First Look – Wilson Staff C300 Driver

To me Wilson Staff have been one of the two biggest movers and shakers in the golf business over the last 5 years. The brand that has the most Major victories in golf history and a brand that’s been around for over 100 years. In recent memory the brand has tried to get back into the golf consumers mindsets with some groundbreaking marketing with their popular Driver vs Driver reality television show. In January, at the PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day they announced that there was going to be a Driver vs Driver 2 with judges including Rick Shiels, Jeremy Roenick and President Tim Clarke. The Triton was the winner then so I’m excited to see what happens this time around, Wilson Staff Triton Review

In the meantime fresh for the 2018 golf season Wilson Staff introduced the new C300 range of products. Geared towards the “Crossover” player who is looking for control and distance. The line-up includes a driver, fairway wood, hybrids and irons (cast and forged). For today’s review we’re going to look at the C300 driver and my organic, first-hand thoughts and experiences with the driver.

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When it comes to the C300 it’s clear that Wilson Golf wants you to #PowerYourPlay. How does Wilson want to establish that notion? Well, through the utilization of what the company calls “Power Holes”. On top of the crown and right behind the leading edge of the face (sole) Wilson Golf engineers strategically placed urethane-filled holes on the entire range of products. What the design team was looking to achieve by doing so was to give golfers higher ball speeds, more distance, and more consistency through more face flexion and a larger sweet spot. The aptly named “Power Hole Technology” was first seen in the brands C200 irons. As far as adjustability goes there are a few methods with C300 that allows golfers to tweak their launch and trajectory characteristics. Firstly, there’s the adjustable hosel  loft which allows you to adjust either adjust 1* Down or 2* Up in half degree increments. Secondly, there are three adjustable weight screws (2 gram and 2 6 gram weights) that allow you to give a draw or fade bias. Place the 6 dram weight in the heel for a draw-aiding shot shape. The C300 comes in 3 different lofts (9*, 10.5*, and 12*) and features the venerable Fujikura Speeder Pro 58 shaft as its stock option. The Lamkin Crossline 2 grip rounds out the construction points. The constructed stock length is 45.5″ and has a solid D4 swingweight.

The conditions on the Demo Day range at Orange County National were fairly ideal and the wind was generally over my left shoulder (right-handed golfer) at their location.

Aesthetics – Upon picking up the driver for the first time my eyes went to the finish. It’s a lovely matte red finish that gave me an instant memory of their old Deep Red drivers. I love the colour and how it goes from black to red much like a “sunburst design” on a Gibson or Fender guitar. Honestly, this driver had the best looking finish of any of the drivers at the 2018 PGA Show. While I didn’t mind the Power Holes on the crown I did NOT like the “Power Holes” graphic towards the trailing edge of the crown. Personally, I think it cheapened the looks of an otherwise pretty driver. But I really liked the subtle “shield” as an alignment aid. Flipping the C300 over the Power Holes are evident as mentioned towards the leading edge with another touch of the classy Wilson Staff branding that is ‘The Shield”. There are also graphics that say C300 and “FLX Face”.

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Performance – First off, when I had the C300 in my hands I loved the overall “heft” of this club. For some the D4 weight might seem “heavy” but it was something that I really liked about it. I really felt that the weight allowed the head to work the shaft and more importantly allowed me to feel the club through the hitting area. As I set the C300 down in the address position I also observed something else. I have to mention that the combination of the Power Holes on the crown and the alignment aid perfectly frame the golf ball. It just gives you additional confidence over the golf ball. On my first pass the ball flight was high and straight. two great things especially when hitting downwind. I think that the first shot was pretty spinny as well basing that judgement on what I observed.

At impact, I think the best way to describe it was that it gave me a feeling of being “indifferent”. I wasn’t astonished or disappointed in any way… it was just sort of “meh”. I really liked that I could feel the club throughout the golf swing which is a nice characteristic. I made several more passes and the one word that was most operative was straight. Hitting the ball straight was a breeze with the C300 and I think a lot of that has to do with the expanded sweet spot. From a distance standpoint, I think the distance was average and not where my gamer is. It could have been the spin numbers being high. This was a case where I wish I would have had some sort of launch monitor or a tech representative giving me a hand. If nothing else, to verify what I was seeing. The feel off of the driver wasn’t overly awe-inspiring which is something that I alluded to in my remarks regarding the first pass.

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Overall – I think the C300 has some good things going for it. It’s a great-looking driver but this isn’t just about beauty. One of things that I don’t like is how spinny the head/shaft combination appeared to be. The distance was average (at best) and the C300 has a real unassuming sound and feel to it. The launch however was perfect, it’s straight (which is a positive) and if I have choice of being straight off of the tee or hitting 3 from the same tee… I’ll take straight every time. Maybe a different shaft fixes the results for me or assistance from a tech rep in changing the configuration around. After all, there is adjustability to burn with the C300. I researched some WITB information of some Wilson staffers and none are playing the C300. Does this suggest anything? If you’re looking for a new driver give the C300 a try. The retail price for the C300 is $399.99 USD.

Until The Next Tee!!

2018 PGA Show Demo Day

The weather forecast the night before Demo Day for Winter Garden, Florida wasn’t exactly ideal. For me, there was a sense of disappointment because not only was there rain in the forecast but there were thunderstorms expected at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.. Fortunately, the rains never came and instead came blue skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. Sure there were a few clouds in the sky and there was plenty of wind for attendees and manufacturers alike but not once was there a threat of ill weather.

My day started at around 8 a.m. after a drive from the Plant City area that was mired in traffic. Upon arriving at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge and driving through the fescue to park I made my way into the grounds with my media badge proudly on display. I stopped at a couple of booths that were setting up (Wilson Golf and Cleveland Golf) just to say hello to a contact or two there. I took advantage of watching Cleveland Golf Staffer Jamie Sadlowski make some swings before attendees came in. Sadlowski is a recent signing and I received an amazing tip of a new staffer tat’s going to be announced. Later in the morning while I was at morning meetings Wilson Golf announced that the sequel to Driver vs Driver was currently undergoing filming. At this time Wilson Golf also introduced the judging panel who includes Wilson Golf President Tim Clarke, ex-NHL superstar Jeremy Roenick and internet sensation Rick Shiels.

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As I moved on from there I met with a representative of Buffalo Agency (Bill Fiedler) who introduced me to a few of their clients. The first was a brand of high-end golf shafts from a Japanese-based brand called Seven Dreamers. The brand sees its root in the aerospace and medical industry’s respectively. Their golf shafts offer a wide variety to players of all types which totals 27 different SKU’s in a wide variety of weight and shaft flex options. A review will be coming but once we found the right shaft for me putting the ball in play was easy. Predictable shot patterns and trajectory. Afterwards, I was introduced to the team at the JPGA. The Junior Players Golf Academy attracts junior golfers (and their parents) from all over the world. Having two locations (Orlando-area and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina) the academy teaches junior golfers not only how to play the game of golf but also gives them an education with the goal of the golfers earning scholarships into university golf programs. Moreover the academy also teaches their prospects very important life skills.

I had an appointment at 10:30 a.m. with the VP of Cobra-Puma Golf Tom Olsavsky  . Mr. Olsavsky talked me through the 2018 product range from Cobra Golf and the range is setting up what could be another juggernaut of a year for the brand. The brand features two color stories for their metal woods (F8 and F8+). This year the finishes come in black (stealthy) and a color called Nardo. The Nardo is mean and is accented by having metallic flakes infused into it. The face features CNC Milling as opposed to forged types and the reason for this will be explained in a later article. The brand also released the new F8 ONE Length irons building of a very successful F7 model in 2017. Added to the ONE Length range in 2018 is a matching hybrid. I will be receiving a set of the F8 ONE Length irons for review and the one feature that the irons have is the integration of  Cobra Connect. Launched in 2017  in only their driver Cobra Golf has added the Arccos Golf system to their sets. Arccos has so many features that I can’t list them right now but this might be the ultimate golf metrics data collection in the business. It’s powered by Mircosoft and this thing is amazing.

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I had an appointment with TaylorMade Golf where I made swings with the new M3 irons and the M3 and M4 drivers that feature “Twist Face Technology”. I really enjoyed the M3 irons (preferred the pairing of the Tensei graphite) and between the M3 and M4 I had to lean towards the M3. Both clubs were easy to hit but my time was rather limited. I would go back to Wilson Staff and swing the new C300 range. Their irons come in two different models (C300 Forged and a Cast version). As much as I liked the C300 Forged the C300 (cast) “went like stink”. The exit speed was great and the 8 iron was carrying 165 yards. I really did like the hybrid, fairway wood and driver as well.

So as one might expect you always have the givens. The can’t misses that are the giants of the golf industry. You know them… TaylorMade Golf, Callaway Golf, Titleist and PING. What people don’t realize there are so many terrific independent or lesser known brands in the industry… especially on this side of the pond. I have to start by mentioning New Level Golf Equipment. Their CEO Eric Burch brings 20 years of design and clubmaking knowledge with him. New Level launched new irons and wedges and I fell in love with with the 1031 Forged irons. KBS Shafts is a partner of his and paired with the C-Taper 125 the 1031 Forged proved to be a hidden gem (btw his 902 irons are no slouch either). All of their irons are forged. I made swings with Vertical Groove Golf who launched their driver last year and a fairway wood this year. Drives into the wind with an 8* head and X-Stiff shaft hit bombs into the wind. Back in North America is Lynx Golf. After their purchase by Dick’s Sporting Goods the brand was all but extinct in North America. With the launch of their new Prowler VT irons and their Forged CB irons they are clearly no longer “that Lynx”. Performance and irons that are simply good looking. I had high expectations and those were met. But their #BB driver was the biggest shock of the day because that driver is one sneaky, long, and consistent performer.

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Finally, this year I got to swing some of the lesser known (to North America) JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) manufacturers. Starting with Epon the brand offers the cleanest wedge on the market because it is essentially void of markings. Forged by premier foundry (Endo) these irons are of the highest quality and their AF-705 irons were a powerful combination of beauty, forgiveness and distance. Honma Golf might be a brand that as far as I’m concerned has a huge stigma attached to them. That stigma is that they are for the wealthy and feature a gold driver worth $2000 USD (4 Star). They are that but… they also feature 3 other models including the BeZeal. The driver and irons were disgustingly good and I’ll save that write-up for another time. Also in the brands that I’ve never made swings with until now category is Onoff Golf. Their Onoff Kuro Black range is sleek, sneaky and powerful and again they were well worth the wait.

Stay tuned for more PGA Show coverage in the upcoming days.

Until The Next Tee!!