Tommy Armour 845 Stripe irons
SPECS: Unlike its predecessors, the evo v-25 and evo v-31, Armour's 845 Stripe has a cavity throughout the set, progressive offset, a shorter hosel, longer blade length, and wider sole. Comes standard with True Temper Tour Step Platinum steel and proprietary UST graphite shafts.
WHO IT'S FOR: All handicap levels.
WHY BUY: Armour called on well-known club designer Ralph Maltby for its latest design, a forgiving cast club with a clean, traditional look at address. By shortening the hosel and moving a few grams of weight to the sole, he lowered the center of gravity, which helps get the ball airborne. The wider, cambered sole reduces turf drag. The longer blade and weight pads in the heel and toe should help shot consistency by stabilizing the head on slight off-center contact.
PRICE: Set of eight: $499 (steel), $649 (graphite).
INFO: 800-723-4653 or www.tommyarmourgolf.com
Titleist Improved Pro V1 and Pro V1* balls
SPECS: The original Pro V1 was the game's top-selling ball last year. The Improved Pro V1 has a large, solid rubber core, ionomer casing, and urethane elastomer cover. The four-piece Pro V1* has the same casing and cover plus a dual core — a lively outer and a soft inner layer.
WHO IT'S FOR: Improved Pro V1: 0- to 30-handicappers. Pro V1*: Skilled players with very high swing speeds and high launch conditions.
WHY BUY: Compared with the original, the Improved Pro V1 has a flatter trajectory (due to a new dimple pattern) and lower spin rate off all clubs except the wedges, which remain the same. It's meant to fly longer, with less sidespin. The Pro V1* delivers even less spin, a more boring flight, and slightly harder feel than the Improved Pro V1, making it a fine option for those who generate lots of spin on their own.
PRICE: $54 per dozen.
INFO: 888-TITLEIST or www.titleist.com
Merit Tour Trajectory driver
SPECS: Titanium heads in 8.5 degree loft (345 cc), 9.5 degree (335 cc), and 10.5 degree (315 cc). Standard shaft options include the Aldila HM40 (95 grams), Grafalloy ProLite (64 grams), True Temper EI-70 (81 grams), and UST ProForce 55, 65, and 75.
WHO IT'S FOR: 0- to 15-handicappers.
WHY BUY: Two design elements combine to produce a strong, penetrating trajectory with plenty of roll. The "perimeter ring" stability bar raises the head's center of gravity to lower ball flight; the ring also repositions weight around the head so it's forgiving on off-center hits. These attributes are enhanced by vertical scoring lines. The company claims that balls spin 15 percent less with these grooves than with standard grooves.
PRICE: $400 (graphite).
INFO: 800-828-1445 or www.meritgolf.com.