It's technically Christmas time all over again for golfers.
January is when all the new toys - i.e. equipment - start showing up in two places, either the bags of your favorite PGA Tour pro or with an announcement from your favorite equipment company/brand.
New drivers are the vehicles that 'drive' equipment sales. Hitting it longer and straighter is a priority for us all. In addition to TaylorMade's new Stealth 2 line, new drivers from Callaway (PARADYM), Cobra (AEROJET) and Srixon (Mk II) have been announced. Expect more from other OEMs like PING to come soon.
In this month's equipment column, we have compiled a number of the new golf toys that may catch your fancy:
Sxiron claims that its new ZX Mk II Woods and Drivers deliver "tour-level performance and revolutionary energy transfer." A stronger Rebound Frame design with dual flex zones on the woods creates a seamless energy transfer from the clubface through the golf ball.
The Rebound Frame adds a 10% larger High COR area to the driver faces compared to the previous generation. We all need 10% more forgiveness, that's for sure. Cost: $249.99-$499.99.
Before his short game let him down, Collin Morikawa was dominating at Kapalua's Sentry Tournament of Champions with a new Stealth 2 Plus driver from TaylorMade. Scottie Scheffler used a version as well. The new face design in the Stealth 2 line uses Inverted Cone Technology, which is designed to maintain ball speed on off-center strikes. TaylorMade is calling this newfound forgiveness a clever name - "Fargiveness". When compared to last year's original model, the Stealth 2 Plus features a 75-percent increase in Moment Of Inertia - MOI is the key to launching it - and that number is nearly double in the Stealth 2 and Stealth 2 HD as well. Golfers can custom-order the color of their driver faces, adding a bit of flair to their tee shots. The Stealth 2 hybrids, fairway woods and irons are also a step above technologically compared to 2022. Cost: $349-$629 with an iron set for $999 and up.
Cleveland Golf's RTX 6 ZipCore Wedge - scheduled to launch Jan. 20 - features HydraZip, a technology that uses dynamic face blasts and laser lines to maximize friction for improved spin consistency in dry and wet conditions. R&D testing showed 43% more spin in wet conditions with the RTX 6 ZipCore than the previous generation. Its UltiZip technology boasts grooves that are sharper, deeper and more tightly spaced to help golfers cut through rough for enhanced spin, control, and consistency. Cost: $169.99.
The new Paradym family features drivers, woods and hybrids. The driver's all-carbon chassis has removed all titanium, resulting in a body that's 44% lighter. The fairway woods could be up to 7 yards longer thanks to a tungsten speed cartridge, plus batwing and A.I.-designed Jailbreak technologies for more face flexure that launch the ball off the club. Jon Rahm used one en route to his Sentry Tournament of Champions victory. Cost: $299-$599 with iron sets starting at $1,399.
Hitting it far is fun, but what good is extra distance if you can't keep the ball in play? That's been PING's guiding principle in recent years, as their drivers continue to be known as the industry's best fairway-finders. Forgiveness-first is still the story with the G430 line of drivers and fairway woods, but the company also reports their pro staffers picking up an extra couple of miles per hour in ball speed, too, thanks to a shallower and thinner forged face. The G430 line also includes hybrids and irons.
Golf socks with space-age technology?
There's only so much technology that can go into a pair of socks, right? TrueEnergy, a North Carolina-based brand whose parent company, Grandview Hosiery, dates to 1946, weaves infrared nanotechnology crystals into the very yarn that comprises their products. That special ingredient, the company claims, is based on NASA research and gives the wearer more energy by helping to stimulate blood circulation. I received a few pair and while wearing them hasn't exactly replaced my caffeine intake or added yards to my tee shots, I have found them comfy and well-priced, at $20 for a three-pair pack. - T.G.
One-man golf brand
Gage Benevento works in logistics for Amazon, and like many, he discovered and fell in love with golf during the COVID-19 pandemic. His Haven Golf Company is one of dozens of small-but-mighty shops seeking to compete with the big brands in order to capitalize on golfers' increased interest in small-batch merch. Benevento's first collection of competitively-priced shirts ($65) comprises six designs, including one that invokes clouds and another called AZ Iced Tea, inspired by the aesthetics of the beverage brand. Haven is a one-person operation for now, and it's his side-gig, but that could change if his threads take off. - T.G.