By Rob Sauerhaft
Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ping Specify putters

SPECS: Mix and match from four hosel styles (Anser, flare tip, flat top, and face-balanced long neck), three body shapes (Anser, Ally, Zing), and three head weights (310, 335, and 360 grams). In all cases, the clubface and hosel are cast from one piece of 17-4 stainless steel; the body is urethane.

 

Photographer: Bob GrierBob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: All handicap levels.

WHY BUY: As the name indicates, you can "specify" (design) the putter that looks and feels best to you from 36 hosel, body, and head weight permutations. We tried a few and had three observations: The contrast between the silver topline and black body helps alignment; the adhesive between the face and body seems to soften impact; head weight has a profound effect on feel. To our knowledge, this is the only putter series on the market to offer a choice of three head weights as a standard option. While cosmetics and feel are important, also consider your stroke: Ping suggests a heel-shafted hosel for open-to-closed strokes, and a face-balanced hosel for square-to-square strokes. To "build" your putter, go online at www.pinggolf.com/specify or see an authorized Ping retailer.

PRICE: $175 (steel shaft only)

INFO: 800-4-PING-FIT or www.pinggolf.com

Nicklaus AirMax 360 driver

SPECS: Forged titanium 360 cc head in four options: 8°, 9°, 10.5°, and 10.5° with offset. Available with Crankshaft steel shaft (44 inches) and Fujikura SG Pro graphite shaft (45 inches).

 

Photographer: Bob Grier{C}Bob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: All handicap levels.

WHY BUY: The club performs well; it holds its own against more expensive, better-known clubs. The secret is a beta-titanium head cryogenically treated (frozen) in nitrogen (at -300° F). Company claims this significantly hardens the metal, producing an ultra-thin yet strong face for "maximum allowable spring-like effect." It also allows designers to move the center of gravity low and away from the face, for reduced sidespin and improved forgiveness. The Crankshaft shaft doesn't feel as harsh as most steel, due to a shock-absorbing insert.

PRICE: $225 (steel shaft); $320 (graphite)

INFO: 800-322-1872 or www.nicklaus-golf.com

Callaway Warbird ball

SPECS: Two-piece ball constructed of a rubber/tungsten core encased by a firm ionomer cover. 110 compression, which is harder than most new balls on the market.

 

Photographer: Bob Grier{C}Bob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: Anyone seeking maximum distance from a value-priced ball, Callaway's least expensive.

WHY BUY: For distance. With its high-compression core -- the highest in Callaway's line -- and firm cover, expect increased ball speed and decreased backspin for greater distance with the longer clubs. Not for shotmakers.

PRICE: $22.00 (dozen)

INFO: 800-228-2767 or www.callawaygolf.com

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