These last couple weeks of winter are a time to work on your game and dream of how you’ll bring that handicap down. In truth, most of your shots happen from within a hundred yards of the pin. Draining a 30-foot putt or holing out from the bunker may not give you as much pleasure as busting a drive down the middle, but collecting your Nassau winnings after the round will. Here are five new items for you to test now and put into play when the season starts.
Mizuno S18 Wedges
Mizuno’s high-loft S18 wedges ($150) have their mass shifted up the blade to deliver more consistent spin rates on strikes from high on the clubface (common with more extreme lofts). Ranging from a 46-degree pitching wedge to a 62-degree lob wedge, these clubs spin the ball tight. The examples I tested were in a smart-looking gunmetal finish with excellent feel and “click” when making contact. The balls flew right into the window I was aiming for, and the 56-degree wedge edged its way into my bag.
Bridgestone Tour B XW-1
The Mizuno S18 will have company from the Bridgestone Tour B XW-1 ($140). While the company has been pushing its golf balls hard on consumers, don’t sleep on these short game tools. If you want to go high or go low, you won’t find a much more responsive wedge than this one. The flop shots I tried from the tight lie of the range mat flew true and spun hard backward. The 54-degree wedge outperformed my current wedge by flying higher and farther and holding each green. The wedge is offered in two finishes, with the Black Oxide wedge proving to be a little less distracting than the Satin Chrome, which gave off a bit of glare. That said, each performs so well that such observations are just minor quibbles—you won’t notice that glare as you tap in for another easy par.
Bettinardi BB Series Putters
Some of the most beautiful and expensive putters in the world are made by Bettinardi, which are often marked by dark, formidable materials and clean lines. For 2018, the company has introduced six new putters, but I am most taken with the BB series ($300). The BB Series clubs—which have been part of the Bettinardi line-up since its creation in 1998—feature a durable, matte black finish (which the brand refers to as “Stealth”) with a pop of yellow Bettinardi branding on the face that matches the putter’s grip. And while I’m a sucker for good looks, the smoothness of Bettinardi putters makes them a pleasure to tote onto the green. The putters use carbon steel or an alloy of aluminum and stainless steel in their heads and classic heel-to-toe weighting for a superior feel.
TaylorMade Spider Interactive Powered By Blast
The Spider Interactive Powered by Blast ($400) putter is constructed in the same way as TaylorMade’s renowned Spider Tour putters: a stainless steel frame is combined with a lightweight 6061 aluminum body that enables weight to be positioned at the extremities—providing improved stability and a high moment of inertia. But unlike a traditional putter, its grip incorporates technology that allows you to measure putting stroke metrics, including timing (backstroke time, forward-stroke time, tempo), stroke impact speed, and face rotation. Users will be able to easily analyze details of their putting stroke and track their progress over time with performance history reports and interactive graphs through an app on their cell phone. It also features tiered training modules and drills to help improve putting. The Spider Interactive Powered by Blast is the perfect companion on your trip to Pinehurst this spring for Gil Hanse’s latest creation, the Cradle.