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Champ C8

James Achenbach

The golf grip is the one point of contact between the golfer and the club, yet grips rarely get recognition.

The new 49-gram Champ C8 grip has Kevlar in it for durability, longevity and torque control. It comes stock in five colors: black, white, blue, green and orange. Other colors can be custom ordered.

This is an all-weather grip with an anti-shock, anti-vibration wrap for comfort.

Cost: $15.99. Availability: March.

Many players take grips for granted, never changing grips until they get slick. This can be a mistake. Some touring professionals change their grips every month or so. Their reasoning: They want to maintain the consistent feel of new grips, and they definitely don’t want grip pressure to be altered because the texture or firmness of the grips seems different.

Installation of grips at the beginning of the golf season generally is considered minimal maintenance. Several grip manufacturers recommend changing grips twice per year.


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Iomic Sticky 2.3

James Achenbach

The golf grip is the one point of contact between the golfer and the club, yet grips rarely get recognition.

According to Iomic, the newest version of the Sticky 2.3 is 30 percent firmer than the original Sticky 2.3. The Sticky family of grips from Iomic is popular in many countries. In 2013, Iomic grips were used by the winners of 53 professional events around the world, according to the company.

For 2014, the new 50-gram Sticky 2.3 is the headliner among Iomic grips. It is known for its feel and grip-to-grip consistency.

Cost: $15.99

Many players take grips for granted, never changing grips until they get slick. This can be a mistake. Some touring professionals change their grips every month or so. Their reasoning: They want to maintain the consistent feel of new grips, and they definitely don’t want grip pressure to be altered because the texture or firmness of the grips seems different.

Installation of grips at the beginning of the golf season generally is considered minimal maintenance. Several grip manufacturers recommend changing grips twice per year.


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Boccieri Secret Grip Midsize

James Achenbach

The golf grip is the one point of contact between the golfer and the club, yet grips rarely get recognition.

The Secret Grip returns in 2014 with a new Midsize version, as well as three new colors (red, white, blue) for the original grip. The original and the Midsize weigh 92 grams, including a 17-gram tungsten plug in the butt end of the grip. This counterbalancing reduces the swing weight of any club, so the clubhead should feel lighter to many golfers while the overall weight of the club is heavier. The three new colored grips are made for Boccieri by Lamkin and contain the durable ACE 3Gen material.

Cost: $12.99 Midsize, $13.99 for colored grips

Availability: March

Many players take grips for granted, never changing grips until they get slick. This can be a mistake. Some touring professionals change their grips every month or so. Their reasoning: They want to maintain the consistent feel of new grips, and they definitely don’t want grip pressure to be altered because the texture or firmness of the grips seems different.

Installation of grips at the beginning of the golf season generally is considered minimal maintenance. Several grip manufacturers recommend ...

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Winner's Bag: Matt Every, Arnold Palmer Invitational

David Dusek

Here is a complete list of the clubs Matt Every used to win the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational:

DRIVER: Callaway Big Bertha (9 degrees with a Fujikura Motore SPD VC 7.0X shaft)

FAIRWAY WOOD: Callaway X2 Hot (15 degrees with an Aldila Tour Blue 75 TX shaft); TaylorMade Burner SuperFast (18 degrees with an nVentix Nunchuk shaft)

IRONS: Callaway Apex Pro (4-PW with KBS V-Tour 125 shafts)

WEDGES: Callaway Mack Daddy 2 (52, 56, 60 degrees with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts)

PUTTER: Odyssey White Hot Pro #9

BALL: Callaway Speed Regime 3

• • •

Article and Exclusive Video: Callaway Big Bertha driver.

Article and Exclusive Video: Callaway Apex Pro irons.

Article: Callaway Speed Regime 3 golf ball.

Read about Callaway's complete line of gear.


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TaylorMade Ghost Spider Si putter

James Achenbach

The newest member of TaylorMade's Ghost Spider family of putters – the white-headed Ghost Spider Si mallet – is a high MOI (moment of inertia) putter with a counter-balanced grip.

The head weighs 380 gram. The grip is 15 inches long and weighs 150 grams (a standard putter grip weighs about 50 grams).

The $199 putter has a PureRoll Surlyn face insert. Stock lengths are 35 and 38 inches. To determine the proper length for a counter-balanced putter, TaylorMade recommends golfers add two to three inches to their normal length.

Ghost Spider Si has been used on tour by Rory Sabbatini, Retief Goosen, Lucas Glover and Fred Funk. The Ghost Spider family gained a large share of recognition in 2013 when Justin Rose won the U.S. Open with a Ghost Spider Blade.

MOI is a measurement of clubhead stability, and many standard putters have an MOI in the 3,500-4,500 range. According to TaylorMade, Ghost Spider Si has an MOI of more than 6,000.


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Callaway X2 Hot Deep fairway woods

James Achenbach

Phil Mickelson raised the profile of Callaway's Deep series of fairway woods in 2013, when the X Hot Deep fairway club was available in lofts of 13 and 14.5 degrees.

X Hot Deep has become X2 Hot Deep for 2014. Along with the slight name change, there are new options in lofts: 12.5 (2Deep), 14.5 (3Deep) and 18.5 (5Deep).

For golfers who prefer a deeper face or who want to use a fairway wood off the tee for accuracy, the Deep series is a legitimate choice.

All the distance-enhancing elements of the regular X2 Hot fairway woods, including the Hyper Speed cup face for increased ball speed and the internal Standing Wave for maximum forgiveness, are present in the Deep series.

Because they are designed to appeal mostly to advanced players, the faces are open on all three of the Deep models.

The stock shaft is the Aldila Tour Green, which produces a low to mid trajectory. Some golfers will want to think about substituting Aldila's Tour Blue shaft, known for a higher trajectory.

Cost of each: $229.99.


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Patrick Reed practices with wooden driver

David Dusek

ORLANDO, Fla. – Golf’s newest three-time winner has gone old school in practice: Patrick Reed has used a persimmon Ben Hogan driver as a training aid for the past month.

"It teaches you to hit the center of the clubface, especially with the driver," he said inside Callaway's PGA Tour trailer Monday.

Asked how far he can hit a modern ball, such as his Callaway Speed Regime 3, Reed said, "I can still hit it out there about 290, maybe 280. I've noticed that you don't lose distance with it if you hit it in the center of the face. If you don't hit it in the center of the face, you're going to hit it 230 and the ball is going to be head-high and either slicing or hooking. It really gives you feedback quickly."

Reed recently won the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral using a Callaway Big Bertha Alpha driver (Read more about the Big Bertha Alpha.)

Reed said he got the club from his coach, Kevin Kirk, the director of instruction at The Woodlands in Texas.

Winner's Bag: Patrick Reed at the 2014 WGC-Cadillac Championship.


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Winner's Bag: John Senden, Valspar Championship

David Dusek

Here is a complete list of the clubs John Senden used to win his second PGA Tour event, the 2014 Valspar Championship:

DRIVER: TaylorMade SLDR 430 (12 degrees with an Aldila Tour Green 70X shaft)

FAIRWAY WOOD: TaylorMade RBZ Tour (14.5 degrees with an Aldila RIP Phenom 70X shaft)

IRONS: Titleist 712U (2), TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB (3-PW, with Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour 130 extra-stiff shafts)

WEDGES: Cleveland 588 (54-, 58-degree with Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 Tour WV 125 shafts)

PUTTER: TaylorMade Ghost Monte Carlo

BALL: Titleist Pro V1

• SHOE: FootJoy ICON (size 13 wide)

GLOVE: FootJoy Pure Touch Limited (size large)

[Note: An earlier version of this story contained different details about iron and wedge shafts.]


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KBS Shafts succeeding on pro circuits

James Achenbach

It is not often that one shaft manufacturer receives a rave review from another shaft company, but what the heck, shaft wizards Kim Braly and Gawain Robertson are buddies.

"Except for (True Temper) Dynamic Gold," said Robertson, co-founder of Accra Golf Shafts, "just about every iron shaft on the PGA Tour was designed by Kim. He really is amazing."

Braly designed Rifle and Project X shafts before creating the KBS brand. Considering there was no such thing as a KBS shaft before 2008, Braly's achievements with his most recent shafts are staggering.

Looking at the official survey results from the major professional tours for the last six years, it's a matter of record: more than 100 victories for KBS, including the Open Championship in 2012 (Ernie Els) and 2013 (Phil Mickelson), the Masters in 2013 (Adam Scott), the U.S. Open in 2013 (Justin Rose), plus the Senior PGA Championship and U.S. Senior Open (both in 2013 by Kenny Perry).

"It has been unbelievable," Braly said. "This thing has come on much, much, muck quicker than I anticipated. I knew we'd be successful, but I didn't know it would happen this fast."

All this from ...

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Winner's Bag: Patrick Reed, WGC-Cadillac Championship

David Dusek

Here is a complete list of the clubs Patrick Reed used to win the WGC-Cadillac Championship:

DRIVER: Callaway Big Bertha Alpha (9 degrees with a Fujikura Fuel 75 X shaft)

FAIRWAY WOOD: Callaway Big Bertha (16 degrees with a True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shaft)

IRONS: Callaway X Forged (3, 4), Razr X Muscleback (5-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

WEDGES: Callaway Mack Daddy 2 (50, 56, 60 degrees with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts)

PUTTER: Odyssey Metal-X Milled #6

BALL: Callaway Speed Regime 3

• • •

Check out more Callaway Golf content


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Players work on wedges prior to Augusta

David Dusek

DORAL, Fla. -- The Florida Swing started last week at the Honda Classic, but for players who have a golden ticket to play in next month's Masters, the WGC-Cadillac Championship marks the start of the drive to Augusta.

Ultra-fast greens, no rough and bunkers filled with sand as soft as talcum powder combine to make Augusta National a nerve-wracking test of a player's short game. To ace the test and slip into a green jacket on the second Sunday in April, pros need a lot of talent. The right wedges help, too.

Dean Teykl, Callaway Golf's PGA Tour manager, said that starting this week at Trump National Doral, Callaway began giving players wedges that should be ideal for Augusta National. Typically players get new gap wedges, sand wedges and lob wedges. Pitching wedges are not often replaced.

"It's more about the turf interaction than it is about the grooves," Teykl said. "Don't get me wrong, they want the grooves sharp because it's the Masters, but it's really about the turf interaction."

The fairway grass at Augusta is as tight as a pool table, so the ball is never perched. Getting the leading edge of ...

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TaylorMade SLDR MiniDriver at Doral

David Dusek

DORAL, Fla. – With its diminutive size and silver crown, TaylorMade’s SLDR MiniDriver easily could be overlooked on the range at Doral, especially with reps keeping it under a headcover most of the time.

After discretely being added to the USGA's list of conforming driver heads on Feb. 17, the club arrived in the TaylorMade PGA Tour van this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

The SLDR MiniDriver does not have an adjustable hosel, and as the name implies, it is significantly smaller that the original 460-cc SLDR and the SLDR 430. However, there is a curved line on the sole that appears very similar to the covered slot cut into the SLDR fairway woods. TaylorMade calls that slot a SpeedPocket. It is designed to allow the face to flex more effectively at impact, which the company says creates more ball speed and distance.

The club making the rounds in the practice area at Trump National Doral has 12 degrees of loft.

Roberto Castro and a few other TaylorMade staff players have tried the club, but it likely would appeal to only the longest hitters, such as Dustin Johnson. It is not anticipated any players will use the club this ...

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Cobra BiO Cell driver, Masters edition

James Achenbach

Do people actually play golf with the limited edition drivers that Cobra regularly creates? Or, in a world of collectibles, do they stash them away or display them scratch-free and dirt-free?

The answer appears to be both of the above. One big clue: Cobra Puma Golf sells the drivers in both right-handed and left-handed versions. This would indicate that at least some of them are headed for the nearest golf course.

The newest Cobra collectible driver is a green BiO Cell model in celebration of the year's first major championship, the Masters.

Cobra says only 2,014 will be produced, and each will have its sequential number laser-etched on the sole. They go on sale March 15 at select Cobra retailers around the world. The price is $399.

These are genuine BiO Cell drivers, including eight adjustable loft settings: 9.0, 9.5, 10.5, 11.5 and 12, in addition to 9.5 D, 10.5 D and 11.5 D. The D settings are draw biased.

This green driver is visually striking. The head is green with black, white and yellow accents. The grip (Lamkin Ace 3Gen 360) is green. The shaft (Aldila ATX Tour Green) is ...

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Wilson Staff Vizor Level 2 putter

David Dusek

Getting the ball into the hole blends two skills. Players need to determine how hard to strike the ball and, based on that speed, the ideal path. With the release of the new Staff Vizor Level 2 putters, Wilson hopes to make it easier for golfers to achieve both.

The first thing golfers will notice about the four Staff Vizor Level 2 putters is the unique alignment mechanism. Instructors have been telling golfers for years that a player’s eyes need to be over the target line at address. Thus, Wilson has developed I-Lock Technology. If the player’s eyes are inside or outside the target line, he will see black and white in the alignment window. Only when addressing the ball with eyes over the target line will the player see only black.

To enhance feel, Wilson has given all the Staff Vizor Level 2 putters a soft urethane-face insert. According to the company, it gets the ball rolling faster and was designed especially to work well with firm golf balls.

There are four Staff Vizor Level 2 putters. The M1 has a blade-style head with an elongated center section that houses the alignment aid. The M2 and M3 ...

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Winner's Bag: Russell Henley, Honda Classic

David Dusek

Russell Henley won a four-man playoff at PGA National on Sunday evening to capture the 2014 Honda Classic. Here is a complete list of the clubs he used to earn his second PGA Tour victory:

DRIVER: Nike VRS STR8-Fit (9.5 degrees, with a Graphite Design HD-7X shaft)

FAIRWAY WOOD: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 (15 and 19 degrees, with Fujikura Rombax P95X shafts)

IRONS: Nike VR Pro Cavity (3-6); VR Pro Combo (7-9) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

WEDGES: Nike VR Pro (48 and 53 degrees); VR Forged (59 degrees) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

PUTTER: Nike Method 006

BALL: Nike RZN Black

• • •

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