Strata balls, TaylorMade putter and Nickent driver

Monday February 19th, 2007

Strata Tour Straight Ball

SPECS: Multi-layered ball with a soft core, soft ionomer inner layer, and firm ionomer cover. Teflon(R)-infused coating is applied to the cover.

Photographer: Bob Grier
Bob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: All handicap levels

WHY BUY: The slick Teflon® coating -- also applied to the Top-Flite XL 3000 Super Straight ball -- reduces friction between ball and clubface, which decreases spin so errant shots won't curve quite as far off line. The softness of the core (37 compression) and mantle should deliver a soft feel on full swings. Stamped on the side is a green arrow, which can be used as an alignment aid.

PRICE: $39.95 (dozen)

INFO: 800-SPALDING or www.stratagolf.com

TaylorMade Rossa putters

SPECS: Eight Tour styles are forged and milled from carbon steel; 12 Sport models are cast and milled from stainless steel. All have a 15-gram insert, consisting of a "titallium" face (a blend of seven lightweight metals), backed by a one-millimeter-thick steel membrane and a smaller titallium piece in the back cavity.

Photographer: Bob Grier
Bob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: All handicap levels.

WHY BUY: The red titallium insert ("rossa" means red in Italian) weighs about the same as a plastic insert, which is lighter than steel. Yet it feels harder than plastic and softer than steel. The light insert allows extra weight to be moved around the head to create a lower, deeper center of gravity. The company claims this sends balls off the face on a high launch angle with low spin (just like in woods), producing a smooth roll. The repositioned weight also improves the moment of inertia, meaning the head twists less on off-center hits, helping direction and distance control.

PRICE: Tour: $239, Sport: $139

INFO: 800-888-CLUB or www.rossaputters.com

Nickent Genex 425 driver

SPECS: The forged titanium head (428 cc) is made of four different grades of titanium. The UST high-modulus SpeedRated 55 graphite shaft weighs 55 grams, with 2.5 degrees of torque.

Photographer: Bob Grier
Bob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: All handicap levels.

WHY BUY: We're told the Genex 425 has a "high COR" (Coefficient of Restitution) between .857 and .86. Company brass tout the thin face -- 3 mm thick in the middle of the face, ringed by a thinner 1.8 mm area -- which they say helps to maximize rebound speed over a larger area of the face than earlier "high COR" (.83 to .86) drivers. The result is longer shots on both center and off-center hits. The softer- flex UST shafts have a soft tip section so slower swingers can carry it higher and longer; the stiffer flexes are "tip stiff" for a lower, boring flight. Winn's V11 Dry all-weather grip feels pleasantly firm, and has plenty of shock absorption and tackiness.

PRICE: $349 (graphite shaft)

INFO: 888-NICKENT or www.nickentgolf.com

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