10 Rounds with RSi Irons

TaylorMade RSi1

TaylorMade RSi1

TaylorMade Golf sells the most golf equipment around the world by quite a big margin but frankly most golfers probably have TMaG’s top selling drivers come to mind when they think of the company.

That perception could be changing.

With the introduction of the RSi iron models TMaG, in the opinion of some, takes “forgiveness” to a new level and after some 250 on-course swings with the RSis over 10 rounds and maybe twice that number on the range I can say they are something special.

TMaG had been showing it understood sole slots and cavities and perimeter weighting in irons with their models in the immediate past: RocketBladez, SpeedBlade and SLDR. They also understood even professionals don’t contact the ball in the center of the club face every time and amateurs in fact hit the sweet spot less than one-third of the time.

The goal became to add to the size of the sweet spot beginning with how the head weight was distributed which lead to cavity back, plugs and ultimately slots in the sole, all of which now is pretty much standard stuff and done by most every club maker.

Enter the groundbreaking idea for the RSi model, namely slots in the face to really enlarge the sweet spot making them the easiest irons to play I have ever hit. Found in the 3- through 8-irons the face slots combined with a tweaking of the sole slot have made a difference in my iron game for two reasons.

First is the trajectory is exactly what I look for and particularly in those instances where the impact was a little low on the face the ball still got up in the air a reasonable amount. Not perfectly and that’s not to be expected but with enough height to produce an “average” shot but maybe best of all with sufficient spin to check fairly well on the green.

RSi Breakout

RSi Breakout

Just as important, because of the added flexing of the face allowed by the new face slots, I have gained distance; not the credibility-testing “these new irons are two clubs longer” kind but a solid, reliable one-half a club over the SpeedBlades I was playing.

I tested the RSi 1 model game-improvement category irons though there are RSi 2 and RSi TP models in the stable as well. The test set of 4-iron through pitching wedge with ReAx steel shafts is $700.

Recommendation: Irons are the key to scoring and the RSi models should be on everyone’s list to evaluate…they are that good.

My experience can be summed up by the fact I have gained added confidence in my iron game to the extent I pulled a 4-hybrid from my bag substituting the RSi 4-iron because I can be sure of hitting it the correct distance and there’s an added benefit. After one of those almost too rare to mention pull-hook drives I have been known for—rare being defined as not more than three times per round. It’s a comfort having the 4-iron in the bag for the ever popular under-the-tree-punch-it-out shots.

Images courtesy of TaylorMade-adidas Golf

DST-Hitting it Pure

DSTCompressor_400x300At last January’s PGA Merchandise Show I came across a booth with a huge banner manned by Englishman Bertie Cordle. The banner showed a golfer striking what anyone would have to say was a perfect iron shot.

On display were wedges and irons but not normal wedges and irons. Each had a pronounced curvature to the shaft so naturally I asked what it was all about. Cordle’s explanation made tremendous sense.

To hit it pure, we know irons must be struck with a descending blow having the hands ahead of the clubhead. But as with a lot of things, golfers often find this is one of those easy-to-say-hard-to-do moves that we struggle to master. Our swings produce poor hits maybe because the club is not on plane but usually because our hands are behind the ball.

Aside from the speed of our swings, that poor club-ball contact is undoubtedly the biggest difference between the typical amateur and the touring professionals and the probably the biggest reason we don’t score up to our potential.

CompressorClubsCordle, a teaching professional who understands all of this, figured out to train amateurs to make proper and impact…i.e., hit it pure, he needed an easy to use and understand training aid. Thus, after a lot of trial and error, the Compressor clubs were born from his company DST Golf.

There are two, an 8-iron and a wedge (each $100), with curved shafts so to hit it properly the swing must be on plane, the weight shifted to the left (for right-handers) and the hands ahead of the ball at impact. In other words, the entire package for producing better iron shots. You are instructed to replicate the impact position of hands ahead of the ball at address and there’s an alignment line on the hosel to help.

Cordle explained in an email…”here are a few things to bear in mind when using the 8 iron compressor for the first time. Due to the curvature of the shaft it is not unusual for players to hit it fat for the first few shots. If this happens you will be forced to get more weight onto your lead foot prior to impact. Secondly don’t be surprised to see a draw flight path or a pull. If you do see this ball flight, the compressor is encouraging you to hold your hands off for longer through pact. So you have a flatter lead wrist. Essentially, the club requires that you swing the club face square or minutely open to the target line for 15cm longer than a conventional club. It forces you to feel how to control the club face through impact.”

The DST Compressor Wedge uses the same principle but where the wedge really pays for itself is teaching how to hit pitches and chips. It is amazing to watch someone who has been hitting it fat or blading the ball over the green–typical wrist-flipper moves–all of a sudden see the ball go towards the hole with a nice trajectory and actually spin to a stop.

After a series of practice range sessions with both clubs I can report simply they work. Improvement wasn’t instantaneous but after a couple of range sessions I figured what it took to swing for a much more powerful on-line blow and my iron game really improved.

Now if I could just putt.

10 Rounds with the E8 Beta

Tour Edge Golf has had a very successful run with their Exotics line of the “E” franchise, and for 2015 the latest is the E8 series. Though the line extends to cover fairways, hybrids and irons our attention was drawn to the E8 drivers.

There are two, the E8 and the E8 Beta, which was the model I used for ten rounds, a long enough trial to give it a thorough testing, rather than as some “raters” do, forming an opinion after giving it a few swings on the range. Obviously that only tells a partial story of a club’s capabilities, strengths…and weaknesses…and no idea at all of its playing characteristics.

E8_880x600

As it worked out, the E8 Beta we tested covered a lot of the country with four rounds in Florida, five in Nevada and four in California’s Coachella Valley. (I know that doesn’t add up to ten but then arithmetic has never been one of my strengths). I liked this driver from the first because the Beta model has smaller more compact clubhead (440cc versus 460cc, the size of the regular E8) and along with the non-glare black finish made a package that fit my eye at address. Aldila Rogue Silver or Black are the stock shaft choices with the test club having a Silver.

Obviously the bottom line with any driver is length. Does it hit it long and straight? The E8 Beta passes this test with flying colors. It is as long as any of the one-woods tested recently and certainly longer than most. This opinion is objective to the extent of comparing drives on my home course…where the ball finished with the E8 versus where it ends up with other drivers. Non-scientific to be sure but it does average out turf conditions, wind, temperature and other factors not often part of an evaluation.

Also worth noting, the E8 Beta has a 45 inch shaft compared with the 45.5 inch shaft of the driver I was using from another major manufacturer. In the search for distance longer may be better but if accuracy is important even a small difference in shaft length can be significant.

The E8 Beta hits it low with a flat trajectory causing me to adjust the loft sleeve from 9 degrees to 10.5 degrees for more carry distance and still have reasonable run out. The flat trajectory characteristic of the Beta, according to what Tour Edge says, aside from the clubhead size is the primary difference between the regular and Beta models. The Beta center of gravity is comparatively higher and closer to the clubface promoting the lower ball spin higher swing speed players desire. Both models have an interchangeable 7-gram sole weight (additional weights optional) and make use of Tour Edge’s Power Grid design in the sole channel.

The Beta hits it straight with a relatively minimum distance loss when one of those rare off center impacts happens (yeah, right) thought the increased size of the regular model would surely have more forgiveness if that should be your primary consideration.

Negatives. Not many with the most significant having to get used to the impact sound. Everyone who tried it and even playing companions who didn’t, remarked on it. Not that the sound was bad just that it’s different and could take getting used to.

Recommendation. Should the new season be calling for a new driver the Tour Edge E8 Beta ($400) and the regular E8 ($300) should be on your short list to evaluate.

Tiger Redux

Tiger_Nike_2014_3_400x300To a greater or lesser degree, we all kid ourselves. We often can’t see the reality of a situation. Instead we believe a mixture of what is and what we would like it be as the truth. We see it all the while in golf—on and off the course. Who of us hasn’t tried an impossible shot from an impossible lie in an impossible position?

Take a situation burned into my memory, the qualifying tournament for a spot in the field at the US Senior Open…after a pulled tee shot into the scrub under a stand of Spanish moss-draped oaks the ball came to nestled amongst fallen oak leaves leaving almost no shot. Being unable to see that simple piece of reality when the smart shot was a punch back to the fairway, I casually took a 2-iron out and attempted a low 200-yard hook around and under the closest oak. The ball was hit solidly and just as solidly hit the oak trunk before zinging its way out of bounds.

Ok I thought what rotten luck, as I took a drop as proscribed by the Rules of Golf, retained the 2-iron and again hit the ball a mile over the boundary fence thanks to contact with the same tree trunk not a foot from the previous impact.

Needless to say my attempt at qualifying went over the fence with the second ball…Tin Cup has nothing on me.

So how does this apply to the most recent situation Tiger Woods has to deal with…deactivating glutes?

As soon as he cited that as the reason for withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open last week it had all the characteristics of an excuse…not a reason, not reality. And unfortunately it exhibited that same personality trait he has so often shown us in the past. He was kidding himself about what had really gone on.

Or put another way if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.

There’s no doubt in my mind his back “tightened up” after the weather delay and being a fellow sufferer I sympathize but what tipped me over into the excuse-not-reason camp was the already sorry state of Woods’ game plus the fact as far as I know not a single other player opted out of the tournament after going through similar delays.

Woods doesn’t need another swing coach he needs to find within himself the solution to his sometimes seemingly apathetic and certainly often pathetic play not looking outside blaming others nor circumstances nor his gluteus maximus.

The game needs Tiger Woods. Let’s hope he can get his game back and return to the Tour but not as he seems have been doing all his life—with an ignorance of reality accompanied with an arrogance that now days is certainly unfounded.

Images courtesy Nike Golf

Snell Golf

Snell

Dean Snell one of the best known and well thought of people in the golf ball business, holder of 38 golf ball patents, has started Snell Golf “to bring the top technologies and proven performance to all golfers at an affordable, direct price.”

His 25 years of experience at Titleist and TaylorMade Golf place him in a unique position.

“I have been very blessed to work in the research and development of golf balls over the years and have made some great friends on tour. These players are the best in the world and talking to them, asking questions, developing prototypes and then seeing them win with the final product is the validity that we met the performance they wanted.”

SnellBallPack_400x300There will be two ball models initially with availability in March. The Get Sum, 2-piece ball for the average golfers with a low compression core and Surlyn cover, and the My Tour Ball which is a 3-piece construction with urethane cover and also a low compression core.

“The game is changing and people are leaving. Something has to be done to help make the game more affordable, without sacrificing performance and technology. I want to bring the best materials, best processes and best performance that fits every golfer and improves their game- without breaking the bank. There are a lot of people who won’t play tour type caliber balls because they don’t want to pay fifty plus dollars a dozen. Today, Snell Golf can offer tour caliber performance but at an affordable price. By using tour proven technology and a strategic direct-to-consumer business model, we will be able to do just that.”

The Get Sum is $20.99 per dozen and the My Tour Ball is $31.99. More details can be found at SnellGolf.com.