By Rob Sauerhaft
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

We still use the comforting pastoral term "wood" to describe these clubs, but today's fairway weapons are at the leading edge of equipment technology. The TaylorMade r7 Steel and Callaway X will give you industrial-sized length from the tee and the short stuff. Tell your pals you'll meet them at the green.

Callaway X
$225 (steel), $250 (graphite)
800-588-9836, callawaygolf.com

These beauties are the result of Tour players' insights, but the club's usefulness extends well beyond the better player. A lower leading edge helps you get under the ball from tight fairway lies. The chrome portion of the sole (shaped like an "X") is "raised" from the heel and toe. This rudder-like effect helps the club sit square at address, virtually eliminating the chance of it opening or closing. The X's variable face thickness— thicker in the center, thinner around the perimeter — provides added pop. And the heel-biased internal weight chip makes it easier to close the face.

These woods come in Tour 13 degrees and Tour 15 degrees (smaller head size) as well as 3 (15 degrees), 4 (17 degrees), 5 (19 degrees), 7 (21 degrees) and 9 (23 degrees) with Fujikura graphite shaft.

TaylorMade r7 Steel
$270 (steel), $300 (graphite); r7 Ti: 400 (graphite)
800-888-CLUB, taylormadegolf.com

It's usually hard to tell triplets apart, but not with TaylorMade's r7 fairway wood triumvirate. First came the r7 TP, for players who prefer the higher center of gravity. (Translation: Lower ball flight.) By comparison, the r7 Steel [shown here] is for the masses. It's got a shallower face and lower, deeper center of gravity. (Translation: You get this one up easier and higher.) You can create a neutral ball flight (14-gram weight in toe, 2-gram weight in heel) or a draw (14-gram weight in heel, 2-gram weight in toe) based on how you set the plugs in the rear ports. The r7 Steel comes in Tour Strong 3 (13 degrees), 3 (15 degrees), 4 (16.5 degrees), 5 (18 degrees), and 7 (21 degrees) with Dynamic Gold Lite steel or Fujikura True Temper RE-AX graphite shaft. The third babe in the woods, r7 Ti (titanium), packs a low center of gravity into the largest body. The byproduct is the highest ball flight and most-forgiving head.

Choose from 3 (15 degrees), 5 (18 degrees) or 7 (21 degrees) with Fujikura RE-AX graphite shaft.

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