This is the second review of three TaylorMade golf ball models I’m in the process of reviewing. The first was the Project (a) ball, a ball designed more for amateurs with slower swing speeds. This review features the TaylorMade Tour Preferred golf ball. The “TP” is a “tour” level ball, meaning their highest performance and most expensive. This is one which many TaylorMade PGA Tour players use, and for good reason. Let’s take a look.
TaylorMade Tour Preferred Golf Ball
The Tour Preferred ball is a four layer ball. Each layer features materials and engineering which give the ball specific performance characteristics. For instance, the core may provide the primary distance of the ball while the outer layer or cover provides much of the ball’s feel and spin. Most tour balls, the Tour Preferred included, have a urethane cover which provides the softest and best spin in the sort game.
Together these layers and their engineering produce the following performance characteristics in the TaylorMade TP ball:
Low driver spin
Medium-high mid- to long-iron spin
High short iron and wedge spin
High spin inside of 100 yards
These characteristics are slightly different than the Tour Preferred X ball, which I will be reviewing soon. The difference between the two is that numbers two and three above are swapped. The X ball has medium mid- to long-iron spin and medium-high short iron and wedge spin.
Low driver spin means more accuracy off the tee and longer distance. High spin inside 100 yards means short game control.
On The Course
I don’t do TrackMan or FlightScope testing on my golf balls and clubs, just real world golf on real golf courses. If you need to know the exact spin rate off a 9-iron at X miles-per-hour swing speed with x-launch angle, there are other sites full of that information. Google it.
Off the tee the TP feels very solid and I can hit it as far as just about any other ball I’ve tested. I can feel the ball compress and I’m able to work the ball as needed, though my swing lately seems to only want to go straight or draw. Don’t ask me to hit a fade right now. I’ve hit a few massive drives (for me), and even some massive 3-woods with this ball.
Iron feel of the TP is excellent. The ball is soft enough for me to feel it on the face and tell if I’m clipping it just right, compressing it. Those pure shots produce pure results and birdie opportunities.
Inside 100 yards (admittedly my weakest link) I have plenty of spin. Sometimes I can actually clip the ball to crisply when pitching or chipping and it will check too much. That’s not the ball’s fault. It the fault of my skill level, short game distance control.
Lastly, the fee of the putter is great. The cover feels soft and I have total distance control with the flat stick.
Not Just For Tour Players
Over many years one of the main reasons amateurs were not well off hitting “tour” balls is because of the compression of the ball and maxiumum distance. High swing speeds were needed to get full compression out of them. That does not seem to be the case with the TP ball. I have a driver swing speed of about 100MPH, and 105 if I’m really killing it. With the right driver head, shaft, and this ball, I can hit them quite far. I don’t feel like I’m losing distance with the TP due to not having a high enough swing speed.
The other component to “tour” balls is the high spin. The engineering of this ball gives the player, amateur or pro, the high spin where it is needed in the shorter irons and short game. So once again, an amateur could benefit from playing this ball.
Whether you are an amateur or a pro, the TaylorMade Tour Preferred golf ball is a high performance option.
In for review is the new Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition. How in the world am I supposed to take this club out of the box and hit it? I’m half tempted to leave it as-is and put it on the wall as a showpiece.
Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition – click for more photos
Maybe I can cover the whole head with swing tape?
Tour Edge CB Pro U Hybrid Limited Edition – click for more photos
Stay tuned for the full golf club review of the CB Pro U Hybrid. If it comes close to my Tour Edge Exotics XCG7 3-wood, last year’s HOG Product of the Year, I’ll be thrilled.
This is without a doubt the most difficult review I’ve experienced in the 10 years I’ve been reviewing golf equipment on this blog. Why so difficult? The process and results didn’t go as I expected and I became frustrated enough that I wanted to bail on these clubs. Thanks to my friend Doug Bybee at Mizuno I stuck with them.
Mizuno JPX850 Forged Irons
For a guy who has been playing 2002 Hogan forged irons for most of the last 13 years (a couple of others went into the gamer bag for a few months here and there) switching to different irons is very tough. After playing a single brand and model for that long one is (or should be) very in tune and connected to the feel and performance of the clubs. That was one of the difficult parts of switching to the JPX-850 Forgred irons. The 850’s had a hell of a tough task, to dethrone what I believed are the best irons I’ve ever played.
Before I go into the long winded story of my experience with these irons I’ll first mention the technology and engineering involved in making them.
The irons are forged using a “grain flow” forging process. This helps add distance to forged irons that might normally be lost in traditional forging.
1025E steel billets in the head add strength and distance to the club.
The face of the club is super-thin. Thin faces mean more control, forgiveness, and distance. Weight is moved to the outside of the club increasing the clubs COR rating (meaning it resists twisting and turning at impact) and making the club easier to hit.
The 4-7 irons have a slightly different feature, the “Ultra CNC Milled Pocket.” This produces a higher launch angle and ball speeds.
I have to pat myself on the back in this section of my review. The JPX-850 Forged irons are stunningly beautiful from a purely aesthetic standpoint. I take great pride in my high quality product photos for my reviews. I have to say these are probably the best iron pictures I’ve ever shot. It helps to start with such great material!
The first part of getting the 850’s was to go through the Mizuno fitting. The fitting was a fun and educational experience. Below is a video from the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show featuring the Mizuno fitting system. It is a little old, but gives you the idea.
In my fitting I learned that the dual chicken wing granny over the top swing I’ve got may not look pretty, but it is consistent and produces a very good dispersion rate. In other words, I don’t spray them.
Doug did my fitting along with a local club fitter at my local shop here in Salt Lake City, Uinta Golf. We did the fitting off of mats on a Flight Scope launch monitor.
During a fitting like this the player will take some swings with a test club and the Mizuno fitting system will produce custom club and shaft recommendations based on the results. Then the tech will make up a test club with some of those specs for the player to try. Once again those results are analyzed and the player will also chime in on feel and such. The process isn’t long and in short order one has the specs of the “pefect club” for his swing.
The results were quite stunning for me. Where my stock Hogan 6-iron was fairly accurate and fairly long at 180-185 yards, the newly built 850 Forged with custom shaft was even more accurate. Nearly no dispersion at only 1-2 yards off center. On top of that, the average distance was 200 yards.
I was sold and very excited to get my new clubs.
Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Gap Wedge
It didn’t take long for Mizuno to custom build the clubs and get them to my front door. Less than a week. Custom everything, down to the grips. I couldn’t wait to get to the course and start firing darts at flags and racking up birdies like John Daly racks up ex-wives.
Houston We Have a Problem
Now the frustration part…
I couldn’t wait to hit these, of course. On the range the day after I got them I was shocked to find myself literally cold-topping almost every swing. The contact was so bad that sometimes my hands were going numb. When I did manage to get a shot airborne it didn’t seem to fly well. It seemed I was missing the sweet spot 95% of the time.
For many rounds over several weeks I became frustrated and disappointed in these irons. The 6-iron was not going 200. It didn’t even go as far as my old Hogans. Most shots where coming up pathetically and painfully short right.
My confidence was shattered. So was my wallet. So were my scores.
Mizuno JPX-850 Forged Irons
I talked to Doug and he did his best to calm me down. I was surprised to hear him tell me that I had to get used to, and adjust to these clubs. In my mind I thought they were fitted and adjusted to my swing already.
I was tempted to send the clubs back and put the Hogans back in play, but Doug kept on me and gave me some pep talks. “These are the 2nd best selling irons in the golf industry” he would tell me. “Give this new technology a chance to work for you.”
Because of Doug and everything Mizuno had done for me, I kept with them. I kept making small tweaks and trying to figure out the proper swing and proper ball position. One round “it” happened. On the par-3 9th at my home curse I picked a 6-iron for a 185 yard shot. I nailed it, right at the flag. The shot didn’t go 185. It flew over the pin, over the green, over the cart path behind the green, and over a tall tree. My best guess is the shot flew 225 yards. Unfortunately the ball rolled down behind the trunk of the tree, on a downslope, behind the world’s toughest par-3. Never before have I been as happy with a shot which had such a horrible result.
That shot told me I could hit these solid, far, and straight.
Over many rounds I started to see slow improvement in the contact and feel. I wasn’t spraying the irons ever. It was mostly a distance issue from missing the sweet spot. I started to find myself hitting a laser at a flag more and more often. Shots that were so aligned with the pin I’d have to turn my head sideways to see the pin. I stared off hitting one or maybe two in a round. As I got more and more used to the clubs my iron play improved greatly.
My swing has been subconsciously adjusting as well as consciously to the 850’s. My confidence has returned. I am able to hit “shots” when needed, like low punches under trees, cuts, draws. Iron play is now fun again and I’m really feeling the clubs without having to make deliberate changes to swing or setup.
Despite the “fitting” it took me about half a year to adjust my swing to these irons. Maybe I’m a brain dead hacker used to doing the same thing and changing my iron swing was like trying to turn an aircraft carrier? Perhaps, but I have some other ideas. I’m a cause and effect guy and over the last couple of months I’ve tried to analyze the fitting and results. Some items stand out to me which could be factors.
First, the fitting was done on an indoor simulator on a mat. I hate mats. When given the choice to warm up or practice on mats I’ll choose to go to the first tee cold. It is almost impossible for my steep granny swing to hit a bad shot on a mat. The club bounces up just right. On real grass though, the club does not bounce up like that.
Second, I was wearing a particular model of FootJoys during the fitting last winter\fall. This spring my friends at FJ send in a new model to review and the platform is thicker and wider. As spastic as my swing is that platform difference could make a difference. If they’re half an inch higher that changes all sorts of angles. My gamer driver performance is greatly affected by changing from one of those sets of shoes to the other.
Beautiful Mizuno Irons
Finally, my fitting was at a time toward the end of last season. I had a whole summer of swinging leading up to the fitting, and was probably swinging well during the fitting. Then I change irons (and shoes) in the first half of the next season, possibly introducing all sorts of factors my rusty hack game wasn’t used to.
The frustration and overly long adjustment period of time could be attributed to one or any combination of the ideas above, or perhaps it is something else I’m not thinking of. It is golf after all.
Last week I hit a super solid tee shot on the par-3 6th at one of my home courses. The ball settled in to about three feet. My long time golf buddy chimed in, “what club was that?” I answered “an eight.” He then said, “for the first time in 20 years of playing with you I can’t tell what clubs you are hitting. That shot flew like a 9-iron but went as far as a 7-iron.”
As bad as my short game is, missing a green in regulation is going to mean a bogey 50-75% of the time, despite being a great putter. I need to hit greens and let my solid putting take it from there. That puts pressure on my iron/approach game. It has taken a while but now I have confidence in the JPX-850 Forged Irons. The JPX-850 Forged are truly great golf clubs, worthy of Mizuno’s fine reputation as one of the best iron makers in the world.
I apologize for not posting a photo of Anna Rawson here.
I just posted the news of the new golf company founded by GoDaddy’s Bob Parsons (no he’s not related to the Alan Parsons Project) called Parsons Xtreme Golf. They are using Anna Rawson as a spokeswoman for their $2,400 irons ($300 per individual iron). Those irons are the PXG 0311 irons.
PXG 03119302394320958.87 Niner Bravo
Crack HOG insiders have found a prototype image of the next model Parsons Iron, the PXG 03119302394320958.87 Niner Bravo. Check it out below. Even more weighting technology.
This iron uses a new patent-pending PXG 37 Niner Bravo movable weight technology, taking advantage of 37 precisely placed weights on the club. This allows the golfer to fine tune loft, lie, swing weight, launch angle, oxygen level, gravitational pull, altitude density, wind speed, air speed, ground speed, ball speed, club head speed, launch angle spin speed level 12, and 887 other swing characteristics.
Look for Anna Rawson in a bikini or some kind of thong, with this club in her hands, soon.
Anna Rawson to help sell $2,400 irons… $300 per iron. Take a check?
A new golf company founded by Bob Parsons will be soon selling $2,400 sets of irons, or $300 per individual iron. What makes Parsons Xtreme Golf’s irons so good? Perhaps the 483 movable weights per club… And how does Mr. Parsons, the guy behind GoDaddy.com sell such expensive clubs? The oldest way in the marketing book, with a sexy female spokeswoman.
I met Anna Rawson a few years ago. She wasn’t dressed quite the photo above unfortunately. It was darn cold here in Utah when she was playing GOLF in an event here. Yes, this former GoDaddy girl actually does play golf. She was very nice and a pleasure to gawk at… I mean…. talk to. She really was very nice.
“From tee to green, you’ve never played like this before. With just one swing you can feel and see that PXG clubs are unlike anything else—and you can bet that our marketing is going to make some noise and shake up the industry too.” ~Bob Parsons
Well, I’m not sure Anna Rawson can shake up the golf industry any more than she has already. It’s not like we haven’t seen her before. Will these clubs be THAT good? I may never know. I doubt I’ll ever get a sample of them to demo because I’m about to poke some serious fun at show their next model iron, the PXG 03119302394320958.87 Niner Bravo. Stay tuned for that.
Oh yeah, here’s the actual golf club. I realize with Anna’s photo up above the average joe (or jane depending on your orientation) could probably care less…
Parsons Xtreme Golf PXG 0311 Iron
The marketing/branding/web image PXG golf is presenting looks like it is done by the same ones who do the My Golf Spy site.