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DE-EMPHASIZING THE LONG BALL
This year has the potential to be the shortest driving year on the PGA Tour since 2000, when John Daly led the field by averaging 301.4 yards per drive. Currently only Bubba Watson (averaging 301.1 yards) and Camilo Villegas (300.3 yards) have broken the 300-yard barrier. Several factors come into play, including how many Tour courses have been toughened up – especially in the driver landing areas. So in more than a few cases, the longest drive isn’t necessarily the most-preferred position. Thus, players are dialing back their distances in exchange for easier approach shots. And while in the past when they could freely let loose and then play a high-lofted club into the green, this year’s new softer grooves on wedges and high-lofted irons may indeed be changing players’ strategies. To no surprise, driving accuracy seems to be on the rise. Chris DiMarco has been hitting four of every five fairways, leading the way. In fact, Tour pros are averaging hitting fairways on 61.87% of their drives. In case you were wondering, Steve Stricker owns the longest drive of 2010 so far, with a 424-yard blast on Kapalua’s Plantation course’s 516-yard 7th hole in Maui, during the SBS Championship.
Callaway FT-iZ Driver, Woods and Hybrid
Billed as Callaway’s longest and straightest driver ever, the FT-iZ uses the company’s patented Fusion Technology and has an aerodynamic triangular body that yields 11 percent less drag than last year’s FT-iQ. And that translates directly to more clubhead and ball speed, plus distance. “Polar Weighting” – comprised of localized weight at the front and rear of the clubhead -- adds stability and optimizes shot consistency. Interestingly, this club was also engineered to produce a solid-feeling sound at impact. The fairway woods also employ Polar Weghting via a heavy face and in-line power source in the rear of the club. Likewise, the aerodynamic clubhead shape helps reduce drag, and a new version of the variable face thickness increases ball speed across the entire face, for more distance and consistency. The hybrids use the same design concepts, and have large, high-MOI clubheads for stability, as well as an offset hosel that helps square the clubface at impact.
Titleist NXT, NXT Tour and DT Solo Balls
The far-away leader in the golf ball market, Titleist has some new ball offerings for 2010. The all-new DT Titleist NXT replaces the NXT Extreme, with improved distance and straightness. Titleist also bills it as its most durable ball. It features a high-velocity, low-spin, solid core. The NXT is best-suited for golfers seeking extreme distance and durability, a soft feel, plus straight ball flight. It features a new dimple pattern. The NXT Tour is aimed for golfers seeking long-and-straight distance with the driver and long irons, along with consistent shot-stopping short game control. You’ll find that it feels nice and soft on all shots, and has outstanding durability. It features a soft center, large multi-layer core, and soft cover. Finally, the lowest-priced of the three new models, the DT SoLo ball will appease you if you’re looking for long distance, really nice feel, responsive short game control, and cut-proof cover durability. The ball’s mantra: Distance Never Felt So Good.
HOT GEAR NEWS
Vijay Singh’s been playing a Never Compromise VooDoo Daddy Long putter this season, and claims it’s helped him feel the best he’s felt “on the putting green for a long, long time." His putting has helped his putting statistics this year…Speaking of Singh, he’s been trying Srixon’s new Z-STARx Tour Yellow ball, but has yet to put it in play. Tim Clark and Jerod Turner both used it at The Honda Classic… PING will waive its right to have pre-1990 Eye2 wedges kept legal for PGA Tour play, starting March 29… Nike Golf’s brand-new square SQ MACHSPEED fairway woods feature a Total Swing Aerodynamic Design that aims to deliver more clubhead and ball speed, while reducing drag throughout the swing…Adams debuted the large-headed Idea Black Super Hybrid with maraging steel face, long shaft, and 85 grams of weighting on its tri-level sole; Puglielli Black wedges forged from 8620 carbon steel; Idea Black CB2 irons with dual perimeter weighting, four-way cambered sole and progressive offset; and the forged carbon steel Idea Pro Black CB1 irons with thin top line and constant offset…PrideSports introduced environment-friendly, plastic PTS Evolution tees with a low-resistance head that creates less friction between it and the ball. It comes in four sizes… Tiger Shark Golf unveiled two new SuperStroke Slip-On Series jumbo putting grips, the Fatso Lite (1.67” in diameter, 85 grams) and the Slim (1.3”, 115 grams)…adidas Golf’s new POWERBAND 3.0 shoe incorporates the POWERBAND chassis that wraps up high on the lateral forefoot and medial heel for stability, adiPRENE+ in the inlay sole for energy transfer, and GRIPZONE in the footbed and heel to maximize power…PGA Tour pro Matt Jones signed an endorsement deal with newcomer company PURE Grips…Underwear manufacturer Slix inked John Daly to a sponsorship deal … Bag Boy unveiled the T-700 golf travel cover featuring an impact-resistant top plus high-density foam padding… Ogio’s come out with six Fred Couples signature black travel bags built with a combination of 1680 ballistic nylon and constructed leather… Mizuno signed 2009 PGA European Tour rookie of the year Chris Wood to a long-term equipment endorsement deal…When the PGA Tour stopped in Phoenix in February, several PING staff pros got to hit the new Anser forged irons from local company PING. The irons – PING’s first-ever forged models -- are currently only being offered in Japan. The irons have perimeter weighting plus tungsten in the sole, to help get the ball airborne more easily… Acushnet Company – comprised of Titleist and FootJoy -- announced that it’s agreed to sell Cobra Golf to PUMA AG.