The next time you go shopping for new clubs, consider the following advice from Worldwide Golf Shops Purchasing Assistant and club expert Nate McDonough.
>> The first priority should be to pinpoint your specific needs. For instance, a low-ball hitter should focus on new equipment with a low center of gravity to help launch the ball more easily. This criteria alone will eliminate nearly half of the options on the market without having to test every model. It will also ensure that your most pressing need is addressed, which translates to better golf.
>> When shopping for new clubs, focus on the weak spots in your game, because you stand to gain much more out of the purchase.
>> Always bring something from your own bag with you to establish a baseline for your numbers. This takes the guesswork out of interpreting indoor launch monitors versus the golf course.
>> The key to expediting an equipment search is defining the goals. If distance is the primary objective, lightweight technology should be a focal point. This means that the adjustable clubs that tend to be heavier can be eliminated. If a lower trajectory is the top priority, the lightweight clubs should be disregarded as they will only increase the frustrations of a high-ball-hitter. Tendencies are the fastest way to eliminate options.
>> Your necessities should be the only thing guiding the search for new equipment. Once tendencies are understood, you can jump from brand to brand comparing the corresponding technologies.
>> When you come into a store looking for new clubs, the sales person will be asking the majority of the questions to start the fitting process. It’s going to sound something like: What clubs do you play now? Do you play steel or graphite? Stiff or regular? Do you miss left or right? What do you like and dislike about your clubs now? What club do you hit 150 yards? With each answer the fitter gets a better understanding for what your expectations are, and what will help to improve your game.
>> Oftentimes, the final decision is the most difficult, especially when it’s between comparable models offering similar results. In these situations I suggest that preferences should be the determining factor – that is the look, feel and sound of a club. These tend to be the factors that sell themselves.
Customers weigh in on the hottest drivers, fairway woods and hybrids!
Southern California Roger Dunn Golf Shops customers to join us for a day on the driving range testing the latest golf equipment and and recording the results. We narrowed the search to seven golfers of various abilities to test clubs from nine top manufacturers at Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Orange County, considered one of the top high-end courses in the region. In this issue we look at drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, while in our next edition we will feature top irons and wedges.
With so many options in golf equipment today, shoppers can be overwhelmed with where to even begin. The beauty of all these options is that manufacturers have found ways to accommodate nearly every skill levels on the golf course. With that in mind, we gathered a group of everyday golfers to put the most popular brands on the market to the test on the driving range. Here’s what they had to say…
DRIVERS: CALLAWAY XR
THE BASICS: Speed is the driving force behind the new Callaway XR driver. An aerodynamic crown, an R•MOTO face, and maximum shaft load have created a titanium driver that reduces drag and maximizes speed through the swing.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“Looks good. Lightweight and adjustable.” – Robert Lindsay
“Gorgeous all-black club with nice distance.” – Laura Qvistgaard
“Head shape is a bit weird, but it’s easy to swing and I like the matte finish.” – Roy Giannini
“A bit on the heavy side. Impact is different, but I really like the grip and feel of the club.” – Javier Chavez
THE BASICS: First fairway wood with sliding weight for shot shape adjusta- bility. The most ad- justable fairway wood to date. New Front Track system performs like a speed pocket, reducing spin and increasing size of sweet spot.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“I like the adjustability and weight.” – Robert Lindsay
“Easy to control, forgives bad hits and swings fast.” – Javier Chavez
THE BASICS: To increase face deflection and ball speed for adding distance with a higher peak trajectory, the 17-4 stainless steel face uses a stronger H900 heat-treat- ment process, making it thin but strong. The result is more distance with the steeper landing angle to hold shots on the green.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“Very smooth, light and goes far.” – Roy Giannini
“One of my favorites, great feel on the swing and impact.” – Javier Chavez “Solid!” – John Brent
In 1968, Edwin Watts was a 23-year-old assistant professional at a municipal golf course in Fort Walton, Fla., when he was suddenly handed the head professional job. At the time, there wasn’t a great deal of golf in the region, located on the Florida Pan handle about half way between Tallahassee and Mobile, Ala. There were even fewer places to purchase golf equipment. So the young Watts decided to try and take the small pro shop that he inherited along with his new job to the next level. It worked. By the time Watts sold his company in 2003, it had grown to approximately 65 stores spread across the south eastern portion of the United States. Today, Edwin Watts Golf still bears its founder’s name, but it’s now an integral component of Worldwide Golf Shops, which purchased the chain in its largest acquisition to date in December, 2013. “Edwin thought something was missing in the area,” said Kerry Kabase, a Worldwide Golf Shops consultant who began working for Watts in 1978. “He wanted something that not only offered a good selection of clubs, but also apparel and shoes, basically a full service golf shop. that concept hadn’t really taken off yet.” Watts’ shop grew and he gradually came to the realization that a golf store didn’t have to be located on a actual golf course, but could be housed in a stand-alone building. He and his brother opened up another shop in Memphis, Tenn., and then “started picking off areas in the southeast, one at a time,” Kabase said. “It was a slow process because he wasn’t that financed, but when he had enough money to open, he did. And they turned out to be very successful.” By the time Watts sold the company to a private equity firm in 2003, it had grown to dozens of stores, Kabase said. Though Edwin Watts Golf is now part of Worldwide Golf Shops (it currently has 48 stores from Texas to Florida and as far north as Missouri) Kabase said it was a perfect marriage. And what of the man whose name is still affixed to the brand? He’s still around and still making a difference in golf. Kabase said that several years ago, a golf course in Watts’ community was about to be sold to a developer who was going to build on it. Watts got a group of friends together and decided to buy it. “They figured they would buy it themselves and keep the course in the neighborhood,” and Kabase of Shalimar Pointe Golf Club. “And it’s never been more successful.”
Nike’s new line of Vapor irons get a big boost with input from Tiger and Rory
Few major golf manufacturers had such an interesting route to prominence than Nike Golf. For 30 years, Nike was known for one thing: it made shoes, focusing heavily on high performance athletic footwear. It began producing golf shoes in 1986, but didn’t leap into the golf equipment market until 2000, helped in no small part by signing Tiger Woods to an exclusive deal. Since that time, the company’s balls and clubs have helped it become a major player in the golf industry and its latest line of Vapor irons is the most recent example of the company’s dedication to high performance and technological innovation. With blessings from both Woods and the world’s current No. 1 player, Rory Mcilroy, the Vapor iron’s replace Nike’s Covert line. Lighter in weight, with a center of gravity moved to the center of the club face, Vapor has a much thinner face than its predecessor, resulting in Nike’s most precise, longest and most forgiving iron to date.
“The lightweight design helps golfers generate more club speed, the ultra-thin, ultra-fast face creates faster ball speeds, and moving the center of gravity to the center of the face makes the club more stable,” said Rowdy Bank, General Manager of The Golf Mart in San Diego. The three models — Vapor Speed, Vapor Pro Combo, and Vapor Pro are each built for golfers at different stages of their game. Both McIlroy and Woods had input in the design process, but it was the research and development team at Nike Golf that figured how to implement the ideas. “My favorite feature of these clubs is the Vapor’s clean aesthetics, which is a departure from the Covert line,” Bank said. “They feel great, as well.”
LATE-NIGHT TEE TIME
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy recently appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to tout Nike’s new Vapor irons and that’s when the fun began.
The biggest names in golf will take the stage this weekend in TPC Scottsdale Arizona for the second stop of the West Coast swing. Even Tiger Woods will be competing after a “not so good” season last year with back surgery and a complete remake of his game. With the announcement of Tiger playing this year, the crowd expectancy is due to triple or quadruple over last year’s turn out. Rory and Tiger will be in full swing with their new complete Nike Vapor series of golf equipment that has officially launched in-stores this weekend. Find a store near you.
Here are a few of the new products you will see in play at the Waste Management event:
Tiger Woods was seen lacing up his new Nike Golf TW15 shoes during a practice round (Available soon at www.worldwidegolfshops.com)
Callaway Chrome soft – Phil Mickelson recently announced that he has changed his golf ball. Phil has never been afraid of making equipment changes and says the new Callaway Chrome Soft is the ball for him.