Space age: Golf's 'arms race' explores the final frontier

Since golf players initially bunted leather balls around Scottish links, they have searched for equipment to make them better-- and longer.From the initial crude sticks to hickory-shafted clubs, through steel, titanium and carbon-fiber motorists, the video game's "arms race" reveals no sign of slowing.In reality, it has gone into orbit. Actually.

In the continuous battle to beat the competitors, to assist gamers meeting the ball further than ever before, one company has actually gone to space to establish its most current clubs.Cobra Puma, the brand name favored by the world's fifth-ranked golf enthusiast Rickie Fowler, is pioneering materials and innovations checked on the International Space Station, via its partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS.).

Its recent King LTD motorist even features a "spaceport"-- a see-through window on the sole of the club allowing the golfer to view its inner makeup.Other brand names are also branching out too. Callaway has coordinated with aerospace gigantic Boeing to improve the aerodynamics of its XR driver, utilized by Masters champion Danny Willett. Others have looked for inspiration from the field of vehicle design.

The fight for supremacy reveals no sign of letting up, especially in Carlsbad-- golf's equivalent of Silicon Valley-- where big names such as Callaway, TaylorMade, Cobra Puma and Titleist are based.Could this change the method we play golf? 08:02.

"There are a lot of extremely clever people working and thinking of golf clubs every day," Cobra Puma's vice-president of research studies and development, Tom Olsavsky, informed CNN."It can be very fascinating if you go to lunch somewhere outside the building. You need to take a look around and make sure there are no rivals.

"We absolutely seem like we're in an arms race. We're constantly tough ourselves to beat the other people.".Despite a reported decline, the golf market is still worth about $70 billion in the U.S. alone.Every year or so-- and regularly for some-- the manufacturers highlight new items boasting extra distance, more forgiveness (which lowers the effects of a bad contact on the ball), better accuracy and more consistency.

In drivers, distance is still the holy grail, followed by forgiveness. Some sacrifice one over the other, some try to do both.In addition to establishing new products, manufacturers dream up all way of devices to assist the "story": portable weights to change ball flight; adjustable hosels to alter loft and lie; channels; slots; tabulators; speed crowns; smartpads; pink, white, blue club heads. And those spaceports.

The marketing departments enter into overdrive. Hot slogans are crafted.Obsolete.Callaway provided us "Forgiveness Meets Fast" and "Built for Outrageous Speed," then there's Cobra's "The Ultimate Distance Machine," Titleist's "Distance Without Compromise," PING's "Faster. Straighter. Longer" and TaylorMade's "The Definition of Distance.".

New club, new combination of buzzwords. Brand-new price. TaylorMade's newest M1 driver featured a recommended retail price of $499, while Callaway's XR was $349, Cobra's King Ltd. and Titleist's 915 D3 were $449 and Ping's G LS Tec was $399.It's a far cry from even the contemporary birth of the online game's arms race virtually four years back, when the very first steel-headed "woods" were introduced.

In 1979, golf salesman Gary Adams introduced TaylorMade with his original metal wood, called the "Pittsburgh Persimmon" in honor of the kind of timber long utilized in traditional woods.The takeover of metal woods was more of a drip than a torrent-- it had not been till 1988 that a player using a metal wood won a major, when Curtis Strange raised the U.S. Open with a TaylorMade Burner motorist.

Two years later, Ely Callaway-- a previous soldier, textiles executive and wine maker-- taken advantage of the skills of workers from the fading aerospace industry in Carlsbad, California and introduced his famous over-sized Big Bertha metal motorist.

The race was on. Persimmon would soon be obsolete.'Indisputably much better'.It's not a free-for-all.Myriad rules-- put down by governing bodies the United States Golf Association and the R&A-- are in location to curb technology.To conform, clubs should not surpass 48 inches long, while the head of a driver need to not be larger than 460 cubic centimeters. Plus, there are stringent laws that govern the "spring" of the face.

There is a whacky world of non-conforming designs out there, the video game's big-name manufacturers are working feverishly within these parameters.In 1980, when persimmon ruled, the most significant hitter on the PGA Tour was Dan Pohl with a typical driving distance of 274.3 backyards. In 2015, 40 gamers on the PGA Tour tape-recorded approximately more than 300 backyards, with the leader Dustin Johnson at 317.7 backyards.

"The clubs are indisputably better," previous Golf.com managing Editor Eamon Lynch informed CNN."But nobody is more going to believe in the guarantee of a technologically advanced, store-bought option than a golf enthusiast with a crappy swing.”Incremental.

Exactly what's next? Manufacturers have differing views on where their focus must be, with moveable weights, deal with innovation, head shape and weight all essential battlefields.A lot of appear to concur that a club's center of gravity-- which impacts launch, spin, feel and ultimately distance-- is the priority in the next few years."Some business spend a lot of time talking about aerodynamics but we see that as a very little gain because club heads are already quite aerodynamic," Cobra Puma's Olsavsky states.

"We think the trend is low and further-back center gravity (CG). Better use of materials, investing in carbon fiber crowns and enhanced CG is where the industry is headed.".Whether the gains will be incremental, or whether there will be another huge leap forward, depends on your timespan."If you purchase a motorist every year, yes, you would see more incremental changes than innovative," Olsavsky adds.

"If you do not buy a motorist very frequently-- say every four, 5 or six years-- the change will be pretty innovative and you will notice a huge distinction.”For the pros used to switching in and out of the best equipment, marginal gains are very important."Callaway only bring products to me when they know it's going to carry out better than what I've got at the minute," Willett told a Callaway prodcast.

"I did a great deal of screening with the XR driver at home over the winter season and put it in the bag immediately. It did precisely what they stated it would for my video game. It offered me more ball speed and control of my ball flight and it was a win-win.".Not all amateur golf enthusiasts are convinced.

"If they kept adding an additional five lawns every time, we’d all be meeting it 350 yards by now," says Ed Light, an eight-handicap golf player from Cranleigh in Surrey, England. "For the price of a brand-new one these days, I tend to think the money's better purchased great quality lessons.".Nick Russell, a member at Surrey's Walton Heath club, added: "I think innovation has assisted, however it's not distance I'm looking for as modern clubs and balls all go a long way; it's forgiveness, with a club that sits well and is pleasing to the eye.

"I am possibly 10 yards longer now than 10 years back, probably due to technology, however I probably swing it a bit better too so it's tough to judge.”The elephant in the space in terms of distance is ball technology.Similar amounts of R&D time and money have actually taken the ball from a hair or feather-filled leather orb to a smooth, dimpled urethane-covered missile.

However many, consisting of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, believe ball development need to be reined back to ensure courses are not made outdated by players hitting longer.The club makers, however, will continue pressing the envelope. Even into the final frontier.