These are heady days for clubs with weight issues. TaylorMade's paradigm-shifting r7 Quad driver started a mass-adjustment in thinking in 2004. This year, we've already seen putters with moveable weights. This month, Adams, Ben Hogan and Orlimar debut woods that offer variations on the theme of weighting schemes to help dial in specific shot shapes.
This page highlights another new development: high-lofted drivers. Changes in golf technology and a greater understanding of optimal launch conditions have seen Tour pros switching from 7.5Ã‚Âº-8.5Ã‚Âº drivers to 9.5Ã‚Âº-10.5Ã‚Âº for maximum distance. Have you upped yours? The four models--drive-size heads with 14Ã‚Âº-16Ã‚Âº lofts--target slower swingers who struggle to get sufficient lift and spin. Does the concept work? We assembled a test panel to find out.
Adams Redline RPM 430Q Titanium
You know what they say about imitation and flattery... Adams' latest driver has four adjustable weights--two 10-gram screws--that can be configured six different ways. If all that sounds a lot like TaylorMade's r7 Quad, it looks like it, too. The Redline RPM is bigger than the r7 (430cc vs. 400cc) and features a lightweight composite crown instead of titanium, which permits all that weight redistribution and higher launch that comes with it. $450 (graphite); 800-622-0609 or adamsgolf.com
Adjustable weighting has poked its head into fairway woods. Following a two-year hiatus, Orlimar is back on the scene with new ownership and new ideas. The VT-830 (for "variable trajectory" and .83 COR) features a 35-gram removablealuminum-tungsten weight cartridge in the back. Use the HL cartridge for high launch and the LL one for low launch. For maximum distance, the clubface is made from a strong, light-weight stainless steel called alpha 300. $240 (graphite); 888-502-4653 or orlimar.com
Callaway Big Bertha Titanium 454 High Trajectory
This 454cc monster has 15Ã‚Âº loft with a 4-degree closed face. Callaway recommends it for 80 mph and slower swingers. $375 (graphite); 800-588-9836 or callawaygolf.com
La Jolla Club 450cc Titanium High Launch
Sporting the second largest head among this foursome at 450cc, the 14Ã‚Âº High Launch combines a forged titanium SP700J face for plenty of pop and internal draw bias. $299; 800-468-7700 or lajollaclub.com
Tour Edge Houdini
A minimally offset 16Ã‚Âº, 420cc head attaches to a shorter-than-standard (44 inches) shaft to enhance control. $199; 800-515-3343 or touredge.com
Ping G2 EZ
The not-maxed-out 400cc head on the 15.5Ã‚Âº G2 EZ helps create a lighter swingweight for faster clubhead speed. $350; 800-474-6434 or pinggolf.com
|Ben Hogan CS3|
|benhogan.comHogan comes at the weighting game from a different angle: Build the shot shape in before you sell it. Choose from three models--Draw Bias (at left), Fade Bias and Neutral Bias. Each has three fixed weights (one 18-gram tungsten, two 2.5-gram aluminum) around the perimeter. The tungsten is heel-side on Draw Bias, toe-side on Fade Bias and centered on Neutral Bias. $399 (graphite); 866-834-6532 or|
Top 100 Teachers say...
"Almost every amateur would improve by using one of them"
--Rick Gyason, Springfield, MO
"These'll help players who don't launch it high enough and those who need a straighter ball flight with less sidespin."
--Jim Hardy, Houston, TX
"Anyone who now prefers a 3-wood off the tee will benefit."
--Jane Frost, Sandwich, MA
|Hope for driver-phobes|
|We asked Golf Labs, an independent testing facility, to see if the high-lofted driver concept flies. They used eight average golfers--five of whom tee off regularly using a 3-wood; the others swat a driver. Each swings 80 to 85 mph. |
Half the group first hit the test club--Ping's G2 EZ--then his own. Others tested in reverse order. We cross-reference player comments on the high-lofted driver with data from a launch monitor.
|Pros: Tighter dispersion due to the larger head; higher trajectory because of increased spin rate; faster clubhead speed.|
|Cons: Shorter overall distance--players who swing a 3-wood at 85 mph generate too much backspin with test club, which reduces roll.|
|Summary: Two of eight testers say they'll jump to a high-lofted driver. Others found the test shaft too soft. Our data suggests those who swing 80 mph or less could greatly benefit from higher lofts.|