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).
When 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.
Aside 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.