TaylorMade TP5 and TP5x balls

IT MAY have seemed odd for TaylorMade’s mega-sized new product launch event to start with the company’s new TP5 and TP5x golf balls. But as TaylorMade’s director of golf ball research and development Eric Loper sees it, while the company’s legendary technology in clubs has always dominated the spotlight, the golf ball business will be a rightly deserved point of emphasis this year. “This is a milestone for our golf ball. The performance is that different. It really is,” he says.

While the new TP5 and TP5x continue the same five-layer technology seen in the company’s previous Penta TP model, the hard work and focus is on the new balls’ three most inner layers. Almost a ball within a ball, the new balls feature a larger, very low compression inner core surrounded by an outer core and a mantle layer. The key, Loper says, isn’t just speed from the core, it’s spin and that spin helps not only driver shots but all iron shots through the bag.

“We’ve made the core larger,” he says. “But what we’ve also done is we’ve reformulated the layers so that they’re building up that compression and packing the speed back on. But they’re softer so we have a larger core, softer materials that are just as resilient as they were before.”

The result, huge distance off the tee and increased control on and around the greens.

In terms of differences between the two balls, the TP5 will feature a softer compression on the core (16) and a softer feel with mid-launch. The TP5x is firmer feeling with higher launch.

RRP: $74.95. See TaylorMadeGolf.com.au for more.                      Mike Stachura

Callaway Sure Out Wedge

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The Callaway Sure Out wedge was designed with one guiding principle: to eliminate the bladed or chunked wedge shot.

While the vast majority of wedges being introduced today seem focused on the intricacies of groove design and loft and bounce angle permutations, this Callaway wedge, which takes its name from the original wide-soled Ben Hogan design from half a century ago, is taking up on the current trend in what can only be termed average golfer “disaster” wedges. While several have been offered only via the infomercial route, it’s rare for a mainstream manufacturer to head down this route. Only Cleveland with its SmartSole designs for chip and pitch shots, Tour Edge with its slightly oversize 1Out Plus model and Fourteen with the H-030 have ventured into this territory.

Now, Callaway in concert with some input from noted teacher Hank Haney is bringing its technological horsepower to those with needy short games. Haney, the former instructor for Tiger Woods and other tour players, has been focusing his teaching on average golfers in recent years, and he sees the short game as an underserved trouble area, particularly in the sand.

“The big problem people have with the normal sand wedge,” Haney says, “is you have to open the face, and that terrifies a lot of average golfers. And the other thing is when you swing into the sand, the sand offers resistance.

“So part of our goal with the Sure Out was to design a club where there’s very little resistance with the sand so even somebody with very little clubhead speed can still get the ball out of the bunker.”

RRP $189.99. See CallawayGolf.com.au for more

Srixon Z-Star, Z-Star XV Balls

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In the new solid core, multilayer, urethane-covered Srixon balls, it’s the little changes that do the most to optimise distance and improve greenside spin. Srixon’s Z-Star and Z-Star XV balls are aimed at two different swing types, but both feature redesigned cores, a new dimple pattern and an upgraded cover coating designed to improve friction on short shots.

Srixon’s tour-level combo of Z-Star and Z-Star XV offer the kind of specialised improvements that will let better players optimise performance. The chief improvements over the 2015 versions of these balls include a softer three-piece core in the  Z-Star to improve feel, lower spin and increase launch, while the the dual core on the Z-Star XV features a larger and softer inner core while maintaining the firmness of the outer core for faster ballspeeds. Both balls also use a new 338-dimple pattern that reduces drag for better downrange carry and benefit from a third-generation cover coating called “spinskin”. The softer coating allows the cover to stretch more at impact to create greater friction and more spin on short greenside shots.

“For our tour staff, they’re making the decision between Z-Star and XV based on approach shots and greenside,” says Srixon’s Jeff Brunski, director of research and development, who also makes the point that while the high swing speed player may see more ballspeed with the XV, some of those players may get better launch conditions and end up hitting it farther with the Z-Star.

RRP: $69.99. See Srixon.com.au for more.                                                                 – M.S.

Titleist Scotty Cameron Select, Futura Mallets

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The latest Titleist Scotty Cameron Select and Futura mallets might get you thinking differently about the game’s most famous putter designer.

While Cameron’s reputation has grown most richly for his blade designs that earned places in winner’s bags and have been coveted by collectors and average golfers of all types for the better part of the last two decades, it may be his mallets that stand as his most distinctive work.

A mini-mallet or “teardrop-shaped” mallet, as Cameron calls it, is the latest addition to the Select Newport line. The Select Newport 3 is at once a departure from the rest of the typical heel-toe weighted Newport line and a fitting compliment. Unlike the others, the heel-shafted Newport 3 features a milled 6061 aluminium face piece inset around a milled 303 stainless body. The combination of the heavier steel surrounding the soft feeling and lighter aluminium helps create more stability on off-centre strikes.

“We’ve extended the methodology of our proven multi-material technology to include the aircraft grade aluminium inlay, which allows me to design more of the weight into the sculpted back flange, as well as get the sweet feel the inlay produces,” Cameron says. “The result is an extension to the Select family that pulls together the entire line.”

Meanwhile, Cameron has dramatically expanded his line of Futura mallets to a range that includes both traditional looks as well as extreme shapes that pursue high moment of inertia for extra stability on off-centre hits.

“This new Futura line blends my ideas about high-performance putter designs with my long-standing ideals that high-tech should always be high-quality,” Cameron says. “What we’ve pioneered with our multi-material technology allows me to design properly weighted larger putter heads for more stable setups to give mallet players more confidence over putts.”

The Futura 5MB and 5CB are traditional round, mid-mallet shapes with 6061 aluminium face insets. The 5MB, as in muscleback, features a solid steel back flange, while the 5CB, as in cavity back, features an aluminium cavity in the back flange.

The Futura 5S and 5W feature the wingback shaping from the previous X5 and X7M models, with the 5S utilising a back bar joining the the two wings that extend back from the heel and toe.

Slightly larger, the Futura 6M echoes the high-MOI look with extended heel and toe weights that Cameron developed for Adam Scott both in his broomstick putter days and his post anchoring choices. It’s also offered in a counterbalanced, or “Dual Balance”, option with 50 grams extra headweight offset by a 50-gram weight plug in the butt end of the grip.

Finally, the wingback Futura 7M, the largest of the new Futura mallets, refines the shaping of its predecessor, the X7M.

The 2017 Futura and Select Newport 3 putters are now available in Australian and New Zealand golf shops with a suggested retail price of $569.

See Titleist.com.au/golf-clubs/putters for more.                                                         – M.S.

Cleveland Golf Huntington Beach Putter Collection

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The Cleveland Golf Huntington Beach Collection is a line of milled putters with technology designed to deliver more consistent putting performance. Inspired by the beautiful setting of Cleveland Golf’s North America headquarters, these putters feature the classic designs that have been revered for generations with modern innovations that can help any golfer improve their scoring.

Each of the different models – 1,3, 4, 6, 6CS and 10 – feature a tour-proven shape and is made from soft 304 stainless steel, which promotes a softer feel at impact.

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A new Precision Milled Face has a coarse, diamond-shaped pattern that’s four times deeper than the previous generation, according to Cleveland Golf testing. The Precision Milled Face is designed for more friction at impact, which enhances feel and helps produce a more consistent roll.

The Huntington Beach Collection putter models are available in 33, 34 and 35-inch length options with a midsized Blue grip. The 1 model is available in right and left-handed options, while the others are available in right-hand only. A women’s version of the 1 is offered in a Midsize Pink grip at 32, 33 or 34-inch length options in right-hand only. Huntington Beach Collection putters are available at $125 each, and the WinnPro X grip is also available at a $149.

Bushnell Pro X2 Laser Rangefinder

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Bushnell Golf has introduced its latest innovative laser rangefinder – Pro X2. In an effort to continue catering to over 95 percent of US PGA Tour pros and top amateurs who trust Bushnell laser rangefinders, the Pro X2 is engineered with Slope-Switch Technology, allowing the golfer to easily toggle in and out of Bushnell’s patented slope mode. The new function allows the golfer to utilise Slope to get compensated distances when needed and have an R&A and USGA-conforming device for tournament play.

“The Pro X2 provides golfers with the best of both worlds with a 2-in-1 Laser Rangefinder. Slope-Switch Technology makes it extremely easy to get compensated distances with a flick of a switch,” said Paul McLean, Bushnell Golf business manager. “The introduction of the Pro X2 demonstrates our passion to provide tour players and elite amateur players with the most precise distance measuring devices on the market.”

The Pro X2 has rubber-armoured metal housing that makes the device fully IPX7 waterproof, incredible range capabilities of up to 1,300 yards (450+ yards to a flag), second-generation E.S.P. (Extreme. Speed. Precision.) and PinSeeker with JOLT Technology. Dual Display Technology allows users to easily toggle between the bright red display featuring VDT (Vivid Display Technology) or the crisp black display.

Bushnell Golf also included JOLT Technology among the host of features offered in the new Pro X2. When the golfer aims the Pro X2 at the flag, JOLT Technology will provide short, vibrating bursts to reinforce Bushnell’s advanced PinSeeker Technology has isolated the target and locked onto the flag. The vibrating bursts provided by JOLT Technology will assure golfers have the exact distance to the flag.

The Pro X2 is now available at Bushnell retailers nationwide with a RRP of $629.