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Callaway introduces Chrome Soft golf ball

James Achenbach

Golf balls are getting softer. As a whole, compression ratings are going down.

Callaway is part of this trend. The company introduced its Chrome Soft, a 65-compression ball with three-piece construction and a urethane cover, on Dec. 16.

The ball, to be available at retail Jan. 16, has caught the attention of five-time major champion and Callaway staff player Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, who probably will not use the ball on Tour but who tested it, said his iron shots fly “7 or 8 yards longer” with Chrome Soft.

“Phil kind of jumpstarted all this attention for Chrome Soft, but it wasn’t planned that way,” said Dave Bartels, Callaway’s senior director of golf ball research and development. “He just started testing the ball on his own, and he was blown away by it. The lesson here is that the ball can appeal to all golfers, not just those with slower swing speeds.”

One concern is control around the greens. Some soft golf balls are popular for feel and in some cases distance but not for greenside manageability. Chrome Soft addresses this with a urethane cover that enhances spin with the wedges.

Most soft golf balls are made of two ...

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TomTom releases new GPS golf watch

David Dusek

TomTom, which has made GPS-based software for navigation and mapping products for several years, has just released a golf watch with a graphic interface.

The TomTom Golfer ($249.99) comes pre-loaded with over 34,000 golf courses and recognizes the course about to be played using its GPS system. It’s water resistant, and TomTom says the battery will last for at least 10 hours.

Standing on the tee or in the fairway, players will see images of hazards like bunkers and water, along with yardages to reach them. The watch also provides distances to lay-up points, as well as the front, middle and back yardages of the green.


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Trending: Standalone, affordable launch monitors

James Achenbach

With price, or at the least the perception of price, as a deterrent, few amateur golfers purchase launch monitors.

This might soon change.

Standalone, affordable launch monitors comprise one of the newest trends in golf. Some of these devices are available for less than $500, and a few of the basic models cost less than $300.

These devises are small, lightweight and portable. They typically run 15 to 20 hours without a battery change.

Joe Ernest has been instrumental in this trend. Ernest owned a telecommunications company before selling it and starting Ernest Sports. He offers two models, the ES12 and ES14.

The ES12 ($249.99) provides measurements of ball speed and distance. It can be paired with a smartphone or tablet for use on a range.

The ES14 (MSRP $595.99, although widely available for $499.99) features clubhead speed, ball speed, distance, spin, launch angle and smash factor (ball speed divided by clubhead speed). The ES14 can be used as a standalone device or be paired with a smartphone or tablet to store practice numbers.

Another company offering launch monitors is Voice Caddie, which has expanded its product line from talking distance-measuring GPS units to portable launch monitors ...

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Bettinardi Golf debuts new wedge line

David Dusek

Bettinardi Golf, a company synonymous with high-end milled putters, is venturing off the shortest grass and back into the rough with a new line of wedges.

Bettinardi made wedges in the late ’90s, shortly after Robert Bettinardi founded the company. It returned to making wedges again briefly in 2011, but it focused exclusively on putters the past several seasons.

Available in 52-, 54-, 56-, 58- and 60-degree versions, the new Bettinardi H2 wedges are forged from 1020 carbon steel for a soft feel. The H2 stands for High Helix, which is a tool used to machine each wedge.

Sam Bettinardi, the son of Robert Bettinardi and the company’s vice president of marketing, said the grooves provide plenty of spin and do a good job of removing water and debris from between the ball and the face on shots hit from the rough.

“We spent a lot of time in R&D, working to get these wedges to feel exactly the way we wanted,” Sam Bettinardi said. “We really like the way the ball comes off the face.”

The H2 wedges are available in two finishes: satin nickel and a darker tone the company calls cashmere bronze.

The C-Grind sole ...

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Winner's bag: Jordan Spieth, Hero World Challenge

David Dusek

Here is a list of the clubs Jordan Spieth used to win the 2014 Hero World Challenge:

DRIVER: Titleist 915D2 (9.5 degrees), with an Aldila Rogue X shaft

FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 915F (15 degrees), with a Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7 X shaft

HYBRID: Titleist 915Hd (20.5 degrees) with a Graphite Design Tour AD HYB 95 X shaft

IRONS: Titleist AP2 714 (4-9) with Project X 6.0 shafts

WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design SM5 (46, 52, 56, 60) with Project X 6.0 shafts

PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist 009 prototype

BALL: Titleist Pro V1x prototype

• • •

Related content:

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See all the latest Titleist gear


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Keegan Bradley switches to counterbalanced putter

David Dusek

The Hero World Challenge is a limited-field, no-cut event, so there’s no better time to try some new gear. Maybe that’s the reason why Keegan Bradley decided to forgo his old Odyssey Sabertooth belly putter, the club that helped him win the 2011 PGA Championship, in favor of a counterbalanced Scotty Cameron Futura X5 Dual Balance putter.

The Futura X5 putters are milled from 303 stainless steel and have a 6061 aluminum sole plate. The weight that is saved by removing the stainless steel and going with aluminum allowed Cameron to redistribute weight into a pair of wing-like extensions that help to increase the moment of inertia (MOI). The standard Futura X5’s wings have angular bends, while the wings of the Futura X5R are more rounded.

According to Larry Silveira, a PGA Tour rep for Scotty Cameron putters, Bradley received the putter in August that was 40 inches, with 3 degrees of loft and a lie angle of 67 degrees. Kelley Moser, another Scotty Cameron putter rep, added that the grip on Bradley’s putter is 17 inches, 2 inches longer than the grip that comes standard on the retail Futura X5 Dual Balance putter. Moser added ...

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Woods will return to competition with new Nike clubs

James Achenbach

Tiger Woods returns to competitive golf at his own tournament, the Hero World Challenge, with an assortment of new Nike clubs in his bag.

The new clubs include a Vapor Speed Prototype driver, Vapor Speed fairway woods (3 and 5) and Vapor Pro blade irons. He also will use a Nike RZN Black ball for the first time in competition.

The World Challenge runs Thursday through Sunday at Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Windermere, Fla.

At a media event in New York in August, Woods had the following to say about his efforts to switch clubs in the past year:

“We were close to having a set right for me earlier this year,” Woods said. “About this time last year, we started tinkering around with this stuff. Then, earlier this year, I was getting close to it and then my back went out and I wound up having surgery. When I came back, I was on a limited ball count, so I could not do the testing I would normally do. So I said I would just go out with my old stuff and play it that way.”

Woods is expected to address the subject of his new clubs Tuesday ...

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Winner's bag: Jordan Spieth, Australian Open

David Dusek

Here is a list of the clubs Jordan Spieth used to win the 2014 Emirates Australian Open:

DRIVER: Titleist 915D2 (9.5 degrees), with an Aldila Rogue X shaft

FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 915F (15 degrees), with a Graphite Design Tour AD DI-7 X shaft

HYBRID: Titleist 915Hd (20.5 degrees) with a Graphite Design Tour AD HYB 95 X shaft

IRONS: Titleist AP2 714 (4-9) with Project X 6.0 shafts

WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design SM5 (46, 52, 56, 60) with Project X 6.0 shafts

PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist 009 prototype

BALL: Titleist Pro V1x prototype

• • •

Related content:

Titleist 915D2 and 915D3 drivers

Titleist 915H hybrids

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See all the latest Titleist gear


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Bobby Jones Golf to unveil new putters in January

James Achenbach

Bobby Jones Golf is about to add limited-edition adjustable putters to its lineup of golf clubs. At least six new putters will be unveiled at the PGA Merchandise Show in January.

The putter project is a partnership between Bobby Jones, headquartered in Atlanta, and putter manufacturer Dogleg Right, located in Plano, Texas.

“If Mr. (Bobby) Jones were alive today, what would he putt with? That’s the question we constantly ask ourselves,” said Dave Billings, co-founder, president and chief executive of Dogleg Right.

One answer: Jones would take advantage of the latest technology and choose a putter featuring independently adjustable loft, lie and toe hang.

“We are making these putters in-house in our machine shop,” Billings said. “There is a lot of custom-milling and hand-shaping.”

All this adjustability and precision comes at a cost. The retail price of the stainless-steel Silver Anniversary Series is $699.99 for each of the Modern Classic putters. The carbon-steel Grand Slam Series sells for $799.99 per putter with four models available.

The putters are completely customized for individual golfers. All carry the Bobby Jones name and are co-branded with Dogleg Right.

Bobby Jones already manufactures and sells drivers, fairway woods and hybrids for ...

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TaylorMade AeroBurner Rescue clubs

James Achenbach

Like the AeroBurner fairway woods, the AeroBurner Rescue clubs have a matte white head and an expanded Speed Pocket. The Rescue hybrids also have been shortened by one-half inch from JetSpeed Rescue clubs.

The AeroBurner Rescues share other traits with the AeroBurner fairway woods: shallow face, low-and-forward center of gravity and a refined sole camber (roundness).

The retail price is $199 for the standard model and $269 for the TP club. They will be available Jan. 9.


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TaylorMade AeroBurner fairway woods

James Achenbach

The AeroBurner fairway woods have, in the words of senior director of product creation for metalwoods Brian Bazzel, "our largest Speed Pocket ever. We are now achieving driver-like launch conditions with a fairway wood."

The AeroBurner fairway woods combine the size of the company’s Rocketballz fairway channel with the technology of the through-slot found on JetSpeed fairway woods. The AeroBurner also has a low and forward center of gravity, and the company says the sweet spot is twice as large as found on the JetSpeed.

The AeroBurner 3-wood has a matte white head and is 43.25 inches in length, shorter than many previous TaylorMade fairway woods. This is a nod to increased playability while maintaining increased ball speed from clubhead advancements.

Lofts are 15 (3-wood), 16.5 (3-wood HL), 18 (5-wood), 21 degrees (HL 5-wood) and 23 degrees (7-wood).

The retail price is $229 for the stock model and $299 for the TP version. These clubs are part of TaylorMade's Jan. 9 introduction.


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TaylorMade R15 fairway woods

James Achenbach

TaylorMade’s R15 fairway woods are the most adjustable fairway woods ever introduced by the company. They are available in four lofts: 15, 16.5, 19 and 20.5 degrees.

These white fairway woods feature the same Front Track system as the R15 driver, although the R15 fairway woods utilize a single 25-gram tungsten weight that can slide easily to promote a draw or fade. TaylorMade said the Front Track also performs like a Speed Pocket found on other models, increasing the size of the sweet spot and decreasing spin.

Like the R15 driver, the fairway woods come with an adjustable loft range of 4 degrees (plus or minus 2 degrees from standard).

The retail price is $279 for the standard version and $349 for the TP model. The fairway woods are scheduled to be available Jan. 9 at retail.


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TaylorMade R15 Rescue clubs

James Achenbach

Harkening back to the shape of the original Rescue club, the new R15 Rescue has a smaller “peanut” head shape (99cc), commonly preferred by tour staff professionals and amateurs who want to shape shots.

Offered in lofts of 17, 19, 21 and 24 degrees, these white-headed clubs have a 3-degree loft range that offer plus or minus 1.5 degrees from standard.

The hybrids also incorporate an open-channel Speed Pocket for more ball speed and less spin. They have a neutral bias that the company says reduces pulls or hooks.

The retail price is $219 for the stock model and $289 for the TP club. Both go on sale Jan. 9.


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Mizuno JPX-850 drivers, woods, hybrids

James Achenbach

No astute golf observer would argue with the proposition that Mizuno is famous for its irons.

Mizuno became the first Japanese golf manufacturer in 1933. Over the decades, Mizuno’s forged MP irons developed a worldwide following. In recent years, the reputation of multi-material JPX irons soared as well.

But where were Mizuno metalwoods? For lack of a better description, they were lost in the tidal wave of popularity surrounding the irons.

For 2015, Mizuno is focusing more intently than ever on the metalwood market, and the company is adopting straightforward language to describe its initiative.

"We're known mainly for our irons and wedges," said David Llewellyn, Mizuno golf club research and development manager. "Now we want people to know how serious we are about metalwoods."

The past is the past. "We were making metalwoods that performed," Llewellyn said, "but there wasn't anything unusual about them. There was nothing new and exciting that the consumer hadn't seen.

"We want to elevate within the metalwood category from an innovative standpoint. We want to put something out there that the consumer hasn't seen yet, products that make sense, that are intuitive to golfers."

Welcome to Mizuno's 2015 ...

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Winner's bag: Charley Hoffman, Mayakoba

David Dusek

Here is a complete list of the clubs Charley Hoffman used to win the OHL Classic at Mayakoba:

DRIVER: Titleist 915D2 (8.5 degrees), with Aldila Rogue Silver 70 TX shaft

FAIRWAY WOOD: Titleist 915F (13.5 degrees), with UST Mamiya Elements Chrome 8 shaft

HYBRID: Adams Idea Pro (18 degrees), with UST Mamiya Proforce V2 Hybrid 89X shaft

IRONS: Titleist 714 CB (3), 714 MB (5-9), with Nippon N.S. Pro ST prototype X shafts

WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design SM5 (46, 50, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue shafts

PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist GoLo 5

BALL: Titleist Pro V1x prototype

Related content:

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Article: Titleist 915F fairway woods

Article and Video: Scotty Cameron for Titleist GoLo putters

See all the latest Titleist gear

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