|Is it time to re-grip your clubs?
If you thought the title was going to show a link to something funny like the leg lamp featured in movie “A Christmas Story”…well, that would be tacky! Rather, we are talking about a good type of tacky as in a good, secure golf grip.
One particular line of grips you may want to gain some familiarity with (or again) is the recent line-up of Tacki Mac grips. Tacki Mac grips have been around for quite some time. For many veteran clubmakers, they will probably associate Tacki Mac with arthritic grips, which has been a clubmaking staple for many years now.
Each of their grips is made from a high quality thermoplastic rubber (TPR) which gives the grips a durable, water-resistant and an exceptional tacky feel. Using TPR also allows for a variety of colors. While not a household name, Tacki Mac might be the new hip grips on the market. One trend in the grip market are colorful, tacky thermoplastic grips imported from overseas that cost as much as $15-20 a piece. That’s right! But you can get the same level of tackiness, colors and unbelievably proudly “Made in the USA” for a fraction of that cost.
Tacki Mac’s newest offering consists of their popular Itomic line which they debuted at this time last year. Now Hireko has added the mid sized versions in all 4 colors to complement them. Then there is all-new Itomic it2, which is a little lighter version with a more distinctive appearance. The Itomic family of grips can be installed normally or turned 180 degrees around if you prefer the subdued graphics and lettering.
While the smooth texture of the velvet style pattern remains quite popular today, Tacki Mac still offers a wrap style for more torsional resistance in the fingers and palms. The wrap style is available in the two most popular colors in grips today plus in different sizes for custom fitting.
If you are in the market for re-gripping your clubs in the near future, you should give Tacki Mac a strong consideration.
2011 TACKI-MACK GRIPS
CLASSIC TACKI-MAC DESIGNS
Featuring the revolutionary new Power Play Adrenaline Line, extreme game improving Acer XK Series and hundreds of new shaft and grip products, our new catalog is the most ambitious and comprehensive catalog we have ever created.
$7.95 flat rate shipping continues in 2011.
Download New 2011 Hireko Golf Equipment Catalog
Full Version is 12 meg PDF file. Download time dependent on internet connection
For slower connections, you can download the catalog in two parts:
Download Part 1 – pages 1-72 (6 meg file size)
Download Part 2 – pages 73-144 (6 meg file size)
At Hireko, we are usually quite humble and don’t toot our own horn as much as we should. One important tidbit of information we should mention (or plaster all over our website) is that Hireko is probably the most left handed friendly company in the entire golf biz. While we may not offer every single product in a LH option, we do offer a greater selection than any other company out there.
Are You Left Handed?
If you answered yes, then you are already aware that you are in the minority in the United States. OK, for you folks in Canada, there may be isolated pockets where there are high concentrations of “lefties”, but only 10% of Americans are left-handed. To compound the problem, of those that are LH and play golf, not all play golf left handed. They opt or are forced to learn the game the “other way” because of limited or non-existent choice of equipment when they decide to get started. And before someone makes a comment, yes there are a few (and I mean only a few like Phil Mickelson) who are a natural “righty” who plays golf LH. But in the whole scheme of things, LH golfers account for fewer than 10% of the golfing population.
What does that mean to golfers playing LH?
Plain and simple, you will have fewer options. In a perfect world, every clubhead design in every loft and any other option would be made in LH as well. But the facts are that tooling costs are ever increasing, fewer golfers are playing golf and product life cycles are dwindling that for even a company of enormous size cannot honestly offer the same number of LH products as they do RH and expect to break even. So manufacturers cherry pick and only offer LH versions in what they think will be their heavy hitters.
The other reality is companies smaller in size than Hireko could not even sell the minimum runs required by the foundries. So if you are left-handed and aren’t Mister Average, good luck finding any niche products. Left-handed woman, well you are the smallest minority of them all. If you have paid attention, the situation is not getting any better.
Hireko is your one-stop source for LH products
Hey lefties or clubmakers / club fitters who cater to LH customers in your area – don’t give up hope! Yes, we offer all of heavy hitters in the LH options and some that aren’t. If you slice the ball off the tee or the fairway, we got you covered. If you need reduced offset irons, we got those too. Even LH ladies can acquire products that will help them excel with the Acer XK and XF lines as we offer higher trajectory drivers and irons. But here are some left hand clubhead designs you may not be able to find anywhere else, but can at Hireko now or later this year:
Why shop anywhere else?
With our expansive and expanded line up of shafts, grips and clubmaking supplies, your first and possibly only stop for left handed equipment should be Hireko both now and into the future. So Viva la Lefty golfers across the globe, Hireko have a vested interest in your game.
In Part 1, we discussed how the exciting new Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC forged iron was constructed. In this segment we will talk about the playability and fitting aspects of the iron. As I said in Part 1, forging is only a process – plain and simple. What makes an iron perform is not exactly how it is constructed (forged versus investment cast), as much as it is about other things like weight distribution, hosel configuration and the like.
When you mention a “forged” iron, for many it conjures up the image of a compact, player’s club with a limited audience. Traditional forging techniques have not allow the same deep undercut cavity designs that are found in modern game improvement and super game improvement irons. Thus the knock against forged irons they are reserved for golfers with good ball striking skills. The reason being is the weight is more centrally located in the head rather than spread out around the perimeter. The average golfer that tends to miss the “sweet spot” will be more penalized with regards to distance and direction than they would be with investment cast game improvement models.
|$29.95 Per Clubhead|
|$44.95 Custom Assembled (headcover not included)|
By tradition, the majority of forged irons possesses a thinner topline and for some golfers may look a little intimidating to hit. Plus most forging irons have reduced offset so they are not well suited to golfers who routinely fade the ball or are they? The great thing about a compact blade length is the center of gravity is closer to the centerline axis of the shaft and allows the head to rotate closed easily. Therefore they don’t need a ton of offset that most game improvement club requires to help square up the face at impact. For some who don’t like the look of a lot of offset will find this to be an added bonus.
This is not your father’s forged iron
Remember the Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC forged iron doesn’t utilize tradition construction techniques as we were able to add some game improvement elements to target a larger audience with this design. Don’t get me wrong, I would not put this iron in the hands of a beginner or high handicapper, as we offer many more models that would be better suited to their skill level. However this iron could be used successfully by not just professional golfers but mid handicappers too who do not need to be intimidated about using a forged iron.
The Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC milled cavity allows for a significant amount of heel and toe weighting, while the addition of the milled slot or undercut helps to push the weight further behind the face for even greater stability. On top of that many players’ blades today still have a heel biased, not to mention higher, center of gravity location due to the long hosel incorporated into their design. This requires a player to hunt for the sweet spot. By shortening the hosel length in the Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC forged iron, the player is actually rewarded for hitting in the center of the face instead of penalizing them. Instead, we put that extra hosel weight to much better use.
Why are forgings coveted? Is it the ability to “work” the ball when needed? Perhaps it is the softer or pure feel at impact associated with the softer material required in the forging process? Or maybe it is that distinctive shiny chrome plated appearance? The Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC forged iron has these attributes as well, plus each groove is CNC milled to conform to the Rules of Golf. For those of you who want have your cake and eat it too, here is an iron for you.
Most forged irons on the market run $900 and up for a set of 8 equipped with Dynamic Gold shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips. To say the Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC forged iron is a bargain (custom assembled @$500) with the same shafts and grip is the understatement of the year. Plus these are available with many other custom shafts and grips amongst all your popular brands. Whether you are making them for yourself, a customer or buying them custom assembled you know you will look and play great with quality components.
Part 1 of 2: Construction
With each New Year, there comes new gear and this year in no exception as Hireko begins to roll out some our newest wares. There are certain models that take additional explanation to what makes them better or unique. For example, out of all the products that Hireko will make available this coming year, the Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC forged iron is one that I get extremely excited about. One of the reasons is that it has been a pet project of mine for some time now which is going to revolutionize how forged irons can and will be made in the future. Forged irons have been revered primarily amongst better players for years, but that is all about to change.
|$29.95 Per Clubhead|
|$44.95 Custom Assembled (headcover not included)|
You see, forging is only a process – plain and simple. The initial step in forging an iron involves taking a solid, tubular billet of soft steel (normal carbon steel), heating it, and then pressing into the rough shape using a huge mechanical press exerting several tons of force. This allows the rough shape to be stamped out. There is one limitation though. Traditional forging techniques allowed only basic plain back shapes that we call a blade style or muscle back iron. Over time, forged irons evolved to have basic cavity shapes, but no where near the complexity of a modern investment cast iron.
Then 3 years ago Hireko introduced the forerunner of this iron aptly called the Dynacraft Prophet CNC. This iron started as a basic forged cavity back and utilized an additional step of milling the cavity to create an undercut or other shapes that could not be done with traditional forging techniques. This was revolutionary in itself.
A little over a year ago we started to think of a way to improve and freshen up the Dynacraft Prophet CNC for 2011. After racking our brains we realized there wasn’t a significant amount of material that could be moved around to alter the performance. To be brutally honest we would be doing nothing more than window dressing on an iron that received extremely good reviews. So we had to think of something different that we wouldn’t have the same conclusion 3 years from now.
One of the stumbling blocks of forged iron production is the astronomical tooling costs compared to investment cast irons. Believe me it is extremely expensive with a capital E. This is the reason why you see so few new forged designs introduced on a yearly basis and the few models that are brought to market usually have a much longer life span than their cast brethren. Coupled with their higher price of fabrication which limits their potential sales and this becomes a large investment / risk for a company regardless of their size.
Hireko decided if we are going to invest into a new forged iron, we would do so by looking into the future. Our concept was to produce a set of forged irons with a great shape, but grossly overweight. We added approximately 100g of extra material on the back side of the iron that allows us to change the iron without the extravagant cost of new tooling. With the luxury of an extra 100 grams of material we have nearly unlimited options. By CNC milling the material away to create not only distinctive looks, but also alter the performance by manipulating the center of gravity location. We are only limited by our imagination.
Based upon the huge success we had with the investment cast 304 stainless steel Prophet Tour (you know, the sexy and highly playable blade iron we introduced at the end of 2009), we patterned our inaugural forged version after it. The Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC forged iron is a three-quarter cavity back iron with an undercut we call the stability slot to further enhance the weigh distribution.
Here is a brief slide show to should how the Dynacraft Prophet Tour CNC forged iron goes through some additional steps.
For clubmakers, there is a term that you need a full understanding of and that is the bottom of bore to ground line measurement (or BBGM for short). For example, let’s say you pull a shaft out of one 3 wood and place it into another 3 wood. What could very well happen is the length, swingweight and even the flex of the club can change. If you are asking “aren’t all 3 woods created equal?” then you better listen up.
To explain how the length discrepancy occurs, let us take a look at the anatomy of the hosel area of a club. The dimension labeled HL is the hosel length along the axis of the shaft. This is measured using the lie of the club from the center of the bore to the point it intersects the ground line.
The dimension labeled ID is the insertion depth of the shaft into the head. There is no industry standard for this dimension, but often it is slightly greater than 1” at the minimum and could range to the same dimension as the HL in clubs that are true thru bores or where the shaft exits the bottom of the sole.
The last dimension is the BBGM which is simply the difference between the hosel length and insertion depth. For example, the HL in this diagram might be 2.375” and the insertion depth 1.125”. This means the BBGM is 1.25” or how far the tip of the shaft, once fully seated in the hosel, rests above the ground line.
Now let’s go back to our first statement that we pulled one shaft from a 3 wood. We will use this example for simplicity. If we put that same shaft into another 3-wood that had a BBGM of 1.5”, then we would have a club that now measures ¼” longer. If we had the same head weight, there is a good chance the swingweight will increase and that will have a slight effect on the shaft flex and lie. This becomes an easy fix as the grip can be removed and the extra material be taken from the butt end of the shaft. In this case no harm, no foul other than the clubmaker’s time and cost of another grip
However, now let’s use the opposite scenario where the BBGM is only ¾”. This means the shaft is closer to the ground by 0.5” or the same as if it was tip trimmed ½” more. The length will now shorten by ½”, the swingweight is reduced (with same head weight and CG position), shaft becomes stiffer and the lie flatter. You can fix the length by removing the grip and extending the shaft. The will have an effect of increasing the overall weight of the club as you have to account for the additional weight of the extender. Even though the shaft length and club lie are now resolved, the flex cannot be fixed.
While the BBGM can vary from one model to the next even within the same company’s product line, the good news is the BBGM does not vary within the set of like clubs. That is the BBGM of the 3 iron is the same as the 4 iron, the 5 iron…and so forth. This is one of the reasons why you might need to alter tip trimming for different models or understand you just can’t one shaft pulled from one club and place it in another without some consequences.