ClubTest 2006: Hybrids

Photo: Fred Vuich
Adams Idea a2
$169, steel; $199 graphite;

WE TESTED: 2(18)°, 3 (20°), 4 (23°) with Aldila NV graphite shaft

THE COMPANY LINE "A low center of gravity, higher moment of inertia and less spin than conventional hybrids deliver ideal launch conditions and playability for mid to high swing speeds."


  • "They aimed like irons but advanced it much farther."—Victor DeMarco (handicap 12)
  • "Nimble in all situations—these plow through the heavy stuff and send the ball at the target as if it were on the fairway."—Barry Fasenmyer (6)
  • "You can shape shots."—Doug Lair (10)
  • "Its balance allowed me to hit high or low, draws or fades."—Charles Neivert (2)
  • "The a2 is a golden replacement for my 4-iron."—C.J. Bush (19)
  • Cons
  • "A true players' hybrid. I need more forgiveness—it hides a little bit but don't come here looking for absolution."—Robert Record (16)
  • "Looks like a UFO, but sounds like a Louisville Slugger."—Chad Johnson (8)
  • Nickent 3DX Ironwood DC
    $179, steel; $199, graphite;

    WE TESTED 2 (17°), 3 (20°), 4 (23°) with Aldila NV-75 hybrid graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "A new, hotter face material and two 20-gram, tungstenpolymer plugs concentrate more mass farther back and to the perimeter."

  • "I'm a 'Nickent-tine' addict: I just can't stop smoking these."—Barry Fasenmyer (handicap 6)
  • "This tiny giant delivers compact power, launching the ball with a cracking sound."—Dave Lucarelli (15)
  • "Last year's model would twist on impact, but this club is stable and easy to locate."—Michael Kaye (14)
  • "Ball flight is higher than with previous 3DX. But it flies a few degrees lower than other hybrids."—C.J. Bush (19)
  • "It busts the ball free with ease from the tall stuff. A straight shooter from trouble."—Gary Wilson (13)
  • Cons
  • "Pured shots and mis-hits felt too similar."—Robert Record (13)
  • "Sole and back weight kept balls straight but it's tough to turn shots."—Charles Neivert (2)
  • Nike Slingshot
    $179, steel; $199, graphite;

    WE TESTED 2 (17°), 3 (20°), 4 (23°) with hDiamana by Mitsubishi graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "A carbon crown and low slung 'sling back' design create an extremely low center of gravity—70 percent of the head weight is below the ball's equator."

  • "Shots stay in play no matter how badly you hit them."—Jon Kotraba (handicap 10)
  • "More visible technology than the control panel of a jumbo jet, but it's also the easiest club to hit since the invention of the putter."—Doug Lair (10)
  • "Looks be damned—this might be the straightest, highest-flying hybrid I've hit."—Michael Kaye (14)
  • "Forgiveness is its strongest suit—I couldn't miss."—Charles Neivert (2)
  • "These Slingshots dropped gently on the target from a high altitude."—Gary Wilson (13)
  • "The entire face was useable."—Dave Lucarelli (15)
  • Cons
  • "Cosmetically challenged and lacking in length, but full of feel, playability and accuracy."—Anthony Spikes (1)
  • "Silver horseshoe in back was distracting."—Jim Esther (20)
  • Ping G5
    $185, steel; $215, graphite;

    WE TESTED 16°, 19°, 22° and 25° with TFC 100H graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "A sloped crown positions the center of gravity low and back to promote a higher launch angle and greater control. A 455 steel face is machined and plasma welded to provide distance and consistency."

  • "Well-struck shots feel like a pured iron."—Victor DeMarco (handicap 12)
  • "It looks like a mini G5 driver—very appealing to the eye."—C.J. Bush (19)
  • "Easy to hit high and straight with reliable distance control."—Jim Esther (20)
  • "G5 is playable, doesn't balloon and lets you hit any shot you're capable of."—Anthony Spikes (1)
  • "Some hybrids are too light, but this one feels like a good, solid iron; the ball exploded off the face."—Dave Lucarelli (15)
  • "The generous sweet spot accommodates a variety of swing paths."—Robert Record (16)
  • Cons
  • "The G5 has a heavy draw tendency. Too much for my liking."—Barry Fasenmyer (6)
  • Tour Edge Bazooka JMAX Tour Iron-Wood
    $79, steel; $119, graphite;

    WE TESTED 3 (22°), 4 (24.5°) with Nippon GH 950 steel shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "A hollow hyper-steel club head, slim shape, minimal offset and heavy sole (48 percent of the total head weight) deliver less spin and a higher trajectory for distance and accuracy."

  • "The iron-like appearance provides confidence from the get-go."—Dave Lucarelli (handicap 15)
  • "These hybrids respond to hook and cut swings."—Jon Kotraba (10)
  • "I nailed these at the flag with regularity."—Jon Tate (4)
  • "They send you a lot of feedback every time."—Gary Wilson (13)
  • "Thin shots come hot off the face and roll up just short of flushed strikes."—Doug Lair (10)
  • Cons
  • "It looks like someone glued a weight to the back of an iron."—Charles Neivert (2)
  • "Mis-hits feel clanky, like old-school blades."—Jeremy Ross (7)
  • "I thought I'd smoked a few that didn't get the carry I expected."—Michael Kaye (14)
  • Yonex Cyberstar Utility
    $250, graphite;

    WE TESTED U5 (18°), U7 (21°), U9 (24°) with ULTitanium graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "A 'hot' maraging steel face promotes a high and penetrating ball flight for greater distance and more accuracy. The tungsten sole weight provides additional head stability on mis-hits."

  • "These resemble the small-headed fairway woods of 10 years ago."—Michael Kaye (handicap 14)
  • "The ball is noticeable at impact and shots jump off the face."—Dave Lucarelli (15)
  • "The high ball flight and soft landing help approaches to small greens."—Anthony Spikes (1)
  • "Impact feels like one clean pop with no aftershocks."—Rich Sullivan (12)
  • "Steady, with a repeatable ball flight."—Victor DeMarco (12)
  • "These do an admirable job chopping out of rough rather than chipping back into play."—Ken Stauffer (14)
  • "No versatility, these have one gear: sky high."—Jeremy Ross (7)
  • Cons
  • "Nothing performancewise to get you excited."—Rich Bernstein (15)
  • "They require a sweeping swing."—Jim Esther (20)
  • Bridgestone J33 Utility
    $249, graphite;

    WE TESTED 2 (18°) and 3 (21°) with Aldila NV-85 graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "An elastomer insert in the head deadens vibration at impact for more efficient energy transfer."

  • "Its neutrality is refreshing in a sea of drawbiased clubs."—Doug Lair (handicap 10)
  • "The face provides jump and feedback without harshness."—Jon Kotraba (10)
  • "Even mis-hits go a long way."—Michael Kaye (14)
  • "This players' hybrid produces lower-trajectory shots that bore through the sky rather than float helplessly."—Jim Esther (20)
  • "Better from rough than fairway. These cut through like a lawn mower and even chip well on the short stuff."—C.J. Bush (19)
  • Cons
  • "Some workability but don't count on it unless you're a superb ball striker."—Jeremy Ross (7)
  • Ben Hogan CFT Ti
    $175, steel; $199 graphite;

    WE TESTED: Oh(14)°, 1h(17°), 2h(19°), 3h(21°), 4h(24°), 5h(27°) with Aldila NVS-h graphite shaft

    THE COMPANY LINE "A lower, deeper center of gravity [than previous CFT] produces enhanced playability, higher flight and more forgiveness."

  • "Click! I knew when I caught one."—Rick Sullivan (handicap 12)
  • "No sting on misses.""—Doug Liar (10)
  • "The CFT Ti is one of the best-feeling clubs to date."—Ken Stauffer (14)
  • "A two-tone topline makes it easy to aim. Just set to the target and shoot."—Jeremy Ross (7)
  • "The compact, weighty head remains stable through impact."—Rich Bernstein (15)
  • "Deadly accurate with Oh and 1h clubs-shots hold their line"—John Kotraba (10)
  • "They cover up mis-hits without robbing creativity or sacraficing distance."—Robert Record (16)
  • "Mis-hits seem to go 10 yards longer than my irons."—Dave Lucarelli (15)
  • Cons
  • "Better options exist for low-handicappers. But 8-handicappers and up should use it to get out of deep rough, carry water or hit narrow landings."—Anthony Spikes (1)
  • Shopping tips

    ClubTesters have a unique perspective on what's out there. These are just a few of the things they consider when deciding which clubs to put in their bags.

    Kirk Fischer (handicap 7): "The driving range is OK for narrowing the field, but the course is where you discover your next club. Range testing can be hazardous because it's easy to adapt your swing to the club when hitting rapid-fire style, therefore generating a lot of falsepositive information. Your real swing appears on the course and bad matches become apparent."

    Jim Hurley (9): "Get a proper fitting before purchasing clubs. There are too many options available to be lucky enough to get the right set off the rack."

    Doug Lair (10): "With drivers, the head is every bit as important as the shaft. Check the lie angle, draw bias and face angle to narrow your choices."

    Eric English (12): "The graphiteshafted irons we tested felt great. They're a real option if you can get over your ego."

    Rich Bernstein (15): "Lesser-known companies make fine stuff, too. It's a mistake to focus all your energies on the clubs put out by industry leaders."

    Rich Sullivan (12): "Buy your driver from a shop that lets you take it on the course. You need to hit it with trees on each side, orwater down the right, or a bunker at the turn in the dogleg. You'll get a real sense for how far it goes and whether or not you can keep it in play."

    Gary Wilson (13): "I've used forgings for years and was skeptical of cast clubs. But feel and feedback of modern cavity-backs is superior to old castings."

    Lynn Altadonna (15): "On the course, most every shot has an imperfect lie and the shot has a competitive edge—the outcome matters. Not so on the range. At ClubTest, I changed my mind about a set of clubs after an afternoon on the course."

    Jim Esther (20): "Hybrids are so helpful as long-iron replacements. I find them more reliable than fairway woods, too."

    Michael Kaye (14): "Re-grip your clubs more often. There was such a big contrast between test clubs with new grips and my clubs with their worn grips."

    How They Stacked Up
    Club Tour Edge
    Bazooka JMax Tour Iron-Wood
    Cyberstar Utility
    3DX Iron-Wood DC
    Idea a2
    J33 Utility
    Ben Hogan
    CFT Ti
    Look 3 stars 3 stars 2 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars
    Feel 2 stars 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars
    Playability 3 stars 2 stars 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars
    Forgiveness 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars
    Distance 2 stars 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars 5 stars
    Total Performance 2.5 stars 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 3.5 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4.5 stars

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