The Toy Box Mailbag: Fielding equipment questions

If you have a question about the latest golf clubs and equipment or are wondering what gear the PGA Tour stars are using, send a Tweet to Golfweek senior writer David Dusek at @DavidDusek.

Some recent inquiries:

Brent,

Do you mean this black TaylorMade R1?

photo

A black TaylorMade R1 driver

That black-and-white photo, which appeared recently on the USGA Conforming Driver Head list, is creating some buzz.

"Factually, the driver that is on the USGA Conforming List is left-handed, 400-cc prototype driver," says Dave Cordero, a public relations manager for TaylorMade. "I can tell you that as a company of golfers, we've been really excited to see what the outcry has been and to see the reaction to it."

Cordero would not say when, if ever, this smaller-headed version of the R1 would find it's way to retail.

• • •

Ryan,

There has been no official word from Titleist, and the world of golf equipment is full of changes. But here's some historical perspective:

Two weeks after Graeme McDowell won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Titleist brought the 910D2 and 910D3 drivers to the PGA Tour for the first time at the AT&T National at the Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia. Those woods were played by numerous professionals during the second half of the season, and they became available to the public starting in November.

The following year at Aronimink, during the same event, Titleist unveiled the 712CB, 712MB, 712 AP1 and 712 AP2 irons. Last season, the AT&T National moved back to Congressional Country Club, and Titleist made the 913D2 and 913D3 drivers available to pros for the first time.

• • •

Mary,

Your last name is Walton, but based on your question I'm going to assume that you're not related to Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart. Too bad. But if it makes you feel any better, I'm not related to Sam either.

The worst thing you can do is buy a used wedge because the grooves will almost certainly be worn, so generating spin on pitch shots and chips will be more difficult.

I'm also not a big fan of buying clubs on Internet auctions sites because it is too easy to inadvertently buy counterfeit equipment. When you go to a local pro shop, club-fitting service or golf retailer, you walk out with a club, a receipt and know exactly where you can go if there is a problem with your purchase. I like that.

When it comes to sand wedges, there are many options in the $120-$140 range, including models from Callaway (Forged), Titleist (SM4), Nike (VR Forged), Ping (Tour with Gorge Grooves), TaylorMade (ATV) and Cleveland (588 RTX CB).

Five minutes spent researching online – reviewing other models and prices from reputable retailers – reveals more affordable choices. Among them: a Ping Tour-S Rustique sand wedge for about $80, and a Cleveland CG16 or a Cobra Trusty Rusty wedge for $90.

Consulting your teacher or a local PGA of America professional – discussing your budget, getting recommendations based on your swing, and understanding local sand and turf conditions – also is highly encouraged.

• • •

Wil,

I can think of two good reasons why some companies choose to release new products more slowly than others.

The first has to do with working cooperatively with retailers. If you owned a golf pro shop and needed to stock your shelves with the latest and greatest gear, you likely wouldn't be thrilled if the inventory you bought from a manufacturer was made obsolete in three or four months. You would be forced to discount the products you just purchased to make room for yet another wave of new merchandise.

The second reason is research and development to create clubs, balls and equipment takes time. We're only in May, but I can assure you that most, if not all, manufacturers know what products they'll have ready for market at the start of the 2014 season because they've had them in the pipeline for a while.

Before you see a new club on a pro-shop wall, ideas for it were generated, prototypes were built and tested by computers, more prototypes were tested by elite players, graphic elements were added to the final prototypes, raw materials for manufacturing were acquired, factories were tooled and marketing plans developed. At any given time, a company may have several different products in various stages of development.

New is exciting, but patience has its own rewards.

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