ESTERO, Fla -- Ever since TaylorMade introduced its new Miscela series for women last summer, the world of ladies golf clubs has changed.
While Callaway was the first to announce a radically new design of clubs for women (it's G.E.S. system), it was TaylorMade that first got to market and the clubs have been a terrific hit. So much so that most pro shops have difficulty keeping them in stock.
Since then, other lines have introduced similar clubs -- so-called "hybrid" sets, designed specifically for the woman's slower swing speed. Ping has its G2L series, Nancy Lopez Golf recently introduced its Torri system and just this week Adams Golf brought out its Idea set. Most of these are sold as entire sets, and not as individual clubs.
But it appears that TaylorMade has set the standard with the Miscelas. I have been playing with these clubs for a couple of months now and find them to be superb in most every way. Not miraculous, mind you, but far superior to much of what is being sold to leisure women golfers these days.
Let's talk about the set, and then I will tell you how the women at my club here in Florida liked them.
First, the aesthetics. I like that for once a company gave golf clubs a distinctive name, almost like a car model, and not something kind of dumb like Big Bertha or Big Jane. The name Miscela is the Italian word for "blend" or "mixture" and denotes the fact that this is a so-called "hybrid" set. You have to admit the name is kind of sexy.
Then, there's the appearance. These are really elegant-looking, with pewter-gray shafts and bright shiny heads with Miscela imprinted on them. (TaylorMade is only printed discreetly on the driver and the shafts.) The five headcovers are made of close-fitting foam. And if you put all of this in the matching cart bag (which usually has to be special-ordered), it is a classy set.
The 10-club set features a driver, 3-wood, three Mid Woods (Mid 4, Mid 5 and Mid 6) and five irons (7-iron, 8-iron, 9-iron, pitching wedge and sand wedge).
The Miscela set is designed to be a "flow set," that is, the degree of loft increases through the entire set, so you don't have to choose between a longer iron or a short wood. The clubs progress from one to another.
The goal with this new design, the company says, was two-fold: To make every club easy to get the ball into the air and to create a set that provides distinctive differences in distances from club to club.
The Miscela design features low, deep centers of gravity, super lightweight shafts and loft angles a bit higher than most of us are used to. Hence, the 14-degree driver and the 17-degree 3-wood. (I can't tell you how many women are still struggling with 11- and 12-degree drivers, most with small heads.) The grips are also smaller and softer.
TaylorMade also eliminated hard-to-hit long irons in favor of Mid Woods, an innovative new club that features a large head and broad sole. If you've seen the TaylorMade Rescue clubs, you know the design. Now these are appearing in most of the other new women's lines.
The reason for these new designs?
Most women golfers, particularly those over 45, have trouble getting the ball in the air. Therefore, they constantly struggle for distance. The reason is because most women's swing speeds are much slower than men's. And most clubs were designed for men, and then cut down or slightly modified for women. So most of us have been trying out all kinds of different clubs trying to get that ball in the air, which is why so many of us have 9-woods, 11-woods and now even 13-woods in our bags.
Another result of slower swing speed is that most women experienced very little distance differentiation between clubs. I've heard many a gal say she got the same distance from her 5-iron as she did her 7-iron.
TaylorMade now tells us that these 10 clubs can do it all.
"A common complaint among women golfers is that they don't see much of a distance disparity between their clubs," says Sean Toulon, vice president, global product and brand creation for TaylorMade. "For many women, the difference between how far they hit, say, a 5-iron and 6-iron is only a few yards. We set about solving that problem with Miscela, which delivers specific and significant variations from one club to the next, so that every single club is valuable and gets used frequently."
So do women like them? Do they do what they promise? There are the extreme success stories and then there are the average ones.
Nancy Freeman of Canadian Lakes, Mich., played one round with the Miscelas at our club in Florida about two months ago. The next day, she went out and bought the entire set for $899 at a local golf shop. She has never looked back.
"I was playing with clubs that were many years old and I loved these from the first time I played with them," she explains. "My improvement has been remarkable. I am getting so much more distance.
"I am serious. I have dropped six strokes in my handicap in about six weeks, from a 36 to a 30." That is pretty extraordinary, in anyone's book.
Of course, Nancy is the exception. Two friends of hers tried the Miscelas as well. Gloria Elsea of Traverse City, Mich., and Jane Underkoffler of Bucks County, Pa., weren't convinced so easily.
They went to several golf demo days in Florida. They asked pros to evaluate their swings. They tried the Miscelas again. Then they tried other brands. In the end, both went out and purchased Miscelas. They shopped hard for them and ended up buying them online for $798 (no shipping, no tax). Not bad when the retail value is $1,299.
"A lot of women my age are still playing with the original clubs we got 10 to 15 years ago. There comes a time when you decide it is time to do something for yourself, and decide that you are ready for your very own set of clubs," Jane explained. "That's what I decided. And what's not to like about the Miscelas?" (The age group she was speaking of, by the way, was ages 55 to 65.)
I am just into that group and for the past couple of years I have been privileged to play with some pretty fine gear. But I must say I have been impressed with the Miscelas all around. I immediately fell in love with the irons, soon gained control over the driver and the 3-wood and have recently been figuring out those Mid woods. Being fairly short, I have discovered that these clubs fit me very well, except that I have to choke up a bit on the driver and 3-wood.
The result is that I have been improving and I do credit the Miscelas with giving me a lot more control over my fairway shots and my distance. My handicap is dropping and the clubs have helped.
I have discovered only one problem and it probably has much more to do with my swing than the clubs, but I have a big gap in distance between the 7-iron and the Mid-6 wood. Although they are only four degrees in loft apart, I find them to play 20-30 yards apart on the fairway. It is a gap I am working on closing. I am determined not to stick a 5-iron back in my bag.
I attended a TaylorMade demo day at Jupiter Hills Country Club in Jupiter, Fla, where the assistant pro, Lee Van Roekel, told me that the response to the Miscelas had been "Awesome! We sold every set we had" and the TaylorMade rep told me that the company had "under-forecasted like crazy" how great the demand would be.
If you are considering treating your self right and investing in a great set of clubs, be sure to consider the Miscelas before you make your choice. For more information, go to taylormadegolf.com. Better yet, get to a demo day and try them out for yourself.
Note: Callaway did not bring out its G.E.S. (Game Enjoyment System) until the PGA Show in January. These turned out to be a very strange group of clubs and well worth taking a look at in a future column.
March 30, 2004