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June 28 2013

12:46 PM

Mailbag: Hopkins Golf, Titleist 714 irons


There are 27 Hopkins Golf wedges in play on the Champions Tour (Hopkins Golf)

In this week's Equipment Report Mailbag, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall talks about Hopkins Golf, Titleist's 714 series prototype irons and graphite iron shafts.

Have a question about the latest golf equipment or what the pros are playing? Send a tweet to @jonathanrwall.

Are any of the players using the new Hopkins wedges? — Trey Kemp (@ColliganGolf)

Hopkins Golf is the new kid on the block. Founded by former Cleveland Golf CEO Greg Hopkins, the company opened its doors this week and currently provides custom wedge options for golfers looking for a tour experience.

The wedges, made from 8620 Carbon Steel, unchromed, are available in six different lofts and seven different grinds, and come with additional custom options (stamping, custom engraving, paint fill, shafts, grips and ferrules).

The cost per wedge with the standard grind is $99; wedges with custom grinds start at $129; and custom grinds with additional custom options, $149.

"This is a banner day for us," said Greg Hopkins, CEO. "For a long time, we've been preparing to be able to get golfers custom wedges just like TOUR players get. We can't wait to hear their reactions when they receive the true tour experience for themselves."

Hopkins was able to keep the cost per custom wedge down by partnering with UPS and placing its club assembly inside UPS facilities. Custom wedges will be delivered in three days.

According to the company's website, it's already the third most-used wedge on the Champions Tour with 27 in play as of June. Notables playing the wedge include 2002 U.S. Senior Open winner Don Pooley Jr., seven-time PGA TOUR winner John Huston, and 1987 Vardon Trophy winner Danny Pohl.

Randy Romberg, Hopkins Golf's VP of Marketing, said the company doesn't have a wedge in play on the PGA TOUR at the moment. But with so many players already using the wedges on the Champions Tour, I think you'll see one on TOUR soon enough.

What are the pros saying about the various 714 prototype irons this week? Are they seeing a significant difference? — Steve Hawley (@Hawleyw00d)

If you missed the big equipment story this week — I was actually at Congressional Country Club and had a chance to chat with Chris McGinley, Titleist's VP of Golf Club Marketing, about the new lineup — Titleist debuted its new 714 series prototype irons (AP1, AP2, CB and MB) at AT&T National on Monday.

Titleist brought 30 sets of irons to Congressional and had eight players — four sets of AP irons, three CB and one MB — put them in play the very first week. That's an impressive number when you consider how particular TOUR players are when it comes to their irons.

The TOUR-only release was part of Titleist's tour seeding and performance validation process that gives TOUR players the opportunity to test the final product ahead of the November release.

Needless to say, Titleist didn't want to go into specifics regarding the clubs with the retail release several months away. Players didn't say a whole lot about the irons as well, but the few I talked to in passing said testing was going well.

With the success of graphite shafted irons, what are the weights of these shafts compared to steel shafts? — Jason P. Mann (@jpmann733h)

Ken Duke's win at the Travelers Championship was big for a number of reason. It was the first PGA TOUR victory for the 44-year-old, and marked the fifth time this season that a winner has used graphite shafted irons.

Better players, especially those with high swing speeds, used to shy away from graphite because it produced inconsistent distances and didn't flight nearly as well as steel.

"The early graphite iron shafts were made with inferior materials, processing and designs," said Aerotech Golf's president Chris Hilleary. "They started to gain traction at one point, but all of those pitfalls basically created a retreat of the use, and steel continued to dominate from there."

Over the past several years, Aerotech, along with Aldila, UST Mamiya and other companies, have designed new and improved shafts that have the benefits of graphite with the playability and consistency of low torque steel.

As far as weights are concerned, Aldila has 90-gram and 115-gram versions available in its RIP graphite — the same shaft Boo Weekley and Ken Duke are using. UST's Mamiya's Recoil has 18 weight (90 to 125 grams), flex and torque options; Aerotech's SteelFiber has weights ranging from 74 to 125 grams.

If we're talking about standard steel shafts, they usually range in weight in 124 to 137 grams. Of course, that depends on if you use parallel or tapered iron shafts.

And if you want a lighter steel option, Project X has a PXi shaft that's 108 to 117 grams.  

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