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

 

 

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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.

cbx 119 hybrid

“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.

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