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Equipment Report

July 3 2013

1:45 AM

Mailbag: Superstroke, Callaway drivers

In this week's Equipment Report Mailbag, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider Jonathan Wall talks about SuperStroke grips on the PGA TOUR and Callaway's new FT Optiforce driver and fairway wood. 

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

How many players on TOUR use SuperStroke? And what is the most popular size of SuperStroke? — Michael Cummings (@mcummings003)

SuperStroke has made some serious headway in professional golf over the last few years. The grip burst onto the scene at the 2011 PGA Championship when Jason Dufner put a SuperStroke Slim on his putter and lost to Keegan Bradley in a playoff.

Since then, everyone from Dufner to Phil Mickelson, K.J. Choi, Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia and Fred Couples have used a SuperStroke grip on their putter. Based on the amount of time I've spent at TOUR events this year looking at equipment, I'd say it's one of the hottest items out there at the moment.

What makes it so popular? The original over-sized grip took the hands of the equation and put an emphasis on using bigger muscles to develop a repeatable stroke.

SuperStroke's original over-sized grip is still part of the current line, but through TOUR feedback and testing, the company has added 11 putter grips, as well as two wood and iron grips.

As far as the number of TOUR players using SuperStroke each week, SuperStroke's maketing director, Jon Luna, said it's typically between 25-35 players.

The most used grips in the line are the Mid Slim 2.0 and Slim 3.0, but Luna noted that every grip in the SuperStroke line, including the belly and split grips, are in-play each week.

Do you know why Callaway decided to bring a third driver model (OptiForce) out so late in the year? — Evan Howlings

Great question, Evan. Mid-season product launches of this magnitude are rare, but if we've learned anything from the last couple of years, it's that the equipment world is a very fluid place.

Gone are the days of early-season launches and late-season testing. If an equipment company believes it has a particular club that can benefit a golfers game, it's likely going to make its way to retail — even if it means launching the club the week before a major championship (see Callaway releasing 3Deep at the Shell Houston Open, and TaylorMade debuting R1 Black at the FedEx St. Jude Classic).

I had an opportunity to speak with Luke Williams, Callaway's global director of woods and irons, about the decision the bring Optiforce (the company's third driver this year) to retail in July, and he said Callaway president and chief executive Chip Brewer made it clear that the company is not going to wait for traditional times of the year to release a product.

"Golfers are coming into golf shops throughout the year," Williams said, "and [Chip] wants to have new product introductions on a more regular basis. I think the Optiforce launch is a little nod to the way we'll work going forward. We might not always have a driver introduction at this time. Chip just wants to be a little more unpredictable."