Hello. It’s Alex here. Where’s James? Well, sadly he is no more. Gone forever. No longer with us. He’s left NCG, I mean. Why, what did you think? James heads off to the bright lights of FootJoy and, although we are very sad, we do of course wish him all the best.

So, until we find a suitable replacement – think you can do the job? Get in touch – then I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.

It’s a good week for me to take over the weekly gear round-up, because I was in Jordan Spieth’s hometown of Dallas for the Under Armour Spieth 3 launch last week – the only international media present, I might add – to get the lowdown from the man himself.

Just in case you don’t believe me:

Look, I’m even wearing the shoes! Initial thoughts? Great looking and comfortable.

You’ll have to wait for my review for the rest.

Speaking of which, that will be coming soon – once the snow’s gone – but keep an eye out on NCG next week for our full video from Dallas National Golf Club with Spieth.

In the meantime, here’s the teaser from Under Armour:

So what’s new in terms of technology?

UA took a data approach when upgrading the Spieth range, using biomechanics expert JJ Rivet from the European Tour Performance Institute, incorporating the Frenchman’s scientific insights into the torque and rotation of the golf swing, and how it starts with foot stabilisation and ground contact, to create the patented traction technology in the shoe.

When a golfer swings, they tell us, the forefoot rotates laterally and the heel rotates in the medial direction. When the swing comes back to impact, the foot wants to twist out from under the golfer, resulting in foot slippage. The Spieth 3 uses patented rotational resistance and traction, both vertically and horizontally, to keep the feet on the ground as long as possible. The golfer is able to use the ground for leverage to power the swing and prevent slipping, ensuring maximum control and minimising power loss.

Mike Forsey, UA’s director of global golf footwear, said: “Traction is what separates golf footwear from street shoes. Under Armour Golf continues to be the only golf footwear brand speaking to traction to support the golf swing. With the Spieth 3, we’ve added vertical traction elements which allow the golfer to naturally harness vertical force to bring more power to the ball at impact.”

The team also worked closely with Spieth on the design and feel of the shoe. I don’t want to spoil the video too much, but the three-time major champion’s main priorities were a lightweight shoe that’s comfortable when both hitting shots and walking. The European version of the shoe features Gore-Tex waterproof technology.

“The Spieth 3 is the best one yet, no question about it,” he explains. “It’s easy for me to be really excited about it. I can definitely feel the difference, and seeing the data to back up the work the Under Armour team put in confirms it.”

If that isn’t enough to get you excited, I don’t know what is. Stay tuned.

RRP: £170
Available: Now
More information: Under Armour website

New bags, please

As well as upgrading their flagship balls and trying something a bit different with their irons, Titleist have now spruced up their bag range for the 2019 season.

They are the Players 4, which boasts lightweight construction and features a 25% increase in strap padding, while the Players 4 Plus has extra storage options, and the Players 4 Plus StaDry features waterproof zips.

Then there are two new hybrids. The Hybrid 14 features 14 full-length club dividers, while the Hybrid 5 offers a more lightweight, trolley-friendly design.

RRP: £165 (Players 4), £185 (Players 4 Plus and Hybrid 5), £210 (Hybrid 14), £245 (Players 4 Plus StaDry)
Available: Now
More information: Titleist website

Elsewhere, TaylorMade spent all of January getting us excited with their M5 and M6 drivers and irons, and have started February with their latest range of bags.

TaylorMade stand bags

The bags feature the company’s FlexTech system, a multi-piece collapsible base that allows for easy deployment with additional space that prevents club crowding.

TaylorMade 2019 bag with FlexTech base

There is also the all-new self-adjusting strap system that does away with a back pad so the straps are more effective when utilised as a single or double configuration.

RRP: £179
Available: Now
More information: TaylorMade website

Shafts for all

If golf shafts are your thing, KBS have launched two new lightweight options. The S-Taper Lite, they say, provides the same superior feel as the increasingly popular S-Taper Tour in terms of performance, while the Max Graphite is designed for higher handicappers who want a lighter shaft to produce a higher trajectory.

KBS shafts

The S-Taper Lite is available this month in taper tip in 95g R, 100g S and 105g X weights and flexes, plus parallel tip at 110g and blank 43.5” combo flex.

Each Max Graphite shaft is custom fit with the player’s swing speed matched to the weight of the club and available in parallel tip in 45-, 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-gram weights.

Available: March
More information: KBS website