“First Impressions” Review – Cobra Golf KING F9 SPEEDBACK Irons

When it comes to irons that impress some take a little longer than others. Meanwhile, there are some products that make such a tremendous first impression that you just know when you have a special piece of golf equipment in your hands. The new Cobra Golf KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons are one such example.

Having put the KING F8 ONE Length irons through their paces during a somewhat lengthy testing period in 2018  I made the final conclusion that they were the most fun I had swinging a set of irons (REVIEW HERE).

The thing about movies when they bring out a sequel is that there’s always the concern that the sequel doesn’t quite make the grade. I mean sure, the movie had its moments of comedy but it’s not the same. Look at Caddyshack vs Caddyshack 2 (has anyone watched the sequel?) When it comes to Cobra golf this hasn’t been quite the issue. When they first released ONE Length iron (2017’s F7) it was a decent enough offering in my eyes. The ONE Length concept model made sense to me and they were easy irons to swing and for the short time and limited experience with them, I walked away thinking that they would help a ton of golfers willing to give them a chance. The sequel in 2018 was fantastic but now in 2019 golfers see the third iteration. The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons.

***If you haven’t seen the most recent review prior to this, I’ve changed the format up just a little bit. All of the technical information is now “The Pre-Shot Routine”. “The Transition” is how I break down the performance while “The Finish” is my final conclusion.

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The Pre-Shot Routine

When it comes to Cobra Golf I have said for several years that Cobra Golf is one of the biggest “movers and shakers” in the golf industry. Cobra Golf is always finding a way to be innovative. It’s one of the things that I admire about Cobra Golf and mentioned this fact to Tom Olsavsky during my time spent with him at the 2019 PGA Show Demo Day.  With that thought comes a question. How? “How do they (Cobra Golf) produce products that seemingly are better year after year?”. The answer is strenuous R&D efforts, brainstorming, and model development long before consumers and in some cases TOUR player’s see them.

When it came to the design of the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons innovation and R&D were definitely integral components to the development of this iron set. Before we delve too deep into the irons let’s look at their moniker. “SPEEDBACK Technology”. In designing this iron set Cobra Golf sought out a way to make these irons “long, stable and accurate”. This was achieved by placing the CG (Center of Gravity) low while creating a design with high MOI.

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By adding a “steel belt” that is wrapped around the rear perimeter of the head the weight was set low and back. The end game here is to maximize distance through more carry and better launch conditions. When it came to increasing the MOI (stability or resistance to twisting) Cobra Golf R&D utilized the addition of Tungsten (33-grams between the heel and toe) of the long and mid irons (4-7).  Like its predecessor, the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons feature the PWRSHELL face. The face features variable thickness which makes the size of the sweet spot just a little bit larger (E9 Variable Thickness). The forged PWRSHELL design “features a deep undercut sole with a 1.2 mm internal Speed Channel that absorbs and returns more energy” resulting in higher ball speeds thus equating to longer distance.

Like the previous years, Cobra Golf is incorporating Cobra Connect into the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons. It’s a great way to track your stats and performance. The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons come in two versions. Cobra Golf offers the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons in both a Variable length and ONE Length variant (all irons in the set are a 7-iron length). Cobra Golf didn’t skimp on the golf consumer on their stock shafts with these irons. The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons come with either KBS Tour shafts (steel) or in the case of graphite, the Fujikura ATMOS 6 ONE Length shafts are featured. The grips are Cobra Lamkin Crossline grips.

 

The Transition

(Conditions at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge while swinging Cobra Golf products was sunny, breezy with a crosswind right to left. Later in the day with the temperature was about 64*F/18*C)

Aesthetics – When the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons are sitting in the golf bag it’s hard not to notice the carbon composite in the cavity immediately. It looks sleek and it was something done on the previous iteration. There is a slight difference between the Variable Length and the ONE Length in this area. The paint scheme. The Variable Length irons say “SPEEDBACK” in red whereas the ONE Length have it in blue and red. When compared to the F8 from 2018 I think the cavity view of these irons looks somewhat “boxy”. It just wasn’t blended in a way that I thought it could have been. Perhaps, it’s just a simple matter of the paint-filled areas where the tungsten is placed and advertised. They have a relatively “futuristic” look to them.

Flipping the club over into the address position you’ll see a relatively moderate topline. There are thinner toplines in this iron category (GI) but there are some others that make this look head look sleek and svelte when looking down at it. In the address position, for some reason, something bugged me. While there is some offset (as is the case with most GI irons) it wasn’t the offset that bugged me. There was something that I didn’t like with the cavity or something to that effect. Even as I write this review I still have a hard time expressing the right thought that I’m looking for. Unsettling maybe? That said, it’s not like the looks would sway me from not playing them.

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Looking at the club face I loved the milling on the face. Although, the milled face isn’t strictly for aesthetics. There’s a high level of functionality involved as the milled faces aid in creating precise lofts with a perfectly flat surface area to work with. The hosel lengths vary for moving weight around to get the best CG location. Groovy right? Oh, speaking of groovy. Even though you can’t see them, Cobra Golf designed these irons to have three different spin “groove cuts”. The long irons featured Milled V-Grooves (4-7), the 8-PW has Milled U-Grooves, while the GW-SW have Wedge Grooves.

Sound/Feel – I won’t waste any time here. These irons sound and felt great. Overall, they were the best sounding clubs acoustically speaking. They have a “crack” that I associate to them. That said, the feel isn’t harsh and that fact can be attributed to the multi-material construction of the badge (aluminum, TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and acrylic foam). Literature from Cobra golf says that these materials “promote a softer, more responsive feel” and they do just that. Strikes off of the massive sweet spot were distinct and crisp. Especially when it came to the long irons.

Performance – This is the facet of testing and reviews that golfers want to know about. Especially when dealing in a situation where the term of testing isn’t long by any stretch and limited to only so many swings. But these sticks PERFORM!

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The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons absolutely “killed it” on Demo Day. After I made my first swing with them I turned back to the bleachers at their demo area where my wife (Crystal) was sitting. I just shook my head. I knew with one swing that these irons were every bit as good as the F8 or dare I say… Better! That first strike was as crisp as any that I can recollect. The ball flight was long (7i) and it was “dead straight”. No sign of curvature whatsoever (bear in mind the wind direction). The next swing resulted in the same way… Two shots that were identical in every way. So I changed clubs. I selected a 5i and it was more of the same. I took 10 swings with the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons and knew that they were one of the best for me during the show. At the very least, I walked away knowing that the F9 SPEEDBACK irons were an improvement over the incumbent.

Flighting the ball wasn’t an issue when adjusting to my right a little and hitting into the “teeth of the wind” a little more. Drawing and cut shots. No problem there as well. Like I said, these irons “killed it”. They nearly stole the show in their Teezy Award category (37/40 points).

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The Finish

When Cobra Golf introduced the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons they already had a name to live up to. Not only was the previous generation “the most fun I’ve ever had swinging an iron (in my life)” but the really big brother (KING F9 SPEEDBACK driver) had already seen victories on professional TOUR’s worldwide (Lexi and Bryson).

Yes, there are better-looking irons in the category but looks aren’t everything. My issue was two minor things where one of which was something that I still can’t put a finger on to this day. When a golf club is this fun and easy to swing and you see immediate results it says a lot. These irons are geared towards 5-25 handicap golfers. Heck, if you’re Scratch or better why not? Rickie Fowler has KING F9 SPEEDBACK  4-iron in his bag. If it’s good enough for him… Why wouldn’t it be good for us?

If you’re looking for a 2019 iron set that you’ll get your golf consumers dollars worth for I highly recommend the Cobra Golf KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

 

Bridgestone’s New TOUR B XW-1 Wedges Deliver Buttery-Soft Feel and Enhanced Spin Greenside

One of the highlights at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show was the return of Covington, Georgia based Bridgestone Golf. The last time that they were in attendance showing the golfing world their new products was back in 2016. The company at the time was introducing their JGR range and to be honest… they were real “sleeper” products.

As we fast-forward the clock to the present we are seeing an elegant range of products from the folks at Bridgestone Golf. The Tour B JGR range is a perfect blend of elegance, precision and power and nowhere is this more evident than looking at the new TOUR B XW-1 wedges.

These wedges are gorgeous and I really enjoyed swinging them at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day. As aesthetically pleasing that they are… what impresses more is the feel of the golf ball as it comes off of the face. The marketing material says “buttery-soft” and that’s what they are. While I cannot comment on greenside performance I did apply swings ranging from half to full wedge shots. divots were crisp and I really liked the feel of the XW-1 wedges through impact.

One of the feature’s that I will elaborate on a little bit more is that the XW-1 wedges feature what Bridgestone Golf R&D refers to as “Biting Rail Milled’ grooves. These new “Biting Railed Milled” grooves generate more spin on approach and greenside shots.

What I can tell you was that I observed the new Bridgestone Golf e12 Soft drop and spin back at Demo Day when hit into a temporary green. If that was any indication these might be the spinniest wedges I’ve tried to date. The TOUR B XW-1 wedges are nominated for a Teezy Award in the “Top Wedge” Category of the 2019 PGA Show

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

New Biting Rail Milled Finish Grooves Optimize Spin and Control Greenside

 

(COVINGTON, GA) – Bridgestone Golf – the #1 ball-fitter in golf, revealed today its new TOUR B XW-1 collection of wedges, its softest and highest spinning wedges ever designed for better players. The XW-1 Wedges feature Bridgestone’s proprietary, new Biting Rail Milled grooves leading to more spin on approach and greenside recovery shots.  Premium forged from 1020 mild carbon steel, the XW-1 Wedges provide the ultimate in soft feel better players prefer.

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“Low-Mid handicappers are going to love the control and feel that our new TOUR B XW-1 Wedges deliver,” said Zack Kupperbusch, Golf Club Marketing Manager – Bridgestone Golf.  “The combination of the industry’s most premium forging and our new Biting Rail Milled grooves provide unparalleled softness and optimum spin on a variety of short shots.”

The new TOUR B XW-1 Wedge series is designed with three separate sole configurations, each intended to optimize the types of shots played with that particular club. The F (Flat) sole is found in the 50-degree gap wedge, and intended to optimize turf interaction on full or mid-range approach shots providing added stability at impact for a more penetrating ball flight. The M Sole, or the “Multi-Purpose Sole” characteristic of the 52, 54, 58 and 60-degree wedges, focuses on providing versatility for all the varying shots one would hit during a round.  From hooded bump-and-runs to open-flange flop shots, the M-Sole delivers maximum controllability. Finally, the A Sole, or the “Forgiving Sole” offers supreme forgiveness in the 56-degree wedge, whether you’re hitting an explosion shot to get out of a steep face bunker, or pin-hunting from the fairway.

The XW-1 wedges are available in right-hand only with a satin chrome finish and come stock with a Modus Tour 105 stiff shaft.  With retail availability beginning March 1, 2019, the street price will be $139.99 per club.  The TOUR B XW-1 wedges will be available through Bridgestone Golf’s proprietary equipment demo program, Test Drive, and all Club Champion retail locations.

For more information on Bridgestone Golf’s award-winning TOUR B family of golf balls and clubs, visit www.bridgestonegolf.com.

 

About Bridgestone Golf

Based in Covington, GA, Bridgestone Golf USA manufactures premium golf balls, clubs and accessories under the Bridgestone and Precept brands. The company started making golf balls in 1935 and today has more golf ball design patents than any other company. Beginning in 2006, Bridgestone revolutionized golf ball selection with its custom ball-fitting program, identifying a golfer’s ideal golf ball based on personal swing characteristics. Today, as the #1 Ball-Fitter in Golf, Bridgestone has conducted over 2.1 million fittings via a combination of live-fitting, online selection and its B-FIT App.  The consumer data gathered from ball-fitting continues to inspire Bridgestone’s innovative new golf ball designs, yielding industry-leading performance products for the entire range of players, from recreational golfers to the best in the world. Bridgestone Golf is proudly represented on international professional tours by icons such as Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Bryson DeChambeau and Lexi Thompson.  Bridgestone Golf USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Sports Co. Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo. More information:  bridgestonegolf.com.

Review – Cleveland Golf Launcher CBX Irons

Cleveland Golf. The brand that was founded in 1979 by Roger Cleveland and owned by Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd has long been known mostly for their innovations in designing game-changing wedges. The 588 was a stalwart in many golfers bags and to this day is one of the top-selling golf clubs in history. But Cleveland Golf has been about much more than just wedges. They’ve also been a leader in innovation as far as metalwoods go. Did you know that Cleveland Golf was the first golf manufacturer to introduce the industry to the world of 460 cc drivers? Or the first to be involved in the craze that was geometrically based design (The Hi-Bore in 2006)?

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The Huntington Beach, California-based company has developed it’s fair share of terrific iron designs too. Models like the CG 16 Tour, an entirely hybrid-based set the Hi-Bore irons, the Tour Action series of irons (TA5, TA7 etc), CG 1 Tour and of course the infamous (for perhaps the wrong reason) VAS 792 irons that incidentally Corey Pavin played to win a Major at Shinnecock Hills in 1995. From the prettiest of blades to the penultimate in game-improvement irons. For some time a few years ago it nearly looked like that Cleveland Golf was all but out of the equipment game except for the wedge market. Then something happened last fall. The company announced the release of new metalwoods (Launcher HB) and irons… the Cleveland Golf CBX. I was amazed to see this news and I was excited to get down to the PGA Show to see these irons in person.

When discussing the Launcher CBX irons the first thing that I need to point out is that these irons are designed to compete in the ultra-competitive game-improvement corridor of the industry. Even though these irons look so unassuming the Launcher CBX irons are loaded with innovation and technology. Highlights of the technology are…

  • Cup Face design. Between a thinner face and a periphery constructed of high strength steel golfers can achieve greater distance by virtue of a face that flexes at impact. Better Energy Transfer = More Distance.
  • Used initially in wedge design the Launcher CBX irons feature Tour Zip Grooves. The laser milling employed allows for more friction between the face and golf ball. The end result is control like you would have with your wedges. I’d be remiss in saying that the grooves also “debris away from the ball so you get consistent spin and control in the fairway, rough, or sand.”
  • The long irons feature confidence inspiring thicker top lines while the shorter irons have a thinner top line and more compact shape for golfers that don’t like a thick top line or a “clunky heavy look” on their scoring irons.
  • The “Dual V Sole” grind allows for more versatility from a variety of lies while also allowing golfers to cut through the rough easier. The reward for their efforts is better distance contact and better distance control.
  • “Feel Balancing Technology” was something that I first encountered during my testing of review of the RTX-3 wedges “microcavity in the hosel moves the center of gravity closer to the middle of the face, enhancing feel and distance control.With a sweet spot closer to your ideal hitting location you get more forgiveness in every iron”.
  • PW loft is 44*.
  • Available in steel (True Temper Dynamic Gold DST 98 gram) and graphite (Miyazaki C. Kua). 
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A Progressive look. Photo Credit; Cleveland Golf

 

One of my first stops at the PGA Show Demo Day was in fact the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO location. The weather was overcast and there was at one point a brief light rain.

Looks – Not to keep going on about the aesthetics but these are an iron that look nearly “Plain Jane” which isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, for my personal taste I’d rather see an iron clean and bare as opposed to any unnecessary graphics. As I pulled out the 4 iron and 8 iron I compared them side by side and while there was a noticeable difference between the profiles of both the “larger” 4 iron never struck me as being obtrusive or shovel-like. If anything it would instill confidence in my “mind’s eye”. As I flipped over the clubs to examine the soles the “V Sole” grind reminded of the RTX-3 that I had the opportunity to review long-term. Ultimately, that wedge became my gamer and to this day because of the V Sole I have the confidence to play the 52* from anywhere… including flops if I open it up setting it right flat. The sole comes in handy as I explain the performance.

Performance/Feel – Okay I’m not going to mince words. The performance of these Launcher CBX irons are fantastic. Have you ever had the feeling that you were playing an iron that was confused with its genetic make-up? This was the case for the Launcher CBX irons. It’s very much a game-improvement iron but it’s like it thinks it’s a players club. From the inspiring looks at address to the feel at impact. This is a golf club that easily launches the golf ball into the air (living up to the moniker) and as you make impact you really have a strong sense of knowing where the golf club is. What’s more? The feedback is great… well struck golf shots allow you to feel those shots. The sensation is crisp yet soft. There is a true sense of “heat” off of the face and the Cup Face is something that I feel truly works. Of course, I’d love to be on a launch monitor at the show but based on my organic vibes and roots I knew the club (8 iron) was landing some 160 yards away… into the wind. Yes the lofts are bumped but much can be said of the technology that’s packed into the Launcher CBX irons. Shots were repeatable with repeatable high(ish) draws being the “norm”. However, shaping shots was easy as pie. The longer irons produced a more aggressive, penetrating ballflight. Again, elevating the ball easy.

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Specialty shots like a punch or “stinger” was a snap but the versatility of the V Sole was very much a winning technology here. Have you ever been in a situation where a 47*-58* lofted club was just too much loft to escape trouble? So instead you need to go to a 6 or 7 iron to escape with a rescue shot (stroke saver”)? The V Sole allows the shot by virtue of its versatility. Huge bonus marks here!!!

Forgiveness – Forgiveness in my opinion is more important than distance. Golf is not about that perfect shot that we pulled off. It’s about how good our misses were. I was really “on” with the CBX Launcher irons in my hands and maybe that was because of the confidence inspiring look. However, I happen to be good enough (at times bad enough) to purposely hit shots off of the toe. Any shots that were struck towards the toe were punished from a distance aspect (as they ought to be). However, misses didn’t flail weakly out to the right. Instead they were straight and never wandered off of their intended line. If you’re going to miss… miss straight.

Conclusion –  The Cleveland Golf Launcher CBX irons are a fantastic golf club that very much deserves to live up to the Cleveland Golf branding that they bare. Not flashy… and that’s alright by me. These are an unassuming that would be dangerous in the hands of a golfer that an easy single digit to something in the 20 range. High performing, forgiveness with tremendous versatility. A lot of golf club with a very reasonable price tag ($700 USD Steel)

***Coupled with the Launcher HB driver, fairway wood, hybrid and CBX wedges Cleveland Golf won the Teezy Award for ‘Most Forgiving Product Range” at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show. A point that I made known to Communications Manager Noelle Zavaleta on the show floor Wednesday.

Until The Next Tee!!

REVIEW – Aftershokz Trekz Air

This past January I came out of Orlando with an idea to do a “sort of” awards presentation based on my findings of various products at the show. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do it however. Nonetheless, The Teezy Awards were born and much to my surprise and delight they’ve been well-received.

Emerging the victor in the ‘Top Accessory” category was none other than AfterShokz (Trekz Air). The question is… What is Aftershokz and what makes them so special? Well, in case you aren’t familiar with the brand Aftershokz here is a little bit of a timeline that features some of their accomplishments and who they are.

Aftershokz was founded in 2011 and opened their headquarters in East Syracuse, NY. In 2012, the brand made their official launch at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The brand started initially with wired headphones and later in 2012 they won the “Consumer Electronics category in the 2012 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards, a recognition earned for the company’s potential to widely impact the CE industry and make a difference in people’s lives”. By the time 2013 came around Aftershokz had already introduced the first Bone Conduction Technology headphones at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show which also featured their trademarked Premium Pitch Technology. In November of 2014, “the world learns that AfterShokz bone conduction technology plays a key role in the prototype product Microsoft has been designing as part of their Cities Unlocked project, which aims to make the world’s landscape more accessible to persons with blindness”. In 2015, building on their previous successes and advancements an Indiegogo campaign was started to fund a new project of theirs. That project was Trekz Titanium which ultimately brings us to this review.

 

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Bone Conduction Technology… it sounds fancy and scientific but what is it? In layman’s terms have you ever watched any military films or documentaries where the soldiers are listening and talking through headsets? Have you noticed that their ears were never encroached upon? That’s because, they were using Bone Conduction Technology. Essentially, sound is transmitted as soundwaves or vibrations. The soundwaves or vibrations are picked up by the inner ear through the bones of the skull. Because of this fact bone conduction transmission can be used with individuals with normal or impaired hearing.

Leading up to the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show I was in contact with Jayme Schwartz who handles the PR for AfterShokz. Prior to the show, I shared a press release from them and arranged a meeting. On the floor of the Orlando County Convention Center I met with Mary Garlatti who took the time to show me their two models of headphones. The Trekz Titanium and the Trekz Air. Initially, my main purpose for visiting the booth was primarily just to see what these headphones using Bone Conduction Technology sounded like. As they were placed on my head and music was turned on I was immediately impressed by the tone and all-around sound of these headphones. For those that don’t know, I love music am a musician from a very musically talented family and I’m a real stickler food good sound. These had the sound while allowing me to hear everything around me. Without fully understanding how full of features these headphones were I felt that I had the winner of “Top Accessory” for my Teezy Awards. At any rate, a long-term testing and review was arranged and waiting for me when I got home from Florida was a pair of Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones.

The AfterShokz Trekz Air headphones are completely wireless and Bluetooth enabled. Some of the features of the Trekz Air headphones include…

  • 20% lighter than Trekz Titanium
  • Complete wraparound titanium design provides a flexible fit for unnoticeable all-day comfort and stability
  • OpenFit™ design ensures maximum situational awareness and comfort during long-term wear
  • PremiumPitch+™ guarantees a premium audio experience, including wide dynamic range and rich bass
  • LeakSlayer™ technology significantly reduces natural sound leakage

Throughout my testing of these Trekz Air  headphones from AfterShokz I’ve used them in every possible scenario. Indoor range sessions, on the golf course while playing, at the gym during my workouts (and tanning), out for long walks with my pup and last but not least while driving. In fact, there is only one place that comes to mind where I haven’t tried them where I would and that’s on an airplane.

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The headphones themselves come in a very neat package. Inside of the packaging you will find everything that you need to make the Trekz Air headphones work. Inside is an easy to understand instruction manual, a black pouch (rubberized), a USB charging cable and last but not least a tiny case that houses to earplugs. When it’s safe to cut out all of the ambient noise in the background stick in the earplugs which in turn makes Trekz Air headphones “nearly noise-cancelling”.

To say that I’m impressed with the Trekz Air headphones is a huge understatement. There are noticeable advantages that these headphones have over earbuds or headphones f other designs. The first is pure practicality. Unlike earbuds, the Trekz Air don’t fall out of your ears. It’s a chronic problem that I have with earbuds. Secondly, because of their open frame construction the impact of the Trekz Air headphones from a safety standpoint is staggering. An example of this was my very first use. I was walking my dog at night and it was a night where there was a fog lingering. I was walking down the one street (on the sidewalk) and there are literally no street lights present. As we were about to leave that street I heard a car approach from behind. The car didn’t have any headlights on and as I stopped Muskoka he pulled in right in front of us. Had I been wearing earbuds… one of us likely gets hit. The driver got out of his vehicle and apologized for not seeing us. These headphones are safe… period!! In case you like to listen to music on the golf course but don’t want to have a Bluetooth speaker that disturbs others these headphones are perfect. You can both hear the music and continue conversations with your playing partners with Trekz Air.

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The author wearing his Trekz Air headphones during an indoors practice session.

Because the Trekz Air headphones feature a wraparound design… the headphones are always secured onto your head. Throughout the course of the golf swing the Trekz Air headphones do not become dislodged from your person. These headphones are simply there just for the ride so swing away. Or in the case of working out not only is there no wire hanging there but again the Trekz Air remain in place. Whether you’re doing abdominal crunches, rowing, spinning or any sort of lifting the Trekz Air do not fall off. Is there a little slippage where you might have to readjust a little bit? Yes, after all they aren’t duct-taped onto you. And they are light… to the point where you don’t realize that you’re wearing them.

I’ve worn the Trekz Air in a number of climate scenarios. I’ve worn them in a light rain, snow flurries and of course the gym and that’s a place that could simulate a jungle with my perspiration. Because the Trekz Air features an IP55 certification it’s sweat and dust repellent. This doesn’t mean that you could wear them during a monsoon. I’m not suggesting that you can’t. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t. That said, the repellent qualities certainly live up to their billing.

 

The Trekz Air headphones have multi-point pairing. In fact, up to 5 devices can be paired at one time. As it stands I’m currently running my cell phone and laptop as paired devices with my Trekz Air headphones. You can be totally hands-free using Trekz Air. For answering calls you click the Multi-Function Button once. If you’re listening to music or a movie and you want to change the Equalizer setting you can do that as well by simply holding down the +/- volume buttons at the same time for 3 seconds and presto… the sound has been changed. Speaking of the sound. The trademarked PremiumPitch+ sounds great. The tones are rich, crisp and pure. I found that the bass was even more impressive when the earplugs were in.

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I love the “Audrey says” voice prompts which only brings out more of the user-friendly qualities of these headphones. In the past I’ve reviewed technological pieces that boasted a certain battery life which would later be heavily debunked. This is NOT the case with Trekz Air. AfterShokz says that you get 6 hours of continuous music and calls on a single charge. It delivers that 6 hours!!!

In closing, I feel like a genius for giving the AfterShokz Trekz Air the nod for the Teezy Award. I honestly, had no clue how good they truly were but I do now. The Trekz Air headphones retail for $179.95 USD. Before I drop money on a pair of Beats By Dre (or similar) I would save the money and purchase these Trekz Air. Safety, performance, sound and practicality that you can count on. The Trekz Air headphones are offered in three colors. Slate Grey, Forest Green and Midnight Blue. For more information please visit www.aftershokz.com

#ShokzSquad

Until The Next Tee!!

FIRST LOOK – New Level Golf Equipment

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show I took the opportunity to look up exhibitors that were going to be present at the show. As I went through the list of companies that I wanted to make plans to visit one newcomer to the industry stood out to me. In fact, it was a picture of one of their irons that caught my attention. That company was New Level Golf Equipment.

New Level Golf Equipment is the brainchild of CEO and Founder Eric Burch. For those out there that have never heard of the brand New Level Golf Equipment you will. First, let me tell you about the man behind the brand. The brand is based in Mr. Burch brings with him a wealth of experience. This experience includes product design since 2004 and fitting and building for 22 years.

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The entire range of New Level Golf Equipment features forged clubheads throughout the range. In fact, there are 3 models of irons and one model of wedges that make up the current line-up. These models are called the 610 Forged, 902 Forged and the 1031 Forged irons. Rounding out the line are the wedges which are called the M-Type Forged. In case you were curious about the model numbers and wondered what they meant they don’t have anything to do with the type of steel used. In fact, they are significant dates. For example, the 902 Forged were named after his late grandmother’s birth date, the 1031 Forged named after his mother’s birth date and lastly the 601 forged that were named in honor of his wife’s birthday.

I’ve always admired irons like those of the design of the New Level creations. Clean heads, thinner top lines (even in the Game Improvement 1031 Forged irons), heads that aren’t overwhelming in size and void of any flashy graphics or badges (I love the simple NL incorporated into the design. I took advantage of the Demo Day held at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge where New Level was on hand at the International Clubmaker’s Guild booth.

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Pictured are the 1031 Forged. (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com)

When I arrived at the booth I met Eric (Burch) and renewed acquaintances that we first made over social media (Twitter @golfnewlevel). After talking a little bit about his products I had a more serious look at them. I knew that these irons and wedges were going to look real nice in the Florida sun at Demo Day. After all it was the pictures that drew me to first contacting him. Little did I realize how stunning they were. Honestly the pictures truly don’t capture how beautiful they were. After gawking at the clubs in the bag for a while which all feature degrees of CNC-milling in the cavity it was time to start swinging the full range of New Level golf Equipment. So how did these exquisite offerings from New Level Golf Equipment perform?

*** Before I continue I should add that KBS Shafts are a partner of New Level Golf Equipment. Any irons purchased online can be customized with the full range of KBS products with no upcharge.

M-Type Forged Wedges – Upon looking at the M-Type Forged wedges you know that you have a serious piece of work in your midst. The CNC milling is fine and elegant. I particularly love the etching on the back side of the flange. The “M Grind” on the sole is versatile as it can handle nearly every type of lie around the green and of course tight fairway lies like there were at OCN. Forged from 1020 Carbon Steel the M-Type wedges come in lofts ranging from 50* thru 60* with bounce angles ranging from 7* in the 50* to 14* in the 60* wedge. The model that I chose to swing was the 58*/12* and shafted with a KBS HI-Rev 2.0. I opted to go with this model as it matches closely to what I play. In comparison to my Vokey SM4 there was actually no comparison. Between the feel and turf interaction alone the M-Type was superior. Not even close. I loved the shape of the head… yes it is traditional however it does have a slightly larger profile than my SM4. I would suggest that helps from a forgiveness standpoint as it allows for a little more mass in the design and it also can inspire a little more confidence. A terrific wedge! The MSRP is $199 USD/club.

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The M-Type Forged wedge. Note the milling. (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com)

902 Forged Irons – Leading up to arriving at the New Level Golf hitting area this was the club that actually appealed to me the most. The 902 Forged irons are a game-improvement iron that features a thin top line (very appealing), an undercut cavity and minimal to moderate offset, while being packed into a smaller chassis. The muscle-cavity offers enhanced stability on off-center strikes. There is something interesting about the 902 Forged irons and that fact is that unlike other forged irons that are finished by hand these 902 Forged irons are finished via CNC Milling. I would swing a 6 iron from the 902 Forged and it was shafted with a KBS Tour 120 shaft in a stiff flex. The ball set up great at address and you really didn’t think that you were looking down at a game-improvement iron which speaks volumes of the design. My ball-striking with the 902 Forged was off for some reason. That said results weren’t overly bad and it does speak a lot for the forgiveness of the design. I struggled… period. But the misses were straight and not off-line by a whole lot. Some of my better passes were rewarded with a trajectory that launched easy and tracked downrange in a tight draw. The feel was buttery soft and was easily comparable to other premium forgings in the business. If it were me having a set of these I would lean towards placing tungsten powder inside of the head to make it heavier. This is a personal choice and not a knock on the designThe loft of the PW in this set is 45*. Each club has a MSRP of $199/club.

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The 902 Forged. Clean… no badges, milled cavity and very little paintfill (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com)

610 Forged – Alright, so if my swing was off with the GI 902 Forged irons that must mean that I must have really off with the blade-like 610 Forged right? Wrong! Out of the line-up the 610 Forged has the longest blade length in the line-up. This means more forgiveness across the entire face. The cavity has feature a “tri-tiered design” which helps to optimize the weight distribution throughout the head. Shafted with a KBS Tour 90 shaft in Stiff flex I would make swings with a 6-iron. My eye loved this club at address and that was reflected in the passes that I made. My swings were confident and the strikes crisp. While the ball was easy to get airborne (especially in a blade design) the ballflight flattened out and carried nicely. I was able to hit draws and fades at will and the feel was as good as I’ve ever experienced. Especially considering other high-end forgings on the market (Vega). The lofts are a little bit stronger than the 902 Forged as the PW features a loft of 44*. This is a head for the discriminating golfer who wants forgiveness. Wow! Each club has a MSRP of $199/club.

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The “Tri-Tiered” Cavity design of the 610 Forged. Easier to swing than you might think. (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com)

1031 Forged (Teezy Award Nominee)- If I were to compare each head to a sports car where I would say that the 610 Forged is a Ferrari, the 902 Forged a Porsche than the 1031 Forged has to be “American Muscle”. A Corvette (my favourite sports car). The 1031 is forged from 1020 Carbon Steel and this head packs a lot of horsepower into a head that is mid-sized. There is a slightly thicker sole than the 902 Forged and that of course adds mass to the head. Where the 902 Forged is 270 grams for a 7 iron and the 610 is 268 grams the 1031 Forged weighs only 268 grams. This actually messed with my head a little bit because I thought that the 902 Forged was a little light if you recollect. Now the difference might be the fact that the shaft in this head was a KBS Tour C-Taper 120 in Stiff flex. All that I know was that getting the ball started with this iron was easy! The 1031 Forged does have the lowest center of gravity of any club in the New Level line-up and it did translate in ease of launch and offers terrific playability. The ballflight was high and long and watching the ball fly down range was fun. I was able to take aim at my target and hit my spot at will. Shot-shaping was easier than some might think with a head of this type but draws and fades were easy to come by. However, when you’re hitting it straight that’s what matters to the average golfer. What was really surprising was the topline which was thin and the ball set up so well in the address position. The thinness of the topline is also a design feature that helps towards moving the mass low and center which brings me to the cavity. The cavity is hidden well  and isn’t distracting in the address position. There’s a reason why this iron is a “Teezy Award Nominee” and that’s because it had everything to offer.. If I were to game a set of New Level Golf Equipment irons these without a doubt would be the ones. The loft of the PW is 44* and each club costs $209/club.

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The 1031 Forged would be my pick and it has everything needed to be nominated for a Teezy Award. (Photo Credit: newlevelgolf.com

When considering a new set of irons consider these offerings from a terrific independent company. The New Level Golf Equipment line is starting to get stocked in all sorts of custom clubmaking shops in North America and Europe. These irons are premium, they perform and are works of art. New Level Golf has a model of iron for every skill level. It’s going to be fun to watch New Level Golf Equipment grow.

Until The Next Tee!!