Game Changers: Golf Equipment Innovation Through the Years
October 08, 2014
1 of 17Courtesy Ping
1966: PING ANSER PUTTER
Designed with heel-and-toe weighting and a center of gravity below the equator of the ball, the Anser putter creates a quick forward roll and is adopted by pros and amateurs alike. George Archer uses an Anser to win the 1969 Masters.
2 of 17Courtesy TaylorMade
1979: TAYLORMADE "PERSIMMON" WOOD
Gary Adams designs a cast stainless steel driver and calls his new company TaylorMade. The club was nicknamed the "Pittsburgh Persimmon." In 1981, Ron Streck wields one to win the PGA Tour's Michelob Houston Open.
3 of 17Courtesy Ping
1982: PING EYE2 IRONS
Ping releases its Ping Eye2 irons. Two years later, the company adds revolutionary square grooves to increase spin. Additional offset and perimeter weighting help make the user-friendly club among the most popular of all time.
4 of 17Courtesy Cleveland
1988: CLEVELAND 588 WEDGE
Cleveland's iconic 588 wedge becomes the model for almost all modern wedges that follow. Cast from soft carbon steel and featuring high-spinning U-grooves, the 588 and its offshoots have been used by pros and amateurs alike for a quarter-century.
5 of 17Courtesy FootJoy
1989: FOOTJOY DRYJOY SHOE
Shortly after its introduction, the FootJoy DryJoy shoe becomes the standard in waterproof footwear, matching the popularity of the company's StaSof glove, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary as the most popular glove in golf.
6 of 17Courtesy Callaway
1991: CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA DRIVER
Callaway introduces the 190cc stainless steel Big Bertha driver. With its unique shape and a shaft tip that extends through the clubhead, the Bertha is the rarest of things: a club designed to maximize performance for amateurs that is then adopted by pros. Four years later the company introduces its first titanium driver, the Great Big Bertha, measuring 265cc.
7 of 17Jeff Ellis
1993: SOFTSPIKES PLASTIC CLEATS
The Softspikes plastic spike makes its debut, courtesy of Boise, Idaho duo Faris McMullin and Ernie Deacon. "A side benefit to plastic cleats, apart from less damage to greens and carpets, was that they were more comfortable," says Doug Robinson, VP of product design and development worldwide for FootJoy. In time, metal spikes all but disappear from the game.
8 of 17Jeff Ellis
1996: TOP-FLITE STRATA BALL
Top-Flite introduces the Strata, the first multilayer ball played on Tour. Mark O'Meara uses it to win the 1999 Masters.
1999: TAYLORMADE RESCUE
TaylorMade releases Rescue clubs designed to help golfers get the ball airborne. The much-imitated club borrows design features from early-1900s irons and woods.
11 of 17Courtesy Titleist
2000: TITLEIST PRO V1 BALL
Titleist introduces the Pro V1 in October, and Billy Andrade wins with one before year's end. Soon the Pro V1 is the most popular ball on Tour [Pro V1 and Pro V1x remain on top of the ball game today].
12 of 17Courtesy Odyssey
2001: ODYSSEY 2-BALL PUTTER
The Odyssey 2-Ball putter sports a quirky clubhead design and responsive insert, helping it become one of the most popular clubs on the planet.
13 of 17Schecter Lee
2003: TRACKMAN TRAINING DEVICE
Created by Danish scientist Fredrik Tuxen, TrackMan is a radar revelation and quickly becomes the industry standard, so much so that Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher Brian Manzella says, "On Tour, where 'close' isn't good enough, TrackMan is king." The ability to instantaneously and accurately measure ball flight, club delivery, and launch parameters is a game-changer that continues to transform clubfitting and teaching today. "If you're not working with it," says Manzella, "you're guessing way more than you need to and giving up too much to others who aren't."
14 of 17Courtesy TaylorMade
2004: TAYLORMADE R7 QUAD
TaylorMade brings out the R7 Quad. It's the first driver that allows the center of gravity to be moved [with weights] to alter and optimize launch conditions, becoming the model for many drivers to come.
15 of 17Schecter Lee
2009: NIKE SQ DYMO 2 STR8-FIT DRIVER
Nike's SQ Dymo 2 Str8-Fit driver has a hosel that for the first time can be adjusted to provide eight possible clubface and lie-angle settings. Like the TaylorMade R9, it's a major advancement in driver design.
16 of 17
2011: iPING PUTTER APP
To help fit players to the right putter, Ping develops the iPing Putter app. Made to work with a smartphone, the app measures stroke type, impact angle, and tempo. Not only can it be used on any putter [with a simple mount], but it can double as an instruction tool. The app coincided with another advancement: the Ping Anser Milled series marks the first time the venerable Anser line of putters is offered as a milled, stainless steel product.
17 of 17Schecter Lee
2012: TAYLORMADE ROCKETBALLZ WOODS
The RocketBallz is the first fairway wood to offer the maximum allowable COR of .830. The club promises 17 more yards, but for many players delivers even more than that. A year later TaylorMade's RocketBladez Tour irons debut as a forged, better-player's club that features a lively, more flexible face for added distance. Tour players who embrace the iron include Justin Rose, who wins the U.S. Open.
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