Equipment Helps Improve Golf Game
By Adam Couzens, Special to the Times
Like many area golfers deprived of their favorite sport by the long, cold Minnesota winters, Wapicada Golf Club member Cody Anderson looks forward to the local release of the latest and greatest golf equipment each year.
“I’m always interested in the new technology that comes out,” says Anderson of Sauk Rapids, after testing the new TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 Fairway club at a season opening demo event March 2 at Austad’s Golf in St. Cloud.
Upon the release of the original RocketBallz last year, TaylorMade suggested the club could add 17 yards to a typical player’s hitting distance.
This year the company upped the ante with claims the Stage 2 achieves that 17 plus 10 yards more.
“I don’t have this particular club, but it definitely does feel good,” Anderson said after repeatedly blasting the ball an estimated 250 yards with the RocketBallz Stage 2 in Austad’s golf simulator.
The 26-year-old said he normally hits the ball about 230 yards with the closest comparable club he owns.
“The club that I hit is supposed to hit a little bit shorter than that, but to be able to come out of the winter and be able to swing a club 250 after only a couple of swings … it feels good.”
Austad’s St. Cloud general manager Bob Harper says the new range of TaylorMade R1 drivers (from $400), RocketBallz fairway clubs (from $220) and RocketBladez irons (from $99 each) are some of the top technology in 2013.
TaylorMade says a lower and more forward center of gravity of the RocketBallz Stage 2 “promotes faster ball speed, higher launch and low spin,” while the RocketBladez are designed to be more forgiving in the event of mishits as well as promoting “higher ball speed and distance.”
Harper says driver club head adjustability continues to be the biggest area of technological innovation, with the R1 driver leading the way after TaylorMade pioneered adjustable drivers.
“TaylorMade has had adjustable drivers for years, but now everybody is jumping on board,” he said, noting that companies such as Cobra, Ping, Callaway, Nike and Cleveland were all releasing new adjustable drivers in 2013.
Harper said being able to adjust a driver’s launch angle – the angle at which a club initially propels the ball at impact – was the biggest area of advancement in 2013, with the R1 offering a variable launch angle range of about 4 degrees, among 168 possible club head adjustments.
“You can change it high, you can change it low, you can move it left, you can move it right, so you can do all kinds of things with that one,” Harper said.
“It’s for people who really like to tweak. Instead of making sure their swing is dialed in they can actually dial in their club to whatever swing they show up on the golf course with that day.”
PuttersPing applies the adjustability theme to its putters, with its Scottsdale TR range (from $150), which features a shaft that can be extended by up to 11 inches in the longest of the 12 available models.
The company says the TR stands for the putter’s “True Roll” technology, achieved through the placement of variable-depth grooves built into the putter face.
Odyssey’s Versa Series mallet-style putter (from $170) is one of the more peculiar-looking pieces of equipment.
Inspired by studies of night-vision goggle technology, the Versa’s contrasting black-and-white alignment is designed to help golfers line up the putter squarely to the target, according to Odyssey.
The Versa Series mallet actually resembles a pair of night-vision goggles with its horseshoe shape. Odyssey also offers a range of blade-style putters in the Versa Series.
BallsOf course, golf balls continue to evolve with technology as well.
Renowned as the most popular choice of PGA Tour players, the Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls by Titleist (from $40 per dozen) come with a softer core and lower compression at impact in 2013 to achieve less spin off the tee and greater distance, according to the company.
Finally, it’s useful to note that despite all the high-tech innovations available, Wapicada golf pro Jason Rieder advises players to focus on choosing equipment most appropriate and properly fitted to their unique swing style and personal preference.
“Each person has a uniquely different swing,” Rieder says. “It’s best to have the latest technology, but it has to be the right technology for you.”
In reference to putters, Rieder notes: “You shouldn’t buy a putter off the rack. You should always try it first. Just because one person likes it, doesn’t mean another will.”