Equipment & Product Reviews

TaylorMade SpeedBlade Irons PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

TaylorMade's new SpeedBlade is the latest in distance performance iron technology.

By now you've heard the hype, seen the commercials and probably even seen the sticks in

the local golf superstore . . . yes, TaylorMade is as good a P.R machine as there is in sports,

and because golf equipment is such an addictive obsession for so many of us, we can't get

enough of it. To make an analogy, they are the New York Yankees of the golf equipment biz.

You either love them or hate them for their accomplishments, but rarely is anyone ever

indifferent when TMAG is the subject matter. I often say "What can they possibly come up

with next ?" Then, next comes along, and the bar goes up another notch. Whether you're

a fan or not, to deny how good they are as a golf company is disingenuous . . . but I digress,

let's get back to our insatiable hunger for more distance.



TaylorMade's latest distance irons incorporate many small innovations, perhaps the most

obvious is the Speed Pocket, which is essentially a handlebar shaped slot in the sole (the

slot actually cuts through internally) which allows the club face to flex more at impact,

producing higher launch, faster ball speeds and more distance.

The Speed Pocket which is included in the 3 thru 7 iron only, has been lengthened and

widened since its inception in last years Rocketbladez irons. The slot is not included in the

8 iron thru wedges (where accuracy is the primary focus-not length). The bending notch

in the hosel is another great feature that makes it easier for clubfitters to adjust loft & lie

angles in each iron. Our test set came in 4-GW with TM stock 85 gram steel shafts in stiff





The short irons (8-wedge)

have minimal offest (see

photo right) and a nice sleek

topline - nothing screaming

game improvement/distance

irons here.The mid/long

irons have progressively

more offset and a thicker

top-line to promote


The dark smoke satin ion

plating reduces glare and

looks sharp at address.













Although Speedblades won't be mistaken for

forged blades, they also don't resemble the

bulky thick profiles of a typical distance iron,

their sleeker look at set up and address

separates them from most clubs in this



Essential to the performance and visual appeal

of Speedblade irons is their progressive shaping

throughout the set. Notice (in the photo right)

the smooth transition of how each hosel flows

into the heel portion of each clubhead - not a

cookie cutter design here. TMAG designers have

created each individual iron as it's own form for

a specific function, the sole and topline in the

scoring irons are slimmer to promote more

versatility and control.











It didn't take long to figure out a few things about the SpeedBlade irons: Getting the ball

to fly high only requires that you put the club on the ball at impact, it's that easy. The

carry distances-especially with the long and mid-irons is crazy long. Is any of that caused

by "smoke n mirrors" technology (strong lofts, and longer than standard superlight shafts)?

Yes of course, but that's industry wide in the production of distance irons these days. The

ultra thin face, deep cavity and Speed Pocket (slot) all contribute to the massive distance


Truth be told, hitting short irons with 85 gram shafts definitely takes a little getting used to,

but after gearing back a bit . . . I was able to flight the scoring clubs down into the South

Florida winds. The long and mid irons just travel forever, a trait that requires no getting

used to, in fact the biggest challenge might be figuring out your new carry distances with

each iron . . . for example my carry with my 6 iron was 172 yds, SpeedBlade -184 yds.

If High straight bombs that land softly on the greens are what you're after, than the

SpeedBlade might be your new irons. Perhaps the best feature for amateurs, is the yardage

loss on your miss hits is so minimal you won't believe it, and as many of us get older that

might be the best distance gain of all.



Although Speedblades are made from cast construction, they don't have the harsh feel of

many other distance irons. Impact is not the buttery feel of a forged blade, but it's a unique

trampoline like feel, somewhat similar to the sensation of compressing a ball on the sweetspot

of a hybrid or fairway metal . . . the sound is a crispy robust thwack.


Our testers raved about how easy the SpeedBlades are to launch, and of course we all love

being able to tell our buddies that we just flew the green from 194 downwind with a 6 iron

(I was the guilty party on that one). When you're testing product, it's always best to have

respected colleagues input, and every once in awhile you get a quotable gem that captures

the essence of what both the club manufacturer & player are hoping to achieve. Rich Smolen

(a competitive low digit player & LinksNation product tester) did exactly that, serving up this

"Golden Nugget" after his session testing the new irons: " I gotta tell ya, I've been struggling

with my game, hitting these SpeedBlades actually made golf fun for me again, I'm ordering a

set". He did just that, and in his first round with his new sticks . . . he played his best round

of 2014 (and may have peeled a few from his group in the process).


After all, isn't that feeling the reason we play the game?




For more info on SpeedBlades visit:











Nike Covert 2.0 Tour Driver PDF Print E-mail




By Jason Bruno


Back at the PGA Show

in late January, I sat

down with longtime

Nike Club designer -

now semi-retired

consultant Tom Stites.

I quickly realized that

Stites was more than

just enthusiastic

about Nike's new

Covert 2.0 Tour driver

. . . he was

downright giddy.




Fast forward to 4 weeks later. When the Nike box arrived at the office we were curious

to see if we'd concur with Stite's biased assessment of the new Swoosh big stick. First

thing we noticed was the great looking candy apple red crown (which returns from the

original Covert, no use messing with something that looks that good). The 2.0 Tour

we tested is geared towards the better player, the linkster who likes to work the ball

and has no trouble achieving the proper launch angle. The standard Covert 2.0 has a

slighty different color scheme (black fly brace in the cavity and gray sole/face) and

provides a higher launch & spin rate to help keep the ball in the shortgrass.



The new "Fly Brace" technology unifies the crown and the sole - creating a more rigid

clubhead - virtually eliminating distance robbing vibration from the clubhead. The brace

also allows for a forward CG position, thus reducing back spin. The slightly bigger

nexCOR clubface is more forgiving, and as Stites stated, "It's an evolutionary change

from where we were last year. Last year was breakthrough technology, this is more

an iterational growth on that technology."




The improvements were impossible to go unnoticed. The Covert 2.0 Tour not only

looks great and performs well, but has a nice solid metalwood sound and feel. Stites

noted McIlroy's fondness for the 2.0 as a big part in his recent confidence on the

tee box. At "The Oven" (Nike's Club testing R&D compound) in Texas, they refer

to Tiger as the "Last Adapter" because of his resistance to change equipment . . .

his quick switch to the Covert 2.0 Tour was another indicator that this new "Cherry

Bomber" has the right stuff.



The Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver 60 is the stock engine in the Covert 2.0 Tour. The

Silver features Titanium Nickel fiber in the tip for added stability and lower spin.




Nike's Flex Loft hosel sleeve allows independent loft/face angle adjustments.

Loft can vary from 8.5 -12.5 degrees, with 3 face angle positions, the Covert

2.0 is sure to fit any golfer, any swing. The 15% larger NexCOR face adds ball

speed and forgiveness from the original Covert Tour.



It was easy to hit any type of shot required, but high launching bombs were the

standard with the Covert 2.0 Tour. It's a MAJOR upgrade from the original 2013

model. If you're searching for a new driver this spring, I would put the Covert 2.0

right up there near the top of the list . . . in fact, it's among our favorite ever

tested. The "Swoosh" has moved into elite company in the driver market now . . .

and that hasn't always been the case for Nike Golf.




For More info:












































Zepp Golf 3D Motion Sensor PDF Print E-mail


by Jason Bruno


Zepp Labs 3D Motion Sensor was designed for both athletes and coaches to help evaluate golf

swing performance. The small ultraweight sensor attaches to a glove mount, and along with the

free app on your smart phone or tablet, you get instant read outs on your swing plane, swing

speed, tempo, backswing length, and hand speed. You can set your goals for each statistic and

within seconds the Zepp app will analyze the data and give you a score. I met with Zepp Labs

CEO Jason Fass recently in Orlando and was really impressed with their new device . . . so much

so - that the Zepp Golf sensor made our "Best of" list from this years PGA Merchandise Show.



The ultralight Zepp sensor

attaches easily with the

glove mount. An audio

prompt gets you started

with a 3 second calibration

of each individuals hand

position on the grip . . . this

allows the sensor to identify

the clubhead orientation

throughout the swing.







Although the data shows a good move on this driver swing, clearly there are a few things

to work on, for example - desired tempo is a 3:1 ratio . . . the 2.8:1 indictes to me that my

timing was a bit quick on the backswing. Note the hips rotation data is zero'd out - if you

attach the cell phone to your belt on the front hip, the sensor will read your hip rotation

during the swing. Practicing with a purpose has never been easier and more informative.



- Review and replay your your swing in 360 degrees

- Track club head speed, tempo, club plane, hand path, backswing position and more

- Compare and share your swings with others

- Get personalized tips, drills and coaching

- Set goals and track your improvement



The Zepp flash storage has a capacity of 2000 golf swings. The App is available for

both Android and Apple devices.



I've been using the Zepp sensor during all of my practice sessions since the end of

January, and it has helped me to identify what I really need to work on. What more

can you ask for?



For more info:









Puma's Biofusion Spikeless Mesh PDF Print E-mail

Puma  Biofusion Spikeless  Mesh



Designed on a completely new anatomical last, the shoe provides ultimate fit, performance

and comfort through all 18 holes. Plus, its spikeless silhouette, wrapped in our new

waterproof mesh, is designed for wear off the course, aswell.”

- Grant Knudson (Puma Golf Shoe Creator)



Talking with Puma shoe creator Grant Knudson, I quickly realized that he has more ideas

and creative thoughts about how to design shoes than I ever imagined possible. He's so

interesting to talk to, that he literally makes you want to know about golf shoe design . . .

that of course makes you wish you had every new Puma golf shoe. It's an endless cycle.


The great thing about shoes in general, and golf shoes specifically is that one can never

have too many. The Biofusion Spikeless Mesh is a lighter more versatile spin off of the new

Biofusion Tour. I’ve been wearing mine on & off the course for 3 weeks now. The style is

sporty whether walking the links or for casual use. The Biofusion Mesh is very stable during

the golf swing, which is the knock on most spikeless models on the market today. The

waterproof mesh will keep your feet cool, and the FusionFoam mid-sole will provide all of the

comfort and traction you need during your round.






  • Anatomical last shape and 0 heel-to-toe drop for super comfortable and natural performance
  • controlCELL for optimal lightweight performance, flexibility and stability
  • Performance Mesh for very soft hand feel, extreme durability and lightweight anti-wicking properties for extra breathability
  • Ortholite Sockliner for superior cushioning, moisture removal and odor controlled performance
  • ArchTec supports the arch of the foot, every golfer could use some extra support
  • EverFoam® cushioning at the heel for a comfortable fit
  • IdCELL for mid foot and heel cushioned support
  • FusionFoam for a super comfortable fit and more responsive ride and long-lasting durability
  • Flex Grooves in forefoot for increased flexibility and enhanced ground contact
  • Carbon Rubber for excellent grip and long lasting durability
  • Cell Cage engineering for flexible, lightweight support that enhances flexibility and maximizes support
  • Multiple laces to customize your style
  • Crafted with durable materials with waterproofing guaranteed for one year



Available March 1st, in 3 color combinations:  Yellow/Black/White,  Black/White/Vibrant

Orange & Tradewinds/White/Lime Green (Retail $120)

Another great shoe creation by the folks at Puma -for more info:












The Best New Products - 2014 PGA Show PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

The week kicked off at Orange County National in Orlando for Demo Day.



The 61st PGA Merchandise Show


Another year and another trip to the annual Golf equipment showcase also known as the PGA

Merchandise Show. For most in the biz, show week is looked at as the Super Bowl of the Golf

industry. The show this year had a great vibe, with tons of great new products on display . . .

the buzz had an air of optimism, but there is a reality in our game that continues to plague it's

growth. Participation in the sport continues to trend downward,  and there aren't any real signs

of that changing right now. Can the industry look outside the box and rally to create new

participation and enjoyment in our great game?




So before we get into all of the new toys, and specifically our favorites, I'd be remiss if I

didn't speak about the new initiative being spear headed by TaylorMade's Mark King in joint

partnership with the PGA of America.


The vision here is for all to look outside the box for ways to make the game more enjoyable.

According to the National Golf Foundation, King, PGA President Ted Bishop and business guru

Gary Hamel, standing pat and expecting the game to grow is what we've been doing . . . and

it's not working. At LinksNation we support the initiative and look forward to bringing you

updates as they develop. For more info you can go to or watch the





Callaway went way outside the box with their display, the tank definitely grabbed its share of attention





Our best New Products of the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show:


Zepp Golf's 3D motion sensor identifies your swing plane, swing speed, tempo and so

much more - all in a simple device that attaches to your glove. The Zepp device relays

the info back to the app on your phone or tablet instantly.




Nike Covert 2.0 driver - the new model features "Fly brace" technology at the top of the

cavity, which stabilizes and removes unwanted vibration in the clubhead. The Tour model

(shown above) also features a more forward CG and a slightly bigger face than the original

Covert Tour. Tom Stites cited improved sound & feel in this generation as a big factor in

Covert's evolution. Nike's Flex-loft sleeve is another unique feature in all Covert woods.

The Covert 2.0 comes in the standard version as well.






Cobra's new driver line in 2014 is Bio Cell. New features include MyFly8 adjustability and the Project

X-PXv shaft. Bio Cell+ is a slightly smaller head that offers a more penetrating trajectory for faster

swing players, and comes equipped with the Matrix 6Q3 Red Tie shaft. The crown on the Bio Cell+

is a light weight Venollum alloy that helps lower the clubs CG.






Puma's shoe creator Grant Knudson is to golf shoes what a young Karsten was to club design

. . . brilliant and innovative. Knudson told me that Rickie Fowler asked for a lightweight tour shoe,

the new BioFusion Tour is the result . . . ultimate comfort in a superlight total performance shoe.





TaylorMade Tour Preferred Irons - CB, MC & MB . . . The Tour Preferred line is back.

These beauties were certainly worth the wait, designed for the serious player. The

Muscle Cavity model features a cast body & Speed slot in the 3-7 irons and a forged

head in the scoring clubs 8-PW.






Adidas - Adizero One is the latest version of their lightest spiked golf shoe, new for this year is an

ultra-light Sprintskin one piece upper - the first of its kind.

The sole not only enhances traction but greenskeepers will applaud the new turf friendly spikes.





Golf Pride's softest performance grips ever, the CP2 & CP Pro feature less taper down the grip.

The gray stability inserts (shown) go inside the grip to reduce torque during the golf swing.




The 2014 Crocs line mixes things up, new styles and soles with more of an emphasis on

performance and stability in the golf swing. If you haven't noticed yet, shoes were a big theme

at this years show.





Game Golf—a comprehensive system designed to seamlessly capture and display your golf game in

a dynamic interface with stats and a social component to compare with colleagues and friends.

Endorsed by Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, GameYourGame was the talk of the show.






Ashworth's 2014 apparel line combines performance with classic style, once again look for U.S

Open Champion Justin Rose to be the brand ambassador on the PGA Tour this season.





The Highland pant by Maide Golf (produced by its parent brand Bonobos), was hands down our

favorite pair of golf pants/slacks at this years show. Great fit, and a classic yet youthful style. The

grip insert in the waistband and hem zipper are just a few of the details included with the Highland

golf pants. Not bad for a first time exhibitor at the show.






Golf Ball creator Rock Ishi sat down with me to explain the technology in Nike's new RZN golf balls.

The new shape and texture molded into each core allows it to be cohesive with the other layers

within the ball, thus more energy is stored which = more distance and control. Ishi said, Rory

McIlroy loves the new ball . . . and used it in his win over Adam Scott in Australia.






The company known for golf and travel bags - Ogio does shoes now !!!! Available in

four models: Race, City, City Spkied and Sport





Best Ad at the entire show was for Ogio apparel (I'm a sucker for a classic car-especially a Shelby)







Although TaylorMade's SLDR came out in the fall of 2013, this year the "LOFT UP"

campaign goes to a new level with a 14 degree model. Tom Kroll from TMAG sat

down to chat up all things metalwoods, and on the subject of SLDR & Loft he said,

"We've just begun, a year ago at Sony we had 3 guys playing a 10.5 degree driver,

this year at Sony we had 20 guys playing 10.5* and 3 guys playing 12*. . . at

Humana we had 24 guys playing 10.5* and 5 guys playing 12* drivers!





I must admit I love new shoes (hence all of the golf shoes featured), but shoes are nothing

without the right socks. With all the walking we did, I welcomed the new Kentwool Socks

to my sore and tired feet . . . great quality! #Cushion




Adams brings back Tight Lies, the new version has a speed pocket and sleek black clubhead







Callaway Speed Regime golf balls simplify your choice: Swing Speeds below 90 mph = SR1, Swing

Speeds 90-105mph = SR2, and 105+ = SR3







New Balance - Long known as a leader in running shoes, NB is now in the golf shoe market. The

Minimus Sport is their lightweight spikeless offering (pictured).





In the Wedge category, one model stood out with it's unique sole :

Nike's new Toe Sweep Wedges are as Tom Stites says "an outside the box innovation", he went

on to say that a few tour players wanted to put them in their bag when they were spotted as

prototypes at "The Oven" in Texas.






Bridgestone's new True Balance Putters feature a dual insert, and a graphite shaft/grip combo that

are only 55 grams combined.




The new GolfBuddy WT4 is super sleek and has the style that can worn anywhere.


Digital/Analog watch feature.

Faster data transfer on PC sync mode

37K + global courses pre-loaded

Full target and hazard info

Dynamic green view




Finally, another amazing pair of golf shoes . . .

The Nike TW '14 - based on natural movement and the Nike Free concept. The wide base of these

shoes gives amazing stability. Better styling for '14 gets the TW shoe onto our list. Tour proven -

if the best player in the world can walk 8 miles a day and swing 120 mph in these . . . nuff said.



Honorable mention :


Callaway's Big Bertha Alpha - Gravity Core

TaylorMade's Tour Preferred ball - New cover for better scoring inside 100 yds

ScorGolf Wedge system - Complete 41 to 61 degree wedges for perfect gap separation

Titleist SM5 Vokey wedges - Deeper TX3 grroves

Finger Grippers -  Neoprene finger sleeves for injury prevention

Giannini Putters - High quality milled putters

SkyCaddie LINX watch - Next generation in GPS watches

Bridgestone B330 series - new Hydro-Core for better performance

Footjoy D.N.A shoes - Dryjoys Next Advancement









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