GOLF EQUIPMENT

Equipment Roundup:
Taylor Made Enters
Wedge War, Sun Mountain Unveils New, Lightweight Bag

By Shane Sharp,
Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 29, 2002) – The story goes something like this: inspired by the success that Titleist and McGregor have realized with their Vokey and VIP wedge lines, Taylor Made decides to enter the wedge war that Cleveland Golf has dominated for the past decade. The venerable clubmaker spends considerable R and D to come up with its RAC technology, producing a line of wedges predicated on the concept that not all pitch and chip shots spin with a consistent RPM.

In other words, even virtually identical swings can produce as much as 3000 RPM difference due to inconsistencies in groove size and depth, thus creating enough inconsistency in one’s short game to give Dave Pelz a coronary. Meanwhile, Taylor Made coverboy Ernie Els goes out and wins the British Open two weeks ago using the RAC wedges (as well as Taylor Made’s new Rossa putter). Add it all up and presto, the company has arrived in earnest on the wedge manufacturing scene. The success of the RAC wedge line in the recreational golfing market remains to be seen, but if this sharp-looking spoon doesn’t hit home with the weekend warrior, don’t blame the quality of the club or the logic behind the technology.

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At first glance, the face of the RAC’s are reminiscent of the Pure Spin wedges, with their sandpaper like feel. However, Taylor Made utilizes a “CNC” (computer numerically controlled) surface that is designed to provide a consistent ball strike throughout the clubface. The Dual Draft, precision milled grooves are designed to drastically reduce the inconsistencies in spin rate and take the guess work out of chip and pitch shots. The RAC wedges are available in lofts from 52 to 60 degrees, bounces from eight to 14 degrees and come equipped with Taylor Made’s Dynamic Golf Wedge Flex shafts. For more information, visit www.taylormadegolf.com.

MacGregor returns to club fitting roots,
takes customization to new level

MacGregor is making a big splash in the iron market with its new VIP series clubs. The sleek, “cavity back meets blade” irons are being lauded for their craftsmanship, and mid and low handicappers say the sticks compare favorably to similar offerings from Nike, Titleist and Mizuno. MacGregor is looking to one-up its competitors by being the only company to offer custom grind options to the golfing public.

A number of big name manufacturers offer this service to the pros, but MacGregor has extended this game improvement benefit for golfers of all skill levels. For example, a 20-handicap could opt to have the toe squared, the heel softened, the bounce minimized and the leading edge rounded on his or her set of VIP’s. MacGregor can also reposition the mass on each club behind the ball according to individual swings to optimize ball flight. If you are still slicing the ball after all this tender loving care, you might want to consider lawn darts. For more information, visit www.macgregorgolf.com. (Doug/Sid, link to VIP review at http://www.travelgolf.com/departments/productreviews/macgregor-vip.htm)

Sun Mountain introduces Cirque Golf Bag for 2003

If you like to take your golf standing up – walking the course that is – then Sun Mountain is probably a familiar name in golf bags. The Montana-based company is one of the few companies outside of Ping that truly caters to the hoofing duffer, and has been doing so for close to 20 years. Sun Mountain’s Superlite, Glacier, Avalanche and Peak stand bags were all the rage at the 2002 PGA Merchandise Expo in Orlando, Fla., and the 2003 encore is the much-anticipated “Cirque” bag.

Cirque has 11 smartly conceived pockets, including a “Dry Pocket” with waterproof zipper offering a great place to stash some good cigars or an expensive wireless device you shouldn’t be using on the golf course anyway. Additional pockets include new and used ball pockets, a velour lined valuables pocket, full-length clothing pocket and a see-through mesh pocket.

FOCUS ON SUN MOUNTAIN

Sun Mountain Cocoon, Pulse Point Jacket

Sun Mountain's Superlight 3.5

Sun Mountain
Monsoon Jacket

The bag also includes a woods separator that protects against nicks and scrapes on shafts, and a deluxe lumbar pad for those given to traversing 36 holes a day. Cirque is available in seven color combinations and hits stores in June. For more information on the company’s bags and outdoor gear offerings, visit www.sunmountain.com.

Softsided travel
golf bags back in business

After a brief scare from Delta airlines, the softsided travel bag industry returns to business as usual. The airline announced a policy earlier this summer that would have required passengers carrying softsided bags to pay $10 per one-way trip for a hardsided carrying case supplied by (you guessed it) Delta. Delta claimed the measure was necessary to recover costs from damaged clubs, but the company backed off the policy when the softsided travel bag industry mounted organized opposition, citing the airline’s policy as discriminatory and premature.

This news could not have been better for Porterline, an up-and-coming name in the travel golf bag industry based in San Diego.

Poterline’s popular Sky Porter bag was in line for a Delta ruling on its “softsided-ness,” but company president Chris Korn says the bag meets the airline’s existing requirements and is not subject to a surcharge for the hardsided container. Porterline recently released a new and improved Sky Porter bag that includes a detachable top, sharper color schemes and improved materials. The bag is one of the lightest (7.2 pounds), durable, and affordable products in its class. For more information, visit www.porterline.com.

Chip Shots

Also sizzling hot … Titleist’s new 975JVS and 975LFE drivers, suggested retail in the neighborhood of $500 and designed for players with high swing speeds … Nike Precision Double C Tour and Double C Distance balls are further proof that the 800 pound gorilla is taking its ball making quite seriously. The Double C series pellets are intended for use by low to mid handicappers, and retail for $35 a dozen.

TravelGolf.com Contributing Writer Shane Sharp covers equipment for WorldGolf.com. Reach him at sharp@travelgolf.com

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