By Hal Quinn
Rory Goes Sub Zero
When NIKE finally gave up on its quixotic dream of capturing the souls of golfers (as it has our soles) it left a few of the game’s best– just like the vast majority of us – without free clubs. After switching to the swoosh for a mere $20 million (reportedly) annually, Rory McIlroy found himself looking for sticks as last year wrapped up. The golf world knew that his decision would be epic, and that’s exactly how it’s turned out.
When he’s on song (as the Aussies would say), Rory is one of the best and longest drivers of the ball ever. If he’s not in that category in ’17, I don’t think it will be club’s fault. McIlroy’s first choice for his new clubs test period is the Callaway 2017 GBB Epic Sub Zero Driver, to go with a set of Callaway APEX MB prototype irons.
Full disclosure: I did a golf and travel TV show sponsored by Callaway. Each season I would be switched to the latest irons and woods. Not only did I become a big fan of the clubs, but experienced, first-hand, a sizeable period of Callaway’s technological evolution from the Big Bertha through the ERC fun, the Steelheads, the Pro Series XIGs, FT5, and so on. Years after the show went off the air, or out of the cables, I play the Apex irons, Razr Fit Xtreme driver, Roger Cleveland’s X forged wedges, Odyssey BLACK Series 3 putter, and Chrome Soft balls. (The show lives on is some syndications. Reportedly, my Japanese is impeccable.)
Each iteration of the clubs has been true to Ely Callaway’s philosophy of making the game easier to play, more fun for average hacks like me, and more rewarding and precise for the best players.
The technology of Rory’s new driver boggles the mind. Callaway explains that the GBB Epic is so-named because: it represents an epic shift in how the head and face behave to enhance power, spearheaded by the innovative Jailbreak Technology and Exo-Cage/triaxial carbon construction.
That sounds pretty straightforward.
What’s going on is two titanium bars behind the driver face connect the sole and crown to reduce the deflection at impact, letting the face take more of the energy and transmit it to the ball. Got it? Translation: longer and straighter.
If it helps Rory get longer and straighter – there’s room in my game for that, too – look out. More details at www.callawaygolf.com.
ECCO Signs Ko & Kaufman– Best Feet Forward
Unlike many over-refreshed daily players, pro golfers wear golf shoes every single round, usually two pairs of them. So it’s not often that a player signing on with a shoe company is newsworthy. But ever since she started winning LPGA tourneys as a teenaged amateur, everything Lydia Ko does is worth a look.
In time for the ’17 season, Ko signed on the ECCO, founded in Denmark in 1963 and maker of incredibly comfortable golf shoes. She’ll be wearing the BIOM G2. Also slipping into ECCO (wearing the Classic LUX model) is up-and-coming (and uniquely named) Smiley Kauffman, who joins several other PGA Tour professionals wearing the same brand – Graeme McDowel, Ernie Els, Freddie Couples, and others.
There’s still a roll of adhesive tape in my bag in case of blisters. It dates back to the olden days when new golf shoes didn’t feel like comfortable slippers. I still remember walking 36 in my first pair of ECCOs and not thinking once about the tape. They call it ‘out of the box’ comfort and these 2017 models are breathable, have a second-skin inlay sole, heel stabilizing design, Freedom Fit that keeps the heel snug with a roomier feel up front, and Hydro-Max water repellent uppers. Befitting, so-to-speak, players like Lydia and Smylie and the rest of us, there are a great selection of styles and colors. View all the 2017 ECCO line at www.ecco.com. Might be time to retire the adhesive tape.
Ping i200 irons.
My colleague, Terry McAndrew, recently posted: “PING has a reputation of understating and over-delivering on its products.” From the beginning it has been a well-earned rep. (I recall the first time I hit the famous box groove wedge – the ball sucked right back off the green and back into the bunker.) It looks like the company is being true to form with its new i200 irons.
They’d been in play at the first two 2017 PGA Tour events in Hawaii before PING announced their arrival, and everything they said about them was understated, but hit all the right notes.
The PING irons have not always suited the eye of traditionalists– players used to and preferring a cleaner and slimmer look to the club head behind the ball. The i200 irons address the issue at address. According to PING: “Tour-inspired aesthetics, including smooth hosel-to-face transition, minimal offset, and a shaper face radius, result in a slim appealing shape and clean look.” That’s welcome news for players who have loved the PING performance but not the look.
The engineering behind the i200 performance goal of improved distance and forgiveness required a rethinking “of how the face and cavity structure can work together.” It involves a stabilizing bar and an elastomer insert that reacts on impact with the ball allowing the clubface to flex more for faster ball speeds.
It’s a great looking iron. And don’t be surprised if it happens to over-deliver. The i200 irons are now available at www.ping.com for $135 per club in steel shaft, $150 in graphite.
The eyes have it
A few years ago, LPGA Tour star Paula Creamer said something that still resonates: “The girls on Tour always use sunscreen, but they do nothing to protect their eyes!”
At the time, Creamer was wearing Sundogs (on and off the course) with the revolutionary Mela-Lens technology. The Sundog Eyewear Mela-Lens essentially created sunscreen for the eyes by filtering dangerous blue light, along with the UVL and UVA protection that every sunglass claims (whether they can do it or not).
Creamer got the message, and is still vitally involved in the design of her collection of Sundog Eyewear. I got the message too and for a few years helped get the word out that our eyes are vulnerable to harmful blue light at all times, but especially on golf courses.
Now with TrueBlue® MOLP Lens Technology (Melanin plus Ocular Lens Pigment) Sundog has taken eye protection and sunglass lens performance to the next level.
Like melanin, the body also produces ocular lens pigment [OLP] to help protect the eye from High Energy Visible light (blue light) that is harmful to the front of the eye (lens) and the back of eye (retina and macula). The only combination of the two natural substances that protect the eye from invisible and visible light are found in TrueBlue® lens technology.
The Sundog Eyewear collection features TrueBlue® lenses with MOLP technology, the only non-prescription sunglass lens to incorporate both melanin and ocular lens pigment to provide the ultimate in eye protection and vision performance. (You owe it to yourself to visit www.truebluevision.com to learn of the effects of blue light and how TrueBlue® lenses can protect you both indoors and outdoors.)
When I hand my Sundog with TrueBlue® lenses to a playing partner, the first reaction is invariably: “Wow!” One pal said: “This is the way the world should look.” Everything is more sharply defined, there is no color distortion because the blue light is filtered not blocked, and there’s not that usual eye fatigue because veiled glare is reduced.
While the Sundog TrueBlue® Collection provides the ultimate eye protection, it also offers styles and frame combinations to please even the most stylish of golfers, well, like fashionista Paula Creamer.
And with more than a dozen models available with TrueBlue® lenses, Sundog Eyewear really does have something for everyone – like the stylish PRIME EXT with Aurora Rose tinted lenses ($69.99).
The new Sundog Eyewear TrueBlue® models are available at fine golf retailers and pro shops, and online at www.sundogeyewear.com. Get ready for your own ‘Wow!’ moment.