Hogan makes it official

About a month ago the Ben Hogan company fired all of their employees. They wouldnt say they were going out of business and instead told everyone they were reorganizing. They were going to rehire people as contractors and continue operations

Well today Hogan had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chapter 11 isnt a liquidation but it certainly isnt a good thing. The company owes quite a bit of money. The biggest creditor on the books right now  is Perry Ellis International. Thats right, the clothing company. The club company was licensing the Ben Hogan name from Perry Ellis. Perry Ellis bought the name from Callaway who initially bought the Hogan brand when it went under the first time.

I think the Hogan brand was trying to do something incredibly hard. They introduced their clubs at a weird price point. They were not as premium as something like PXG but they were more expensive than a Taylormade or Titleist set. That put them at a weird price point that the market didnt seem to like. Im sure quite a few people decided to go with another company just based on price alone.

I think another problem the company ran into was the fact they released a blade as their first offering. No matter how much you technology you build into a blade iron people are going to believe it is hard to hit. People wont grab it to give it a swing. They expanded their line to a cavity back iron this past year. More people were willing to give them a chance. That leads me to what was their biggest short coming.

Hogan was really hoping golfers wanted a fully customizable set of irons. The clubs were offered in lofts not numbers. This allowed you to buy a 23* iron and a 29* iron as your next iron. You can set everything exactly how you wanted. Doing that though required a player to truly get fit for their clubs. This would usually add even more cost into an already expensive club purchase. This also made clubs very hard to find. You couldnt just walk into Golf Galaxy and purchase these off the rack. They were not designed to be bought that way. They allowed you to go through a fitting on their website to figure out what set makeup would work the best for you but if you are spending $1300 for a set of irons you want to swing them. You want to feel them.

I was chosen as a reviewer for some PTx irons last year. They are amazing clubs. They are very high quality. I would gladly put them up against anything else on the market.  I am sad to see Hogan go. The old Hogan brand produced quality clubs. The newest Hogan brand did the same. Its always a sad day to see a quality golf club business file for bankruptcy but sometimes thats just how it goes

Another new podcast

Hey Everyone. I just uploaded my newest podcast wrapping up the PGA Merchandise show. I beg of you to share it and rate me highly on itunes. Im banking on a fair amount of listeners. My next goal is to get a ton of listeners and establish my base of listeners. Please help me in that goal. I would appreciate it. It is on iTunes, Soundcloud,Stitcher. Anywhere you get podcasts you can get Hunting for Birdies

PGA Merchandise Show: Day Two

Things have started to slow down in Orlando. A lot of the big news has been reported. That being said I did see some interesting things today id love to talk about.

First up is the Ping G Le. This is an iron from Ping made for Ladies. Ill assume LE means Ladies Edition but thats just a guess. It looks to be a full set. They have gone away from the purple and flowery print they had in the past. They have moved to a teal and dark blue color scheme. You can get a LE Driver, Fairway Wood, Hybrids,Irons, and putter. Its a nice move. When I worked at the top 100 fitter anytime a lady came in we almost always put her in the Ping ladies set. Ping does ladies clubs right so it is nice to see them upgrade their line up.

Srixon has also released an updated Z Star and Z Star XV. The regular Z Star is the Srixon version of the ProV1. Its the softer spinnier version compared to the XV. This time they have changed the dimple pattern and changed the core a little. They have also re-engineered their “spin skin” Which tries to add a little bit extra spin. The XV is a 4 piece ball compared to the Z Star which is a 3 piece. That means higher compression and less skin. They did make the core a little softer while they maintained the same outer core hardness. The coolest part of the golf ball releases is the emergence of the Q Star Tour. When the E5 was discontinued I was on the search for a cheap urethane covered golf ball.  The Q Star is a new 3 piece urethane covered golf ball. Its softer than the Z Star but it has that tour cover. Most golf balls perform the same for me. The biggest difference between golf balls to me is the cover. The urethane and surlyn cover perform much differently. I prefer the Urethane but due to cost I will tend to lean towards Surlyn covers. Needless to say I cant be any more excited for these Srixon balls, especially the Q-Star Tour!

If I see some more I will post that for sure. Also dont forget to check out my social media. Be on the look out for the newest podcast this weekend. I will recap all of the news that came out and go over that.

PGA Merchandise Show: Day One

I know you’re probably thinking wasnt yesterday day one? It was the first day of the show but technically that is named demo day and today is day one. It doesnt make sense to me either. I dont decide these things. Now that youre no longer confused lets move on to the cool stuff and huge news that broke today.

This morning when the doors opened Taylormade had a huge announcement.  They had a new staff member and that staff member was none other than Eldrick “Tiger” Woods. Despite what you think of him, Tiger is a huge get for Taylormade. Some rumors were going around that he was trying Callaway woods and Mizuno irons. That was clearly not true because Tiger not only went with the Taylormade woods but he has agreed to play irons and wedges. Looks like they cant get him to play the putter but it feels like youre going to have to pry the Scotty Cameron from his cold dead hands. It kind of took over the show today but thats to be expected.

Hidden behind the Tiger news we had a new version of the most played golf ball in the world, The ProV1 and ProV1x. The ProV1x keeps everything the same except they will have a new dimple pattern for improved aerodynamics. Where they have focused a lot of effort is in the ProV1. The ProV1 is generally regarded as the spinnier and shorter than the ProV1x. Titleist addressed this by changing the core. It spins less and produces higher ball speeds. Most of this can be seen with your longer clubs. It will still have that amazing greenside control that makes it the most played golf ball in the world.

Ping brought new putters. We had seen these briefly but they really came out to play today. The Sigma is a gorgeous line of putters. There are 15 different models. Most of the putters are the same models you have come to know from Ping. They have added some few new models. Among my favorites are the Tyne and the Kinloch. They will be fun to try out. I cant wait to see them at the PGA Superstore.

Like I said yesterday,technology is one of my favorites things to incorporate in my game. Well another cool item to show up at the show is the Gen-i1. Its a golf ball that you can only putt. Thats because this golf ball has a way to track your putting stats. It will tell you your face angle and how the ball is rotating. If you hit the ball correctly you really want that face angle to be zero to get it rolling true. I will also admit if you have too much info you can overload. I just know for a poor putter like myself this could really help.

This has been so much fun to do. I cant wait to update everyone on tomorrows big news. Follow me on Twitter at hnting4birdies. I am also on instagram @huntingforbirdies. Search for Hunting for Birdies on Facebook. Follow all of the social media to get instant updates from the show. It should be exciting.

PGA Merchandise Show: Demo Day

Well demo day at the merchandise show is over and some of the stuff out there is starting to flow out of Orlando. It doesnt seem there was anything too earth shattering. Dont get me wrong we have some new stuff  and there were a couple of surprises but nothing overly crazy.

We start off with one of the most basic parts of the club. Golf Pride is coming out with a revised version of the MCC Plus4 grip. It is named the MCC Plus4 Align. They have added a rib to the backside of the grip. This allows the player to put their hands on the club better and more consistently. Basically they added a rib to a grip. This isnt anything crazy or earth shattering. Companies have been doing this for years. That being said things had moved to no rib in the grip so it is nice to see that option coming back.

 

Im a big fan of using technology out on the course. Thats why when I saw a tent for VPAR that said “Now you know when each shot counts” I looked it up and saw it was an app that allowed you to have live leader boards with your friends. You could have a tournament and it would track your scores and display them like a leader board at a professional tournament. This would let you know the score you would need to win the tournament. Its a good way to give you and your friends. It also has stat tracking and GPS rangefinder capabilities. Its pretty nifty. I downloaded it and will let you know what I think next time I’m out on the course.

Probably the coolest thing I saw in all the pictures today was the Skycaddie LINX GT again I am a huge fan of technology and love what it can do for your average golfer. Tour players have access to caddies who can give them precise numbers to bunkers,hazards,front of green, middle of green, and back of green. The pros also have very specific ways of tracking how far they hit each club. The Skycaddie Linx GT allows you to do both of these things in one. It is a GPS range finder that will give you all of the important distances you may need. Thats super useful. Knowing its 135 to clear the water is more useful than not knowing at all. This could save you a stroke or 2 out there. That would be cool enough but it wouldnt be ground breaking. Thats been around a while. Where this is different is they have incorporated shot tracking. It comes with sensors that you stick in the grip of the clubs. When you hit the club it registers the shot. When you drive to your next shot it calculates the distance you traveled and tells you how far you hit the ball. Its always useful to know how far you hit each club. The results may not be what you want to see but if you use that information correctly it can make a difference. Its $349.99. Id love to get it out on the course and do some reviews but it may be a little too rich for my blood.

I am a big fan of getting kids into the game. Its the only way we will keep the game alive in the future. If you have a child who is showing some interest in the game and needs some clubs youd be hard pressed to find something better than the US Kids Golf sets. They sell clubs by height not age. That to me is a big selling point. It is also affordable and high quality.

I dont have anything to say about the Epon AF Tour. I just needed an excuse to put this club up. Its gorgeous.

 

Tomorrow could be a huge day. Taylormade and Tiger Woods have an announcement. Some people are saying Tiger will be announcing that he is playing Taylormade clubs. Others are saying Tiger is buying a majority stake in Taylormade. Stay tuned for info!

 

 

It’s here! It’s finally here!

Well everyone it is here. One of the best weeks of the year. It’s PGA Merchandise Show week. I saw a sign today saying it is the Major for golf shows. Its the US Open, Masters, Open Championship, and PGA Championship all rolled into one for golf equipment junkies like me. Every manufacturer, big or small, are all in Orlando this week to show off their products to PGA teaching pros in the hopes they will sell it to the masses.

The last podcast was a nice preview of the show. We went over the major manufacturers and what you could expect from them. The podcast is what we know the manufacturers are releasing. As with every show there may be a surprise or two. Last year Odyssey unveiled the “Toe Up” line of putters. I have to say I was surprised by the release but one currently sits in my bag. Sometimes the surprises are difference makers sometimes they are way too expensive and act almost like a concept car at an auto show.

 

An interesting weekend for sure

Saturday I had some friends come into Dallas from Houston for the University of Houston vs SMU basketball game. We had a good time before the game at a local arcade and cidery. We also decided to grab In-N-Out before the game. It was right about here that the rest of the day went down hill.  I wont bore you with a ton of details of the game just know my school lost…by a lot. After the game my friends went home and my wife and I decided to watch the Stars hockey game. After a hard fought game the Stars…lost. At this point I decided going to relax in bed was the best idea. I was sitting on the edge of the bed talking to my wife and decided to step off and readjust. Suddenly I heard *crunch*. I realized I had just stepped on my laptop. I stop my conversation and open up the laptop. The screen was shattered. It was ruined. I was pretty upset. The worst part of it all was realizing it was all my fault. I put it on the floor and I stepped on it. It was irresponsible. God bless my wife though. She knew the show was this week and it was a very important week for the blog. She gave me a budget and told me to have fun. I came home about 2 hours after leaving church with a new laptop. I spent a little more on a faster computer so that I could produce podcasts a little faster and do a better job editing some pictures and making the blog as good as I can.

 

Well everyone follow the blog this week for nightly updates on all the cool stuff coming out of Orlando. Its going to be exciting. I will also put out a new podcast this weekend discussing all the cool stuff I see coming out of the show! Be on the lookout for all of the news. Please follow the blog and check out the podcast. Rate it 5 stars on iTunes. Please. If you listen great if not I get it just rate and review!

 

Tour Van Fitting Experience

Today was a big day for me. I decided to drop a little bit of money and go get fit for a driver. I have been pretty excited for over a week now. I was excited to try all of the new options and see what actually fits me!

I checked in at the front desk of the PGA Superstore for my appointment. I got ready by hitting a few of my 8 irons. I also did a few stretches while my fitter set up the Foresight (edit. I called the simulator optishot. That is factually incorrect). After about 10 warm up shots with my 8 iron my fitter asked me to grab my driver so we could set a baseline. After 7-8 shots the fitter asked me for my driver. He pulled out a tool and after a couple of clicks and some impact tape he handed it back to me. I hit a few more and launch angles seemed to get a little better. The biggest problem we ran into after the setting was everything started going WAY left. I cheated a little and decided to see what change he made. He decided to change my driver to a 10.5 degree draw setting. That would clearly explain the super left shots.

While I was hitting my adjusted driver I heard the clicking of the driver tool. He handed me the brand new Cobra F7+. I took a look and he had me hit a 10.5 degree with the Fujikura Pro in an X flex (Working out is payin’ off!). The ball speeds jumped up by a 1 MPH. Thats not a huge difference. The club felt great. One of the biggest differences between clubs now and about 5 years ago is the stock shafts. This is a high level shaft. Hell,my stock shaft on my Fly Z plus from 2 years ago is garbage. One of the other things Cobra said they worked on was the acoustics of this driver. It was still a little tingier than the others but it was still a very solid thud.

At this point we figured out a mid launch and low spin shaft was going to be the way to go. We saw some decent gains with the Cobra but we thought we may be able to do more. Next stop was the brand new M1. He passed over the 10.5 degree head turned down a degree. The shaft was a really cool looking Blue and black shaft. I looked down and I saw it was the Attas 6Star shaft in a Stiff flex. Base don looks alone I wanted this club. The baby blue and black mixed with the white and black of the club head was kind of awesome looking. Looks are great but it was time to take some swings. The ball speed was a couple of MPH faster than the new Cobra. That is 3 MPH over the original Cobra. We kept launch conditions in the optimal range and was getting good distance. The big problem was the dispersion. The lefts were pretty bad with the M1. The best shots couldnt be touched but the misses were BIG misses. We tried an Oban but the misses were still pretty off. For as expensive of a shaft as the Oban was it just didnt feel great to me.

Next up was the Big Bertha Epic. This is supposed to be the “Game Changer” of the year. The jailbreak technology is supposed to be great. Everyone was touting huge ball speed gains. I saw a little ball speed gain from my current driver but ti didnt really beat any of the current drivers ball speed wise.  We put the same Attas shaft in that club as well. The launch conditions were pretty close again to the M1. This club most certaintly felt the best. It produced a nice thud sound at impact. When we moved the weight to a complete fade we began to see straighter shots and the big sweeping hook turned a little more into a draw. I dont know how those little titanium bars made that sound but it helped. For costs sake we decided to throw in the stock Aldila Rogue MAX. I was still seeing great numbers. It did feel slightly less stable than the $300 Attas shaft but I dont think it is a $300 difference.

In my curiosity I wanted to try my new ProLaunch Red in the new Cobra head. It seemed to fit well. The club still felt great.The problem was the fact that I was launching it a little low. Ball speeds and spin were still where we wanted them to be.

It was an interesting experience. It was worth the $25 I paid for it. I do wish we would have done a little more comparison of the raw data. About half way through it sort of turned into a lesson. We began working on my swing. I didnt really intend on getting a lesson with my driver fitting. I feel it got frustrating for the fitter because everything was performing the same so he switched gears and tried to get me to hit the ball more solidly. Like I said that was slightly frustrating. Instead of working on my swing we should have worked more on comparing the data and trying different shafts. I never hit a Srixon head at all. I didnt necessarily feel I got a better fitting experience than one I could have gotten if I was in a regular fitting bay on any other day.

I did leave the fitting with some new knowledge. I learned I should probably go to a 10.5 degree head and I should be going after a mid launch low spin shaft but I cant say I learned which driver was the best for me which in my mind was the point of the fitting

 

 

 

New Driver,Irons,and putters

READERS! THE SECOND EPISODE OF MY PODCAST IS UP AND RUNNING. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DOWNLOAD IT OFF ITUNES,SOUNDCLOUD,OR TUNEIN. RATE IT 5 STARS EVEN IF YOU DONT LISTEN. YOU MAY NOT LIKE GOLF BUT YOU PROBABLY KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES! IF YOU RATE ME HIGH I WILL GET TO SPREAD MY KNOWLEDGE WITH MORE PEOPLE. THANKS!!!!!

In yet another crazy busy week for golf equipment we got a peek at a new putter from PING and new irons, a new driver, fairway woods, and hybrids from Wilson Staff. Its all in the lead up to the big PGA merchandise show. It feels like everyone is releasing stuff early. Hopefully we still get a good surprise.

download.jpg

Wilson Staff Preaches Distance

As I said earlier Wilson released an update to a fairly popular line. The company announced the D300 driver,fairway woods, hybrids, and irons. I cant say they are the prettiest things in the world but if they do what they say they do they will be good for some golfers. As you can see it is covered by a bunch of odd looking bumps. It reminds me of the Ping “Turbulators”. The biggest problem I see is getting a golfer to even try it. Is this going to be a driver that some one picks up off the shelf to go hit it? Do they grab it look and instantly put it back? On Driver Vs Driver they showed the executives at a bunch of golf stores the prototypes and got their thoughts. How did this pass those guys? As far as the new irons go, They remind me of the C200 irons that were released last year. There ar elittle slots all the way around the iron filled with a polymer. It gives you better feel while also allowing the face to flex and give you added distance. It almost look like they combined the C200 and the D200. Not to sound crass but they probably wont be replacing the PTx.

TwitterPhoto.jpg

The new Custom Shop alternative?

The coolest news though is what PING decided to launch today. Its pretty much a  putter lab where you can get a little crazy with customizing your putter. You can customize the bumpers to say what you want and have some fun with the paint fill. Its not Tom Slighter custom but again,it allows you to have some fun. Whats also interesting is the fact that this is a new putter you can do this to. Its a new design from PING. Its called the PLD1. Not sure how they want you to pronounce that but thats the name. Its a mix between the Voss and an Anser. Its a slick looking putter. I wanted to give the customizer a shot and see what it was going to run me. I played around and figured everything out. I was ready to go until I saw the price tag. $600. I sighed,closed my screen and off I went to look at other things. Its pretty fair to what the Scotty Custom Shop charges but you cant sell a PING like you can a scotty. Especially  a customized one.

The week is almost over. What other surprises could possibly be coming out? For the sake of the blog I hope a ton!

 

Episode 2 of the podcast is live!

This past week was a pretty crazy week in the golf equipment world. I wrote about Hogan firing all of their employees and reorganizing. Callaway also told everyone their poorly kept secret. They have a new driver and it is Epic. Finally we got a look at what Ping is releasing as their newest iron.

In a couple of weeks the biggest equipment event of the year takes place in Florida, The PGA Merchandise Show. With it being such a big deal I decided to give you a nice preview of what to expect.

Remember please download or stream the podcast ( Even if you dont listen) Rate the Podcast 5 stars and leave an awesome review. It really does help. I see no one did that on the first episode so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me out!

Not your average Tuesday

HUGE SITE NEWS- THE PODCAST IS APPROVED ON iTUNES!

This is a huge step for the podcast. Now here is where I can really use your help. I get that 99% of my friends who may read this have 0 interest in golf equipment. I can still use your help. Please go Download and subscribe to the podcast and rate it 5 stars. I want to get on one of the lists to get the podcast exposure. 

Around 8 AM news started to flow out of Ft Worth, TX that Ben Hogan had fired all their employees and were going to be closing up shop. This was very sad news to me. I have a set of PTx irons in the bag. I will admit they are very expensive but they are a very good club. The people seemed to truly care about what they were trying to do. I can go through some of the problems that the company faced but that could take a little bit of time (Possibly part of a podcast episode)

Later in the day Hogan seemed to try and do a little damage control. They issued a statement that basically said that they were not closing but they were restructuring. Getting rid of everyone seems to be a pretty dang serious restructuring.

Over the course of about 5 hours a club company went out of business,didnt go out of business, and was restructuring. It was an interesting ride for sure. Its not everyday a club company lets go of ALL of its workforce and decides to “restructure”. Ill keep you updated on everything I hear. It will be interesting to see what they bust out with at the PGA Merchandise Show.