As we blast off into spring, the space race is even affecting golf clubs. The ceramic coatings that insulate rocket engines from extreme heat are making iron faces more durable. Persimmon remains rooted to this earth, of course, but the latest and greatest woods feature bold alignment-aiding optics to help players hit shots 220 yards or more. Other trends: Concentrating irons’ head weight directly behind the ball to boost shot trajectory and a proliferation of putters that promises to keep President Eisenhower busy.
MacGregor Eye-O-Matic 60 driver
The next driver from the leading woods manufacturer is a few months away, but we got a sneak peek. A stylish, two-piece insert — black fiber made of compressed paper and a circular “firing pin” — makes lining up the Eye-O-Matic automatic. Made of water-resistant aluminum, the pin moves the center of gravity up and forward to produce the penetrating ball flight better players prefer.
Ping 1-A putter
Newcomer Ping’s innovative and pricey 1-A is creating a stir on the West Coast. The face attaches to the rest of the manganese-bronze head only at the heel and toe: This design causes a springing effect that propels off-center hits almost as far as center strikes. Expect plenty of stares — the face vibration produces a loud, high-pitched ping. If the 1-A succeeds, its designer, Karsten Solheim, just might quit his job as a GE engineer to focus on golf.
Wilson Dyna-Powered irons
By moving weight from the hosel to the back of the blade, Wilson created a rock-solid forging that produces more head speed, power and accuracy. These come with three calfskin-wrapped grips: the Bell (round), the Reminder (flattened on one side to promote proper left-hand position) and the Turner (flattened on two sides to promote proper left- and right-hand position). Expect Wilson staff pros Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Arnold Palmer, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead to put this set in play soon.
Jeff Ellis is a golf club historian, GOLF MAGAZINE Contributing Writer and author of The Clubmaker’s Art: Antique Golf Clubs and Their History.