Wayne DeFrancesco is the new teaching professional at Peninsula Golf & Country Club near Millsboro. He started working there last August and is preparing for the golf season at the club’s impressive driving range.
DeFrancesco is also good pals with Everett Farr, an avid golfer and engineer from Philadelphia. Farr and his partners came to Demo Day at this year’s PGA Show with a brand new putter, the Makefield VS.
The weighted mallet-style aluminum club was an instant hit with dozens of club professionals and others. DeFrancesco said he was there to help out a friend and told me the reaction to the putter “has been almost 100% positive. It’s packed with tons of technology.
The main body of the putter is CNC machined from a single block of aircraft grade aluminum and features three “fuselage” tubes extending from a lightly checkered face. The X3 weight system puts three sets of weight slugs inside each tube. Interchangeable slugs, made of aluminum, steel or tungsten, allow the performance characteristics of the club to be customized.
The loft of the putter is set at 1.8 degrees. The two steel shank options are a double bend type that enters the putter approximately half an inch from the heel and a center shank design. Add-ons starting at the base price of $399 include a full weight kit as well as custom artwork or text options.
All putter components are manufactured and assembled at the company’s facility in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
Former Philadelphia PGA Division Player of the Year Mike Little is also part of the company. Pointing to the weight options, he said, “This is the last putter you’ll ever need.”
I tested the putter on a fast green. The ball rolls quickly, with less skidding than others. It was not difficult to adapt to the performance of the putter.
The Makefield booth continued to draw a crowd of interested club pros throughout the rest of the week at the Orange County Convention Center. It occurred to me that the new company was one of those that benefited from the absence of the larger club companies at this year’s show.
It also looked like a promising start.
Golf equipment companies rarely offer a product line that fits the first time. Tweaks and tweaks are inevitable as customer experience and other challenges require reviewing and revising.
Companies such as Bridgestone Golf incorporate these reviews as part of their ongoing marketing efforts.
I met Bridgestone’s Elliot Mellow at the PGA Show three years ago when the rubber company announced its new Reactiv-coated golf balls. Urethane chemical additives created smoother reactions at slow speeds good for extra spin and a stiffening reaction to fast impacts such as drives, reducing spin and lengthening ball flight. At that time, the chemical formula was the same for every ball in its Tour Ball lines.
Last year, Bridgestone made a structural change to its e12 range. A raised center inside the dimples created more contact space for improved flight characteristics, according to Mellow.
This year’s Demo Day visit with Mellow at Bridgestone at the Orange County National Golf Center focused on the third edition, called Reactiv IQ. Mellow said the company changed the chemical ratios of elements added to Tour Ball urethane coatings to create “better customization for each of the four types of golf balls. It was a change to fit the player profiles for everyone.
While gathering feedback from tourism professionals, Mellow said the company has also studied enthusiasts for their reaction to golf balls. The Tour BX, Tour B XS, Tour B RX and Tour B RXS now offer varying degrees of spin and distance control, tailored in part based on club head speed averages as well as the elements of interior design of the balls.
Each model is offered at $49.99 per dozen.
Bridgestone also remains committed to ball fitting, adding new technology to its ball matching services for 2022. Mellow described the OTTO as the first “self-contained ball fitting machine” aimed at beginners and those who may have spent more time at Top Golf. than on a golf course.
Mellow said OTTO is a more accessible option. “There’s no human pressure from the person standing there watching you swing,” he said. “It has been in development for about three years. There’s a crossover element of entertainment golf that we think will work.
The machine stands a few meters from the player and records three discs with its integrated launch monitor. Using a database of Bridgestone’s past equipment, the system recommends which ball from Bridgestone’s range is best suited for the player.
OTTO transmits the ball recommendation, including swing data and videos, to the user’s email account as part of the registration process. The casters of the appliance allow easy movement on the stove. Its battery system is easy to plug in for refills.
For now, the machines are used in a few places. Bridgestone plans to gradually expand OTTO’s presence over the coming year.