Golf Forum - Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com) http://www.mygolfspy.com MyGolfSpy - "the top-secret golf site!" Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:33:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6 TaylorMade Announces SLDR White. . .Seriously http://www.mygolfspy.com/taylormade-sldr-white-driver/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/taylormade-sldr-white-driver/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:35:41 +0000 Tony Covey http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38894 [READ MORE]]]> Post image for TaylorMade Announces SLDR White. . .Seriously

Written By: Tony Covey

How do you improve the #1 Driver on Tour?

You could make it more adjustable. You could offer a bevy of zero upcharge shaft options. You could make it sound and feel better.

You could even make it longer.

Or, using the TaylorMade logic, you could make it available in a second color.

Seriously. That’s what TaylorMade is going with. SLDR is now better because of an alternative paint scheme.

TaylorMade is calling the White SLDR The Other #1 Driver.

I thought that was Callaway’s Big Bertha.

If I had written this article two and half weeks ago, none of you would have any trouble believing that today’s announcement that TaylorMade will be releasing a Limited Edition version of their SLDR driver was just another in a growing line of killer MyGolfSpy April Fools gags.

I assure you it’s not.

The SLDR White is real. This is happening.

The only thing that’s surprising about the SLDR White is that it took TaylorMade this long to do it.

Rumor Becomes Reality

Rumors of the SLDR White date all the way back to 2013 (soooo long ago, right?). Well ahead of the PGA show we hear rumors – I’d almost call them confirmations – from two separate credible sources that TaylorMade would be announcing SLDR White at the PGA Show. Wouldn’t that have been something? Almost nobody of any repute announcing anything at the show anymore.

When I started digging for answers late last year, TaylorMade representatives were understandably cagey about the topic. And while nobody has really come clean on the topic, my belief is that TaylorMade had every intent of announcing the driver at the PGA show, but ultimately decided to push it back. Whether the delay was to clear the stage for Hack Golf or to simply wait for a more necessary or advantageous time to push forward, would be speculative on my part.

Since I don’t have any problem speculating, I’m going to suggest it was probably a little bit of both.

sldr-big2

What is SLDR White?

Fortunately, TaylorMade has made this particular section insanely easy to write.

SLDR White is exactly the same as the existing SLDR. It’s available in the same lofts (9.5°, 10.5°, 12°, and 14°). The stock shaft is exactly the same (Fujikura Speeder 57), which explains why the price point is exactly the same ($399) too. You still need to #LoftUp.

What’s different…in fact the only thing that’s different, is the color of the paint.

“The white crown with black button-back delivers a remarkable appearance at address. Many golfers fell in love with white when it came out in 2011, and now we are delivering a limited edition white SLDR with low and forward CG for more distance when you loft up.” - Brian Bazzel, Sr. Director of Metalwood Product Creation

Now in fairness, offering up a different colorway and calling it Limited isn’t exclusively a TaylorMade thing. Cobra has done it for the last several years. Generally Cobra’s releases appear more purposeful (Orange like Rickie, or Green to celebrate a Major Championship), they often upgrade the shaft, and generally Cobra is pretty forthcoming about how many they’ve actually produced, but the ultimate purpose is basically the same.

Golf companies create clubs, even limited ones, because they want  to sell more clubs.

sldr-big1

How Limited is Limited?

What is different is that when Cobra (and most other companies) release limited offerings, they tell you exactly how limited the product is. For now anyway, TaylorMade isn’t talking numbers.

TaylorMade’s SLDR White is a Limited Edition, and we’ll all just have to take their word for it.

My guess (and it’s just that) is that they are in fact producing less SLDR Whites, but given how deep we are into the SLDR lifecycle, and that fact that everyone (including TaylorMade) is growing more sensitive to retail inventory levels, that’s not so much limited as it is logical.

Produced in Logical Quantities doesn’t have quite the same draw as Limited Edition though, right? So Limited it is.

Why White? Why Now?

At some point TaylorMade may talk about how a segment of golfers really missed the white crowns of R1* and RocketBallz series drivers. While I’m certain there are guys that really do love white (I think it’s cool), there’s a whole lot more to this than caving to the quiet demands of a small market segment.

“SLDR has to live.”

Those 4 very simple words (if you consider SLDR a word) came from the mouth of a TaylorMade representative several months ago. Let’s put them in context.

Whether it was to fight off a surging Callaway, or to make the financials look better after the late start to the 2013 golf season, TaylorMade took a shot with the R1 Black. When that didn’t produce the entirety of the desired result, TaylorMade released SLDR early…way early.

SLDR was originally slated for launch in early 2014 as the first complete reimagination of TaylorMade’s flagship driver since R7. It was to be the celebration of a decade of adjustability. It should have been the latest and greatest competing on equal footing with Callaway’s Big Bertha series.

Instead TaylorMade used it (and later JetSpeed) to make a late season financial push.

SLDR has been an unquestionable success. It’s one hell of a badass driver.

sldr-big4

Despite being among the oldest in a new line of flagship drivers on the shelf it has so far been able to hold the #1 spot (retail sales). That’s no small feat, but the undeniable reality is that through aggressive marketing, and a very solid product, Callaway has been able to take a chunk out of TaylorMade’s lead.

Even as the footsteps get closer, SLDR has to live.

If they’re going to compete on equal footing, TaylorMade almost certainly has to get back on schedule. That means major product releases happen in the Spring. You can’t continually release new product at the end of the golf season when your major competitors are all on a Spring schedule. You’ll eventually lose.

If you squeeze product lifecycles down to 6 or 8 months, you’re going to piss off the consumer in substantial numbers, and eventually you’re still going to lose.

The conundrum for TaylorMade is that quality and performance in golf equipment is often (too often) associated with newness. The latest and greatest is always better than what came before it…even 4 months before it. We’ve said it countless times. If the goal is to compete, and to win, year in and year out (and it absolutely is that at TaylorMade), you can’t succeed with the oldest product on the shelf.

Unfortunately replacing SLDR now isn’t an option (at least not a good one). SLDR has to live. And it probably has to live for the rest of the 2014 season.

So if TaylorMade is going to retain its crown as the #1 Driver in Golf, they’re going to have to continuously come up with creative ways to keep an aging product fresh.

So far that’s exactly what they’ve tried to do.

sldr-big3

A Very Clever TaylorMade

My opinion; TaylorMade made a pretty big mistake releasing SLDR when they did. With spring finally here, they’re running at a clear disadvantage. With the exception of Titleist, everybody has newer product.

That said, to TaylorMade’s credit they have done an absolutely masterful job of keeping SLDR as fresh as is reasonably possible considering the less than ideal circumstances.

They made LoftUp a story unto itself, and have been relentlessly telling, and retelling it.

When the original lure of SLDR started to fade, they released the 430.

When that story ran its course they made a story out of the 14° offering.

Just about a month ago they offered up the SLDR guarantee. Love it, or your money back. No questions asked.

And just as we’re beginning the golf season in earnest, and consumers are finally starting to spend real money, TaylorMade is rejuvenating SLDR for the 3rd time by offering up the SLDR white.

It’s SLDR, SLDR, and more SLDR. Tweak it, keep it fresh, but don’t change it.

That’s what they’ve done so far, and my guess is they’re not done yet.

SQ034_hero_wide_D (1)SQ034_hero_wide_D2 (1)

Final Thoughts

I have absolutely no issue with TaylorMade releasing the SLDR White. Actually, I’m kind of happy to see the return of white, even if I’ve believed from the moment it disappeared that white would be back.

It would be easy to chuckle at this release and call it what it is (and it absolutely is TaylorMade digging in as best they can to fight for market share). It’s certainly fuel for the fire of the TaylorMade haters out there, and I suppose this time around that’s more fair than it has ever been.

For the rest of you…TaylorMade fans, and those uncomfortably riding the fence, I’m optimistic (but far from certain) that SLDR White could further signal TaylorMade’s commitment to do what needs to be done. I think they may just ride it out this time.

SLDR has to live. It can never be seen as the discount/budget alternative to flagship offerings from Titleist, Callaway, and even Nike. There can be no price rollbacks this season – not with this driver.

White or no white, if TaylorMade is willing to absorb whatever hit that comes from having an old driver on the shelf, and lets SLDR live for the duration, it would go a long way towards restoring the faith of the consumer, and fighting the growing perception of TaylorMade as golf’s discount brand.

If they don’t…no matter how much they want to talk about TRUST, there really won’t be any left to discuss.

The TaylorMade SLDR White Driver is available at retail beginning 5/2.

SQ034_hero_wide_D4SQ034_hero_wide_D3

]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/taylormade-sldr-white-driver/feed/ 31
SPY PICS! – Cobra “Shikon” Concept Irons http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-golf-shikon-concept-irons/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-golf-shikon-concept-irons/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:21:41 +0000 Tony Covey http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38837 You Never Know. These concept drawings of what's been labeled as Cobra Shikon irons were posted to a popular design site earlier this week. As is usually the case, we don't know the whole story behind the design. These could simply be random ideations. They could be two among several designs for products that will never see the light of day. Or...they could provide a glimpse of what's to come. [READ MORE]]]> Post image for SPY PICS! – Cobra “Shikon” Concept Irons

File these away under You Never Know.

These concept drawings of what’s been labeled as Cobra Shikon irons were posted to a popular design site earlier this week. As is usually the case, we don’t know the whole story behind the design.

These could simply be random ideations. They could be two among several designs for products that will never see the light of day. Or…they could provide a glimpse of what’s to come.

What we can infer from the drawings is that they were done for Cobra’s Japanese division. There aren’t any Japan-exclusive products in the Cobra lineup (shaft graphics differ a bit, but that’s most of the story), and there haven’t been in a while. You could certainly argue that Cobra is past due on creating something unique for what is most certainly a very different market.

A quick step through Google’s translator reveals that Shikon can either mean bluish purple or fang. Given the context, let’s go ahead and assume it’s the latter.

Cobra Japan Shikon (Fang) Forged Irons

shikon1

The first of the Shikon designs has a very player-centric look. If we consider it in terms of Cobra’s current lineup, I’d slot it between the AMP Cell Pro, and the BiO Cell+. The sole is relatively narrow, graphics (which include a shiny gold fang…see what they did there?) are relatively subtle (as subtle as a gold fang can be).

While maybe the color isn’t my favorite, it’s a design I actually like quite a bit.

shikon2

The second Shikon design reminds me a bit of the AMP Forged. It looks to have a slightly more game-improvement slant than the first, and looks like it would fit between the current BiO Cell and BiO Cell+irons.

It’s just a drawing, so it’s impossible to know how the irons would actually be constructed, but given how Cobra is currently using Tungsten weighting in the BiO Cell, it’s possible that those lighter areas near the sole (where the 7 is stamped) might be made of a denser material like Tungsten. If you look them just right, those same two areas look a little bit like fangs, I suppose.

What Do You Think?

What do you think of these designs? Are these anything you’d like to see come to life, or are the ideas better left on balled up pieces of paper?

Would the Shikon iron change your perception of Cobra Golf?

]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-golf-shikon-concept-irons/feed/ 12
Cobra BiO Cell Irons – A MyGolfSpy Community Review http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-bio-cell-iron-review/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-bio-cell-iron-review/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:23:01 +0000 Will Dron http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38659 [READ MORE]]]> Post image for Cobra BiO Cell Irons – A MyGolfSpy Community Review

Our Members Review Gear – You Could Be Next

MyGolfSpy forum members are frequently given the opportunity to test new products from golf companies of all sizes. Over the last few seasons, our community members have tested every club in the bag, shafts, gadgets, apps, etc.. You name it, our forum members have reviewed it. We are consistently impressed by how thorough and detailed the reviews our member produce are.

I mean…they’re good, and honest, and often pretty damn entertaining, and so we’ve decided to start sharing some of them right here on the front page for those of you who for whatever reason don’t find your way into our forum on a regular basis.

We receive forum review requests on a fairly regular basis, and we expect that as we continue to grow more and more companies will come to us asking for your feedback on their products. My point is, if you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to join our friendly and growing community.

Join the MyGolfSpy Forum Now

Cobra BiO Cell Iron Review

Written by: John Barry
Photos by: John Barry, Bradley Clark, and Foster Attebery

The snow keeps coming, the rain, the winds, but when will Spring arrive? Soon I hope, as the courses are calling for their dose of my golf ball distribution program that I like to call my golf game!

Now nothing says Spring Golf like new clubs, and I have the honor of being a tester for the Cobra Bio Cell Irons. Now the name Cobra Golf, to me, inspires bold colors and patterns, prowling the fairways and greens, standing out and playing with swagger, all of which appeals to me.

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-foz1

Performance

Short Iron Performance

Accuracy – I hit my targets! I hit my targets! Please note that with my game, the shorter the better and the accuracy of these clubs are a perfect fit for me. I seem to hit my #8 and PW more than any clubs in my bag, and I love these.

Distance – With a game improvement iron, I found in general my distance to be off about 5 yards, but with my money sticks (my short irons) I would say less than 2 yards.

Trajectory Characteristics – The ball flight tends to be a bit higher than my current irons and they are easy to get into the air.

Forgiveness – When I mis-hit these irons, which is less often than the others, it’s stays in play and never seems to be more than 10 yards off line, unless the dreaded snap hook enters play.

Control – When I approach a shot, I aim dead center of where I want to go. I do not have the ability to move it right to left, and have some repeatable ability to move it left to right. I can still achieve this with the Cobra Bio Cell Irons. Getting them up in the air or keeping them lower in the wind, check, very doable with these.

Short Iron Score: 95

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-jbarry1

Mid Iron Performance

Accuracy – My mid-irons, my current or the BiO Cells, tend to be a lot more offline than my short irons. This being said, I find these to be no more than 15 yards off line on average. That may seem high to others, but for me, that’s between the trees and not in the water.

Distance – They are about 5 yards shorter than my current clubs.

Trajectory Characteristics – The ball soars into the air for me, great height and the flight path I would expect from an iron I want in my bag.

Forgiveness – This is where the Cobra BiO Cell irons really excelled for me. I hit bad, not solid shots all the time, and my current irons really punish me. Now my friends marvel that even when it looks ugly, I am not searching for 45 minutes to find my ball! This maybe the most forgiving iron I have ever played.

Control – I can launch my ball up, keep it low if have to and keep it towards the middle of the course. This is all that I ask of my irons, and the Cobra Bio Cell delivers like MyGolfSpy does!

Mid Iron Score: 96

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-bclarke5

Long Iron Performance

Accuracy –I normally only play Hybrids for the long irons, so this was a study in futility. The first couple days out on the range, they were just like my current irons, in the woods or the parking lot. I did improve my accuracy with the BiO Cells, but not enough for me to feel comfortable playing them daily. Fortunately for those who prefer hybrids, the Cobra BiO Cells are also available in a hybrid iron set.

Distance – My long irons are never long, they are like less accurate mid-irons for me. I would say in general, they are 5-7 yards shorter than my CB2s.

Trajectory Characteristics – When I did pure them, the height of the long irons was great, even better than my hybrids. There could be some practice potential here.

Forgiveness – As 50% of my long iron swings are mis-hits, I have to say, they are not as bad or dangerous as my current irons.

Control – My control with long irons is like a Kardashian at a thong shop, zero! This will be for the follow up review as I continue to hit them on the range and try and improve with long irons in general.

Long Iron Score: 80

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-bclarke2

Performance Notes

The Cobra Bio Cells are a game improvement set that gets you to the course in style, keeps you in play, and will help you become a better golfer. As a set of clubs, there really isn’t more you can ask for in irons. They have looks, they perform and they improve as advertised.

Total Performance Score: 90

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-bclarke7

The Subjective Stuff

Looks 

General shape: They are kind of futuristic in over all shape, but follow the current trend, shape wise, for today’s game improvement irons.

Topline: The topline is not skinny, nor is it so huge that it will distract you, it’s just average.

Offset: There is a decent amount of offset, as expected for a game improvement iron.

Graphics: Cool, stylish, pink (or most any other color you might like), fun, playful and naughty all at once, kind of like yours truly!

Unique Details: A unique cavity back with weighting in different sports depending on the degree of the iron.

This iron is stylish, yet not classic, and being classic is not always a good thing. The game improvement category is crowded and BiO Cell can set itself apart because of the colors you can order the irons in. Really makes them feel like a customized club than an off the rack set.

Looks Score: 85

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-jbarry2

Sound and Feel

The irons have a solid but dull, thud to them when you strike them fully or off center a bit. This is not a bad sound at all, as irons should be seen and not heard! The feel is pretty close from the center and outwards like most game improvement irons. It’s consistent across short, middle, and long irons.

Why buy these clubs? Because you’re sick of losing a dozen or more balls a round. You want an iron that keeps you in play that lets you play the game out of the woods and be tick free. You buy these because Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever stinks to have during golf season! You buy these irons because you’re wearing a great pair of pants, and who wants to ruin them in the water or the mud?

Sound and Feel Score: 82

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-foz2

Likelihood of Purchase (LOP)

How likely would you be to purchase this iron? This is an iron I would buy, especially after maybe demoing them. They may not thrill you like a forged iron would at the store, but they more than make up for it on the course and the Middle of the fairway! I would buy 2!

LOP Score: 100

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-bclarke8

Subjective Notes

The Cobra BiO Cell Irons lures you in with an array of colors. It puts you under its spell with accurate shots and it takes you home with better scores and a much more positive feel for the game. There will come a time when you have shaved that handicap down, your working balls left and right, you’re down the middle of the fairway all the time. Until then, this is the set of irons for you, well at least me!

Total Subjective Score: 89

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-bclarke1

Conclusion

A great man once said, “it’s not how you play the game, but how you look playing it!” that great man shall remain nameless, since he loves great looking golf clothes and would rather drink beer on the course and have a great time with his friends. Golf is a social game, it’s meant to be enjoyed, not micro managed and over analyzed!

Visually, this club looks like what it is, a game improvement club, but it retains the style that makes me wish Rickie Fowler would wear the clothes I wear!

A top line that is not super thin, but neither is it distracting. A cavity back with different colors to make you stand out on the course, like my Pink Clubs! Mid-sized grips for my huge hands and huge style, stiff shafts for my over swinging approach and an out of the box fit, since I seem to be an average in only club fitting.

From range to course, throwing out my dead miss, a brutal hook that would make Smoking Joe Frazier proud, result were pretty uniform. The Bio Cells were about 5 yards shorter than my Adam’s CB2s, but I expected a slight drop off in distance. This was more than made up by my shots being way less off line, even on misses. I also noticed a much higher launch angle.

Feedback was a bit muted, but again, this is a game improvement club, and I couldn’t do much with a lot of club feedback anyway. I want to hit straight, I will do anything to hit it straight, and losing a few yards is a price I am more than willing to pay.

The Short and Mid-Irons are all an improvement accuracy wise for me. The feel is solid when I flush them, and still pretty solid and hard to notice when I don’t flush them. I can actually feel them working me towards the center of the fairway or the green. The Long Irons, which I do not play currently, were as expected, more erratic. Really with me, the longer the shaft, the worst I seem to do. I will be keeping my 3, 4, 5 hybrids.

The Cobra BiO Cell Irons when combined with my sense of style, rakish wit, and terrible game, are a perfect match. These clubs are going into my bag; yes they are my bag baby!

Total Score: 89.5

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-bclarke3

At the end of each forum review we ask our members to answer 5 very simple questions. We call it “The Five”. Clever right?  This is what John Barry had to say about the Cobra BiO Cell Irons.

The Five

Will this iron go in your bag?. Why or Why Not?  

It’s in my bag baby!  Why? Because I can find the ball I actually hit!

To whom, if anyone, would you recommend this iron?

My beer drinking, weekend warriors who want to play and not hunt for their balls all day!

How, if at all, did this iron change your overall impression of Cobra?

 A club that I knew would look great but found out that Cobra likes the everyman player!

What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?

I might find a way to add a little more color and flair, maybe something to match my pants!

What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?

The weighting on different irons and maybe a black finish to set the colors off!

Cobra-Bio-Cell-Irons-jbarry3

Cobra BiO Cell Irons start at $699 for the traditional iron set with steel shafts. A Hybrid-Iron combo set is available starting at $799.

 Buy Cobra BiO Cell Irons Now

Want to read more reviews of the Cobra BiO Cell Iron from MyGolfSpy Community Members? Check these out: Foz’s Review | Brad’s Review

]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-bio-cell-iron-review/feed/ 10
Gadget Review: The SwingShot Golf Video Camera http://www.mygolfspy.com/swingshot-golf-video-camera-review/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/swingshot-golf-video-camera-review/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:00:29 +0000 Dave Wolfe http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38440 [READ MORE]]]> Post image for Gadget Review: The SwingShot Golf Video Camera

(By Dave Wolfe)

Taking Video For Granted

Being able to record video was once a big deal. I don’t mean that recording video is no longer important, just that now recording video is so easy that it’s really no big deal.

Personal video recording, with high definition quality, is now just a touch-screen button away on our phones. Uploading that video to the world’s eyes is now super easy, and probably quicker than shooting the actual video. Personal video recording hardware (i.e. cell phones) is amazingly advanced, and invasively common.

Even with video’s common nature though, it still holds value. Video sells, entertains, and educates. None of this is new information to you. You have waited through the ever-present YouTube commercials to watch clips, and maybe even laughed at Will Sasso’s mastery of six-second comedy on Vine. Video permeates everything these days.

I am not sure if anyone can argue against video enhancing golf instruction. Maybe there are some purists who pontificate about Ben Hogan not needing video and thus neither do they. I get that, but I also get how watching a video of my swing lets me see the problems with my swing that I can’t just “feel”. For me, seeing the awful takes me closer to fixing the awful.

This review today isn’t about the value of video though, but rather the hardware to capture it. More specifically, the golf specific video camera, The SwingShot Golf Video Camera. Can such a unit be a must have tool in this day, or have we reached a point with video capture where our mobile devices are so good that they have driven other recorders to obsolescence?

In other words, should the phone in your pocket keep you from buying other golf video recording devices?

 

SwingShot: What it does

I remember seeing photos of the SwingShot a year or two ago when MyGolfSpy covered the PGA Show in Orlando. The green and white pole with a camera on top really stood out, as did its ability to record every swing that you took during a round of golf. It’s about club size, and seemed a simple inclusion in ones golf bag.

SwingShot-13

 

Let’s take a look at the specs of the SwingShot models that we had in for testing:

SwingShot Cyclops Pro™

  • Color LCD
  • Microphone
  • Ultra-bright LED
  • Stainless Steel Turf Spike
  • Course, Lesson, Range, Scenic Modes
  • Video Resolution / Frame rate: 720p | 60fps 1080p | 30fps
  • 8 GB Memory
  • Recording time of up to 244 Swings (~2 hour)
  • Battery life (Constant Recording): ~2h:22m
  • Battery life (Standby): ~7h:33m

 SwingShot Cyclops Pro+™

  • Color LCD
  • Microphone
  • Ultra-brite LED
  • Audible Alert
  • Stainless Steel Turf Spike
  • Course, Lesson, Range, Scenic Modes
  • Geo-Tagging via GPS
  • Motion Auto-Stop via GPS
  • Private Wi-Fi Network
  • SwingShot Remote iOS|Android App
  • Video Resolution / Frame rate 480p 240fps
  • 1080p|720p 60fps
  • Removable Memory Included
  • Recording time Varies By Memory Size
  • Battery life (Constant Recording): ~2h:25m
  • Battery life (Standby) < ~7h:40m
  • Battery life (Wi-Fi Active) ~2h:00m

General Impressions

With both of the SwintShot units, we get the things that we need for them to be golf friendly. The units assemble as easy as kids’ toys. The materials are strong enough to last on the course. That spike is some serious metal!  The cameras have the battery life to make it through a round. They record high quality video. Most of all, with the one button option, they are fast and easy to use.

SwingShot-assembly

 

Yes, I just said that using the SwingShot is fast. I think that one of the concerns about using the SwingShot (i.e. record each shot) is that it will slow down play.

This is just not the case.

You just need to place the camera in the ground behind you, press the button on top, then address and hit the ball. After that, just pull it out and drop it in your bag. It even turns off on its own. Golfspy Tim and I even took two of these out on the course together, and setting one behind and one to the side there was not a speed issue at all.

SwingShot-12

 

Think about it this way. If the course is empty, you have lots of time to place the camera. If the course is full, you are likely waiting on the group in front of you, and so you have lots of time to place the camera.

Overall, knowing what you are doing on the golf course keeps pace flowing. If you are concerned about pace when using the camera, save time by taking fewer practice swings…

Here is a short video, all shot with the two SwingShot models.

Where the SwingShot Hits

There are a few aspects of the camera and situations for its use where I see real positives with using the SwingShot Golf Video Cameras.

The SwingShot is Not Your Phone

You may have already dismissed the video capture ability of the SwingShot because your phone can already do that. That’s very true, and a point we will address in a bit, but the fact that the SwingShot is not your phone has advantages too.

First, we all know that our phone batteries deplete rapidly once we start using apps, GPS, and video functions. SwingShot saves your phone battery for phone stuff. The SwingShot also lets your phone stay safe in your bag, avoiding the risks of getting dirty or damaged during the round.

Ease of Use

Let’s face it, some of you out there are not tech savvy. If you rely on your kids for home electronic operation, I’m talking to you. The SwingShot is an easy to learn and use system. You press one button, and the recording starts. You even get a red light on the front of the unit to let you know it’s working. Once it’s finished recording, it turns itself off and is ready to go for your next shot.

My only gripe with the controls for the unit is that other than the on/off button, the other control buttons are all inaccessible once you screw the camera to the spike. If you want to change anything, you will need to unscrew the camera, press buttons, and then reattach the base. It seems like there could be a better button access design for these other buttons.

SwingShot-assembly2

 

As An Instructional Tool

Golf instructors should consider taking a long look at the SwingShot. While the SwingShot isn’t a great tool for immediate swing analysis (more on this later), an instructor could give a SwingShot to a student, telling him or her to record a round of golf.

After the round, the instructor could load the videos onto a computer and then review the round of play with the student. This may be a way to get a true assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s swing while on the course. The only thing that the SwingShot doesn’t capture would be the entire flight of the ball.

The instructor can even take screen captures from the videos to show areas where particular swing work is needed.

SwingShot Screen Grab2

Where the SwingShot Misses

Your Phone Takes Video

I know I just praised the SwingShot for not being your phone, but the prevalence of the smartphone is probably the largest “con” against using the SwingShot.

It’s hard to remember, but there was a time when we didn’t have HD video recording units in our pockets. Yours may even be in your hands right now as you read this article.

For all the coolness of the SwingShot, it just doesn’t separate itself from what you can do with your phone enough to justify purchase.

Unit Cost

You already have a phone in your pocket that takes video. You already paid quite a bit for that phone (not to mention the monthly service fee). Paying $200, $300, or $400 for a SwingShot that captures video just like your phone already does isn’t the most fiscally brilliant idea.

But what about the ease of operation and the staking it into the ground for recording? First of all, you know that it’s easy to shoot video on your phone. As for the staking, I spent ten minutes on Amazon and found a $38 solution. For $12, you can get a camera mount for your phone, and for another $26 you can get the Twig Pod that will let you spike your phone into the ground like the SwingShot.

The Twig Pod even converts to a toilet paper holder for camping trips. That is a multi-function first, I believe.

This is but one solution. I am sure you can find other, possibly cheaper ones, if you look.

It’s not in your pocket already

It’s a perhaps silly criticism, but using the SwingShot does require that you remember to bring it along. Your phone is already with you. Obviously, if you just leave the SwingShot in the golf bag, you will always have it. That being the case, you will still need to take it our to charge it. My SwingShot missed trips to the course twice because it was sitting on the counter plugged in to the wall. Maybe your memory is better than mine though.

No Video Playback

The usefulness of the SwingShot on the driving range is severely limited by the lack of a playback feature. In the video sample above, I showed you a bunch of swings that I recorded on the range. The issue was that I could only look at those swings after download.

That doesn’t work for me on the range. I need to make a swing, see what the ball did, and then check the video to see what I did in the swing. Going home to the computer to review may help to identify recurrent swing issues, but the lack of immediacy really diminishes the effectiveness of the feedback.

With your phone, you record the swing using one of many golf video apps (V1, screen cap below, is a good one), watch the swing to see what you did, and then swing/record again to work on the issue. The lack of immediacy hurts the SwingShot.

V1 iPhone Shot

Final SwingShot Verdict

SwingShot-14

Overall, I think that the SwingShot is a great way to capture videos of your golf swing. It’s a great tool for recording a round of golf, especially if you are playing a special course. I would love to have complete video coverage when I finally get to play Pebble Beach.

The problems with the SwingShot do not come from faults with the unit, but rather the other video recording options already in the consumers’ hands. The prevalence of high-quality video recording phones make SwingShot less of a necessity.

Through no real fault of its own, the SwingShot just can’t compete with the video phone. It would be like being an expert hairdresser in a city full of bald people. Your skills are fantastic, but not really necessary.

As I said before, I do think that the SwingShot could be a valuable tool for golf instructors. Golf courses could also rent out SwingShots to players wanting to record a round. There is a version of the SwingShot that records on removable media. A course could make money renting the camera, and also selling the memory cards that they players take home with their recorded rounds.

In those two cases, I would say look into the SwingShot Golf Video Camera, but for the individual, stick with your phone.

]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/swingshot-golf-video-camera-review/feed/ 14
Callaway’s Big Bertha is Not The Number One Selling Driver http://www.mygolfspy.com/callaway-big-bertha-is-not-number-one/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/callaway-big-bertha-is-not-number-one/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:30:18 +0000 Tony Covey http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38402 [READ MORE]]]> Post image for Callaway’s Big Bertha is Not The Number One Selling Driver

Written By: Tony Covey

There’s a new clubhouse leader in the competition for the Most Misleading Ad of 2014. And here’s the real shocker; it’s not TaylorMade.

It’s PING.

I’m kidding. It’s Callaway.

At least that’s my opinion.

It’s definitely not the opinion of Callaway Golf, and it’s possible that once you sort through the facts as I understand them, it may not be yours either.

We’re allowed to think differently.

In case you missed it (and we’ll concede you probably did), last week members of Callaway Golf’s Zoo Crew (that’s the marketing team for those of you who don’t keep up with the haps on Twitter) posted an ad of sorts on their social media channels that basically claims that Callaway’s Big Bertha was the Number One Selling Driver Brand in February.

The claim was later repeated in Callaway’s weekly ICYMI video segment.

3 Different Ways to Declare Yourself the Winner

Before we dig deeper into the situation, let’s step back and look at the types of claims golf companies make. With very few exceptions, claims (often explained in the fine print) fall neatly into 3 categories.

Tour Claims – Arguably the two most well-known are Titleist’s #1 Ball on Tour and TaylorMade’s #1 Driver on Tour. The basis for these claims is almost always the Darrell Survey; a company whose business is counting the make and model of every club in play on the PGA (and other tours) each and every week. He who has the most toys in play wins.

Retail Claims – These claims generally reflect retail market share conditions, and generally end with the “the #1 Selling whatever in Golf”. Golf companies use information from Golf Datatech; a company that collects retail sales data from both off-course and green grass shops, as the foundation for these claims. Datatech survey information was sighted as the source for the Callaway claim I’ll be discussing today.

Performance ClaimsOH MY GOD! 10 MORE YARDS! The most dubious of all claims, performance claims are almost always based on tests performed by the manufacturer making the claim. There are no hard and fast rules that govern the tests leveraged to make these claims. Each manufacturer tests on its own terms.

There are really only two things that bind the various types of claims golf companies make. They all come with some sort of supporting information (the fine print), and none of them get the green light without first clearing the legal department.

Callaway’s claim is your classic retail claim with a subtle little twist.

Here’s the image that Callaway’s Zoo Crew volleyed around Twitter:

bigberthafeb

While the overlapping image of Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha more or less conveyed the origins of Callaway’s conclusion, our fine print police were more than a little perturbed by the basis for that claim.

Check out the fine print:

Sales Claim of Model Comparison Dollar Share Based on Golf Datatech, LLC On and Off Course U.S. Retail Market Reports of Dollar Share February 2014, for Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha Drivers Combined”.

So which is it? Is Callaway the #1 selling brand or do they simply have the #1 selling driver model?

It’s actually neither – which probably explains why Callaway decided to play fast and loose with semantics and label Big Bertha as a singular Brand.

It’s not.

Callaway is Brand. Big Bertha is a Model, at least that’s how Golf Datatech, the company whose data Callaway used as the basis of their claim, classifies Big Bertha.

It should also be pointed out that Golf Datatech also classifies Big Bertha Alpha as a model; an entirely separate model from Big Bertha.

And let’s be real here, that’s an absolutely legitimate distinction to make.

Callaway fan, fanboy, hater, or somewhere in the middle; wherever you fall on that particular spectrum, I think we can all agree that other than the fortuitous coincidence that happens to be the Big Bertha (model) name, Big Bertha, and Big Bertha Alpha don’t have all that much in common – at least not enough to be considered the same.

A Loophole in the System

One of the problems with the current state of Golf Datatech is that manufacturers choose how their products are listed. The SLDR Mini Driver that we talked about yesterday; it will be TaylorMade’s choice whether that’s considered as a driver or a fairway wood for the purpose of Datatech reporting, so you can bet it’s going to be a driver.

It was also TaylorMade’s choice to list SLDR 460 and SLDR 430 as a single line item.

Red flag? Not really.

The coupling of Tour/Pro models with standard models is fairly common practice within the Datatech system. In fact, it was Callaway’s choice to list X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro as a single model, just as it was Callaway’s choice to list Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha separately.

Some additional consistency, dare I say concrete rules, would probably help keep this sort of thing from happening again. If it’s too easy to manipulate the numbers, a good bit of the responsibility should fall on Golf Datatech.

Differentiation Can Be Inconvenient

We absolutely do need to give Callaway some credit here. Since the Chip Brewer era began Callaway has been exceptionally good at differentiating their metalwood products. TaylorMade…umm not so much. Arguably not even a little.

At one point in time Bertha Alpha might have been the “Pro” companion to Big Bertha, but Callaway chose to give it the Alpha name because they wanted to segment the market based on the unique performance characteristics of each driver.

The point is that Callaway wanted their pair of Bertha-labeled drivers to be seen as distinctly separate by the consumer, but now that it’s more beneficial for them to have their drivers be seen as the same, Callaway is more than happy to combine the two for the purposes of making what is, in my opinion anyway, a dubious claim.

The Facts as Told By Golf Datatech

tmagnumber1

As I said at the onset, Callaway and I are of differing opinions as to the validity of the claim. What isn’t being disputed are the numbers themselves.

Here’s what those numbers say:

:: The TaylorMade SLDR is the #1 selling driver at retail (on and off course dollar market share).

:: Callaway’s Big Bertha is the #2 selling driver at retail.

:: Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha ranks #6 behind Callaway’s own X2 Hot (#5), and TaylorMade’s R1 (crazy right – which occupies the #3 spot).

And for those inclined to look at the big picture, based on the February data, if you take everything that Callaway sold and put it next to everything that TaylorMade sold, TaylorMade has the bigger number.

So here’s my question, if you don’t have the #1 selling individual driver model, and somebody else sells more total drivers than you do, how can you reasonably claim to have the Number One Selling Driver Brand?

While Callaway is fond of saying You Can’t Argue with Physics, apparently they’re more than willing to pick a fight with rudimentary addition.

2+6 = (We’re Number) 1.

I kid, I kid. Callaway’s actual math involves adding market share percentages from two distinct line items together to make a number that’s bigger than TaylorMade’s single line item.

The letter of what Callaway is claiming is this: Big Bertha combined with Big Bertha Alpha accounted for more sales than TaylorMade’s SLDR.

By that letter it’s absolutely true, but is two against one really a legitimate basis on which to stake a claim on the #1 spot?

Callaway’s Defense

Now in Callaway’s defense, there is a reasonable argument to be made to justify their position. While SLDR 430 accounts for a very small percentage of SLDR sales , I’m told that removing it from the equation would be enough to legitimately call Big Bertha the #1 Selling Driver in February.

That’s absolutely a fair point, but isn’t that the same as saying:

“The Callaway Big Bertha Driver was the #1 Selling Driver in February1

1Sales of TaylorMade SLDR 430 excluded

There are very few who wouldn’t find that sort of claim suspect, and so Callaway (despite previously choosing to have Golf Datatec classify the two separately) decided to re-couple Bertha and Bertha Alpha explicitly for the purposes of making their claim.

Of course, if TaylorMade had simply named JetSpeed the SLDR JetSpeed then well, we’re right back to where the Datatech numbers say we actually are.

What’s being disputed the significance of product names, not sales.

Callaway representatives counter that their claim was cleared by both their own legal department (EVERY claim goes through legal, and dubious, even sketchy, is not mutually exclusive from legal by the letter, so take that for what it’s worth) and Golf Datatech.

At the end of the day what I can’t get past is that it was Callaway’s choice to list the two drivers separately, and now that it has found an advantage in bundling them together it’s almost pretending otherwise.

Why Any of This Matters

Those of you have haven’t stopped reading already may be wondering why any of this matters. It’s actually quite simple. Performance isn’t the differentiator in the golf market place, it’s perception.

Each of us identifies with the brands we do, not because of performance, but because of the identity each of those brands has created both for itself, and the golfers that play the product.

There’s no arguing that Titleist’s ProV1 is a very good golf ball, but is it so unquestionably better than the next best thing on the shelf? It might be a little better, but not better-enough to justify the ridiculous percentage of the market it owns.  As I’m fond of saying, the Titleist ProV1 is the #1 Ball in Golf because it’s the #1 Ball in Golf.

ProV1isNumber1

TaylorMade rarely misses (from a performance standpoint with the driver), but in any given year, they don’t always have the absolute best performing driver in golf. They’ve stayed #1 for so long because they’re the most played driver on Tour, and that – coupled with the claims it allows for, consistently leads to higher sales than everyone else.

Simply put, TaylorMade has the #1 Driver in Golf because they have the #1 Driver in Golf.

The Callaway guys aren’t stupid – not even a little. They know if they can somehow associate their driver with #1, it will bring them that much closer to actually being #1.

My problem with all of this is that Callaway has decided to make a claim it hasn’t come by honestly.

If the day comes that Callaway does have the actual #1 Selling Driver in Golf, it won’t need to clear it with Datatech, and the fine print won’t require nearly as much ink.

Callaway Goes With Revision B

bigbertha-rewrite

Last night (well after this story should have been completed…dammit) Callaway’s Harry Arnett posted a revised version of the ad on Twitter. Curiously, while the image is the same, Callaway removed “BIG BERTHA IS” from the copy, and changed the word “BRAND” to “FAMILY”.

Without spending hours on it, I can think of three possible reasons for the change:

1. Maybe somebody’s (presumably TaylorMade’s) legal department sent Callaway’s legal department a letter expressing displeasure with the wording of the original. Golf company legal departments justify a substantial part of their existence simply through the act of sending letters back and forth, so this wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

2. It’s possible that in hindsight Callaway may have come to the conclusion that the original ad was as misleading as I believe it was.

3. Callaway wanted to use a bigger font to make its #1 claim, and really, doesn’t the word FAMILY make us all feel warm and fuzzy?

Whatever you think of the ad to this point, do you believe the change was arbitrary? I don’t…not for a second. Something was wrong with the first, and Callaway fixed it…sort of.

Here’s the thing, while I’m one who believes a “Driver Family” is little more than a clever Callaway creation used to support a claim that would be bogus without its invention, I also must confess that the 2nd attempt rings more genuine than the first. Maybe I’m a sucker for a good family story. I can’t tell you exactly why, but I have less of a problem with the newest version.

Predicting the Future

Look, I applaud Callaway. What Chip Brewer, Harry Arnett, and the rest of the Callaway team has done to overhaul and revitalize the brand over the last 2 years (give or take) is nothing short of phenomenal. Callaway’s future is exceptionally and unquestionably bright.

Callaway is a serious player in the industry; a clear and gaining number two, and that’s unquestionably good for both golf and the consumer.

With X2 Hot it already has the #1 Selling Hybrid on the market right now. Of course, Callaway doesn’t talk about what the numbers look like if you exclude X2 Hot Pro.

They’re dangerously close to having the best-selling fairway wood on the market, and I suspect by the time the March numbers are final it will have a legitimate claim on the #1 spot. My guess is Callaway once again won’t make an issue out of those numbers including X2 Hot Pro, or the Deep Series either.

As for the driver…the gap has narrowed substantially, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Big Bertha could find itself in the top spot by itself and without the need to leverage Alpha’s sales numbers.

If that happens you could easily argue that it’s the biggest equipment story of the last decade. That’s how I’ll write it.

But it hasn’t happened…yet. The #1 Driver in Golf, that’s not Callaway’s reality right now. It might be in another month, and if it is, by all means announce it to the world (I’ll help). It would be the most amazing (well 2nd most amazing…overtaking Titleist for the golf ball is #1) accomplishment in the golf equipment game.

But the accomplishment, the distinction…The #1 Selling Driver in Golf,  it’s not Callaway’s. Not yet.

It can’t be claimed until it’s earned.

Have Your Say

Since the day Callaway reinvented itself the company line is that they want to hear from consumers. Good, bad, or otherwise, let’s have the conversation.

I barely qualify as a consumer, but I’m interested, and I think Callaway is probably interested in what you think as well. Now’s your chance to tell us.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/callaway-big-bertha-is-not-number-one/feed/ 53
TaylorMade’s SLDR Mini Driver is the Club You Never Knew You Needed (and still might not) http://www.mygolfspy.com/taylormade-sldr-mini-driver-review/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/taylormade-sldr-mini-driver-review/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 04:01:54 +0000 Tony Covey http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38326 [READ MORE]]]> Post image for TaylorMade’s SLDR Mini Driver is the Club You Never Knew You Needed (and still might not)

Written By: Tony Covey

Gentlemen (and the three handfuls of ladies that read this site), prepare to wowed (excited even)…or agitated, or maybe just sit calmly in a state of tepid indifference.

Whatever. I’m good with any of it.

This isn’t one of those days where I’m going to tell you how to feel or what to think.

What I’m certain of is that today’s Official announcement of the SLDR Mini Driver will leave you feeling something…or nothing.

What the Hell is a Mini Driver?

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-1

For those of you just hearing about this for the first time, the SLDR Mini Driver is TaylorMade’s latest driver…or fairway wood…or something inbetween. For the purposes of Golf Datatech’s retail surveys, I’m reasonably positive (actually, let’s go with 99.999% positive) the Mini is going to be classified as a driver. But out here in the real world (or at least on the golf course), the true nature of this particular species is going to vary from bag to bag.

Let’s start with the particulars.

The SLDR Mini, be it driver or fairway, has a 260cc steel head, comes in lofts of 12°, 14°, and 16°, and the stock shaft length is 43.5″. Like everything else with SLDR stamped (or glued) to the sole, the Mini features a low/forward center of gravity placement for low spin and (with a properly fit head) high launch.

Does that clear it up?

Didn’t think so. Maybe this will help.

mini-features

According to TaylorMade, the SLDR Mini was designed to be hit primarily off the tee, but with its “smooth sole” (I’m talking Barry White smooth-you-out-of-your-knickers smooth), it’s much easier to hit off the deck than a conventional driver. Incidentally, that turf interaction piece is why you would maybe consider Mini over cutting 2″ off your driver.

Leave it to TaylorMade to create the club you never knew you needed.

Actually, leave it to TaylorMade to create the club you needed in 2001.

13 years and 200cc later, what used to be called a driver is reborn as the SLDR Mini Driver.

Ain’t that something?

If I told you that SLDR Mini Driver was actually a #ThrowBackThursday idea that simply got out of hand, you might be inclined to believe me.

So I asked Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods, why his damn title is so long. After that I asked him why TaylorMade felt compelled to reinvent the driver from 2002.

Bazzel touched on the talking points from the press release. Things like this:

“Tour pros and betters amateurs often hit their 3-wood off the tee more often than from the fairway. We embraced that fact to create a metalwood that’s sized between the average 3-wood and driver and designed to be easy to hit off a tee.” – Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade Golf

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-9

He spoke about things like control and workability, and the old-school guys who have never been comfortable with the adjustment from sub-300cc to the modern 460cc driver. And then matter of factly he added:

“Over the years, as driver volume has increased to 460cc, fairway wood volume has stayed basically the same.” – Brian Bazzel

I’m of two minds on that:

Most golfers don’t think in terms of head volume. I mean, some may prefer 440cc drivers to 460cc drivers, but I don’t think many (if any) have concerned themselves with the volume gap between their 460cc driver and their 160cc 3-wood.

I also know that golf is a psychological game. It’s true that some golfers have never completely adjusted to 460cc, or 425, or even 400cc drivers. Some guys grew up playing with sub-300cc drivers (and liked it…and long for those bygone days of yore), and there are some guys who inexplicably can’t hit a big-headed driver.

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-4

I’d make a joke, but the truth is that back in the days of R580 I hit nothing but 3-wood off the tee for two straight years simply because the driver got in my head and I couldn’t get it out.

Now I can’t hit 3-wood to save my life, but that’s another story.

Call it a driver. Call it a fairway. Call it completely unnecessary. Whatever, like I said, I’m good with whatever you think.

Is the Mini Driver Even Really a SLDR?

Prefacing this with a reminder that the actual name of the club isn’t SLIDER, it’s S L D R (es-el-dee-are, or es-el-dee-arrrrrr for you pirates out there), here are some things that differentiate the Mini Driver from all, or some of the existing SLDR lineup.

Unlike SLDR Driver (both 460 and 430), SLDR Fairway, and SLDR Rescue, the SLDR Mini Driver isn’t the least bit adjustable. More to the point, your loft is your loft. Live with it.

Unlike SLDR Driver, but not unlike the namesake fairway and rescue, SLDR Mini Driver has no actual SLiDeR. Apparently sole bling isn’t conducive to that smooth turf interaction we talked about. The only way you’re going to tweak your draw or fade with the Mini Driver is to alter your face to path relationship. That’s Trackman wisdom, kid.

That’s right, there’s not single purposeful spot on the club that will allow you to make use of anything in your stack of TaylorMade wrenches. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about that. Sad maybe.

Unlike all the other SLDR stuff, instead of a glossy charcoal crown, SLDR Mini comes in a smooth matte silver. While the contrast with the black clubface doesn’t get us back to the Science of White, it does give it Science of Silver sort of vibe, so there’s that.

SLDR Mini Driver isn’t the type of product that’s going to set the world, or even the cash registers, on fire, but it is an intriguing option for guys who play on relatively short courses, are looking for more control off the tee, or who have otherwise totally abandoned the conventional 3-wood or the 460cc driver.

As it happens, I qualify for most of the above.

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-2

Something Old or Something Borrowed?

While not even TaylorMade is going to argue that spec for spec the SLDR Mini doesn’t look a hell of a lot different from your 12 year-old driver, Brian Bazzel told me that TaylorMade sees Mini in a category unto itself. As you might imagine, if golfers take to the Mini (they buy the club in meaningful numbers), TaylorMade will be ready (and happy) to expand their offerings in the category (whatever you want to call it).

There’s also little doubt in my mind that suggestions will be made (actually, they’ve already been made) that TaylorMade’s inspiration from the Mini was borrowed from Callaway (Deep Series fairway wood) or even the PING Rapture 3-Wood.

Having hit the Rapture, which is already larger than the X2 Hot 2 Deep, I’ll tell you that I personally don’t see it, but by all means, decide for yourself.

Here’s a comparison chart:

compare-fw

How Does SLDR Mini Driver Perform?

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-5-2

All of this background info is great (unless you totally don’t give a damn – in which case, why have you read this far?), but we thought some of you would be interested to see how the SLDR Mini Driver performed, and where that performance suggests the Mini Driver might actually fit in your bag.

We brought in a few of our testers to hit the Mini alongside the SLDR Drivers (460 and 430) as well as the 14° SLDR Tour Spoon Fairway. We tested with the equipment we had on hand using stock TP shafts. As the chart below indicates, we delofted the fairway to get to 12.5° (as close to 12° as the settings allowed), and added loft to a 10.5° 430cc head to get to 12°.

We hit all of the clubs off the tee and also hit the Mini Driver and the Fairway from a fairway lie. Here are the average results.

sldr-compare

From the fairway, the Mini produced numbers quite similar to the fairway wood. It’s not an unreasonable stretch to assume that the extra distance (and higher ball speed) is a result of the additional 1/4″ of shaft length.

What I think is most telling is the similar (even slightly better) accuracy numbers. Our preliminary data suggests that the Mini Driver isn’t any more difficult to hit of the deck than your average TaylorMade fairway wood – even if it will look like a bulky monstrosity to many of you.

As far as hitting out of the rough goes…we didn’t try it, but I did ask Brian Bazzel about from-the-rough performance. He basically told me that if you can’t hit a standard fairway wood out of the rough, you’re not going to be able to hit the Mini out either. Me…I’ve never been afraid to try it, but it’s almost never gone well. Your actual mileage may vary.

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-1-2

Off the tee, the numbers broke out more or less how we expected they would. The SLDR 430 is a beast, and it basically did it exactly what we expected it to off the heels of our 2014 Most Wanted Driver test. It was the longest, it spun less, and yes…it didn’t fly as straight as the others.

The real story lies in the other 3 clubs. In theory, the 460cc SLDR head should be the most forgiving, and the easiest for most to hit straight, and again that proved to be the case for us. Telling perhaps, the mini wasn’t that far behind, and again our data suggests it’s slightly more forgiving than the SLDR fairway wood, which also makes perfect sense given the larger head.

In looking at the chart above you’ll notice that the SLDR Mini Driver fell almost in the absolute middle between the 460 driver and the fairway wood for Carry Yards, Total Distance, Ball Speed, and to a lesser extent that accuracy number. Obviously we’d like to see that spin number go down a bit, but that could simply be a matter of finding the ideal tee height. We really don’t know.

If for any reason you think you have a need for something to fill the gap you may never have realized existed between your driver and a conventional 3-wood, the SLDR Mini Driver would seem to fit the bill.

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-12

Timed for Augusta

I’m not one who generally believes in coincidence anyway, and I never believe in coincidence when it comes to TaylorMade, so it’s pretty safe to assume that this announcement was cleverly timed for Masters Week (also, TaylorMade told me as much). We try to condition you not to care what Tour guys are bagging, but for those who do concern themselves with such things, I’m told that the probably is extremely high that Justin Rose will have the SLDR Mini (bent to 13°) in play at Augusta.

While Rose would use the Mini primarily from the tee, he’s said that he could conceivably use it to play his second on #8 (the only place other than the tee on the entire course he’s likely to use a 3-wood anyway).

While TaylorMade would no doubt love to have more Mini Drivers in play during the most-watched tournament of the season, Augusta isn’t a place where equipment companies, even TaylorMade, are likely to try and force an equipment change on any of their staffers. If more Minis make it into play this week, it’s because a given staffer (or we’re told potentially non-TaylorMade staffer) believes it will give him the best shot at winning the biggest of the big ones.

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-7

Some Closing Thoughts…

As intrigued as I am by the Mini (I’ll definitely be spending some on-course time with it when the rest of this miserable snow melts), for many it’s probably not destined to be an everyday club. I see the Mini as very much a horse-for-the-course option.

Playing in a scramble and want something a little longer than your 3-wood? Grab a Mini.

Playing a shorter course where control is at a premium? Grab a Mini.

Do you hate your big-headed driver and conventional 3-woods? Grab 2 Minis.

Sure, there will be guys who take the driver out of their bag for a Mini, but for most of us, I think it will prove to be more fairway wood than driver…assuming it proves to be anything at all.

The SLDR Mini Driver almost certainly won’t be longer than your driver,  and it may not prove to be more forgiving (or more accurate) than your driver either, but as a hybrid of sorts between a driver and a 3-wood, it fills the space nicely…even if we’re only hearing about that space for the first time today.

The SLDR Mini Driver hits stores May 2nd.

Retail price is $279 for the standard model and $379 for the TP model.

Have Your Say

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Got more than 2 words to say? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-4-2

TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-3-2 TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-2-2 TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-6 TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-11 TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-14 TaylorMade-SLDR-Mini-Driver-15
]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/taylormade-sldr-mini-driver-review/feed/ 58
2014 Golf’s Most Wanted: Watch and Voice GPS Devices http://www.mygolfspy.com/best-watch-gps-voice-gps-guide-reviews-2014/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/best-watch-gps-voice-gps-guide-reviews-2014/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 12:40:05 +0000 GolfSpy Tim http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=37721 [READ MORE]]]> Post image for 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted: Watch and Voice GPS Devices

How Much Device Do You Really Need?

Choosing a watch-based, or simple small voice GPS can be a daunting task? Do you need 25,000 Pre-loaded courses or should you go for a unit that offers 30,000? Are you willing to pay a bit more to get distances to hazards or are you content to know yardages to the front, back, and middle of the green? Do you want to use your GPS to keep score?

For such a small device, there sure is a lot to consider.

While the technology is similar, the differences are significant enough that you could find a compelling reason to choose one device over another (or several others).

We’re diving into the nuts and bolts of what matters in a GPS to help you determine which is the right unit for you. By the way…25,000 or 30,000 pre-loaded courses…it really doesn’t matter.

gps4

Constant Evolution

GPS technology has advanced rapidly over the last few years. We expect that trend is going to continue in a HUGE way over the next several years as an assortment of technologies are combined to enhance your on-course experience.

We’re not there yet. So for now, let’s focus on a few of the key features found in most watch and clip-on golf GPS units.

The most important things to consider in a GPS watch or voice unit are:

1. Distance to the green (Front, Center, Back)
2. Distances to Hazards
3. Ease of use
4. Battery life

gps1

 

Every golf GPS is going to tell you green distances and everything we reviewed for this guide offers plenty of battery life. Some do run a bit longer than others, but each device in this test will get you easily through one round, even if you play at Kevin Na’s pace

All of these devices give you basic distances (front, middle, and back) too. More feature-rich models will give you distances to one or more hazards. Everything else (like a built in scorecard, for example) is a bonus. Whether those bonuses are worth the extra bucks is basically an individual decision.

Me, I’m a features guy. The more the better, but be aware, extra features don’t always improve the user experience.

Our Top Devices

Garmin S4

For those looking to be on the cutting edge of tech with all the goodies, you’ll want to pick up the Garmin Approach S4. It offers a touch screen, iPhone bluetooth connectivity, and score tracking. Add to that its exceptional ease of use that lets you take it out of the box and straight onto the first tee, and quite frankly, it doesn’t get much better than this.

esnFor those who will be satisfied with a basic feature set coupled with with great battery life and extreme precision, ESN’s newest release – the Titanium – WR72 Alpha fits the bill. An added bonus that may or may not matter to you, the WR72 Alpha even offers a standard interchangeable 20mm watch band.

Golf Buddy VoiceDo you always play the same course every day of the year? Do you already know what club to hit off the tee, and just want to know your distances to the green? If you’re looking for that and a few fun tech features then you’ll love the simplicity of the Golf Buddy VoiceYes, they have released an updated version, but for many, the upgrade to the “+” may not be worth the extra money. The two devices are near equals, but we won’t hold it against you go for the Golf Buddy Voice+.

We could stop writing right now and walk away confident that you would be happy with any of the above suggestions, but you’re an MGS reader, we know you want to know more. Read on to find out where the rest of the devices placed and see if a specific feature set might lead you in another direction.

Watch and Voice GPS Feature Comparison (click to enlarge)

GPS SpreadSheet

The Breakdown

For grading, features need to be functional. The feature set should include the basics, and those should be intuitive and easy to use. Features that doesn’t work, or that don’t serve any practical purpose bring the grade down.

Battery life is on a scale of 12 hours as that is the max available in our lineup.

Ease of use is exactly as it sounds. Open the box, walk to the first tee; can you immediately start using the device? If not, does a simple read get you 100% of the way there?

A Closer Look at Our Top 3

Overall-Garmin

  • Good - This watch led the pack by levering technology to it’s fullest. The S4 offers bluetooth connectivity for texts, call alerts and emails. The unit is incredibly simple to use. The touch screen makes sense (touch firmly) and all of the features are useful, simple to navigate. The Garmin Approach S4 offers everything you could reasonably expect or want in a watch GPS.
  • Bad - While we love the touch screen, it takes a bit of a firm touch. The white wrist band does soil easily, but so do white shirts right? We wish there were pre-loaded hazards.
  • Notes - If you want the best tech available today, this is hands down the unit for you. We were able to open the box, charge the unit, and use 90% of the features on the course without ever reading the manual.

Runner-UP-ESN

  • Good - All of the basics are perfectly executed.
  • Bad - Lacks the ability to keep track of score/strokes
  • Notes - This unit received the most attention for it’s looks – i.e.: “I’d wear that as a normal watch. This no fuss GPS gets the job done and does so elegantly.

golf-buddy-mwwgps

  • Good - Offers the basics done right. Voice or no voice, the choice is yours.
  • Bad - Accidental touching can have the unit speaking when you’d prefer it keep it’s electronic yap shut.
  • Notes - Some will question why not the Voice+ here, but for a basics unit, this does enough and the Voice+ doesn’t do enough more.

 

The Rest of the Field

Bushnell-NeoXSGB-Voice+

GB-WT3Bushnell-NeoX
GB-VT3VC-200
VC-300VC-100
Izzo-VoiceIzzo-Watch

 

Which Device is Right for You?

Boiling down to the basics is the first step when shopping for a Golf GPS device. When shopping for smaller GPS devices you need to decide if you care about distances to hazards. You do? Congratulation, you’ve just cut the field in half.

From there, decide if you want a watch, a clip-on, or one that can be worn either way (We found wearing the watch to be ideal as distances are almost literally always at hand).

Our top three this year from Garmin, ESN and Golf Buddy break separate themselves from the pack because of their easy to use features that deliver on what they promise. While this year’s crop is unquestionably the best to date, there’s tremendous room for advancement in the category, and we’re expecting bigger and better things in the future.

]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/best-watch-gps-voice-gps-guide-reviews-2014/feed/ 68
Exclusive Details! Scotty Cameron Futura DRVR Driver http://www.mygolfspy.com/scotty-cameron-futura-drvr-driver/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/scotty-cameron-futura-drvr-driver/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 12:00:29 +0000 Dave Wolfe http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38131 FAIRHAVEN, MA – April 1, 2014 --In an effort to capitalize on brand recognition, Titleist (NYSE: FBHS) has announced that Scotty Cameron will lead the design team for the upcoming Titleist metalwood line, including the highly anticipated “915” driver. This marks the first time that Cameron, known world-wide as Titleist's master putter maker, will have a hand in designing other mainstays of the Titleist lineup. [READ MORE]]]> Post image for Exclusive Details! Scotty Cameron Futura DRVR Driver

FAIRHAVEN, MA – April 1, 2014 –In an effort to capitalize on brand recognition, Titleist (NYSE: FBHS) has announced that Scotty Cameron will lead the design team for the upcoming Titleist metalwood line, including the highly anticipated “915” driver. This marks the first time that Cameron, known world-wide as Titleist’s master putter maker, will have a hand in designing other mainstays of the Titleist lineup.

“When golfers see the name Scotty Cameron on a putter, they know that the name represents quality. While we know that the Titleist name itself inspires consumer confidence, the coupling of Titleist and Scotty Cameron for our new driver, and other metalwoods, will allow our customers to feel secure in knowing that they have put the very best driver and metalwoods in their bag.”

With the Scotty Cameron driver (working product name the Futura DRVR), Titleist pairs the pedigree of Titleist metalwood fairway dominance with Scotty’s tour-tested performance on the green. It’s a match of power and finesse, strength and spirit, of remora and caveat emptor.

“The inspiration for the Futura DRVR can be found in the tight canyon roads of the Hollywood hills, in the powerful pounding of the surf on Hermosa Beach, and in the sometimes-tricky interchanges south of Placentia. The Futura DRVR taps into the shifting weights of the tides, placing the power of the entire Pacific into the hands of the golfer.”

scotty-drvr-futura-2014-1

While most of the key features of the Futura DRVR will be kept under wraps until the highly anticipated Fall 2014 release at the Fry’s Open, there are a few features of the Futura DRVR that we’re announcing today.

• Sliding Cherry Bomb Weight System

The three red dots, a signature feature of recent Cameron putters, will carry over to the Futura DRVR. While the boldness of the cherry dots inspires putting greatness through aesthetics in the putters, the new Futura DRVR CHERRY BOMBS can be moved to change the flight of the ball.

“A simple manipulation of the Cherry Bomb Slider allows the golfer to change the direction of ball flight. Those looking to move the ball left, would move the Cherry Bomb toward the PORT, while moving the slider toward STARBOARD will steer the ball to the right.”

• Adjustable SureFit® Hosel

The Futura DRVR will keep the tour-tested adjustability of the Titleist SureFit™ hosel. However, with the Futura DRVR, all adjustments must me made at the Cameron Custom Shop. Titleist does not plan on releasing the adjustment tool commercially during the initial production run.

“While there is no practical reason that necessitates Futura DRVR driver adjustments being performed by the Cameron staff, we believe it will ultimately add to the mystique surrounding this unique driver offering. Once inventory reaches Table Rock, we may release the anodized aluminum adjustment tools in limited quantities.”

While pricing for the tool hasn’t yet been determined, given the demand for previous limited run Cameron products, a mid five-figure price tag isn’t out of the question

• Crown-on-the-Crown™ Alignment System

The traditional Titleist triangle and line alignment system will be replaced with the iconic Cameron three-point crown.

“The inclusion of the Crown-on-the-Crown™ alignment system represents a huge leap forward in driver alignment. With the three prongs on the crown, players with drivers set open, neutral, or closed now each have a distinct crown point to aim at the target.”

3 crown points + 3 face angles = more fairways

• Inspired By Shaft System

The traditional flex-based shaft fitting system will be replaced with the newly developed “Inspired By” shaft selection system. With this system, consumers will select a shaft for the Futura DRVR based upon the Titleist staffer whom they most identify with.

“Team Titleist includes an amazing stable of tour pros, and with the Inspired By shaft system in the Futura DRVR, we allow fans of those pros to connect on a deeper level. Do you love the long, smooth swing of Adam Scott? Then the IBAS shaft is right for you. After Jason Dufner’s break out 2013, many golfers will connect with the more relaxed IBJD model. Unfortunately, the IBTW model was discontinued in 1996.”

More to Come?

So far, the Titleist and Cameron camps have been very tight lipped about the Futura DRVR, but here at MyGolfSpy, we will do our due diligence to find out more information and pass it along when it comes in. Scotty Cameron designing drivers shocked us as much as it did you. We’ll keep you posted and enjoy the rest of April.

]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/scotty-cameron-futura-drvr-driver/feed/ 27
First Look: Mantis B Putter http://www.mygolfspy.com/first-look-mantis-b-putter/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/first-look-mantis-b-putter/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 13:23:26 +0000 Dave Wolfe http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38135 [READ MORE]]]> Post image for First Look: Mantis B Putter

More Green For The Green

By Dave Wolfe

I think that it’s safe to say that the Mantis Mallet was one of the more unique and interesting putters to hit the market in 2013. Love it or hate it, there was no way that a golfer could miss the Mantis Mallet’s bright green color and atypical shape.

I witnessed quite a few golfers pick up the Mantis Mallet for the first time last year. Many were a little skeptical about the looks, but warmed to the putter once they rolled some balls with it.

While placing 14th in the 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet competition was probably lower than the folks at Mantis would have liked, I think their finish was a solid one. 14th looks pretty good when you are a new, small putter shop going up against the older and much larger companies.

I spent more than a few enjoyable rounds with the Mantis Mallet in my bag last year (full review HERE), so it really comes as no surprise to me that the mallet was successful enough in the golf market last year to allow Mantis to release a new putter model for 2014, the Mantis B.

B is for Blade

Mantis B-05

C may be for “cookie” on Sesame Street, but at Mantis, B is for “blade”. Now don’t immediately rush to the comments section to tell me that the Mantis B is not a blade putter. The simple truth is that the days of the term “blade” being restricted to bulls-eyes and 8802s is long past. If Mantis wants to call this new putter the blade in their catalog, I’m OK with it. I don’t think that anyone can argue that the Mantis B is more blade-like than the Mantis Mallet.

Regardless, of the “B” designation, the name Mantis carries with it some expectations based upon its mallet sibling. Let’s take a quick look at the features common to the Mantis putters, while looking at what separates the Mantis B from its more bulbous brother.

Mantis B Features:

  • Material: 304 Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 355g
  • Toe Hang: 4:00 (though the Mantis Site says Face Balanced)
  • Length Tested: 34″
  • Finish: Matte Green
  • Insert: Polyurethane
  • Grip: Custom Winn

Feel

Mantis B-07

The Mantis B has the same polyurethane insert as the Mantis Mallet. This is a good thing. I think that the feel of the insert in the mallet was the first thing that won over those skeptical about the putter’s unusual appearance.

The insert in the Mantis B is soft, yet responsive. Missing from the Mantis B though is the mallet’s ringing tone that came with impact. The tone with the Mantis B is more of a click, maybe even more like a clack. It is a very firm tone with the soft insert. A bit contradictory, true, but overall I find the feel quite nice.

 

Looks

Mantis B-04

The looks of the Mantis Mallet were very love/hate for most people, and I expect the Mantis B to evoke the same feelings. The green color is definitely still here, providing a stealth profile against the putting surface and excellent contrast against the white alignment scheme.

I was am a big fan of the looks of the Mantis Mallet, but I am much more lukewarm on the looks of the Mantis B. There is quite a bit of Ping B60 in this heel-toe weighted blade. I know that the B60 shape is a favorite for many of you, and so you may see my looks rating as being a bit low. That’s the beauty of subjective opinions.

For my eye, I want my blades square at the back edge. It’s just my personal preference. I do, however, really like the square line of the face at address, as well as how the neck helps frame the ball by essentially disappearing into the green base.

LOOKS-ave-1

Alignment

Mantis B-15

The Mantis B has the same high-contrast alignment aid as the Mantis Mallet. The whole idea behind the alignment of the Mantis is to keep your eye one the ball. The color of the putter blends into the green so that all you really pay attention to is the white ball and the white alignment “T”.

While the putting surface is not quite Mantis green, blending in definitely happens. No, the Mantis does not vanish into the background like the Predator, but it blends in better than a traditional black or silver putter. As I mentioned in the Mantis Mallet review, I do think that Mantis does a better job at this compared to when Nike tried it with their IC putter line.

Overall, I think that Mantis’s alignment scheme works as intended, as the white alignment aid makes more of a visual impact at address compared to the body of the putter.

 

FIT FOR STROKE™

Mantis B-08

Don’t change your stroke. Change your putter.

The (FIT FOR STROKE™) concept was developed by PING, yet another genius fitting system they have developed for golfers. It works hand-in-hand with the iPING Putter App which is highly suggest everyone getting (IT’S FREE!). You might be surprised to find out that the stroke you think you have isn’t the stroke you actually have.

This addition to the MGS reviews will allow you to become a more consistent putter by matching you with models that better fit your stroke type. They will be broken down into three categories: (1) Straight – for face balance putters (2) Slight Arc – for mid toe hang putters (3) Strong Arc – for toe down putters

“Results from hundreds of player and robot tests at PING offer overwhelming scientific support for the effectiveness of fitting for stroke. In recent years more diagnostic tools and testing equipment have become available, and the results prove that a golfer’s consistency improves when their putter balance matches their stroke type. It was interesting to observe that golfers putt more consistently with stroke-appropriate models, but they also show a personal preference for these models, too. Prior to putting with them, golfers are drawn to models that fit their eye, even before they fit their stroke.” says PING.

The Mantis B: Slight Arc

Performance

Mantis B-06

How does the Mantis B perform? Does it crush all of the other 2014 blades? We will have the answers for you as soon as the 2014 MyGolfSpy Golf’s Most Wanted Blade putter competition is completed. The Mantis B is in the mix, along with thirty-one other putters! Stay tuned.

 

Welcome to the putter corral Mantis B

Mantis B-10

Congratulations to Mantis Golf for being able to bring another putter model to market. Many putter companies don’t survive that initial foray into the very competitive putter marketplace. With the Mantis B, Mantis has kept the features of the Mantis Mallet that separated it from its competition, while incorporating a new design that should appeal to those who like a smaller putter. We will have more about the performance of the Mantis B in our blade test, but feel free to grab one of these at your shop or a local demo day and give it a roll. I’m curious to hear what you think.

 

Mantis B-23 Mantis B-22 Mantis B-21 Mantis B-20 Mantis B-19 Mantis B-17 Mantis B-18 Mantis B-16 Mantis B-14 Mantis B-13 Mantis B-12 Mantis B-11 Mantis B-09 Mantis B-04 Mantis B-24 Mantis B-03 Mantis B-02 Mantis B-01

For More Information visit the Mantis Website.

]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/first-look-mantis-b-putter/feed/ 7
Cobra Golf Brand Survey – The Results http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-golf-brand-survey-the-results/ http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-golf-brand-survey-the-results/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 12:00:35 +0000 Tony Covey http://www.mygolfspy.com/?p=38020 [READ MORE]]]> Post image for Cobra Golf Brand Survey – The Results

For whatever it’s worth, Cobra is (for me anyway) one of the most intriguing brands in all of golf. Granted, I’m a guy who loves color – and I know that some of you don’t. I’m also a guy who happens to love performance (and I don’t know many of you who don’t), and while they haven’t always fared well in our head to head tests, with just a little bit of tuning Cobra’s products have proven to be some of the most exceptional I’ve ever had in my bag.

Hell, I spent most of last year with a Cobra driver and irons in my  bag. In early fall I added their wedges. And then it snowed and I’ve spent that last several months being miserable, but I digress.

For all the crap you guys give me about being a TaylorMade guy, those who know me best would probably tell you I’m a Cobra-PUMA guy at heart, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why more of you aren’t giving the brand a chance.

Of course, if the moves Cobra has made in the last year – things like bringing in Tom Olsavsky from TaylorMade to head their R&D team, and the rollout of a state of the art new fitting system (that’s selling the capabilities short) – pan out the way I think they will, the future of Cobra could be an exciting one.

You won’t be able to ignore them. My 2 cents…Cobra is one of two brands I think has the most potential for growth in the coming years.

That said, my record at predicting the future is spotty at best, and our survey wasn’t about what the future holds, it’s about what’s happening right here and now.

To that end, here’s what you think about Cobra Golf.

1 - postive differntiate attribute
If you’re Cobra you probably want to be known more for performance than marketing, but both the innovation and performance numbers are solid. From top to bottom this chart really isn’t that different than what we’ve seen in our surveys of other companies. Thus far only Titleist is shown to have created the perception that Quality and Performance are the greatest differentiators. What’s perhaps more telling is the responses from the Other field.

Far and away Color (in one form or another) was the most popular response. Some suggested they like the bold colors. Others…umm…not so much. What it tells us is that, for now anyway, Cobra is inextricably linked with the same colors they feature on the their clubs.

Cobra is color. Color is Cobra.

When Cobra was acquired by PUMA the introduction of color into the lineup was a simple (and effective) way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the industry, while infusing part of the PUMA identity into the Cobra lineup. To achieve wider acceptance (growth) in the market, they’re probably going to need to come back to the middle a bit, and with the reintroduction of black into the lineup, and refinements to PUMA’s golf offerings, we’re starting to see just that.
2-1
To a large extent, the responses to this question mirror what you guys wrote in the Other field. The top responses are all image-related. It suggests you see Cobra as a colorful, trendy company that targets a younger demographic. Yeah…I am Captain Obvious.

The good news is that shows that Cobra has emerged from Titleist’s shadow and firmly established its own identity. The bad news is that it’s a somewhat exclusionary identity. We know that there is a segment of golfers who won’t consider products because of the color. We also know that part of that same segment doesn’t believe Cobra is serious about performance.

In that lies the challenge for Cobra Golf. How do you maintain the identity you’ve built while getting your performance message out to the masses?

Performance needs to be at the top of this chart, and while I believe that internally at Cobra it is, convincing the consumer of that is no easy task.
3 - cobra in bag
Just over 53% of you reported that you don’t have a single Cobra club in the bag.

Why the hell not?

While the driver number is solid (somebody is playing Cobra drivers), it’s really the fairway (16.02%), hybrid (18.23%), and iron (18.23%) numbers that stand out. The origins of Cobra trace back to the fairway wood. Actually, the original Baffler was more of a hybrid, but whatever you want to call it, the legacy remains strong.

The irons are almost a curiosity. We’re talking about a company that offers a competitive product for every type of golfer, and more often than not, they do it for less money than any other serious player in golf. What’s the issue here?

As for the wedges…don’t get me started. The new(ish) Tour Trusty is probably the single most underappreciated product on store shelves right now. You owe it to yourself to at least try it.
4 - Cobra Perceptions
This particular question seems to always yield similar results. You definitely want to be seen as improving significantly, and that’s apparently how most of you see Cobra.

Here’s my follow-up question: why? What about Cobra has improved your perception of the brand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much inclined to agree with you. What I see in terms of corporate structure, the people they’ve brought in, and the things they’re doing with products and services is exceptional, but most of that stuff hasn’t yet trickled down to the consumer.

There is tremendous potential with the brand, but I’m not convinced the last 3 years reflect that. Keep an eye on the next 3.
5 - true of cobra
63.66% of you said Cobra targets a wide-range of golfers. That next biggest chunk (54.41%) is for Invests Heavily in Marketing. You guys always think it’s about the marketing. You guys might be right.

The good news is that between 25%-30% of you said that 1)Product engineering is superior 2)Products are manufactured to tight tolerances and 3)Cobra invests heavily in research and development.

All of the negatives (products are mass-produced and cheaply made, does not respect the game, does not care about custom fitting, etc.) registered fairly low as well.
6 - cobras place
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Everybody in golf cares about what other companies are doing. All of them. No exceptions.

That said, Cobra is certainly more willing to step out of the box than most, and I probably wouldn’t classify them as either a leader or a follower. They definitely march to their own drummer, the challenge is getting all of you to dance along.

7 - cobra vs. competetors clubs2
We already know that Cobra doesn’t make golf balls or putters. The former is a notorious money pit, while the latter Cobra insists they’ll only tackle if and when they have something of actual consequence to contribute. Basically they’re not going to make a putter just to have a putter.

While nothing really stands out, I suppose there is good news to be gleaned from the perception that some of you (55.44%) think that Cobra’s Metalwoods (drivers, fairways, and hybrids) are slightly better to far superior. It’s also encouraging that 33.26% of you think the same about the irons.

I can’t say this enough…you guys are missing the boat on the new wedges. More than 25% of you believe that Cobra’s wedges are slightly or significantly worse than its competitors. That’s insane. The original Trusty Rusty, with its game-improvement slant, wasn’t for everyone. And perhaps Cobra made a mistake by bringing it back for the sake of nostalgia (and for the sake of being able to offer something in the wedge category), but the new Tour Trusty…it’s totally different, and totally deserving of another look.
8  - cobra vs. concepts
With most companies, the average range (at, or above) is always going to dominate the responses. No surprises here.

Where I think several of you missed the boat is in the value category. Cobra consistently offers products (especially irons) and prices that are often $100-$200 less expensive than others in their class. Look no further than AMP Cell Pro Irons. The going rate for a forged muscleback from Titleist, Mizuno, and others is $999. Cobra offers you an iron that’s comparable in every respect for $799.

We’re not talking Wal-Mart here, we’re talking about a top quality product at a better price. Isn’t that what everyone says they want?

9 - cobra brand health
You guys more or less nailed it here. You’re not going to see any overnight game-changers, but Cobra is a company that’s taking steps to become more of a force in the industry. There’s absolutely no guarantee it’s going to work. I can’t promise you that in 3 years Cobra won’t be worse off than they are today, but I believe they’ve had some exceptional products over the last couple of years, and they’re certainly going to make every reasonable effort to build on those.

Cobra will never be TaylorMade, but it’s not content to be where it is right now either.

11 - do you follow cobra
Move along…probably not much to see here. Basically we’ve found that golfers who follow golf companies are 50%-60% likely to follow any particular brand.
12 why not follow cobra
Among those who do follow golf companies, but don’t follow Cobra, the Not a Fan number (33.33%) is perhaps a little on the low side. The more interesting info comes from the Other box where responses were things like:

“Marketing is annoying to me”
“Can’t follow everyone”
“I don’t think they market to people like me”
“Only follow companies whose equipment is in my bag”

13 - cobra social media engagement
The companies who excel at Social Media are generally the ones who execute a specific plan, and are most active on Social Media. Generally speaking, Cobra is more engaged than many other golf companies, but there’s is a lack of consistency (periods of absence or limited activity), and they don’t always give the impression there’s a cohesive Social Media plan beyond “let’s tweet something”.
14 - cobra social media influence brand perception
While I’m still not certain on the direct impact to the bottom line (see the next question), I do believe that Social Media can have a direct bearing on our perceptions of a company, and while that might not translate directly to sales, it can certainly work against sales.

Maybe I’m alone here, but Social Media efforts rarely improve my perception of any given brand, but poor Social Media, or Social Media that rubs me the wrong way has most certainly negatively impacted the way I view certain brands.

Invisible is better than bad. Fortunately for Cobra, not many of you see their efforts as negatively impacting perceptions.
15 - cobra social media buying decison
For just about every brand we’ve surveyed this result has been largely constant. 60% of you report that Social Media has had no impact on your buying decision. It raises two questions for which I don’t have solid answers.

Is it possible you’re being influenced without realizing it?

Is the 10% or so of the audience that tells us that Social Media has positively influenced the buying decision a big enough number to justify the efforts?

What’d We Miss?

Do you have anything else to add to our conversation about Cobra Golf? We’ve got a comment section below. Feel free to use it.

]]>
http://www.mygolfspy.com/cobra-golf-brand-survey-the-results/feed/ 20