What’s new in the new year? Simplicity — on the course and in the pro shop. More manufacturers are changing the way they make fairway woods, producing single models that fit many different swings and playing styles. The goal? To make it easy to select a club off the shelf. This means that better players can expect a little help on tough mornings, while average Joes can buy clubs that will grow with their games. Here are five fairway woods to give you new hope in the coming year.
COBRA KING F6
When Cobra replaced its Fly-Z and Fly-Z+, it took a Goldilocks approach: Everything had to be just right. The 170 cc King F6 sizes up between its predecessors, and a 20-gram sole weight can move forward and back to replicate the performance of both. With the weight in back, the club performs like a smaller Fly-Z, only better; the new setup scrubs roughly 350 rpm of spin while helping to boost MOI by 5 percent. In front, the F6 spins 100 rpm less than the Fly-Z+, with an 8 percent higher MOI. A thinner, 475 stainless steel face makes the F6 longer, too: In company testing, it flew five yards past the Fly-Z (with the weight back), and two yards farther than the Fly-Z+ (with the weight front). Like the Fly-Zs, King F6 features an eight-setting adjustable hosel and Cobra’s SmartPad sole. Available January 15.
With a bigger, broader footprint than the previous model, the JPXEZ is an MOI monster. The key to this game-improvement design is in the “Shock Wave” ridges on the sole, which the EZ borrows from its slightly sterner fraternal twin, the JPX-850. To help the face flex, Mizuno extended the ridges out to the EZ’s heel and toe. That means a higher COR — and more ball speed — across the bottom of the face. It also pushes extra weight to those areas, bolstering MOI to prevent twisting on heel/toe contact. All that makes the EZ, well, easier than ever to use. In company testing, it also launches higher and spins less than the JPX- 850, so it can stand up to faster swings. The 15°, 18° and 21° heads come with a Quick Switch hosel capable of tweaking loft +/- 2°.
Clubmakers rarely use the word “sexy” in a mission statement, but it shouldn‘t surprise those familiar with PXG chief and GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons. (Remember GoDaddy’s titillating Super Bowl ads featuring Danica Patrick?) Named after the Marine Corps code for a mortarman, the 0341 is studded with 11 weight ports, allowing players to position five 2.5-gram tungsten and six half-gram titanium screws any way they see fit to make the ball fly high, low, left or right. The plugs sit flush against the sole in a stainless steel body, keeping the CG — and the spin — down. A super-thin maraging steel face provides the pop, while an adjustable hosel can alter loft +/- 1.5°. This midsize head fits a wide range of players, but it‘s only available direct from the company or through select clubfitters.
TOUR EDGE EXOTICS EX9
Meet the most approachable member of the Exotics line. The EX9 adds a new dimension — and a lower price point — to Tour Edge’s powerhungry stable of fairway woods. The company elongated the club’s profile to pull the CG farther from the face than in last year’s Exotics E8 to bolster forgiveness. The sloped crown leads to better aerodynamics and more speed. A distilled version of the wavy “SlipStream” sole helps the club glide through the ground (especially on heavy contact), and an interchangeable weight in the heel provides draw bias. It all results in a solid choice for mid- to high-handicappers. And fans of previous Exotics models shouldn’t fret: With a Carpenter steel cup face, backed by a flexible “Power Grid” channel, the EX9 keeps the high-horsepower motor of its higher-priced siblings.
WILSON STAFF FG TOUR F5
According to Wilson’s brass, the F5 is for players who prioritize feel and control over sheer distance. That didn’t stop the company from upgrading the engine behind last year’s M3 fairway wood, and extra power means that more players can give the Tour club a try. A new, 455 Carpenter steel face insert boosts ball speed over last year’s model, while the CG moves lower and closer to the face to optimize launch and decrease spin. For tinkerers, the F5 features an adjustable seven-gram sole weight (3- and 11-gram weights are available through custom order), as well as a Fast Fit hosel that can change loft -1° to +2°. In stores January 8.