First Demo Day of 2016

I’m a big fan of Miles of Golf. Starting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they took over a range in Fairfield that had seen better days (to put it politely) and turned it into (arguably) Cincinnati’s premier fitting and practice facility.

Each February, they do three Saturdays of demo days. Seems strange to do demo days in February in Cincinnati. Sometimes, like the first weeks I went in 2015 and 2016, it’s been nice (enough) weather. Last year, the second week took place during a 12 inch snowfall, where I’m pretty sure there was a Level 2 or 3 Snow Emergency.

Most of the big players are represented. Notably absent was Bridgestone, especially considering the recent successful of perhaps their most high profile player, Brandt Snedeker.

I’ll try not to be long winded in my club reviews. The February issue of Golf Digest does a plenty thorough job of highlighting all the OEMs out this year.

Mizuno
When one is at a demo day, it’s very tempting to go straight for the big sticks. However, if you’re not warmed up, what good is it hitting a driver? I decided to take a few swings with a wedge I’ve been wanting to try. Despite changing wedges last year (Ping Glide), I gave the blue S5 wedge a swing. That was a mistake! First, the ball is framed so nicely by the blue wedge and its grey hitting area. Secondly, they feel great! The Glide’s are probably safe this year, but they will have strong competition.

While at the Mizuno table, I just had to hit their forged irons. Although I have no plans on putting the MP-4 blade in my bag anytime soon, that club is so fun to hit. There’s really nothing like pureing a forged blade. I’m not likely to ever put blades in my bag, but I was happy with how I hit the demo 6 iron.

I also tried the MP-15 and the JPX EZ Forged. The later now as a much more classic look than its grey and orange predecessor. As is its intent, it gives you a bit more help behind the ball than a blade. I’m not sure if I lost a bit of feel than the MP-4, but it still had that nice forged feel off the face. The MP-15 is the club I really want to play. A good balance of the workability of the blade, but a bit of help behind the ball for forgiveness and height.

Ultimately, I came to demo day primarily looking at hybrids. I had admittedly low expectations for the JPX EZ hybrid. However, I came away very impressed. It might have been the best “feeling” hybrid I hit all day. Lots of feedback on your shots. I’m not sure it’s going to make it in the bag, but I can easily recommend it.

Nike
I’m not a Nike guy when it comes to clubs. In fact, I only hit the Vapor Fly Hybrid. This was another club I had low expectations for, but it performed quite well. Good height and distance to it.

Callaway
I really like Callaway’s line at the moment. I gave specific interest to the Apex and XR hybrids. The Apex Hybrid is more like a driving iron and the XR is a proper hybrid. The Apex doesn’t look all that forgiving down by the ball, but I have to say I was quite impressed with it. Much more forgiving than it looks. For my swing, it goes the higher than I expected a driving iron to go. It’s a contender!

The XR hybrid resulted in my longest hybrid shot of the day. Also the highest shot I had with clubs of similar length. It’s a solid club and getting serious consideration for the 18-20 degree club replacement. Dispersion during a fitting will be a key factor if this goes in my bag.

PING
Those that know me know I’m a PING fanboy. 11 out of 14 clubs in my bag are PING. I gave PING every chance to get the putter slot, but I love SeeMore putters, so that’s not happening.

PING have released two great clubs just in time for me to consider hybrid replacements. I have to say I liked the G Hybrid much more than the G30 hybrids released last year. I’m a big fan of the turbulators on the driver and fairway woods. I’m sure they do nothing on a hybrid to increase clubhead speed, but they line up the ball nicely. They also feel great and make a great sound coming off the face. I had a bit of a problem adjusting to them at first, which is my m.o. with hybrids. I’ve hit some of the best shots of my life with hybrids; I’ve also hit a few stinkers.

Thankfully, PING has an answer for players looking for a long iron replacment that’s not quite a hybrid. Enter the G Crossover. Who knew you needed a hybrid between your irons and hybrids?

Of all the clubs out there today, I was most excited to hit the Crossover. As someone who likes to hit down on the ball, I absolutely loved this club. It does not go as high as the hybrids do; but it flies. I got enough height on the 21* Crossover that I’m all but certain that’s going in my bag. The 18* will probably not. If I played on sandy courses with a lot of wind, I would get the 18* Crossover in a heartbeat. However, I play primarily on clay-based courses, and I think I want a bit more height than the 18* Crossover provided.

For S’s and G’s, I gave the G iron a hit. It’s a great iron that does what a PING G series iron should do. Is it knocking out my G30’s? Not a chance. But, I can easily recommend them.

I didn’t make it to the TaylorMade or Titleist tables. If you read this far to find out about the M1 or 916 line, I will disappoint you. I did try a couple Cobra clubs, but didn’t like them as much as others I’ve mentioned.

If I make it back to another Saturday demo day, I’ll try to get a few more clubs in. But for now, I left with more questions about my hybrid replacements than I did answers. I’m pretty sure I’ll send up with a 21* PING Crossover for my 4 iron/hybrid replacement. For the 3 replacement, I think I’m looking at the PING G, the Callaway XR, or the Callaway Apex.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in the saga of my hybrid replacement(s)…

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