The Equipment Insider

High Heat 257+ TSG hybrids get down, dirty

High Heat delivers a winning hybrid line of golf clubs, which features a titanium clubhead and a uniquely rounded sole that assists in getting out of tight lies

Hybrid clubs are fairly popular, if not outright beloved, by a lot of golfers. I am not a member of that fan club.

Yes, I do carry one hybrid in my bag. It’s an Adams Idea 4-hybrid that I’ve used for at least a dozen years. The paint is chipping off the crown, which makes the club look like it lost a fight. I like that club — most of the time — but it’s still in my bag mainly because I haven’t much liked much else in the last decade.

That changed in January during Demo Day at Orange County National’s awesome 360-degree range the day before the annual PGA Merchandise Show kicked off in Orlando.

The Chamber of Commerce didn’t order the weather. Temperatures struggled to break 50 degrees until noon and wind gusts topped 30 mph. This was a rare day in Florida when the phrase “wind chill” was heard in conversation.

I stopped by the Knuth Golf station on the range to try out the new High Heat 257+ TSG (Turf Glider Sole technology) clubs. Dean Knuth, the designer of the clubs and also the man who created the USGA’s handicapping system, urged me to try one of the new TGS hybrids.

High Heat 257+ hybrid
High Heat's new 257+ hybrids are uniquely structured with a rounded sole that allows the club to glide along the ground and not adversely affect distance.

A hard right-to-left wind was taking prisoners and not helping my enthusiasm for this test. But I like Knuth so OK, I tried to get loose and started off by hitting a couple of sick quails that got swatted away as if Dikembe Mutombo was defending me. It was that windy. So I faked my way through half a dozen not-so-good swings and watched the vicious crosswind shred the shots like cheap kites.

Then Knuth tossed another couple of balls onto the practice tee in front of me. “Hit one out of a divot,” he said.

What? You know this hasn’t been a barrel of laughs so far, right? Yes, he insisted, I needed to hit a few shots out of divots with High Heat 257+ TGS hybrid. Trust me, he said. Well, he went to Annapolis and was a Navy man so … all right.

My first attempt wasn’t so good. No surprise there, I had just flown south from Pittsburgh in January and was not in mid-season form, not that I have a form anymore.

I took another swing at the ball down in the divot and — oh my goodness — nuked it. From a divot? Yes, I am not kidding. It was a shocker.

That had to be a fluke, didn’t it? My third swing was an instant replay of the previous one. This ball went high and straight and long until the wind finally punted it left. I was too busy chortling with glee to care. I felt like Hemingway’s Old Man after he’d just hooked the giant marlin. Except in this case, I was the one who’d been hooked. Two swings, that’s all it took.

Knuth’s High Heat drivers and woods aren’t widely known as well as — or better in some cases — than equipment offered by the big manufacturing companies. The big boys make clubs for tour players, then try to adjust the clubs so they work for the rest of us. Knuth starts out by designing clubs for amateurs and that’s part of why he is able to get results.

There was a High Heat 257+ 3-wood and 5-wood in my bag most of last year. Now a hybrid is apparently about to join them, at least as soon as I figure out which loft I need.

The Turf Glider Sole is a key part of the new club’s magic. The club’s sole is rounded in the center of the head, then recedes toward the hosel. In addition, the bottom of the sole is rounded and sits just barely forward of the clubface.

“If you hit the ground first, our clubface doesn’t hit the ground because we’ve got that slight leading wedge with the rounded sole,” Knuth said. “The High Heat hybrid will actually glide on the turf up to the ball so you don’t lose distance. Another club would probably dig into the ground and you’d lose a lot of distance or maybe not get it airborne at all.”

The rounded soleplate and leading edge make the High Heat 257+ Hybrid easier to hit out of bad lies, rough and fairway bunkers.

I examined the club’s sole closer after Knuth’s explanation. His hybrid reminded me of a club only old-timers will remember — Stan Thompson’s Ginty. That Ginty was a small persimmon fairway wood with a rounded metal ridge down the middle, almost like a runner on a sled. Women liked the club because it was easier to hit than regular fairway woods and men liked the club for the same reason. It was one of the early successful entries in the “trouble club” category.

“The Ginty was a good club,” Knuth said. “But it still wanted to raise off the ground a little at impact. You didn’t always get it down to ground level to make good contact.”

Knuth thinks he’s built a better mousetrap and he may be right. His hybrid sole is actually a parabola and the clubhead itself is actually four connected parabolas. Two other things make the High Heat 257+ Hybrid different. The High Heat heads are titanium, while most of the major manufacturers use steel. Titanium is more expensive than steel but it performs better.

The second thing is Knuth Golf’s three-trampoline technology. The faces of the High Heat 257+ driver, fairway woods and hybrids are split into three separate section. Each has its own sweet spot and therefore its own trampoline effect. Knuth did that to take advantage of a USGA rules change that allowed clubface areas outside the central impact area to be hotter than the limit for the central impact area, or sweet spot.

The USGA limit is measured by the number of microseconds a ball remains on the clubface at impact — the longer it stays there, the greater the trampoline effect and the farther the ball goes. The limit for the sweet spot is 257 microseconds. High Heat woods average 266 microseconds on the heel and toe, where amateurs most often suffer mis-hits. Other leading brands are in the low 200s in the heel and toe for woods, sometimes below 200 on hybrids. While that sounds like High Heat has a technology story to tell, it’s one that is too complicated to easily tell consumers, who get spooked as soon as they hear the word “microseconds.”

Another nice touch on Knuth’s hybrid is the alignment aid on top of the club crown that delineates the center of the clubface. The club’s parabolic design creates a bit of an illusion about where the center of the clubface really is. The marker eliminates any doubt.

The hybrids come in five lofts —19, 22, 25, 28 and 31 degrees, which is the equivalent of 3-iron through 7-iron — with high-end Fujikura shafts. Each hybrid goes about 10 yards longer than its iron-number equivalent. So, if you hit your 3-iron 190 yards, the 19-degree hybrid 3 should go about 200 yards.

The High Heat 257+ TGS hybrids sell for $299 and are available at HighHeatGolf.com.

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