Casual golf fans might be surprised to learn that the Masters, the most revered of golf's four major championships, generally features the quartet's weakest field. But the equipment in play is the latest and greatest. The Masters' home course, Augusta National Golf Club, is even hillier than it looks on TV, making high-performance footwear critical. FootJoy, a division of Fortune Brands ( FO), usually supplies most of the shoes players wear at PGA Tour events. Fans will likely see 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, reigning British champion Padraig Harrington and sleeper pick Steve Stricker in the company's new SYNR-G shoe. The shoe uses memory foam, the same stuff from mattresses, to mold the shoe to a player's foot.
Ping, the maker of the iWi D66 putter, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
TaylorMade has led the market for drivers in recent years, powered by the adjustable-weight technology of its r7 series. As of March 20, everyday players got to join the pros in using the R9 series. The R9 lets players alter the club's weighting scheme and the angle of its face, thanks to a small aluminum sleeve placed over the tip of the shaft. There are eight clubface configurations and three weight configurations, yielding 24 potential setups. The club offers 75 yards of side-to-side trajectory change, according to the company. Nike ( NKE) Golf sponsors the defending champion and, as you may recall, his name isn't Tiger Woods. Trevor Immelman may have a new driver in his bag this time: the SQ Dymo STR8-FIT. Immelman recently switched to the Victory Red Split Cavity for his irons and Nike ONE Tour for balls. He's using a prototype for putting.