I’ve visited San Francisco many times and and the last thing I ever thought I would do in Union Square was drive some golf balls. Thanks to TaylorMade Golf, I had the chance to do exactly that using their new SpeedBlade irons. To launch the new irons, the company created pop-up driving ranges in San Francisco, Toronto, London, NYC and Sydney. The events were all linked together to create what they called the SpeedBlade Speed Pocket World Challenge, which gave golfers like me the chance to compare the new club technology to existing clubs.
The Speed Pocket World Challenge
Using tracking technology from FlightScope, I was able to get on the pop-up range in Union Square and hit three balls first with a conventional 6-iron. Then I was given the SpeedBlade 6-iron to hit three balls to see how my loft and distance increased. It was all a competition and winners, those whose distance improved the most, won new TaylorMade clubs and other golf-related prizes. My average distance with the standard club was 135 yards and I gained 15 yards with the new club, as my average with the SpeedBlade iron was 150 yards. Not a bad instant improvement for just switching to a new club.
I really had fun at the event and I thought it was a great way for the company to get the new clubs into the hands of golfers to try out. Behind the driving range, they even had a putting green set up with the full range of TaylorMade Golf putters available to try out. The set-up included big screen leaderboards that showed the winning players in each city, in terms of most distance gained. Golf retailer Golfsmith was on-hand to enable players to purchase the new clubs and offered coupons and swag. All this, surrounded by the tall and historic buildings of Union Square and downtown San Francisco made it a very fun afternoon of what I would call “urban golf”.
Hitting with the new clubs
I had a chance to hit with the new SpeedBlade iron and it really is amazing. The difference in loft and distance is noticeable, even for an average player (happy to break 100) like myself. The club is just much more forgiving than the irons I’m used to, like switching from the old wood woods to a modern metal wood with a giant head. The sweet spot is just larger, meaning more shots go straighter. And that’s what I noticed most about hitting with the SpeedBlade. I just made better shots and it improved my distance.
The SpeedBlade irons use what TaylorMade calls a “Speed Pocket”, which is a slot in the sole of the clubs. The space allows a larger portion of the face to flex, which results in more energy hitting the ball. This gives you more loft and more distance, I experienced it myself. The technology also creates a larger sweet spot, which just makes the clubs easier to hit. I would call them more forgiving, as shots I would have shanked off my irons went cleanly with the SpeedBlade, because of the larger sweet spot. That sweet spot also goes lower, as company research shows most players hit most iron shots on the lower part of the clubface.
Meeting Anna Nordqvist
LPGA tour pro Anna Nordqvist depends on TaylorMade clubs to win tournaments and I had a chance to interview her at the SpeedBlade event. I asked talked to her about how important club choice is to a pro player and also got some tips for my own game. She told me to really work on my distance control and my putting. Getting a better feel for my distance on the green will reduce my three and four putt situations and getting a better feel for my distance in the short game will eliminate shots that go 20 or 30 yards too far.
Freddy Sherman is a golfer, world traveler and editor of the travel blog luxuryfred.com. He constantly seeks out the best golf travel experiences, new golf equipment and technology. You can follow him on Twitter -@luxuryfred and on Instagram – @luxuryfred.
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