Sunday, 21 October 2012

Titleist 913 D3 Review

So, I managed to have a 30-40 minute Trackman assisted side by side comparison with my current Titleist 910D3 and the new 913D3 and my thoughts and opinions are here for your consumption. I don't have any pics but the Trackman data will be available at a later date when I get it emailed from my friend at Titleist and I will no doubt share.

Asthetics

Titleist have stepped this years model into 2013 very well. It makes the 910 look almost retro. The sharp red line on the sole and the newer shaped weighting system make the 913 look great but this does nothing for play-ability it's just refashioned to create people who have something good want to swap for something prettier. When you place the club behind the ball I would say the new 913D3 looks slightly larger but it's very hard to tell side by side. Personally it isn't a great difference between them and you will not be shocked like playing a 907.

Sound

Titleist have pulled off something here with a reassuringly solid sound. The 910 sounded solid but never really sounded great. The 913 just has that slightly more solid sound at impact more so that I could appreciate it when others hit the 913. The only thing I will say is that I was hitting from a bay and this may have enhanced the sound but when my friend hit the 910 side by side the sound wasn't something that stood out.

Performance and Distance

So this is the ultimate decider generally. Well I'm sorry to say guys that the 913 is longer when miss -hit. Now I couldn't measure this with impact tape because it lowers spin rate and for me adds significant yards but when I hit a shot of the slight toe the Titleist 913 was only 6-9 yards shorter than a good shot, and 10-12 yards shorter than a 'oh god that is huge' drive. The older 910 that I use regularly would lose 10-12 yards on the slight toe, and 13-17 yards if I compare the slight toe to the 'nailed it' drive. What about middle vs middle? Well through the testing the setup for me was the same shaft and grip just swapping the head. 

9.5 Titleist 910D3, V2-66 S shaft, Set at C1 vs 9.5 Titleist 913D3, V2-66 S, Set at C1

Longest Drive:

910 D3, 297 yards, Clubhead speed: 119.8 mph
913 D3, 303 yards, Clubhead speed: 120.1mph

Average Drive:

910 D3, 274 yards
913 D3, 278 yards

I hit 10 Balls with each after warming up treating each shot as a 'game shot' so to keep the testing realistic.

Bad-Bad Strike:

910 D3, 258 yards
913 D3, 265 yards

Summary

Would I change to a 913D3?

Well I may have positive numbers here but I don't think in realistic terms I would see the difference and in reality I strike the driver reasonably well. The thing I find is that advertising has us buying things we don't need and I certainly believe that the Titleist 913 is a solid performer but it's not ground breaking. I don't need it in my life and it will not give me an advantage in realistic terms so I will save the money for now but when I feel my club is tiring I will purchase a 913 happily. All I'm saying is it's not so spectacular that playing a 910 will put you at a disadvantage.

If you are playing an older golf club Pre-2006 then this is a space age step, but for anyone playing the 910 do not expect jaw-dropping results.

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Mike B



Monday, 10 September 2012

Titleist Fitting Centre Review - St Ives Golf Club, Cambridgeshire

Recently I decided to put a little money aside to save for some custom fitted Titleist Irons, Wedges, and Woods. This is my review of the events leading up to the day up until the moment I held my new clubs. I'm not sponsored or linked to any company I will mention. I'm a 100% independent golfer.

The Booking


Firstly if you are here you possibly did what I did prior to the Titleist day, you want to look for reviews and how to book it. I firstly sent an email to my home club who are a Titleist approved fitter (using Surefit) to see if they could offer me a good deal on the irons and wedges. I recieved no reply to this which spurred me not to chase as I was the customer but to look elsewhere. I then stummbled upon UK Golf Academy ( http://www.ukgolfacademy.com/ ) and emailed Mark Stevens. His reply was promt and we spoke about prices for the irons and wedges I had in mind. I suggested several dates and he confirmed the availability. At one point I needed to re-arrange this and it was not a problem.

I opted for a 2 hour fitting so not to rush into a long term set of clubs. The 2 hour fitting cost £90, which includes a free dozen of balls after the fitting on collecting clubs of your Titleist choice (ProV1x), and £20 off the cost of your order.

The Fitting Centre and Arrival.


My first advice is to write down the post code of the Fitting Centre. I say this as I did the opposite and used the integrated GPS in my car to locate the St Ives Golf Centre which has been relocated and a caretaker at a recent school directed me to the fitting centre before I even asked so it must be a common mistake.

On correct arrival I was introduced to Paul who would be my fitter for the day. I felt completely at ease and on the meet and greet I was offered coffee, tea and the usual small talk to say relax... your at Willy Wonka's Workshop.

The building itself is not vast, more an extended driving range with a comfy office to the side but it's by no means lacking. I then proceeded to the bays to hit balls and loosen up. Golf shoes on a few gentle wedges. I take my clubs along as its really the base you start from.

The Fitting - Irons


After a warm up he asked me a few questions, typical bad shot, what spec are my clubs, how they feel, what heads I like. We started by Paul passing me an AP2 712 6-Iron 2 Deg up, Project X 6.0 same as my current spec apart from my clubs being the original AP2's.  and Then he applied the lie board, tape to the face, and tape to the heel. Watched me hit shots and I was happy they were consistent shots I hit. Then we played around with the legnth and I agreed that 1inch extended felt and sounded so much better than the 1/2 inch extended. He stated this would increase the height I hit the ball and add maybe 1-2 yards a club. We then tried the S300 Dynamic Gold Shafts as my 6iron clubhead speed at 92-94 mph was not enough for X-flex.

I would like to say BE HONEST TO YOURSELF! Don't try and impress by ripping at everything to make him smile. If you are after a true fitting then swing like you would on the course.

When I tried the S300's the difference was night and day... in a negative way. So with the help of the incredible Trackmman we could clearly see that the Dynamic Gold wasn't right and the Project X was. The feel was better, the spin was similar for me but I hit the ball higher with the Pro X but I am a mid launch, high spin, high flight golfer. The average tour pro hits the ball around 29-30 yards high, Rory is at 39 yards high and so were my figures at 37-39 yards. One bad shot dropped to 32 yards peak height.

Wedges


This is where the 'fitter' uses the swings you have made throughout the day and recommends wedges for your game and bounce options also. I used to carry 5 wedges, yes 5! PW, 50, 54, 58, 62. I've changed to the PW rather than a 46 Vokey as I use my PW generally for full shots and not so much for pitching so I don't need to carry the slightly less forgiving wedge. I also use a 52 and 58. That is it! The 58 is made for everything! Bunkers are an ease, imagine the shot and play it and the 52 works for 100 yards to 30 yards delightfully! I really do rate the SM4 wedges. Credit to Bob Vokey!


The Woods / Hybrid


Well I stepped up and hit a few steady drives at 249 carry with 265ish finish and they we're the gentle shots I do when I need to find the fairway. Loading or stepping on them a little increased the carry to 270ish but I continued to have a 3000rpm high spin rate. My clubhead speed was 108 - 112 mph generally with me forcing a few nearer 116. The consistency and length with my V2 66S shafted 910 D3 (9.5) was only improved slightly by a Motora F1 66 shafted 910 D3 (7.5) and with the 913 around the corner I will wait.

For the Hybrid 910 H (17) the stock Diamanna was too lively for me and ultimately deemed this club out the bag. I upgraded to a Rombax and all of a sudden I have a players club in the bag. I'd always been a long iron player but the Hybrid and iron stats were almost identical so the Hybrid with added forgiveness wins.

Overall I praise the St Ives fitting center and its a must! You are not forced to purchase anything following the visit but it's hard to resist. I booked via UK Golf Academy and when I had the fitting they compaired prices and I paid a price I couldn't beat at any other site and the guy I spoke to on the phone was very reasonable and fair even stating the mark ups he was doing. 3 hours later I picked up the clubs!!! Thoroughly recommended.

And in case you are wondering... the clubs are an extension of my arms now ;) And the scores are coming down. Last few rounds I've hit 14 GIR. That's woods and iron play there!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Ping Anser 2012 Driver - 5 years too late?

Okay so firstly I see that Ping have brought out or are in the process of releasing the new Ping Anser Driver which will replace the G20. This worries me slightly.

As I look at the driver I must admit the styling of the club is a vast improvement on anything they have released before. The dynamic looks and matt black paint finish make this a very aesthetically pleasing club... From beneath. The view from above though is the typical half moon ping shape we have seen since the G5 and its a Ping preference. This doesn't please my eye but it may be to your liking.

Ping are saying this is there tuneable driver but what does it really offer? It's very similar to the Sure fit system Titleist offer but much simpler as it offers variations in loft by 0.5 degrees. Increasing loft slightly sets the face open and decreasing the loft closes the face slightly. Now I ask can this simply be done by tweaking the ball position. Simple terms yes but this is so that ball position need not change. Can you adjust the shape? Nah... No weight heel / toe options like the Taylor Made offerings.

Basically they sell the ability to change loft and change shafts with four stock offerings; Fuji Blur, Diamana 'Ahina, Aldila Phenom, and a Ping offering. They state changing the loft will adjust the spin rate and launch angle but it's something Titleist and Taylor Made are doing well and they offer more options of customisation. Why would you choose the Ping?



I can't answer this as I cannot see the retail price being better than what you can pick an R11 or 910 D up for. 

Also Ping are still offering Webfit which amazes me. Yes in the 90's many followed the measuring of finger tips to ground, and hand size charts to engineer a perfectly custom fit set of clubs but now we know that this is all well and good but what we really need is optimised launch angles, spin rates, spin angles, and these 3 options of degree changes and a Webfit to earn a Jumbo grip are leaving the once Custom Fit Kings as a shadow thought.

Also a comparison on the chart Ping provide show the club to be Less forgiving, Lower trajectory, and Lower Spin compared to the G20 and all but the club head shape an i20 with a face lift and novelty hosel.

If I see this in a golfers bag I'm sorry but I will shake my head and once again think 'Who ever sold the golfer that club was on a commission drive by Ping.' because believe me they happen. (Sell 5 XXX driver's receive £XX or X dozen balls).

Mike B

Friday, 13 July 2012

Equipment Review: Callaway X-Forged MD Wedges.

Right where to start. Firstly I think these are exceptional wedges and I'll explain in a moment. One word though is SPIN... or more BACKSPIN!!!

Throughout review I will not 'score or rate' things that are down to personal preference unless I believe that it is a benefit or drawback of the club.

For quite some time I have played Callaway wedges from the original wedges that appeared around 2001 designed by Roger Cleveland. They were weighty, small heads, forged and great feel. Since then I became loyal although the product I believe became progressivley worse with newer versions appearing. At the time I carried the 48, 52, 56, and 60 and my short game was very very solid. The vintage effect was very nice too.

Weight


The weight of these wedges in the hand felt heavier than the main competitor 'Vokey Spin Milled' (Non Competition version). They have a nice swing weight and are equipped generally with a midsize grip which helps the weight feel more balanced believe this or not. A grip can make huge differences to the weighting through the swing.

All in all, weight wise the head was heavy enough for it to dominate medium rough and not to heavy that it dominated the swing or pitch. I really took to the weighting and when friends would have a few shots they would generally note with out prompting that they were well balanced. I can give a */5 rating for all categories but this here gets a 5/5 from me but its down to personal preference.

Profile / Head Shape


I was happy with the head-shape, it is not ugly but equally it is not something that would be something you would compliment. I had no problems with it offending me unlike some wedges where the toe on some clubs appears to be a distance away from the grooves but all in all a 'nice' head-shape.

Here is the thing though... the original Callaway Wedges were very very teardrop nice, small compact, efficient well weighted heads... and the power that be Mr R Cleveland has moved away from this, possibly for improved play-ability but the larger head just snags that little more. It is by no means large but also by no means small.

Components


Stock is a Callaway Shaft and a Golf Pride Grip. The Callaway Wedge shaft has a low torque tip to prevent the head opening and closing due to twist through impact. These by no means degrade the club because they are Callaway branded (unlike the Uni-flex Callaway shaft) but I can't comment as I can't directly compare to an S400 shaft or a spinner shaft. Note: You Will NOT need a SPINNER shaft. These SPIN!!!

Performance


Feel

The feel is great here with the golfer being able to tell if he is playing a premium ball or a cheaper counterpart. The better balls without doubt complement the Callaway but also the Callaway sinks it's teeth into the balls. 

I do enjoy the feel, Callaway have done a great job with these. There everything a wedge should be. If it's from the toe, high, low, neck, you know. If it's from the middle you will be smiling. Once you play these you will look at the 'Spin milled wedges' and think why are these Callaway not in more peoples bag. They wipe the floor with Vokey SM's making the SM feel almost dead.

Flight / Trajectory

Again this may be personal taste for a wedge but for me I really liked the trajectory. On a pitch shot 15 yards to 45 the ball flight is low, maybe 20-40 feet high compared to a standard high ball pitch... but don't worry this doesn't mean it will run through the green.

It's defined as penetrating and you can hear it fizz as it does. This hasn't affected me in the wind either as the ball flight is low and confident not a 'ballooning' flight. Of course this is dependent on the ball and I find that as I use the Pro V1 Std or X, Callaway Black/Chrome, Penta etc that they all apply to what I've said. If however you play a cheaper ball then the ball flight is that of a normal wedge and it negates using a quality wedge. IF YOU OWN THIS WEDGE PLAY A PREMIUM BALL (and have 3+).

Would you buy a nice suit and wear trainers? If so feel free to play a 2nd rate ball... I cannot help you.

Spin


Okay this can be a positive or negative and I'll also mention technique. This wedges stops a ball. QUICK. I have competed with many many top golfers who play alternate wedges and on the firmest days they flop and I play the normal shot... more consistently, better results. I can't believe how revolutionary the MACK DADDY grooves are. They work!! I can play a standard shot on firm greens and it may take two big bounces then either stop, or return to sender. They work I repeat myself.

I have seen a video on the internet showing these screw balls back more than you imagine possible. With this comes cost... firstly you need to judge and allow for this. A high percentage of golfers come up short... a higher spinning wedge will not help this... Just a fact. Also there is a cost to this... It leaves golf balls looking like a dog has chewed them, from as little as green-side chips of 10yards. I have had backspin on average greens from less than 10 yards on a green-side chip... but this is one more variable you must plan for.

On full shots that are played with the intention of spinning, either to a front pin or to show of to your neighbor the spin can be excessive if the greens are receptive and quick and this makes things complicated. I carried more loft variations of this so I could club up and play half or quarter shots to compensate but if your not buying more than one then you have to make some decisions on what to hit if its going to stop but not spin too much.

So in summary it spins but this may be a Black Art.

Lifespan

I have had these wedges for a while and the grooves don't wear down but I'm selective over keeping my 60 degree as a none-bunker club to preserve the wedge. I also owned the Jaws variant and they have the same grooves but the life span is miserable. It will spin one week and not the next... So these are an investment. They last, care for them and you will make friends jealous but beware of the power of the spin.


Hope this helps, any questions let me know.

Mike B