With the PGA Merchandise Show in the rear view mirror and spring coming, I’m happy to get back on my review schedule. Love doing golf equipment reviews. Fortunately the weather around here hasn’t been like the massive snow-in we had last winter. We have been very thin on the snow here in Salt Lake, meaning many of the lower altitude courses have been open much of the winter. This has allowed me to record some rounds, albeit not terribly warm, and evaluate some gear like the Wilson FG Tour X golf balls.
FG Tour X Overview
Wilson Staff FG Tour X Golf Ball – click to see more
The FG Tour X is a multilayer golf ball with a cast Urethane cover. Urethane is typically the material used in the outer layer of “premium” golf balls. The design of the golf ball is geared for distance first and spin second, but read my comments below on the spin and cover.
The compression level of this ball is said to be 93. I would call that a medium compression ball. Back in the old days 90 was softer and 100 was hard. A visit to the Wilson FG Tour X product page is a bit confusing on the compression. Under the product details the first sentence says “–piece features a higher compression distance ball wrapped in a thin, soft veneer of cast urethane.” I’m not sure what “–piece” means. Sounds like they need to fill in the blank there. To the right on product specs the first line says “Compression Low.” So we have two seemingly contradicting statements, one saying the ball is higher compression and one saying it is low compression.
On The Course
Typically I don’t like the hardness of “distance” balls, except for a few which now includes the FG Tour X. This ball does not feel “hard.” In fact I really can feel it compress on every club in the bag, except of course the putter. On 2nd thought, if I were putting on the massive greens at St. Andrews, I might actually compress it with a 400 foot putt. I’ll have to go try that. …Okay I’m back. The ball compresses nicely and easily, even for my slower “granny dual chicken wing” swing.
Driving the ball is fun. This ball flies very straight and does a very fine job in windy conditions. I have a very strong and mid-height launch angle with the FG Tour X, which I really like. And yes of course–this ball is long.
Irons are a pleasure to play with the FG Tour X. I can feel the ball compress on the club face and I feel like I have great control of the ball.
Short game is the BEST part of this ball, which does sound odd and contradicting to the ball being a “distance” ball. Every time I chip or pitch with this ball, my playing partners comment on the spin and check I’m getting. They’ve watched me fail to check those types of shots for years and it surprises them and me when I can check/stop the FG Tour X on a dime. The urethane cover of this ball seems a bit different than others. Just taking the balls out of the box they feel more sticky and tacky. That extra tackiness is big for me around the greens.
When putting, the ball rolls straight and true. Distance control on the greens is easy.
Wilson FG Tour X Golf Balls – click for more
Unlike most urethane covered high performance golf balls, this ball is actually durable! Even cart paths (and I’ve hit several with these balls) don’t do much damage. High spin square grooved wedges (yes I’m not on the PGA Tour and can still play square grooves) don’t shred the cover.
I’m very happy with the durability.
Admittedly I wouldn’t normally get excited if I found a Wilson ball in the bushes when searching for my previous errant shot. But if I find an FG Tour X, that one is going into the gamer pocket on the golf bag and not the shag bag. These balls are good!
Bridgestone J40 445 driver - Click for more images
This product review is going to be a little different than my standard format. I’m teaming up with a local pro and buddy, who will remain anonymous. This is to protect his relationship with his equipment sponsor, who does not happen to be Bridgestone Golf. In fact, he puts his other driver’s cover on the 445 just in case. Why do I need to include him? Because I only had the opportunity to hit the J40 445 driver three times. After my friend the pro hit it on the range, he took it from me and refused to give it back. I’m not kidding. He won’t let me have the club back, despite how badly I’d like to try it more and see if it could earn a starting position in my club lineup. My J40 3+ fairway found an instant starting position and if the driver is close to as good, it would too.
About The J40 445
What does the 445 mean in the name? That’s how many CC’s or cubic centimeters the head is. 99.9% of the drivers out there right now are at the max allowed cubic centimeters which is 460. Be reducing the size a bit, Bridgestone has increased the stability of the club and reduced the aerodynamics.
The club is made from 6-4 titanium with the weight moved to the perimeter. There is also a stainless steel weight in the heel. This helps with accuracy and forgiveness, and gives the club a low center of gravity for a mid to high launch angle. The club also produces less spin, once again helping in the accuracy department.
I got the shaft, and I’m quite happy about it. Specifically new shafts for my irons from KBS Shafts. The shaft of choice for my “dual chicken wing granny over the top inside out massive weight shift face open overly steep” golf swing was the KBS Tour 90 version.
Why the KBS Tour 90 Shaft?
A look at my aforementioned swing description might give one clue as to the reason I went with the Tour 90’s. Specifically there are two qualities in the KBS Tour 90’s which made them a good choice for my swing and shot type. First, I’m not a bomber. My swing speed, though clocked at 105MPH a couple of years ago, has gone down with age and shoulder injuries to around 90MPH. The Tour 90 is well suited for moderate swing speeds.
KBS Tour 90 Shafts
The 2nd quality which makes the 90’s a match for my swing, is my shot trajectory. I’m a low ball hitter. The Tour 90 is well suited for players with a low trajectory.
I had the pleasure of playing Coyote Springs Golf Club (formerly The Chase) in mid 2011. Many thanks to the staff there, especially assistant pro Rob Sanders and pro Todd Michaelsen. Since my first trip to Coyote Springs I’ve been salivating at the chance to get back down there and test my game out a 2nd time. I had the chance to to play a 2nd round there around July, but unfortunately I had to cut a HOG World Tour trip short due to a family emergency. The emergency ended up okay, no worries, except for the heartbreak of missing out on an opportunity to play this fantastic track again.
Coyote Springs – Jack Nicklaus signature design golf course – Coyote Springs, Nevada – Click for more images
Location Location Location?
Coyote Springs is located in the Nevada desert. If you are a golfer looking to get away from it all, this would be the place. The course is about an hour drive northeast of Las Vegas and about a 45 minute drive southwest of Mesquite. The road in to the course is very hilly and full of curves. Make sure you’re awake and sober for that one.
The area the course is situated is big. BIG. I can’t think of any other word to describe it. The sky is big, the landscape is big and the number of miles you can see is big. The views from any vantage point on the course reach for miles, with mountains framing the landscape. The contrast of the green grass and blue water features with the gray desert landscape is striking.
As a rock & roll musician and metal head, I love skulls and general blackness. I’ve tried to cross a little of that rock & roll vibe from my music world to golf blogging. That’s how the Hooked On Golf Blog logo ended up being a golf skull. I was thrilled to find that my buddies at Tattoo Golf, who also love skulls, created a solid pewter golf belt buckle with a golf ball skull. What a match! As they say in Scotland, “brilliant!”
So here’s a picture of what I’m calling the world’s coolest golf belt buckle, the Tattoo Golf OB Skull and Crossed Clubs design:
A skull golf ball belt buckle made of solid pewter? Sign me up! - Click to expand
I’m wearing the golf skull belt buckle with a Tattoo Golf belt in the image above, but the buckle can be purchased separately for $24.99 and works with any belt with snaps. The buckle is designed to work with 1 1/2″ belts.