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

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

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

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

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

Performance: 48%

Price point: 52%

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

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

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

 

The Winners…

 

Top Driver

top driver

 

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

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

 

Top Fairway Metal

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

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

 

Top Hybrid

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

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

 

Top Forged Irons

top forged

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

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

 

Top Cast Irons (Includes Hollow-Body Construction)

top cast

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

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

 

Top Wedge

topwedge

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

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

 

Top Putter

top putter

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

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

Hidden Gem Award

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

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

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

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

 

Innovation Award

innoaward

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

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

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

inno2

Until The Next Tee!!

#SeeuOnTheNextTee #FightAndGrind

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I wish I would have had a chance to swing these newly introduced PING G410 irons at the 2019 PGA Show. Quite honestly, I had no idea that they were present until Friday during my appointment with Pete Samuels who is the Head of Marketing for PING.

When Mr. Samuels showed me these irons I had remorse in the way that I might have really missed out on swinging a Teezy Award nominee and potential winner. Perhaps it was negligence on my behalf as I was so focused on covering the PING G410 metalwoods that I totally lost track.

g410iron

As Mr. Samuels pointed out a few items of interest to me I noticed a couple of things in particular about the design of the G410 irons. PING developed these irons to help golfers play better golf. These are very aesthetically pleasing in the address position because of the way that their top-line sits. The top-line of the G410 irons is not bulky and seems to just blend in to the rest of the head. The offset isn’t very pronounced and according to PIG it’s 10% less than its predecessor (G400). The blade-length of the head is very compact as well which is a feat considering that this is a Game-Improvement model. Overall, it was tough for me to look at the G410 as a Game-Improvement iron.

For more details please see the press release below about these exciting irons from PING Golf.

Until The Next Tee!!

#SeeUOnTheNextTee #FightAndGrind

 

PHOENIX (January 21, 2019): Ensuring the distance demands of today’s golfer while advancing PING’s reputation for making the most-forgiving irons available, PING introduced the G410 iron today, a high-performance game-improvement model in a compact design.

The multi-material iron is available for pre-order and custom fitting at authorized PING golf shops around the world beginning today.

“In the G410 iron, our engineers challenged the idea that you can’t make an iron smaller and increase the forgiveness at the same time,” said John K. Solheim, PING President. “They’ve developed a clean, highly appealing design with less offset and a significantly higher MOI when compared to the G400 iron. It’s the most forgiving iron of its size. It will appeal to a very wide range of golfers as it produces faster ball speeds, maximum forgiveness and amazing feel with a pleasing appearance — all the attributes they need to hit their iron shots higher, farther and straighter.”

Re-shaping Distance and Forgiveness
PING’s engineering team created a face and cavity structure in the G410 iron that delivers faster ball speeds and saves weight to expand the perimeter weighting. The additional weight savings are concentrated in the toe and hosel to achieve an 8% increase in the moment of inertia (MOI) for more forgiveness and consistency.

The more flexible, free-moving face amplifies ball speeds for greater distance and higher max height, allowing golfers to hit less club into the green with the control and precision to hold the putting surface. This is achieved by de-coupling the weighting structure from the face to create a larger flexing zone, which performs like a hinge to launch the ball faster and higher with consistency and predictability. The next generation of COR-Eye technology powers the performance in conjunction with the cascading sole design and deep top-rail undercut.

g410iron2

“The G410 iron represents several exciting iron design advancements for us,” said Solheim. “Our innovations like COR-Eye technology have allowed us to re-imagine the way we engineer an iron. By increasing ball speed as much as we have in recent models, our irons launch much easier and higher than ever. As a result, we can experiment with the size and shape of the head while improving the MOI properties so critical to consistent performance.”

High Marks for Look, Feel and Sound

The clean, refined shape of the G410 iron results from a slightly shorter blade length and 10% less offset compared to the G400 iron, creating an inspiring blade-iron-style look with broad appeal. Its resilient hydropearl 2.0 finish provides an attractive appearance and contributes to smooth turf interaction. The full-cavity, co-molded aluminum and elastomer badge delivers a powerful, reassuring feel and sound.

“We all know the first impression of any club design is vitally important. It starts with the appearance at address and continues when the golfer solidly strikes that first shot,” said Solheim. “We’re seeing very positive results from our own data and hearing outstanding feedback from others about every aspect of the design and performance of the G410 iron.”

High-spin wedges

Using the same geometry as the Glide 2.0 wedge series, the grooves on the G410 PW, UW, SW and LW are precision machined with a sharper edge radius, increasing interaction with the cover of the ball at impact and creating more friction for improved spin and trajectory control.

“The fully machined grooves on all four wedges are an example of the added detail we’ve engineered into the G410 irons,” said Solheim. “For players who want a consistent look and feel throughout their set, they can now enjoy much higher spin and control in their scoring clubs along with all the other performance benefits of the iron’s technology.”
G410 Iron Specifications

  • Multi-material construction: Hyper 17-4 stainless steel head, tungsten toe/hosel weights, aluminum/elastomer badge, hydropearl 2.0 finish

  • Available 4-9, PW, UW, SW, LW in 10 color codes (lie angle). Black is standard.

  • Stock grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 in six sizes (Blue -1/16″, Red -1/32″, Aqua -1/64″, White Std., Gold +1/32″, Orange +1/16″)

  • Stock shaft options: PING AWT 2.0 (R, S, X), Alta CB Red (counter-balanced) powered by AWT (SR, R, S)

  • Aftermarket shaft options (no upcharge): True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 (R300, S300), True Temper Dynamic Gold (S300, X100), True Temper Dynamic Gold 120 (S300, X100), Project X LZ (5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5), True Temper XP95 (R300, S300), Nippon Pro Modus Tour 105 (S, X), KBS Tour (R, S, X)

  • U.S. MSRP: $135 per iron w/steel shaft (stock or aftermarket); $150 per iron w/stock graphite shaft

As the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show inches ever so closer to I do have some concerns about the industry and the direction that it’s heading towards.

Going back to October, golf manufacturers started to reveal their respective product cycles for 2019. With all of these introductions being made golfers clamber at all of the new goodies that will be filling up racks in Pro Shops and golf retailers worldwide. So shiny, sexy and expensive.

m56

In general, operating and processing costs have been exponentially on the rise over the last several years. This is especially true in Canada where currency rates and taxes drive the cost of literally everything upwards (not just golf products). This is something that I touched on in my article (Get Growing) as it pertained to golf courses themselves. Now factor in global politics with tariffs and so on. Suddenly, if products are made overseas (where most are produced) on the cheap in China, Vietnam, Malaysia etc the costs to ship them (fuel), port charges, delivery and so on increases. It’s a classic “trickle-down”. Please bear in mind that I never went to school for business (or journalism for that matter).

So the overall cost of producing golf goods has to rise. It’s “cause and effect”. But does it really have to be the way that it’s gotten? As new equipment has been released I’ve been paying extra attention to the M.A.P or M.S.R.P. with each release. Of interest, was the release yesterday of TaylorMade Golf’s new M5 and M6 metalwoods. The M5 driver is going to retail for $699.99 CAD while the M6 is a little less $599.99. However, what I find truly eye opening is the cost of their fairway metals. The M5 is $499.99 CAD while M6 is going to be $399.99 CAD. I’m not sure what these figures are going to be in USD but I’m guessing about a hundred less. You know that the Callaway Golf Epic Flash, PING and so on are likely going to be the same thing. I’d be pleasantly surprised if the weren’t.

Remember my piece Apex Predators? TaylorMade and Callaway Golf are who I was talking about.

So it has to be that way right? Wrong! Tour Edge Golf also had a fairway wood that yielded plenty of sticker shot. The Original Tour Edge Exotics 3 wood. It had a cult following. Anyways, 2019 has proved something. The exorbitant cost of producing and selling golf products doesn’t need to involve selling organs on the black market. Tour Edge Golf has done this with their EXS range. I’m basing my evaluation on a small sample size based on press releases and my testing of the EXS hybrid (Hybrid Review). You have golf clubs with premium materials, amazing shafts and a ton of technology for a fraction of the prices above. Their driver is $299.99 USD or what I assume will be around $399.99 CAD.

exsdriverTop

So with this I have a question that I’d like to pose. If one company can produce premium equipment and sell said equipment for a fraction of the cost of the others… why can’t they? Oh I may already have that answer. Someone has to pay the player’s contracts. At the end of the day who is paying the contracts? The consumers that purchase the hard goods.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee