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Get in gear 2012

New equipment hit store shelves earlier this year – some good, some bad. So how do you choose the right equipment? Pick what’s right for you. Adjustability and customization are the name of the game this year and maybe for years to come.

by Southland GolfPublished: June, 2012



Everybody loves new equipment. It’s shiny, it’s flashy, and it’s the envy of all your golf buddies. The trick is knowing what to buy and, perhaps more importantly, what not to buy.

The 2012 equipment season and the future of golf equipment can be wrapped up in one word: customization. From here on out, nothing you buy should be “off the rack” or the floor model. Get fitted … for everything!

If you don’t, you’re cheating yourself out of equipment designed specifically for your body type, swing and game. You wouldn’t or shouldn’t buy a pair of pants based on a few online reviews; you’d try them on and decide on the look and fit. The same goes for golf clubs, balls, bags, shoes and apparel.

Getting fitted for equipment isn’t a new idea, but the extent of customization is greater than ever. Aside from common club adjustments – face loft, angle and weight – companies such as Callaway let you pick the accent color on that new driver (udesign.callawaygolf.com). Bridgestone offers four versions of its high-end tour ball so everybody can find one regardless of ability or swing speed (bridgestonegolf.com/product/ball-selection-guide).

Shoes can be outfitted with custom spike patterns and designs; specific tee sizes can be ordered in bulk; numbers and designs on golf balls can be picked; straps on bags are fitted to the height of the player; and just about every club in the bag has several variations. The word “stock” should no longer exist in golf.

Half the fun of buying a club is first hitting the range or golf shop and trying every single option until you find one you like. Whether it’s the sound of the club, the look at address or simply how it feels in your hand, no two clubs are the same. What works for you might feel terrible to somebody else and vice versa. Take your time and hit them all.

The days of watching Phil carry two drivers in the bag are over. With a simple wrench adjustment, the driver he uses to wrap a draw around a tree can be opened up for a baby cut or a high fade. You too can have this technology – although I wouldn’t suggest making on-course adjustments until you’ve spent a good amount of time on the range seeing what the changes do to your ball flight and shape.

The point is that aside from the Sharpie, just about everything in and around your bag can be fitted. And of course you’ll find a variety of opinions for any given option. Yet while hundreds might tout a certain club at golf courses, on message boards, or in the media, you might not like it.

For that reason, it’s worth a trip to Roger Dunn to try the options before you pick what you like best.

Once you’ve narrowed the field, do yourself a favor: Try variations of the same club with the intention of customizing the equipment to match your game.

There’s a world of difference in the technology built into the equipment – the biggest mistake you can make is not investigating all of the new toys.

CALLAWAY

RAZR Fit Driver

Cost: $399
It’s been a bit of a wait for Callaway’s adjustable head driver, but it’s been worth it. Removable, adjustable weights – 2 and 12 grams – are located on the heel and toe of the club, and the shaft can be adjusted to alter the clubface to open, square or closed.

"The adjustable features, combined with our proprietary technologies, allow golfers to play a more meaningful role than ever before in their journey to optimized performance. The RAZR Fit Driver is designed for the golfer who is hell-bent on ball speed ... "
— Alan Hocknell, senior VP of research & development, Callaway Golf

RAZR Fit Driver
Cost: $399
It’s been a bit of a wait for Callaway’s adjustable head driver, but it’s been worth it. Removable, adjustable weights – 2 and 12 grams – are located on the heel and toe of the club, and the shaft can be adjusted to alter the clubface to open, square or closed.

RAZR X Black Irons
Cost: $699
Talk about a sleek look: These irons look and feel great. They set up cleanly and still have a thin top-line look despite the larger cavity back irons. They give that signature Callaway forgiveness and distance. They’re a nice alternative to the traditional X-line of irons.

RAZR X Black Fairway Wood
Cost: $199
The new RAZR X line is all about distance forgiveness and a sleek look. The RAZR X Black fairway wood fits this description to a tee. It’s light, aerodynamic and cuts through the ball – easy to get the ball up in the air.

Diablo Q School Eyewear
Cost: $94
If you’re not a fan of the “sport shades” that some golfers use and prefer casual-lifestyle sunglasses on the course, check out the Diablo line. Comfortable, lightweight and stylish – words not normally associated with golf sunglasses.

HEX Black Tour
Cost: $46/dozen
Callaway balls have always felt like butter coming off the club and the HEX Blacks are no different. They’ve improved on the feel and spin factor of the HX-Tour and Tour i(s) and i(z).

Hyper-Lite 4.5 Stand Bag
Cost: $169
The Hyper-Lite line of stand bags is the lightest possible bag Callaway offers – perfect for walking summer rounds. We might be inclined to jump into a cart every time, but this bag makes you want to carry your clubs for a change. Eleven pockets hold anything and everything you might need.

NIKE

VR_S Driver
Cost: $359
Adjustability is the name of the game, and Nike’s VR_S driver is proof. Like the other adjustable drivers, Nike’s iteration also can be tweaked and custom fit through the Nike STR8-Fit system that gives you a 4-degree range of face-angle adjustability to hit a fade, a draw or to pipe it down the middle.

Vapor X Carry Bag
Cost: $230
Believe it or not, this bag weighs less than four pounds. It’s great for those who like to walk rounds every now and again or for those who prefer to walk. It’s incredibly light yet durable enough to withstand hundreds of rounds.

VR_S Hybrid
Cost: $191
Rescue clubs have become a staple in most players’ bags, and if you’re a fan of Nike’s club design, you’ll love the VR_S hybrids. They’re easy to get off the ground when hitting off the fairway or the rough, and they feel even sweeter off the tee.

20XI-S & 20XI-X
Cost: $46/dozen
Both the S and X version of Nike’s 20XI golf ball line are complete remakes from its One line. The balls use a new RZN core and offer the highest MOI (moment of inertia) of any Nike golf ball. That translates to more distance off the tee and more control around the greens. These are great for experienced players and - the 10-20 handicapper.

VR_S Fairway Wood
Cost: $275
Nike’s NexCOR technology’s aim is to take aerodynamic design and technology and push forgiveness to its limit. The VR_S fairway woods are good for any skill level, and the shallow-faced club head and lightweight shaft make these clubs extremely easy to swing.

ADAMS

Speedline Fast 12 Fairway Wood
Cost: $199
This one might not win any beauty contests with its slot design above and below the clubface, but the performance more than makes up for a different look. The trampoline effect is subtle, and these woods feel clean every time.

Idea a12 OS Hybrid
Cost: $169
The hybrids have the same slot design as the fairway woods, which alters the look of the club at address, but they feel just as good as previous versions of Adams hybrids. They are offered in 17-, 19-, 22-, 25-, 28- and 32-degree lofts.

YES!

Sandy-12 Putter
Cost: $149
Mallet putters have been popular lately, and some of the best are Adams Yes! putters. With the C-groove pattern on the clubface, mishits feel great and roll on a line. The Sandy-12 has a double bend and a half-shaft offset that ensure a pure strike. This putter is great for players who use a straight-back, straight-through putting stroke.

BOCCIERI GOLF

Q2-MT Heavy Putter
Cost: $199
Finished in PVD bright silver, the stock lengths of this putter range from 32 to 36 inches but can stretch from 30 to 38 inches on custom orders. The over-weighted head of the heavy putter is great for those who struggle to follow through on putts or who regularly come up short. The weight also helps take out movement in the backswing.

TAYLORMADE

R11s Driver
Cost: $399
What makes TaylorMade’s R11s driver the most customizable club around? Being able to adjust the angle of the clubface +/- 3 degrees, the loft of the club +/- 1.5 degrees and the weighting of the club with Movable Weight Technology (MWT). Once you get used to the white crown, which you will, you’ll enjoy adjustability at its finest. With 80 options, you can get your club fine-tuned to your liking.

Ghost Manta Putter
Cost: $179
When choosing a putter, it’s crucial to visually line up the top of the putter with the path you want to take. That’s why the Ghost Manta’s two black lines against a solid white background on top make TaylorMade’s putter so easy to putt with. It’s available in regular length and as a belly putter for those taken with the craze. Because the clubface is solid and doesn’t have an insert, there is no bad place to strike the ball.

RBZ Fairway Wood
Cost: $229
If you’d like another 10-15 yards simply from switching to a different club, try an RBZ fairway wood. These things are monsters. The trampoline effect behind the face lets the ball spring off the club with ease, and it’s a breeze to swing because it’s so light. It sports the same white top as the R11 series. With the distance you’ll gain, you’ll be looking to add more white top clubs to your bag.

"The most important thing about adjustability is that we need to get more people to actually use it, as it has been shown that adjusting the product provides more distance. We expect to spend a considerable amount of attention on this message.
— Tom Olsavsky, senior director of product creation, Metalwoods

RBZ Bag
Cost: $169
This bag has it all: five-way stadium top for the clubs with full-length dividers, ergonomic shoulder straps, six pockets and an anti-split stand system. It even has a pen slot. Weighing in at just under five pounds, the RBZ bag is stylish, functional and comfortable to carry.

RBZ Glove
Cost: $14
The RBZ glove has the same look as RBZ clubs and bag and is simply one of the more comfortable gloves you can buy. It has full Caberetta leather on the palm, thumb and index finger, and micro-perforations allow airflow and ventilation, which keep the hand dry and prevent slipping.

R11 Irons
Cost: $799
The thin face and tour sole design of the R11 irons make them TaylorMade’s most playable iron. They feel great off the face, and off-center hits don’t give that stinging feel other clubs do. Most of the weight is in the bottom of the club, which makes it easier to get down to the ground and take a divot rather than staying upright and skulling the ball. Sets are customizable.


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