Forgiveness. By definition, the term means “the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.” When it comes to the game of golf and the equipment that we use, this term is most often associated with drivers and iron sets. But what about putters? Could golfers benefit from a little bit of help from the club that we use most often during a round of golf? Lateral Line Putters definitely thinks so.

Before continuing with this review, I would like to thank John Ambrose, the great mind behind Lateral Line putters. In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mr. Ambrose where I reviewed the original MOI MAXX putter in 2017. That was a putter that garnered praise from me, so when he reached out to me about a new putter that he was releasing there was no way that I could refuse.

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If you look back at that review (MOI MAXX review here) you might recollect a few things. Most notably, however, is the fact that it’s an oversized, overweight mallet putter. That putter measured 6.25″ heel to toe and it’s head weight was a staggering 620 grams.  As far as the man behind the putters himself Mr. Ambrose is a retired Continental/United Airlines pilot, engineer, a USGTF Certified Instructor, a former Director of Instruction and First Tee Coach. While being all of these things Mr. Ambrose is also a Certified Vector Green Reading Instructor. In short, the founder of Lateral Line Putters (Lateral Line was founded in 2007) knows a thing or two about golf and design.

That was then… This is now.

 

The Pre-Shot Routine

When we look at the new EXCEL putter from Lateral Line we first need to look at the specifications. There are some notable changes when it comes to EXCEL. Among these changes is the actual weight of the putter. The EXCEL putter is 30 grams lighter than its predecessor. So instead of the head weight weighing in at a portly 620 grams, it’s now 590 grams. Although the EXCEL putter may be lighter than it’s former iteration the high MOI characteristics remains the same (MOI of 24,000). Also notable, is that the impact area is 3.75″ (the former was 3.5″) which is great from the standpoint of the putter standing up. Thus the base is more stable. The width heel to toe remains 6.25″ while the footprint of the EXCEL (front to back) is 3.75″.

(The EXCEL putter is designed as a “stand-alone” putter for aligning your putts.)

The head itself is constructed from 304 Stainless Steel and features Lateral Line Putters’ patented “Ring Design”. There is a face insert that consists of poured Surlyn (a material commonly used as the cover on golf balls).

The standard length of the EXCEL putter is 33″ which is great for allowing your arms to hang more naturally. Of course, this is dependent on the individual that plays the Excel. The Lie Angle is upright as it sits at 73* although with the XL Grip that’s employed by Lateral Line the putter feels closer to 70*. The XL grip itself is 14″ long and weighs in at 100 grams.

***Lateral Line Putters joined forces with Medicus Golf introducing the EXCEL. Lateral Line wanted to get the EXCEL putter right and they have taken their time to ensure that they have done exactly that.

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The Transition

I was excited to receive the opportunity to test the EXCEL putters because I had the chance to test and review the original. The original was a putter that tested really well but it also needed to have a few changes made to it. I’m always a fan of watching products evolve, however, this time it seemed maybe a little more gratifying. I think because I gave feedback the last time and that feedback was taken to heart.

Upon receiving my package from, Mr. Ambrose I was excited to see what the Excel looked like in hand. Upon opening the parcel I observed the clean black and white headcover with the “MOI MAXX Excel” branding being evident. The red “X” is a nice little accent. The finish of the shaft is a Black PVD finish and I really like how it sort of “melds” the grip, shaft, and head together.

Taking off the putter cover I was immediately impressed by the aesthetics of the head. Instead of a black or white powder-coated head, the top of the head is black with white alignment aids (railroad tracks). Although the footprint is quite large the putter in the address position looks much smaller than its physical size. I also really like the fact that this time around Lateral Line allowed for the contrasting stainless steel and black. In the case of the original, I thought that the head being entirely powder-coated “cheapened” the product. However, those minor aesthetics change really improved the overall “image” of the Excel.

I’ve already alluded to the standard length of the EXCEL putter. At a standard length of 33″ I really liked this putter. In my case, I found that that this length really allowed my arms to hang more freely. The combination of the length at 33″ paired with the weight of the head allows for a smooth stroke on the golf ball. Also, the nature of my arms hanging more freely also allowed my eyes to be aligned over the ball more consistently. Take note, this length may not work for all golfers. My set-up in this configuration was and has been more consistent. The XL Grip effectively eliminates my hands from becoming involved in the putting stroke.

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This putt would have been missed on the low side. Initially, the alignment looked good from the address position.

Like it’s predecessor, the genius behind this putter is the fact that it will stand up by itself. This way, golfers who use the EXCEL putter can better align their putts. The “railroad tracks” employed by Lateral Line lets golfers know if their set-up is square not to mention that it will also let golfers know if their putt is aligned too high above the hole or too low. The difference between my putting using EXCEL’s “stand-alone” capabilities and not using them was astonishing. The reality is that when I used this feature as it was intended to results are significantly better. Especially on putts inside of ten feet. If my face was closed or open by a fraction the putt attempt was a guaranteed miss.

While there is an insert in the face of the EXCEL putter I would suggest that the feel is firm. However, the sound is more muted and with a soft-covered golf ball, the feel is very good. The feel/acoustics of the EXCEL putter is improved from the original. I might be a little picky but I would love to see a softer insert.

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A look at the Surlyn insert.

Forgiveness is not only important in metal woods and irons. Forgiveness can be just as important with putters as well. Is there a more forgiving putter in the golf industry than the EXCEL? Maybe, but if there is one I haven’t found nor tested it. Heel and/or toe strikes feel nearly identical to a strike off of the generous impact area. The stability of the head is second to none. It’s for reason that you can make the stroke without looking at the golf ball. As Mr. Ambrose explained here in a conversation with him.

“The idea of not staring at the ball during the stroke has great effects on performance. It not only improves on overall performance (either looking at the distance on the long ones, or the putter face on short putts) but places you in a present moment situation which takes those sub-conscious in stroke corrections out of the stroke.” –  John Ambrose of Lateral Line Putters

I worked on this putting methodology a couple of years back with Mr. Ambrose after the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show. It was at Orange Tree Resort where I first met Mr. Ambrose. Although the technique felt foreign and trusting it can feel awkward the method really works. In fact, it was my distance-control that really improved.

 

The Finish

In my opinion, the EXCEL putter from Lateral Line putters is a golf product that could help golfers lower their scores. Especially, if you employ its capabilities as they were intended. The EXCEL putter is an improvement over the original MOI MAXX that was released a few years. It looks better and it feels better. Is it perfect? The answer is no but my criticisms could be viewed as being “too diva”. Honestly, if you would like to make more putts have an open mind and find an EXCEL putter to try out. If you do find one, try putting while looking at the hole.

Are there negatives to the EXCEL putter? Some may find the overall footprint a little “off-putting” and some golfers may find the features “gimmicky”. However, does it really matter what your playing partners think if you’re rolling in putts?

For more information on the EXCEL putter please click on the link here.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#SeeUOnTheNextTee #FightAndGrind

 

 

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COMBINING PROVEN SPEEDFOAM™ TECHNOLOGY WITH REFINED SHAPING, NEXT GENERATION OF COMPANY’S MOST POPULAR PLAYERS DISTANCE IRONS REACH NEW LEVELS OF PERFORMANCE

CARLSBAD, CALIF. (August 12, 2019) – Following the resounding global success of the irons that catapulted the model to among the best-selling in company history, TaylorMade Golf, an industry leader in product innovation, technology and performance, announced today the second generation of the P·790 irons. Like its P700 series siblings, the P·790 irons are a meticulously crafted set combining performance, feel and aesthetics.

By way of its forged face and soft, hollow body construction with SpeedFoam™ and the debut of the Thru-Slot Speed Pocket, speed and forgiveness were the key performance attributes that helped the first-generation P·790 rise to the upper heights of the players distance category.

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MAKING THE BEST BETTER

To improve on an iron as successful as the original P·790, engineers faced the challenge of taking everything learned from its design, refining and emphasizing many of the unique design elements that made it so successful without drastically changing its DNA. The result is a forged iron that continues to deliver remarkable distance and playability combined with exceptional feel in a medium-compact head design with a refined topline, more compact blade length and reduced offset preferred by discerning players.

 

PERFORMANCE

The original P·790 was – and still is – widely considered one of the highest-performing irons in the industry. The all-new 2019 P·790 features a 7% thinner face designed to produce a faster COR and for the first time includes Progressive Inverted Cone Technology (PICT) designed to improved accuracy throughout the set, minimizing the right tendency often found in the long irons. The thinner face also maintains sound and feel but enhances feedback regardless of where the ball is struck on the face.

 

Behind the face of the new P·790 is one of TaylorMade’s most advanced technologies to date: SpeedFoam, a proprietary construction which serves a dual purpose of generating ball speed as well as the management of sound and feel. Injected into the clubhead, SpeedFoam provides the face support and damping properties that make the performance of the P·790 unlike any other iron in the TaylorMade family.

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Inside the P·790, a larger mass of tungsten – 15% more than first generation P·790 – has been reshaped to deliver a deeper centre of gravity. This was accomplished through the mass savings in the thinner face as well as by removing mass in the iron frame (high toe area) and repositioning it by way of the larger, low profile tungsten design. The new tungsten design helps to lower the CG and increase the launch angle of the new 2019 model.

 

SHAPING

The product creation team implemented some refined shaping changes to the new generation P·790 in the continued pursuit of the perfect players distance iron shape. Working from the ground up, the designers tweaked the sole radius for less propensity to dig. The long irons (6-3i) have progressively less offset and the blade length was shaved down slightly in the scoring irons (7-AW) for more compact players iron proportions. Finally, the topline shaping was refined by increasing the face height in the toe for a cleaner progression through the set. The result is a visually appealing shape proportion preferred by better players without being visually intimidating for those who appreciate the forgiving nature of the P·790 design.

SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING & AVAILABILITY

Available at retail on September 6, the new P·790 irons will be offered in 3-PW, AW equipped with True Temper’s Dynamic Gold 105 VSS steel shafts ($1,599.99 CAD) or UST Mamiya’s Recoil 760/780 ES SmacWrap graphite shafts ($1,799.99 CAD) with Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grips. Numerous other custom shaft options are also available.

P·790 UDI

Once again complementing the P·790 irons is the P·790 UDI, a forged driving iron designed with Tour-inspired shaping and incorporating a multitude of proven TaylorMade technologies – including SpeedFoam. Like the other irons in the set, the P·790 UDI is constructed with a soft, 8620 carbon steel body combined with high-strength forged 4140 carbon steel with a wrapped-face construction in a hollow body design.

 

The new P·790 UDI also features an ultra-thin forged face with Inverted Cone Technology for an expanded sweet spot within a slightly smaller face area. Similar to the first generation P·790 UDI, the new, smaller Inverted Cone in the new P·790 UDI allows for reduced face thickness at the edges of the face, thus increasing flexibility from heel to toe and low on the clubface and optimizing ball speed across the entire face. Once again, the Thru-Slot Speed Pocket is engineered to increase ball speeds and forgiveness for exceptional playability for those desiring additional options off the tee or fairway.

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For forgiveness and playability, the new P·790 UDI features the re-engineered internal metal-injection-molded (MIM) tungsten weighting for precise CG placement and higher moment of inertia (MOI).

 

SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING & AVAILABILITY

Available at retail starting September 6 at $299.99 CAD, the new P·790 UDI will be offered in RH only models as a 2-iron (17°) and come equipped with Project X’s popular HZRDUS Smoke Black shaft 90g (S) or 105g (X) flexes – designed for low launch/low spin and gripped with a Golf Pride TV 360. Additionally, the P·790 UDI will be available for custom build with an extensive offering of steel and graphite (.355) options.

 

Additional specifications:

Loft: 17°

Lie: 60°

Offset: 3.2mm

Length: 40” (steel 39.25”)

Swingweight: D2

 

P·790 Ti

Following an exploration of ultra-premium materials and our engineering knowledge, we created a high-performance set of irons in a new, first-of-its-kind iron package. The P·790 Ti; a triumph of engineering and the most premium iron line TaylorMade has ever created.

 

A complement to the P·790, the P·790 Ti was designed from the ground up to be an extreme performance P·790; a game improvement iron loaded with technology packed into an aspirational players’ preferred shape while maintaining the critical ratios between blade length, offset and topline width.

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MULTI-MATERIAL CONSTRUCTION

The body of the P·790 Ti is comprised of a 9-1-1 titanium. Titanium has a high strength to weight ratio, meaning it is both light in weight but also remarkably strong (this is also one of the primary reasons it is used in metalwoods and just this year, the M5 fairway, too). The use of titanium allowed engineers to increase the amount of tungsten (up to 119g – nearly half of the iron head mass) in the sole of the iron for an ultra-low centre of gravity – the lowest CG in any P Series iron. The P·790 Ti was designed to showcase its use of premium materials in a technical, elegant package with the extreme tungsten weighting fully visible across the full backbar of the iron.

 

Due to its titanium construction, the iron features a lighter face and a large sweet spot by way of TaylorMade’s patented Thru-Slot Speed Pocket – the company’s most flexible Speed Pocket™ design to date. The Thru-Slot Speed Pocket expands the flexible area of the face to generate faster ball speeds. The face design also includes the Progressive ICT design and an additional Speed Pocket in the 8i intended for more consistent yardage gapping through the set.

SHAPING VS. GEN 1 P·790

Compared to the original P·790, the P·790 Ti has a slightly longer blade length (2mm), taller face (2mm) and .5mm of increased offset. It also utilizes a slightly wider sole with increased bounce for added forgiveness.

 

SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING & AVAILABILITY

Available at retail on November 8, the new P·790 Ti irons will be offered in 4-PW/AW and come equipped with Nippon 950GH NEO steel shafts ($3,399.99 CAD) or Mitsubishi’s MMT graphite shafts ($3,599.99 CAD) in 75g (S), 65g (R) and 55g (A) flexes, each with Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grips. Numerous other custom shaft options are also available.

I would like to extend a deep, heartfelt thank-you to Jay Armour who is the Director of Marketing for Sub 70 Golf. Jay, without you this review, could never have come to light. Thank-you!!

Several months ago, I wrote a scathing editorial that deeply criticized the “Goliaths” of the golf industry. In that article, I pointed out that golf is no different than the major sports leagues around the world (NHL, MLB, NFL, NASCAR, Bundesliga, Premier League, etc). Namely, when it comes to the soaring costs of golf equipment. It is us, the minions or pawns that buy equipment which in turn supports the manufacturers which goes a long way in paying the player’s endorsement deals. Think of it as “The Circle of Life”. A point that the players of the PGA TOUR should be reminded of.

Isn’t it refreshing though, that there are still golf equipment manufacturers out there that does it right? Offering high-quality equipment to the golfing public without the hefty price tag because they’ve either eliminated the middle man and/or don’t have massive endorsement deals to payout. Or maybe, just maybe they realize that not everyone can mortgage their house for a new set of irons.

SUB 70 Golf. The independent golf equipment manufacturer headquartered in Sycamore, Illinois had a mission. To provide golfers premium golf equipment without the premium price tag. The quest was led by the Owner of SUB 70 Golf Jason Hiland and a love for the game of golf. It should be noted that Mr. Hiland has experience in the golf business. If you’re familiar with brands like Diamond Tour Golf, Hurricane Golf or, SMT Golf those were his as well. SUB 70 Golf wants to let golfers know that when you play their products you’re receiving products that are forged from the finest carbon steel thus offering you (the golfer) the finest in feel and metalwoods that are technologically sound but void of marketing hype. Equating to saved dollars in your golfing budget.

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The Pre-Shot Routine

Through conversations with the Director of Marketing (Jay Armour) I arranged to test one of their new Pro Fairway Metalwoods. A golf club designed to target “better players”. However, much to my pleasant surprise when the box showed up, I noticed that it weighed a little too much for one graphite-shafted fairway wood. Upon opening the “Black Box” I saw the reason for the heftier weight. Unexpectedly, SUB 70 Golf also included a 6 and a 9-iron from their 699 irons set.

***I should point out that inside of the box was a hand-written note thanking me for doing the testing. Gents, all of the thanks are from me to you for providing me this opportunity.

Pro Fairway Wood – The Pro Fairway Wood was designed to provide the better player “optimal launch and distance parameters” with the ability to work the golf ball. The Pro Fairway goes further and spins less according to SUB 70 Golf literature. The Pro Fairway sets up square at address and has a very clean and neat appearance in the address position. Think… “traditional”. There is no alignment aid on the Pro Fairway and the high-gloss black paint on its black face makes it appear “stealthy” (I love looking down at this head). While the head itself is bonded, the sole features two weights (9-gram and 2-gram) that are interchangeable allowing golfers to further optimize their preferred launch conditions. If you desire lower spin the 9-gram weight would be placed in the front. Conversely, if you need assistance in attaining a high launch you place the 9-gram weight in the rear.

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*Note: When adjusting the weights only make them snug. If you tighten until you hear a click you won’t. All that you’ll do is strip the head of the screw. 

699 Irons – The SUB 70 Golf 699 Irons are a set of game-improvement irons. The face is designed to be hot while not taking away from the looks. There is key technology built into these irons that feature a face constructed from 17 mm of 455 Carpenter Steel. This material is known for being malleable which contributes to spring-effect as the golf ball comes off of the face. The 699 irons are “hollow-bodied” and are injected with a TPE insert. TPE is a “resin-like” material that has qualities that aids in improving sound and feel.

The Transition

Pro Fairway Wood I love the aesthetics as I’ve already alluded to. It’s black, clean, and sexy. I love how the golf ball sets up in behind the black on black (crown/face). I also love how the sole looks as well. The “SUB 70” branding is present and understated while there is a little bit of paintfill that breaks up the “monotony” of the all-black. Even the headcover is nicely done as it’s easy to take off and place back on but it also doesn’t just fall off on its own.

When it came to the performance of the Pro Fairway Wood it was almost a tale of two clubs in a way to that of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Immediately after the unboxing I took the Pro Fairway Wood to the range and started to put it through its paces. Immediately, I was enamored with the performance of it. The launch was perfect whether it was from a tee or off of the deck, it carried long and was easy to control. The first impressions were amazing. At the time, I had the weights configured with the 9-gram set as the weight closest to the trailing edge. I should point out that the shaft is a proprietary “Made for SUB 70” Project X shaft in a 6.0 flex.

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Admittedly, it was a period of time when I was really fighting my swing and trying to sort things out. A freakishly wet start to the season up here led to me playing no golf until well into May/June.

I would at other sessions adjust the weight configuration. I placed the 9-gram weight in the front and noticed a couple of strange things. The feel and the acoustics in my ears changed dramatically. In particular, I was able to really feel the change in the CoG (Center of Gravity) of the Pro Fairway Wood. I thought that I would prefer the Pro Fairway in this configuration but the acoustics alone really “put me off”. Ironically, the performance of the club seemed to drop off for me and I hit plenty of wayward shots. All before hitting a shot on a golf course. For a golf club that won me over real fast, I suddenly had zero confidence with it.

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Fortunately, it was the guy holding the club and not the club itself as I found out. All the Pro Fairway Wood on the golf course was hit fairways on a piercing trajectory and it quickly regained my confidence. The ease of launch and control from the tee makes this a golf club that I would easily turn to on a hole where I NEED to hit a fairway. Since my golf swing started to really “fire” over the last 2-3 weeks I have seen me hit nothing but fairways with it with distances being in the 240-250 yard range. Off of the deck, the Pro Fairway Wood yielded results that were nearly as good. I’ve hit greens in two on Par 5’s and the control is there off of the deck as much as it is from the tee. Yardages from the deck have been in the 225-235 yard range through on-course testing.

(Believe it or not, the yardages could theoretically be better. I have yet to hit a shot with a ball that’s my gamer. All shots have been with golf balls that are in for testing).

699 Irons – The 699 irons were another that I really liked the looks of upon seeing them from the first time. Having gawked at them on-line through social media feeds I will say this much.  As much as I liked the looks of them through digital means they are even nicer to look at in hand.

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The 699 irons are another offering from the SUB 70 stable that I find appealing. Looking at them, the heel to toe length looks longer than something more compact (player’s set) but aren’t necessarily longer than my gamer set. To be expected in a game-improvement chassis. The head is pretty minimalist from a graphics or badging point-of-view. Just some basic SUB 70 branding and paintfill to let everyone know that they are the 699 irons. This point is a huge winning point for me. I don’t need flash and pizzazz I need performance. What I love about them is the milling on the rear of the head. They look… smart. Looking at them from the toe side you will see a little “screw”. This is where the TPE resin is inserted into the head. The 699 irons might be one of the nicest looking sets of game-improvement irons that I’ve seen. Looks are great but how about performance?

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The 699 irons are solid performers. Sorry, did I say solid? They are terrific. From my strikes early on at the first driving range to current the 6 and 9 irons have performed better than my gamer set. They have proven to be easy to work (remember that these are a GI iron), they feel “hot” at impact and have proven to be a 1/2 to a full club longer than my gamer set. Maybe, the slightly lighter shaft (KBS Tour-V 90 vs KBS Tour 120 S) allows me to pick up a little more clubhead speed. Or maybe, there is something to the Carpenter Steel face married to the TPE insert that are the main talking points about their technology. All that I know is this much both 9-irons share the same 40* of loft. In the case of the 6-irons however, my gamer set is 2* weaker. Distances were 190-200 yards with the 6-iron whilst the 9-iron was 140-150 yards (depending on conditions).

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The 699 irons are very easy irons to control. From a trajectory standpoint, I found that the 699 irons had a fairly penetrating trajectory. Especially when it came to the 6-iron. But what I liked about them was that hitting a baby draw is simple. A little cut was easy to obtain. But the “bread and butter” seemed to be straight. Toe hits weren’t severely punished and the golf ball didn’t wander too far off line, which speaks volumes about their forgiveness. Is there a yardage loss in these cases? Yes. But if the miss is straight then who cares? Punch shots and knockdowns are a “breeze” for playing into the wind.

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Speaking of the TPE insert. The feel of these 699 irons is mean. The acoustics of the golf ball coming off of the face is one that I would describe as “mean and nasty”. When impact is made, you know. It’s a sharp sound. A crack. It’s satisfying and gratifying.

The 699 irons are winners!!

The Finish

When it comes to purchasing new golf clubs I would recommend any of my audience to consider SUB 70 Golf. Much like their vision is you have a golf company that offers high-quality equipment without forcing golfers to mortgage their house or help pay for endorsement deals.

The components used in the assembly of golf equipment from SUB 70 Golf are top-notch. Shafts from Project X and KBS are featured. Meanwhile, Tour Velvet 360 from Golf Pride are the stock grips. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Tour Velvet. I don’t hate them but they aren’t my favorite either. Consequently, I changed them.

The Pro Fairway Wood was an interesting test. It went from impressing out of the gates to forcing me to lose confidence in it. Ultimately, however, it won me over in a big-time way. For added incentive, you look at the price tag attached to them. The Pro Fairway costs $149 USD. Significantly less than similar technology form other manufacturers in 2019.

The 699 irons. Extremely impressive during the testing process. Long, extremely forgiving and irons that do what you tell them to. They simply go! They were an iron that made me feel younger than my current age in that they gave me another 10 yards. It was nice hitting a 9-iron 150 yards again. These irons are a tremendous value as a set of 5-PW will cost $426 USD. You get a lot of iron technology at a fraction of the cost of similar golf clubs from the “Goliaths”.

There is no doubt in my mind that I’d game a full set of 699 irons tomorrow. Yes, they are that good. The Pro Fairway, quite frankly is more of the same. Based on this small sampling, I wouldn’t hesitate to put any clubs from the SUB 70 stable into my bag.

For more information on the Pro Fairway Wood, the 699 irons or other equipment from SUB 70 Golf please visit the SUB 70 Golf website.

Until The Next Tee!!

#SeeUOnTheNextTee #FightAndGrind