproduced.

“We want the demand to remain high and the price to remain steady,” Herber said.

The stainless steel Knife is expected to sell for $199. The titanium MAC driver should be available for $399; fairway woods $199.

Two unusual products, two exciting examples of visible technology. If this were a novel or play, it would have to be called “MAC the Knife.”

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