ClubTest: Drivers


GOLF Magazine ClubTesters spent a full day with each of the four drivers you will read about in this test.

They pounded balls on the range in the morning at Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, using clubs with the appropriate flex and loft for their swing speed and ability. Our testers then wrapped up their evaluations on the course.

Mizuno MX-500
$420 (graphite)

8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5° and 11.5° with Exsar 50 graphite shaft

“Innovative graphite toe insert and crown create ideal weight distribution and a low, deep center of gravity.”

This heavyweight scored impressive marks across the board, but was a knockout for distance and accuracy. “When I caught the ball under the ‘M’ alignment aid, this driver outdid mine by 20 yards,” said Marshall Schattner (handicap 9). “It defies science.” Added Randy Rochefort (2), “Once again, Mizuno has a long bomber — and now it’s even easier to hit straight.” Even on wayward strikes. “With off-center shots you still look like you know what you’re doing,” said Tom Jennings (12). Yet some testers, like Jon Kotraba (10), weren’t so enthralled. “I had trouble getting around on it,” he said. “They started right and stayed right.” As for its packaging? “Big, black and beautiful,” said Paul Brecht (18). “If you can’ t hit it with the MX-500, take up tennis.”

Additional comments

• “Feedback was precise and informative.”—Charles Neivert (2)

• “A handsome devil that is really easy to hit straight.”—Don Wilson (15)

Nicklaus AirMax DPT 460
$349 (grpahite)

9°, 10.5° and 12° with Fujikura SG Pro 2.01 graphite shaft

“Dual Point Technology (DPT) aligns the club’s center of gravity with its optimal face flex point for maximum trampoline effect.”

Most liked the club’s ability to forgive and its playability. But its high trajectory left many pining for more distance. “I liked how pure it felt and how explosively the ball left the face,” said Mike Nastasi (handicap 7), “but the ball consistently fell well short of my own driver.” Jeff McKinney (15) said, “Don’t buy this club for the distance. Buy it because your second shot will be from the short grass.” Jeremy Ross (7) agreed, “Not super-long but plenty straight.” Don Ytterberg (15) added, “The 12-degree is so forgiving it’s like hitting a short iron.” Several testers found the club’s feel to their liking. “It was persimmon-like in its softness,” said Barry Fasenmyer (6).

Additional comments

• “Notify the air-traffic controller. This club puts the ball high in the sky.”—Dave Asaki (8)

• “I knocked one 200-plus yards — off the deck!” — Paul Brecht (18)

Yonex Cuberstar CT 460
$450 (graphite)

9° and 10.5° with HM graphite shaft

“High-tensile carbon graphite crown fused to a titanium body allows for more mass lower and deeper, launching the ball faster, higher and with a reduced spin rate.”

The club’s feathery weight created the most buzz — both positive and negative. “The light weight allowed me to steer the ball wherever I needed to,” said Jon Kotraba (handicap 10). “The easiest of the four to draw,” concurred Don Wilson (15). Charles Neivert (2) countered, “It was so light that sometimes I lost the feel of the head during my downswing.” Dave Asaki (8) described the sound as “like flicking an empty beer can.” The Cyberstar’s length garnered more positive reviews. Randy Rochefort (2) said, “Pure hits come off like rockets, and misses give more than you probably deserve,” while Tom Jennings (12) said, “Average distance—but above-average accuracy made it play longer.”

Additional comments

• “Noticeable twisting at impact on off-center shots.”—Jeremy Ross (7)
• “It has no aiming device. Even so, it’s easy to set up and square.”—Jeff McKinney (15)

TaylorMade r7 460
$500 (graphite)

9.5° with Fujikura RE-AX 60 graphite shaft

“The third addition to the r7 family is the largest and most forgiving. The clubhead walls are 25 percent thinner than the original, allowing for the same Moveable Weight Technology in a 460 cc head.”

Yeah baby!!! The combination of length and playability — yes, those moveable weights really do work — floored ’em. “I hit five balls 275 yards to within 15 feet of each other,” said Barry Fasenmyer (handicap 6). “It might as well have had a rifle scope mounted on the shaft.” Don Ytterberg (15) enjoyed similar results. “I carried it over two lakes that I would have ‘played safe’ with my own driver,” Ytterberg said. “For me, that’s playability.” After toying with the weights, Mike Nastasi (7) felt like a Tour pro. “Draws or fades can be ordered like an on-demand movie,” Nastasi said. Paul Brecht (18) agreed, but also warned: “The moveable weights could be a source of mind games for some.” The feel was described by many as soft and consistent. “A nice thump,” said Charles Neivert (2). The large head earned points for both its stability and style. “It appears as if it’s fully loaded,” said Marshall Schattner (9), while Randy Rochefort (2) noted that the “groove pattern on the face framed the ball nicely at address.” Said Eric English (12), “It’s almost like, ‘How can you miss?'”

Additional comments

• “Feels like a hammer driving a nail through impact.”—Jeremy Ross (7)
• “Noticeably longer than my dual r5. I felt empowered.”—Jon Kotraba (10)

• “Despite the weights, you need a consistent swing for results. This is not a magic bullet.”—Don Wilson (15)

How they stack up: Testers voted on their faves using a 100-point scale. Our star system rewards the top picks

Club Nicklaus
AirMAx DPT 460
Cyberstar CT 460
r7 460
Look 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars
Feel 3 stars 3 stars 3 stars 5 stars
Playability 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars
Forgiveness 3 stars 3 stars 5 stars 5 stars
Distance 3 stars 4 stars 4 stars 5 stars
Total Performance 3 stars 3 stars 4 stars 4.5 stars

*Ratings 5 Stars
4 Stars
Very Good
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star