Stephen Boccieri's Heavyweight Challenge

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Lightweight is a key golf equipment platform this year.

Use of lighter materials in heads, shafts and grips allow golfers to swing clubs — in any category — faster. That generates more clubhead speed and ultimately more distance. Physics 101.

Stephen Boccieri didn’t fail physics. But what he’s done is take an alternative approach to it. The Heavy Putter founder is the self-proclaimed ‘master of weighted design,’ the latter being a concept Boccieri has ingrained into his company’s new Control Series, one of golf’s more ambitious product debuts in 2011.

“After last year’s introduction of the Heavy Wedge we had a number of people come up asking, ‘Do you guys make irons?’” Boccieri told me at the recent PGA Merchandise Show demo day at Orange County National Golf Club. “People who have tried our products love the feel and the performance of them. I said we’re thinking about irons. Then we hit about 10,000 Heavy Wedges (sold) about a month after the PGA Merchandise (Show) last year so my partner and I decided to go for it all. But we didn’t stop at irons. I developed the whole set.

“It was a long year. I was over in China quite a bit but we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Actually, the development of the irons was pretty easy based on the Heavy Wedge profile. It took much longer with the driver, fairway woods and hybrids. There were a number of iterations in all of them — especially the driver — before we got everything where we wanted.”

The new weighted Control Series clubs will come to market as Heavy Driver, Heavy Wood, Heavy Hybrid and Heavy Irons. They join the Heavy Putter and Heavy Wedge, giving Boccieri and his weighted design clubs a presence in every category.

Exactly what then is weighted design? According to Boccieri it’s “the equipment’s ability to improve a golfer’s mechanics through the addition of weight in strategic areas to manipulate balance point.”

With Boccieri’s original Heavy Putter, for example, the balance point was 75 per cent higher than a conventional putter due to the back weighting system found underneath the putter grip. This eliminated excessive hand and wrist action, engaged the larger muscles and promoted a smoother, more consistent stroke.

According to the company, the Control Series clubs use a heavier head weight to maximize impact force while the back weight system in the grip raises the balance point. Without any manipulation from the user it sets a golfer’s hands more quickly and promotes a smoother transition from the top of the backswing position. In simple terms it adds a pause where there might not have been one before due to the additional weighted design function.

“That’s one of the strengths of the entire Control Series,” Boccieri said. “People have the tendency to get fast and rush the swing. With these clubs the inertia and mass moving together gives you the benefit of a real pause at the top of the swing — without thinking about it. The higher balance point really stops you from casting. This club just lets you drop it right into the slot. We’re finding when we use impact tape it’s more consistently in the middle of the face. You’re coming in on a better plane through impact.”

The clubs don’t necessarily stand out aesthetically. The line does however possess clean looks in the playing position and features a more classic overall profile.

“Because of the weighted advantage and physics involved I wanted to create clubs that looked traditional,” Boccieri said. “The driver sounds better than most drivers on the market because we used a cast body, not a welded body. We did a lot of acoustic analysis. Most welded drivers sound like tin cans. Cast has tremendous acoustics. I carried good sound through all the clubs.

“The irons are very blade-like and a lot of good players have looked at them. It’s interesting but they’re probably closer to Super Game improvement because they have an extremely high MOI (moment of inertia). Someone can go out there and not play a clunky looking iron with the back weighted advantage.

“I think these clubs are going to have widespread appeal,” he continued. “We feel strongly that if we can get people to experience weighted design we can show them something very special.”

To help do that Boccieri and his staff came up with a marketing concept called the Heavyweight Challenge. The promotion is being run in retail outlets as a 10-round match against the competition for performance factors such as speed, feel and audibility.

“A lot of vendors are saying lighter is better. The best way I thought to put it out there was the Heavyweight Challenge. I got a deal with Bridgestone. They’re giving a two-ball sleeve to consumers for taking the Heavyweight Challenge. There’s a scorecard that will be in the retail stores. We feel in the end heavy will win every match against the lightweight competition.”

Different weight classes — heavyweight and lightweight — but according to Stephen Boccieri, a fair competition on a level playing field.

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