You Da Bam!

Wednesday February 21st, 2007

If your grandma routinely blows it by you off the tee, it means one of three things: you need a new driver, you need to get to the gym or grandma's real name isn't Ethel — it's Bob. Judging by your unbelieveable abs, we'll just assume the first one. Fortunately, there are plenty of new bashers available. Your going down, Ethel!

TaylorMade r7 425
The big question was when — not if — the company would unveil a bigger, badder r7. Here's your answer. The r7 425 (425 cc vs. 400 cc) has more moveable weight (28 grams vs. 24 grams) to straighten out your tee ball. It's also more stable on off-center hits, in part because rear-weight ports are farther apart. TaylorMade teamed with Fujikura to engineer a chic graphite shaft. This RE-AX shaft has precisely aligned material in its mid-section to maintain roundness. (Typical shafts tend to go out of round as they bend during the swing.) The payoff is that the tip area flexes more, which leads to optimal ball flight, greater carry and control.

$500; 800-888-CLUB,

Cleveland Launcher Ti460
This incarnation of the successful Launcher resembles the original 460 — the same basic shape and plasma-weld, beta titanium face — yet it works better. The company thinned the crown (sounds simple, but it isn't) and moved 15% of the club's weight to the club's perimeter. What you get is a lower center of gravity, a higher launch angle and more monsterous drives. The Ti460 also produces less backspin than its predecessor for a lslightly lower, more penetrating flight and additional carry. For you banana-ballers, the Ti460 comes in an offset model that helps to square the face.

$390; 800-999-6263,

Srixon W-506
Srixon takes the concept of driver faces becoming deformed at impact to a whole new level. The clubface, sole and back wall of the W-506 have varying thicknesses, which causes the entire head to deform at impact. Thus, the ball stays on the clubface longer, which reduces overall spin. The results is longer and straighter drives. High-handicappers should adapt well to this 450 cc big dog. As lofts increase, from 8.5˚ to 11.5˚, the center of gravity moves toward the heel The upside: Higher lofts are easier to square at impact.

$399; 800-477-04966,

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