Two players not particularly receiving much attention from golf fans recently won last week on the men’s tours. Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, took the Tshwane Open on the European Tour and Vaughn Taylor a non-winner for more than 10 years, overcame Phil Mickelson at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Schwartzel’s eight shot victory came with the new version Nike RZN Platinum ball introduced this year along with stablemate RZN Tour Black. Both have a 4-piece construction with a 10 percent larger and softer RZN 4.0 core than the old RZN model. RZN is Nike’s proprietary plastic material used in clubs and balls. It’s both light and strong which allows designers added flexibility in placing discretionary weight where needed.
Nike also engineered an update of the core’s Speedlock X surface for 26 percent more surface area so energy is transferred more efficiently. The outer mantle underwent a redesign of the Speedlock surface helping it stay in contact with the urethane cover, a big factor to generate spin from the higher lofted irons. The cover of the RZN Tour (a “Flight Suit” according to Nike) has 344 dimples and 13,558 micro-dimples to reduce aerodynamic drag.
The RZN Tour Platinum has mid-spin control and the RZN Tour Black has lower spin off the driver. Price of each is $48 per dozen.
Taylor, for his surprising victory which gets him into the Masters, played the Titleist Pro V1x ball that came out in January 2015; the company introduces new golf balls every other year. Since 2000, when the original Pro V1 was produced, it and the Pro V1x (introduced in 2003) have consistently been the most played ball on the professional tours and in all top amateur events.
The differences between the two comes down to feel and spin. The Pro V1 is slightly softer feeling and has somewhat more spin off the long clubs such as the driver producing a slightly flatter trajectory and shallower angle coming down. The Pro V1x feels firmer and has less driver spin but a higher launch and comparatively steeper angle of descent.
Interestingly Vaughan used a five year old TaylorMade Golf R11 driver that was the company’s third generation of adjustable drivers. However the R11 did break totally new ground…it was the first white clubhead driver, the look that makes any TMaG model driver instantly recognizable to television viewers around the world.
The ladies were active as well with world number one Lydia Ko winning her national open, the New Zealand Women’s Open on the Ladies European Tour, for the third time after an earthquake rocked the golf course just prior to her tee time.
Ko used the new Callaway Apex Pro 16 irons (5 through 9) defending her 2015 title with a two stroke victory. Callaway solicited feedback from its tour staff during the design process of these good looking forged irons with a fairly classic profile and built in soft feel, just what is required by professionals and better amateurs.
The heads have a multi-material construction with placement of the center of gravity individualized for each club. Longer irons (3 through 5) have more offset and a tungsten insert to move the head weight lower giving a higher launch while the short irons have the center of gravity higher in the head to produce a more penetrating trajectory.
The Apex Pro 16 set of eight irons with True Temper Project X steel shafts is $1,200 and with UST Mamiya Recoil graphite shafts $1,400.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?