Bridgestone J40 Irons coming too?

We posted spy shots of the Bridgestone J40 driver earlier, and now come pics of new Bridgestone J40 irons. These are player’s cavityback irons, which may explain why the J40 drivers are smaller and perhaps focused at better players. Bridgestone looks to be targeting more serious players – or these can be just for their tour staff. More info as we have it.

Update on TaylorMade R11 Irons

We wrote last week about some images of new R11 Irons that may be coming out. These updated photos from MyGolfSpy look better and more realistic. There are even some available on eBay (I’m sure the TaylorMade lawyers are having fun with that). The TaylorMade sales meeting is coming soon and they’ll probably be launched at that event. We’ll post more as we have info.

Sneak Peak of Bridgestone J40 Driver

The folks over at The Hackers Paradise have these photos, allegedly of the upcoming Bridgestone J40 Driver. It doesn’t seem to be finished in the branding department – the “B” watermark makes the sole look more like it is covered with lead tape – but the story is it comes in 445cc & 430cc sizes. Why they are going down from the J38′s 460cc size remains to be seen. Perhaps it will be a fall/winter launch – stay tuned.

Miura’s New Limited Forged Black Blade Irons

Miura is well-known for their high-quality forged irons (ok, that may be an understatement). And as such, Miura has released a black finish to their Tournament Blade muscleback irons, and we can be sure that they will be highly in demand for serious golfers. The press release says that “when golf club fans see these beauties, the effect is like coming around the corner and seeing your dream car parked at the curb. They can’t get that look out of their minds.” That might be a bit of hyperbole, but they look great, don’t they? They cost $275 per club, which by our math means that a 3-PW set will retail for $2,200. Still, if you can actually play muscleback irons, these clubs will look great and play great. There aren’t a lot of locations where you can buy Miura clubs in the US, but you can find a place on their website.

You can buy your lady a set of Adams clubs in a fancy bag

The women’s golf market is hard for the manufacturers to figure out. Do they want stylish, fashion-forward things? Or are the main buyers serious golfers who pretty much want what the guys have? Well, Adams has come up with a unique idea – include their clubs with a high-end, stylish bag company. Now you can buy an entire set of Adams clubs in a Keri Golf bag, which are self-described as “luxurious and distinctive.” The set includes Adams Golf Idea Tech V3 hybrid irons, the Speedline Fast 10 Driver and Speedline Fast 10 fairway woods. Also included are an attached accessories bag and seven color-coordinated head covers. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Now fancy bags like this aren’t cheap – they run $335 a piece, so including the bag and a set of clubs $1100 actually seems like a bargain. You can learn more on the Adams website.

TaylorMade R11 Irons photographed in the wild

MyGolfSpy has some photos of what appears to be TaylorMade R11 irons. Now, TaylorMade hasn’t announced that there will actually BE R11 irons, but it makes sense that there will be some coming. After all, there were R9 irons, and the one thing that golf companies have learned over the years is that consumers like  to buy irons with the same name as their drivers. There is a sales meeting coming soon, and September is a traditional launch time for TaylorMade irons. Signs all point to R11 irons coming to the market soon.

It’s hard to say if these are the exact R11 irons that will make it to production – I asked TaylorMade and they said that they have “no information at this point” — but don’t be surprised if the R11 irons look something like this and ship in September.

New Odyssey White Ice D.A.R.T. Tour Black Putter

This is the new Odyssey White Ice D.A.R.T. Tour Black Putter (whew – that’s a mouthful). I think it’s also known as the D-to the izz-A, R to the izz-T by those from Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, but that’s neither here nor there.  D.A.R.T. stands for “Direction And Realignment Technology,” which I have to believe they made up after making the alignment portion of the putter look like a dart. That being said, the main difference with the Tour Black version is that it is, not surprisingly, blackinstead of the usual chrome finish. The original D.A.R.T. performed well for many people as an alignment tool, and I bet a lot of people will like this black finish even better. I suppose they couldn’t make it all-white…

Early pics of Ping G20 Hybrid

The folks over at GolfWRX.com have pictures of the as-yet-unrleased Ping G20 Hybrid. We mentioned the G20 Driver earlier – makes sense that these will be released around the same time later this summer.

> Ping G20 Hybrid In-Hand pics – GolfWRX.com

Titleist releasing new 712 series irons

Titleist’s latest irons are showing up on tour today. The new 712 series – AP1, AP2, CB, & MB – will be in bags at the AT&T National this week, and will be coming to stores in the fall. The changes are minor – a progressive blade length for the AP1, weight shifts for the AP2, and barely anything for the MB & CB. Look for these irons to be popular with tour pros, low-handicappers, and people who like to play tour clubs even though they’re not very good.

> Titleist’s 712 Series irons arrive on the PGA Tour – Golf.com

Callaway continues to struggle

Callaway is in trouble. Not Getting-Sold-For-Chump-Change-Like-MySpace trouble, but trouble nonetheless. One of golf’s iconic equipment brands, Callaway has never reclaimed its glory days of the 90′s & early 2000′s, ceding the driver market to TaylorMade and struggling to integrate Top-Flite. Today, they announced that CEO George Fellows resigned for “personal reasons” and that they are planning to “restructure” the company to be leaner and more cost-effective. Now, we’re not privy to the “personal” reasons that caused Fellows to make this decision, but it probably was either A) He was personally tired of having to explain disappointing earnings; or B) the Board got personally tired of having him around. Now, he did say that the burden of a cross-country commute was stressful and now was “the right time to make a change.” First of all – he’s been commuting cross-country for the last 6 years? Why someone would take a job in beautiful Carlsbad, CA and then NOT MOVE THERE? That’s reason enough to fire someone – um, I mean “allow him to resign.”

So, what’s next for Callaway? To quote Clubber Lang – “My prediction – pain.” Callaway’s press release is full of all sorts of phrases like “reevaluation of business processes,” “severance expenses,” “reduce costs,” and “leaner organization” that indicate significant layoffs. Callaway has had periodic layoffs on and off since Fellows took over in 2005, but this sounds ominous.

This also means that the schadenfreude factor down the street at TaylorMade is off the charts today. Folks at TaylorMade always criticized the hiring of Fellows in the first place, stating that a Revlon exec without golf experience wouldn’t really get it. Plus, the success of TaylorMade’s R11 and  other white clubs has had a significant impact in Callaway’s struggles this year. There is no love lost between these two companies, and I’m sure that TaylorMade will put this one in the “win” column.

TaylorMade Releases Ghost Spider Putter

Used by Jason Day at the US Open, the new Ghost Spider is an update of the Rossa Spider (as we mentioned before, the Rossa brand is no longer with us) and will retail at $179. It has some additional improvements besides just being white – you can read more on the TaylorMade website. It will ship to retailers on July 15.

TaylorMade wins obscure legal battle

Did you know that Dogleg Right Corporation and Dogleg Right Parters, LP were suing TaylorMade, saying that TM’s Movable Weight Technology infringed on their patents? Did you know there was such a thing as “Dogleg Right,” whether in corporation or partnership form? Unless you are on the TaylorMade legal team, the answer to these questions is probably no (and if you are on the TaylorMade legal team, we’d like to say hi).

Nonetheless, in December of 2007, the aforementioned Dogleg Right folks sued TaylorMade, claiming that the r7 drivers were infringing on their patent for a “Customizable Center-of-Gravity Golf Club Head.” The suit was a big risk for Dogleg Right, as these suits take years to sort out and the last time we checked, lawyers ain’t cheap. However, they probably felt the risk was worth it, because if they did win, TaylorMade would have to pay them for every movable weight club they made, which is quite a lot. They probably figured they could sit on a beach, collect the fees, and not even have to make their odd-looking putters any more. Or, maybe TaylorMade would write them a large check to go away. So they took their shot.

Well, as often happens, the large corporate giant with an army of lawyers under their employ won out. TaylorMade released a brief statement last week letting us know that they won. Dogleg Right Corporation (and Dogleg Right Partners, LP as well) won’t be able to retire off any TaylorMade winnings. We’ll keep scouring the news to bring you any intra-industry lawsuits we find – at any given moment, somebody suing somebody.

US Open equipment photos from Golf.com  

Juan Pierre is terrible at golf, used in golf ad

Juan Pierre of the Chicago White Sox had never picked up a golf club before Mizuno decided to use him in an online campaign called “The Mizuno Challenge.” Mizuno put together this campaign to feature their entry into the game improvement iron market with their JPX-800 irons. In the video (which I can’t embed – bah), Juan calls his golf skills “a zero” on a 1-10 scale, and then proceeds to try the JPX-800 irons anyway. By the end of the fitting, he’s hitting a 6-iron 180 yards pretty consistently. The lesson learned is that, if you are an extremely talented athlete that is proficient at hitting balls a long distance to begin with, then these new Mizuno irons are for you.

Snarkiness aside, the Mizuno Challenge website has a lot of other features outside of MLB outfielders/golf novices making you feel bad about your natural abilities. The bulk of the campaign is to show regular consumers comparing their existing 6-irons with the JPX-800. Of course, most consumers have either old irons or irons that they shouldn’t be playing because they wanted to buy forged blades, but it still works. It does make sense for Mizuno to bring in their stable of baseball players – they don’t pay a lot of PGA Tour pros and this is a good way to get some star power. However, Nike tried this 6 or 7 years ago, using their non-golf athletes in their game improvement club ads, and they fell completely flat. Most golfers care more about Tour validation than this kind of celebrity endorsements, but perhaps the challenge aspect of Mizuno’s campaign will be more effective.

(h/t Pro Golf Talk)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (for golf companies)

If you are signed up on any golf email lists, you may have noticed an uptick in your inbox. Yes, Father’s Day is next week, and all the golf companies are vying for your dollars. Unlike most industries that have peak sales during the 4th quarter holiday season, golf purchases reach their height in June. This is both generally seasonal – most of the country can’t golf during the winter – and because of the Father’s Day holiday. It is no coincidence that the final round of the US Open is always on Father’s Day – it’s a marriage of tradition and retail. Yes, golf manufacturers have been doing fall launches of products over the last 5-10 years to try to shift sales to the second half of the year, but the basic chart hasn’t changed for decades. So, look for deals – and maybe adjust your email settings.

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