It’s golf season for me. You might be getting ready pack up your golf clubs but for many of us in the golf industry it’s finally our time to play.
Like other people who work in the business I spend a lot of the summer chasing my tail and trying to balance work and family. Golf – it’s pretty much an afterthought where a game once a week seems like a gift.
As we are about to put our 9th print issue of the year to bed tensions seems to ease in concert with deadlines. Yes, we publish online all year long and are already working on stories and other projects for 2012 but it is at a slightly more leisurely pace where 40 hour weeks replace the 60 and 70 hours one.
The Fall means a few things to me – great conditions to play golf with the temperatures cooling off and the traffic at golf courses leaning out, some travel for editorial purposes that allows for golf games on consecutive days (heaven forbid) and the best part of the year for the golf geek – getting to test new equipment that will head to retail shelves in coming months.
In recent weeks I have been sifting through a number of offerings from companies – some I can write about while others are early in the development process, forcing me to leave out details until I have the go-ahead to do so.
I though I would run down a few items that you might want to keep an eye on.
Nike Drone Putter
The latest wand from Nike Golf might have an unusual shape but you can’t argue with results. As stable as they come this mallet should gather it’s fair of critics and fans but those who get to test it will likely lean to the supporter side of things. They can count Nike staffer Suzann Pettersen among the fans. She already has a win on the Ladies European Tour and one on the LPGA Tour with the Drone. It’s not for everyone but expect a line-up of eager shoppers when it hits shelves on November 1st. It is also available in a 41″ belly length (RH only) to go with the standard 33″, 34″, and 35″ models that are offered in left and right.
Titleist Vokey SM4 Wedges
I was fortunate to get an early look at these babies at the beginning of August. It didn’t take me long to accept an offer to carve up a little turf with them. Shaped more like the popular Vokey 200 Series I have read a lot online about people saying there is not much new to these wedges. Of course they said that based on a photo alone – without actually hitting them or knowing the details put into the design.
I’m here to tell you that they are a solid advancement for the line, and that comes from a guy who has played Vokeys for many year. New grind options, a legal but more aggressive groove and even a new face hardening technology make these an advancement from previous models.
Don’t dismiss them until you try them. They hit retail in November.
Yes, folks as slim as it is there is still a market for a fine forged blade iron. Mizuno Golf has long been a leader in putting out products in this category and that continues with the MP-69. Featuring one of the best feeling clubheads that a better player will appreciate the MP-69 also added a slightly new look reminiscent of popular Mizuno Japan blades with a higher toe. Longer irons have been enhanced in the back pad to promote a higher trajectory while a reduced trailing edge improves turf interaction. It’s a subtle but positive step forward for the flagship Mizuno iron.
Callaway Golf RZR Fit
Industry giant Callaway Golf has been a bit on the ropes of late. Changes in leadership are a good sign for this company that is reshaping itself in a big way and that will include the products for 2012. All indications are that the new lines are very progressive and that includes a mystery driver under the RZR FIT name. The adjustable driver reportedly has an innovative hosel technology that separates it from other clubs in the market. I’ll have more details on Callaway’s 2012 lineup in a month when I will get to test the full gamut of them.
Cobra ZL Encore Driver
Now under the umbrella of PUMA, the Cobra brand is already making an impression with the youthful golf market and you can expect a flurry of activity from them on the product side in the year ahead. They have a number of new sticks in the key driver category and that includes a new adjustable hosel model. The ZL Encore offers the choice of a white or black clubhead and those who have seen them in person tell me they are one of the slickest drivers that have seen to date. I expect this company to make some noise in 2012 based on the reaction by early adopters – a critical demographic for putting Cobra Golf on a path of growth.