Blazingly bright colors. Elegantly simple stylishness. Adjustability to custom suit. High tech you can use. At first blush, it sounds like we're talking men's fashions or advances in smart phones, but those are actually the refreshingly flamboyant and innovative themes that describe the most exciting new golf gear now streaming into pro shops and sporting goods outlets across America.
As the old saying goes, the most important shot in golf is your next shot, and the most important purchases you make this year, other than premium cigars, are likely to be the next pieces of equipment or apparel that help lower your scores and give you the aura of the player you know in your heart you are, or can someday be. Herewith is a carefully selected look at what's helpfully hot for 2013:
Nike's VR S Covert driver ($300) with the 460 cc red head was one of the smash hits of the 2013 PGA Merchandise Show and the choice of world number one ranked Rory McIlroy. Cobra's AMP Cell Pro driver ($300) offers an even more dazzling array of head colors in red, orange, blue, and gray, as well as explosive distance, accuracy, and forgiveness that's impressed amateurs in golf magazine sponsored club tests.
But when it comes to adjustability to custom suit, nothing beats industry leader Taylor Made's R1 ($400) with the white head crown that allows you to change the loft, lie, face angle, and swing weight with a few turns of the included screwdriver. If you're a weekend golfer determined to banish that dreaded slice, try Cobra's AMP Cell Offset driver ($250) with the niched hosel that promotes a draw and enhances distance.
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To paraphrase Ben Hogan, if you want to make more pars and birdies, you need to hit your ball closer to the hole. Low handicappers can do just that with Titleist's AP2 712 irons ($1,100) with dense tungsten steel side weights in the forged carbon steel club heads. Superior ball strikers may prefer Mizuno's MP-64 irons ($1,000) which boast the feel of classic blades with the forgiveness and accuracy of a beautifully balanced cavity backed club.
Middle and high handicappers will enjoy best results with irons that don't look like butter knives or shiver on mishits. Among the top choices: Mizuno's JPX-825 Pro forged irons ($700), which rate high among amateur testers in terms of feel and predictable distance, and Cobra's AMP Cell irons ($700) that weld a hot, thin face to a softer body to create a ball striking experience similar to that of the Cobra AMP Cell driver.
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Let's once and for all get over the guilt and shame about struggling to hit 2 irons, 3 irons, even 4 irons. Over 60 percent of last year's PGA Tour tournament winners used hybrids; more to the point for amateur golfers, so did 90 percent of Champions Tour and LPGA Tour players. Hybrid pioneer Adams Golf claims their new Idea Tech V4 ($200) with velocity slots is "as hot as your driver." Their Idea Super S ($150), with lofts ranging from 15 degrees to 28 degrees, is still the leading hybrid on the pro tours.
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Your putter is by far the most personal club in your bag, but each man can find his own mallet or blade among traditional short shafted models such as the Tropical Abaco Rife with the multi-colored "prism effect" gunmetal finish ($130), the range of Odessey models ($179), and the Scotty Cameron Newport 1.5 with the flare neck ($350). But to get really personal, we prefer the Kirk Currie models with adjustable weightings ($45 and up), and in the long shafted category, David Lee's unique Gravity Golf putters (prices on request).
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APPAREL & ACCESSORIES
Dress a better game by donning the warm weather threads of 2012 Masters champ and PGA Tour driving distance leader Bubba Watson in his new line of Oakley apparel that features Saturday and Sunday outfits with solid color white and tan slacks and white or boldly striped shirts, plus a pair of Oakley's signature wrap around shades (various prices). When it turns cold again, consider thin layer battery-powered jackets and vests by Mobile Warming Gear (starting at $160).
Too Much Information (TMI) can be the bane of any golfer, but you can get all you want and ultimately need with CamCaddy ($30), a lightweight stand designed to hold your smart phone while you take practice tee videos of your swing that can be emailed directly to your teaching pro. For those who revel in TMI about spin rates, launch angle, etc., consider FlightScope's X2 launch monitor, which retails for $11,000, or roughly one-third the price of the TrakMan system used by tour pros.
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So go get out there with some fresh equipment and some fresh golf cigars and enjoy yourself.
Harry Hurt III is an award winning journalist and former New York Times columnist, and the author of seven non-fiction books including Texas Rich, the best-selling biography of the H.L.Hunt oil and silver dynasty. He was associate editor and senior editor at Texas Monthly, where his articles won critical acclaim for oil and medical writing. He was a correspondent in the Los Angeles bureau of Newsweek, and served as contributing editor, executive editor, and editor at large at Travel + Leisure Golf. As a freelancer, he has contributed articles to Esquire, Fortune, U.S. News and World Report, Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Architectural Digest, Men’s Journal, Self, Golf Magazine, Golf World, New Orleans Magazine, Mother Jones, the New York Daily News, and other publications. In addition, he has competed in numerous tournaments on the professional and amateur golf circuits.Show all Harry Hurt III's Articles