2.00pm 16th July 2019 – New Products – This story was updated on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019
Mizuno has unveiled three new MP-20 Series irons featuring copper plating within the heads to add ‘layers of feel’ at impact.
The new range comprises MB, MMC and HMB models, each designed to either stand alone or blend into custom combination sets, and each featuring soft copper plating beneath a protective nickel chrome to deliver feedback and feel.
MP-20 MB is a pure muscleback that is grain flow forged from a single billet of 1025E Pure Select mild carbon steel. Marketed as an ‘elite players’ cavity iron, and represents the second-generation of Mizuno’s multi-material concept. It is also forged from 1025E Pure Select mild carbon steel, but with a thinner topline and refined scoring irons.
It shares the chassis, set flow and proportions of the MP-20 MB, but offers enhanced playability courtesy of a titanium muscle plate and tungsten sole weight. MP-20 HMB is then a new breed of hollow-headed ‘Hybrid Muscle Back’ in a tour-ready profile that features Mizuno’s forged Chromoly material in the face and neck. It is inspired by the proliferation of long iron replacements on tour but extends the concept right down to the wedges.
“Most modern musclebacks and limited ‘tour edition’ irons can be traced back to the great Mizuno blades,” says Mizuno’s Chris Voshall, “though what makes a Mizuno iron truly exceptional is everything you can’t see. If you could peel back the chrome plating, you would find a sandwich of nickel and soft copper before the grain flow forged HD chassis. Under a microscope, you can see a perfect flow of grain within the steel from the hosel to toe, compacted tighter in the hitting area. Designers can mimic our lines, but not what’s inside.”
Availability: RH #3-PW; LH #5-PW (as a split set with #3-4 HMB). RRP: £150/€195 per iron
The HMB offers a full set of performance hybrid irons in a sharp ‘tour-ready’ profile, built on the ball speed of Mizuno’s Chromoly material in the face and neck, supported by a precision stainless steel body and tungsten weighting. It offers the proportions, topline and offset transition of a classic Mizuno players’ muscleback with a generous sole width that is hidden at address, and is designed to help consistent players pursuing added ball speed without sacrificing their shot-making options.
The heads feature a brush satin durable plated finish and a complex, loft-specific construction. From 2-8 iron, a multi-thickness grain flow forged Chromoly face and neck is dialled in to be consistently hot across the clubface. From 2-7 iron, twin 12g tungsten weights deliver stability and an easy launch, while use of a softer 1025E Pure Select mild carbon steel from 9-iron to PW makes the short irons soft and responsive. MP-20 HMB is designed to be played as a full set or mixed with any MP-20 set, with recommended break points between the 4- and 5-iron or 7- and 8-iron for blended sets.
“A few years back it was a surprise to see truly elite tour players with more than one long iron replacement,” says Mizuno’s Chris Voshall, “but now that we’ve found their acceptance point on offset, size and proportions, there’s a new set who are open-minded to the 5-iron and beyond. We’re excited to see what happens when they experiment with the HMB.”
Availability: RH #2-PW; LH #3 – #4 iron (as a split set with 5-PW MP-20MB) RRP: £180/€235 per iron
The second generation of Mizuno’s multi-material concept is engineered to be more playable than the MP-20 MB courtesy of its titanium muscle plate and tungsten sole weight. It promises stability in a tour-preferred profile, with a titanium muscle spreading weight for forgiveness on off-centre strikes while maintaining centre-portion thickness for the feel and feedback associated with a muscleback iron.
The multi-material construction comprises a grain flow forged 1025E mild carbon steel chassis and Ti muscle pad throughout the set, with a 12g tungsten toe weight from the 4- to 7-irons that adds ease of launch in a compact playing profile. A second Ti muscle pad improves set flow by allowing for a narrower sole from 8-iron to pitching wedge. The topline is dramatically thinner than on the MP-18 MMC (0.3mm thinner in the 4-iron and 0.4mm in the pitching wedge) while remaining only 1mm thicker at address than on the MP-20 MB. The chrome finishing is again a mix of satin and mirror.
“The new MMC is the smaller, sharper version of the original,” says Voshall. “For a player with a traditional eye looking for a little stability on off-centre strikes, but comfortable with their distances and ball speed, this is the iron.”
Availability: 4-PW RRP: £165/€215 per iron
MP-20 SEL (Left Handed)
Based on the most popular right handed, blended set Mizuno has created the perfect mixed set for left-handers – the MP-20 SEL. MP-20 muscle back mid to short irons #5-PW, and MP-20 HMB long irons #3 and #4, with lofts adjusted for perfect distance gaps throughout.
Availability: LH #3 – #4 HMB; #5-PW MP-20 MB RRP: 3-PW £1,240 / €1,640
For further information visit golf.mizunoeurope.com.
2.00pm 15th July 2019 – New Products – This story was updated on Monday, July 15th, 2019
Titleist has unveiled two new utility irons designed to expand a player’s shot options at the top end of the bag.
The new U500 and U510 models are designed to produce more distance than a standard iron and less spin than a hybrid.
Available at retail from August 30, and priced at £245 per club, the U-Series utilities combine forged L-face technology with extreme amounts of high-density tungsten to deliver higher launch and faster ball speeds for game-changing long iron performance.
The more compact, lower-lofted U500 is aimed at better players, and delivers high launch with a soft landing and precise distance control. The U510 is aimed at high handicappers and provides hybrid-like performance in a forgiving, muscular iron shape. Offering higher launch, a larger and a wide-sole design, the U510 is so forgiving that Titleist has included a 16-degree 1-iron in the set.
Already in the bags of dozens of tour players, including Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Ian Poulter and Bernd Wiesberger, the U-Series Irons have quickly become the most played utility iron on both the European and PGA Tours.
Speaking about the new range, Josh Talge, Vice President of Titleist Golf Clubs, said: “There are a lot of golfers out there who don’t want to play a hybrid, but are still searching for that kind of performance at the long end of their iron set. They want to be able to launch it higher and farther, they want to be able to shape shots, they want to be able to land it close to the hole – they just want to do it with an iron in their hands. Everything that went into U500 and U510 was geared towards giving these golfers the performance, look and feel they’ve always hoped for in a long iron, and maybe didn’t think was possible.”
The U500 is offered in 2I (17º), 3I (20º), 4I (23º) lofts, and is fitted with a HZRDUS Smoke Black 90 graphite shaft as standard, plus numerous custom options at no extra charge.
Marni Ines, the brand’s Director of Iron Development, said: “U500 is the incredibly versatile utility iron that tour players have been asking us for. It shares a similar size and shape to our prior generation T-MB iron, but has been completely re-imagined to give players specialised long iron performance. It’s faster, launches higher, lands softer, and feels better through impact. As you go up in the set and down in loft, everyone eventually can use help with launch. But from what we’re seeing on tour, it’s a club that can be hit almost as high as you want or as low as you want, and players are really gravitating toward that versatility.”
Speaking about the more forgiving U510 model, which is offered in 1 (16º), 2 (18º), 3 (20º), 4 (22º) lofts, Ines added: “U510 is the launch king. The larger shape and wide sole allowed us to place the tungsten weighting so that the CG is lower and further back than any iron we’ve developed – and what that translates into is a lot of launch angle. The ball just gets up and out and goes. It’s a very stable and forgiving golf club, but it’s got that extra forgiveness in terms of launch. During our consumer testing, golfers couldn’t believe the shots they were hitting with a 1-iron or 2-iron – they would just turn around and smile.”
Titleist will be hosting fitting and trial events, including Titleist Thursdays, at hundreds of locations across the UK ahead of its official launch at retail on August 30. To find an event, or book a free fitting, golfers should visit www.titleist.co.uk.
Performance54 has announced the acquisition of Red Door Events Middle East, to create a global brand and event activation firm that specialises in the creation, design, delivery and management of interactive business and consumer facing initiatives, as well as high-profile event staging.
The acquisition sees the formation of RedDoor54 and comes on the back of a sustained period of success for both Performance54 and Red Door Events Middle East. The announcement further signals the intent from both parties to establish one of sport’s most dynamic activation and experiential marketing agencies, consisting of the most talented professionals.
“Red Door Middle East has built a strong reputation for its hands-on approach, professionalism and quality of delivery, and positive recent developments in the business have made this an attractive target for us,” commented Jed Moore, Managing Director of Performance54.
“By uniting both businesses, RedDoor54’s ambition is to provide clients with the most dynamic, creative concepts that captivate audiences, whilst elevating brand experiences and delivering memorability.”
The move furthers Performance54’s organisational development, enhancing its client-base with access to a broad array of in-house expertise, shaped by an underlying philosophy of modernising marketing strategies by providing connected and complementary services.
Tony Irving, Founder and Managing Director of Red Door Events Middle East and Director of RedDoor54, said: “There are few companies that can match Performance54’s desire to bring together best-in-class talent, with an infectious ambition to evolve modern day marketing. The business’s ability to integrate throughout its clients’ value chain, while continually presenting creative concepts and displaying unparalleled passion, made the decision to unite a straightforward one.
“RedDoor54’s service scope includes event fan engagement, staging, design and activation consultancy, to guarantee clients the best product to suit their individual needs. As a business we pride our self on constantly delivering the newest, most innovative and creative solutions to the experiential market.”
The continued expansion for Performance54, in particular the appointment of recognised industry professionals, extends the business function across the sales and marketing mix, including: brand and creative development, production, strategic consultancy, event management and staging, digital and commercial management, PR & communications, talent management and sales consultancy.
For further information about RedDoor54, visit www.reddoor54.com
3.58pm 12th July 2019 – Sponsorship – This story was updated on Friday, July 12th, 2019
For the first time in 68 years Golf’s Original Major Championship, The Open returns to Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland where the world’s elite golfing talent will compete from 18–21 July to be crowned the Champion Golfer of the Year. Ever-present at The Open since 1981, Rolex is the Official Timekeeper of golf’s oldest Major.
Royal Portrush’s rugged North Atlantic coastline will provide a perfect backdrop for the 148th Championship, while the challenging Dunluce Links will test even the game’s finest players as they vie for the coveted Claret Jug.
For more than 50 years, the Swiss watch manufacturer has become intimately linked with the sport, reflecting its enduring commitment to the ancient game. The partnership between Rolex and golf started in 1967 with Arnold Palmer, joined by close friends and fellow members of The Big Three, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who this year celebrates the 60th anniversary of his first Major victory, at The Open in 1959.
The relationship has expanded into one with a global reach that is based on a shared respect for heritage and the quest for perpetual excellence. Rolex now supports the game at all levels, from golfing legends to today’s elite players, the men’s and women’s Major championships, and other leading tournaments, such as the Rolex Series, which comprises the eight most prestigious tournaments on the European Tour’s International Schedule. The partnership also extends to the organizations around the world responsible for safeguarding the game’s future.
Returning for The Open in 2019 is Rolex Testimonee and 2018 Champion Golfer of the Year, Francesco Molinari. He carded a bogey-free final round of 69 to lift the Claret Jug at Carnoustie last year, thereby becoming the first Italian professional golfer to win a Major. He maintained his rich vein of form at The Ryder Cup in Paris later in the year when he became the first European in history to win five out of five matches as his team defeated the United States. The 36-year-old from Turin rounded off his tremendous year by winning the European Tour Race to Dubai and being named 2018 European Tour Golfer of the Year.
His outstanding form has continued in 2019 and he will contest The Open for an 11th time with the prospect of doing something only a select few have achieved in the modern age: win back-to-back titles. In doing so, Molinari would join fellow Testimonees Arnold Palmer (1961, 1962), Tom Watson (1982, 1983), Tiger Woods (2005, 2006) and Pádraig Harrington (2007, 2008).
Already a Champion Golfer of the Year on three occasions, Tiger Woods will hope to recapture the magic of 13 years ago when he last lifted the Claret Jug and edge closer to fellow Testimonee Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 Major titles. Woods now holds 15, thanks to his remarkable Masters triumph in April 2019, his first Major title after a gap of 11 years.
Rolex New Guard
Inspired by their fellow Testimonees’ success at The Open comes a new generation of players, the Rolex New Guard. Playing with integrity, maturity and respect, these golfers represent the future of the game, all keen to leave their own mark on this tournament and the game itself.
World No. 1 Brooks Koepka has enjoyed an unprecedented run of form these past two years, including back-to-back wins in both the PGA Championship (2018, 2019) and the U.S. Open (2017, 2018) – and narrowly missing out on a third consecutive U.S. Open title at Pebble Beach, two months after being runner-up at the 2019 Masters Tournament. He boasts the best record in this year’s Majors and Royal Portrush marks a golden opportunity for the 29-year-old from Florida to capture the only Major played outside the United States.
Just one of two players to win three of golf’s four men’s Majors before his 24th birthday, American Jordan Spieth is the only New Guard member to have won The Open. Given Spieth’s tremendous record at this event, including two top-10 finishes in addition to his victory, he has the championship pedigree to capture a second title and fourth Major.
Among the New Guard Testimonees competing at The Open this year are China’s Haotong Li, who finished third in his first Open appearance in 2017, and Spaniard Jon Rahm, who will look to emulate previous success in Ireland. The 24-year-old has eight professional wins to his name, including three Rolex Series victories, of which, two have been at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (2017, 2019).
Rolex Testimonee Open Champions
Gary Player (1959, 1968, 1974)
Arnold Palmer (1961, 1962)
Jack Nicklaus (1966, 1970, 1978)
Tom Watson (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982, 1983)
Tiger Woods (2000, 2005, 2006)
Pádraig Harrington (2007, 2008)
Phil Mickelson (2013)
Jordan Spieth (2017)
Francesco Molinari (2018)
Rolex Testimonees Expected To Play The 148th Open
Rafa Cabrera Bello
National charity the Golf Foundation and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland are looking forward to welcoming several thousand youngsters and family members new to the sport during the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland next week.
The Golf Foundation is guest of its strongest supporter The R&A and is working alongside colleagues from the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) in the ‘R&A SwingZone’ for the whole week (from Sunday to Sunday). Running the facility in the Spectator Village is seen as a “wonderful and unique opportunity” to grow the game further for young people in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Youngsters of all abilities will get to play energetic and fun ‘Tri-Golf’ challenges (while all family members can enjoy the Titleist Putting Challenge). Sixteen organised groups of children from regional golf clubs, school and charity projects have also been invited to the R&A SwingZone before going on to watch the stars of world golf out on the links.
The Tri-Golf format plays a key role in the Golf Foundation reaching 500,000 youngsters a year, creating a pathway from discovering golf in schools and the community to regular golf at golf clubs. The Foundation’s HSBC Golf Roots programme encourages young people to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in the sport and enjoy its ‘Skills for Life’ benefits.
The Golf Foundation and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland have recently forged closer links with a view to sharing expertise and best practice to welcome more young people to experience the sport. The two organisations will share the R&A Swing Zone with the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), and a group of expert PGA Professionals will be present all week offering free golf lessons to visitors of all ages and abilities.
This opportunity for the Golf Foundation follows The R&A’s recent decision to strengthen its support of this charity’s work, including an investment of £2 million over the next four years. The Golf Foundation has created new logo branding to reflect this important relationship for the growth of the game.
Golf Foundation Chief Executive Brendon Pyle said: “The considerable support of The R&A reaches all aspects of our work, all year round. However, by backing our team so well at The Open Championship, this presents a wonderful and unique opportunity to inspire the next generation of enthusiastic young golfers. The Foundation and our partners all look forward to welcoming a great many families to Royal Portrush for what should be a fantastic week.”
This positive message is reinforced on ‘Open Saturday’ (July 20) at nearby Portstewart GC, where local boys and girls will show off their new golf skills to help promote the ‘HSBC Hour’. This is a special initiative run with Golf Foundation sponsor HSBC which promotes open access to more than 550 junior-friendly golf clubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; when juniors and family members are asked to bring along a friend to experience golf and their golf club. And during Open week, HSBC Ambassadors Brian O’Driscoll and Tim Henman are set to make a number of visits to the R&A SwingZone and take on visiting youngsters in high-energy Tri-Golf Challenges to promote the HSBC Hour.
It’s not just about the kids at Royal Portrush: golf lovers of all ages in the family will have the chance every day to win one of eight top-of-the-range Titleist Scotty Cameron putters in a unique putting challenge supported by Titleist, along with Titleist golf balls and caps.
Meanwhile, on the Tuesday practice day, the Golf Foundation is set to make the presentation of the charity’s ‘Spirit of Golf Award’, given each year to a leading international golfer who has inspired juniors in the way they have played the game and the respect they have shown their sport and its participants. This year’s winner will follow names such as Tom Watson, Gary Player, Tony Jacklin, Padraig Harrington, and Colin Montgomerie in receiving this prestigious award.
The Golf Foundation is a British charity dedicated to making the game more accessible for young people and helping them to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in golf.
Pictured top Tyrrell Hatton and new fans
See more at www.golf-foundation.org
12.28pm 11th July 2019 – Courses – This story was updated on Thursday, July 11th, 2019
The task of maintaining the Nick Faldo-designed golf course at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô in Vietnam is enjoying help from a rather unusual source – a family of water buffalo.
The bovine threesome act as bio-mowers at the popular resort, while also protecting the traditional Vietnamese landscape, helping to manage four hectares of rice fields located in the middle of the golf course by eating excess weeds and crops in the area that would otherwise require machinery and manpower to maintain.
The rice paddies contour the 3rd and 4th holes and reappear in the back nine between the 13th green, 14th tee and run alongside the 15th fairway.
“We are pretty sure it’s a first in this part of the world to have animals performing such an important role on the golf course,” said Adam Calver, Director of Golf at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô, of the work carried out by the water buffalo. “In the early days of golf, when courses were mostly laid out on public land it was not uncommon for sheep and cattle to roam freely across fairways and greens. Even today, notably the wilder links clubs in remote regions of Scotland and Ireland, livestock play their party in trimming turf and thinning out rough.
“But, until now, courses in Asia though have been less willing to let animals in on the greenkeeping act, so we’re pretty unique in that sense. We looked at various methods to increase the aesthetics of the rice paddies between the harvests as continually mowing the fields to maintain vast rice terraces can consume a large amount of labour.”
Harvested twice a year, the paddy fields yield up to 20 tons of rice that are used to support the organic farm at Laguna Golf Lăng Cô and donated to families and seniors in the area.
Si Nick Faldo said: “We knew that having the holes weave through the rice fields would be a unique and memorable experience for golfers. And there would be potential to give back to the community in a sustainable and regenerative fashion. All the best golf courses have character and at Faldo Design our philosophy has always been to work with the natural environment presented before us. Laguna Golf Lăng Côis a special place and, right from the first moment we were on site, we felt that if we could adapt to the surroundings then we would be close to achieving something really special with this golf course.”