GOLF EQUIPMENT

The Knife by LJC GolfThe Knife
by LJC Golf
a very sharp club

By Kiel T. Christianson,
Senior Writer

BOSTON (June 9, 2003) -- The 2003 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando was quieter than previous years due to the soft economy and the absence of some major equipment makers. The LJC Golf booth was definitely not one of the quiet parts of the show, though, thanks in part to the Orlando Magic dancers employed by the small, Vista, California company, and thanks in part to the buzz created by LJC's newest line of fairway woods: The Knife.

The Knife fairway woods (3, 5, 7, 9, and 11) -- which were dubbed "the hottest new product of 2003" by The Golf Channel -- feature three blade-like protrusions on the sole of the clubhead. These "fins" or "rudders" are designed to stabilize the clubhead, deter twisting, and reduce drag and thus allow clubhead speed to remain more constant through impact.

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The center blade is actually a new take on an old concept. Vintage fairway woods from Ping to Patty Berg often used to incorporate V-shaped soles to cut through both rough and fairway turf. Unique to The Knife, however, are the two outrigger-like blades at the toe and heel. These level the clubhead and help square the face through impact. If swung correctly, these blades will leave three parallel slices in closely-mown fairways. By reducing the surface area of the sole that comes in contact with the turf, this club makes it easier to keep swing-speed high at the point of contact.

LJC Golf (formerly La Jolla Golf) has even made inroads on the PGA Tour, with The Knife finding its way into the bags of Loren Roberts, David Peoples, and J.L. Lewis. This is quite a step up for a company whose highest profile product at one time was the Snoopy Kids Golf set (which are outstanding kids clubs, by the way).

Testing

The Knife's BladesWhen our own 5-wood Knife (20-degrees loft) arrived, the first impression was very positive. The clubhead is extremely compact, and heavy for its size. It feels like a war club that will crush your enemy, the ball. The namesake blades on the sole are striking, and strikingly long.

We took The Knife to practice tees outside of Boston, and to the range at Hickory Ridge Country Club in Amherst (hickoryridgecc.com) to test it ourselves and to get some impressions from golfers of varying handicap levels. The blades intimidated one mid-handicapper. He just couldn't convince himself that they wouldn't keep him from getting the face on the ball, and he topped several shots.

Another mid-handicapper had the same reaction at first, but after a couple pure strikes, the fear of thin shots evaporated. And when two low-handicap flatbellies took their cuts with The Knife, just about everyone on the range was convinced. A high-school golf team member loved the set-up and the swing weight. He hammered one long, high, controlled fade after another.

An assistant pro at Hickory Ridge got the most stunning results. Within a couple of swings, he was smashing towering 230-yard draws. Most striking was the ball flight -- each shot reached its apex immediately before falling almost straight down. Even on hard, fast greens, the ball wouldn't have rolled more than a couple of feet.

The Verdict

The Knife Line of Fairway WoodsAside from the one golfer who couldn't seem to get down on the ball, every one of the six people we asked to hit The Knife liked it. We hit it off tees, rough, close-cut turf and mats, and had no trouble getting the ball up. This is not surprising, given that 60-percent of the clubhead weight is below the equator of the ball. If you're hitting off hard-pan, however, the story might be different.

The grip and butt-end of the Rapport shaft were a bit larger than on some other 5-woods, which made it slightly difficult for me to turn my hands over, but one could fairly easily re-shaft if necessary. In addition, the compact clubhead was surprisingly forgiving on off-center hits.

The only significant detraction from the appeal of the club, according to the golfers we asked to test The Knife, was the price -- $249 each -- which appeared to be prohibitively high for some. While the price point might put a 3- through 11-wood set out of reach, if there is one "money wood" you use for those long par-3s, long approaches, or trouble shots out of the rough, The Knife would be a sound investment.

In sum, The Knife might cut into your equipment budget, but it might also whittle strokes off of your score. It is one sharp club.

For more information visit LJCgolf.com or call (800) 468-7700.


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Dates: any time
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