ClubTest 2006: Fairway Woods

Fred Vuich

Nicklaus AirMax DPT
$109, steel; $179 graphite; nicklaus-golf.com

WE TESTED: 15° and 18° with Fujikura SG Pro graphite shaft

THE COMPANY LINE "Dual Point Technology aligns the club's center of gravity with its optimal face flex point for maximum trampoline effect."

OUR TESTERS SAID
Pros

  • "Easy to square up due to the simple head shape and face."—Eric English (handicap 12)
  • "Center contact is informative and powerful."—Kirk Fischer (7)
  • "Crisp and lively; not as muted as their last offerings."—Hoai Hoang (8)
  • "A low, boring flight increases trajectory control."—Lee Neisler (2)
  • "A nice upgrade for Nicklaus users. Decent forgiveness and distance."—Jeff McKinney (15)
  • Cons

  • "Tight lies could pose problems. The best action comes from a slightly steeper swing."—Don Yitterberg (15)
  • "Good, repetitive swings are a must because off-center hits lack much help."—Randy Rochefort (2)
  • Bobby Jones Players Series by Jesse Ortiz
    $200, graphite; bobbyjonesshop.com

    WE TESTED 13°, 15°, 17°, 19° with Graphite Design JS-6 graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "A 10-gram, forged maraging steel crown lets us move 30 grams to the rear sole. This creates a composite weight distribution in an all-steel head for better feel and forgiveness."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "The low profile might not appeal to everyone, but these are really easy to use."—Paul Brecht (handicap 18)
  • "Long toe on the non-symmetrical design makes these forgiving."—Jeff McKinney (15)
  • "I dialed these up and down with equally impressive results."—Mike Nastasi (7)
  • "Easy to hit straight, with shot-shaping capability."—Lee Neisler (2)
  • "Bump-and-runs with the 5-wood are fun."—Randy Rochefort (2)
  • "Versatile clubs capable of getting it done from any lie."—Don Wilson (15)
  • Cons

  • "Terrific from the spinach—the radius sole glides to the promised land. But off-center hits will leave you a long way home."—Eric English (12)
  • Sonartec SS-2.5 Mid Face
    $269, graphite; www.sonartec.com

    WE TESTED 13°, 14°, 15°, 17°, 19°, 21° with Fujikura Tour Platinum graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "For golfers who want maximum forgiveness and a mid-high launch, lowspin trajectory. A ST-385 'Hot Face' alloy increases ball velocity at impact for longer shots."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "Closest thing to a surface-to-air missile launcher."—Jim Perzan (handicap 9)
  • "Wonderfully crisp on flush shots."—Hoai Hoang (8)
  • "I like the slightly higher, yet penetrating flight."—Mike Nastasi (7)
  • "If you can work the ball, these will let you."—Don Yitterberg (15)
  • "They get down through the rough easily and get the ball up quickly."—Don Wilson (15)
  • "These hunt flags."—Kirk Fischer (7)
  • "These are the longest fairway woods on center hits."—Jeff McKinney (15)
  • Cons

  • "What you gain in playability, you may concede in forgiveness."—Lee Neisler (2)
  • TaylorMade r7 TP
    $500, steel; $500, graphite; taylormadegolf.com

    WE TESTED T/S (13°), 3 (15°), 5 (17.5°) with Fujikura Vista Pro 80 graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "Dual TaylorMade Launch Control (TLC) cartridges change the club's center of gravity location and promote varying degrees of draws and fades."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "The weights truly influence ball flight in terms of promoting a certain shot shape."—Don Ytterberg (handicap 15)
  • "Fades are nearly impossible with weights set to the draw bias."—Randy Rochefort (2)
  • "The 13-degree is a great alternative to a driver."—Marshall Schattner (9)
  • "Superior feel—crisp and lively—on pured shots."—Jeff McKinney (15)
  • "A dense, powerful feel; quite a contrast to the hollow, masked feel of my r5."—Kirk Fischer (7)
  • Cons

  • "Extremely workable but anything outside the screws yielded not-so-great results." —Mike Nastasi (7)
  • "A slightly deeper face promoted a penetrating ball flight. But it also meant a bit more effort to get it up from tight lies."—Eric English (12)
  • Tour Edge Bazooka JMAX QL
    $119, graphite; touredge.com

    WE TESTED 15°, 20° with Grafalloy Quick Launch graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "Two fixed tungsten screws, which total 10 grams, help close the face at impact. An upright lie and closed face angle also contribute to reduced slicing."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "A shallow head means no problem getting the ball vertical, even from bare lies."—Lee Neisler (handicap 2)
  • "They perform well from all different lies; they cut through the rough and glide on the fairways."—Paul Brecht (18)
  • "It reduced sidespin very well and even fought attempts at forced draws and fades."—Hoai Hoang (8)
  • "Just enough information up the shaft to tell where contact was made."—Don Ytterberg (15)
  • Cons

  • "Don't try to alter the programmed flight. But why work these clubs when straight is usually available?" —Tom Jennings (12)
  • "I would prefer more feedback."—Marshall Schattner (9)
  • Callaway X
    $225, steel; $250, graphite; callawaygolf.com

    WE TESTED 3 (15°), 5 (19°) and 7 (21°) with Fujikura graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "The VFT face maximizes ball speed and perimeter weighting. A Tourinspired head shape and lower leading edge make it easy to hit off of tight lies."

    OUR TESTERS SAID
    Pros

  • "Its typical Callaway profile and alignment aids look as comfortable as my favorite jeans."—Kirk Fischer (handicap 7)
  • "Classic acoustics with a precise firmness at impact."—Don Wilson (15)
  • "The ball soars like a bird."—Dave Asaki (8)
  • "They deliver effortless power with power-steering control."—Don Ytterberg (15)
  • "Long par 4s and 5s are birdie chances."—Jon Tate (4)
  • "Now I know why they call it 'Heavenwood'"—Paul Brecht (18)
  • "Lots of options off a fluffy first-cut lie."—Randy Rochefort (2)
  • "Even offcenter hits travel nicely."—Eric English (12)
  • "The face is like a perfect Maryland crabcake—all sweet meat and no filler. Even mis-hits can reach the target."—Marshall Schattner (9)
  • "Forgiveness is inherent." —Lee Neisler (2)
  • Cons

  • "Some may find ball flight to be too high. But given the 3-wood's exceptional height, shots into a par-5 green now have a chance of stopping."—Tom Jennings (12)
  • How They Stacked Up
    Club Nicklaus
    AirMax DPT
    Tour Edge
    Bazooka JMAX QL
    Bobby Jones
    Players Series
    TaylorMade
    R7 TP
    Sonartec
    SS-2.5 Mid Face
    Callaway
    X
    Look 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars 3 stars 4 stars
    Feel 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars
    Playability 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars
    Forgiveness 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 3 stars 4 stars 5 stars
    Distance 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars
    Total Performance 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4.5 stars

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