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Archives for February 2011 | Hireko Golf Blog

Meet the New Acer XF Driver Series – The Industry’s Most Comprehensive Line (Part 1 of 2)

For those frequent readers of our Blog, you are probably aware many of the new Acer XF drivers have now hit our shelves. That means for those that pre-ordered your new Driver may very well be en route to you. But for some who may not be up on all the latest current events like what is happening in Libya and how it affects gas prices at the pump or how Charlie Sheen’s escapades will affect your sitcom viewing pleasure, I am going to hip you in on what will be the best selling driver series in the component market this year.

Why will this be the best selling driver series this year?
The answer to this is easy. First of all, these are drop dead gorgeous head club heads. Each Acer XF driver has that classic pear shape which most golfers prefer, plus they have an attractive and durable black PVD finish that makes them stand out and make your playing partners take notice. Not only do they have a great shape, but also a great sound that is neither high pitched or muted – but just right. Next they are affordable, but that goes without saying since it is a Hireko offering. Lastly, there are a diverse number of options for right and left-handers, of various lofts and three distinct models with in the line (at least right now…hint, hint) to fit virtually any golfer.

Which one is for you?
This leads me to the next challenge which is selecting the right model for your or your customer’s game. I have already fielded hundreds of calls and email from customers around the globe about the Acer XF driver series. Many of which are looking at one model in particular, but after consulting with them, they really needed one of the other options that was better suited to their game. That is what I am going to discuss next. So let’s start with the easiest question.

Do you slice the ball?
OK, be honest here. Do the majority of your tee shots land in the rough (on the fade side) or you are constantly yelling “Fore” to warn those players on an adjacent fairway? If that is your case, you need the Draw version. You see the Draw version is designed to improve your chances of hitting more fairways. Oh, and I should preface that by stating your own fairway.

The fact is most amateur golfers slice the ball. Yet with their busy schedules, they don’t have the time or even resources to take lessons and improve their swing. We completely understand that and build in technology to help those golfers make the game as fair possible. The first of the two technologies is an offset hosel. Listen up! This is same type of offset to which golfers already rely on in their iron play everyday to help them hit the ball straighter. Just because your buddy doesn’t use one, doesn’t mean you don’t need an offset driver. Heck, after one swing your playing partner may need to get one too.

The other technology is the XF Draw is offered with a slightly more closed face angle than what we have done in the past to augment with the offset hosel and really making this a slice-busting tool off the tee. In all honesty, the XF Draw should be our best selling of the three models, but probably won’t because golfers feel like they are cheating by using an offset when they are only cheating themselves.

Are you able to hit the big stick?
Here is another time you want to make an honest assessment of just how well you control the ball off of the tee. If you got this far, then you probably don’t have a slicing problem. Hey, ever once in while you do, but sometimes you pull, dub, top it too. Even the pros do that from time to time. But one thing you should know is drivers are not only getting longer but lighter. So long and light in fact, many golfers can no longer gain the control they desperately need. One time they hit the ball right. The next time left and maybe the third finds their fairway.

So take the Meat Loaf test. You know the rocker (Meat Loaf) that made the classic Bat Out of Hell album with the hits “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” and “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”. Well, if you don’t know him, he will be the loud one on the Apprentice. My point is if you aren’t hitting every 2 out of 3 fairways, then the product you want is the standard Acer XF version. This is the meat and potatoes version as we have 4 different lofts in right hand and 3 in left to cover just about any golfer – even left handed lady golfers. However, if you do manage to hit two out of three fairway (hey, that ain’t bad), then you want to choose the Leggera version that we will discuss a little later.

Weighing Your Options
One of the big trends or buzz words this year is sub-ultra light – especially in drivers. This is where the customers I talk to get stuck between the standard XF and the Leggera version. You may not realize this but you can go light without going excessively long. The vast numbers of 460cc titanium drivers that have been marketed the past several years have an overall weight of 320 grams and will have been 45”. We will call this our benchmark, because chances are this is what you may be sporting in your bag right now.

But let’s break down the components. For the most part, the majority of manufacturers make their driver heads 200g +/-4g which is quite a small range when you consider the different philosophies that exist in the golf industry today. Our Acer XF standard is no different and weighs 200g. The most popular weight in a shaft for drivers has been 65g, while the standard sized men’s grip had held steady now at 50g for some time now. Once we factor in @ 5g for items like epoxy, grip tape and the ferrule, the overall weight of a driver is 320g.

Currently some major manufacturers are touting drivers that are 300g and lighter as a means of increasing you speed and distance off of the tee. As a Hireko customer you have tons of options to choose from. You want to hit the ball longer by swinging the club faster – fine! Let’s do it, but let’s do it right.

Now what was your biggest problem? If you said accuracy off of the tee and didn’t pass the Meat Loaf test, then here is what you can do. First and foremost maintain your normal club length. By making it any longer you are more likely to be errant. Therefore you don’t want the Leggera version as the standard will work just fine.

Lighter is easy. If you want to remove 25 of weight you can simply get one of the Winn Lite grips. With the same 200g head and 65g shaft you have gone from 320g down to 295g. That’s option one. You can also look to go with a lighter weight shaft. There are a couple of things to be aware of though. As shafts become lighter they also become less easily found and are typically more expensive. Luckily, Hireko offers a greater assortment this year to choose from.

But lighter weight shaft also have an impact on swingweight as it will tend to reduce it and subsequently increase the stiffness slightly. Yes, you could add ½” of length to compensate, but again, look at your goals. If you already struggle at 45”, then making the length any longer will only make matters worse.

Even so, you can use the standard Acer XK and go light and hit the ball longer too. The next part we will discuss the Leggera version.

Acer XK Titanium Standard Component Clubhead Driver $59.95 each
Acer XK Titanium Standard Custom Assembled Driver $99.95 each
Acer XK Titanium Draw Component Clubhead Driver $59.95 each
Acer XK Titanium Draw Custom Assembled Driver $99.95 each

Fuel Your Rush: Introducing the Power Play Adrenaline Driver

Being the technical director at a golf club company has some major advantages. One of which is the ability to try out new products long before they are available to the market. While our journey began 21 months ago on this project, today I am finally able to show you the fruits of our labor. Now, if you thought I would talk about the new Acer XF driver series, well… as much as I love those, I’ll leave those until next week. No, I am going to throw you a curve ball as I am going to introduce to you to the new Power Play Adrenaline driver and explain why has been my go-to driver since the fall of last year.

Our focus on this project from day one was increasing efficiency so you could obtain the greatest distance and accuracy possible. We actually went about it in two different manners. The first of which were new advancements in tooling and fabrications to successfully plasma weld a 4-piece forged titanium head. Plasma weld you ask?

Plasma Welding
There are two methods of welding titanium pieces together. In the construction of a traditional 4-piece forged titanium heads, the pieces are permanently joined together by gas tungsten arc welding which is also known as TIG or tungsten inert gas welding. The first picture you see is of a cut-away titanium head and those are beads of solder along the joints.

There is another type of welding called Plasma Arc Welding. This is an improvement over TIG welding by providing a cleaner, more efficient weld. You can clearly see in this picture that plasma welding requires less solder which ultimately prevents uneven welds that create weak spots from over-polishing. While this may not sound so fascinating to most readers today, let me explain why it should.

First off, if you say plasma welding is not new? I’ll fess up as that is true. You see plasma welding has been successfully used to join a forged titanium face to an investment cast titanium body. The investment casting process provides very consistent shapes that fit nice and neatly together where gaps are at an absolute minimum. However, this was not the case with 4-piece forged titanium clubs as the gaps between each piece are just too great to allow plasma welding to join the materials together.

Benefits of Plasma Welding Forged Titanium Clubs
One big benefit is cost. Investment cast titanium clubs are more than twice as expensive to produce as you have the exorbitant costs of tooling and a higher reject rate due to porosity that has to be passed along to the consumer. Robotic plasma welding machines can work around the clock to make precise welds leading to more consistency in finishing and ultimately in the weight. Even the most skilled laborer can’t make those claims.

The secondary benefit is what makes the performance advantage. In a 460cc titanium driver, plasma welding can help eliminate up to 7g of needless weight. That is a HUGE amount of saving that is then used elsewhere to maximize how accurately you will hit the ball. The result is the same high performance but at a fraction of the cost of the more expensive cast titanium heads on the market and only slightly more expensive than a standard TIG welded 4-piece forged titanium head.

The First Plasma Welded Driver That Never Was
The previous picture of the plasma welded cut-away was actually our first plasma welded driver called the Q3. It was a highly playable driver and one of the prototypes sits at arm reach from my desk as a reminder of just how long some designs take to get to market – if they ever do. This one never did, partially because the matching fairways and hybrids didn’t look “kick ass”. So at the last minute, we withheld this project from our 2010 catalog which is well over a year ago!

Designing a Speed Demon
The second factor we began to work diligently on was to improve the aerodynamics of the head itself. I want to throw a bone to our founding forefathers of golf as they were pretty smart. Long before the Wright Brothers took flight, they probably studied the wings of birds when the decided on the modern wood shape we see today. But like car companies obsessed on speed and fuel economy, we didn’t want to be complacent and content with the same old. No, we wanted to improve the efficiency so there are no excuses that you left anything on the tee. To prove it, we actually had a wind tunnel built just to study the aerodynamics of different shaped drivers. This top picture shows an example of an inefficient shape. Our foundry even reached out and tapped the expertise of an industry consultant to help with the project.

With our wind tunnel, we originally hoped to find were certain shapes that would result into the least amount of air resistance. That is if we followed the smoke stream it would have a good attachment to the body. But then once the smoke waves passed the rear of the club they would converge and continue along their original path. Once we found certain features that allowed air flow to pass more efficiently we began the process of piecing together our first aerodynamically design prototype (pictured here).

Slipstream Technology
After a few modifications, the final product is what you see here. The body of the Power Play Adrenaline features a bold looking, unique shape that is extremely rounded reducing drag and allowing the air to flow around the clubhead with the least amount of resistance. The end result is increasing a player’s swing speed with the same amount of effort no matter how minute you may think it is. So we call this Slipstream Technology.

An About Face
One more thing I should add, the plasma welding works best with cup-face construction. So we equipped the Power Play Adrenaline drivers with a premium face construction, which is our variable face thickness, cup face technology to increase your ball speed and distance even on those off-center shots. This way you don’t have to bring you’re a-game to the tee, but no one will know you didn’t.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past 21 months since this project was born that I have been out with our marketing manager producing one of our low budget videos or a trip to the range for another fun project. But he always acknowledges just how well I seem to hit that driver regardless of what type of shaft I am using. The Power Play Adrenaline may not get the fane fare the Acer XF will because of their killer looks, but the technologies behind this driver is very special. If you are in the market for a new driver, this is one you definitely don’t want to overlook. Fuel your passion of this great game with the new Power Play Adrenaline driver.

Power Play System Q Adrenaline Driver Custom Assembled $99.95
Power Play System Q Adrenaline Driver Component Clubhead $59.95

What Is Shaft Torque?

Torque is the simply the amount a shaft (shown in blue) twists when subjected to a known amount of force (usually one foot-pound of force is applied) and the torque value is always expressed in degrees. It is a term commonly associated with composite or graphite shafts, but steel shafts have a certain degree of torque too. However the amount cannot be independently changed from the frequency (or stiffness) of the shaft like a composite design, thus torque of steel shafts is generally not listed by the manufacturer. A lower torque value (i.e. 3.5° versus 4.5°) resists the shaft from twisting on the downswing with all else equal.

Is there a standard?
The answer to that is no, just like most parameters in the golf industry. I like to say “the only standard in the golf industry is there are no standards.” Each manufacturer has an internal method for measuring torque that will vary from one to the next. However, each shaft by the manufacturer will be measured using the exact same clamping dimensions and force for all their shafts. To explain this, let’s look at the following diagram.

The top shaft shows how Hireko measures torque for our Dynamic Shaft Fitting Index. We clamp 1” of the tip where the tip weight or force is applied. Of course for this to occur, the butt end is clamped (in our case 2”) to secure the shaft. The difference between the clamps is called the beam length. At Hireko, we measure a longer beam length than any manufacturer which is important to know when looking at out listed values versus those by the actual manufacturer.

For the sake of example, this 46” raw shaft (with a 43” beam length) happens to measure a torque of 6.0º using 1 foot-pound of force. By most standards, this torque rating may seem high.

Now let’s take the same exact shaft and change the clamping dimensions. Some manufacturers may elect to clamp 3” up from the tip and use a 32” beam length on their woods. This means the butt end of the shaft is clamped 11”. While this may sound like a lot of shaft is not being included for the torque measurement, there may be a valid reason. Some manufacturers have been measuring torque on their shafts since the days when wooden woods were common. In those days the shaft would exit the head 3” from the tip. Plus the shaft would be cut to length and not used at its full length. The clamping dimension further down the butt end would be closely associated with the position of the lower hand or portion of the grip.

By changing the beam length, the torque value of this shaft goes from 6.0º down to 4.3º, which is no longer considered high, but more average for a wood shaft. None of the manufacturers that I am aware of show how their torque is measured. So comparing torque values from manufacturer to manufacturer is not an exact science like it is by looking at the values from shaft-to-shaft with one particular company’s product line. This is one of the reasons why Hireko continues to test all parameters using the same testing methods and publish those results in our annual Shaft Fitting Addendum.

Is lower torque better?
The one thing about torque is that it is perhaps the most misunderstood shaft parameter and to the bewilderment of many, may not make complete sense. There is a myth out there that the lower the torque the better and will result into a straighter shot. While that may had started in the early days of graphite production, this is not entirely true today.

One of the reasons shafts with higher torque values are considered less accurate can be attributed to the cost. Often times the higher torque wood shafts (above 6°) will be less than $9 retail and may not be 100% graphite, but have a certain percentage of fiberglass mixed in. One clue is to look at the shaft weight. A heavier weight will be a sure sign that is contains a high percentage of fiberglass. Some shafts that are found in boxed sets or very inexpensive composite shafts contain fiberglass.

Low cost graphite shaft are constructed with low modulus (lower strength) materials. Often times these shafts will exhibit both high torque and a softer tip section. In the hands of a stronger player, this combination would be less accurate than a lower torque model.

But not all higher torque shaft use low modulus material. Contrary, some of the world’s most expensive shafts have higher torque values and here are a couple reasons why. With the advent of 4-axis winding, manufacturers might elect to wrap high modulus graphite plies at 0º angles on the mandrel to increase the hoop strength and control shaft ovalization allowing for better shot consistency. These fibers have no contribution to the torque of the shaft.

Secondly, shaft weight plays an important factor. If you do not believe me, look at any shaft line that is produced in different weight options. It should come as no surprise that the lighter the shaft; the higher the torque value. When you think about it, this makes complete sense. If less material is used (due to the lighter weight), there is less material available to control torque or resist twisting.

This year will there will be a focus or at least a trend toward lighter and lighter weight drivers. These drivers will be using shafts in the 50 gram and even lighter range. All of these super-lightweight shafts will require better quality materials to achieve the target weight and limit breakage. As a result of the thinner walls these shafts may have torque value by the manufacturer close to 6º (or 8º using Hireko’s longer beam length method), yet will produce highly playable clubs.

If you have control problems with these lighter weight / higher torque designs – don’t blame the torque. Blame the longer assembly length or the potential that the club is just too light for you to handle. Additional torque could actually be your friend, especially if you tend to fade, push or slice the ball as this could help to close the club face and not resist it.

Introducing Golf Pride’s New VDR Grips

Golf Pride has been renowned for innovation in the golf grip industry so you usually take notice when they bring out a new product line. This year is no different as Hireko now has in stock their latest innovative line – VDR.

Golf Pride VDR Standard Black

Price: $4.57

Golf Pride VDR Standard Blue

Price: $4.57

Golf Pride VDR Standard Red #RE146

Price: $4.57

VDR is short for Vibration Reduction Rubber which is a culmination of both natural and synthetic rubbers. The blend of materials in the VDR grip reduces high frequency vibrations by 30 percent compared to a standard rubber grip according to a funded study by The Ohio State University. This not-so shocking news should come as welcome relief for those who suffer from arthritis, pain or fatigue for those who like to practice a lot.

Golf Pride has been making grips to reduced shock for a few years now – most notably the DD2 which uses a more costly two-layer construction. Two-layer construction consists of producing a firmer base layer and then applying a softer material over it (non-black colored portion of the grip that you see). The difference is the economical VDR series uses one-layer construction as all the materials are blended together.

Golf Pride VDR Standard White

Price: $4.57

Golf Pride VDR Midsize Black

Price: $4.94

Golf Pride VDR Undersize Black

Price: $4.57

The VDR is not all about vibration reduction either as Golf pride concentrated on increased traction for excellent all-weather performance. Computer designed with variable depths, the textures are intended to do a better function of channeling moisture, improve traction and feel in both wet and dry conditions.

The VDR comes in several popular colors in men’s standard plus is available in midsize and undersized (women’s or those with smaller hands) for full custom fitting.

If you are looking to dampen shock and provide a secure and comfortable texture at the same time, then the new VDR grips should be on your list the next time you need to re-grip your clubs or when purchasing your next club or possibly set from Hireko Golf.