REVIEW – TaylorMade Golf TP5 and TP5x

Before commencing this review I would like to take the time to thank Nick Obritsch. Mr. Obritsch is the Marketing and Communications Manager for TaylorMade Golf Canada. Without him, this review would never have been made possible. Thanks so much, Nick for the opportunity.

TaylorMade Golf. The Carlsbad, California based golf giant has been long known to golfers worldwide. Back in 1979, TaylorMade Golf was the king of innovation as they introduced golfers to the first metalwood. Ever since TaylorMade Golf has never been shy about stretching boundaries and marching to the beat of their drum when it comes to developing innovative products designed to help golfers worldwide perform and get the most out of their games.

The stable of golfers that play their products needs no introduction. With names like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, and Tiger Woods the reality is that they attract those names not just because of a massive marketing/endorsement budget but because the products are quite simply… that good. Moreover, TaylorMade Golf has a network of over 1,500 PGA Professionals, while also having representatives that work directly with players at the grassroots level.

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But TaylorMade Golf is about much more than being the ones to bring the first metalwood to the industry, have white-crowned drivers, or irons that can launch a golf ball a country mile. In fact, what can’t be overlooked is their history of producing golf balls. Who remembers when back in 1999 TaylorMade Golf released the InerGel Pro? It was a ball that was meant to compete directly with the likes of Titleist, Pinnacle, and Top Flite which were firmly in place in terms of market share. Ever since then, TaylorMade Golf has produced other top of the line golf balls like the Tour Preferred, Penta TP5, Penta TP3 and Project(a) and (s) among several others.

When TP5 and TP5x initially came out around 2016 there was a lot of love given to them by professional and amateur golfers alike. All of the talk was about how long they were and in general, their performance was staggeringly good. With all of my experience playing the likes of the aforementioned Penta TP5, TP3 and Tour Preferred I was interested in trying the TP5. Eventually, I did in 2017. While I felt that that version of TP5 was good I was grossly disappointed by the lack of durability. But that was then and this is now.

 

2019, saw the release of new versions of the TP5 and TP5x. It is this version that the review is about. When Mr. Obritsch offered to send me samples of the 2019 TP5 and TP5x golf balls I was excited, It would give me the opportunity to see what the hype was about and more importantly it would give me a chance to test the durability. That is some of the reason why this review is so late in being released. The other reason is that our golf season here started real late due to rains of biblical proportions.

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The author getting set to conduct testing under the Temple Terrace, Florida sun in March.

Launched on February 16th, 2019 the TP5 and TP5x were touted as being TaylorMade Golf’s “most complete tour ball”. According to literature from TaylorMade Golf the TP5 and TP5x are…

Packed with new technologies, TP5/TP5x just got even faster with a greater rebound effect and optimized spin rates. There’s no ball faster, no ball longer, and no ball better than the most complete Tour ball.

With that said, let’s look at the TP5 and TP5x a little closer and what sets them apart from one another.

 

The Pre-Shot Routine

Both the TP5/TP5x feature a 5-piece construction. As it stands both golf balls are the only Tour-level golf ball that features a 5-piece construction. Among the layers are the “Tri-Fast Core” that according to TaylorMade Golf “delivers maximum carry and low drag” and the “Dual-Spin Cover” that features “an ultra-soft, highly durable cast urethane cover”.

Another feature of the TP5/TP5x golf ball is the inception of what TaylorMade Golf calls the new “Speed-Layer System”. By employing four “increasingly stiff layers” TaylorMade Golf Ball R&D found a way to produce more ball speed. The end result is “more carry distance off the tee, more control in the wind, and more spin around the greens”.

Lastly, the TP5/TP5x features a new material called “HFM” or “High Flex Material” which is said to deliver higher ball speed through a greater rebound effect. Not only does “trampoline effect” mean something with metalwoods but in the TP5/TP5x it also means something. “HFM acts like a tightly wound spring that builds energy and rebounds quickly, generating more ball speed”.

Differences…Differences

What are the differences between the TP5 and the TP5x? In a nutshell the TP5 features a lower compression. a softer feel, a ballflight that is more workable, a slightly lower launch and last but not least more wedge spin.

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The Transition 

Feel – I figure that it might be best for me to start with my observations when it comes to feel. Make no bones about it, the TP5x is definitely the firmer feeling of the two golf balls. It made no difference whether it was a puter or the driver. The TP5x felt more firm all of the way through the bag. In no way am I suggesting that the TP5x is a rock. Because it’s not. It just has a more clicky feel/sound to it and that’s a conclusion that I have to report on first. The golf ball is softer than other tour-level golf balls on the market and when it comes to golf balls tested in 2019 it was still one of the better feeling golf balls.

The TP5 felt great. It’s very pleasant to feel off of every club in the bag including a putter that can emit a sound that may not be pleasing to many ears. In fact, out of golf balls tested in 2019, there was only one other golf ball that felt better to me. I’ve never been shy about telling everyone that I prefer a softer golf ball and maybe this weighed in making me somewhat partial to the TP5. But the feel is fantastic and something can be said about the “Soft-Tough Cast Urethane” cover.

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Spin – Working their way from the green… back both models of the TP5 exhibited stellar spin characteristics. While shots from the rough around the green don’t spin as much (in general) I noticed that the TP5 and TP5x spun more than the ball that I use as a benchmark (Pro V1). The increased spin from the rough is already an endearing trait in this tester’s opinion. The spin from the fringe was even better (as one would expect) and was extremely predictable. The TP5 edged out its sibling in this facet but that’s also to be expected in seeing that TaylorMade Golf doesn’t hide the fact that the TP5 offers higher wedge spin numbers.

In my estimation, the approach spin was very similar. Even though the TP5x has a more piercing trajectory the approach spin was very strong. Both golf balls exhibited “drop and stop” capabilities and in some cases, the TP5 “danced” just a little. It didn’t matter whether the greens were hard and fast or slow and soft. It was a trend that continued throughout the testing process.

Driver spin. Spin that truly matters because it directly affects distance (the next category to be discussed). I would suggest that the spin numbers off of the driver and metalwoods are a little on the lower side. There was never any evidence of ballooning. Also, the TP5 and TP5x handled themselves very well in terms of handling the windy conditions here on The Great Lakes. The TP5/TP5x handles crosswinds very well and even though the launch of the TP5x is higher the penetrating flight qualities of the TP5x stood out.

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Distance – TaylorMade Golf will tell you that these balls are long and they are. As mentioned, the TP5x has a ballflight that offers a more penetrating ballflight and it shows. While the TP5x launches higher its flight settles down quickly and the “afterburnes” kick on (not to be confused with AeroBurner). Bar none, this is the longest golf ball that I’ve seen flying into the wind. Honestly, there was no drop off in the distance when compared to its flight in benign conditions. Consistently, I noticed differences of 5-10 yards when compared to “the benchmark” golf ball that I referred to earlier.

The TP5 offered more or less of the same that the TP5x did although I noticed that into the wind the carry lagged a little behind its brethren. But the TP5 is long again to the tune of 5-10 yards over the benchmark. Following my stroke, I lost clubhead speed and this golf ball gave me some distance back. As I’ve continued to fight my way back I’ve gotten a little stronger. The TP5 gives me 135-140 yards with my PW. When it comes to the “HFM” (High Flex Material) I think that there’s more to it than marketing buzzwords and “placebo effect”.

Durability – The lack of durability from it’s earlier generation made me believe the following. If a golf ball isn’t durable than how well it performs means nothing to me. Back then, I destroyed covers including one particular occasion where one had a cut in the cover that it looked like it was smiling. I was really disappointed then. But, did this happen in 2019 with the latest generation?

I am very pleased to report that the TP5 and TP5x have proven to be durable (bordering on rugged) golf balls. The Soft-Tough Cast Urethane Cover is that. Tough. I have had no issues with the durability of the TP5/TP5x. They have been brutalized a lot over the last several months. None of them have shown blemishes outside of normal wear from the perils of golf. I don’t know if what happened back then was a strange anomaly or not, either way, the issue never repeated itself. They are durable.

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There were many results like this while testing the TP5/TP5x. This tee shot was a Par 3 from 163 yards playing 180 yards. 

The Finish

TaylorMade Golf knows innovation. They proved it with their golf clubs and now I feel that it can be said of their golf balls too. The TP5/tP5x are terrific golf balls. They are all-around performers and I firmly believe that they can shave a stroke or two off of your game. They feel great, they’re durable, long off the tee and spin when you need them. If you haven’t tried them maybe it’s time to consider making a #5witch. Find the right TP5 for your game by using their golf ball recommender tool.

Ball Selector Tool

For more information please visit TaylorMade Golf Canada.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

STITCH® Golf Launches Collegiate Putter Covers

It’s my favorite time of the year. While it saddens me that the death of summer is nearly here (and with it the 2019 golf season will see its untimely demise in due time) it also means one thing. It’s football season baby!!

Not that crappy, boring “smashmouth football” that is the NFL. No sir (or ma’am) we’re talking about the NCAA. The pomp, the pageantry, the student bodies, and the marching bands. Football, the way that it was meant to be played. I’m not the only excited by this. So is STITCH Golf.

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As a University of Florida Gators guy… It pains me to post a pic of anything ‘Bama.

The fabricator of premium golf bags, headcovers, travel bags and more launches a new range of products. Collegiate Putter Covers. Now you can support your alma mater or favorite university in style. For more details, please see the press release as shared by Stuart Goldstein from RG Narrative. Go Gators!!

Until The Next Tee!!

#SeeUOnTheNextTee #FightAndGrind

 

Arrive in Style™

 

(APEX, NC, August 12, 2019) —STITCH Golf is pleased to announce the launch of its
officially licensed line of NCAA collegiate putter headcovers to meet the needs of today’s serious golfer and serious fan.

“Our new collegiate putter headcovers enable golfers the opportunity to proudly support their favorite school or alma mater in style,” stated Brad King, CEO of STITCH. “These eye-catching putter covers are sure to grab the attention of your golf buddies while providing the most important club in your bag with exceptional protection.”

Using STITCH’s classic and timeless designs, these blade putter headcovers come in
premium leather with the university’s logo beautifully embroidered throughout the cover. University headcovers currently available include: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan State, Mississippi, NC State, Oklahoma, SMU, Texas A&M, UNC, South Carolina, Virginia, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest.

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“Like all STITCH products, these collegiate headcovers are designed and engineered to help golfers look their best,” continued King. “By focusing on details and premium components we were able to create unparalleled headcovers for the die-hard fan”. Additional features of the collegiate headcovers include:
 Premium leather
 Plush inner lining
 Magnetic closure
 Water & stain resistant
 Fits most blade putters

Stitch Collegiate Putter Covers are available at http://www.stitchgolf.com and retail for $78.

 

About STITCH
Founded in 2011 as a headcover company, STITCH is known for designing and creating products with precise attention to detail, all the way down to the last stitch.

Based in Apex, North Carolina, STITCH gives a unique experience, whether it’s the high quality leather used in our headcovers, the durable waterproof fabrics in our bags and gear or the fashionable color schemes seen in our apparel.

STITCH products are designed to be effortlessly fashionable, allowing you to create a stylish, comfortable and color-coordinated look-on and off the course. Designed with details that perform, our line of golf bags and gear, travel bags and apparel combine function and fashion with three themes in mind: DRESS YOUR GAME™, ARRIVE IN STYLE™ and FROM WORK TO PLAY™. STITCH products are available at leading golf, country clubs and select retailers around the world and at http://www.stitchgolf.com

REVIEW – Bridgestone Golf e12 Golf Balls

What happens when you take 12 years of golf ball fitting data from one of the leading golf ball manufacturers while adding innovation and design to allow golfers to take distance and accuracy to an entirely different level. The answer… The Bridgestone Golf e12 series of golf balls.

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Bridgestone Golf e12 Soft

The Covington, Georgia based manufacturer introduced the golfing world to their latest golf ball creations in the non-Tour (distance golf ball) category back in January at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show. Make no mistake about it though, these are NOT your typical distance golf ball.

In the e12 there are two different golf balls dedicated to golfers of different swing speeds. Firstly, there is the e12 SOFT for those golfers with a slightly slower swing speed (less than 105 mph) or for those that prefer a softer feeling golf ball. Meanwhile, for the faster swingers out there (>105 mph) who struggle with sidespin, the e12 SPEED is a golf ball that’s designed to go straighter and consequently further. Before continuing, please allow me to go a little bit further in describing their specifications.

 

The Pre-Shot Routine

e12 SOFT – The e12 SOFT is a golf ball that’s best described as being a Distance Performance golf ball. Why? Well, that’s because this golf ball is a 3-piece design. The cover is Surlyn which is not only durable but also reduces sidespin. Not to mention that the e12 SOFT also offers a softer feel. Bridgestone Golf R&D developed a new innovation in golf ball technology. Introducing, their new proprietary Active Acceleration Mantle”. This new layer is constructed from a “high-performance polymer” which is said to provide “increased thrust and higher initial velocity at impact while allowing Bridgestone to soften the core for greater forgiveness and enhanced feel”. Also of note is the addition of Bridgestone’s “Delta Wing Dimple Pattern” which aids in creating less drag and improved aerodynamics in the cover. The e12 SOFT also comes in a few different color variations. Matte Green, Matte Yellow, and Matte Red are offered for those golfers who prefer help in the optics department (or just want some more color in their lives) and for the more traditional types the e12 SOFT also comes in White.

e12 SPEED – The e12 SPEED is also a Distance Performance golf ball as it also features a 3-piece construction. Also featuring the same durable Surlyn cover and key technological points like the Delta Wing Dimple Pattern and the Active Acceleration Mantle layer for optimized aerodynamics and less drag the e12 SPEED is more firm than its SOFT brethren. The e12 SPEED is only available in White.

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The Transition

I’m going to warn all of my readers right now. This might get a little lengthy as I’m going to be talking about certain characteristics of these golf balls. For the purposes of the testing and consequent review, I looked at a few key areas of concern to golfers like you and I. The categories that I looked at primarily were Feel, Durability, Distance (Driver and Irons) and Spin (Greenside and Approach).

For the most part, the majority of testing occurred in Florida during a trip there in late March. While I was dealing with punched greens it’s also important to point out that the greens were extremely firm at one course while other rounds saw greens that were somewhat receptive. When they were put into play and practice upon golf season arriving here the greens were very soft and extremely receptive. So with all of the background information laid down let’s get down to business.

 

Feel (I always feel that it’s important to point out that feel is intimate and subjective to the individual)

e12 SOFT – Without wasting any time I just wanted to point out very quickly that I really enjoyed the feel of this golf ball. It was something that I first observed at Demo Day during the 2019 PGA Show. At the time, I used everything from Driver to Wedge that day and I thought that the feel was addictive. Little did I realize how good the feel was until I tried it for the first time putting after arriving home from the show. Using a Lateral Line Putters L2 MAXX MOI on the Big Moss Augusta putting green I soon found out how good this golf ball would feel. It’s soft without feeling “mushy” like other soft models from Bridgestone’s competitors. My putter has a somewhat wonky, firm feel and sound and the e12 SOFT off of this putter felt muted.

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A little bit of color

When it came to the feel of this golf ball off of the other clubs (including wedges) it was more of the same. I play forged irons (New Level 1031)  and the combination of the forged heads and e12 SOFT was like listening to a symphony. Total harmony and everything is in tune. When it came to the driver you can feel the golf ball compress and that’s always a great feeling to have. Compression equates to distance. The e12 is a wonderful feeling golf ball… Tee to green.

e12 SPEED – Where the e12 SOFT won me over from a feel standpoint my initial feeling about the “feels” of the e12 SPEED wasn’t very complimentary. Adjectives like “harsh”, “hard” and “clicky” all came to mind very quickly. To be blunt, I hated it. Was it because of the direct comparison to it’s SOFT sibling? Maybe! But testing is always a process.

As the venue switched from my living room to Florida and consequently spring in Canada my impressions of this golf ball changed like the season. I warmed up to the golf ball enjoying it on the course. While it is more firm than the SOFT it isn’t as hard as my initial impressions were. It isn’t the firmest golf ball I’ve used and that’s a good thing. It felt pretty darn good off of all clubs whether I was putting, chipping, pitching or executing full swings. I was very impressed by how the SPEED jumped off of the face of my driver (more to come on that shortly). The e12 SPEED is more firm but if you have a higher swing speed as recommended it becomes less of a factor. 

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Durability

Seeing that these golf balls have the same cover I don’t feel it necessary to break them down individually.

With that said the Surlyn cover is durable and rugged as you might expect. In fact, I have abused the same golf balls since the testing begun right here in my living room. I’ve put these golf balls through a lot of golf holes, short game practice and I have but one conclusion. They might be able to survive a nuclear holocaust. The balls are blemish-free with no signs of wear whatsoever. Unfortunately, one of my Matte Red e12 SOFT couldn’t survive landing in the middle of the fairway where it was lost due to being plugged about a week ago. An offering for the “Golf Gods” if you will. There is nothing negative that I can elaborate on regarding this subject.

As the season moves along I wonder one thing. How will the matte finish of the e12 SOFT hold up? Time will only tell.

Distance (Driver)

***In the interest of full disclosure while at the PGA Show I discovered that my clubhead speed is well below where it was since the Stroke I had in September. I was an average of 107 mph (topping out at 114 mph) as of January it was 94 mph. Being unable to fire through my left side has factored into the decreased speed. That said, Smash Factor is an important variable in hitting the ball long as well.

e12 SOFT – When it came to testing I thought that the e12 SOFT yielded very good results as far as driver distance goes. I also feel a need to point out that I think that the e12 SOFT also has pretty lower driver spin. Yes, the cover is designed to reduce sidespin but the backspin numbers were very good as well. In using the FlightScope mevo I determined that my driver spin was an average of 2,800 RPM. There was never any sign of ballooning with this golf ball and I would suggest that it was a shade longer than my gamer.

e12 SPEED – I have no explanation for the distance results that I saw with the e12 SPEED. Sure the backspin numbers were less than the SOFT (2,500 RPM) but the e12 SPEED was long. Each drive that I struck when I teed up the e12 SPEED was the kind of drive that you admire. The length of this golf ball surprised me. Maybe it shouldn’t have… But it did. The e12 SPEED is one of the longest golf balls that I’ve put into play and was the longest during testing in Florida and up north.

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Distance (Irons)

e12 SOFT – Throughout the testing process I found that the e12 SOFT was about the same as my gamer. I have only one explanation for this. It seems like SOFT flies higher because of the slightly elevated spin rates than others tested or played. That said, it’s important to point out that backspin is totally necessary for golfers with slower swing speeds. In saying that, if what I said is in fact how the R&D team designed it they get full marks, It was a thought that I first hand at Demo Day but blamed it on the winds that were blowing around the venue… and in our face at the Bridgestone Golf booth back in January.

e12 SPEED – The e12 SPEED, on the other hand, proved to be a longer, steadier golf ball for me during testing. Honestly, I never saw that coming. But the reality is that the SPEED was longer for me with the irons as well. Longer than my gamer the e12 SPEED is not afraid of giving you (the golfer) a few extra yards on your approach shots. I would suggest that the e12 SPEED was 5 yards longer (half a club) than what I generally play. The trajectory was a bit lower than the SOFT.

SPIN

e12 SOFT – Alright, so there’s a saying in life. “To get a little you have to give a little) and that really does sum up my feelings about the spin characteristics of the e12 SOFT. When it came to the short game spin what I observed was a golf ball that was somewhere between a distance ball and their TOUR B RXS that I reviewed towards the tail end of 2017 (I think). The cover is Surlyn and not Urethane so you know that it will not offer Tour-level golf ball spin. However, the spin is very admirable around the greens. I had some shots check up beautifully while other shots had some degree of rollout (not a lot). If anything, the short game spin is very promising for the e12 SOFT.

When it came to approach spin on 3/4 to Full swings this golf ball was fantastic. My first hole playing it was into a wind-swept green that could have been confused with the I-75 around Tampa for firmness and that approach landed and stopped 8′ past the pin setting up my first Birdie of 2019 and first since my Stroke (sorry but it was a milestone thing). I missed the putt for Birdie. Over and over again the e12 SOFT has impressed when it came to approach spin. Stop and drop is the theme when it comes to the e12 SOFT.

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e12 SPEED – What you gain in a bit of distance with this golf ball you lose a little in stopping power. While you can use this golf ball around the green you need to be prepared for one thing. Rollout. Alright, we know it isn’t a Tour-level golf ball so that means it’s not going to stop but neither is the SOFT but that has some greenside spin. If you choose to play this golf ball it may be worth your while to spend some quality practice time around a practice green chipping and get used to the balls tendencies the SPEED can do the job. Just don’t expect it to stop on a dime. On more than one occasion it cost me an extra few feet when it didn’t stop as planned. Land this ball a little short of what you think you should and it’ll work out well. I know, this wisdom betrays conventional logic.

Approach spin with the e12 SPEED was pretty good. The ball does spin on those full and less than full approach shots. The stopping power is definitely better than what I observed around the greens and while there is some stop and drop control with receptive greens it’s not as stoppable when things are a little more firm. Generally, I take crisp, ball-first divots with my irons and wedges that produce spin but int the firmer greens I did see the ball land and end up further away to the pin than the strike deserved. Get to know what this ball does and you’ll be happy.

The Finish

There are a lot of things to like about the e12 range of golf balls from Bridgestone Golf. They’ve conducted their research and in doing so they’ve provided two solid golf ball offerings to golfers with two different speed rates. Each golf ball has its pro’s and cons. But what they do have in common are a couple of things.

  1. Both models retail for $29.99 USD which is pretty fair for a 3-piece offering
  2. They do perform as advertised.
  3. These golf balls maintain their line and were not prone to going right or left. The e12 golf balls are straight and accurate.

My point is this. Depending on what kind of player you are Bridgestone Golf just might have an e12 model for you. If you have the chance try a sleeve of each and find the right fit for you. In my case, even though I like the distance of the e12 SPEED I’d rather play the SOFT and take advantage of its slightly better greenside spin, approach spin, and softer feel. I can handle being a little shorter and making a controlled swing with a little more club. Please visit the Bridgestone Golf website for more details by clicking here.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUonTheNextTee

 

 

Tour Edge Exotics Staffer Scott McCarron Wins Mitsubishi Electric Classic, Vaults to No. 1 Ranking on the PGA Tour Champions

Exotics staff player Scott McCarron won the 2019 Mitsubishi Electric Classic on the PGA Tour Champions Sunday playing a Tour Edge Exotics CBX 119 hybrid; a 19-degree with a Project X Even Flow Black shaft, the same shaft that is available to consumers as a stock offering in the CBX 119 line.

The wire-to-wire win is the third victory on the PGA Tour Champions for McCarron since switching to Exotics in 2018. McCarron, who wears a Tour Edge Exotics logo on his sleeve, climbed five spots to 1st place on the official Charles Schwab Cup money list with a total of $624,118 earned so far in 2019. He earned $270,000 with the win and took the outright lead in the Charles Schwab Cup points race.

He finished 2nd overall in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings last season after winning two times with Exotics in the bag in 2018. He has finished in the Top 5 in each of the past three seasons – 2nd in 2018, 3rd in 2017 and 4th in 2016. The win was the 2nd of the 2019 PGA Tour Champions season for a player with Exotics clubs in play after seven events played. Tom Lehman won the season-opening event in Hawaii with an Exotics CBX 119 hybrid and a CBX Iron-Wood and currently ranks 5th in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings.

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Photo Credit: Golfweek via Getty Images

Exotics CBX clubs have now been a part of eight victories and 11 runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour Champions since collecting the first win at the 2018 Chubb Classic. This means Exotics clubs have finished 1st or 2nd in 19 of the last 32 PGA TOUR Champions events (59%).

After seven events on the 2019 PGA Tour Champions season, Exotics metalwoods have been in play for two victories, five Top 5 finishes, nine Top 10 finishes, and 22 Top 25 finishes. Tour Edge is keeping count of these tour statistics on a tour scoreboard located on http://www.touredge.com.

The victory represents the fourth Top 5 finish in the last six events for McCarron, including a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finish. McCarron shot 7-under at the TPC Sugarloaf golf course in Duluth, Georgia with a total of 12 birdies in extremely tough conditions. The 53-year-old Californian birdied Holes 13 and 15 to secure his first victory of the season and his eighth win on the PGA Tour Champions. McCarron held a three-shot lead headed into the final round. On Saturday, he fired a 68 in the morning to finish the rain-delayed first round and shot a 70 in the afternoon to reach 6-under-par.

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“It was a grind all the way. It was a tough day again,” McCarron said. “The wind was up, it was very cold, tough to get the ball close. You can see with the scores. … The golf course is playing very difficult. And 2 under, I felt like I left a couple out there, but I also made a couple really good par saves, too.” McCarron collected his ninth victory on the PGA Tour Champions. He won three times in his PGA TOUR career, including two wins the BellSouth Classic at this very same course, TPC Sugarloaf, in 1997 and 2001. He once again triumphed at TPC Sugarloaf, despite wind, rain, new 9-hole addition and all-new grass changes at the facility. “It’s a long time,” McCarron said. “But again, once you come back to a golf course you play well at, those memories start coming back to you. You start seeing lines off tees that you took, you start seeing maybe some of the putts you made coming down the stretch. Even though it’s a long time, I still have a pretty good memory of the good stuff.”

Watch video of Scott McCarron discuss his Exotics CBX 119
here: https://www.touredge.com/services/images/19staff/CBX119-Scott-Testimonial.mp4

About Tour Edge
In 1986, David Glod founded Tour Edge with a focus on offering golfers with high quality and technologically advanced golf products that were as cutting edge as they were affordable. He is now considered one of the preeminent master club designers in golf club design and has led Tour Edge to be a Top 10 manufacturer in every club category.

Tour Edge products have been put in play on the PGA TOUR, PGA Tour Champions, LPGA Tour and Web.com Tour, as well as European professional tours, and have been in play in every PGA TOUR major event and in Ryder Cup competitions, leading to 20 wins for players playing Tour Edge products on the PGA Tours (10 PGA TOUR, nine PGA Tour Champions and one Web.com Tour victories.)

In 2018 alone, Tour Edge clubs earned seven wins, nine runner-up finishes, 34 Top 5 finishes and 60 Top 10 finishes on the three PGA Tours. Tour Edge, an American owned and operated company for more than 33 years, manufactures and sells golf clubs under three distinct brand names: Exotics, Hot Launch, and Bazooka.

REVIEW – Ben Hogan Golf Equalizer Wedges

Before starting this piece I need to give thanks to Tyler Brewton. Mr. Brewton is the Director of Marketing for Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company. Without Mr. Brewton, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to test and review the subjects under review. Thanks for the opportunity Tyler!!

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They sort of have a glow to them, don’t they?

Wedges. Other than putters these are the clubs in the bag of any golfer that I look at and think about a couple of things. They are an intimate golf club in that golfers sometimes (like myself) look to create a bond with them. They are a club that we need to trust and a club that we look towards to save us a stroke here and there along the way. Also, other than a putter, wedges are the most likely the club(s) that you’d likely find yourself using the most during the course of a golfing season.

2015 saw the re-birth of a brand lost on the golf world after a fairly lengthy hiatus. Dating back to the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida anticipation grew as Ben Hogan Golf Equipment was back in the golf manufacturing business. That January, attendees to the show were witness to exciting new golf clubs. Launched at this time was the Ft. Worth 15 irons and their brethren the TK Wedges (named after their creator and President of the new Ben Hogan Golf Terry Koehler). These irons and wedges left a very good impression on attendees (consisting of industry professionals) and especially this writer. I admitted that when the show ended I wanted to play them while I was competing in Mini-Tours but my budget didn’t allow it. Following their initial launch, 2016 was another exciting year as Ben Hogan Golf Equipment released their first and only foray into hybrids (VKTR), the FT. Worth HI irons and they ultra-elegant PTx irons which still resonate with me several years later. 2018 would be a year pf great momentum for the Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company. In 2018, Ben Hogan Golf released a variety of soft goods (duffle bags, backpacks, caps, and accessories) and several new product releases which included the Ft. Worth White and Ft. Worth Black Irons, their new Edge irons and the Equalizer wedges. As you’ve already seen from the title it is these wedges that are the focus of this review.

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Rustic. A throwback to the past.

The Equalizer wedges have an interesting history. Back when Mr. Hogan was playing competitively it was his competitors that referred to his pitching wedge as an Equalizer”. While Mr. Hogan (in comparison to his peers) wasn’t the longest during his playing career it was his short game that set him apart propelling him to the legendary career that he had. In designing wedges, Mr. Hogan also firmly believed that too much weight set in the sole led to inconsistency.

After my discussions with Mr. Brewton and learning that I was going to be receiving the opportunity to test and review the Equalizer wedges, I became very excited. Having admired them for some time since their release (through digital platforms) knowing that I would have this wedges in hand got my “juices” running. I had to know if they were as pretty as they looked. More on that to come shortly.

The Pre-Shot Routine

The Equalizer wedges from Ben Hogan Golf are forged from 1025 Carbon Steel. This material makes for creating club heads that provide unsurpassed feel and feedback that is second to none. In a time where most wedges in the industry are cast the fact that the Equalizer wedges are forged offers a distinct advantage.

When it comes to the issue of shots ballooning most golfers instinctively think that this is an issue relegated solely to drivers. This is not the case. Have you ever noticed that your ballflight with the wedges is a tad inconsistent? Mass low in the head was something that Mr. Hogan disagreed with and this fact was reflected then and it is now in these Equalizer wedges. The lower the loft (i.e. 48°) mass is shifted further up the face which aids in preventing ballooning and excessive spin while increasing accuracy. As the loft increases mass is placed lower in the head to assist with green holding stopping power and “popping” the golf ball up, on those finesse shots from around the green.

 

Faces on the Equalizer wedges are 100% CNC-milled. This process is time-consuming and expensive but is a noticeable change from offerings from competitors. The milling provides consistency in the manufacturing process which also yield tighter spec tolerances while providing maximum spin. The grooves of the Equalizer wedges are the maximum allowable set-out in guidelines by golf’s major governing bodies (R &A  and the USGA).

Turf interaction is extremely important and the more versatile a wedge is the more valuable a wedge can become in helping to shoot lower scores. Ben Hogan Golf Equipment identified this in designing the Equalizer wedges. The Equalizer wedges feature “an improved V-Sole Design”. By combining a higher bounce leading edge and a lower bounce trailing edge the design team at Ben Hogan Golf designed the Equalizer wedges to allow for “easy manipulation of the clubhead without changing the loft no matter if you are facing downhill, uphill or even sidehill lies. V-Sole truly is the most versatile sole in golf”.

 

The Transition

(What I tested: Equalizer wedges 48°, 52°, and 56°. All wedges were shafted with KBS Tour V in Stiff flex. Stock Ben Hogan by Lamkin Grips)

When the box arrived from Ben Hogan Golf arrived I was elated. Finally, I was going to see for myself what these wedges truly looked and felt like. I opened the box and inside sat three wedges. Usually, the first thing that I notice during an unboxing of golf clubs is the head but that wasn’t the case at all. The first thing that I noticed was actually the grips. While I really like the blue and grey contrast of the grips what caught my eye was Mr. Hogan’s signature on the grips. Just the fact that his name was emblazoned on these grips added to the class of these clubs. From a tactile standpoint, I loved the feel of these grips (by Lamkin) in my hands. I also need to point out that the thank-you card and stickers were a nice little touch.

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Then I removed the plastic from the first head. It was that moment that I realized that in my hands were the prettiest wedge that I’ve ever laid my eyes on. From an aesthetics standpoint if I had to rate them out of 10 they might very well get an “11”. If you look at the picture above you’ll observe the soft, rounded shape. You’ll also see the milling of the face with special attention being placed on the grooves. However, the aesthetics don’t simply stop there. The milling on the rear of the head is exquisite and the paintfill is classy as one might expect of anything bearing the name of the legendary golfer. Even the ferrules (red stripes on black) have a “retro” feel to them. I just love easy the Equalizer wedges are on the eyes and the satin finish definitely help.

Feel The feel is real. Much can be said of the 1025 Carbon Steel that as used in the manufacturing of the Equalizer wedges. My initial swings were into nets and indoor dome sessions. What really caught my attention during these passes was the feel at impact. Not only do the Equalizer wedges feel great through impact (the hitting area) the feel of impact is even better. I would describe the sound like an “aggressive click”. I have never felt or heard what I did from a wedge prior. There was a combination of “power and feel” with the 48° and 52° while the 56° was “silky soft and pure”. Quite honestly, I couldn’t wait to take these wedges outside and quite frankly I was already forming a very strong opinion of these Equalizer wedges without hitting a shot greenside or outdoors for the matter. I actually had to coach myself to slow down from making a premature judgment on them.

I had plans on putting them to the test in January during PGA Show week but due to Winter Storm Harper travel plans were cut short therefore eliminating any designs on playing golf. Instead, this would happen in March.

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Performance – March was an exciting time. I managed to get away for a few days towards the end of March and I wasted no time finally seeing the Ben Hogan Equalizer wedges in action. The conditions at Terrace Hill Golf Center in Temple Terrace, Florida were difficult. There was a hurting wind (3 clubs) blowing right into my face. Having never seen any sort of ballflight before I started slow and low with hitting some simple chips and pitch shots. The feel in my hands on these “finesse” shots was so pleasing. My hands and head loved the feel as the ball came off of the face. As I loosened up I started to lengthen out and make swings with a little more purpose. All of these swings resulted in tight draws, seemingly unaffected by the wind and tidy divots. I think the fact that the ball flight wasn’t affected by the wind speaks volumes of the “Progressive Center of Mass System” that Ben Hogan Golf R&D incorporated into the design of the Equalizer wedges.

As my testing transitioned from the range to the course I was just as impressed. My first approach shot was into the wind into a green that was hard. I used a Bridgestone Golf e12 Soft (in testing as well) and was impressed that this “tweener” shot landed and stopped 8 feet from the pin. What an amazing first impression! I would further test the Equalizer wedges with other golf balls that are being tested and the more that I used these Equalizer wedges the more comfortable and impressed I became with them. No matter the green or the shot whether full approach or greenside the first round played using the Equalizer wedges left me extremely impressed.

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Testing would move from a course that firm to another golf course (Sanlan Golf Course in Lakeland, Florida) that offered softer conditions. While the balls weren’t the same, shot in and shot out what didn’t change were the results. the versatility of the V-Sole was/is fantastic. What’s more? There was no digging or issues with turf interaction. At one point, I played through a torrential downpour and the course softened up in a real hurry. Just to elaborate a little more on turf interaction the 56° popped the ball with ease out of bunkers. The Ben Hogan Equalizer wedges flat-out performed and gained my trust in a real hurry.

The Finish

If there was one thing that I could change about this testing it’s that I didn’t take advantage of the free length, loft and lie adjustments. I went standard everything while I should have requested my 2° flat. However, seeing that I never had issues with my shots errantly flying left it obviously wasn’t an issue. These are wedges that are elegant, exquisite and exude class. As a result of Ben Hogan Golf Equipment offering their products at “factory-direct pricing” (#NoRetailMarkUp) that means that you get phenomenal value for your golf consumer dollars. In what world can you purchase a forged wedge for $100 USD with either a steel (KBS Tour) or graphite (UST Mamiya Recoil) shaft? Well, I guess the answer to that question is in Ben Hogan Golf’s world via online purchases. If you’re in the market for new wedges, look no further than Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Golf and the Equalizer wedges. The Equalizer wedges come in both left AND right-handed options with two finishes being available. Black and Chrome. For more information please visit https://benhogangolf.com/products/equalizer-wedges

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

 

DAY ONE – Testing Summaries

I just wanted to share a few videos that summarize some of my observations from the first day of product testing. Why read when you can watch right?

Products tested are golf balls from TaylorMade Golf, Srixon Golf, Wilson Staff, and Bridgestone Golf. Also, I have some candid thoughts about the Equalizer wedges from Ben Hogan Golf.

Please feel free to leave questions

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

“First Impressions” – Tour Edge Exotics EXS Irons

When news started to pour out from Batavia, Illinois based golf equipment manufacturer Tour Edge about their new Exotics EXS range of products I was very excited. Premium products built from premium material. The range includes everything from their driver (which scored very well for a Top Driver Teezy Award) to a set of irons. Between the technology that’s packed into the Exotics EXS line and the attractive price point that accompany them, there is much to be excited about when looking at the EXS range of products.

One of the manufacturers that I was really excited to swing at the 2019 PGA Show Merchandise Demo Day was in fact Tour Edge. Already having had the opportunity to test and review the Tour Edge Exotics EXS 4 hybrid late in 2018 (EXS 4 Hybrid Review here) my appetite was whet in anticipation at the prospect of what the rest of the range was like. Especially, the Exotics EXS irons. The tagline that Tour Edge is using for this range (“Pound for Pound… Nothing Comes Close”) surely resonated with me. Here’s why.

 

The Pre-Shot Routine

The Exotics EXS irons by Tour Edge are packed with a ton of technology. One of the trends that we’re seeing in the golf industry is that of iron sets consisting of hollow-body construction. The EXS irons are no exception.

Exotics EXS irons feature a forged Cup Face with what Tour Edge refers to as “SpiderWeb VFT Technology”. The result? An expanded sweet spot that allows for more forgiveness which in turn enhances the golfer experience. Especially on strikes that are not… “Optimum”. Also noteworthy is the fact that the face construction is the thinnest that Tour Edge has ever used. The long irons 4-7 are the irons that feature the hollow body construction whilst the short irons 8-PW feature an undercut cavity design. A key point in the short irons is what Tour Edge calls “LaunchPad Technology”. LaunchPad Technology is a polymer that Tour Edge used to absorb vibration, enhance the feel and create more “trampoline effect”. This effect aids in providing a higher ball exit velocity which theoretically equates to more distance.

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What good is a game-improvement iron if it doesn’t feature perimeter weighting? Perimeter weighting has become an integral part of the golf manufacturing industry when it comes to the design of irons. Once thought to be used predominantly in game-improvement irons we’ve seen the use of Tungsten perimeter weighting in what many would now describe as player’s irons. The EXS irons are no exception as Tour Edge R&D placed a 19-gram toe weight to further address forgiveness and playability. Higher M.O.I equals more resistance to twisting and “elongates the sweet spot”.

Technology points don’t simply “end” in the design of the head. Stock shafts offered in both graphite and steel. The options are none other than the Tensei CK Blue 2G Series by Mitsubishi Chemical (MCA). This shaft (also featured in the EXS Hybrid) combines the best of Kevlar, Carbon Fiber and other lightweight materials. Shaft weights vary depending on the flex of the shaft (60-80 grams). Or in the case of the steel option, the KBS Max 80 is available in either a Regular or Stiff flex and Tour Edge opted to choose the venerable Lamkin Grips UTx grip.

 

The Transition

(Demo Day Conditions – Sunny, Windy (left to right) and Warm. Tested with the MCA Tensei CK Blue 2G Series in Stiff flex)

Aesthetics – First things first. I just wanted to point out that in a way these irons reminded me a little bit of their EXi irons introduced a couple of product cycles ago.

That said, these irons look mean and remind me of a “Muscle Car” from the 50s-60s. Maybe like a 1957 Chevrolet Belair? When looking at them from the perspective of the golf bag view (cavity view) they look fast and they look powerful. Raw horsepower! I love the colorway of these irons with the silver and black badge on the back but the “pop” of blue just further adds to the aesthetic value of these irons (see picture below).

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Tour Edge Exotics EXS irons

The looks are very attractive in the address position. The blade length is neither too long nor is it too short. At the risk of sounding like “Golfilocks” the blade length was just right. The blade length inspires confidence at address and the ball sets up great behind the head. What I really like from the address position is the top line. It is quite thin for game-improvement irons and I found the EXS irons to be very attractive overall. Personally speaking, I feel that the EXS irons may very well be the best-looking iron set in its category.

Performance– Make no bones about it. The EXS irons are premier performers. Quite honestly, it all boils down to the initial thoughts I had regarding their looks (in the address position). Looking down at them, I felt so confident that I was going to see good results that the confidence went straight to my hands and arms. Quite honestly, at that point, I hadn’t really made a ton of swings with any clubs. I was still finding my way (and my swing) post-Stroke and I really had no clue what swing was going to show up at Demo Day. My first swing resulted in a well-struck 8-iron that seemed to penetrate the left to right wind. The feel on that first strike was so crisp and more importantly, the ball flight didn’t “balloon”. The wind did not affect the ball flight. It just held up and on its intended line.

Divots were crisp and that could be contributed to the design of the sole which is called a “Ramped Sole”. The sole is designed to provide better turf interaction and heel relief. More relief means less likelihood of the club getting entangled with the turf.

Distance. Without having any sort of launch monitor data I cannot give specific numbers. That’s why I tout being the “Home of Organic Golf Reviews”. Using my senses (sight, sound, touch) has allowed me to differentiate differences from club to club. These irons are “hot” and “long”. The thin cup face sounds “mean” and you know that you’ve struck the golf ball based on the crisp “thwack” at impact. The sound and feel are very “solid” and it’s very noticeable in the hollow-bodied longer irons. The Tungsten weighting in the toe as far as I’m concerned served its purpose very well and not only did it help to prevent twisting but it seemed like squaring the face was achieved very easily. These irons are long… I need to point out that I turned myself around to hit into the wind as best as I could. I need to point out one important fact about the EXS irons.

*** The iron lofts are strong!! For comparison sake the PW is an astounding 42*. If you trap the ball as you should you’ll de-loft the club more.

While I will not go as far as suggesting that the EXS irons have a blade-like profile I will say that the minimal offset and thinner top-line nearly suggests that it is. The result is a golf club that you can control and shot-shape with ease. Cut, draw, high, and low all shots are easily achieved. Flighting the ball is a “breeze”. My typical shot shape is straight to a baby draw and it was no exception with the EXS irons. The MCA Tensei CK Blue 2G shafts were smooth and quite honestly as expected based on my previous experience using this shaft. it is Tour-proven.

What a fantastic set of irons!

 

The Finish

There are iron sets that have given me a great first impression. The Exotics EXS irons were consummate. A total blend of looks, power, feel, and performance. This is an iron set that will benefit golfers of all skill levels. I’m talking Scratch all the way to a 25-handicap. The Exotics EXS irons scored and impressive. Iron sets start from $499.99 USD and come in a variety of set compositions 5-PW to 7-PW/AW/GW/SW.

Tour Edge has packed a ton of technology into these irons and I have no doubt in my mind that they might be the irons that are in fact “Pound for Pound” the best. There’s a reason why these irons won their category for the Teezy Awards. The Exotics EXS irons scored 38.5 out of 40 points. I really think that these irons would warrant further testing on-course! Range time is one thing… On-course is another. If you’re in the market for new irons in 2019 these would be worth a look. For more information on these Exotics EXS irons please visit Tour Edge.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOntheNextTee