By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
The talk of the golf equipment world last week at the Sony Open in Hawaii was that thing in Matt Every’s hands on the greens of Waialae. It worked very well as a putter but depending on who you watched on TV or followed on Twitter or read on equipment blogs, it was an ashtray, shoebox, VHS tape, dustpan or radar detector – to cite a few of the many nicknames.
It was a mystery then, and in many ways it still is now.
Every’s putter is called Black Hawk, by a company named Orion Golf. Not that you’d know that from looking at it; the black clubhead has no identifiers. Nor would you learn anything else about it by visiting a major golf retailer or 99.99 percent of the country’s pro shops. They won’t have the Black Hawk.
The club is for sale, but serious legwork is required to buy one.
Josh Anderson, PGA Professional at Magnolia Point Golf and Country Club outside Jacksonville, Fla., has fielded calls in the last few days from around the United States and as far away as Germany. Golfers want to buy one, yet he won’t sell them one.
The club’s founder, David Kargetta of Daytona Beach, Fla., has asked Anderson and a select few other pro shops in Florida – the only places where the putter can be found – to not make any sales by mail.
For starters, it’s a putter that must be custom-fit to be used properly. The putter, with its wide and heavy clubhead, can stand by itself and is meant to be held parallel to the ground by a player. But to use it properly it must be fit so the heel or toe is not raised.
“The fact is if you get fit for it, it guarantees your hands are in the exact same spot every time. It takes out that variable,” Anderson said. “The putter has no loft on it, so it takes that bias out of the equation. And the sweet spot is three balls wide – you can’t mis-hit it.”
Kargetta is a mechanical engineer and has all the data behind his invention, plus holds a patent on it, but has been reluctant to talk about it even as golf writers have clamored for more information. Instead, he has sold a few PGA pros like Anderson on the product’s merits, and has earned their loyalty by reimbursing for the time it takes them to fit the clubs to consumers.
The Black Hawk costs $259 while its sister Black Swan, featuring a cutout semicircle in the rear of the clubhead for alignment aid, costs $299. Neither model comes with a headcover.
Had Every held on to win the Sony, word is a website for the company would have launched that night. But he didn’t, so the Black Hawk is still largely under wraps. Orion Golf also won’t have a booth at next week’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, where the golf industry gathers to see what’s new in the game.
Instead, the putter will be on display at a few nearby courses, still largely a mystery.
STANDING PAT: With breakout 2011 that included two wins and second-place finishes in the FedExCup and money race, Webb Simpson could have shopped his bag over the offseason and cashed in big. But it never crossed his mind.
“I'm old school in my thoughts of switching equipment; as long as I'm feeling good with what I'm using and its ability to perform well, then I won't switch,” Simpson said last week at the Sony. “I've used the same irons now for ten years, the same ones or I've got newer sets but the same exact model and driver I've used for three years.
“I don't want to change. I've seen players do it over and over again, and they struggle the next year; it takes them a few years to figure it out again. I would rather go win $2 million on the course and make nothing off than win half a million on the course and make 4 off. The way we are wired, we want to play good golf and it doesn't matter the other way.”
CUTTING EDGE: TaylorMade got the last laugh from a golf blogger who was unmoved by the company’s claims of significant yardage gains from its new RocketBallz 3-wood.
The writer said if he gained the 17 or more yards advertised by TaylorMade, he’d shave the company’s logo “T” into his head and dye it green.
The company, not one to miss a marketing opportunity or an offer to back up its products, flew the blogger from upstate New York to its Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters. The blogger picked up some 40 yards Tuesday in a comparison test of the RocketBallz to his old 3-wood, and a hired barber was on hand to help the blogger pay off his bet.
NEW WINNER: Johnson Wagner won at Waialae with TaylorMade’s new R11S driver. The company touts the driver’s “3D Tuning” capability, where golfers can adjust loft up to 1.5 degrees, face angles in five different configurations and tune the club’s center of gravity toward the heel or toe.
Greg Norman, playing at this week’s Humana Challenge, had an R11S built in the TaylorMade truck this week with eight degrees of loft.
COOK’S UTENSILS: John Cook, a winner three times last season on the Champions Tour, revealed last week on the Tour’s Facebook page that his longtime Nike allegiances are over. He’s playing the TaylorMade R11S driver, a Titleist ball and "everything else is whatever I feel I need to have in my bag.” He also said he’ll be wearing clothing from Leisure Society.
ETC: Brian Gay, T6 at the Sony, has a new driver, hybrid and 3-wood and said he’s hitting it farther . … Justin Leonard, previously with Nike is the newest face in the TaylorMade stable. He was among nine players at the Sony with the company’s new Penta TP5 ball. … Ross Fisher signed with Nike Golf for a club and clothing deal, the company announced Wednesday.
QUOTABLE: Bridgestone signed TV personality and former touring pro David Feherty to a multi-year deal. In the company’s press release, Feherty provided his own material:
"Not a lot of people know this, but I am a huge ball expert. In fact, over the years I played for a living, my balls took a lot of punishment in the form of tops, shanks, cuts, scrapes, and I've even lost a couple. As it turns out, I was playing with balls that should have been hit by someone else in the first place! Well, you live and learn.”
WINNER’S BAG: Johnson Wagner at the Sony
Open in Hawaii:
Driver: TaylorMade R11S, 8 degrees (Aldila RIP NV shaft)
3-wood: TaylorMade Burner SuperFast 2.0, 13.5 degrees
Hybrid: Adams Idea Pro a12, 18 degrees
Irons: Titleist CB 3-9
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Spin Milled PW, 54, 60 degrees
Putter: Scotty Cameron Prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x