Tiger Woods switched into a Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver (9.5 degree). Rory McIlroy uses the same driver in a different loft (8.5 degree).
Even bigger news from Woods, though, was his driver shaft. He went from a 73-gram Mitsubishi Diamana White Board to a 103-gram Blue Board.
Woods has used the 103-gram shaft in his fairway woods for years. The reason for the heavier driver shaft: Better accuracy.
Zach Johnson added Titleist 714 AP2 irons (5-9) to his bag last week, but his 60-degree Titleist Vokey Design Hand Ground 60-V wedge stole the show. Holing a 58-yard shot to force a playoff against Tiger Woods will do that.
“The V-Grind has been around for a while,” said Dave Neville, marketing manager for Vokey Wedges. “It’s one of the grinds that (Bob Vokey) likes the best because it’s a high-bounce, crescent sole.”
Neville said a version of the V-grind wedge has been in Johnson’s bag since 2007, and he used it at Augusta National when he won the Masters that year. The measured bounce of the club is about 18 degrees, but its effective bounce is 12 degrees. That makes it especially good in soft conditions such as the players faced at Sherwood Country Club, but it can be challenging when courses get firm.
The club is available to the public for $350 through the WedgeWorks Hand Ground program at www.vokey.com.
Johnson also had a Titleist 913D2 driver with a 73-gram Diamana Blue Board shaft.
– Jim Achenbach contributed
After the U.S. Golf Association announced a ban on anchored putting methods would go into effect starting in 2016, several manufacturers released counterbalanced putters designed to provide anchored-style stability in a style that will remain legal. Titleist has just announced it is releasing a counterbalanced version of the putter Adam Scott used to win the 2013 Masters, the Scotty Cameron Futura X Dual Balance.
Milled from 6061 aluminum, the Futura X Dual Balance is a high-MOI mallet that features two 10-gram weights in the sole – one in the heel and one in the toe – as well as a 20-gram weight at each end of the back wing section. These weights help the Futura X Dual Balance resist twisting on off-center hits, which should help golfers keep the ball on their intended target line. The weights also lower the club’s center of gravity, but because so much of the head’s weight is behind the player’s hands at address, Titleist says that initiating the backswing and keeping it on the intended path are much easier.
In a release, Cameron said, “With Futura X Dual Balance, the goal was to slow down the butt end of the putter and ...
Wilson Golf played a major role in starting what might be called the Thin Face Revolution with its unique Reflex iron in 1979.
The Reflex had a slot cut in the sole, and Wilson planned to tell the world about the slingshot effect resulting from flex-face design. Not so fast, said the U.S. Golf Association, instructing Wilson to keep a low profile. The iron never received much publicity, and five years later it was out of production.
Fast forward to 2014, when thin faces in irons likely will make a huge impact. The USGA has adopted a new attitude about flex-face irons – it’s OK to talk about them. So companies are talking aggressively. All the major manufacturers have thin-faced irons, and Wilson is in the mix with its new Staff C 100 iron.
The language of the Thin Face Revolution includes descriptive terms such as floating faces, unsupported faces, flexible faces, ultra-thin faces, hot faces and trampoline faces. What they do is flex upon impact with a golf ball. Golfers will hear a lot more about thin faces and their ability to better transfer energy and boost distance.
Metalwoods also have thin faces, but their spring-like effect has ...
Big Bertha is back.
Callaway Golf will use the famous name for two new drivers and a line of fairway woods for 2014.
One of those new drivers, the Big Bertha Alpha, will feature a unique adjustable weight pin inserted vertically in the head. This pin, called the Gravity Core, has a heavy end and a light end, and it will change the center of gravity depending on whether the heavy end is positioned up or down in the head.
Callaway introduced the original Big Bertha driver at the 1991 PGA Merchandise Show. It was the first oversized metal driver, and it changed golf. Metal heads grew larger and larger throughout the 1990s and into the following decade, leading the U.S. Golf Association in 2004 to limit the size of driver heads to 460 cubic centimeters.
Now, almost 23 years after the debut of Big Bertha, Callaway is set to resurrect the name in the most ambitious driver project ever launched by the Carlsbad, Calif., manufacturer. The two Big Bertha drivers will be unveiled at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show and are scheduled to be available at retail Feb. 14.
When Chip Brewer took over as Callaway Golf chief ...
The Wilson Staff D 100 irons (that’s D for distance) are some of the longest irons in golf. There are plenty of stories of golfers hitting tape-measure shots with them.
Now Wilson Golf is about to introduce the Wilson Staff D 100 ES, which is a long-distance combination set of irons and hybrids. These clubs are scheduled to be available Jan. 15.
Why a combo set? Because a distance-producing 6-iron or 5-iron doesn’t mean much if a golfer can’t hit the ball in the center of the face. Many players have trouble making solid contact with mid irons and long irons – for most golfers, hybrids are simply easier to hit.
So the D 100 ES set includes 7-, 8- and 9-irons along with a pitching wedge and gap wedge. Then there are 4-, 5- and 6-hybrids. The retail price of these eight clubs is $699.99 with graphite shafts, $599.99 with steel shafts.
The graphite shafts are from Matrix: Studio 6.1 in the irons and Ozik Altus 5.6 in the hybrids. The steel is True Temper SL-85, a lightweight shaft that fits perfectly into the D 100 ES distance equation.
The irons in the ...
Nike Golf’s VRS Forged irons achieved a high profile in 2013 because several PGA Tour players, including Tiger Woods, played one or more of the long irons.
Woods, who alternated between a VRS Forged 2-iron and a VRS Covert 5-wood, often used the 2-iron for accuracy off the tee on shorter par 4s. He could hit his patented “stinger” shot or he could launch the ball up in the air.
For many amateurs, the up-in-the-air part of the equation is very attractive. The VRS Forged – available in full sets from 4-iron through A-wedge – is a cavity-back forging with minimal offset. It exhibits excellent feel and has earned a reputation for producing high, soft shots.
For 2014, Nike has a new VRS Forged model. It is called VRS Covert Forged, and Nike will be describing the iron as “longer and hotter” in its advertising and promotional materials. This is Nike’s first forged iron with the company’s high-speed NexCOR face, which uses variable face thickness to amplify trampoline effect.
All this could be somewhat misleading, because VRS Covert Forged remains a precision iron that should appeal to many skilled players. It is not intended to be just a distance ...
Nike Golf’s Mike Taylor is a master machinist with a gift for visualizing golf clubs. He is the inspiration and guiding light behind Nike’s 2014 wedge lineup, which includes two different wedge models – VR X3X Toe Sweep and VR X3X Dual Wide Sole.
Taylor listened to countless touring pros as they explained what they liked and wanted in wedges. He translated those comments and developed prototype wedges. The prototypes were refined through extensive testing, and finally Nike was ready to take the wedges to market for 2014.
Rory McIlroy talked about testing wedges with Taylor: “He understands what I want, what I’m trying to do. You need a guy like that, someone you have confidence in.”
Toe Sweep is a eye-catching model that has a dramatic amount of heel relief. A large amount of material has been removed from the heel to allow an open clubface at address.
At the same time, the Toe Sweep wedges feature a much wider toe area.
“Our Tour players have told us that the toe side of the sole is most critical in bunker performance,” Taylor said. “Around the green, they asked for material to be ground away from the heel ...
Fairway woods represent the new frontier in golf equipment. Modern fairway woods have thin, responsive faces and designs that are able to control ball spin with precision. As a result, these clubs are capable of hitting the ball farther and straighter than ever.
At the same time, today’s club designers must deal with the complex role of fairway woods in proper gapping. Hybrids and irons are producing longer shots as well, and creating consistent yardage gaps among all these clubs is not a simple task.
Nike, with its new VRS Covert 2.0 fairway woods, had adapted the same Fly-Brace design principle that is used in the new VRS Covert 2.0 drivers.
Fly-Brace is a method of stiffening and stabilizing the clubhead. A high-strength internal brace runs from the crown on top to the sole on the bottom. It allows Nike to effectively employ its Covert cavity-back metalwood design, in which mass is removed from the center of the club and redistributed to the heel and toe.
Two variations of Covert 2.0 fairway woods will be sold in 2014. One is called the VRS Covert 2.0 Tour, and the other is the regular VRS Covert 2 ...
On the eve of the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield, Ping made a unique club available to staff pros who wanted to maximize distance off the tee but keep the ball under the fearsome Scottish winds. Ping has just announced that it is making that club, the Rapture driving iron, available to the public starting in mid-December.
While it will only be available in a 2-iron version (18 degrees), don't think of the Rapture as a simply a strongly-lofted iron or a shiny, small-headed hybrid. As we reported in July, Ping added tungsten the heel and toe of the Rapture's sole to greatly increase the club's MOI, which should make it more resistant to twisting on slightly off-center hits and increase forgiveness.
The Rapture also has a wider sole than a typical iron and more camber, so it should work through the turf more easily than a long iron, even on steep swings.
The body is made from 17-4 stainless steel, and the face utilizes 455 stainless steel, which is much harder, so Ping says that it produces higher ball speeds.
The face of the Rapture is flat, unlike a hybrid’s clubface, which typically curves slightly ...
BEAVERTON, Oregon -- On the outside, the 2014 VRS Covert 2.0 driver looks mostly the same as the 2013 VRS Covert model. The clubhead is still a deep red, although a splash of white has been added in the club’s back cavity.
On the inside, however, the new driver is significantly different.
How so? The Covert 2.0 takes advantage of something called Fly-Brace technology in the hollow internal cavity. Because this cavity cannot be seen, Fly-Brace cannot be seen.
Fly-Brace is a support brace inside the clubhead that runs from the crown on top to the sole on the bottom. Nike says it creates a rock-solid union between the two.
Yes, there was a version of Fly-Brace in the 2013 Covert, but it was not nearly as strong as the new brace. The angle and thickness have been changed in the Covert 2.0, and the result is a clubhead that is significantly stiffer.
Stiff, in this case, is a good thing. It means more stability and less energy loss, particularly in the rear portion of the clubhead. Nike says this creates a more efficient energy release in the face of the driver.
Tom Stites, the longtime Nike ...
Nike Golf on Thursday introduced a wide array of clubs that includes drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons and wedges. The clubs will be available at retail Jan. 31, 2014.
Headlining the introduction is the VRS Covert 2.0 driver line, which will be available in a standard model and a Tour version. Players such as Rory McIlroy, Kevin Chappell and Nick Watney have used the driver on pro tours around the world.
The driver features enhancements to Nike’s High Speed Cavity Back technology (read about it here), which distributes weight to the perimeter and promises more distance and stability across the face of the driver.
“The new VRS Covert 2.0 driver features a redesigned cavity with Fly-Brace technology that ties the sole to the crown,” Nate Radcliffe, Nike Golf’s director of engineering, said in a release. “By stiffening the rear portion of the club, more energy is transferred to the face at impact. The end result is even greater ball speed and up to six yards of distance gain over last year’s model.
“It’s similar to an automotive frame design. Fly-Brace technology reinforces the rearward portion of the clubhead to focus impact stress, flexing and ...
Touring professionals and their golf equipment can be like a soap opera. These gifted players constantly look for a new golf club or ball that allows them to fall in love all over again.
Forget them for a moment. Let’s focus on golf equipment for consumers and ordinary golfers.
This brings us to Nike’s equipment gathering called Innovation Unleashed here at Nike headquarters. The company’s headline introduction for 2014 probably will be the RZN family of balls. This might be a bold statement, considering Nike has made significant changes in its Covert line of metalwoods and will bring VRS Covert 2.0 to market in January.
Nike president Cindy Davis calls her golf ball engineers and scientists the “dream team.” Davis herself can be labeled an ordinary golfer, albeit with a 4 handicap. “I really believe that golfers of different abilities will play these new balls and immediately notice the difference,” she said. “The balls are that good.”
Good, she says, because of a new resin core design. Good because of the sound and feel. Good because spin and carry have been optimized for the entire spectrum of golfers.
Four RZN ball models will be available March ...
OHL Classic winner Harris English won at Mayakoba with Billy Horschel’s backup G25 driver since his G15 driver was broken en route to Malaysia in October. The Ping G25 driver was 9.5 degree, with a Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki 63-X shaft.
The rest of English’s bag: Ping G5 3-wood (15 degree, with Aldila RIP 80-X shaft); Ping G20 5-wood (18 degree, with UST Mamiya VTS Black 8-X shaft); Ping S56 irons (3-9, with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts); Callaway Mack Daddy 2 wedges (47, 52 and 58 degrees, with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts) and a Ping Scottsdale Hohum putter. He played a Titleist Pro V1x ball.
The Scottsdale Hohum putter used by English was released in 2011 as part of Ping’s Scottsdale series. English wore FootJoy golf shoes (FJ Sport) and a FootJoy StaSof glove.
TaylorMade was No. 1 in drivers, fairway woods and irons at Mayakoba.
Cameron Beckman, Brian Gay and Dicky Pride were investigating 13-degree 3-woods but ended up switching to 15-degree SLDR 3-woods. The reason? The SLDR’s low/forward center of gravity produces low-spinning shots and a slightly lower trajectory.
Steve Marino and Tim Petrovic switched to 9.5-degree SLDR drivers. Of 67 TaylorMade drivers in play at Mayakoba, 37 were the SLDR model.
Henrik Stenson’s victory on the European Tour was the eighth worldwide for a player with a SLDR driver. He used the 10.5-degree model after testing the SLDR against a 9.5-degree R1 driver. According to TaylorMade, Stenson knocked 400 rpm off his spin and gained 10 yards.
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