Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 PGA Merchandise Show - Demo Day Recap Part 1 of 4: Wilson Golf, Mitsubishi Golf Shafts, and TaylorMade Golf

Demo Day is always my favorite part of the PGA Merchandise Show.  I start at the front gates, and purposefully make my way around the entire 42-acre Orange County National Golf Center.  I hit as many new clubs as I can in the nine hours we get, jot down notes for recaps, and grab pictures and videos so you can see everything. 


Music is pumping, people are drinking, and everyone's having a great time.  Demo Day is basically golf's version of Woodstock, except everyone has their clothes on.  By the end of the day I have worse calluses than I do actually playing an entire season back home in Ohio.  And I usually don't sleep that evening, because if I did I probably wouldn't want to wake up for the first day of the Show. 

My flights over for the Show in the past have generally been pretty hectic if you've read my coverage from previous years.  This year however was absolutely awesome.  I met head pros Ben and Pat from Catawba Island Club in Ohio, and as fate would have it we shared a row on the flight to Orlando.  By the time we landed I had an open invite to play this gorgeous Arthur Hills designed course, and even conduct some of my 2018 equipment reviews there.  I'm really excited to get over to Catawba, and you can count on a course review as well once the season officially begins. 


These Demo Day recaps won't go into great comparative detail between OEM offerings.  I save that for my final Best of Show article.  I will tell you in these recaps however, why I liked certain clubs, and what in particular really stood out. 


I honestly wish Demo Day could have been two days long instead of one, because the competition among OEM's is resulting in some of the best gear I've seen in almost half a decade, and when you're an equipment junkie like I am - the more time you can spend with new clubs the better.  So with all that said... here we go. 

Wilson Golf 
On different social media platforms many of you jokingly call me Mr. Wilson.  I know that's not to imply I'm Wilson above all else, but rather than you trust my opinion and know I put their equipment through the grinder.  I've told you in the past I preferred the older V2 irons to the newer V4 irons.  I liked my M3 driver more than my F5 driver, and so on.  Newer isn't always better.  So what's the verdict on my first impressions of their new C300 family of clubs?  Simple.  It's going to be Wilson's best selling line-up since I started writing equipment reviews. 


The C300 driver is the strongest sounding and longest Wilson driver I ever hit at Demo Day, and I even went back to hit it a second time before I left for the day.  It has an enormous sweet spot making it incredibly forgiving, and the stock Fujikura Speeder PRO shaft gives it extra diesel. 


The fairway woods and hybrids are equally impressive.  Adjustability allows you to dial in your preferred shot bias, and the power holes and reactive face are for real. 


Wilson's C300 and C300 forged irons also feature the new power slots and both are extremely long and forgiving. 


I absolutely loved the C300 forged.  The C300 forged shape is a bit smaller with a thinner top line, and made from 8620 carbon steel it feels glorious. 


I'm predicting these irons will help Wilson capture a bit more of the iron market share this year, and if you get a chance to try them out I highly recommend them both. 

Wilson also have some new balls out this year.  The DUO Soft is 29 compression, making it the softest feeling ball Wilson has ever made.  A shallower dimple pattern and larger core than the previous DUO balls means more speed and distance.  The DUO Soft Spin is a 40 compression 3-piece ball that's been re-engineered to increase spin up to 20% more than the previous DUO Spin.

I talked with Wilson Golf Ball Innovation Director Frank Simonutti about the new balls, and to make this simple - he says they're Wilson's best ever.  I've known Frank for about three years now and he's one of the most trusted people I know in the industry.  These balls are going to be good! 

I'm not sure who was piloting this drone, but it was pretty interested in what I was doing after I left the Wilson area. 


Mitsubishi Golf Shafts 
Mitsubishi Golf is releasing next generation BF and RF Diamana shafts using new MR-70 and DIALED fibers that are actually used on Dreamliners and Boeing aircrafts.  The new fibers are stronger and legitimate improvements on conventional materials. 


The Diamana BF series (mid launch, mid-to-low spin) shafts refine and enhance Mitsubishi's Blue Board profile resulting in exceptional stability at impact.  You've probably seen Blue Board shafts in many of my driver reviews, and after hitting the 2018 BF a handful of times I can attest to their improved feel and stability. 


The Diamana RF series (high launch, low spin) shafts upgrade Mitsubishi's Red Board profile by delivering even better control in loading and unloading the shaft.  I didn't hit the RF shafts but I'm going to take Mitsubishi's word on this one given my positive experience with their shafts over the years. 


TaylorMade Golf 
TaylorMade really grabbed my attention at Demo Day this year, but I wasn't alone.  At one point in the day there was a 3-hour wait to hit their new clubs. 


The M3 and M4 drivers both gave me great distance numbers compared to previous years.  And the M3 and M4 irons are clubs I'd throw in my bag right now. 


The story with the drivers is Twist Face - literally making the face curve slightly open towards the toe and more closed towards the heel. 


I hit the M3 and M4 drivers and with the exception of the M3 having infinitely more adjustability, they both produced incredible distance and impressive ball speeds on impacts across the face. 

I can also confirm that Twist Face works.  Shots hit high on the toe and low on the heel produced much better results than my swing deserved. 


The M3 and M4 irons feature RIBCOR and face slot technology for greater consistency in ball speed and dispersion and they both rated high for me in distance and forgiveness. 


I preferred the more compact shape of the M3, but there's no denying the M4 were one of the easiest to hit and launch irons at Demo Day.  I'm talking whacky stance, off balance, inconsistent swings still easy to launch and hit straight.