Once upon a time, Chicago was the center of the golf industry, home to such iconic brands as Wilson, TaylorMade, Northwestern, Tommy Armour, and Ram. But beginning in the 1970s and ‘80s, the balance of power tipped to the West Coast (where TaylorMade headed years ago), leaving the remaining Windy City stalwarts to shrink or vanish. Only Wilson remains, hoping—yet again—to return to glory with the help of Padraig Harrington.
Which means the top Chicagoland golf company today is Tour Edge, a 25-year-old brand that has made its mark by supplying quality and innovation at affordable prices.
Tour Edge was founded in 1985 by David Glod, a local golf pro with an eye, and mind, for club design. Still the head of the company, Glod is an inveterate tinkerer who isn’t afraid to experiment with new designs, materials, and manufacturing techniques as he builds equipment for both the high- and mid-priced segments of the market.
The high-end products go under the name Exotics, and in the past few months Glod has busily added to that line. Two Exotics drivers recently came on the market: the XCG-3, for the majority of golfers, and the CB3 Tour, for better players.
Both clubs exhibit a key characteristic of the Exotics brand: light weight, which translates to faster swing speeds. The 460cc XCG-3 combines a lightweight carbon crown with a thin face and body made of lightweight titanium, plus two heavy tungsten weights in the sole to lower the center of gravity and make the club more forgiving. The CB3 Tour has a slightly smaller (430cc) head, permitting good players to work their shots: Its crown, body, and hosel are titanium while the sole is heavier steel, and like the XCG-3 the components are combo-brazed (chemically bonded) together rather than welded for what the company says is a more efficient transfer of energy at impact. The center of gravity in the CB3 is a little higher to produce the low, boring flight good players want.
Tour Edge has earned praise for its fairway woods, which are in the bags of a number of Tour players, and there are new models to accompany the new drivers. XCG-3 fairway woods have the thinnest titanium face the company has ever made, as well as a tungsten sole, which together hit shots with less spin, more speed, and more forgiveness. CB3 fairway woods fix a titanium face to an all-steel body in a slightly smaller size that allows for more workability.
The XCG-3 and CB3 driver retail at $349. The fairway woods are $299.
In irons, the new XCG-3 is a slightly oversized blade design fitted with a lightweight carbon/plastic insert in the back of each head for feel. The insert in the long irons (3-6) is firm and helps create more distance; the short irons (7-sand wedge) have a softer insert that results in better touch and more spin. Like all Exotics clubs, the faces vary in thickness for consistent distance no matter where the ball is struck. The irons are priced from $599-$699, depending on the shaft (and more than 13 “stock” shafts are available).
Players looking for quality products at low prices should check out the Tour Edge line. The new HT Max irons have a wide sole and an undercut cavity behind the face; they are very forgiving both in shotmaking and price, retailing at $299 for 8 clubs with steel shafts, $399 with graphite. The matching HT Max woods are a 460cc titanium driver ($149), fairway woods ($119), and hybrids ($99), all with the latest technology, aerodynamic shaping, and lifetime guarantees. The Tour Edge line also includes TGS wedges for $39 and $49, and Backdraft putters at $39.
If your kids are ready for golf, Tour Edge makes a number of sets for them. Bazooka Geo Max Jr. clubs are built and sized especially for age groups 3-5, 5-8, and 9-12 (or definable by height: under 3’-3”; 3’-3” to 4’-4”; and 4’-4” to 5’-1”). The clubs—driver, fairway wood, hybrid, irons, wedges, and putter—come in different set make-ups beginning at $79. The driver has a 350cc titanium head, all the clubs have extra-flexible graphite shafts and other design features to help get shots airborne, and each set also includes a stand bag.
Once the kids get a little older, they can move up to the HP7 Varsity set, a 12-piece package designed for teens that includes a 460cc driver, fairway wood, hybrid, two oversized cavity-back irons, two wedges, and a putter, as well as a stand bag and headcovers, for $219.
There’s much more about Tour Edge and Exotics clubs and accessories on the website.