By Rob Sauerhaft
Monday, February 19, 2007

TaylorMade R500 Series drivers

SPECS: The R510 head (330 cc) comes in 7.5°, 8.5°, 9.5°, and 10.5° lofts, with 75-gram graphite shaft; R540 (350 cc) in 7.5°, 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°, and 12°, with 70-gram shaft; R580 (400 cc) in 7.5°, 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5° and 12°, with 60-gram shaft.

 

Photographer: Bob Grier
Bob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: All handicap levels. Try R510 if you like a low, boring trajectory, R540 for a medium ball flight, and R580 for the highest of the three.

WHY BUY: Sure, these USGA-conforming, thin-face titanium drivers can boost distance when you hit it on the screws (the coefficient of restitution -- COR -- is at the legal limit of .83). But the company is even more excited by the length you get when you miss the sweetspot. The face insert has been reshaped; the back is like an inverted cone, key to achieving COR values of at least .80 across a wider area. The urethane-encased weight cartridges make it easier to achieve specific head weights without altering the sound of impact, center of gravity, or COR. (In keeping with the USGA's COR ruling, the company will sell its .86 COR R500 drivers in overseas markets only; see p. 51 for story.)

PRICE: $499 each (graphite shaft)

INFO: 800-888-CLUB or taylormadegolf.com

Ben Hogan Apex Tour ball

SPECS: Four-piece, urethane-covered ball has a soft inner core, harder outer core, firm ionomer inner cover, and thinnest TPU urethane cover on the market. Has a 78 compression.

 

Photographer: Bob Grier
Bob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: Low and mid-handicappers.

WHY BUY: Partly for sentimental reasons, since this is the 30th anniversary of the first Ben Hogan Apex ball. But also because company brass say the soft, lively core delivers fast ball speeds with the long clubs (for added distance), while the soft outer cover serves up plenty of feel and spin (for added control) off short irons.

PRICE: $58 (dozen)

INFO: 800-772-5346 or {C}benhogan.com{C}

Mizuno MP-30 irons

SPECS: This half-cavity model, forged from 1025 soft carbon steel, has computer-milled U-grooves and progressive cavity weighting (larger cavities in the long irons than short).

 

Photographer: Bob Grier{C}
Bob Grier

WHO IT'S FOR: Low and mid-handicappers.

WHY BUY: Mizuno continues to produce irons that look and feel great. This half-cavity design is a cross between the feel-enhancing MP-33 (forged muscleback) and game-improvement MX-20 (forged cavity-back). In other words, it offers the workability of smaller blades with some forgiveness qualities of perimeter-weighted heads.

PRICE: $1,099 (set of eight with steel shaft)

INFO: 800-333-7888 or mizunousa.com

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