What’s hot for 2014 – tools for the golfer’s trade

From drivers to accessories – the choice of equipment for golfers, from beginners to professionals, remains key

Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 00:01

Drivers

The battle for the hearts and minds of minds of golfers is most heartily fought when it comes to the driver.

There is something about this club – dating back to the John Daly grip-it-and-rip-it phenomenon – which makes it the one that players reach for on the first tee with a lick of the lips.

The technology has improved immensely, with all the leading club manufacturers pumping huge amounts of resources in research and development.

Ping, as ever, given its custom-fitting reputation, remains a hugely popular club, but TaylorMade – with its “loft-up” campaign, where even tour players are using drivers of up to 12 degrees – and Nike are now very big players in the market.

Nike became the first manufacturer to bring high-speed cavity-back technology to a driver that conformed to the R&A rules and the iconic red driver – used by world number one Tiger Woods – has managed to elbow its way into the popularity stakes.

It brings with it three proprietary technology platforms: high-speed cavity back, FlexLoft adjustability and NexCor face, combining to create control and forgiveness.

“With the VR_S Covert, we have created a game changing piece of technology that has already begun an industry buzz,” says Rob Arluna, Nike Golf’s global business director. “It is visually exciting, feels and sounds amazing and, most importantly, it creates powerful results with a high degree of control.”

TaylorMade’s response to Nike’s emergence as a force in the driver market has been two-pronged, with the SLDR and the Jetspeed finding a large fan base. The large number of tour players – in Europe and on the US Tour – has been an influential factor in the getting their clubs to move out of golf shops.

Irons

The irons of choice for the low handicappers remain Mizuno and Titleist, who have been at the cutting edge of things in recent years with Ping, TaylorMade, Callaway and Nike also very much in vogue for the mid- to-high handicappers. Ping, it must be said, remain very much the irons of choice in the women’s market with Cobra also finding their market share.

The big push in recent times in this sector has actually come from one of the oldest manufacturers of them all, with Wilson – which uses Pádraig Harrington as its poster boy – making a renewed pitch into the market.

Harrington and another Major champion Paul Lawrie were actually involved in the development process of the Wilson Staff FG Tour M3 range of irons.

Wilson is a brand with more Major wins with its irons (61) than any other golf club manufacturer. It claims the M3 range offers greater feel to those using the clubs with the “look, feel and workability of a forged players’ iron, while delivering high levels of forgiveness”.

Among the features of the M3 range of irons are that they are forged from 8620 carbon steel with a matte black PVD finish and progressive cavity design with optimised weight placement within each head, whereby mass is placed only where it will benefit the golfer.

Putters

There is something magical about the Scotty Cameron name and, averaging in the region of €289, these putters – the club used most often by any golfer – are well-priced to find a place in the bags of the more discerning player.

The Newport and the Futura ranges remain very popular, with each Scotty Cameron select putter being precision milled and having an “elegantly refined shape with tour validated balance and stability, accented by a Silver mist finish and red-dot cosmetics”, according to the marketing spiel.

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