By Raul Thompson
Standing on the range at Riviera CC for the Nissan Open
, I wondered how many of these PGA Tour players were rebels with a cause: playing equipment that they are not necessarily supposed to be playing, except for the good of their game. It has been apparent to me that it is getting harder and harder for endorsed staff players to play any club outside of their main sponsor these days. Maybe it’s the consolidation of golf club manufacturers or that there’s a couple of big boys dominating the money scene, and hence tightening their leash on the world’s best golfers. Either which way, it got me thinking, if players are going out of their way to play a certain club, it must be because they find the brand X club to be vastly superior.
So I went looking around some bags for the biggest “hero” club, and I found a few surprises. I noticed a bright green head cover in many of the bags, coveting a hybrid new for the 2006 season. The company, Nickent Golf, has become one the hottest products on the PGA Tours for the last couple of years, so it was no surprise to me. What was surprising is how fast their brand new hybrids, the 3DX DC Ironwood and Utility, were penetrating some of the most impenetrable bags in the world.
Jim Furyk made the switch to the 3DX DC Ironwood after just two days of testing in Hawaii at the first event of the season. He is notorious for being a guy who does not switch equipment very easily. Other top players I saw sporting a 3DX included Todd Hamilton, DJ Trahan, Ryuji Imada, Tag Ridings, and Tim Petrovic. A look at the official club listings and I learned that Rory Sabbatini, the current # 1 player on the PGA Tour money list, Bubba Watson, the phenom longest driver on tour, and Angel Cabrera, the #5 player from the 2005 European Tour Order of Merit, also carry Nickent hybrids.
These players are changing a stigma with their hybrid use and Nickent hopes the idea that “hybrids are for real men” catches on. Although many people attach the forgiveness factor as the main benefit of hybrids, many for the PGA Tour players are using these easy-to-hit clubs strictly for distance. In fact, in an article in Golf World magazine a few weeks back, the 3DX Ironwood was credited to have led the Buick Invitational in driving distance, stating: “318- The distance, in yards, Bubba Watson hit his tee shots on the two measured holes for distance during the third round of the Buick Invitational two weeks ago. The Catch: Watson used his 14-degree Nickent 3DX hybrid to hit both shots.”
Pub Links highlighted this success last year and followed Nickent all the way from taking over Taylor Made’s reign as the # 1 most played hybrid on the Nationwide Tour to their first PGA Tour victory in the bag of Tim Petrovic. Since that time, there has been no stopping Nickent and its claim to be King of Hybrids. They finished 2005 as the # 1 overall hybrid on the Nationwide Tour and they were the # 3 overall hybrid on the PGA Tour. Thanks to the PGA Tour wins, gaining quality players like Jim Furyk, Bubba, Rory and Todd Hamilton, the man who put hybrids on the map at the 2004 British Open, and winning club counts without paying players to use the clubs, Nickent has thrived on tour. The first week the DC Ironwood was introduced to the PGA Tour, at the last full field event of the 2005 season, it helped catapult the family of 3DX hybrids to # 1 on the PGA Tour!
What makes these clubs so good? What makes them different from the original 3DX Ironwood and why are there two different models for 2006? We asked Nickent to provide a breakdown of their new technology:
To create an even hotter and more forgiving hybrid, Nickent thinned the face of the 3DX DC, creating a much higher C.O.R. than the original 3DX Ironwood and the highest C.O.R. of any hybrid on the market. A special plasma welding process was used to help redistribute the weight to the extreme perimeters of the club head. Forty grams of weight were moved down and back in the head using two tungsten-polymer fused inserts (XW Inserts). Nickent has used this new weight scheme to create a club that is perfectly weighted to the extreme heel and toe for the straightest and most forgiving setup. This unique feature gives Nickent the ability to make the DC Ironwood the same shape as the Tour favorite 3DX Ironwood, while increasing the MOI by 25%.
The XW Inserts are a fusion of polymer and tungsten. By using polymer around the outside of the insert, Nickent has the ability to vary the mass of the insert without being bulky and taking away from proper club head design. XW Inserts are also used to move the center of gravity of the head to insure proper weight distribution and eliminate the “pull hooks” produced by many of the leading hybrid designs.
The 3DX DC Ironwood has 14 hybrid lofts, one club every 1.5 degrees from 14° to 26°. This hybrid system allows the golfer to attain the optimum distance control and trajectory. With this new system, there will be no distance gaps in your bag and no confusion on what club your hybrid actually replaces.
In comparison, the 3DX DC Utility has a wider body that offers a higher launch and more spin than its ironwood counterpart. It is setup more like a fairway wood, designed for players looking for a higher ball flight and lower and deeper center of gravity. It is marked with a fairway wood designation, but it is meant to be the answer for players seeking a fairway wood like setup, but who want the control and ease of play that hybrids have become notorious for. For more information, contact Nickent Golf directly at 1-888-NICKENT or visit the official website at www.nickentgolf.com.