Industry News

A hot new ‘Old Reliable’

By Gary Van Sickle

A million years ago during the Age of Persimmon, the 3-wood was my favorite Old Reliable club.

In the modern high-tech age of metal woods, I hadn’t truly loved a 3-wood in more than a decade. That changed when I obtained a Knuth Golf High Heat 3-wood late last year. Pardon my sulking, but while I struggled with every club in the bag, especially my fairway wood, the fact that I suddenly started pounding the High Heat 3-wood while still whiffing everything else was remarkable.

de2b17de-8b08-4763-b5b6-71651d128ca2.jpg

The High Heat 3-wood has a wide, low profile that hints at the image of a 1958 Corvette’s rear fender. It is painted a glowing blue. The ball jumps off the face so easily at impact, you almost don’t feel it. That reminded me of how it felt to hit the occasional home run in baseball, also a million years ago.

I hit a prototype model of the High Heat 3-wood at last year’s PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. Dean Knuth, the club’s inventor and a former Navy man and the inventor of golf’s slope rating system, modified the 3-wood before manufacturing, which delayed the club’s introduction until late summer. The new-and-improved club combines the high trajectory of a 5-wood with the distance of a 2-wood, if you’re old enough to remember the latter. So how’d he do that?

“The major brands get Tour pros playing their clubs so they can advertise, but they’re trapped making clubs for them,” Knuth said. “What about the average players, who can’t hit those clubs? You need a deep and low center of gravity, and that’s nonexistent in the major brands. Their centers of gravity are forward and up. “The other thing I did was work on the face. It’s a low profile, but the face is 8 millimeters longer than any other brand and that gives you a larger sweet spot.”

What the High Heat is missing is a multimillion-dollar marketing budget and a fancy story. For the latter, the best Knuth can do is explain that the High Heat has a titanium face with a steel body. “Nobody else has figured out how to combine those because you can’t weld them together,” he said. “It’s braised with silver, an expensive process, but it gives you the performance and power of titanium.”

Knuth came up with the original High Heat driver eight years ago, making a clubhead out of pressed Russian titanium. I considered it the hottest driver in golf at the time. He produced only a limited run of those clubs, however, because of the difficulty in obtaining the materials and the variance in quality.

He brought out a new High Heat driver in 2015, then followed with the 3-wood and hybrid in 2016. He knows that being a boutique golf manufacturer makes him an underdog.

b4bbde34-a247-44b9-adf6-00afe1764833.jpg

“People have doubted me my whole life,” Knuth said. “I came up with a technique to find Soviet submarines, but nobody believed me until they were shown the proof. I came up with a better way to rate golf courses, and nobody believed me until they were shown the proof. This is another development of mine that you have to see to believe.”

High Heat clubs are available online at www.knuthgolf.com ($399, 3-wood; $249, hybrid). The High Heat clubs come with a 30-day guarantee return policy.

“You’d think some people would just hit it for a few weeks and send it back,” Knuth said, “but we haven’t gotten any returns yet.”

My High Heat 3-wood analysis in a nutshell: I’m a believer.

Gary Van Sickle has covered golf since 1980 for Sports Illustrated and Golf.com, Golf World and The Milwaukee Journal.