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Golf Equipment 2011 - Latest Gear Report
June 2011

From exotic white drivers and matching shafts to new irons, putters, bags and balls, Dominic Pedler brings you a selection of the latest equipment on the market.

In the zone – Yonex eZone

The Japanese masters of super stylish equipment return with the premium eZone series whose flagship drivers come in a choice of 450cc and 420cc heads, both with a classy traditional pear shape and a centre of gravity aligned exactly in the centre of the clubface (unlike so many rivals where the sweetspot can be particularly high in the face).

The standard shaft is Yonex’ new Nanopreme model developed in collaboration with a US nanotechnology company to provide more power from a highly elastic form of graphite and more control and stability through impact. Guide: £299 (£349 with Yonex Rexis shaft).

The eZone irons continue the theme of precision CG placement, starting with the lavish Composite iron which now lowers the CG dramatically with a cleverly concealed 20g tungsten sole weight within an L-shaped cavity construction that effectively hottens up the sweetspot across a larger area of the maraging steel face.

While visually far sleeker than a typical hybrid-style set, the Composite still delivers an ultra forgiving performance helped further by the same Nanopreme shaft (£999, 5-SW).

The eZone range also includes two top-end forgings: the Forged Type PB, a moderate ‘Pocket Back’ cavity that comes standard with the excellent Nippon 950 lightweight steel shaft (£999 4-SW); and the sumptuous MB Muscle Back which Japanese whizz kid, Ryo Ishikawa, is already playing.

Nike’s Master plan – the 20XI golf balls

Nike enjoyed some great publicity at Augusta as Charl Schwartzel took the green jacket playing a full bag of the company’s clubs as well as the One Tour D ball, while Masters week also saw the launch of the ball that will replace it: the Nike 20XI, in appropriately themed green logos and numbers.

The R&D team highlighted the new core construction which, in place of traditional rubber, is made from a special injected-molded lightweight resin claimed to offer a 2-3 mph faster ball speed than previous offerings and also a greater MOI from the relatively heavier three outer layers. As with other rivals chasing Titleist’s dominance with their ProV1 and ProV1x double act, the 20XI comes in two versions, each with subtly different performance characteristics despite sharing the same 4-piece construction, 360 dimple pattern and urethane cover.

The 20XI-X is designed for less spin along with a slightly higher compression and a slightly harder cover to promote distance. The 20Xi-S has a slightly lower compression and a softer cover engineered for increased spin and control.

Stewart Cink is among those already claiming an extra 10 yards distance off the tee, while initial reports from Golf Ball Selector suggest both balls are lower launching, lower spinning and slightly firmer feeling than the One Tour range they replace, yet with excellent greenside control.

Carry and roll – Powakaddy’s latest golf bags

While best known as the market leader in powered carts, Powakaddy’s bag range has grown significantly in recent years, with a new crop for 2011 in various categories and colour combinations.

Designed specifically for use with an electric trolley, the Deluxe IV cart bag features features 13-way, full-length club dividers, water resistant zips and lining, velour lined valuables pocket, anti-wear patches and quick-fixing rainhood hat. The bag comes in two different material finishes and six colour combinations, including White/Chilli Red, White/Sapphire Blue in PVC (at £149.99); and Black/Blue and Black/White in nylon (£129.99).

The Sport III bag is a lightweight but sturdy construction with two apparel pockets, 11-way club dividers, four side-mounted pockets and a drinks cooler pocket (£99.99); while, at the same price, the Ladies Deluxe is particularly stylish lightweight nylon design also with 14-way full length dividers to ensure no snagging of clubs.

All feature Powakaddy’s innovative key lock system which securely fastens the bag to the key plate of all of the company’s electric carts.

Shark bite – new Tiger Shark putters

Fresh from their use on the PGA Tour, the latest Tiger Shark putters are now available in the UK through Masters Golf.

The Great White series offers nine stainless steel models each with a double-milled aluminium face insert for a soft feel and excellent feedback. They come in seven right-handed models and two left-handed (including a ‘belly’ version) with a blue Ultra-Tac Jumbo grip. Guide £59.99.

Meanwhile, the eight GreenSpeed putters sport an interchangeable weighting system enabling the player to match the head weight to different putting surfaces using various choices of 5g, 10g and 15g weights [the VS-5 and VS-6 have multiple weights for further heel-and-toe tweaking].

All have double-milled face grooves to encourage a no-skid roll, while grip options include the red Super Stroke Fatso Lite, as used by Korean star KJ Choi, as well as the Ultra-Tac Jumbo. Guide £79.99. Masters Golf also distributes Func Factory sports leisure clothing, the Garmin Approach range of GPS rangefinders, SoftSpikes among other top equipment brands.

Rip it in peace – more Aldila RIP shafts

Aldila’s original RIP Alpha shaft made an immediate impact on the pro tours thanks to its computer modeling construction involving something called Reverse Interlaminar Placement – a revolutionary carbon fibre design that was all about lowering torque, increasing tip stability and improving the control of tip stiffness that is so important to trajectory.

The RIP range now has three models, with a Beta version incorporating a softer tip flex for a mid-launch performance, compared to the Alpha’s low-launch and the Gamma’s higher-balance point for the relatively butt-heavy feel favoured by some players.

Being less tip-stiff than the Alpha, the RIP Beta will be a little easier to handle for the average player, with Aldila claiming a longer, straighter and higher launching ball flight for many swing profiles, along with the excellent feel associated with the RIP’s novel ‘inside out’ method of graphite shaft manufacture.

As well as a custom order option with several brands, the trendy all white RIP Beta shaft (which is available in both Stiff and X Stiff flex) will also come as standard in certain leading models of driver, including the Limited Edition White Cobra S3 reviewed above.

All white on the night – Limited Edition Cobra White S3 driver

Ian Poulter fuelled the craze for white drivers when taking the Hong Kong Open title with the flashy Cobra ZL driver whose Limited Edition commercial run sold out in two hours. While rivals such as TaylorMade and MD Golf have also joined the bandwagon, Cobra Golf now return with an all-white version of the S3 Driver, the 2011 flagship big stick that’s already available in black.

Beneath the eye-catching exterior, the White S3 is loaded with the same serious features including the E9 face technology that refers to the large, elliptical-shaped sweetspot that reflects how most golfers hit the ball in a pattern ranging from low heel to high toe.

The club also boasts Adjustable Flight Technology in the form of three simple face-angle settings (Open, Neutral and Closed) which allow golfers to dial-in their optimal ball flight for maximum distance and accuracy.

Rounding off the package is the new all-white Aldila RIP Beta shaft which we discuss in more detail below. The Cobra White S3 Driver is also a Limited Edition (though in rather larger quantities than the ZL) and comes in lofts of 9.5° and 10.5°, along with a Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2G grip, headcover and torque wrench pouch (all in white, of course). Guide: £299;

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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