ClubTest 2007: Hybrids

1 of 10 Greg Lord
ClubTest 2007: Hybrids GOLF Magazine asked 40 golfers just like you to hit the newest hybrids on the market. Here's what our ClubTesters had to say. Callaway X $139, steel; $159, graphite; callawaygolf.com • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other GOLF.com readers said about this club. We tested: 2h (18°), 3h (21°), 4h (24°), 5h (27°) in Callaway X graphite shaft Company line: "A modified X-sole design provides improved turf interaction. The club has increased perimeter weighting with optimized center of gravity location. Designed to launch the ball higher, with more spin, than Callaway's Heavenwood." Our Test Panel says: Does everything you'd expect of a hybrid and looks good doing it; club glides along the turf, not through it; good pop in the clubface; provides adequate feedback without harshness to hands; more straight than supremely workable; light, stable head allows more head speed with little effort. Slices through the rough like a butcher's knife.—Bud Adler, 15 Handicap
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HOW THE CLUBS STACK UP Attack flags! WHAT WE DID Five testers — handicaps: 5, 14, 15, 19, 20 — hit balls with each one of the eight test models. Hooked up to a launch monitor, the testers hit clubs in varying order. Well-struck shots were recorded, and we averaged the testers' totals. The charts at left show how the clubs stack up. WHAT WE LEARNED • Trajectory: The Bridgestone GC (19°) and Nicklaus Dual Point (21°) launch highest and spin the most, which lead to the highest overall ball flight. The Sonartec and Callaway have the lowest ball flight. • Distance: The Cobra Baffler DWS (18°) produces the longest carry. The difference between the longest and shortest models is 9 1/2 yards.
3 of 10 Greg Lord
Cobra Baffler DWS $ 129, steel; $149, graphite; cobragolf.com • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other GOLF.com readers said about this club. Video: ClubTesters talk about Cobra Baffler hybrid. We tested: 16°, 18°, 20°, 23°, 26°, 29° in Aldila NV-HL graphite shaft Company line: "A larger, hotter face area with maraging steel insert generates a hotter '9 points' for greater face flex and longer, straighter shots. The DWS (Dual Weighting System) lowers CG and increases MOI for more forgiveness and power." Our Test Panel says: In a word: excellent; ball flies farther than with others tested; light rough no obstacle; great length without pressing; reliable and consistent from tee to green; attractive look, balanced feel, impact is soft, smooth. A '10' — a powerful, forgiving and confidence-inspiring look.—Kevin DiNapoli, 17 Handicap
4 of 10 Greg Lord
TaylorMade r7 Draw $129, steel; $149, graphite; taylormadegolf.com • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other GOLF.com readers said about this club. We tested: 3 (19°), 4 (22°), 5 (25°) in Fujikura ReAx graphite shaft Company line: "Draw-weighted technology promotes straight shots for slicers. The low-profile design allows golfers to launch the ball high and long. A 55-gram, soft-tip shaft promotes a high ball flight." Our Test Panel says: High draw is the norm; great for countering a slice; fairly forgiving; shorter than other hybrids, but blows standard irons out of the water; not a club for windy conditions; unimpressive from rough. Heel-side weighting definitely reduces the tendency to slice.—Courtland Whited, 19 Handicap
5 of 10 Greg Lord
Sonartec HB-001 $169, graphite; sonartec.com • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other GOLF.com readers said about this club. We tested: 19° in UST iRod HB-80 graphite shaft Company line: "The first hybrid to incorporate proven rail technology for effortless playability from any lie. It delivers optimal high launch and low spin for consistent ball flight. A neutral face angle promotes a square clubface at address." Our Test Panel says: Lower flight and compact head is a low-handicapper's dream; slightly deeper face allows punch shots; feeling of power and stability at impact; average carry but rolls forever; superb feel on chips — heavy, dense and substantial; bad swings are punished. Love the ability to work this club. It's limited only by your imagination.—Mark Haberstroh, 5 Handicap
6 of 10 Greg Lord
Cleveland HiBore $159, steel; $179, graphite; clevelandgolf.com • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other GOLF.com readers said about this club. We tested: 1i (16°), 2i (19°), 3i (22°), 4i (25°), 5i (28°) in HiBore Hybrid Silver graphite shaft Company line: "Our inverted crown design moves weight lower and deeper to help get the ball airborne. A square leading edge creates a larger face area, for greater playability in various turfconditions." Our Test Panel says: A great club, easy to hit consistently; the ball goes forever; head rips through rough; you can move it either way; crown design can be a distraction; like most hybrids, hard to tell if you hit it a little long or short. Club is super accurate and gets the ball up quickly from any lie.—C.J. Bush, 17 Handicap
7 of 10 Greg Lord
Ping Rapture $179, steel; $209, graphite; pinggolf.com • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other GOLF.com readers said about this club. We tested: 18°, 21°, 24° in TFC 909H graphite shaft Company line: "A heavy tungsten-nickel soleplate contributes to higherlaunching, lower-spinning shots. Thin, super steel face provides hot, responsive hitting area. A sloped crown increases launch angle and reduces spin." Our Test Panel says: Pretty good sticks; can feel head weight from takeaway through impact; stable going through rough; impact feel is dull and uneventful; relatively low takeoff leads to good carry; off-center hits can go awry; straight silver line across crown is useful visual aid. Solid, dependable clubs.—Jeff McKinney, 15 Handicap
8 of 10 Greg Lord
Nicklaus Dual Point $79, steel; $99, graphite; nicklausgolf.com • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other GOLF.com readers said about this club. We tested: 3 (21°) in Precision Rifle graphite shaft Company line: "The club's CG is aligned with the optimal face flex point for maximum trampoline effect. A multilayered face — thinner around perimeter and thicker in the center — expands the head's high-trampoline zone." Our Test Panel says: Not the best, but useful; very good length off a short tee; decent stability leads to average forgiveness; takes off high; common miss is a hard left shot; adequate from fairway and rough; looks just like all the rest; relatively soft feel. In a crowded field, this club fails to distinguish itself.—Peter Kraus, 20 Handicap
9 of 10 Greg Lord
Bridgestone Gravity Chamber $149, graphite; bridgestonegolf.com • Go to Equipment Finder profile to tell us what you think and see what other GOLF.com readers said about this club. We tested: 1h (16°), 2h (19°), 3h (22°), 4h (25°), 5h (28°) in GC hybrid by Aldila graphite shaft Company line: "Gravity pads (weight pads) in the sole reposition the CG to produce high launch and greater carry. Radius sole reduces ground interference for crisp contact. Contrast crown design aids in alignment." Our Test Panel says: It's perfectly capable, but nothing special; club gets through rough OK; much easier to hit draws than fades; shots fly quite high; good off the tee, especially 1-hybrid; center contact creates a crisp crack, misses are muted; generic looking. Head feels stable, no twisting. The sole seems to balance itself at impact.—Jeremy Ross, 4 Handicap
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WHAT THEY BOUGHT Testers tried all the latest and greatest sticks, so no one can make a more informed purchase than they can. Here are the clubs that they bought with their own hard-earned cash. Callaway X Peter Kraus (handicap 20)Cleveland HiBore Jeff McKinney (15) Sonartec HB-001 Jeremy Ross (4) Mark Haberstroh (5) TaylorMade r7 Draw George Irwin (15) Courtland Whited (19)