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TaylorMade SLDR 430 driver

David Dusek

The original TaylorMade SLDR 460 driver appeared on the PGA Tour in mid-summer of 2013, before the start of the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic and European Tour's Scottish Open. It featured a unique sliding weight system and an adjustable hosel, and the center of gravity was pushed more forward than the CG location of previous TaylorMade drivers.

For golfers who prefer the look of a smaller head or who like to work the ball more off the tee, TaylorMade now offers a 430-cc version of the club, the SLDR 430.

On the sole of the SLDR 430, TaylorMade designed a channel that houses a blue, 20-gram movable weight. It's the same weight as on the larger-headed SLDR, and it can be set into any of 21 positions. TaylorMade says selecting a position near the toe should make it easier to hit a fade; setting the weight near the heel encourages a draw.

Read about the TaylorMade SLDR driver right here.

The feature TaylorMade espouses most is the forward CG. According to the company, this helps golfers generate more ball speed and reduce spin. Without changing anything else, that would likely produce lower flying shots that could ...

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Winner's Bag: Jimmy Walker, Sony Open

David Dusek

Jimmy Walker won the first event of the wrap-around 2013-2014 PGA Tour season when he captured the Frys.com Open. On Sunday, after shooting a final-round 63, Walker won again. Here is a complete list of the gear he used to get the job done at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.

DRIVER: Titleist 913D2 driver (8.5 degree with a Mitsubishi Diamana+ Blue Board 72X shaft)

FAIRWAY WOOD: TaylorMade SLDR (15.5 degree with a Fujikura Motore VC8 shaft); Titleist 913F.d (18 degree with a Fujikura Motore VC8.1 X shaft)

IRONS: Titleist 714 MB (3-9 with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts)

WEDGES: Vokey Design SM4 (48, 54, 60 degree with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts)

PUTTER: Scotty Cameron Tour Rat putter

BALL: Titleist Pro V1

SHOE: FJ Icon

GLOVE: FootJoy StaSof


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Q&A with Adams Golf's John Ward

James Achenbach

John Ward, a veteran sales executive with TaylorMade-Adidas Golf, was named president of Adams Golf in June 2012.

After 1 1/2 years at the helm, Ward offers candid observations about his company, the state of golf and the future of the game.

• • •

GOLFWEEK: You recently added Ernie Els to the Adams touring pro staff. How important was that?

WARD: In a big way, he represents to us the manner in which we want the world to look at Adams. Whether it’s his nickname (the Big Easy) or his personality, he’s friendly and he’s inviting. He will be our primary focus on the PGA Tour. He will be a poster child for us. He’s at the top of our pyramid. He’s our star.

• • •

GOLFWEEK: Els has appeared excited by this deal. Is it a multi-year contract.

WARD: Yes, three years.

• • •

GOLFWEEK: What are the contractual obligations of a player such as Els?

WARD: They are no different from those of most touring professionals. He carries our bag and plays our clubs. He is required to offer so many days of service, if you will, to the company. This can be used in ad shoots, customer ...

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Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter

David Dusek

In July, when Phil Mickelson stood on the 18th green at Muirfield and raised his arms in triumph, knowing he was going to win the 2013 Open Championship, the putter in his hand was an Odyssey Versa #9. Now, with the release of the Versa Jailbird, the company is trying to extend the success of the Versa line, literally and figurative.

According to Austie Rollinson, Odyssey Golf's principal designer, the black and white pattern that makes the Versa series so distinctive was created when a member of his team tinkered with a multi-material prototype putter. Each of the materials was made in a different color. Odyssey realized that particular prototype wasn't going to work, but its striped pattern made the club very easy to align.

Rollinson said the first intentional attempt to use the black and white scheme on a prototype Versa putter was actually made by marking a white stripe on a black putter with Wite-Out correction fluid.

"Versa provides high-definition alignment between the black and the white, and instead of it being parallel to your target line, we moved it to perpendicular so you can put it on a blade putter," Rollinson said.

The new Versa ...

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Winner's Bag: Zach Johnson at Hyundai TOC

David Dusek

Zach Johnson won the winners-only 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions using these clubs:

DRIVER: Titleist 913D2 driver (8.5 degree) with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 73X shaft

FAIRWAY WOODS: Titleist 913F.d fairway wood (15 degree) with Fujikura Motore VC 7.0 X shaft; Titleist 913F fairway wood (17 degree) with Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 80X shaft

HYBRID: Titleist 909H hybrid (21 degree) with Fujikura Speeder 904 S shaft

IRONS: Titleist 712 AP1 (4), 714 AP2 (5-9) irons with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

WEDGES: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled SM4 wedges (48, 54, 60 degree) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

PUTTER: SeeMore FGP Black putter

BALL: Titleist Pro V1x ball

SHOES: FootJoy DryJoys Tour MyJoys


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TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC irons

David Dusek

Justin Rose won the 2013 U.S. Open using a set of irons comprised of two models. The Englishman's long and mid-irons were TaylorMade's RocketBladez Tour irons while his short irons were Tour Preferred MBs.

Now, with the release of the new Tour Preferred MC irons, TaylorMade brings a similar, pre-blended set to the masses.

The Tour Preferred MC 8-iron, 9-iron and pitching wedge feature a muscleback design and are forged from 1025 carbon steel for enhanced feel and softness. The cast stainless steel 3- through 7-iron have a pocket-cavity design and a slot in the sole that TaylorMade calls a Speed Pocket.

The Speed Pocket, which TaylorMade debuted in last season's RocketBladez irons, is designed to allow the lower portion of the iron's face to flex more at impact.

"The Speed Pocket delivers a lot of extra ball speed and a little higher launch angle," said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade's director of product creation for irons, wedges and putters. "It's good for players who are looking for a little bit of extra help with ...

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TaylorMade Tour Preferred CB irons

David Dusek

Of the three new Tour Preferred irons that TaylorMade has released, the cavity-backed CB is the most player-friendly, forgiving set of the bunch. But don’t confuse them with traditional game-improvement clubs – loaded with game-enhancing features, they are designed to amplify feel and control.

"This iron is designed fairly similarly to the SpeedBlade in terms of the performance package," said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade's director of product creation for irons, wedges and putters. "The difference is that this is a more compact head shape, so this will require a little more precision from the player in terms of ballstriking. The sweet spots [on these clubs] are a little bit smaller."

The feature that makes the Tour Preferred CB irons play similarly to the SpeedBlade irons is the inclusion of a slot that TaylorMade calls a Speed Pocket in the 3- through 7-irons. The slot designed into the sole of the Tour Preferred CBs extends about 10 millimeters into the head. It's covered with a polymer, so dirt and debris do not get into the club. Its function is to create a hinging mechanism that lets the face bend more at impact, especially on shots hit low in the face ...

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TaylorMade Tour Preferred MB irons

David Dusek

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry famously wrote in "Airman's Odyssey" that

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

That adage holds true in many things, especially irons intended for golf's elite players. With the release of the Tour Preferred MB irons, TaylorMade does not espouse distance gains or new technologies. Instead, the story is about giving accomplished players the tools they demand to control the ball more effectively.

"With the Tour Preferred MB, we really wanted to work on the workability, feel and aesthetic appeal for the better player," said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade's director of product creation for irons, wedges and putters. "We know that players who play a muscleback really values these things more than anything else."

To maximize feel, TaylorMade forged the Tour Preferred MB irons from 1025 carbon steel. The blade lengths are short, the overall head sizes are compact and the offset is minimal. These factors should help premiere ballstrikers hit draws and fades more effectively.

Bystedt said TaylorMade picked the brains ...

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Ping i25 irons

David Dusek

Game-improvement irons need to be forgiving when a player makes a bad swing, playable with lots of feel when the same player makes a good swing.

That's a tall order, but Ping is replacing its i20, which appealed to players ranging from mid-handicappers to Lee Westwood, with a model it feels is even better, the new Ping i25 irons.

Each i25 iron is made from 17-4 stainless steel and has a pair of stabilizing bars on the back of the face. The bars on the long irons are thin, but they get thicker as they progress into the mid and short irons.

"The stabilizing bars do a couple of really good things for us," said Marty Jertson, Ping's director of product development. "Any time we can save weight in the face, especially in long irons, that's really good because we can put it in the sole and move the CG [center of gravity] back to create higher launch angles. The bars in the long irons provide a little bit of added stability so we can control face deflection, but they're really providing enough support so players get really good feel."

Jertson said that compared with other ...

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DeLaet joins Puma, re-signs with Titleist, FJ

Nick Masuda

Only months after completing a breakout season that including seven top-10 PGA Tour finishes -- including a pair of third places -- Graham DeLaet will be rocking some new gear in 2014.

DeLaet joined Puma Golf for the next three years, the company announced on Thursday. He'll wear the hat, shirt and pants, while maintaining his shoe contract with FootJoy.

He'll continue to wear the FJ glove as well, while also re-signing with Titleist to play its clubs and ball for the next three years.

In a pair of tweets separated by less than an hour, DeLaet said:

"Really excited to be part of @PUMAGolf team for the next 3 years! Joining a great team both on and off the course."

And then followed with:

"No equipment changes for the next three years. I have resigned with @Titleist for clubs, ball, @FootJoy shoe, and glove."

DeLaet started the wraparound season well, finishing T-7 in the CIMB Classic and T-6 in the WGC-HSBC Champions.


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Harris English moves to Callaway Golf

Nick Masuda

Harris English, coming off a season in which he won more than $2.2 million on the PGA Tour that included a win and three more top-10 finishes, will tee it up at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Friday with new gear in hand.

English has joined Callaway, the company announced on Twitter on Thursday.

@CallawayGolf: After a breakout #PGATOUR season, excited to welcome @Harris_English to #TeamCallaway.

English also took to Twitter to say: "Just finished up my Pro-Am at Hyundai TOC and excited to officially be a part of the Callaway Team. Can't wait to get 2014 started tomorrow!"

According to our Alex Miceli, who is on the ground at Hyundai, English will still be playing the Titleist Pro V that he has played since turning professional. He will also keep the Ping Scottsdale putter in the bag that he won with twice last year and will also carry his Ping 3- and 5-wood.

English won the FedEx St. Jude Classic in 2013, nearly doubling his earnings from 2012. He played in two majors in 2013, finishing T-15 at the Open Championship and T-61 at the PGA Championship.


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Report: Ko to sign with Callaway Golf

Nick Masuda

Lydia Ko is piling up the endorsement deals, but this one could be the most promising.

According to NewsTalkZB in her native New Zealand, the teenage LPGA star has signed with Callaway to use the company's clubs and equipment.

Ko will be coached by Sean Hogan, who is affiliated with the David Leadbetter Academy. Leadbetter is a Callaway guy, too.

Ko has been busy in the past two months after having turned professional in October:

As a 15-year-old, Ko won the 2012 Canadian Women's Open to become the youngest victor in LPGA history. She successfully defended that title in 2013 as an amateur.

Click here for senior writer Beth Ann Baldry's profile of Ko.


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Ping i25 driver

David Dusek

For years, the thinking was players looking for a Ping driver that would maximize distance went with a G-Series driver. Better players who liked to work the ball went with an i-Series driver. With the introduction of the i25 driver, Ping is continuing to change those ideas.

"From a design standpoint, but really more from a perception standpoint, we've transformed the i-Series from being a better-player's product to being products that just provide less spin and a more boring trajectory," said Marty Jertson, Ping's director of product development. "Certainly in the driver category, the concept of workability, and better players needing workability, is pretty low in importance for most golfers. Even at the Tour level."

Like its predecessor the i20, the new i25 features a 460 cubic-centimeter titanium head. While previous versions had a fixed hosel, the i25 was designed with an adjustable hosel system that lets golfers add or take away .5 degrees of loft. It is compact and extremely light, because the sleeve is made from aerospace-grade aluminum and the screw is made from titanium.

While other manufacturers offer greater adjustable loft ranges, Ping always has advocated players get custom fit for every club. The ...

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Ping i25 fairway woods

David Dusek

In some ways, creating a good fairway wood is more challenging than creating a good driver.

"What makes fairway woods so tough to design is that you have a really small window to get your launch and spin just right," said Marty Jertson, Ping's director of product development. "Even from a PGA Tour player's standpoint, if they get a fairway wood that spins a little bit too much, it just doesn't feel good and the ball balloons. If you get a fairway wood that just fractionally does not spin enough, shots will just fall out of the air."

With the release of the i25 fairway woods, Jertson and the team at Ping believe they have a club that could help more players achieve ideal launch conditions more often to make hitting tight fairways and long par-5s a little easier.

The i25 comes standard with an adjustable hosel system that allows golfers to increase or decrease the club's loft by .5 degrees. That may not seem like much, but it should help golfers hit shots to a specific distance, which is critical. It also should help players working with clubfitters create even gapping between their fairway woods ...

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Ping i25 hybrids

David Dusek

As clichés go, "You can't judge a book by its cover" is pretty popular.

According to Marty Jertson, Ping's director of product development, the G15 hybrid performed great, but because the club had an enlarged toe section and asymmetrical look at address, it turned some golfers off. With the new Ping i25 hybrid, Jertson said his designers were successful in repackaging the playing characteristics engineers loved in a more traditional-looking hybrid.

Made from 17-4 stainless steel, the i25 has a compact head with a non-glare, matte black finish. At address, players may see the club has a touch of offset, but it's a traditional look.

"We've created a club with a pretty small footprint from front to back, and moved the CG [center of gravity] pretty far forward," Jertson said. However, he said that because the CG position is still well behind the shaft axis, the i25 produces a much higher ball flight than its predecessor, the i20, while at the same time creating less spin.

"So really, we've got the physics of a G15-style hybrid in a totally different chassis," he said.

Even though the i25 hybrids create a higher launch angle, Ping wanted ...

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