Ten Rounds with EX10 Fairway Woods & Hybrids

Tour Edge Golf doesn’t spend millions on television advertising campaigns nor do they dole out money for toursters to play their clubs.

They aren’t a huge equipment company but they are though an OEM who has successfully created a reputation for high quality clubs using the latest manufacturing techniques, design and materials. Their clubs give golfers top notch performance day in and day out, often at what could be called, “very competitive prices.”

This season’s Exotics EX10 Fairway Woods ($250) and Hybrids ($180) are perfect examples.

The fairway woods use high density steel for the cup face which is combo-brazed (rather than welded) to the steel clubhead body producing a face that is both responsive and strong. Due to its strength the face can be thinner so more of the impact energy is transferred to the ball. Plus since the face is a variable thickness design hits not quite on the center, say towards the heel or toe, can still result in a “good” shot.

It’s obvious during testing, from the nice high ball launch, the work Tour Edge did to push the center of gravity lower and deeper in the head (including the use of a 9-gram sole weight), was a success. And there’s an added benefit with this weighting, it gave the EX10 fairway wood lots of forgiveness. The slim-looking aerodynamic shape is easy to like and the updated wave pattern on the sole (longer rails and deeper channels in between) helps the club pass smoothly through even fairly heavy grass.

EX10 Fairway Woods have a choice of lofts with heads becoming progressively smaller as the loft increases: 13-degree (173 cc), 15-degree (165 cc), 16.5-degree (165 cc), 18-degree (158 cc) and 21-degree (150 cc).

EX10 Hybrids are a similar construction to the fairway woods with the same high density, steel cup face–HT 980 high-tensile strength steel—and again, since it can be made very thin, it produces the trampoline effect, the key to added distance. The face and body are also combo-brazed and the wave pattern on the sole is improved.

In the hybrids a 2-hybrid (17 degrees), 3-hybrid (19 degrees), 4-hybrid (22 degrees), 5-hybrid (25 degrees) and 6-hybrid (28 degrees) are available.

On the course testing was done for ten rounds with a 13-degree 3-wood and two hybrids, a 3-hybrid and 4-hybrid. It should pointed out after a couple of rounds it was plain these newbies weren’t just squatters in the bag slots. They quickly earned permanent occupancy.

The course I often play, depending on the wind, requires a 3-wood from the tee on three or sometimes four holes and the performance of the EX10 can best be described as a “mini-driver.” On more than one occasion the ball actually went too far and since its Florida that usually means one of two things. Either the ball is in the water or blocked out by palms or oaks. Heck of a problem to have.

From tight Bermuda grass fairway lies the EX10 gets the ball in the air every time, the first 3-wood from any manufacturer I can say that about. Granted not every strike is dead solid perfect, my swing sometimes seems to go on hiatus, but my poor contacts are usually towards the toe and the EX10 still gets the ball in the air with credible distance.

The EX10 hybrids are a little longer from the tee than the previous model EX9s which were tested last year and more readily work the ball to tucked pins. Realizing anecdotal evidence for what it is, the second round with them from a par-5 fairway bunker, the 4-hybrid not only got the ball out but laser measurement of the carry and rollout was 186 yards. At my skill level I can’t ask for more than that.

However, where the hybrids really come into their own is from the rough. They get the ball up and out. Period. They feel solid everytime and the shot is almost always online. Long par-3s are even fun since with just a driving range swing, not trying to do anything special, both the 3- and 4- hit the ball high and it lands softly…sometimes even near the pin.

Negatives: Did not spend a lot of time hitting the EX10 3-wood from the rough since Florida rough is Bermuda and even in the winter time a hybrid is a better choice. If you are someone who takes a little divot with a fairway wood—à la Tom Watson—the “Slipstream Sole” of both the wood and hybrids may take some getting used to. Plus, and I know this sounds picky, the head covers on the hybrids are a pain to put back on.

Recommendation: These are in my bag to stay. The best recommendation I can give them.

SUPERMETAL & Kevlar – The Exotics XJ1 Driver

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Tour Edge Golf rolled out the Exotics brand in 2008 with the express purpose of utilizing technologies and materials that might not make economic sense for large club manufacturers since the need for higher pricing would limit sales. This idea has pushed the 30 year old company to an enviable positon of producing clubs of outstanding performance often pioneering manufacturing processes such as combo-brazing, a chemical bonding of the face to the club body rather than welding.

The new Exotics XJ1 driver brings together materials and construction techniques that Tour Edge says are designed to help the average golfer. Quoting President David Glod, “Most technologies of the past decade have benefitted players with higher swing speeds eliminating the majority of golfers. We have been developing the XJ1 driver for over four years, working on each characteristic of the club, moving critical amounts to weight around for the best results and waiting for the technology to catch up to our goal of bringing this extremely lightweight driver to the market which will benefit golfers with real swing speeds.”

The basic idea then, is a very lightweight driver that gives the average player the opportunity to create more clubhead speed along with the launch characteristics to produce more yardage.

Tour Edge first breaks new ground in the XJ1 by making the club body from a titanium alloy they have tagged as SUPERMETAL. This 9-1-1 titanium is significantly lighter than titanium used previously but with very high strength, two properties allowing the metal to be thinner and effect a 10 percent weight savings.

Glod made the point, “…no one has the SUPERMETAL, which allows us to shift a huge amount of the weight to the sole. The SUPERMETAL is also more elastic at normal swing speeds, which translates into greater spring from the whole body while keeping the CT [Characteristic Time, a measure of flexibility] normal.”

And the new ideas don’t stop there. The XJ1 crown is made of a Kevlar-carbon combination that weighs only 12-grams, saving more weight and lowering the center of gravity. Also since this material is stiffer it aids in producing more ball speed. Significantly, according to Glod, the center of gravity is below a line running perpendicular to the clubface producing a higher launch with lower spin.

In response to the question, is the advantage of Kevlar-carbon because it is lighter than the carbon fiber, Glod responded, “No, the Kevlar-Carbon in the XJ1 allows better stiffness producing a better sound.”

The face plate of thin flexible titanium is robotically laser bonded to the body giving two nice benefits, additional weight saving and a higher trampoline effect or C.O.R for more forgiveness. The sole has three tungsten weights and because of the weight saved in the body and crown, heel and toe bars for more stability and better resistance to twisting have been added. A draw ball flight tendency is enhanced by a replaceable tungsten screw near the heel of the sole with additional weights available.

With a 45-gram Fujikura Air Speeder R-flex shaft the total weight of the XJ1 is only 275-grams placing it in the ultra-light category so average golfers can swing it faster which means more distance. Even going to a stiff flex the weigh only increases by 10-grams.

The Exotics XJ1 will be in stores Nov. 1 with a choice of 9, 10.5 or 12 degrees loft for $700.

10 Rounds with Exotics DG Tour Series Putter

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There are lots of reasons to pick a particular putter from “it looks good” to of course, “it works…at least for now.” There’s even settling on a new flat stick because of the designer has a reputation for making putters used by Tour pros regardless of whether it’s suitable for you.

But I think my reason for interest in the new putters from Tour Edge Golf, the Exotics David Glod Tour Series, may be a first. The company’s chief designer David Glod (who is also the owner) creates quality woods and irons that are top performers when compared to clubs from much larger club companies and usually at a much more pocketbook-friendly price. I have sung the praises of his clubs for several years, especially the fairway woods and hybrids.

I like them so much they are in my bag even after numerous head-to-head comparisons with the latest from just about every other maker. It was because of the performance of the long clubs from Tour Edge I was looking forward to giving the DG Tour Series putters a thorough try over 10 rounds.

I wasn’t disappointed.DG_2345_250x370

The model tested was the 5.1, a face balanced small mallet head with a Superstroke Mid Slim 2.0 grip and from the first putt the overwhelming impression was the solid feel of the impact with the ball. Alignment is easy aided by the white line and the edges of the cavity that takes up more than half the top of the head.

Did it fix all my putting problems? No, but it wasn’t too long to have my confidence rise and all questions about the performance of the putter in my hands disappeared.

Glod talked about his designs in the DG series which include two modern blades and three mallets. All have a distinctive face milling, a weight of 350 grams and offer a choice of black PVD or silver bead finish. Each is CNC milled from a single block of carbon steel and priced at $249.99 or $279.99 with a Superstroke grip.

According to Glod the main idea behind the design of the DG Tour Series was, “To improve on popular models with special nuances and create all new versions like V4.1 and V5.1.”

He produced the DG Tour Series putters with a distinctive milled “X” pattern rather than an insert in the face because, [an] “X pattern grips ball better with sharp diagonal edges for less skid,” and the head being milled from a single steel block since, “A block of steel is more pure for best the feel.”

Which it does without question.

Negatives: You may have heard this before but that doesn’t make it less true—get fitted properly. Even though the cost of a fitting session with a competent professional adds to the cost of any putter, if you rely on pure chance the odds is getting a putter that fits your stroke are slim. For example, do you know if a face balanced putter or one with toe hang or how much toe hang is best for you? I thought so.

Recommendation: The Exotics David Glod Tour Series putters are of the highest quality and though they may not cure all your putting woes at least you’ll know it’s not the putter.

A short video from Tour Edge may be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeYmZ2Nai50

10 Rounds with Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro Tungsten Irons

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Hybrids and fairway woods from Tour Edge Golf built their reputation as a first class manufacturer and though they make clubs to fill every slot in the bag their irons have always been somewhat under the radar. They plan to remedy that in 2016.

There are three new models under the Exotics brand banner, the EXd, EXi and CB Pro Tungsten. The game-improvement EXds have a variable thickness face with more of it unsupported compared to the previous Exotics E8 model and the undercut cavity has been increased in size—think forgiveness and added distance. The Exi model has a more traditionally shaped head with less offset, a variable thickness face similar to the EXd plus a dual undercut cavity and a sole slot for more face flex at impact.

The model that went through our extensive on-course testing was the Exotics CB Pro Tungsten and according to the company the one with the most technical advancements. The test period was planned to be 10 rounds but after two trips and multiple sessions on the range the number came out closer to 20.

The net effect was having the opportunity to become very familiar with them and in a word the CB Pro Tungstens are solid. Solid sounding and solid hitting.

According to Tour Edge this is the result of two design features. First, each iron from 2-iron (yes, there is a 2-iron available) through the attack wedge is hollow behind the face which provides more flexibility of the thin steel face insert at impact. Plus because the head weight is moved closer to the perimeter there was less twisting on those rare (yeah, right) occasions my swing missed dead center of the face.TE_CBProT_techlayer

Secondly, the sole has a tungsten-nickel alloy weight between 90 and 95 grams based on the iron’s loft…more in the wedges and less in the long irons. With the weight concentrated in the sole achieving a high launch was not a problem, even from the rough, and as those of you who have played out of Florida’s Bermuda rough know, that’s a valuable characteristic for irons.

Trajectory control was very good from long irons to wedges, particularly when a knockdown into the wind was called for and a comment about the grooves on the CB Pro Tungstens is appropriate. During the test rounds playing Titleist Pro V1xs, I can’t remember ever spinning back as many iron shots which says a lot about the quality of the club to ball contact and the grooves.

Pricing is at the low end of the range for irons of this quality and performance: $799.99 for 3-iron through pitching wedge with KBS Tour 90 steel shafts and $100 additional if you want graphite—UST Mamiya Recoil shafts are stock.

Negatives: the hollow construction gives a somewhat thicker topline, a look that took a bit of getting used to and downwind I felt sometimes the ball ballooned but I don’ t have the expertise to place that all on the irons.

Recommendation: If you don’t take a hard look at the Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro Tungsten irons you are missing out. In addition to their performance it’s important to remember comparable competitive eight iron sets is at least $100 higher and sometimes more…a lot more. The value for your money is excellent.

Images courtesy of Tour Edge Golf

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.

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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.