REVIEW – Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220/220h Irons

Many thanks go out to Jon Claffey who is the Vice President of Marketing for Tour Edge Golf. Without his generosity and willingness to collaborate with me, this review opportunity would not be possible. Jon, thank you!

When it comes to this review, I’m not going to mince any words. Having the opportunity to test and review the Exotics EXS 220/220h irons from Tour Edge Golf was something that I really looked forward to. These irons fared very well at the 2020 PGA Show Demo Day, having won the Silver Teezy Award in the Game-Improvement Iron category. These were irons that showed a ton of promise on the range at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge back in January.

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But, let’s get real for a second. There’s a big difference between testing products on a range where it’s pretty sterile (even lies on a tee deck) and the real world of being on a golf course. While I do my best to get insights for the sake of my “First Impressions” reviews by picking out targets on the range (simulate fairways, greens, etc) the reality is that there’s no substitution for being on the golf course. A place where hazards, OB, and greens abound.

So, how did the EXS 220/220h irons perform? Did they live up to their Silver Award standing?

 

The Set-Up

When looking at the Exotics EXS 220/220h irons, the first thing that you need to know is that these two sets of irons are designed to help golfers improve and shoot lower scores.

While both sets feature some similar “tech talking points” they are a couple of differences. Yes, both sets feature hollow-bodied construction but the Exotics 220h is a “Hybrid Iron”. Meaning that it has a slightly larger footprint. There is a wider sole and a little more offset. In a way, think of the Exotics 220h iron as an almost “crossover” golf club, somewhere between a rescue and an iron.

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Another difference between the two iron models is that the EXS 220 irons, employs a 19-gram tungsten weight placed in the toe. This weight “stretches the sweet spot area of the face” which potentially produces more distance. Not to mention, it could help in the forgiveness area as well as it could reduce twisting at impact on toe hits and creating more MOI.

There’s a ton of technology packed into both sets of these irons, so let’s take a quick look at what makes these irons “tick”.

  • Hollow-Bodied Design –  Excellent for providing perimeter weighting and face flex leading to potential longer distances.
  • Cup Face Design – Typically seen in metal woods. Faster ball speeds via more face flex and forgiveness across the entire face.
  • SpiderWeb VFT Tech – Located behind the face. It enhances the sweet spot across the entire face.
  • LaunchPad Tech – A TPE polymer that absorbs shock, and provides more “trampoline effect”.
  • Ramped Sole – Provides heel and toe relief areas, which creates better turf interaction from all lie conditions.
  • SpeedTested Shafts – Through robot testing. Tour Edge R&D determined which golf shaft works best with certain swing speeds. Bear in mind that these are baseline recommendations.

 

The Transition

I can’t tell you how excited I was to get these Exotics EXS 220/220h irons onto the golf course. This was the first opportunity that I’ve had the opportunity to take a Teezy Award winner from the PGA Show to the golf course. Unfortunately, testing was delayed with the lockdown that we faced due to the global pandemic. But, patience is a virtue, and eventually, the day would come.

For testing purposes, I received a 7-iron from each set. Incidentally, there would be a difference in the irons that I’d test vs the irons that won the Silver Teezy Award. The shafts. In Orlando, I made swings and passed judgment with irons that were graphite shafts. Those shafts were the KBS TGI Tour Graphite in 80-grams. This time around I would be testing irons that were steel-shafted. The shaft for me this time around would be the SPEEDTESTED True Temper Elevate 95 in stiff flex.

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Initially, because of the lockdown, golf courses and driving ranges were mandated to remain closed. So, my first swings took place on the “UTNT Practice Centre For Deprived Golfers” in my backyard into a net. One observation came out of all of these swings into the net. I didn’t recollect the EXS 220 and especially the 220h feeling that solid. It felt better than I remembered and that was a bit of an eye-opener.

But eventually, golf courses and driving ranges opened and suddenly everything was right in the world. The time had come to pull up my sleeves, put on my hardhat, and get to work.

Early on, I would have a number of sessions on the driving range with the irons because while practicing in isolation I developed some swing issues. So, I had to “iron” them out (Sorry about the “Dad Joke”) before getting onto a golf course. To that end, let’s talk about the forgiveness of the Exotics EXS 220 and 220h irons.

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Forgiveness – The Exotics EXS 220 and 220h irons are forgiving. Time and time again I was able to get results, good results, out of swings that were… “off”. Typically, my striking and direction are very good. However, some wonky things developed in my swing. Even with swings that were an abomination the Exotics EXS 220 and 220h delivered. Strikes stayed online, any strike that was a little off of the toe wasn’t severely punished and thin shots while seeing an expected dropoff in distance still yielded a playable golf shot. Golf is a game of misses and a good miss is always a nice thing. To this day, I still haven’t hit a fat shot with either iron, and much of that could be the “Ramped Sole” technology which further bolsters the forgiveness characteristics of the Exotics EXS 220 and 220h irons respectively. These irons offer golfers a lot of playability from all lie conditions. From the tee, fairway, rough, and fairway bunkers. These irons are also accurate, but that is also dependent on the person swinging the clubs too.

Believe it or not, with the EXS 220h I felt that I actually got a little bit lazy and borderline complacent with my swing.

I put them into my son’s hands as well. He’s a new golfer. He was able to elevate the golf ball very easily and his strikes were pretty crisp. Especially when he was swinging the EXS 220h.

 

Aesthetics – Make no mistake about it, the EXS 220 and 220h are not your classic blade. The first day that I posted a picture of them on Instagram, I had a person state that they didn’t like the looks of them.

In the golf industry, I’ve seen a lot of ultra-modern, techie looking irons. The heads of these irons do not fit that mold. Yes, they are modern but the graphics are sleek. They remind me of a muscle car, like a ’57 Chevy Bel Air with their “chromed out” badging in the cavity. They look fast and sporty. Especially, when it comes to the EXS 220h irons. Personally speaking, I think Tour Edge R&D did themselves very good at going black on the 220h. In a way, it hides the “bulk” of the head.

The EXS 220 has the smaller footprint of the two irons and it’s finished in satin chrome. The topline is more moderate where the topline is a little “thicker” on the EXS 220h. Also, the EXS 220 features less offset than that of its brethren, the EXS 220h. That said, both irons set-up and frame the golf ball quite well in the address position.

 

Feel – I touched on this a little earlier when I said that I didn’t remember these irons feeling as solid as they were. These irons feel great. I think if I were to use an adjective, I would say “mean”. These irons, at impact, when it came to sweet spot strikes they feel and sound like they’re all business. No, they aren’t buttery like a forging but they are just, quite simply mean. I guess the sound equates to a solid “thwack” and the ball jettisons off of the face. Instead of tripping over words, you can hear them for yourself with the videos below. It was a windy day on the range that day so I apologize.

In a nutshell, I feel like “addictive” would be a good word to use when describing the feel of the Exotics EXS 220 and 220h irons at impact.

 

Performance – When looking at their performance, I want to look at this in two rays of light.

First, I just wanted to touch on the workability. Can you work these irons? Yes, you can, it’s just that you need to work a little harder to do it. These irons are designed to go long and straight. But, you can hit a fade or a draw. You can also flight the golf ball at will, as you can hit stingers/knockdowns at will with them. So there is a degree of workability with these irons.

The second aspect that I wanted to talk about in this part of the breakdown is the distance. These irons are long!!! If there was any one segment of this testing that I was most curious about, it was the on-course distance and to see if it matched up with my observations in Orlando. They did! A lot has happened to this body over the last several years. I have aged (not gracefully), arthritis is really kicking in during my 48th year (heck, I have gout as I write this), and of course there was my stroke of 2018. Ponce De León might have discovered the “Fountain of Youth” but when it comes to giving golfers yardage back, I’m convinced that these Exotics EXS 220/220h irons might very well be, the “Fountain of Youth of Golfers”. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the yardages with a 7-iron that I’ve seen with these irons. Time and time again, I’ve seen an average of a consistent 180-185 yards while on the course. Some swings on the course have yielded a bit more than the average. Compared to what’s in my bag at the time of writing, they are 1.5 to 2 clubs longer. We’re talking 165-170 vs 180-185 yards.

The funny thing about where I live is that we see a fair amount of wind here. While it may not be Texas, something can be said of the winds of The Great Lakes. During one of my two rounds at the Chippawa Course at Legends on the Niagara, I was playing a Par 3 into the teeth of a three-club wind. The hole measured 148 yards to the centre of the green, but the pin was about 4 paces on from the back of the green. I decided to go with a full EXS 220. No knockdown or stinger like I usually would. My golf ball landed just past pin high, 6 feet away. I’m not certain that my gamer 7-iron would have made it to the middle part of the very deep green. Like I said, these irons are long. While these irons are strong-lofted ( the 7-iron is 27.5º) this story is about much more than strong lofts. Much can be said of all of the technology packed into these irons.

I had a couple of quasi “Demo Days” during my sessions. People asked me about the clubs and after sanitizing them and maintaining physical distancing, I let them swing them as well. Time and time again golfers on the range were blown away by the performance of the EXS 220/220h irons.

The Finish

The Exotics EXS 220/220h irons impressed at the PGA Show in 2020. On the course, during extended testing, these irons impressed even more. They definitely lived up to their Silver Medal Teezy Award acclaim.

These are Game-Improvement irons that could easily be lumped into that Super Game-Improvement iron category. Heck, maybe they are. They check all of the boxes as far as forgiveness and straight distance goes like you would expect when discussing game-improvement irons. There’s a ton of technology packed into these irons and much like the company tagline states “Pound for pound… Nothing comes close”. Folks, they aren’t lying.

Oh, say you got a set and wanted to go with a different shaft or needed the lie angle adjusted. No problem, with the notch on the hosel (Notch Hosel) clubfitters can easily adjust the lie angles for you. It helps that all Tour Edge Golf clubs come with a Lifetime Warranty.

If I were to have a set of these irons I would do one of two things. Either my set would be comprised solely of the EXS 220. Or, because the lofts match with both sets, I’d go EXS 220h (5,6) and EXS 220 (7-PW) and get the best of both worlds. Also, I’d definitely go with the KBS TGI Tour graphite shafts as well.

These irons are worth a look. Especially with a pretty attractive price point. A set of irons 5 thru PW costs $659.94 USD or $779.94 for graphite. All clubs from Tour Edge Golf are hand-assembled in the U.S.A.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthnexttee

INTRODUCING RTX ZIPCORE, IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – June 30, 2020 – Cleveland Golf is proud to announce their latest flagship wedge, the RTX ZipCore. Cleveland Golf’s RTX ZipCore will launch in North America on Aug. 14, 2020.

RTX ZipCore is both radically new and ultra-familiar. On the inside, its new core has unlocked design freedoms pushing the performance beyond any wedge in Cleveland Golf’s history. Yet on the outside, the sleek yet traditional design is familiar and inspires confidence at address.

“Cleveland wedges are always just beautiful looking clubs, and this one is no different,” said 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry. “They’re very traditional and I just love them. You need to be able to trust what your wedges are going to do, and RTX ZipCore does everything I need it to do. I couldn’t ask for anything else in a wedge.”

RTX ZipCore_2

The foundation of RTX ZipCore is a unique, low-density core that sits at the heart of the wedge. This ZipCore makes you better by shifting the center of gravity, while also boosting High-Low MOI for more stability high and low on the wedge face. The result is that ZipCore puts more impacts on the sweet spot for more consistent spin, distance and feel on every shot.

Furthermore, RTX ZipCore features Cleveland’s new UltiZip Grooves. Compared to previous generations, UltiZip Grooves are 11% sharper and 7.3% deeper, while also being 7.4% closer together for more groove contact area. The combination and optimization of these factors ensure that RTX ZipCore generates increased spin and consistent spin performance from any condition on the course.

To preserve the lifespan of our grooves, RTX ZipCore also features a new heat treatment to boost durability and maintain spin performance round after round.

“The new RTX ZipCore is a technological leap forward for Cleveland wedges,” said Jeff Brunski, Vice President of Research and Development. “We’ve inserted a low-density core inside the clubhead, allowing us to create a wedge with unprecedented consistency and exceptional feel. They also feature our tour-proven grinds and most aggressive groove technology to date – all packaged in a sleek yet traditional design.”

RTX ZipCore_Tech

 

Key Innovations Inside RTX ZipCore:

  • ZipCore: ZipCore shifts the center of gravity while raising MOI, adding spin, enhancing control, and boosting consistency on all your shots.
  • UltiZip Grooves: These grooves are sharper and deeper, delivering maximum spin performance. They bite harder, channel more debris, and they’re closer together for more groove contact on every shot.
  • Heat Treatment: A new heat treatment process increases ZipCore’s durability, delivering better performance over a longer period of time.
  • Tour-Authentic Components: RTX ZipCore comes standard with the new True Temper Dynamic Gold Spinner Tour Issue shaft and the most popular grip in golf today with Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet 360.

RTX ZipCore wedges are offered in a wide variety of lofts and sole grinds. The MID Sole grind is offered in 46 through 60 degrees, the LOW Sole grind is offered in 56 through 62 degrees, and the FULL Sole grind is offered in 54 through 60 degrees. The RTX ZipCore is available in Tour Satin, with additional finishes coming later this year. Cleveland’s RTX ZipCore Tour Satin wedges are priced at $149.99 MAP.

RTX ZipCore

 

For more detailed information on the RTX ZipCore, please visit: clevelandgolf.com.

Dynamic Brands Acquires Premium Umbrella Company Haas-Jordan

Richmond, VA – Dynamic Brands is excited to announce their acquisition of market-leading umbrella company, Haas-Jordan. The acquisition adds another recognizable sports and recreational brand to a strong portfolio which includes Bag Boy®, Burton®, Datrek® Golf, Devant Sport Towels®, IGOTCHA®, SEARCH ‘N RESCUE® and FLAGPOLE-TO-GO®.

Haas-Jordan was founded in 1899 by the Hull brothers in Toledo, Ohio. The company is specifically known for their golf umbrellas, as well as fashion umbrellas, custom umbrellas, folding umbrellas, apparel and drinkware. In 1942, with the assistance of famed PGA Tour player Byron Nelson, Haas-Jordan designed and built the first American style golf umbrella, a design which combines large size, dense fabric weave and a double rib frame for added strength. Later in 1959, they were the first manufacturer to silk screen umbrellas. Then in 1961, Haas-Jordan introduced the first all fiberglass frame and fiberglass shaft.

“We are thrilled to add the Haas-Jordan Company to Dynamic Brands’ portfolio of premium brands,” said Leighton Klevana, CEO at Dynamic Brands. “Haas-Jordan has built a strong reputation as an industry leader for over 100 years, providing extraordinary products and superior customer service to thousands of green grass, retail and corporate customers.

For more information on Haas-Jordan, visit www.haas-jordan.com or call 1-800-955-2269 Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:30pm EST.

About Dynamic Brands

Founded in 2004, Dynamic Brands is the parent company for a portfolio of premium brand name companies committed to the development of innovative, quality products and outstanding customer service in the sporting goods industry. Golf and recreational products are offered through Bag Boy®, Burton®, Datrek® Golf, Devant Sport Towels®, IGOTCHA®, SEARCH ‘N RESCUE® and FLAGPOLE-TO-GO® brands, and include walking carts, golf bags, travel covers, custom sport towels, bag tags, golf ball retrievers, flags and accessories.  In addition, Dynamic Brands is the U.S. distributor of Evnroll putters—the 100% milled putters feature designer Guerin Rife’s patented “Sweet Face” Technology, delivering unprecedented accuracy and zero dispersion. Dynamic Brands’ products are marketed in 87 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit www.dynamicbrands.com.  Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/dynamicbrandsrva/ and https://www.linkedin.com/company/dynamic-brands/.

About Haas-Jordan

Haas-Jordan has been manufacturing umbrellas since 1899 and utilizes trusted materials and superior techniques to provide unmatched golf, folding and fashion umbrellas. They were the first to do many things in the rain and golf umbrella industry and began manufacturing the world’s first golf umbrellas. From hand-selecting umbrella frames and fabrics that will withstand the strongest of storms to screen-printing permanent designs on the outer canopy, their umbrellas are promised to last a lifetime. Today, Haas-Jordan remains committed to the same innovation, impeccable quality, customer service and outstanding value that the Haas-Jordan Company earned in over 60 years of service to the golf industry. For more information visit www.haas-jordan.com.

REVIEW Introduction/Unboxing – Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro Hybrid

Recently, I had an opportunity unexpectedly, fall into my lap. An opportunity to test and review a new product that was released by Tour Edge Exotics. That product. The EXS Pro Hybrid, and this hybrid is “Straight From the Tour Van”.

The EXS Pro Hybrid (and the rest of the EXS Pro Series for that matter) came from tour player feedback and 100+ PGA TOUR Champions players that have played Tour Edge Exotics products over the past few years.

Jon Claffey (Vice President of Marketing for Tour Edge) explained that the EXS Pro Hybrid was designed to be anti-left. The centre of gravity is designed to be low and forward to produce lower spin than we typically see for a hybrid. Typically, the center of gravity is placed low and back to help golfers get the ball into the air easier. With the CG low and back comes extra backspin. Also, the face of the EXS Pro is deep. The EXS Pro Hybrid features a deep face that is actually constructed from Beta-Titanium, a material usually seen in drivers. “The EXS Pro is one of the few Ti-faced hybrids available in the U.S. golf market and the only hybrid utilizing combo brazing technology for the ultimate in weight savings.”

The head itself, features a smaller, more compact footprint than that of the EXS 220 Hybrid which was also released this year. The EXS Pro Hybrid is clean in that it is void of any alignment aid placed on the crown. Other features of the EXS Pro Hybrid are…

  • Flight Tuning System – Two weight ports (heel and toe) allow for Neutral, Draw or Fade bias
  • SlipStream Sole – Provides better, faster, smoother turf interaction whether it’s from the fairway or the rough
  • S.D. Bar – The Sound Diffusion Bar placed strategically inside the clubhead of the hybrid to improve the acoustic engineering of the club (Look for an example of this in an upcoming video clip)
  • TrueLoft System – Dial in your distance. The EXS Pro Hybrid comes in 1 degree increments. “Extra quality control methods in the bending process of unfinished EXS Pro hybrid heads and includes an extensive triple-check
    on loft and lie in the final stages of the club head manufacturing process. “
  • Six different lofts are available ( 16°,17°,18°, 19°,20°, and 22°) 

Below is the unboxing video. Please watch and stay tuned for a lot more content on this exciting release from Tour Edge Exotics.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

How Alex Got His Groove Back

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I had an entry not too long ago where I discussed my issues early this season. In that entry, ‘The Effects of Practicing in Isolation” I talked about the druthers of practicing in my backyard, into a net. Unfortunately, boredom stepped in and I started experimenting with a bunch of non-descript things with a focus on mechanics. A significant mistake for a feel player.

The struggles either on the range or on the course were nauseating. Watching my swing on video was even worse, and I had to fix it, stat!

So, I got to work, and here we are just over a week since that article, and I’m very pleased to announce that “I’m fixed”. You could say that I’m in a groove again and suddenly all is right in the world. But the question is, how did Alex get his groove back?

As tempting as it is to be over dramatic, I won’t be. I didn’t bludgeon myself over the head with a 9-iron (no Tiger/Elin double-entendre meant) and to be honest, I didn’t really do anything other than suggesting what I said at the end of that article. I simply, swung my swing. That’s it! Honest! I have the tools, the knowledge, and the swing or shall I say “my” swing already. After all, I spent five long years of blood, sweat, and tears of a swing reconstruction under my belt. By the way, all of those things I mean quite literally.

Also helping me to remember who I was or am as “Golfer Alex” was one picture that I found. A picture that was taken before I met my coach. This one frame of me from several years ago triggered my memory a little. In that one shot (pictured below), I picked up on a lot of good stuff to take to my consequent range sessions.

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The pic was taken while I was experimenting with “Stack and Tilt” and while I will not go into a deep conversation about “S & T” in this picture here’s what I saw that I took to Brock Golf Course for my sessions since that ill-fated article.

  • Weight is set up on the lead leg
  • My lead shoulder had gotten down, under the chin
  • A straight(ish) lead arm (physiologically, I cannot straighten it)
  • I’ve stayed connected
  • Good angles between forearm vs shaft
  • Arms and hands are out in front of the body

The funny thing is I remember that shot vividly. It was an 8-iron that flew just over 160 yds. Just a slight draw. As a matter of fact, it was a push-draw. Admittedly, a lot has happened healthwise since that pic including and not limited to a stroke. So, 160 yard 8-irons are a distant memory. God, has it actually been a decade since that picture was taken?

If I were asked to describe “my swing” and I would call it “Frankenstein”. Of course, there’s all of the work I did with my coach where there were some elements of “S&T”. So there’s a little bit of “S&T” here, maybe a little bit of Mike Bender there (think Zach Johnson) with a lot of influence from Kay McMahon (EduKaytion Golf) more recently, for good measure. All that I know is this. When I add them all up, they are “my swing”.

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No, those are not my divot pattern. That’s awful! Ugh!

Since re-discovering “my swing”, my range sessions have been very good. It no longer feels like I’m working hard out there. It feels like striking the golf ball has become easy again. I feel comfortable in my shoes addressing my ball. There’s no “white noise” getting in the way which inadvertently caused an increase in grip pressure. Sure, I may have the occasional mis-hit (who doesn’t) but all things considered, I’m pretty happy with 90% of my range buckets.

I’m driving down and through the ball, even as the clay-based soil has gotten hard I still take proper divots. My divot patterns are straight, there’s great compression, and the ballflight is exactly what I’m after. Straight to push-draw. The right side is no longer an issue and is once again a non-factor. When I do miss, it’s a “low-left” as it should be when I miss. My coach always said that “Your miss low and left is good. That’s easy to fix and it means that you’re close. It’s the “pros miss”. Out to the right, is bad. There’s a lot that could be going on to cause that miss”. This is something that I pass on to my students.

Damn, it feels good to be back!! Alex has gotten his groove back.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee