June 08, 2020
By GolfWRX, PGATOUR.COM
- Take a look at notable equipment changes in 2020 and what could be on the way. (Courtesy of GolfWRX)
Now that we're getting back to golf – the PGA TOUR restarts the 2019-20 season with this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge, while the National Golf Foundation reports that 98% of courses in the U.S. are now open, with 84% of golf retail stores are open -- it's a perfect time to start making some important decisions.
Namely, what is going in your bag this summer.
The equipment industry as a whole has been on a speed chase for a good while now—designing clubs that are fast and forgiving, all while eliminating spin and maximizing launch conditions, have been the top priorities.
However, this year some small tweaks to that idea started to creep into the conversation—stability across the face, sound, efficiency, manufacturing tolerances, and custom fitting are becoming just as important as the other buzz words we are used to seeing. And for the record, that's a great thing.
Here some key items from notable equipment manufacturers in 2020 and some thoughts on what's to come (companies listed in alphabetical order).
The year of the Mavrik
Callaway has been at or very close to the top of the driver food chain for a number of years now. It's no surprise that this year's offering is no different. Like 2019's Epic Flash, the entire Mavrik line was engineered with the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the results are an improvement across the board.
New offerings in other categories include the Roger Cleveland-designed Jaws MD5 "raw" wedges and the Odyssey Triple Track #7 putter.
Highlights: From the fitting bays to the golf course, the buzz on the Mavrik Sub Zero driver has been: "It's really fast." Players are seeing significant ball-speed gains with Mavrik SZ and the improved acoustics have been pleasing in the "feel" category. Sub Zero has also created quite a bit of momentum on TOUR with players such as Xander Schauffele and Marc Leishman putting it in play with success.
In irons, Callaway introduced the Mavrik Pro, which is a players cast iron with maximum forgiveness across the face, all while maintaining playability for the better player. These features are not common in castings, but the Mavrik Pro, with the help of AI, is definitely a conversation starter. Peyton Manning used these irons to win The Match 2 with partner Tiger Woods.
SpeedZones and 33 revisions
2019 was a monster year for Cobra Golf. The F9 driver was arguably the driver of the year, and the anticipation for the next offering was high. January 2020 brought the SpeedZone line of metal woods and hybrids, which kept the momentum strong for CPG, and with the teasing of the new "Rickie Iron" at the TaylorMade Driving Relief match in early May, the last half of this year could get really interesting.
Highlights: The keyword for the following clubs is … fun. The SpeedZone Xtreme driver is a fast, forgiving, high MOI machine; a swing-as-hard-as-you-can rocket launcher. Although length is a big part of the story here, forgiveness is the headliner. Make no mistake, this thing goes, but the main thing you will experience with Xtreme is just how easy it is to hit, solidly, and the overall pleasurable experience it brings with it. Weird way to classify a driver but that's the first thing that comes to mind: fun.
Continuing on the enjoyment train, the SpeedZone hybrids are a different kind of party. Yes, they are easy to hit, go a long way, and feel solid. However, it's the versatility that makes these stand out. It’s a utility club in its purest form. The signature Baffler rails offer an extra tool in the rough and out of the fairway, and at address, it’s a club for the TOUR as well as your Saturday four-ball. Bottom line: Everyone in the market needs to consider these in the hybrid category.
What to expect: Cobra has a very busy summer/fall 2020. New MIM wedges and a players utility are coming in the next 30-60 days, and in the fall, the now-famous Rev33 Rickie Fowler irons will become available in limited quantities – as well as MIM players cavity back irons.
Irons usually the story … but not this year
If there is a golfer alive that doesn't adore Mizuno irons, we’d be shocked. They have been near and dear to every golfer's hearts and aspirations for decades. What's not to love? They have the looks, the feel, the performance, and maybe the best of all, the history. They check off every box. However, 2020 is the year of the Mizuno metal wood.
Highlights: In the driver category of 2019, one of the sleeper hits of the season was definitely the Mizuno ST190. This year, Mizuno cranked it up even further with the release of the ST200 line and its TOUR-inspired ST200G. From a performance level, it satisfies across the board, but what Mizuno has (as with all of its clubs) is the look. Clean, yet soft, lines on a black frame that not only inspires shotmaking but confidence. Since Mizuno metal woods aren't as talked about as their forged iron counterparts, don't overlook this one -- it's definitely worth a test.
What to expect: Most likely the next generation JPX and Hot Metal line later this year.
Quiet, but not for long
There hasn’t been any new Ping product in a good while, but we anticipate a big winter for the Solheim crew. Sometimes, silence is golden, and from what we can gather, what Ping has coming in irons and woods will be -- yet again -- a launch that gets people talking.
What to expect: Just rumors, such as a new driver to succeed the G410, fairways, hybrids. Players cavity back (I210), IBlade replacement, and potentially, the TOUR-inspired PLD putters. In a nutshell a Ping kitchen sink, and who doesn't love that? As mentioned, just rumors, but here's hoping ...
Gen3 irons and a Proto driver
At this point, PXG has made a strong name for itself in the iron category. The launch of the highly anticipated Gen3 line was a success overall and will continue on well into 2021. It's the metalwood portion of the catalog that will come next, and if the Proto driver is any sign of what's to come, PXG could have a bright future ahead.
Highlights: Without a doubt, the Gen3 T iron is the offering that will most turn better players' heads. It’s a very workable, yet forgiving TOUR iron that will satisfy just about any player under an 8 handicap. In the Gen2 line, the P was the one that really turned heads, in 2020 its the T, and it's for very good reasons.
What to expect: Gen2 Forged wedges hit earlier this year and a small release of the new-look Proto driver is already getting positive buzz for its performance and enhanced (and simplified) weighting system. Expect new Gen3 metal woods early winter.
A relatively quiet 2019, but a storm’s coming in 2020
The heading says it all. Srixon/Cleveland was quiet for the most part of 2019, but for a company that works on a leap year release schedule, Srixon/Cleveland garners as much curiosity (rightfully so) as anyone out there. Now, Cleveland Golf did release its game improvement line in 2019, which tested very well within the industry, but the headliners have always been Cleveland wedges and Srixon irons and metal woods.
It's no secret that Srixon irons have long been a favorite in fitting bays across the country (and on TOUR), and with the much-anticipated release of the new version this fall, Srixon/Cleveland will be a hot topic closing out 2020.
What to expect: Rumor is that new Cleveland wedges will drop mid/late summer and the highly anticipated Srixon irons (and metal woods) later this fall. We did get a sneak peek at the Srixon driver on the USGA conforming list, but it's no guarantee if that's the version that will hit pro shops and retail. We shall see.
SIM is everywhere
Thus far, it has definitely been the year of SIM. The buzz is everywhere -- TOUR, fitters, amateurs, and all other parts. Oddly enough, it's not just distance that makes this driver notable. It's the combination of speed/forgiveness and playability (all at a high level) that made the SIM a standout. It's not often that a driver can be fast, stable, forgiving, and workable, but this one does it all.
Highlights: We all know the drivers are the talk of the town, but the SIM Titanium fairway woods quietly impressed as well. With the reintroduction of the ever-popular V-Steel technology, TaylorMade has designed a fairway wood that is long, versatile, and will also stay in players' bags for more than a season. That's saying a lot, considering fairway woods get better and better as years go by. In addition, the TaylorMade SIM Max hybrid has been a sleeper hit on the TOUR -- the recurring theme is the superb flight and turf interaction.
What to expect: Wait for it ... P750 and P730 iron replacements are rumored to be coming along with some other goodies as well. Like the Avengers franchise, TaylorMade just keeps on pumping out the hits, and it appears that trend will continue.
SM8 and new metal woods?
Without question, the release of the ever-popular Vokey SM8 wedge line came on like wildfire earlier this year. Not only with the general public, but especially on TOUR, with a huge percentage of staff and non-staff putting them in play. 2020 is also a year to expect new metal woods from Titleist; this may get pushed around as its typically around Father's Day/U.S. Open week that we get our first sneak peek.
Highlights: The Vokey line has always had multiple grinds to satisfy every type of golfer, but just recently the TOUR favorite Low Bounce K Grind made it on the Wedge Works website. The K Grind is a TOUR-inspired wedge used by multiple top 50 players and was designed for players that prefer very low bounce when squared up but appreciate some help out of the bunkers and the heavy rough.
What to Expect: New driver, fairway woods and hybrids. Not 100% sure when we will get our first peek, but it's sure to get people excited. The TS line of metal woods continues to impress two-plus years after its introduction, and Titleist has never been one to settle for anything but perfect.
A traditional company with some very modern offerings
Wilson Golf is as instrumental in golf history as any company out there. Multiple tournaments, majors, and memorable moments with a Wilson golf club in the middle of it all. Even with all that history in its back pocket, the Chicago-based company continues to push the envelope and design equipment to satisfy any player. With the game improvement LaunchPadiIrons, D7 Forged irons, and Staff HT wedges, Wilson not only offers a well-balanced line but also a line that honors the Wilson lineage.
Highlights: The D7 Forged irons are a true players distance iron with a classic compact shape that is packed with modern tech to make it versatile and easy to hit.
What to expect: Potentially a new Staff Blade in the next 12 months, which always creates a buzz. Gary Woodland's U.S. Open with the current model put the spotlight on Wilson once again, and don't be surprised if the next version elevates the conversation even further.