2018 Honda Classic

Alright this week on the PGA Tour was a very eventful one. There’s a few things to digest here so let’s get right to it.

Let’s start with the golf course. PGA National Resort and Spa is home to the PGA of America and features a five golf courses that include The Champion Course. The golf course designed by George and Tom Fazio later saw a redesign by Jack Nicklaus. While not overly long at 7,140 Yards (7,048 yards Actual Scorecard Yardage) while carrying a slope of 147 and a course rating of 75.2 (Actual Scorecard) it provides a challenge. The course yielded a winning score of 272 (-8) which means that it held up very well against the field. I love ‘The Bear Trap” and like the plaque says “It should be won and lost here”. Most of the holes (14 of them) played a touch over par so it goes to show that if the course is set-up (pin locations on “funny” parts of the green) you can still protect the course versus length. Of course, the winds through the first 3 days helped.

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Photo Credit; USA Today

Golf ball rollback. Well this is a conversation that isn’t going to go away any time soon. Again it became part of the week when Mr. Nicklaus said after having dinner with USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. Is it inevitable that the rollback is going to happen? Honestly, I don’t know and quite frankly at this point of my life it doesn’t impact me. But the way that the world has become I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen. Sure ,the guys on Tour are crazy and yes Mr. Nicklaus had concerns about the golf ball dating back to 1977. I still think that if you just grow out the courses and let the course superintendents and tournament committees have a little “fun” scores will ultimately drop. The drawback however could be upset membership at host clubs. Is the issue with the golf ball the fact that it hinders pace of play (as suggested by Mr. Nicklaus)? In my opinion this might be the case for the top half percent of golfers playing the game.

Justin Thomas!! The young man has been on some sort of roll. He hasn’t seen a finish worse than a T-22 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions since at least October 15, 2017. In that stretch he has two victories and quite frankly he’s playing wonderful golf. He won this week and was cool under pressure coming into the 72nd hole when he had to hit a clutch shot and hit a tremendous wedge shot. He actually thought that he had holed-out the shot. He would end up in a playoff with Luke List and would eventually outlast List as day turned night. Thomas now owns 8 victories on the PGA Tour. But winning the tournament wasn’t the only thing that he did… Thomas also managed to get a fan ejected from the tournament when a fan cheered against wishing his ball to go into a bunker. Thomas was then picked up on a live microphone during this exchange…

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Photo Credit: thescore.com

“Who said that? Who yelled for that ball to get in the bunker? Was that you? Enjoy your day, buddy, you’re gone.”

The “offender” was of course singled out by other spectators. I think JT was ultra-sensitive here. It’s not like the fan said it during his backswing. It never factored in on his shot. If anything, this now has set a sort-of precedent. Maybe we’ve heard the last of “mashed potatoes”, “you da man” and every other stupid remark you hear when someone hits a golf ball. I’m trying to think back to when “that” became a “thing”. Oh yeah… Tiger Woods!

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Photo Credit: Golf Digest

For those that are unaware Tiger Woods played this week and the “Tiger Effect” was obvious at the Honda Classic. Those galleries! Only one person does that to a tournament. Tiger had his best showing in a tournament since… forever and even though I’m not a staunch fan of his it always sucks to see someone great be in a decline. Watching Tiger this week I observed a guy who’s feeling healthy, seems to be in a good place mentally and has a swing that’s working. He was impressive off of the tee and more importantly he led the field in proximity to the pin. I loved that he went for the flagstick on 15. He wanted to win and that’s an even more telling sign of where he is. Again though, I simply ask the golf world (fans, media etc) not to get too high or too low on him. Just let the guy play golf!

Until The Next Tee!!

Bloodline Golf Putter Named to Golf Digest’s 2018 Hot List

Generally speaking, I don’t really care what other publications or websites have to say about golf products. This is for one major reason. I like to form my own observations and conclusions. Period.

Bloodline Golf is a brand of putters that until recently is a new name to me. Admittedly, I have no familiarity with the brand and that’s a wonderful thing. I always love to learn about new potential game-changing products. Bloodline Golf features two putters in their line-up. They have a blade model called the R1-J Blade and the RG-1 Mallet. Both putters feature a stand-alone design allowing for better alignment and graphite shafts.

The brand has been in the news on a few fronts as of late. Canada’s Adam Svensson (a Titleist Staff Player) recently won on the Web.com Tour.  World Golf Hall of Fame Inductee and multiple Major winner Ernie Els not only became a Brand Ambassador for Bloodline Golf but also invested in the brand. Last but not least bloodline Golf as described in the press release below (as shared by Tracey Nackel of TEN Marketing and PR) was named to the Golf Digest Hot List. Please read below.

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Bloodline Golf Putter Named to Golf Digest’s 2018 Hot List 

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., February 13, 2018 — Bloodline Golf is pleased to announce that Golf Digest has awarded its RG-1 Mallet putter with a 2018 Hot List award. The Bloodline putter was released less than a year ago and has already been adopted by top players – most recently, the winner of the Abaco Classic on the Web.com Tour.

The Golf Digest Hot List awards for Equipment appears in the magazine’s March issue. The Hot List is an intense evaluation and testing of equipment gathered from three independent panels consisting of scientists, retailers and players during a two-week annual Hot List Summit. A product’s score is based on its weighted average in four criteria, including Performance, Innovation, Look/Sound/Feel, and Demand, with the first three largely determining the total score.

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Photo Credit: Bloodline Golf

“We are extremely proud to have made the Hot List in such a competitive category with our very first product,” said Brad Adams, Bloodline co-founder. “Our goal in designing this putter was to create a breakthrough technology that players would choose to play regardless of whether it stands up on its own or not. We went through numerous iterations and have included a combination of proprietary design features that are critical to the performance, look and feel of our putter.”

According to Golf Digest, “Alignment aids are practically universal in today’s putters, but Bloodline takes it to the extreme with a club that can (literally) stand on its own: You set the club behind the ball and walk behind it to ensure you’re on target. It does all this without sacrificing feel. The machined aluminum face, body and hosel are bonded to a stainless-steel soleplate for a sharp, crisp touch at impact.”

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Photo Credit: Bloodline Golf

“Once we designed the premium putter head, we matched it with a high-performance carbon fiber shaft,” added Larry Bischmann Bloodline co-founder. “With this combination, we were able to take advantage of stand-up features for alignment without sacrificing anything when it comes to feel at impact, distance control, and precise ball striking. We are excited that the Golf Digest Hot List panel of testers gave our young company a chance to be evaluated on an equal playing field with the more established club brands.”

Comments from testers include:

  • “When I first picked it up, I thought the shaft was crazy. But after trying it, I got it. The shaft transfers no vibrations when I hit the ball.” ~ Low Handicapper
  • “Constantly good on short and long putts alike.” ~  Mid Handicapper
  • “Sets really square. It takes the variable of aligning the putter out of it. It almost hits it for you.” ~ High Handicapper

Bloodline has developed a premium putter line of CNC-milled heads which include a high-performance graphite shaft that contributes to the putter’s unique capability to stand up by itself on the green.  The company recently announced that Hall-of-Famer Ernie Els has become the first high-profile investor in Bloodline and he will also be a brand ambassador over the coming years. Els was the first player to use Bloodline in a major championship when he played it in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

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Bloodline Golf

Bloodline’s RG-1 and R1-J putters are available both on line at http://www.bloodline.golf and in an exclusive retail network.

About Bloodline Golf

Bloodline Golf designs putters that have set a new standard in performance thanks to an innovative carbon fiber shaft/grip combination that enables the putters to stand alone on the green. This pioneering technology was introduced in the spring of 2017 and was used in tournament play soon after by players who have won multiple majors on the PGA TOUR.

The Bloodline brand is rooted in three generations of golf industry excellence and is committed to making a lasting impact on the game of golf. The company’s name pays tribute to a golf “bloodline” that includes Vale Adams, an extremely well-respected club professional from Illinois, his son Gary Adams, the founder of Taylor Made Golf, and his grandson Brad Adams, one of the founding members of Odyssey Golf. The legacy continues with Larry Bischmann, who built the team and strategy that launched the super-premium driver shaft, Diamana, which became the winningest driver shaft on the PGA TOUR. Adams and Bischmann joined forces to create the ultimate fusion of design, function, performance and heritage: Bloodline Golf.

For more information, visit www.bloodline.golf.

Keep up-to-date with all of the latest Bloodline Golf news on social media:
Twitter @BloodlineGolf
Facebook @BloodlineGolf
Instagram @BloodlineGolf

 

Until The Next Tee!!

PEAKVISION Sunglasses Under New Ownership

I always love sharing information about products and brands that are either new or new to me. Part of the reason why I like to do what I do is to educate the general golfing public on products from both industry giants and those that are not.

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PEAKVISION Sunglasses are a brand in the golf industry that I have heard of. Although, I have to admit that I have no practical knowledge or familiarity with them. I do intend to make that change. One of the intriguing technologies that the brand features is their patented “Zero/Zero Distortion Lens”. How many times as golfers have we left our sunglasses on and missed a putt because the green didn’t look quite right through our sunglasses? What happens? We remove them and place them on our heads. this is where “Zero/Zero” would come in handy. Also of note is that they have a “Jack Nicklaus Signature Line” of sunglasses available as well.

Carole Imperiale of PEAKVISION Sunglasses was kind enough to share this press release with me. Recently, PEAKVISION saw a change in ownership and this press release describes the transaction, their success at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show and some of the brands plans for the future.

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Named 1 of 9 top items at 2018 PGA Merchandising Show by Orlando Sentinel

(CONWAY, SC – February 14, 2018) — PEAKVISION, the sunglasses that took the golf world by storm with its unique, patented Dual-Zone/Zero Distortion lens, is under new ownership. David Feaser of Conway, South Carolina, who’s been in the sunglass business for thirty years as the owner of Shades of George (www.shadesofgeorge.com), bought PEAKVISION company assets and all the patents for the popular lenses from the original company in May 2017, and is running the company as President/CEO.

Nicholas Feaser is National Sales Manager of PEAKVISION. The father-son team is committed to growing the brand and giving back to the golf community.
The Orlando Sentinel named PEAKVISION one of the top nine items at the PGA Merchandising Show this year. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/golf/os-sp-golf-top-merchandise-0204-story.html

”PEAKVISION lenses have such great clarity and high definition that it provides three times more visual information on the green for an impeccable read,” says David Feaser. “Everywhere we go, golfers come up to me and tell me they’re the best sunglasses on the market. These sunglasses visually ‘Change you Game,’ and help you make better putts and save strokes on the green.”

“Let’s face it,” Feaser continues. “Your round is won or lost on the green so if you can save one or more strokes off your game, who wouldn’t want to try these sunglasses? Most golfers take their sunglasses off or put them on their hats or head while they putt. Your eyes during that moment are adjusting to more visual information, which makes putting even more difficult. With PEAKVISION Sunglasses, it provides a continuity of visual information and you don’t have to take the sunglasses off. In fact, you’ll want to leave them on!”

PEAKVISION offers a line of Jack Nicklaus-signature sunglasses as well. “The JN1 and the JN5 in the collection reflect the high standards of Jack Nicklaus himself,” adds Feaser. All PEAKVISION styles are available and are currently on-sale by ordering on-line at http://www.peakvision.com.

PEAKVISION will be partnering with the Myrtle Beach World Amateur in Myrtle Beach, S.C., August 27-31, 2018 by providing PEAKVISION Sunglasses to the winning golfers. The easiest way to order PEAKVISION is to go on-line at http://www.peakvision.com. PEAKVISION ships the same day the order is placed.

Be sure to connect with PEAKVISION via their new social media sites:

Follow PEAKVISION on Twitter: @PEAKVISION1
Follow on Instagram: PEAKVISIONSunglasses
Like PEAKVISION on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PEAKVISIONSunglasses/

Until The Next Tee!!

The Teezy Awards – 2018 PGA Merchandise Show Edition (Golf Equipment)

The time has finally come. It’s time to announce the winners of the first ever Teezy Awards. A second installment will follow that includes apparel, tech, accessories etc.

I decided to do something a little bit different this year by doing my own special awards presentation after attending the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida. The show took place in two locations. The first was at the Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge which is the venue for Demo Day. This is the day where the newest, latest and greatest get put to the test by thousands of Media, Industry and PGA Professionals. The second venue is the show floor itself which is in the West Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center. To explain the immense size of the floor is tough to put into words and covering everything is nearly impossible. Next year I’m going to wear a pedometer just to see exactly how many kilometres/miles I walk during the course of the show.

So The Teezy Awards. How are the winners decided? Well to be honest it isn’t very scientific. For the most part I keep it organic where I use my senses. It’s all about feel or how something looks, sounds, smells (not really applicable other than Miracle Nutritional Products) and in some cases tastes (Chef’s Cut Real Jerky). In some cases I look at cost and what will give the golf consumer the best bang for their golfer dollars. This is the case especially when it comes to apparel where there is so much to choose from. did a product “WOW” me? If so that got Teezy Award consideration so without further delay… here are the winners.

*** I have to note that for various reasons a few company’s present at Demo Day I never had the chance to hit. Some of these brands included Miura, Yonex, Tour Edge, PING and Callaway Golf to name a few. There will be a year-end version of the awards and I will do my best to include these company’s as well.

Winner – Top Driver

Cobra Golf F8/F8+ – Over the last several years Cobra Golf has impressed at the PGA Show Demo Day. Their drivers have been among the best year in and year out for me at the show. They’re always set up against the wind which could be a disadvantage. The Cobra F8/F8+ is packed full of technology, adjustability and most notably a forged CNC Milled Face. This driver was near perfect in every way. The sound and feel were sharp and crisp. The ballflight long and penetrating and the finish (Nardo) was sleek and ultra cool in typical Cobra Golf fashion. Oh yeah! There’s also the addition of Cobra Connect” by Arccos featured as well which is worth a separate article of its own. If you’re looking for a new driver look here first.

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Runner-Up – The runner-up in this category is a driver that didn’t look like much but performed a ton. The Cleveland Launcher HB is a driver that has no adjustability but who cares. When a driver can launch a ball like the Launcher HB and is as forgiving as this you don’t need an adjustable driver. Hey… if it’s good for Jamie Sadlowski it’s good enough for me.

 

Winner – Most Under Rated Driver

Vertical Groove Golf (The Groove) – This driver was released just prior to the show last year. It first gained notoriety when John Daly put one into play and then shortly thereafter by Rocco MediateKenny Perry also used one to win the 2017 U.S. Senior Open. Some would think having no adjustability would be an issue. Who needs extra “bells and whistles” when you have “the new face of golf” and a driver that offers tighter dispersion, long distance and a head that carries into the wind like most carry with the wind? The 8* model that I made swings with was a beast!!

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Runner-Up  Lynx Golf #BB Yep! You read that correct and this surprised me a ton! I had ZERO expectations for this driver leading up to the show but this was likely the biggest surprise of the show. It ad surprisingly good feel and sound. Technology includes adjustability from 8.5* to 12.5*, movable weights (Draw and Fade Bias) and features a UST Mamiya  Recoil shaft.

 

Winner – Top Fairway Wood

Cobra Golf F8 – Yes… Cobra Golf did it again in the fairway wood category. The F8 fairway wood is clearly the little brother to the F8 driver. If you notice I was clear in saying that it was the F8 and not the F8+. I just preferred the overall ease off of the deck of the F8 and it’s slightly bigger footprint at address. The Baffler Rails make it playable from all lies, a center of gravity towards the trailing edge making it easy to elevate the golf ball and of course the adjustability of the hosel allowing for adjustments from 13* to 16* for the 3-4 wood. The F8 fairway wood also features “Cobra Connect” by Arccos.

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Runner-Up – These fairway woods are new to the industry. As a matter of fact this company has a 5 wood that will be following and wasn’t ready in time for the show. Vertical Groove Golf recently launched a fairway wood of The Groove. It features the same face as the driver and features the same crown as seen on the driver. A weight positioned in the sole towards the rear make this club easy to elevate from any lie.

 

Winner – Top Hybrid

TaylorMade Golf M3 Rescue TaylorMade Golf has long been known for their metalwoods. My coach has maintained that TaylorMade has produced the best metalwoods year in and year out. While they fell short in the category’s above they came through with the M3 Rescue came through. It has a nice smaller footprint which isn’t overwhelming to look at in the address position. The M3 Rescue features a loft sleeve and an adjustable sliding weight which give golfers the ability to optimize their trajectory and it delivers high shots that land soft. The two-tone silver/black crown is great for aiming and the “Speed Pocket” allows for more sped and flexibility on those strikes closer to the bottom of the face.

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Photo Credit: TaylorMade Golf

Runner-Up – Do you realize how scary close Cobra Golf came to pulling off the “clean sweep” in metalwoods? It was within an eyelash! The F8 Hybrid comes in two versions. The standard F8 and new to the product range to compliment the F8 ONE Length irons a F8 ONE Length Hybrid. The F8 Hybrid features a forged 455 Stainless Steel face insert, Baffler Rails making it versatile from all lies and plenty of stopping power from a low and rear-placed center of gravity that also makes for easy elevation.

Winner – Top Forged Irons

New Level Golf 1031 Forged This iron I just featured in a review that I wrote earlier this week. New Level Golf is a newcomer to the golf equipment industry and the brainchild of CEO Eric Burch entered with a big splash. I walked away so impressed from the 1031 Forged irons that it’s really difficult to comprehend. The New Level Golf 1031 Forged irons emerged the winner in a very competitive category. Soft feel via the 1020 Carbon Steel, amazing playability, a thin topline while having a moderately wide sole all mean forgiveness, ideal aesthetics and amazing performance. Factor in that they can be customized with any KBS Shaft with no upcharge is a massive bonus!

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Photo Credit: New Level Golf

Runner-Up – This brand is known more in Asia than it is in North America. Epon Golf was created in 1977 and features the craftsmanship of one of the premier forging houses in golf… Endo. The Epon Golf AF-503 features an undercut cavity with a hollow sole design for the ultimate in game improvement performance. The topline is handsome as it’s very appealing in the address position behind the golf ball. The ballflight was strong and the AF-501 irons were an absolute treat to swing.

 

Winner – Top Cast Irons

Wilson Staff C300 (Cast) – Remember… Wilson Staff also has a forged variant of this set of irons. The Wilson Staff C300 (Cast) irons were massive. They felt mean, the faces were hot and the ballflight was very strong. I knew on the first swing with the C300 8 iron that tis iron was going to be a tough club to beat. When you’re hitting a target at will 165 yards away with an 8-iron you know that you have a powerful iron in your hands. These irons are accurate!! A double row of  “Power Holes” filled with urethane are positioned all around the and through the head help achieve the power from within the C300 irons. These “Power Holes” also expand the sweet spot of the C300 irons. The KBS Tour 90 is the stock shaft offering.

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Runner-Up – To be totally honest I wasn’t too sure how to classify this runner-up. I’m not even sure that it didn’t win this ultra-competitive category which also saw the TaylorMade golf M3 irons fare extremely well. Yes, I was that impressed by this iron. This iron features a two piece construction and that created a little bit of confusion. this iron features a thin Titanium face and a body that’s constructed of SUS630 stainless steel. The Honma Golf Be ZEAL 535 irons features slits on the heel, toe, sole and topline. This all translates to faster ball speeds and a hotter face. Tungsten weights low and deep in the heel and toe also create tremendous forgiveness. The ball flight was high and tight high draws were the typical shot that I created with the Be ZEAL 535 irons.

 

Winner – Top Wedge

Epon Golf Tour Wedge – Already having an honorable mention Epon Golf won the wedge category. The Epon Golf tour Wedge features heads that are created in the Endo Forging House. The Tour Wedge features traditional “tear drop” styling, and a relatively compact design. The Epon Golf Tour Wedge is available in three different grinds (F,N and O), a satin chrome finish and “Over-Lapping Laser Milled Grooves” for more spin. I loved how simple, clean and elegant the head was.

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Photo Credit: Epon Golf

Runner-Up – Back in the mix is a brand that already won a Teezy Award. New Level Golf and its entry into the industry brought along the M-Type Forged Wedge. The M-Type forged wedge features exquisite CNC Milling on the reverse side of the head, is forged from 1020 Carbon Steel for soft feel, a slightly over-sized head that inspires confidence and a versatile ‘M Grind” that makes this wedge versatile from any lie.

 

Winner – Top Putter

ARGOLF Uther – This is a brand that is just emerging. The brand has already seen a Major victory with Kenny Perry gaming an ARGOLF Pendragon putter. As great as my putting was with the Pendragon (it could have been the Runner-up) and believe me when I say that the Pendragon rolls putts. It was another one of the putters in the ARGOLF stable that won this category. The Uther! I liked a lot about the Uther in my brief time rolling it. The first thing that I liked about Uther was its 380 gram headweight.  This putter is face-balanced which matches my stroke very well and the model that I rolled was center-shafted (another quality that I love). Aerospace industry grade aluminum is the material which Uther is constructed from and that translates into a great feeling putter at impact. Last but not least is the alignment aid on top of the putter head which is broken apart by a “4 Leaf Clover”. The ARGOLF Uther was the best putter for me at the show.

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Runner-Up – This putter has been impressing me for nearly a year now. This putter or a variant is used by some of the world’s best golfers including Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Jon Rahm. Recently, this putter announced that it had included Blast Motion to help golfers refine their putting strokes. The putter in question the TaylorMade Golf Spider Tour. The Spider Tour is a putter that could easily be in my bag and it’s a little surprising that it hasn’t made it there yet. It just seems that whenever I have one in my hands I make putts fall. I don’t know if it’s the red finish that my eyes like so much but I just love it. The perimeter weighting makes this putter a very stable putter through the ball and rolls are true. I would love this putter more if I rolled a center-shafted version.

 

Most Forgiving Product Range

(Also – Winner For Best Brand Under The Radar)

The reality is that there’s forgiveness throughout the golf industry. It’s just that while some feature forgiveness in either driver or irons other areas are sometimes neglected… like wedges. There is no doubt in my mind that Cleveland Golf has the most forgiving range in golf. Looking at the Launcher HB driver and metalwoods they are playable, long and forgiving. If straight and straightforward is what you desire than look no further than the Launcher HB range. The CBX irons are such a sneaky entry this year! A cast club that was in consideration for the Teezy in the Cast Iron category the CBX irons can cover up bad swings with its forgiveness. The irons feature a “cup face design”, a “V Sole” making it great from all lies, they’re versatile and feature “Zip Grooves” seen throughout the entire set. The CBX irons look “Plain Jane” but quite simply are not. Speaking of forgiveness is there a spot on a golf course where forgiveness can make or break you more than around the green. Whether it’s greenside rough or a greenside bunker bad things can happen fast. The CBX wedges from Cleveland Golf are the easiest wedges that I’ve hit to date. They feature a cavity back, a “Dual V Sole” for versatility and “Rotex Face Technology” featuring “Tour Zip Grooves, Laser Milling, and Micro Milling”.

 

Top Breakthrough Brand

I’m really curious to see where New Level Golf  is 5 years from now. Their product range of irons was so good that it was hard not to take notice. There is an iron type for everybody in the New Level stable. Whether it’s the forgiving blade design of the 610 Forged Irons, the formidable 902 Forged Irons, the ultra impressive 1031 Forged Irons or the M-Type Forged wedges CEO and Eric Burch has a terrific range of products. It’s going to be real fun to watch this brand grow from its infancy stages. Keep an eye open for them.

Until The Next Tee!!

 

 

 

FIRST LOOK – New Level Golf Equipment

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show I took the opportunity to look up exhibitors that were going to be present at the show. As I went through the list of companies that I wanted to make plans to visit one newcomer to the industry stood out to me. In fact, it was a picture of one of their irons that caught my attention. That company was New Level Golf Equipment.

New Level Golf Equipment is the brainchild of CEO and Founder Eric Burch. For those out there that have never heard of the brand New Level Golf Equipment you will. First, let me tell you about the man behind the brand. The brand is based in Mr. Burch brings with him a wealth of experience. This experience includes product design since 2004 and fitting and building for 22 years.

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The entire range of New Level Golf Equipment features forged clubheads throughout the range. In fact, there are 3 models of irons and one model of wedges that make up the current line-up. These models are called the 610 Forged, 902 Forged and the 1031 Forged irons. Rounding out the line are the wedges which are called the M-Type Forged. In case you were curious about the model numbers and wondered what they meant they don’t have anything to do with the type of steel used. In fact, they are significant dates. For example, the 902 Forged were named after his late grandmother’s birth date, the 1031 Forged named after his mother’s birth date and lastly the 601 forged that were named in honor of his wife’s birthday.

I’ve always admired irons like those of the design of the New Level creations. Clean heads, thinner top lines (even in the Game Improvement 1031 Forged irons), heads that aren’t overwhelming in size and void of any flashy graphics or badges (I love the simple NL incorporated into the design. I took advantage of the Demo Day held at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge where New Level was on hand at the International Clubmaker’s Guild booth.

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Pictured are the 1031 Forged. (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com)

When I arrived at the booth I met Eric (Burch) and renewed acquaintances that we first made over social media (Twitter @golfnewlevel). After talking a little bit about his products I had a more serious look at them. I knew that these irons and wedges were going to look real nice in the Florida sun at Demo Day. After all it was the pictures that drew me to first contacting him. Little did I realize how stunning they were. Honestly the pictures truly don’t capture how beautiful they were. After gawking at the clubs in the bag for a while which all feature degrees of CNC-milling in the cavity it was time to start swinging the full range of New Level golf Equipment. So how did these exquisite offerings from New Level Golf Equipment perform?

*** Before I continue I should add that KBS Shafts are a partner of New Level Golf Equipment. Any irons purchased online can be customized with the full range of KBS products with no upcharge.

M-Type Forged Wedges – Upon looking at the M-Type Forged wedges you know that you have a serious piece of work in your midst. The CNC milling is fine and elegant. I particularly love the etching on the back side of the flange. The “M Grind” on the sole is versatile as it can handle nearly every type of lie around the green and of course tight fairway lies like there were at OCN. Forged from 1020 Carbon Steel the M-Type wedges come in lofts ranging from 50* thru 60* with bounce angles ranging from 7* in the 50* to 14* in the 60* wedge. The model that I chose to swing was the 58*/12* and shafted with a KBS HI-Rev 2.0. I opted to go with this model as it matches closely to what I play. In comparison to my Vokey SM4 there was actually no comparison. Between the feel and turf interaction alone the M-Type was superior. Not even close. I loved the shape of the head… yes it is traditional however it does have a slightly larger profile than my SM4. I would suggest that helps from a forgiveness standpoint as it allows for a little more mass in the design and it also can inspire a little more confidence. A terrific wedge! The MSRP is $199 USD/club.

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The M-Type Forged wedge. Note the milling. (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com)

902 Forged Irons – Leading up to arriving at the New Level Golf hitting area this was the club that actually appealed to me the most. The 902 Forged irons are a game-improvement iron that features a thin top line (very appealing), an undercut cavity and minimal to moderate offset, while being packed into a smaller chassis. The muscle-cavity offers enhanced stability on off-center strikes. There is something interesting about the 902 Forged irons and that fact is that unlike other forged irons that are finished by hand these 902 Forged irons are finished via CNC Milling. I would swing a 6 iron from the 902 Forged and it was shafted with a KBS Tour 120 shaft in a stiff flex. The ball set up great at address and you really didn’t think that you were looking down at a game-improvement iron which speaks volumes of the design. My ball-striking with the 902 Forged was off for some reason. That said results weren’t overly bad and it does speak a lot for the forgiveness of the design. I struggled… period. But the misses were straight and not off-line by a whole lot. Some of my better passes were rewarded with a trajectory that launched easy and tracked downrange in a tight draw. The feel was buttery soft and was easily comparable to other premium forgings in the business. If it were me having a set of these I would lean towards placing tungsten powder inside of the head to make it heavier. This is a personal choice and not a knock on the designThe loft of the PW in this set is 45*. Each club has a MSRP of $199/club.

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The 902 Forged. Clean… no badges, milled cavity and very little paintfill (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com)

610 Forged – Alright, so if my swing was off with the GI 902 Forged irons that must mean that I must have really off with the blade-like 610 Forged right? Wrong! Out of the line-up the 610 Forged has the longest blade length in the line-up. This means more forgiveness across the entire face. The cavity has feature a “tri-tiered design” which helps to optimize the weight distribution throughout the head. Shafted with a KBS Tour 90 shaft in Stiff flex I would make swings with a 6-iron. My eye loved this club at address and that was reflected in the passes that I made. My swings were confident and the strikes crisp. While the ball was easy to get airborne (especially in a blade design) the ballflight flattened out and carried nicely. I was able to hit draws and fades at will and the feel was as good as I’ve ever experienced. Especially considering other high-end forgings on the market (Vega). The lofts are a little bit stronger than the 902 Forged as the PW features a loft of 44*. This is a head for the discriminating golfer who wants forgiveness. Wow! Each club has a MSRP of $199/club.

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The “Tri-Tiered” Cavity design of the 610 Forged. Easier to swing than you might think. (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com)

1031 Forged (Teezy Award Nominee)- If I were to compare each head to a sports car where I would say that the 610 Forged is a Ferrari, the 902 Forged a Porsche than the 1031 Forged has to be “American Muscle”. A Corvette (my favourite sports car). The 1031 is forged from 1020 Carbon Steel and this head packs a lot of horsepower into a head that is mid-sized. There is a slightly thicker sole than the 902 Forged and that of course adds mass to the head. Where the 902 Forged is 270 grams for a 7 iron and the 610 is 268 grams the 1031 Forged weighs only 268 grams. This actually messed with my head a little bit because I thought that the 902 Forged was a little light if you recollect. Now the difference might be the fact that the shaft in this head was a KBS Tour C-Taper 120 in Stiff flex. All that I know was that getting the ball started with this iron was easy! The 1031 Forged does have the lowest center of gravity of any club in the New Level line-up and it did translate in ease of launch and offers terrific playability. The ballflight was high and long and watching the ball fly down range was fun. I was able to take aim at my target and hit my spot at will. Shot-shaping was easier than some might think with a head of this type but draws and fades were easy to come by. However, when you’re hitting it straight that’s what matters to the average golfer. What was really surprising was the topline which was thin and the ball set up so well in the address position. The thinness of the topline is also a design feature that helps towards moving the mass low and center which brings me to the cavity. The cavity is hidden well  and isn’t distracting in the address position. There’s a reason why this iron is a “Teezy Award Nominee” and that’s because it had everything to offer.. If I were to game a set of New Level Golf Equipment irons these without a doubt would be the ones. The loft of the PW is 44* and each club costs $209/club.

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The 1031 Forged would be my pick and it has everything needed to be nominated for a Teezy Award. (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com

When considering a new set of irons consider these offerings from a terrific independent company. The New Level Golf Equipment line is starting to get stocked in all sorts of custom clubmaking shops in North America and Europe. These irons are premium, they perform and are works of art. New Level Golf has a model of iron for every skill level. It’s going to be fun to watch New Level Golf Equipment grow.

Until The Next Tee!!

 

Review – TaylorMade Project (a) and TaylorMade Project (s)

I love going down to the PGA Merchandise Show help in Orlando, Florida. It’s an exciting time where you get to try the newest and latest. Sometimes well in advance of everybody else.

Among the many appointments that I had during the week of the 2018 installment of the PGA Show I had one with TaylorMade Golf to discuss the golf ball range for 2018. It may come to nobody’s surprise that TaylorMade Golf is running the highly successful Tour level balls TP5 and TP5x. Even for golfers not playing on Tour those that I’ve talked to swear by them from an all-around performance standpoint. It’s sort of odd that I’ve never put one into play to review them now that I think about it.

During my time spent at the TaylorMade Golf booth I spent my time with Eric Loper. Mr. Loper is the Director of R&D Golf Ball Division with TaylorMade Golf. I had the opportunity to discuss two new golf ball offerings for 2018. There are two new models (not including the relaunched Noodle brand) that will be getting released to the golf consumer in 2018. The first is a golf ball that was first released in 2014 which is an updated Project (a) golf ball. While the second is a newcomer to the brand the TaylorMade Project (s).

Before talking about my testing of the two golf balls while extending my time in Florida let’s have a closer look at what each ball brings to the tee.

Project (a) – First introduced in 2014 (and met by rave reviews) the Project (a) golf ball was known for giving the average golfer the spin and control that Tour level golf balls offer. According to TaylorMade Golf the Project (a) is the only “major OEM ball outside of the Tour ball category using Cast Urethane; the #1 cover material used on Tour and the gold standard in performance”. In 2016, The Project (a) saw a slight update that was made softer. had lower compression while still maintaining the greenside spin. For 2018 the Project (a) features a 3-piece multi-layer design, a seamless cover that features a new 322 LDP design (which is the same design as the TP5 and TP5x), a “Dual Distance Core” which is designed to scrub off unwanted spin while providing great feel. The stiffer outer core allows for increased rebound and velocity. In addition to reducing driver and long iron spin, the stiffer outer core also aides in pinching the soft cast urethane cover between the clubface, creating more greenside spin”. Compression of the Project (a) is measured at 70.

270713-Project (a)_3_4_Ball-6f13c3-large-1517195014 (1)Project (s) – New for 2018 is the Project (s). The Project (s) was designed with two words in mind. Soft… Distance. The Project (s) boasts a softer feel while still maintaining lower driver spin and more distance. As TaylorMade states  golfers no longer to choose between either a soft feel or a distance ball because they get both attributes with the Project (s). Project (s) features a Dual Distance Core which “dual distance core is a two-layer system that has a large, low compression inner core that reduces unwanted driver spin and creates great feel. The outer core consists of a softer-resilient polymer that also improves feel and maintains high ball velocities”. The Project (s) uses a soft Ionomer cover that is durable, offers soft feel and control around the green and utilizes a 342 LDP dimple pattern. Also of note is that the Project (s) is also offered in a matte fluorescent yellow and orange finish that is UV resistant. The compression is measured at 60.

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Just prior to wrapping things up at the TaylorMade Golf booth I managed to get a sample of the Project (s) and Project (a) to test out prior to leaving Florida. I managed to squeeze in three rounds of golf at different courses in various conditions. The first course featured the softest playing conditions while the second course featured what I would best describe as ideal (firm greens) and the third was definitely firm all the way around.

Testing Results

 As mentioned I would tee these balls up on different occasions. Because I was on a golf course literally by myself for the first round I was able to test them out head to head against each other and occasionally against other balls previously tested.

Driver– My first tee shot at the first golf course (Apollo Beach) saw the Project (a) receive the honors. Having had a decent experience with the previous generation(s) I thought that it would only make sense. The weather was cool (for Florida standards) as it was 62*F with a chilly breeze and drizzle coming in off of the Gulf. The first tee shot was muffed a bit as I struck it off of the toe. But I managed to keep the ball on the left side of the fairway leaving myself a wedge in. All in all not bad at all for a miss. I teed up the Project (s) and even though it wasn’t fair to compare I really liked the feel of the Project (s) more. As testing wore on I thought that the Project (a) flew a bit lower than the (s) and as much as I liked the feel of the Project (a) off of the driver I loved the Project (s). I’ve never been shy about preferring a softer golf ball. From a driver distance standpoint I would find that the Project (s) flew longer and that point was confirmed through use of my Game Golf device. Both balls were consistent in the wind off of the tee during testing with a slight advantage going to Project (a). I just found that it was a little more resistant to the wind and held its line a tad better.

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Irons – First of all I want to say that the feel of both models of ball while using irons was really good. Personally speaking, I thought the feel of the Project(s) was perfect with the Project (a) being a little more firm… not by a lot as the compression numbers would justify. The Project (a) penetrated while the Project (s) flew a bit higher. The full iron spin of Project (a) allowed me to back up the ball with my PING S 55 irons. Meanwhile, the Project (s) clearly exhibited “stop and drop” control. Even on one particular hole at Schalamar Creek (Lakeland) the pitch mark was on a slight downslope and the Project (s) managed to stop only a few feet away. The control of both golf balls was very impressive but from a distance standpoint I really feel that the Project (s) had a slight distance advantage. About half to a full club worth. Again, I am basing this on my findings with the Game Golf device. An example… on a Par 3 that was playing 132 yards I played both. Where the Project (s) flew 129 yards the Project (a) flew 124 yards. 

Greenside Spin – Now that we’ve made it to the area around the green it’s time to compare where things really matter. Saving strokes. For the first time in the testing of the two balls from TaylorMade this is where I found that the Project (a) had the most to offer over the Project (s). The greenside of the Project (a) is every bit as good as ever tour caliber golf ball that I’ve used to date regardless of make. In fact, it was superior to some models including my former “long-time gamer”. The Project (a) really checks up especially on chip shots around the green. Pitch shots even moreso. That said, the Project (s) was no slouch. Yes, there’s a little bit more runout (a little being the operative word) but all in all the Project (s) is very admirable. In fact, you could describe the Project (s) as predictable. the On more than one occasion the Project (s) bailed me out and a short game shot later I scrambled for the up and down par. Usually, I have a problem with short game control after a long layoff and for some reason I was on in Florida. Was it these two golf balls? I have to give them some of the credit.

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Putting – The feel off of the putter is soft with both the Project (a) and Project (s). Maybe the feel is more “muted” with the Project (s) while the Project (a) offers a soft click. Both golf balls feature a clear alignment aid to assist in lining up your putts. Rolls are true with both golf ball models.

Durability and Covers – The covers both seem very durable although I can’t comment on the Project (a) as much here. For the second and third time in two years of Florida testing I watched someone walk off with my golf balls. At the time of “ballnapping” the urethane cover of the Project (a) never had a blemish. Did I have enough of a sampling to conclude definitively? Likely not. Meanwhile, the Project (s) would be “ballnapped” on my last hole in Florida while following a group that I caught up to I hit a 3H and it rolled up in to them (I misjudged where the carts were parked) and then I saw them pick it up. But I just wanted to say that the fluorescent matte covered balls are vivid and hold up well to a little bit of abuse (cart path and tree) and the cover was blemish free at the time of disappearance.

Conclusion

TaylorMade Golf has two winning golf balls here that are going to cater to a lot of golfers that may want to say a few dollars over the TP5 and TP5x. Both golf balls are premium offerings with top-tier performance. TaylorMade Golf R&D did an amazing job with the development of both golf balls. The 2018 Project (a) & Project (s) golf balls will be available at retail on February 16 and April 1 at an MSRP of $44.99 & $29.99 CAD per dozen, respectively. Project (a) will be offered in gloss white or yellow, while Project (s) will be offered in gloss white as well as matte orange or matte yellow. The Project (s) offers a lot of performance at that price point. If you’re interested in trying some new balls have a look at these models of ball from TaylorMade Golf.

Until The Next Tee!!

NEW LYNX PROWLER IRONS DEBUT AT PGA SHOW

Alright so this press release is a little late in being released. However, as some may recollect I’ve been posting about the reemergence of Lynx Golf as a brand fairly often. Why? Because there is a history of champions being crowned while playing their golf clubs. I love history! But the brand at some point lost their way. Factor in being absorbed by a huge conglomerate (Dick’s Sporting Goods) and becoming notorious as a “box store brand”. Now it’s a real problem because you have a stigma. When that happens and you appreciate history you want to see a company have a successful comeback. Like a Phoenix rising from the flames and ash.

One of the golf equipment manufacturers that was on a very short list for me to visit and swing was Lynx Golf. I’ve been following them on Twitter for a bit now while being relatively engaged in discussions with them. The product pictures that they shared intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to get down to the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show. Finally, the day came and out came my opportunity at Orange County National to make passes with their new wares. Believe me when I say that I had very high expectations for their new Prowler VT and Prowler Forged CB irons.

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I’ll be writing about my experience at the Lynx Golf booth in the future but in the interim I’m going to share a press release. This press release shared by SnapMedia Golf PR sheds a little more light on the new offerings from Lynx Golf.

(Weybridge, Surrey, UK, January 19th, 2018)Lynx Golf, the global golf equipment company with headquarters in Surrey, Great Britain, will unveil its first ‘performance players range’ at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show as part of the new Lynx Prowler® range of irons, wedges, putters and bags.  

The Lynx Prowler® Forged CB promises the better golfer an outstanding combination of a penetrating trajectory, feel and forgiveness and combines a cavity back with beautiful design and forging from 1020 carbon steel.

The new forged irons come in a satin chrome or gun-metal finish, with Lamkin Crossline grips.

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Photo Credit; Lynx Golf

Sitting alongside the Prowler® Forged CB club, comes the Lynx Prowler® VT muscle-back iron – combining a hollow-headed design with variable face thickness to deliver a killer combination of incredible ball-speed, higher flight and playability.

Both new tour-inspired irons have been developed in-house at Lynx’s Weybridge design HQ.

Said Lynx’s UK and European sales manager, Murray Tonry: “The challenge when creating the Prowler® Forged CB iron was to utilise all the benefits of modern materials, technology and manufacturing processes while retaining a soft feel and also delivering a level of forgiveness and ball workability that the lower-handicap and scratch player requires.

“As a result, it’s a more classically-styled cavity back iron, with a thinner top line and narrower sole that will definitely please good golfers at address without penalising distance or forgiveness.

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Photo Credit: Lynx Golf

“With the Prowler® VT, we wanted to offer an ultra-modern muscle back iron for golfers who love to hit the ball long, high and with superb levels of control. It’s packed full of technology hidden inside the head utilising variable thickness which creates ‘friendly’ spin on off centre hits, which in turn improves accuracy.”

Lynx® Golf concentrates on developing high quality, technologically-advanced but affordable golf clubs, backed up by great customer service.

In the UK, it has gained a strong foothold in ‘green grass’ golf accounts – retail operations typically run at golf courses by PGA Professionals – with clubs designed and assembled in the UK at the company’s Weybridge, Surrey, headquarters.

For more information visit www.Lynxgolf.co.uk/, or follow @LynxGolfUK on Twitter.

Lynx Prowler® Forged CB irons 5-PW $879, KBS steel shaft, Reg and Stiff options. Optional 3 iron and 4 iron available.

Lynx Prowler® VT irons 5-PW: $799 (KBS steel) regular and stiff; $879 (UST Recoil shaft) regular, stiff and lite options. Optional 3 iron and 4 iron available.

Until The Next Tee!!