Mizuno JPX EZ Forged Irons Review

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Overview

The new and improved JPX EZ Forged from Mizuno has many added benefits from the previous model.  Much of this improvement can be done due to the addition of Boron to the forging process.  Mizuno’s biggest achievement wasn’t just increasing ball speed and forgiveness with this iron, but managing to do this while still retaining the iconic feel associated with a Mizuno Grain Flow Forged iron.  The JPX EZ Forged irons deliver a thinner face for amazing distance, while allowing the weight savings to be distributed out to the four corners to amplify the Power Frame design resulting in maximum forgiveness.  

Tech Specs

  • Grain Flow Forged 1025 Boron.  30% stronger material for added distance while delivering soft, solid, consistent feel.
  • POWER FRAME™ Forgiveness.  Weight is strategically placed in the four corners of the cavity to maximize forgiveness.  
  • Triple Cut Sole.  A softly beveled leading edge and hard cut trailing edge allows the EZ Forged to enter and exit the turf for playability in all types of lies
  • Black Ni finish.  An anti-glare finish for a bold look that helps hide the size

Available in a 4-Gap Wedge for both right and left handed players.

NOTE: In addition to the added technology, Mizuno is now offering all of their custom shafts and grips at NO additional charge to the customer!

The Test

Our tester for this particular model is a 28 year old male with a 5 handicap who prefers a compact shape but doesn’t get time to practice and would like something with some built in forgiveness.  We tested the 2016 JPX EZ Forged against the previous Model JPX EZ Forged.  Both clubs were hit with a 6-iron with a KBS Tour stiff flex at standard length.

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It wasn’t difficult at all to see a difference for our tester. As you can see by the dispersion view above, not only was the new JPX EZ Forged longer than its predecessor, it was significantly straighter.  On average our tester picked up 9 yards of carry distance on an increased average ball speed of 3 MPH. The most impressive part was his consistency. The added forgiveness of the helped turn his fade into a very straight powerful ball flight and brought his dispersion almost directly over the center line. With a player with this much distances, it is not always add yards he is looking for, it is consistent yards, luckily, with the 2016 JPX EZ Forged, he got them both.

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Conclusion

The addition of Boron to the forging process has allowed the engineers at Mizuno to accomplish great things. It’s extremely high strength to weight ratio allowed them to take a great looking, great feeling iron we have all come to expect from Mizuno and add a fantastic punch of distance and forgiveness.  If you’re a traditionalist who likes the feel of a players iron but wants help on off center shots, this would be a perfect club for you.

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Mizuno MP-25 Irons Review

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Overview

Mizuno products have long been known known for their unsurpassed quality looks, sound and feel, and the new MP-25 is no exception.  Mizuno started with a classic tour preferred shape and size, and for the first time in a MP Series of irons, incorporated 1025 Boron, to increase distance without sacrificing the feel and workability Mizuno players are used to.

Tech Specs

  • Grain Flow Forged 1025 Boron:   30% stronger material for added distance while delivering soft, solid, consistent feel.
  • Micro Slot Technology (#3 – #6): Milling the head from the sole up creates a Micro-slot that activates the strength of the 1025 Boron material for added distance and increased forgiveness.
  • Solid 1025 Boron Muscle Design (#7 – PW):  Enhanced feel and shot making maneuverability.

Available in 3-PW for both right and left handed players.

NOTE: Mizuno is now offering all custom shafts and grips at NO additional cost!

The Test

Our test subject is a mid-30s male who carries a 2 handicap and is a consistent ball striker with high clubhead speed, but is looking for added forgiveness in the mid-long irons and is looking to increase distance.  He is currently using Mizuno MP-54 with a KBS C-Taper stiff at +1/2 inch.  We compared the MP-25 6-iron at the exact specs to his current club.  

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The Results

The results speak for themselves.  At the same club head speed, our subject picked up 2 mph in ball speed, which resulted in a distance gain of 6 yards at the exact same land angle.  A lot of manufacturers can increase carry distance through longer shafts and stronger lofts.  This is great, but with the traditional lofts on Mizuno MP-25 irons we saw an increase in distance truly through technology, and not through stronger lofts.  This means he picks up more distance and accuracy but can still hold greens with a consistent launch angle, spin rate, and land angle.  

 

Conclusion

The new MP-25 is Mizuno’s first MP iron to incorporate 1025 Boron. This has allowed to have an extremely thin club face for the added distance we gained and reposition the saved weight in areas to add forgiveness. The Micro Slot in the mid and long irons really showed its worth on the test. Comparing a six iron with a slot to a six iron without one, the difference was amazing.  Even with all of this added technology,  they have stayed true to the excellent reputation of providing a true players iron, now with increased distance and forgiveness without sacrificing the look or feel of an MP Iron. Come by and test the MP-25 irons today!

Mizuno JPX EZ Irons Review


Overview

In the past Mizuno’s game improvement irons have looked like a blown up version of their MP Line.  With this iron Mizuno took into serious consideration the shape and feel of their new JPX EZ.  This iron is a game changer, giving you more distance and forgiveness through technology and not just stronger lofts.  This is not only the longest iron that Mizuno has ever made, it is also the first JPX Iron to ever go through Mizuno’s Harmonic Impact Technology test.  This means that the new JPX EZ was designed not only to be longer and more forgiving, but also to have that same iconic sound and feel you would expect from a Mizuno players iron.

Tech Specs

  • POWER FRAMETM Dual Pocket.  Dual Pocket construction POWER FRAMETM design delivers unmatched stability and extreme forgiveness.
  • Hot Metal COR design.  A dual pocket cavity and a multi-thickness face design for maximum ball speeds to deliver long consistent distance.
  • Harmonic Impact Technology (H.I.T.).  Mizuno’s scientific technology to fine tune sound and feel
  • Black Ni finish.  An anti-glare finish for a sleek bold look.  

Available in 4-SW for both right handed and left handed players.

NOTE: Mizuno is now offering all custom shafts and grips at NO additional charge!

The Test

Our subject for this test is a 21 Handicap who generates decent club speed but struggles with finding the sweet spot consistently.  We were looking for a club that offers outstanding and forgiveness.  We tried the new JPX EZ against the previous model JPX EZ, both clubs were with a 6 iron at +1/2 inch and a Nippon NS Pro 1150 stiff flex.

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The Results

The Trackman results speak for themselves here.  We picked up an additional 2 mph in ball speed which resulted in 4 more yards carry at the same land angle as the previous model. We also noticed a higher average smash factor, showing that the POWERFRAME has added forgiveness when needed. This also led to his overall shot pattern being almost twice as close to the center line!

 

Conclusion

Boron says it all.  The use of this exotic material has allowed Mizuno to disperse more weight around the perimeter of the club to make this club more forgiving, and gives it a softer feel.  With the 1025 Boron being stronger than their standard 1025, they were also able to make the face thinner and hotter to result in more distance as well.  Whether somebody says they are looking for distance or not, it’s always a factor.  This is the longest golf club Mizuno has ever made, and should definitely be considered by those looking to keep up with their foursome and hit longer shots.

 

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TaylorMade M1 vs. R15

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The Buzz

Since missing the cut at the Memorial Tournament Jason Day hasn’t finished outside the top 12 in the 8 events he’s played. Over his last 6 events he has 4 wins including his first Major Championship at the PGA in August and 2 playoff events at The Barclays and last week’s BMW Championship. He’s currently ranked #1 in the world, #1 on the FedEx Cup Points List, #1 in Birdie Average and #1 in All-Around Ranking. He’s also #3 in Driving Distance averaging over 314 yards. All of these stats made it very interesting that Day switched drivers to the new TaylorMade M1 heading into the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs last week.

“I had a practice round [Wednesday] at the pro-am with the new [TaylorMade] M1 driver and put it into play just to kind of see how it went…to be honest, I’m hitting it longer than my R15, which is fantastic.” – Jason Day

In fact Day was just one of 16 players to put the M1 Driver into play at the BMW Championship, its debute on tour. There were only 4 TaylorMade Drivers in play that weren’t the M1. We’re accustomed to PGA Tour Players looking for every possible advantage and switching to a manufacturer’s latest and greatest design. However, this many players switching in the middle of the PGA Tour Playoffs was more than enough to catch our interest.

The Technology

A first for TaylorMade, the M1 Driver features a multi-material design with a carbon composite crown. Very strong and much lighter than metal, the carbon crown allows additional weight to be positioned lower in the club head. The resulting lower center of gravity increases forgiveness and distance potential.

With the extra weight to play with designers at TaylorMade were able to include not one but two movable weights on their own independent track systems. A 15 gram weight moves on a track that runs heel to toe resulting in 25 yards of left to right ball flight adjustment, according to TaylorMade. A 10 gram weight moves on a new track that runs from the back of the club toward the front. Moving this weight will allow the golfer to adjust their ball flight from high to low with up to 300 rpm and 0.8 degrees of launch adjustment, according to Taylormade.

The loft sleeve on the hosel allows up to 4 degrees of adjustment (+/- 2 degrees), with 12 different positions allowing golfers to change face angle, loft, and lie.

TaylorMade is offering three stock shafts that produce three distinct ball flights:

  • High-launch: Fujikura Pro 60 (X-, S-, R-, M-flex)
  • Mid-launch: Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Silver TiNi 60 (X-, S-, R-flex)
  • Low-launch: Aldila Rogue Silver 70 (X-, S-flex)

Of note, TaylorMade is also offering an additional 25 shafts at no additional charge.

The M1 Driver will come in 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, and 12 degrees of loft. It will be available in two sizes,460 cc and 430 cc, and will be available on October 8 for $499.99.

The Test

We couldn’t wait to test the M1 Driver. We used trackman to measure three shots with the M1 vs. its predecessor the R15. Both drivers have 10.5 degrees of loft, were outfitted with a Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Silver TiNi 60 stiff flex shaft, and had their weights in neutral positions. Here are the results:

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We were extremely impressed with the consistency of the M1 Driver. With the R15 our tester experienced a 60’ difference in height between their highest and lowest drives. With the M1 that difference was just 20’. Overall our tester showed a much better ability to hit drives of a consistent trajectory and distance with the M1 Driver. This concludes that it is much more forgiving.

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Already impressed with the results, we turned our focus to distance. With the M1 our tester on average gained 2.2 mph of ball speed. This coupled with slightly improved launch conditions led to almost 7 yards more distance through the air and an more than 2 yards on the ground. So that’s over 9 yards total. Pretty good. However what made this even more impressive is that on the test shots our player averaged 1.7 mph less club speed with the M1 (105.8 vs. 104.1). This ratio of ball speed to club speed is known as smash factor. With the M1 our player’s smash factor was 1.46 to just 1.42 with the R15. That’s how our player was able to generate more ball speed despite less club speed. Essentially our tests showed a better, more efficient transfer of energy from the club to the ball. According to TaylorMade, that’s exact purpose of the carbon crown and the lower center of gravity of the M1.

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Conclusion

Our initial testing with the M1 Driver was among the most impressive we’ve ever seen. The driver truly did produce more distance and forgiveness. TaylorMade’s numerous shaft offerings, new movable weight system, and 12 hosel adjustments give us an amazing ability to custom fit the driver too. The TaylorMade M1 Driver is available now in our stores for you to test for yourself. Please share your results with us by tweeting us @thegolfexchange.

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Ping Gmax Irons Review

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Overview

Distance and forgiveness is the order of the day when we talk about super game improvement irons and Ping’s new Gmax irons are no exception to the rule. Not all of us have the time to practice our swings on a daily or even weekly basis, yet we still want to hit the ball well and have fun on the golf course.   Ping’s latest addition to their line-up is a perfect choice for many of us. Let’s have a look!

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In the GMax iron, PING engineers have created our longest, straightest model ever utilizing COR-Eye Technology, a revolutionary design that increases face flexing for faster ball speeds across the face to generate incredible distance.

 

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The wide sole design positions the CG low/back to maximize forgiveness. Progressive lengths and lofts
are optimized for efficient gapping with the distance control and high trajectory you need to hit and hold more greens.

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The Test

Our test subject for the new Ping Gmax Iron is a 42 years old male, 8 handicap. He is currently using the Ping i25 irons and his mishits tend to be towards the toe, so he is interested in seeing how a super game improvement iron will perform.   Let’s have a look at the results using our TrackMan technology.

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Results

The results are very exciting!   The Gmax iron produced more distance, ball speed and spin.   The COR-eye Technology increases the velocity off the face over 5mph and adds 8 yards of carry distance!   This combined with more spin will surely stop the ball on the green. Although it would appear the accuracy is not as good, we need to keep in mind that this iron is designed to prevent the ball from going right, so some adjustments can easily be made to compensate for the added draw spin this iron creates. For most of us having some draw to shots would be a welcome change.

Our Thoughts

The Ping Gmax is a welcome addition to an already impressive line-up of Ping irons.  It does everything as advertised and produces some impressive distance numbers. We feel with a proper fitting this can one of the best new irons available today for a high percentage of golfers.

Conclusion

If you want an iron that has the latest in high performance technology look no further than the Ping Gmax iron. This is surely a high handicapper’s dream iron. It’s all about reducing mishits and producing more distance and the Gmax delivers! Stop by one of our 6 locations and test out this new amazing iron.

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Callaway Great Big Bertha Driver

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Overview

As the 2015 golf season begins to wind down it’s a “great” time to assess your equipment’s performance and evaluate where changes can be made to improve your game going into next year.   Could you have used more distance off the tee? Could you have hit more fairways? Did your driver hold you back from taking your buddy’s money?   If you answered yes to any of these questions then keep reading!

In 1997 Callaway released a driver named “Great Big Bertha”. If you can remember back that far then you know that was the titanium bomber of the time. Today, Callaway brings back that famous name with cutting edge technology. The new Great Big Bertha is a driver that pushes the limits of MOI, forgiveness, adjustability and distance.   It’s amazing what nearly 20 years of technology can do to help you hit the ball longer and straighter!

Let’s have a look.

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  • R*MOTO Face for high ball speed
  • Light, Stable Chassis for high head speed
  • Low CG / High MOI combination for low backspin, with maximum forgiveness
  • Adjustable Perimeter Weighting (APW) to adjust sidespin for less dispersion, w/out sacrificing MOI
  • Simple Loft/Lie Adjustability and 4 stock shaft offerings to suit all swing types
  • Standard Stock Shaft MRC Bassara43g (Women’s, Light, Regular) Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black 50 (Light, Regular, Stiff, X-Stiff) Fujikura Speeder 665 Evolution II TS (Regular, Stiff, X-Stiff) Diamana D+ 70g (Stiff, X-Stiff)
  • Available Lofts 9°, 10.5°, 13.5° 

The Test

Our test subject for the new Great Big Bertha driver is a 56 years old male with limited mobility. He is looking specifically for more forgiveness and distance. Like many of us he struggles with consistency and achieving that yardage he needs to give his approach shot a chance of coming close to the pin. His current Callaway 815 Alpha driver isn’t getting him the extra yards he needs and he tends to lose the ball the right. He hopes the new Great Big Bertha will add yardage and minimize his miscues.   Let’s take a look at the results using our TrackMan Technology.

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Results

The results were impressive to say the least! He immediately realized more club head speed and ball speed.   He picked up five more miles an hour of ball speed and three miles an hour of club head speed while producing a lower spin rate and high launch angle. All of these improvements led to over 20 yards of distance gained over his previous driver. We utilized all the adjustability that the Great Big Bertha posses including the perimeter weight, the loft, the face angle and shaft type. This eliminated the right tendency of our tester and no doubt helped us pick up yardage. Its true that not all players will pick up this much distance, but if your current driver isn’t quite right for your game then a significant distance gain seems possible.

His thoughts

“This driver just feels more forgiving and I can’t wait to take it out to the course”

Conclusion

The new Great Big Bertha Driver combines forgiveness and adjustability with Callaway’s unique technology innovations to produce performance that deserves some serious consideration for your bag. We believe this to be one of the most versatile drivers we have ever seen. If you’re looking to hit the ball further and straighter stop by one of our locations and get fitted for this amazing addition to Callaway’s line-up.

The New I-Series Iron from Ping

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Overview

Ping uses 431 stainless steel for the first time in one of its irons. This is the same material used on the very popular Glide Wedges. Ping combined the material’s high strength-to-weight ratio and softer feel to create a head design delivering workability with the perfect amount of forgiveness. Using this stronger steel allowed the engineers to provide a thinner face to increase ball speed across the entire hitting area. Lengths and lofts are optimized to increase distance with proper gapping. With several new premium shaft offerings at no additional charge, fitting for this iron will really help deliver results for all desired ball flights. This iron has a very player friendly look with a high MOI design that will appeal to a wide range of players and skill levels.

The player we tested is a father of two who doesn’t play as much as he used to but still plays to a 7 handicap. Our golfer struggles with a hook and wants an iron that gives him as much possible forgiveness without sacrificing the look or feel that he prefers. A big fan of his current i25 irons, we felt the new i Series iron had a difficult road ahead to impress him.

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The Test
We had him bring in his own i25 7 iron. To confirm his previously ordered specs, we measured the club for length and lie. The shaft he was using was the Ping CFS Stiff Hard Stepped (a build that makes the shaft play stiffer) at ½” over standard length. His lie angle was a green color code and he was using the Golf Pride MCC +4 at standard length. The fitting club was a close match to his existing iron. We used the i Series 7 iron head on a CFS Distance stiff shaft built at ½” over standard length. It was also a green color code with the stock Ping 5L grip at standard size.

After hitting 5 solid shots, our player agreed that the results were similar to what he was seeing outside. We then compared that to 5 solid shots from the i Iron. The results were impressive.

 

 

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The Results
Our golfer immediately saw increases in swing and ball speed from the optimized shaft lengths of the CFS Distance shaft. Our player also commented on the slightly darker finish that allowed the club head to appear smaller than his current i25 iron. The solid sound and soft feel also stood out to him. What most impressed him was the shot pattern. Right out of the gate, the lower center of gravity and higher MOI (moment of inertia or resistance to twisting) helped him fight his hook. Shot after shot he commented on the lack of curve we saw on Trackman. Even though he did not gain distance (most likely due to the higher spin rate caused by the slightly softer test shaft) the direction and dispersion was enough to get him really excited.

Our Thoughts
You could really tell from the test that the upgrades in material and technology helped our golfer achieve his goals. Although the distance did not increase during our test, the potential was there with the increase in ball speed to hit it a little farther. Our player really liked the higher trajectory the lower center of gravity produced and felt it would allow him to stick more greens with the mid and longer irons. Overall we were very happy with the way the new i Iron from Ping tested.
Stop by any of our locations and test them today.

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Callaway XR Driver Review

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Overview
The fall can be a great time to the play. Our courses are usually in great shape and not quite a busy as they are in the spring in summer. Fall is also a great time to upgrade your equipment as retailers and manufacturers alike introduce promotions that lead to real savings. We recently dropped our price on Callaway XR Drivers. Originally $349.99, XR Drivers are now $50 off and we think there is a whole lot of technology, adjustability, and performance in this sub $300 driver.

The Callaway XR driver is all about distance. Several improvements were introduced versus its predecessor to help increase your club speed, which in turn increases your ball speed and leads to more distance. A new feature called Speed Step Crown and a new head shape for combine for to create a more aerodynamic head and more speed throughout the swing. The stock Project X LZ graphite shaft, which is engineered specifically to create maximum shaft load with minimal effort, can also increase club head speed. Other features, like the R Moto face technology, create a thinner hotter face that directly leads to more ball speed. What we love about all of these new features is the improved efficiency of the club. In other words, when you swing with the same amount of effort these new technologies will lead to increased distance.

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The Test
To dive deeper into the XR Driver’s performance we recently tested it versus its predecessor the X2 Hot. We used Trackman to measure the results. Right away we were shocked with the results. Our tester picked up over 1.5 mph by just switching clubs. The increased club speed lead to increased ball speed and over 5 yards more carry. Combined with a lower spin rate, our tester picked up about 7 more yards total distance and all but one drive struck with the XR went farther than those with the X2 hot. The increase in distance off the tee would allow our tester to have ½ to a full club less into the green. So that could mean the difference between hitting a 9 iron for your approach versus an 8 iron. That sounds pretty good to us.

We’ve included some screen shots from Trackman if you’d like to dive a little deeper into the results.Our Thoughts
At its new low price of $299.99 we love the XR Driver’s value. It’s a definite upgrade versus the X2 Hot from 2014 and likely an even bigger upgrade for those of you playing older drivers. Stop by any of our locations to test the Callaway XR versus your current driver. Here’s to more distance! 

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Odyssey Works 2 Ball Fang Putter Review

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Have you ever wanted a putter that has a good feel when you putt AND produces the true roll you need to get the ball in the hole? The new Odyssey Works 2 Ball Fang Putter gives you the best of both worlds. By combining two Odyssey face technologies—the White Hot Face Insert and the Metal X Ultra Thin Mesh—the 2 Ball Fang Putter provides a true roll and the White Hot feel we all know and love. For those who want options, the 2 Ball Fang is available in a variety of lengths, with a standard grip or a Superstroke, and offers a counterbalance for those who prefer the additional weight in the head and above their hands.

According to tests performed by Odyssey, the 2 Ball Fang Putter is 36% more accurate than any other 2 Ball model. The dual fangs that make this one unique add perimeter weighting to increase clubhead stability. That’s a huge plus on mishit putts. The two-tone versa frame creates contrast, frames your line, and combines with the familiar 2 Ball aid to ensure superior alignment.

Take a closer look below.

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The 2 Ball Fang has been extremely popular this year. Those who prefer mallet putters will not find much to complain about with the Odyssey Works 2 Ball Fang Putter. The classic White Hot feel is preferred by tour pros and amateurs alike, while the Metal X overlay is proven to improve roll which gets your putt on line quicker. From the attention-grabbing cool-blue grip to the two-tone versa finish and stability enhancing fangs, this putter has a little something for everyone. Visit any of our six area locations to try the Odyssey Works 2 Ball Fang Putter soon.

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Callaway XR vs. X2Hot Comparison

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The new Callaway XR Irons feature Callaway Cup 360 Face technology which provides faster ball speeds across the face and longer distance for you! The XR Irons have a lower center of gravity and a higher moment of inertia than previous models, which allow them to hit the ball up in the air for a more playable trajectory and helps them stabilize the face for more forgiveness on off-center hits

The Test
We took the Callaway XR Irons and put them directly up against their predecessors, the Callaway X2Hot Irons, to see what the real difference would be. We tested both irons with the same golfer, a single-digit handicap trying to find an easy-to-hit club that was consistent.

We were amazed by the results. The XR Irons, on average, flew over 8 yards farther than the X2Hot. The XR was over 7 yards farther in total average distance with ball speeds averaging just over 5 mph faster than the X2Hot!

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Accuracy
The XR Iron had a much tighter dispersion diameter than the X2Hot in the side-by-side test.

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The XR seen above in the yellow circle has a much tighter shot dispersion pattern then the X2Hot represented by the white circle. The smaller the circle is, the more accurate you will be. More accuracy means more greens hit and lower scores.

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The peak trajectory was slightly higher with the XR than the X2Hot, meaning more shot stopping capability when hitting into a green.

Result
In the end, the XR vs. X2Hot comparison showed that the new technological features of the Callaway XR Irons including the lower center of gravity, higher moment of inertia and the Cup 360 Face gave the XR Irons higher ball flight, better accuracy and longer distance than the X2Hot irons of just one model year before. This data shows a value in upgrading to the current model Callaway XR Irons, even if your irons aren’t all that old. July is Callaway Month at Golf Exchange. Until the end of the month, you can get an extra 50% trade-in credit on your used clubs when purchasing the Callaway XR irons or any other new Callaway irons or woods.

Callaway Bertha Mini 1.5

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On May 29th, Callaway released the Bertha Mini 1.5, the company’s first entry into the alternative driver category. It is true that 2 woods and strong-lofted 3 woods have been available for a while, but these clubs are a little different. Alternative drivers, such as the Bertha Mini 1.5 and TaylorMade’s AeroBurner Mini Driver typically have much larger heads and longer shafts than similar options. It appears as though equipment manufacturers have determined there is a place in the game for these clubs. So, like many of our customers, we needed to find out where alternative drivers fit in the bag and for what type of player they are intended.

As with any new category, manufacturers will introduce products that represent their own interpretation, which can vary from one to the next. Much like the introduction of the modern day hybrid that teetered back and forth between something closer to a fairway wood versus something closer to an iron, manufacturers will likely release alternative drivers that are at times closer to a tradition driver and, at others, closer to a traditional fairway. Cobra’s Long Tom 2 wood had a shaft the length of a driver. Callaway’s Bertha Mini has the same adjustability of the company’s drivers that are on the market today. On the other hand, Ping’s Rapture has a shallower profile that lends itself to being struck right off the ground. Likewise, TaylorMade offers their Mini Driver in lofts that are greater than that of a typical three wood. Ultimately trial, error, and public opinion will dictate the design characteristics that endure.

Callaway’s Bertha Mini is 35% larger than the XR 3 wood, the company’s most popular fairway. It features their Forged Hyper Speed Face Cup, a Forged Composite crown, and OptiFit Hosel, much like the Big Bertha Alpha 815 drivers. We typically test a new introduction versus its predecessor. Since that was an option this time around, we decided to use a TrackMan to test the Bertha Mini versus one of the manufacturer’s current drivers and fairways to determine where it fits in the mix.

The Test
Our tester is a 3 handicap with an average distance off the tee and a driver club speed of 107 mph. The Bertha Mini being tested had 14 degree’s of loft with one of the stock shaft offerings, a Fujikura Speeder 565 in stiff flex. The driver we tested was the Big Bertha Alpha 815 in 9.5 degrees of loft with the same Fujikura Speeder 565 in stiff flex. Both the Bertha Mini and Alpha 815 had their loft and lie angles set in the neutral position. The fairway we tested was an XR 3 wood with the stock Project X LZ in stiff flex. All clubs where the manufacturer’s standard lengths and were struck off a tee.

The Results

Carry Distance
In comparing carry distances of the three clubs it was clear that the loft of the club was still a big factor. As we’d expect, the driver by far carried the farthest. In fact, the driver carried over 17 yards farther than the Berth Mini and 30 yards farther than the XR 3 wood. More interesting was the comparison between the Mini and the 3 wood. It is true that the little longer shaft of the Mini did give our tester a little more club speed (1.6 mph on average to be exact). However, we believe it was the driver-like technology in the Mini that really made the difference. With just the minimal increase in club speed, our tester picked up almost 5.5 mph of ball speed. That faster flying ball was also launching over 2 degrees higher versus the fairway and happened to be at the exact same 14.3 degree launch as the driver. The increase in both speed and launch led to an average carry distance of 13 yards farther.

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Total Distance
Our tester wasn’t able to carry the XR 3 wood near the other two clubs. However, in favorable conditions, the lower launching 3 wood was able to roll out near the Bertha Mini. During our test the Mini was just 7 yards farther than the 3 wood. The noticeable gap was between the driver and the Mini. The Alpha 815 driver was over 20 yards longer than the Mini for our tester.

Side Note: When looking at distance it’s important that we take into consideration how well the test clubs fit our test player. It’s clear in this case the test Bertha Mini 1.5 did not perfectly fit our player. Our tester’s average spin rate with the Mini was over 3200 RPM, which combined with a high launch, led to a descent angle of over 42 degrees. That is not ideal, if one is trying to maximize distance. In fact, we’d prefer to see that descent angle much closer to 35 degrees like the other two test clubs. With a neutral to positive attack angle and a club speed just over 100 mph, we would prefer to see the spin rate under 3000. Since our tester also launched this Bertha Mini quite high, we could likely achieve excellent launch conditions by lowering the loft of the Mini by utilizing the OptiFit Hosel or the 12-degree head. Doing so would certainly decrease the descent angle and lead to an increase in total distance.

Dispersion
Much to our surprise, the Bertha Mini was the most accurate of the three clubs tested. It appears the combination of a shaft shorter than the driver and a head that is larger and more forgiving than the three wood was an ideal combination for our tester. As you’ll see in the image below, he hit three very straight shots with the Mini, was pretty good with the driver, but struggled to find some consistency with the smaller-headed 3 wood.

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Trajectory
As referenced early, our tester initially launched the Bertha Mini and Alpha 815 drivers very similarly and much higher than the XR 3 wood. This led to shots that, on average, flew much higher and carried much longer. Despite attaining the same loft as the Mini, our tester struggled to get the 3 wood high enough to maximize his distance with the club. Once again, this is very likely due to the smaller, more-difficult-to-hit 3 wood head.

Side Note: It is important to note that our tests were done off a tee. The smaller 3 wood would likely have an advantage off the ground as its center of gravity is most certainly lower than the larger and deeper Bertha Mini 1.5. The lower CG would make the 3 wood easier to launch without the aid of a tee.

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Conclusion
The Callaway Bertha Mini 1.5 tested very nicely. As its name suggested, the Mini produced results much like a driver with distance gains and significant dispersion improvement versus a 3 wood. For a better player, it appears the Bertha Mini is a much better option off a tee, as the increased head size and incorporated driver technology proved to be much more consistent. Therefore we think the Bertha Mini is great for better players who tend to look for options other than a driver off the tee due to performance or course layout. However, the large head and long shaft would only work well off the ground for the strongest and most highly skilled players.

Although our test was with a 3-handicap, we did learn a lot about this club’s performance. We could see it nicely fitting in the bag of an average or higher handicap player who struggles with a driver, as once again, it’s an excellent option off a tee. That said, we’d recommend a player struggling with their driver to first spend some time with an experienced fitter before completely giving up on the club.

We had one last thought about whether or not to include a Bertha Mini 1.5 or other alternative drivers in your bag. It’s always important to consider how a new introduction could affect your set make-up and, most importantly, your distance gapping. Since we feel alternative drivers are best used off a tee for most players, replacing a 3 wood with an alternative driver would remove an off-the-ground long distance option. Therefore, players would need to make sure they have another option, such as a 5 wood or low-lofted hybrid, to fit that need. Once again, we’d recommend consulting an experienced fitter with an accurate distance measuring device, such as TrackMan, to ensure that fixing one issue doesn’t cause another.

If you are interested in testing the new Bertha Mini 1.5, please visit the Golf Exchange location nearest you.

TAYLORMADE DRIVERS – R15

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Whenever TaylorMade releases a new driver the entire golf world takes notice. The reason is quite simple. Over most of the last decade, TaylorMade has dominated the driver market with industry leading technology, like moveable weights, adjustable hosels, and low forward CG. These technologies have debuted in game changing drivers, like the R9, R11, and SLDR. For 2015, TaylorMade is releasing two new drivers: the R15 and AeroBurner. Each of these drivers will be available to purchase on January 9th, but we have them for you to try now in each of our stores. See how they performed when tested versus their predecessors. Continue reading to learn more about how the R15 Driver performed or click HERE to learn more about the AeroBurner.

R15 Driver
We tested the R15 vs. the TaylorMade SLDR. The R15 is TaylorMade’s 2nd generation of a driver with a low forward center of gravity. Originally debuting in the SLDR, this feature drastically reduced spin and increased launch angle. When fitted properly, the SLDR led to huge distance gains. The R15 pushes the envelope even further. With an astounding 75% of the mass located at the front of the golf club, the R15 has an even lower and more forward center of gravity. This drastically reduces spin and elevates launch. Like the SLDR, the R15 also has a front track system with moveable weights that allows the golfer to fine tune the club to achieve desired ball flight. However, the R15 has two weights vs. just one on the SLDR. This means you can tune the trajectory with greater accuracy. Furthermore, the front track system has been moved 12 mm closer to the face allowing it to act like a speed pocket (a technology originally made famous with the wildly successful RBZ Fairways in 2012). The more forward front track system expands the sweet spot and decreases spin. We couldn’t wait to see how these changes affected performance, so we tested.

Our tester for the R15 Driver is an avid golfer with no physical limitations and plays to a 2 handicap. His driver club speed is around 105 mph. Both the R15 and SLDR Drivers tested had 10.5 degrees of loft and stock stiff flex shafts. Pro V1 golf balls were used for this comparison. The results were produced after a brief warm-up and three swings with each club:

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We were very impressed with the R15. The spin rate decreased almost 400 RPM versus the SLDR, as advertised. On average, this change led to over 7 yards of more carry and over 11 yards of additional distance. As you’d expect from a 2 handicap, our player was very consistent with both drivers. However, the R15 produced 2 shots that were significantly farther for our player but all three of his test shots were farther than the SLDR. That means the R15 wasn’t longer some times, it was longer every time.

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Diving a little deeper into the numbers, we see our tester averaged approximately the same club head speed with each driver throughout the test (within 1 mph). Out tester launched each driver on the same initial trajectory (13.7 launch angle with both) and hit each driver equally solidly (within .01 average smash factor). It was truly the decreased spin of the R15 that lead to the increased distance.

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Conclusion
If you are in the market for a new driver in 2015, the R15 is a must-try. Whether you have the SLDR or an older model, the improved trajectory from decreased spin will benefit most players. We suggest you test the R15 throughly when custom fitting, because the decreased spin of the R15 will likely require an increase in loft versus older models. Give the R15 a try versus your current model and let us know what you think. Message us on facebook or tweet us @thegolfexchange.

See our review of Taylormade’s Aeroburner Driver

Taylormade Drivers – AeroBurner

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Whenever TaylorMade releases a new driver the entire golf world takes notice. The reason is quite simple. Over most of the last decade, TaylorMade has dominated the driver market with industry leading technology, like moveable weights, adjustable hosels, and low forward CG. These technologies have debuted in game changing drivers, like the R9, R11, and SLDR. For 2015, TaylorMade is releasing two new drivers: the R15 and AeroBurner. Each of these drivers will be available to purchase on January 9th, but we have them for you to try now in each of our stores. See how they performed when tested versus their predecessors. Continue reading to learn more about how the AeroBurner Driver performed or click HERE to learn more about the R15.

AeroBurner Driver
We tested the AeroBurner Driver versus the 2014 JetSpeed. The AeroBurner features an advanced aerodynamic shape with a rounder toe, raised center crown and new hosel fin to deliver increased club speed. By eliminating hosel adjustability, TaylorMade was able to include a new and improved Speed Pocket that is their longest ever. The Speed Pocket is a slot cut into the sole of the club just behind the face. It allows the face to flex which increases the size of the sweet spot and reduces spin. In fact, the Speed Pocket of the AeroBurner is twice as long as any Speed Pocket TaylorMade has ever had in a driver.

Our tester for the AeroBurner Driver is an avid golfer with no physical limitations and plays to a 6 handicap. His driver club speed around 100 mph and typically plays a draw with his tee shots. Both the AeroBurner and JetSpeed Drivers tested had 9.5 degrees of loft and stock stiff flex shafts. Pro V1 golf balls were used for this comparison. These results were produced after a brief warm-up and three swings with each club:

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Our tester immediately felt comfortable with the AeroBurner. The improved aerodynamic design led to an increase of over 3 mph of club speed on average. We knew the increased club speed just had to lead to more distance.

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Looking closely at the numbers, the AeroBurner launched higher for our tester and, combined with the increased club speed, carried much farther than the JetSpeed—a whopping 13.7 yards farther. That’s impressive! The forgiveness allowed by the improved speed pocket also seemed to help our player more consistently hit the ball farther. Take a look at the dispersion results below.

Conclusion
The AeroBurner is definitely a no-frills driver that is all about increasing your club speed and distance. It’s perfect for the player who isn’t looking for adjustability, but wants a driver that lets them hit career-long tee shots every time. Give the AeroBurner a try at any of our stores now, and let us know what you think. Message us on facebook or tweet us @thegolfexchange.

See our review of Taylormade’s R15 Driver