By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
When Jonas Blixt won The Greenbrier Classic earlier this year, he became the first Cobra Golf staffer to win a TOUR event using the company's new Tour Trusty wedge.
Now the wedge the two-time PGA TOUR winner used is officially coming to retail on Oct. 1.
Tour Trusty comes in a multitude of different loft and bounce options -- 11, to be exact, starting at 48 degrees and going to 64 degrees in even-numbered increments -- and two finishes (tour matte satin and tour matte black).
“Our Research & Development team worked tirelessly with our Tour athletes like Rickie Fowler, Ian Poulter, Lexi Thompson and Jonas Blixt to create the Tour Trusty wedge,” said Tom Preece, Cobra's vice president of research and development. “With their input and our research and technology, we have developed a true performance wedge that will perform in the toughest conditions.”
Cast from 8620 Carbon Steel, the wedge features a new Tour notch K-Grind that provides heel and toe relief for added versatility around the green, and a compact tour-style head without offset.
To give the wedge extra bite, Cobra ramped up the surface roughness on the face and widened the grooves. When compared to Trusty Rusty, Cobra's previous wedge model, Tour Trusty has double the surface roughness and grooves that are 15 percent larger than its predecessor.
If the name Tour Trusty sounds familiar, it's because Cobra actually released a limited-edition version of the tour-inspired wedge back in May. Designed by Rickie Fowler, the wedge was limited to 1,600 and came in only one loft (55 degrees) and bounce (12 degrees) combination.
The Tour Trusty wedge will be available Oct. 1 in 11 loft and bounce combinations -- 48/8, 50/8, 52/8, 54/10, 56/12, 56/8, 58/8, 60/10, 60/6, 62/8, 64/8 -- for $119 per wedge.
Shaun Micheel celebrates after hitting his approach to two inches on the 72nd hole in 2003. You may be surprised to find where this 7-iron now resides. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The approach shot Shaun Micheel pulled off 10 years ago on the 72nd hole at Oak Hill Country Club, site of this week's PGA Championship, during the 2003 PGA will likely go down as one of the best in tournament history.
Nursing a one-shot lead over Chad Campbell, Micheel pulled a 7-iron from the bag and secured his first, and only, major championship title with a perfect approach shot from 174 yards that landed 15 yards short of the green in the rough and rolled to within 2 inches of the cup.
"It was an absolutely perfect, perfect number," Micheel said after his victory in 2003. "To hit the ball two inches from the hole, I knew it was pretty close. I had asked somebody how close it was and they weren't paying attention or didn't really care to tell me, which is fine with me. I saw it was only two inches; I figured I could make that one."
Considering Micheel has yet to win another PGA TOUR title or major championship, one would assume the Cleveland TA-7 7-iron he used to win the most important tournament of his life would be on display in a mahogany shadowbox in his office.
Micheel confirmed on Tuesday that while he still has the 7-iron in his house, it's not hanging on his wall or sitting in a place of honor in his golf room. The club is currently sitting in a "beat up" box in his golf/guitar room.
"I have [the 7-iron] in an old just beat up, unassuming box in my golf/guitar room," Micheel said. "It's back home. I've been asked for it several times, but if I had done this more than once, you might have been inclined to give it to somebody. But you never know; I'm going to hold on to that one."
Of course, Micheel isn't the first player to put a famous club in the corner. During the 2009 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Tiger Woods told a story about rummaging through his garage and finding the Scotty Cameron TeI3 putter he used to win the 1997 Masters in the corner collecting dust.
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM, Equipment Insider
Three weeks after TaylorMade debuted a prototype driver called SLDR on the PGA TOUR and European Tour and had 13 players immediately put it in play, the company officially announced on Monday that SLDR would be coming to retail Aug. 9.
According to TaylorMade, the driver is the longest in company history -- based on robot testing of 9.5 drivers in neutral setting at approximately 150 mph ball speed -- thanks in large part to a center of gravity that's lower and more forward to promote a more penetrating ball flight, low spin and increased ball speed.
“Without a doubt, this is the longest driver we have ever created,” said Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade's chief technical officer. “Our expertise at positioning the CG low and forward sets us apart from our competitors, and is vital to making SLDR the spectacular distance machine that it is.”
The moveable weight technology that was a staple of previous driver models — TaylorMade's R7, the company's first moveable weight driver, featured four small weight ports — was replaced by a 20-gram moveable weight that slides on a channel on the front of the sole and shifts the clubhead's CG horizontally, along a 21-point track system, towards the heel or toe to promote a draw of fade.
Aside from the new adjustable weight channel, SLDR produces six millimeters of movement, which is 50 percent more than TaylorMade's R1 driver. The increase gives the new driver a shot dispersion range of up to 30 yards.
The loft setting on SLDR can also be adjusted via TaylorMade's loft-sleeve technology that allows the driver to be positioned 12 different ways within a range of plus-or-minus 1.5 degrees. Increasing the loft on the driver closes the face, while decreasing the loft opens the face.
Unlike previous TaylorMade driver models that had white paint and crown graphics, SLDR features a more subdued look with a charcoal-grey crown color, traditional TaylorMade alignment aide near the face and an additional SLDR alignment aid towards the back of the crown.
When the driver debuted at the John Deere Classic, the prototype version didn't have a TaylorMade alignment aid on the crown.
While SLDR will be TaylorMade's fourth driver offering this year, it's arguably received more buzz than any of the other models in less than a month.
At the John Deere Classic, TaylorMade's Tour Truck ran out of SLDR heads the very first day they were released. The following week at The Open Championship, Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson and Luke Donald were among the notables who decided to put it in play at Muirfield.
With 15 SLDR drivers in play at the RBC Canadian Open, TaylorMade said it expects SLDR to become No.1 played driver this week at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
SLDR will be available Aug. 9 in four loft options (8, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees) with a Fujikura Speeder 57 shaft for $399. The Tour Preferred version, SLDR TP, will also be available Aug. 9 with a tour-caliber Fujikura Speeder Tour Spec 6.3 shaft for $499.
Click here to shop for TaylorMade Golf equipment
Titleist's Vokey WedgeWorks Hand Ground wedges will soon be available to the public. (Titleist)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
Most golfers will never have the opportunity to hop inside Titleist's tour truck and have their wedges worked on by master wedge craftsman Bob Vokey or Vokey Tour Rep Aaron Dill. To get inside the truck, you need a couple of things — namely a PGA TOUR card and some serious game.
Titleist has offered up custom wedge options for golfers through its Vokey WedgeWorks program over the past several years, but for the most part, the tour pro treatment -- custom grinds, unique wedge head shapes and leading edges geared for your swing -- was reserved for the best players in the world.
Beginning June 19 that will no longer be the case, after Titleist unveiled its new WedgeWorks Hand Ground on Tuesday -- a wedge program that will give golfers the opportunity to work with Vokey's Tour Department to create a one-of-a-kind custom design.
“I’m excited to make this tour-level experience available to the Vokey wedge enthusiast,” said Vokey.
“I’m bringing everything I’ve learned over the years working with the best players in the world to this project. Many of the little tweaks I like to do on the Tour Van are now available. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
The Hand Ground wedge comes in two loft options (58- or 60-degree) with Vokey's previously tour-only raw finish. Along with the custom finish, Vokey will give golfers a chance to pick from four sole grinds — M, V, E and T.
The M was Bob Vokey's first grind and features a crescent-shaped forward bounce surface and relieved wrap surface; the V grind features a narrower bounce surface than the M but with more bounce angle and less camber; the limited-edition E Grind features a narrow-to-medium sole with full bounce surface and straight relief along the trailing edge; and the T, named for two-time PGA TOUR winner Tom Pernice, Jr., features a much narrower forward bounce surface with minimal camber.
Of the four sole grinds offered, three of them (V, E and T) are only available through the Hand Ground program.
From there, golfers can choose from additional grind options, including a square toe, straighter or pre-worn leading edge, additional heel relief, thinner or beveled top line and a pro-groove sole that, according to Vokey, moves "the contact point on the sole slightly forward, allowing him to activate the bounce on short pitches."
The pro-groove, a subtle channel in the center of the sole, is a hand grind that a number of players are currently using on the PGA TOUR — including U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.
Vokey's Hand Wedge program will also offer five toe stamps — "Prototype 2013," "Hand Ground," "Spin Milled," "BVHG" or "Special Grind" — as well as an additional custom stamp with up to eight letters/numbers using 12 different paintfill colors in four different styles.
Golfers also have the option to get the club's loft stamped on the toe. The wedge can also be adjusted for length, loft and lie angle.
Weight porting on the back of the wedge (used to get an exact swingweight) and custom shaft options are also available. And don't forget custom grips, ferrules and Vokey shaft bands.
The grinder's initials are then stamped on the hosel of the wedge to give it a unique finishing touch. A "BV" hosel stamp means the work was done by Vokey himself.
Simply put, the Hand Ground program offers you every possible custom option you'd want in a wedge — with a couple more bells and whistles.
Orders for WedgeWorks Hand Ground wedges can be submitted to the Vokey Tour Department through Vokey.com beginning June 19. The price per Hand Ground wedge is $350.
Graeme McDowell won the RBC Heritage with a mixed set of irons. (Lecka/Getty Images)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM equipment insider
Using a mixed set of irons on the PGA TOUR is something that rarely registers an eyebrow raise on a week-to-week basis. Last week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, 68 players had at least one iron that was different from the rest of their current set, while 25 players had at least two different irons in the bag.
This week at the Wells Fargo Championship, Phil Mickelson was one of the notables in the field who used a mixed set with three Callaway RAZR X MB (4-6) irons and four Callaway X Forged 2013 (7-PW) irons.
And if you're looking for a recent mixed-set winner, look no further than Graeme McDowell, who won several weeks ago at the RBC Heritage with four different iron models (Cleveland 588 MT (3), Cleveland 588 TT (4), Srixon Z-TX II (5-9) and Cleveland Reg 588 Raw (PW)).
In recent years, players rarely mixed iron sets, choosing instead to drop long irons and incorporate hybrids. But with the return of utility irons like Titleist's 712U and Callaway's X Utility Prototype, hybrids are no longer the only long-iron alternative.
Cleveland Golf has seen a massive spike this season in mixed sets and utility iron use, thanks in large part to its 588 line. The 588 MT (Mid Trajectory) long irons, the company's game-improvement long irons, have become a bag staple for a number of players this year — along with the 588 TT (Tour Trajectory), which has a lower ball flight -- to the point that Cleveland found itself at the top of the utility iron category the last two weeks at the Zurich Classic and Wells Fargo Championship.
The craziest part of all? The 588 MT was never designed to be a utility iron. However, that didn't stop a number of players from replacing their current utility irons and hybrids with Cleveland's 588 MT, which has a hollow head design that allows weight to be distributed for a lower, deeper center of gravity.
Aside from McDowell, who used a 588 MT 3-iron and 588 TT 4-iron at the RBC Heritage, Keegan Bradley (Cleveland 588 MT 4-iron), Charlie Beljam (588 MT 2-, 3- and 4-iron) and Jerry Kelly (588 MT 3-iron) are also using mixed sets with at least one of 588 MT.
"I think players like them as a long-iron alternative because they're easy to hit and go forever," said Cleveland Golf PGA TOUR rep Rob Waters. "The additional length and the ability to work the ball are just a few of the reasons we've seen so many staffers put them in the bag."
For more information or to buy Cleveland's 588 MT or TT line, click here.
Hunter Mahan with one of his S56 irons late in 2012. (Redington/Getty Images)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The first four months of Hunter Mahan's 2013 season have resembled a roller coaster ride. The five-time PGA TOUR winner started off on a high note, finishing inside the top-20 in five of his first six events, including a runner-up finish at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
Since the Shell Houston Open, however, Mahan's struggled to find his game, missing the cut in Houston and at the Masters, while also posting an "MDF" at the RBC Heritage.
The lack of consistency forced Mahan to make a switch at the Wells Fargo Championship and shelve his PING Anser irons for a set of PING S56 irons.
The S56 irons were in the bag last season when he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play and Shell Houston Open.
Mahan had been struggling with his distance control over the past several weeks and felt a switch back to an iron he had success with last season could rectify the problem.
The Wells Fargo Championship could be the perfect place for Mahan to get back on track. In his last five starts at Quail Hollow Club, he's posted three top-20 finishes (his best a T12 in 2008).
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Carrying a handful of wedges in his right hand, Roger Cleveland, Callaway's Chief Club Designer, made his way down the range at Harbour Town Golf Links on Monday afternoon, stopping for a couple minutes along the way to chat with players and caddies about his latest creation -- a Callaway prototype wedge called "Mack Daddy 2."
|Roger Cleveland shows off the three different grinds of his Callaway Prototype wedge. (Jonathan Wall/PGATOUR.COM)
According to Cleveland, the wedge comes in two lofts (58 and 60 degrees) and three different grinds (S-grind, C-grind and U-grind). The "S-grind" (Standard grind) and U-grind have a bounce of 10 degrees, while the C-grind has a bounce of 14 degrees.
The wedge also features a textured face that has milling between the scorelines and, as Cleveland noted, grooves that are more aggressive but still conform to USGA groove regulations.
Colt Knost and defending RBC Heritage champion Carl Pettersson tested the prototype wedge on Monday and both requested 60-degree wedges with the U-grind.
While it's unclear if either player will put the wedge in play this week, the prototype is already in the bag of two former major winners. Cleveland confirmed Phil Mickelson started carrying a 60-degree U-grind several weeks ago, and Ernie Els used one last week at the Masters.
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
Looking to capitalize on the first major of the year, Cobra announced on Monday that it's going to release 1,800 Masters-edition AMP Cell drivers to select golf retailers on March 15. Each green driver will be marked with a '1 of 1,800' stamp on the sole for authenticity.
“We are aiming to be the most desirable brand in golf,” said Jose Miraflor, Director of Product Marketing, COBRA. “It’s one of the most exciting times of the golf season and this Limited Edition Driver builds off of that energy. With all of our game changing technology, like MyFly and SmartPad, we are bringing game enjoyment to golfers everywhere, the added desirability of a Limited Edition Driver for the first Major is exciting for our consumers.”
The AMP CELL limited edition – green driver (MAP $399) is available in right handed models with MyFly technology which allows the driver to be adjusted from 8.5-degrees to 11.5-degrees loft settings, including 9.5-degree and 10.5-degree draw settings. It is available in Stiff and Regular flexes and features a Diamana Blue Board Shaft (60g S and R, 55g L and 45.75-inch length).
Sticking with the Masters theme, the limited edition grip, headcover and wrench also match the head of the driver in "Season Opener Green."
Tim Clark used Titleist's new 913F fairway wood at the Sony Open in Hawaii. (Petersen/Getty Images)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Editor
Tim Clark kicked off the 2013 season with a strong showing at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Even though he finished three shots behind winner Russell Henley, the South African posted his second second-place finish in his last six events, dating back to the end of last season.
Clark, who fired a final-round 9-under 63, put Titleist’s new 913F fairway wood (15 degrees) and 712U prototype 4-iron in the bag the bag for the first time, as well as the new ProV1.
Kirk puts Callaway X Forged in the bag: Newly signed Callaway staffer Chris Kirk decided to switch things up for his first tournament of the season. Despite testing out the RAZR X Muscle Back irons during the off-season, Kirk opted to go with the X Forged irons at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Kirk, who usually prefers blades, noted that, “the sole of these irons is the main reason I’m playing them.” The switch paid off in a big way as Kirk finished T5 for the week with his new irons in the bag.
Sabbatini uses off the rack TaylorMade Ghost Spider S putter at Sony: Rory Sabbatini decided to make a last minute putter change on Thursday morning before his first round of 2013.
Instead of heading for TaylorMade’s Tour Van for another option, Sabbatini decided to pick up a Ghost Spider S from the Pro Shop at Waialae. The new putter helped Sabbatini shoot 5-under 65 on Friday to make the weekend, where he finished T59.
TaylorMade R1 impresses at Sony Open: Less than a week after Dustin Johnson became the first TaylorMade staffer to win with the new R1 driver, 21 staffers showed up at the Sony Open with TaylorMade’s latest driver in the bag.
Among the notables using the R1 for the first time this season at the Sony were Mike Weir, Greg Owen, Boo Weekley and Pat Perez.
Perez actually arrived in Honolulu with concerns about consistent misses to the right with his R1. But following a meeting with TaylorMade’s Tour staff, he realized his face angle was set open with a fade-biased setup.
After adjusting the shot shape weights to more of a draw bias and tuning the face angle sole plate to 2 degrees closed, Perez had his preferred ball flight. He finished the week T9 with the R1 in the bag and averaged 303.5 yards off the tee.
Callaway inks long drive champion Sadlowski: Callaway may want to consider lengthening its driving range. Just days after the company signed Nicolas Colsaerts — considered by many to be one of the longest hitters in golf — to the staff, Callaway went out and inked another bomber in two-time RE/MAX World long drive champion Jamie Sadlowski.
Sadlowski spent time at the Ely Callaway Performance Center testing the new X Hot driver, where he launched shots over the back net with ease. Callaway's Twitter account even tweeted a clip of Sadlowski launching a drive off the property.
Parnevik signs with Cobra Puma Golf: After nearly severing his right, index finger last March in a boating accident, five-time PGA TOUR winner Jesper Parnevik is kicking off his 2013 at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation with a new sponsor, after Cobra Puma Golf announced the Swede would be playing Cobra clubs and wearing Puma Golf apparel this season.
According to Cobra Puma Golf, Parnevik will have 12 Cobra clubs in the bag and will sport Puma’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection along with the new Tux Lux golf shoe, part of PUMA Golf’s Lux footwear collection.
Parnevik will play the beginning of 2013 on medical exemption, which gives him 12 events to make $620,087 to retain his PGA TOUR card.
New Cobra clubs in Parnevik’s bag:
Driver: AMP CELL Pro Driver in Silver (7.5 degrees)
3-Wood: AMP CELL Pro Fairway (prototype) in Silver (13 degrees)
Irons: AMP Forged Irons, 3-PW
Wedges: Trusty Rusty in Rust finish (49 and 53 degrees)
Divots: Odyssey’s new Versa putter picked up two top-10 finishes courtesy of Charles Howell III’s T3 (using a Versa #1 B/W/B) and Perez’s T9 (using a Versa 2-ball). … Charlie Beljan, Jerry Kelly and Steven Bowditch had at least one of Cleveland Golf’s new 588MT game-improvement clubs in play at the Sony. While it may be designed for the everyday player, all three opted to use the club in place of their long irons. … Perez, Rickey Barnes, John Daly and Brian Harman used TaylorMade’s new Lethal golf ball during the week. … Of the 103 players in the field at the Sony that relied on a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x, 62 played the company’s latest version, including top four finishers Tim Clark (Pro V1), Scott Langley (Pro V1x) and Howell III (Pro V1x).