The Golf Industry Expo and My Naivety

So yesterday I finally made it to a golf trade show that I’ve been meaning to make it to for some time. That show… “The Golf Industry Expo” as put on in conjunction with the PGA of Ontario (Canada). It’s a golf trade show that brings together members of the golf industry from all aspects of our sport on a much smaller scale than that of the PGA Merchandise Show that’s held every January in Orlando, Florida.

The show took place in Kitchener, Ontario at a place called LOT42. It’s a really cool place as it’s a former industrial complex turned into a convention-type facility 9event venue). Being a first-time to the show I really didn’t know what to expect. After all, when I think of an industry show it’s hard not to think about the PGA Show. But, as I walked in and picked-up my badge I also received a really nice swag bag. It was actually an Adidas backpack. Which coincidentally will be making the trip to Orlando. It wasn’t until I had got home when I realized that there was swag inside. Inside were items like a golf towel by Blank Towel, a pair of sunglasses from Vigor Eyewear (Falcon Lumen+ model) and a couple of other little goodies. I’ll definitely put the sunglasses to good use. I look forward to testing and reviewing them.

web_Lot42-Nick-Lee_BestofToronto-2017-015-500x333

Great venue. LOT42 (Photo Credit: Explore Waterloo Region)

As I walked the floor, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the golf equipment industry’s players were there. Brands like TaylorMade Golf (Canada), Wilson Golf, Mizuno Golf, Cobra Golf, Cleveland/Srixon/XXIO, Tour Edge Golf (Golf Trends is their distributor here in Canada) and EVNROLL Putters (more. What’s different however about this show is that while everybody exhibiting at the PGA Show is for the most part no longer under embargo a lot of the product at this show is in fact under embargo. So in those cases, pictures are not possible.

But this show gave me a chance to see some products in-hand for the first time and it was products that I’ve shared press releases on already. So that makes it pretty darn cool. Here’s what I can tell you about a few of these products in a brief summary…

  • Cleveland Golf – The Launcher HB Turbo range of metalwoods looks really serious and I cannot wait to put swings on with them. They look like they’re going to be all business. They just look mean. The Launcher HALO hybrid has a great profile and if it performs anywhere near it looks (Gliderails to improve turf interaction) it WILL end up in a lot of golfers’ golf bags. The Launcher UHX look like they’re going to be long and may end up as a sleeper this year. Considering that they also will retail at $999.99 CAD makes them a consideration.

 

  • Cobra Golf – I won’t mince words. The KING Forged TEC are way nicer than the press release made them look. They look great in the release. They are stunning and these irons I cannot wait to put swings on and see how they perform. A review of these irons is imminent. However, what really surprised were their new T-Rail irons which is an all-hollow hybrid iron set. I wasn’t sold on their looks in the release and I was concerned about how they’d look at address. I can tell you that they weren’t that bad at all. As a matter of fact, when it came to the PW you could not see the cavity. These are going to worth a swing or three.

 

  • Mizuno Golf – The new MP-20 irons are beautiful. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the hollow-bodied HMB, the MMC, or the MB. Golfers are going to love them. Oh believe the info coming in… the ST200 line of metalwoods is coming. It’s on the USGA Conforming Golf Clubs List.
  • Wilson Golf – I finally saw the Staff Proto Blades in hand and yes they have been out for some time. For the longest time, I felt that the FG Tour 100 were the prettiest irons that I’ve ever seen. They were. The Staff Proto Blades are prettier and dare I say… More pure.

staff proto

So it was great to see some of the products that I’ve shared press releases about and have them in-hand for the first time. But what about the stuff that I saw that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of? Products under embargo? All that I will comment on is this. TaylorMade Golf has new golf balls on the way. The new irons from Wilson Staff for 2020 are absolutely going to smash it out of the ballpark. The new range of metalwoods from Cobra Golf reintroduces us to a couple of letters and holy smokes these have my curiosity beyond piqued!!

Oh about the title and my naivety. I rolled a new putter from EVNROLL that’s under embargo. I rolled putts with the new putter (ER10) and while I couldn’t take pics I will say that this putter is already a contender for a Teezy Award in 2020. It’s under embargo until a large golf website/blog leaks pictures of it. I’ll say it… it’s MGS. Hey! Some food for thought. Is it a leak if it’s planned? That’s not a leak. What it is… Is this! It’s actually how a golf blog/website gets a leg up on its competitors. SO, that’s what it takes to get a leg up eh?! Back door channels and discussions no doubt with a price tag attached to it. As much as I knew that this industry is elitist at its roots I didn’t think websites were too. I’ll never be them or the others and I’m okay with that. Don’t worry MGS et al… I’m just one little guy and you needn’t be worried about me. I wish that the rep hadn’t told me that but seeing that he did… It’s my responsibility as a writer to tell you that just because someone says it’s leaked… it’s not. Don’t always believe what you read.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

CLEVELAND GOLF INTRODUCES LAUNCHER HB TURBO IRONS, LAUNCHER UHX IRONS AND LAUNCHER HALO

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Sept. 16, 2019 – Cleveland ® Golf is proud to announce the release of the Launcher HB Turbo Irons, Launcher UHX Irons and Launcher Halo. Built for more speed and more precision, step up and launch it with the latest generation of irons and hybrids from Cleveland Golf. Cleveland’s Launcher HB Turbo Irons, Launcher UHX Irons and Launcher Halo officially launch in North America on October 4, 2019.

Launcher HB Turbo Irons

The Launcher HB Turbo Irons deliver maximum forgiveness and an easy-to-hit to profile specifically targeted at game improvement players seeking more distance and more accuracy.

“These irons allow game-improvement players the ability to get the ball into the air better than any iron on the market,” said Dustin Brekke, Director of Engineering, Research and Development. “Now with a thinner, hotter face, the Launcher HB Turbo Irons give you a half club more distance over the previous generation.”

Launcher HB Turbo Irons

Launcher HB Turbo Irons maintains a fully hollow construction, allowing for optimized sole weighting for shots that launch higher, but now incorporate a new high strength, turbocharged face insert that is thinner and hotter for more speed on every shot.

The redesign HiBore Crown pushes the center of gravity low and deep within the base of the Launcher HB Turbo Irons. This placement produces shots that launch off the face, fly high, and stay on their intended target. Progressive shaping throughout the entire set maintains forgiveness in the long irons, with compact short irons that provide optimal control.

Key Innovations Inside the Launcher HB Turbo Irons:

 Hollow Construction: Fully hollow construction along with internal stabilizing ribs provides ultimate forgiveness on every shot.
 Turbocharged Face: Each iron features a turbocharged, high strength steel face that is thinner and hotter for increased ball speeds and explosive distance.
 HiBore Crown: Redesigned HiBore Crown features low, deep weighting to produce an easy to hit, high ball flight.
 Progressive Hollow Shaping: Progressive shaping provides a smooth transition from hybrid-like long irons to iron-like short irons. It’s a seamless changeover with forgiveness where you need it and control where you want it.

Cleveland’s Launcher HB Turbo Irons are available in both men’s and women’s along with right and left-hand options. The Launcher HB Turbo Irons are priced at $799.99 MAP for a seven-piece steel set. For graphite options, the Launcher HB Turbo Irons are $899.99 MAP for a seven-piece set.

For more detailed information on the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Irons, please visit: clevelandgolf.com.

Launcher UHX Irons

The Launcher UHX Irons are the most progressive combo set of hollow and cavity back irons on the market. It’s a completely new way to approach one complete set of irons.

“This combination of cavity back and utility irons into one set offers the perfect blend of distance and accuracy,” Brekke said. “A new variable face pattern delivers more distance due to hotter faces with better mass distribution.”

Launcher UHX Irons incorporate hollow long irons (4-7-irons) for more distance and forgiveness, with lower and deeper weighting compared to traditional cavity back irons. Meanwhile, the 8-iron through pitching wedge features a cavity back construction, which focuses on precision and control rather than maximizing distance. The result: a seamless transition throughout to create one unified iron set.

Launcher UHX Irons

Furthermore, Launcher UHX Irons feature a high strength, variable steel face insert, incorporated into each long iron, for higher ball speeds across the entire face and more distance on every shot. The latest iteration of our V-Shaped Sole offers added forgiveness and improved speed retention, while Cleveland’s proprietary Tour Zip Grooves and enhanced Laser Milling delivers reliable, consistent spin when attacking the pin.

Launcher UHX Utility Irons will also be available as individual clubs for sale to add forgiveness to any iron set. Offered in 3, 4, and 5-iron lofts, Launcher UHX Utility Irons deliver the distance and forgiveness of a hybrid in an iron-like address profile.

Key Innovations Inside the Launcher UHX Irons:

 Hollow and Cavity Back Construction: Hollow long irons provide more forgiveness, while cavity-back short irons provide more control when attacking the pin.
 Variable High Strength Steel Face: A variable high strength HT1770M steel face insert delivers explosive ball speeds for increased distance, even on heel and toe impacts.
 V-Shaped Sole: Featured in both the cavity back and hollow designs, the V-
Shaped Sole improves turf interaction for better speed retention at impact.
 Tour Zip Grooves: Tour Zip Grooves and Laser Milling deliver maximum spin for optimal control throughout the Launcher UHX Irons.

Cleveland’s Launcher UHX Irons are available in both men’s and women’s offerings along with right and left-hand options. The Launcher UHX Irons are priced at $799.99 MAP for a seven-piece steel set. For graphite options, the Launcher UHX Irons are $899.99 MAP for a seven-piece set. The Launcher UHX Utility Irons are priced at $169.99 MAP.

For more detailed information on the Cleveland Launcher UHX Irons, please visit: clevelandgolf.com.

 

Launcher Halo

The Launcher Halo returns, offering a versatile scoring club designed for any situation. Featuring new Gliderail Technology, the Launcher Halo is optimized for better turf interaction from the toughest of lies.

“We all hit it in the rough and find ourselves in difficult positions out on the course,” said Brian Schielke, Marketing Director at Cleveland Golf. “And it’s those tough places that add big numbers to our scorecards. The new Launcher Halo helps us not only get out of those tough spots but helps us excel from them and get into scoring position. It’s so much more than a typical hybrid.”

Launcher Halo

While the Gliderails provide optimal speed retention, the enhanced HiBore Crown pushes the center of gravity low and deep for a low spin, high launch ball flight. Halo Weighting shifts more weight to the perimeter for increased MOI and better overall forgiveness.

A new variable face insert, utilizing HT1770M steel, allows the Launcher Halo to provide improved ball speeds for more distance, even on off-center strikes.

Key Innovations Inside the Launcher Halo:

 Gliderails: Featuring a set of three rails, the leading edge and sole geometries are optimized for improved turf interaction and speed retention.
 HiBore Crown: The redesigned HiBore Crown enables a lower CG position, promoting that ideal low spin, high launch ball flight.
 High Strength Steel Face: Constructed using high strength steel, the variable face insert provides higher COR over a larger impact area leading to increased ball speeds and distance.

Cleveland’s Launcher Halo is available in both men’s and women’s offerings along with right and left-hand options. The Launcher Halo is priced at $199.99 MAP and offered in 2 (16°), 3 (19°) and 4 (22°) Halo models.

 

ABOUT Cleveland ® Golf

Based in Huntington Beach, CA, Cleveland ® Golf is part of the Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. family and enjoys a strong presence on competitive tours worldwide. Their professional staffs include players such as Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama, Inbee Park, as well as many others. Cleveland® Golf, founded in 1979, is a leading equipment manufacturer specializing in short game technologies
and solutions that benefit all golfers. Cleveland® Golf remains steadfastly committed to providing Tour-proven, premium golf equipment to passionate golfers seeking to improve their performance while enhancing their experience playing the game of golf.

Introduction To Golf (Grow the Game)

I’ve always been an advocate of growing the game of golf. I’ve been quite vocal about what areas need to be targeted to see the game to continually grow. The path to a healthier and more sustainable golf industry lies through more focus on junior and women’s golf.

Having gotten back to work in the Pro Shop at Scenic Woods Golf Course we recently had our Georgian Bay Spirits Ladies League “Meet ‘n’ Greet”. The league itself looks like it’s pretty healthy with a fantastic turnout of ladies. About 98% of the ladies from last year have returned with several new faces being added to the fold. Last year, Monday nights were actually my favourite shift to work. I always look forward to welcoming the ladies into the pro shop for their night of golf. It’s their night!

IMG_20190409_072707

When I think about growing the game I really think I need to adjust my focus a little closer to home. As many of you know, my wife Crystal joined me at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show to have a look at some of the offerings for women’s golf. Golf clubs, apparels, accessories and so on. The only issue with that is that Crystal… is a non-golfer. For that reason, it’s been difficult for her to write more because she hasn’t experienced golf first-hand. I admit, that I sort of give her a hard time about her lack of contributions.

At the end of the day, I need to look no further than myself because I haven’t given her the tools needed to take up the game. Crystal’s been deeply immersed in the game while I’ve undertaken the game. She’s been on-hand during lessons that I’ve received, she’s caddied for me, and quite frankly she understands the game a ton. I’ve hinted on Twitter in some friendly jousting with Keltic Lodge and their parent company (GolfNorth Properties) that WE need to get out there. Of course, Crystal being a part of that conversation was happy to mention that she doesn’t golf. To which the other parties more or less heckled me. So… I know what needs to be done. Grow the game starting with my love.

The other day we were out killing some time on her day off. After visiting an arts and crafts store (she’s really taken warming to sketch) we wandered over to the local Golf Town where the plan was to look at drivers for me. As you enter the store there’s a practice green to test out and if all goes well buy a new putter. I started to roll a few putts (Cleveland Golf Classic 5.5) and then something nearly magical happened. Crystal asked for the putter. I can’t tell you how excited that it made me so I happily handed her the putter.

COLOR_POP

Crystal at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show

She started to roll putts with it and she was doing very well with a little bit of instruction. I explained that you only need to take the putter back 3-4 inches to make the ball travel 8 feet. It wasn’t very long but she rolled in her first putt. She may not realize it but she had “the look” in her eye. You know?! The look of when something clicked. There was a “liveliness” in her already beautiful eyes. A spark. But she didn’t stop there. She decided that she wanted to roll a few more putts and she did. Putting very well explaining that she liked the putter.

You know?! It’s amazing how a raw, baby-fresh golfer can perceive things when it comes to golf and liking or disliking something. As it turns out Crystal would roll countless putts during a quasi-lesson. In total, she would roll putts using putters from Cleveland Golf, Odyssey, PING, SeeMore (3 different models), Wilson Golf (Luxe), TaylorMade Golf (Spider Tour and Kalea) and Nancy Lopez. As she rolled putts with all of these models she explained to me what she liked and what she didn’t like. I found that she was very astute in saying that her eye didn’t like something or how something felt. For example, one of the Wilson Staff putters she didn’t like because “it was too busy” with all of the alignment aids. While she liked the feel of one SeeMore she didn’t like the other. In the case of the women’s TaylorMade Kalea she liked the feel (graphite shaft) but ultimately her eye didn’t like all three green alignment lines. She clearly said that if it wasn’t for the three lines it would have been her favorite. She determined fairly early on that she preferred a cleaner look.

Watching a brand new golfer like Crystal was even more fun. There she was rolling putts and you could see a noticeable difference in confidence between putters. She was pretty darn good with the Seemore thanks to their RST (RifleScope Technology) but the length was an issue. The PING putter that she tried was awful for her while the Odyssey (ladies), if shortened a touch, would have been pretty good. But three putters out of the bunch really emerged as frontrunners for her. Strokes were confident with the Wilson Luxe but when it came to the TaylorMade Kalea or the Nancy Lopez Golf Torri 217 they really stood out. No putts were left short and her strokes were not tentative which told me a lot about these two putters. Her set-up was perfect with her arms hanging loosely and naturally. Her stroke looked pretty natural and confident.

WZ519_zoom_D

Crystal liked this putter a lot. But would prefer just one alignment line.

Our night wasn’t quite done there as I would look at a few of their pre-owned drivers. But then she made her way over to the Women’s Apparel. She was like a child in a candy store. She was excited by brands that she either missed out on or never saw in Orlando during the show. Brands like Tail, Maggie Lane, Nine and Nine, Greg Norman, and Callaway Golf Apparel. There was another that got her attention in a huge way. Jamie Saddock with her edgy and fun design.

Grow Golf. Start at home.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOntheNextTee

 

The 2nd Annual Teezy Awards – 2019 PGA Show (Equipment Edition)

The time has come! The points have been allocated, the points have been tallied and it’s time to announce the winner’s of the 2nd Annual Teezy Awards – PGA Show (Equipment Edition).

When the show wrapped a thought occurred to me. Actually, my thought was formed as early as the end of Demo Day where I thought “Damn, the 2019 product cycle is strong”. This would be a trend that would last right up until the moment that the Orange County Convention Center staff unceremoniously turn out the lights.

The reality is that there are so many great products that my finalists had to go to a Top 5. I actually couldn’t get the nominees down to a Top 3 and this was really noticeable in a few key categories.  How were the winners decided? I delegated point out of a maximum of 40 points. In the case of equipment, points were allocated like so…

  • Aesthetics (10 points)
  • Performance (10 points)
  • Sound/Feel (10 points)
  • Innovation (5 points)
  • Price point (5 points)

I also feel the need to point out that since products were so strong brand to brand this year an issue became evident. I had to figure out a tie-breaker. This became very obvious when I had ties in the first three categories that I tabulated. So needing help in deciding the first tie-breaker I took to social media with a poll. In what was also a very close race the public decided that the first tie-breaker would be Price-point.

Performance: 48%

Price point: 52%

Poll placed on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to all who participated.

Aesthetics (10 pts) Performance (10 pts) Feel/Sound (10 pts) Innovation (5 pts) Value/Price Point (5 pts) Total
Top Driver
Callaway Golf Epic Flash 9 10 10 5 3 37/40
Tour Edge EXS 8.5 9 9 5 5 36.5/40
Mizuno ST-190 10 10 10 4 3 37/40**
Cobra Golf KING F9 9 9 9.5 4 4 35.5/40
Wilson Staff D7 8.5 9 8.5 4 5 35/40
Top Fairway Metal
Callaway Golf Epic Flash 9 10 10 5 3 37/40 **
Bridgestone Golf Tour B JGR 9 9 10 4 4 37/40
Tour Edge Exotics EXS 9 9 9 5 5 37/40
PING G410 9.5 10 9 5 3 36.5/40
Cobra Golf KING F9 9 9 9 4 4 34/40
Top Hybrid
PING G410 9.5 10 10 5 3 37.5/40**
XXIO Prime 9 9 9 5 2 34/40
Eagle Rebirth Golf 9.5 10 9.5 3 5 37/40
Bridgestone Golf Tour B JGR 10 10 10 3 3.5 36.5/40
Wilson Staff D7 9 10 10 4 4 37/40
Top Forged Irons
Srixon Golf Z 585 9 9 9 3 4 34/40
EPON Tour-AF 10 8.5 9 3 4 34.5/40
Bridgestone Golf TOUR B JGR HF2 10 10 10 4 4 38/40 **
Callaway Golf Apex 19 9.5 10 10 5 3.5 38/40
Eagle Rebirth Golf X3 8.5 9 8 3.5 5 34/40
Top Cast Irons
Wilson D7 9.5 9.5 9 4 4.5 36.5/40
Cobra Golf KING F9 9 10 9.5 4.5 4 37/40
TEE EXS 9.5 10 9.5 4.5 5 38.5/40**
Lynx Golf Black Cat 9 9 9 4 4.5 35.5/40
PRGR RS 9 9 8 4 3 33/40
Top Wedge
Cleveland Golf RTX 4 8.5 9 9 4 4 34.5/40
Bridgestone Golf Tour B XW-1 10 10 10 5 4 39/40 **
Indi Golf ATK Grind 9 9.5 9 5 4 36.5/40
Mizuno Golf S18 Blue Ion 10 9 10 4 4 37/40
Eagle Rebirth Golf W5 9 9 9.5 4 5 36.5/40
Top Putter
ARGOLF Mordred 10 10 10 5 4 39/40 **
SP Series 39 Blade 10 10 10 5 3 38/40
SeeMore Platinum M5 HT Mallet 10 10 9.5 4.5 4 38/40
MLA Putters Tour Mallet 9 9.5 9 5 4 36.5/40
EVNROLL MO ER5B 10 10 9.5 4.5 4 38/40

The Teezy Awards aren’t an exact science and there will be readers who will most certainly disagree with the winner and losers. But this is exactly the reason why it’s so important to me to do this. It can start a conversation. Also, bear in mind that the winners are based on my observations and that winner’s and runner-ups are totally unsolicited. So without further delay…

 

The Winners…

 

Top Driver

top driver

 

Mizuno Golf ST-190 (37/40) –  This was a bit of a surprise for me. Maybe it was just my lack of experience swinging the brand. But the Mizuno Golf ST-190 is a driver that has a ton going for it. In the looks department, it scored a perfect 10 as this head is dark! Dark in a way where you could think of a ninja or assassin. It combines solid black at the leading edge and transitions into the carbon composite crown as you look towards the trailing edge. Along with that trailing edge, you have a white accent just to break up the darkness. The RunBird (Mizuno’s logo) serves as an alignment aid. The performance was tremendous as strikes were rewarded with a ballflight that just seemed to “float” and carry downrange. Impressive seeing that the conditions on Demo Day were very windy. No signs of ballooning and what I liked in the brief time was the light feel of the ball coming off of the head. The shaft was the Fujikura Atmos White Tour Spec 6S. There are two models of the ST-190 (Standard) and ST-190G. The latter offers more adjustability and lower spin.

Runner-Up (Callaway Golf Flash Epic 37/40) – The runner-up in the driver category was the Callaway Golf Epic Flash. The CG EF was a very impressive driver. There was nothing that I didn’t like about this driver other than it was perhaps a little too flashy in the graphics area. If the graphics would have been toned down a touch… this was the winning product. But something needs to be said for “shelf appeal” at retail. I sincerely hoped that Callaway Golf would have married the Rogue and Epic. They did!! Make no bones about it the Epic Flash flat out performed.

 

Top Fairway Metal

top fairway

Callaway Golf Epic Flash (37/40): If you were to carry a Callaway Golf Epic Flash fairway metal in your golf bag you just may not need to worry about carrying a driver. This fairway metal was sheer to joy to swing. The Callaway Golf Epic Flash fairway metal boasts “Flash Face Technology” like it’s bigger sibling for higher ball speeds. Based on my observations I think that there may be more to it than just marketing buzzwords. Long (possibly the longest I’ve ever made swings with) the CG FE fairway metal will have you thinking Par 5 holes in two. Shafted with a Project X Even Flow 65 gram shaft and a stock Golf Pride Align grip the overall looks are killer. Admittedly, the only thing that I didn’t really like was that the graphics are a little too flashy (what’s in a name right?). Did I mention that all of my swings were “off the deck”? Easy to elevate.

Runner-Up (Tour Edge Exotics EXS 37/40) – The TEE EXS fairway metal was only edged out by the winner because I felt that the TEE EXS wasn’t quite as “hot”. That said, in my opinion, the TEE EXS was impressive. So easy to hit repeatable golf shots off of the deck and a ton of technology at a very attractive price point. I loved the acoustics and feel at impact because it sounded sharp… or piercing. I really liked how sleek and clean the EXS fairway metal was in the address position.

 

Top Hybrid

top hybrid

PING G410 (37.5/40) – The PING G410 hybrid was the star of the hybrid category at the 2019 PGA Show. Living up to what PING strives for (forgiveness) the G410 certainly lives up to the PING name. The maraging steel face generated plenty of “pop” off of the face. This is a hybrid that is really easy to launch and it elevates quickly which also contributes to stopping power on the green. The PING G410 is the manufacturers first ever adjustable hybrid and it has one feature in particular that REALLY caught my attention. This hybrid can be adjusted 3* flat effectively eliminating a hook… my miss.

Runner-Up (Eagle Rebirth Golf X1 37/40) – Haven’t heard of ERG? You aren’t alone. I’ll be elaborating on them more in a bit but their X1 hybrid head was really impressive. Another head that was easy to elevate what impressed me was how it held the wind on Demo Day. Swings were met with an acoustically pleasing sound. A straight ball-flight with a nice baby draw that led to me laughing to myself about what I saw and felt. What it lacks in innovation it makes up for simplicity and performance.

 

Top Forged Irons

top forged

Bridgestone Golf TOUR B JGR HF2 (38/40) – The Bridgestone Golf TOUR B JGR HF2 irons were my pick for the Top Forged Iron category. Not only that… they were nearly my favorite iron of the 2019 PGA Show. These are a handsome golf club that offers absolute buttery feel. The forging is soft and the beautiful part about these forged irons is that they are plenty forgiving. The JGR HF2 irons feature a thin face for higher ball speeds and it shows. This was especially noticeable considering where the heavy wind was coming from at Demo Day. Helping with the feel is that Bridgestone Golf added a rubber polymer insert into the head. If you’re looking for a forged iron they should be on your list.

Runner-Up (Callaway Golf Apex 19 38/40) – The Callaway Golf Apex 19 irons were well worth the wait. Three years removed from their prior iteration these irons were terrific. I distinctly recollect my eyes widening with my first strike. These irons are good-looking. They were long, consistent and the ballflight was penetrating. There’s a reason why it was a hard choice.

 

Top Cast Irons (Includes Hollow-Body Construction)

top cast

Tour Edge Exotics EXS (38.5/40) – The first thing that I wanted to point out with the EXS irons from Tour Edge Exotics is that the model I tested was with the graphite Tensei shafts from Mitsubishi Chemical. Something just felt right with these irons in my hands. Maybe it was the look at the address position or maybe it’s just the general look of them. In a way, they look like a “muscle car” or something to that effect. Passes were aggressive and that was a direct by-product from the confidence I felt looking down at address. That said, the top-line isn’t thick and the offset isn’t unattractive. The face is forged and has a hollow body construction… the result is terrific exit velocity out of the hitting area.

Runner-Up (Cobra Golf KING F9 SPEEDBACK 37/40) – It didn’t take me very long to realize that the KING F9 SPEEDBACK (ONE Length and Variable Length) were dynamos in the 2019 product cycle and a contender for a Teezy Award in the cast category. It took a total of two swings with each model to realize that Cobra Golf had improved on their KING F8 irons. Those irons tested very well last year (the review says as much). The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons are a very fun iron to swing and they perform as advertised.

 

Top Wedge

topwedge

Bridgestone Golf TOUR B XW-1 (39/40) – The TOUR B XW-1 wedges were the clear winner of the top wedge category. The XW-1 has a buttery soft feel (I know it’s an overused adjective in the industry) but I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it. I love the feel of this club as the clubhead passes through the hitting area. Forged from 1020 Carbon Steel this wedge features multiple grind options. Also of note is that Bridgestone Golf created what it calls “Biting Rail Milled Groove Design” for more spin. I wasn’t able to test greenside spin with these wedges but I can tell you this much. They provide a ton of spin on 1/4 to full wedge shots based on what I saw as golf balls landed on tightly mowed areas… make-shift greens. The price-point isn’t bad at all.

Runner-Up (Mizuno Golf S18 37/40) – The Mizuno Golf S18 is Mizuno’s latest addition to their performance wedge line-up. Mass is placed higher-up in the head in the higher lofts to allow for a more consistent spin on strikes higher up the face. The S18 is available in several finishes including my favorite (Blue Ion). The head features Mizuno’s renowned Grain Flow Forged feel and is constructed from 1025 Boron. This material equates to more durability for the grooves.

 

Top Putter

top putter

ARGOLF Mordred (39/40) – The Arthurian Legend lives on coming to golfers all the way from the Brittany Region in France. Mordred has a “dark story” behind it as Mordred was a treacherous traitor from Arthurian lore. However, this Mordred is no traitor as you’ll sink putts with it in hand. The ARGOLF Mordred is a mallet putter that’s crafted from aerospace grade 7175 Aluminum for a soft feel. Also of note is the fact that Mordred offers a total club weight of 525 grams and has an M.O.I, rating of 9800. Mordred provides a consistent roll whether it’s off of the center of the face or the heel or toe. There is no twisting whatsoever. I love the looks of Mordred as it’s grey with an orange alignment aid. Add in the black PVD shaft with the Grey with Orange trim mid-sized PURE grip and you have a putter that performs great but looks even meaner.

Runner -Up (EVNROLL Murdered Out ER5B 38/40) – If you look at the chart there were three putters that finished with 38/40 points. SeeMore was there with its Platinum M5 HT Mallet and so was the Sacks Parente Series 39 Blade Putter. However, when push came to shove I really liked how the Murdered Out ER5 putter rolled putts. It’s never easy to judge things based on 8 feet in a booth but it just seemed to roll the ball really well. Of note is the inclusion of what EVNROLL calls it’s “Gravity Grip”. The Gravity Grip has a rod that runs through the length of the grip which EVNROLL states that it “eliminates face rotation through impact”.

Hidden Gem Award

Eagle Rebirth Golf – It just seems like every year that I attend the PGA Merchandise Show there’s almost always a “Hidden  Gem” that I uncover. Even though it’s a new category in 2019 this award would have definitely gone to New Level Golf last year. For 2019, that honor goes to Eagle Rebirth Golf. If you haven’t heard of them you aren’t alone. I honestly feel that if I were to survey 100 golfers I’m not certain that 10 would have heard of them before. I’m hoping that changes.

Eagle Rebirth Golf is the manufacturer of several designs of metalwoods, irons, and wedges. Their irons and wedges are forged from either 8620 or 1025 Carbon Steel and they feel great!!! They even have an iron that features a thin 455 maraging steel face and a 1025 steel forged body (X2). Their W5 was a nominee in the Top Wedge Category and this wedge felt great. I loved the meticulous milling of the face… including the toe.

Their metalwoods performed very well from top to bottom. Whether it was their forgiving V1 hybrid (455 maraging steel face) or their X1-Ti fairway metal head (which features a DAT55G forged titanium cup-face insert). Their heads provided plenty of jump off of the face. Their drivers performed very well as well.

I debated back and forth about visiting with Eagle Rebirth Golf prior to the PGA Show. Admittedly, I wasn’t captivated after looking at their website. Let me tell you this… I’m glad that I took the time to make swings with their products.

 

Innovation Award

innoaward

Lynx Golf Prowler VT Driver: Another new category to the Teezy Awards in 2019. Lynx Golf has been innovative in the golf industry recently. First, in 2018 Lynx Golf announced that they were going to be going SUP-free (Single Use Plastics) in their packaging. A small yet giant-step towards helping Mother Nature.

It just seems like that when we think of drivers nowadays one of the first things that golfers look for is adjustability. How adjustable is a driver? Golfers like to tinker and finding optimal launch conditions is imperative to maximize distance. Usually, this is achieved by an adjustable hosel. Lynx Golf with the introduction of their Prowler VT driver proves that this doesn’t need to be the case. How? “Switch Face”.

Switch Face allows golfers to have true loft changes and face angles. How does the driver itself perform? In my brief time on the ETC (wasn’t available to swing on Demo Day) this is a driver that looked great in the address position and felt and sounded real solid at impact.

inno2

Until The Next Tee!!

#SeeuOnTheNextTee #FightAndGrind

Don’t Discount Yourself Too Much

Often the stories that I come up with to write about come from out of nowhere. More often it’s a thought and I just feel a need to write. I guess this morning.. .or late morning is one such case. Here we are… it’s Super Bow Sunday and admittedly I have no vested interest in the spectacle. So instead of making dinner plans I was working a little bit on the Teezy Awards. I can now tell you that I have some of the winners all sorted out.

ergw7

But it made me think…. about the Teezy Awards and about us.. golfers in general. Why do we insist on selling ourselves short? It can be our golf game or how we swing a golf club. I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that we all have elements of our game that we could improve upon. In my case my putting is an issue. So is clubhead speed in light of numbers that I saw in Orlando at the aboutGolf booth while on one of their simulators. My results looked so good at Demo Day and my drives sure as heck looked longer than 227 yards and a Swing Speed of 94 mph. If accurate, that means I’m down 20 mph (up to a 3 mph variance). That’s a lot! I may not get back the lost head speed and it might be a “golf consequence” of my September Stroke. But there are positives. My striking was great, I was in tempo and all things considered my putting seemed to be very solid on the practice greens. Positives!!

I know that it’s a human trait to look at the negatives but don’t sell yourself short. There are positives to your game and it’s not all doom and gloom.

Speaking of selling one’s self short… I need to talk about my Teezy Awards. When I mention these awards to manufacturers I do so in a way that almost discredits myself. At the very least… I demean myself. I talk about them “tongue and cheek” and use sarcasm by using words like “prestigious”. You know what?! They actually are… and I just realized it this morning (quite literally). The Teezy Awards aren’t Golf Digest Hot List nor are they MGS Most Wanted (I don’t follow them… and don’t care who they say is the “Most Wanted”). But to me… my Teezy Awards mean a little bit more. Here’s why…

  1. Golf Equipment manufacturers do not pay me for placing ads on my site
  2. I’m not sponsored by any companies
  3. I’m not swayed in any way shape or form to pick Brand A over Brand B
  4. My picks are genuine and based on what I use to pass judgement (my senses)
  5. I cover as many brands as possible no matter the size of the company. Every company deserves fair coverage. (I was one of the first to cover New Level Golf… long before the “big guys” did)

hf2nom

Basically, when I place my stamp of approval on something… you know it’s good. I don’t need to say that I’m unbiased or honest. That’s something that should be assumed in this industry. Educating golfers through reviews. Genuine with a real touch of humanity is another thing and that’s what I bring to each and every one of you. That’s why I will no longer discredit myself or the Teezy Awards. They are an honor for those companies that get nominated or win.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

 

Plans… Travel and Show Coverage

Alright… I’m officially excited. I admit that I’ve been excited for some time about attending the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show but now that it’s this close I can taste it. For a while, it really looked like I wouldn’t be going. From health to other unforeseen circumstances (money).

But, it all worked out and travel plans have been made. Actually, it wasn’t until I sold off a few clubs and managed to get things worked out yesterday. So… how about the plans?

In an attempt to get some semblance of a golf swing going I’ve been working nearly daily on it. In my backyard, I have a hitting net that’s been instrumental in getting me back into golf. It’s where initial testing has been done involving the Tour Edge Golf Exotics EXS hybrid, R-Motion and most recently Ben Hogan Golf Equalizer wedges. Quite honestly, I don’t remember what MY swing is supposed to feel like or the swing keys. I mean, I’ve worked on so much over the last 5 years and my memory now stinks. Muscle memory seems to be even more important now.

img_20190117_095206

Pretty consistent striking today.

Over the last couple of days I think that I feel something that’s carrying over day to day. From what I think I recollect… this latest dramatic recreation of my former swing is nothing like my old swing or the swing that I had 4 days ago. All in all I’m pretty happy.

For the first time since the Stroke and resuming golf activity I felt my left side fire through the ball. More importantly, it was leading the downswing. I was at a dome today with my coach and he said that it’s looking good and that there’s power at the bottom. I sold my TaylorMade Golf M2 (2016) yesterday to raise funds for the trip down so I went back to a driver that I bought two years ago for $40 CAD. It’s a Cleveland Golf Classics XL Custom with an X-Flex Miyazaki JDL 7 shaft in 7.5* of loft. I don’t have a wrench so it’s stuck there. In the past, the results have been okay with it… but today’s session was very good. Launch was terrific and there was a lot of “stank” on it.

img_20171015_192309_235

This was the first time that I used this club. It still looks like this.

All in all, I feel like whatever swing this is it’s trending the right way which means I should be able to provide my planned coverage. Coverage will be often and early. I’ll be aggressively posting “First Impression Reviews” as early as Tuesday night. Coverage will be “in print”, video and some audio too. To say that coverage will be plentiful is a huge understatement. I’m excited to be hitting everything that I can but after today that excitement really built. I’m really amp’d to swing Mizuno Golf (ST190) and my appointment is at 2 pm. Everything begins with Wilson Golf at 9 am and even though I am interested in the Cortex the new D7 metalwoods have my attention. It just looks right! The simplicity is the genius of the design. I really hope that Callaway Golf got the Epic Flash right. It’s one thing to be Phil or Xander Schauffele but it’s another to be a 10+ handicap. Lynx Golf seems to be real proud of their product this year. What they have said about their launch is that it’s “never been seen in the industry”. I’m intrigued but I no longer look at them as an “underdog” type. OMG… I cannot wait!!! I’m going nuts inside as I type this.

***I will be posting a schedule of my Demo Day itinerary at a later time

2019_d7_driver_face

The genius here is the simplicity. (Photo Credit: Wilson Golf)

Travel Itinerary  January 19th

The travel day is going to be a long day. First the first time in a few years I’m not driving down as I still haven’t medical clearance to drive. So… into the wild blue yonder we go. Oh and busses. Lots of busses.

  • 0530 – Wake-up
  • 0700 – Catch Thorold South bus.
  • 0715 – Transfer onto Pen Center/ Downtown Bus
  • 0730 – Arrive St. Catharines Bus Terminal
  • 0815 – Depart St. Catharines via Megabus (no golf clubs allowed)
  • 1000 – Arrive Buffalo/Niagara International Airport
  • 1723 – Depart Buffalo via Frontier Airlines
  • 2040 – Arrive Orlando International

Ouch… 7 hrs in the Buffalo airport. That’s the drive from here to Morgantown. Oh well at least I can drink if I want. Bottoms up… Wheels up!

Time to pack!!!

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

 

Odds ‘n’ Ends

Sitting here.. I’m reflecting on several things from the last week in golf. Some of my thoughts are about the upcoming 2019 PGA Merchandise Show, some of it is about the recent equipment releases while some of it is about what we witnessed this past week in professional golf. Much like when you go out to the grocery store with no list you’re merely picking up odds ‘n’ ends. So that’s what this article is going to be titled. It might even turn into a regular piece. Who knows?!

The Sentry Tournament of Champions was a fun event to watch. Yes, it left me dreaming of going to the Hawaiian Islands as it’s always been on my “Bucket List”. Since I was 10 years old. I’ve always dreamed of seeing sea turtles, volcanoes, visiting Pearl Harbor and since I started my foray into golf.. playing Hawaiian courses and experiencing the “Tradewinds”. In a script perfect for a product launch Xander Schauffele won with the new Epic Flash and Apex Pro 19 irons in the bag. His closing round (62) was remarkable but I want to look at a couple of other things. Bryson DeChambeau proclaimed the new knee height drop to be “a bit absurd”. No arguments here. I’ve mocked it enough recently. But it’s as stupid an amendment to the rules of golf as an amendment can be. While it isn’t hard to bend over at the waist to execute the drop (Bryson was a bit over the top) what are the benefits? In one video I made demonstrating my need for “muscle memory” the ball rolled forward from knee height and rolled back into a divot. Does it really make a difference? If anything, nothing has changed. Am I missing something? Heck, why don’t we just place the ball. Screw integrity.

kapalua_1920_toc18_18th_green_grandstand

Photo Credit: Golf Channel

Sticking with the Sentry Tournament of Champions we saw a first. Under the new rules of golf we had our first penalty assessed. Dustin Johnson has the “dubious” distinction. DJ was assessed a two-stroke penalty when a pulled tee shot went into the long grass… where the wild things are. A marshal on the course had marked the area that they had believed DJ’s golf ball had come to rest. Locating a golf ball with a (TaylorMade Golf logo on it) Johnson promptly chopped it out. After hitting his shot he continued his walk and found HIS ball. There’s a lesson here folks. Stay loose for that knee height drop. Bend over and move the grass and identify your golf ball. Besides, there’s no penalty for the moved ball. Or at least that’s the way that I translate it.

This past week we saw plenty of product launches. In particular, those from the “marketing mammoths” of the industry. During these launches there was no shortage of marketing buzzwords. TBRAR, Speed Bridge, Triple Track, “our longest golf ball”, AI, Flash Face Technology and so on. They do marketing and they do it well.

TaylorMade Golf announced their 2019 range of products. From the newly designed TP5 and TP5x golf balls to their new M5 and M6 range of products. The irons have incorporated “Speed Bridge Technology”. There is something there that sort of reminds me of the Nike SlingShot irons. I know… it was horizontal as opposed to vertical. Upon posting pics on Twitter (@UntilTheNextTee) my “Tweeps” were definitely not sold on the looks. Nor was I. After all… how can you kiss a girl (or guy) if you can’t look at them? Maybe their performance outweighs the aesthetics.

299871-299800-2019_tp5_3_4-962118-original-1546440303-f173c4-original-1546454114

I beat the tar out of the pricing in articles so we will not beat that “dead horse” again. Or at least for now.

Callaway Golf also announced their product range. Featuring the Epic Flash metal woods, Big Bertha 19, Apex 19 and Apex Pro 19 irons and lastly the ERC Soft golf ball featuring “Triple Track Technology”. I’ve seen this sort of thing before and I commented on it back around 2015. Kick X Golf has/had their Tour-Z golf ball (who consequently got sued by Acushnet and I’ve held a secret for a long time about that) and while technically different the alignment aid on those golf balls were the same as the newly introduced Triple Track Technology. I said then that it was the best alignment aid on the market for putting and now that distinction clearly goes to Callaway Golf. The three lines do significantly improve alignment on putts as Callaway Golf demonstrated during the launch. With that said, I am very intrigued by many things about the ERC Soft golf ball. In particular, their hybrid cover which takes the feel of urethane and combines it with the durability of surlyn. Consider the cover a “love child” of the two materials. For $39.99 USD this sounds like a decent offering. Color me intrigued.

balls-2019-erc-soft-triple-track_2___1

The 2019 PGA Merchandise Show is coming up quick and my booked appointment schedules are full. Demo Day is crammed full of interviews with the likes of Wilson Golf at 9 am and a company called Eagle Rebirth at 3. In between are appointments with Callaway Golf, Bridgestone Golf, Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO, Cobra Puma Golf, Jack Grace USA and many others. The mix is absolutely eclectic. I’m also going to be visiting with others that are unplanned. Epon, Miura, Knuth Golf, Fourteen and Lynx Golf are high on that list. I have no doubt that there will be some surprises and hidden gems. There always is.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee