GOLF Magazine ClubTest reviews game-improvement drivers for golfers.

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ClubTest 2008: Drivers — Game-Improvement GOLF Magazine asked golfers will handicaps between 10 and 20 to try some of the newest game-improvement drivers on the market. Here's how they rated the 10 best. Adams Insight XTD a3 $299, graphite adamsgolf.com We tested: 9.5° and 10.5° in Aldila DVS 55 graphite shaft. Shaft length: 46" Company line: "We've expanded the impact zone of the face, for maximized ball speed on center and off-center hits, while 'Boxer technology' pushes mass away from the face and into the corners for higher MOI." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Its longest shots are arguably the longest in the field; looks round but square...square but round; provides stability you can sense at impact; many prefer the medium ball flight; head is just heavy enough to feel throughout the swing; square look is not as radical as in years past— high-tech without being bizarre; interesting, pleasing sensation at impact. CONS: Susceptible to pushes and fades, likely due to the longer shaft; misses stray well to the right; too often, testers don't get through the shot. "This head design promotes stability." — Rich Bernstein (12) • Rate and review this club in the GOLF.com Equipment Finder
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Wilson Spine $299, graphite wilsongolf.com We tested: 9°, 10.5° and 12° in UST Proforce V2 HMOI graphite shaft. Shaft length: 46" Company line: "The club has a high MOI and a low CG, by redistributing weight from the center of the crown to the perimeter. A unique 'spine,' or ridge line, reinforces the face behind the impact area, for hotter ball speeds." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Sets up square, ridges on the crown allow easy alignment; straight hitter once you get the hang of it; fans of square heads will like this innovative take; light despite its size; enough forgiveness; very respectable length; not as draw-biased as many other game-improvement clubs; lowest spin rate in test. CONS: Takes a while to get dialed in, too many shots stay out right; some find too many swoops, curves and dips; impact sounds too hollow; feels too muted and dead; a real lack of playability. "I hit drive after drive directly at my target." — Michael Kaye (11) Rate and review this club in the GOLF.com Equipment Finder
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Tour Edge Bazooka GeoMax $199, graphite touredgegolf.com We tested: 9°, 10.5°, 12°, 14°, 16° in Grafalloy GeoMax graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "It features to-the-limit dimensions, for extreme forgiveness even on off-center hits, through a revolutionary geometric design. A 20-gram tungsten sole weight places the CG lower and deeper for a higher launch and unprecedented control." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: This baby keeps it in play, close to the centerline; easy to swing but hits hard; highest spin rate and overall ball flight in the test, you'll have no trouble sending tee shots high in the air; just enough feedback to let you know when you miss it; midnight blue metallic finish is a hit with testers. CONS: High trajectory can cause slight distance lapse due to limited roll; clubhead is too light to feel all the way through the swing; even the stiff-flex shaft can be a little soft. "Covers up mis-hits. This driver has a very good sense of direction." — Mark Waldheim (12) Rate and Review this club
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Ping G10 $299, graphite pinggolf.com We tested: 9°, 10.5°, 12° in TFC 129D and UST Proforce V2 High Launch graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45.75" Company line: "Optimizing the sole, crown and face structure interaction ensures maximum energy transfer to the ball. A larger profile with taller face and deeper crown produces greater forgiveness and increased ball velocity." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Outperforms all others in each category; longest in the test with a medium launch that keeps going; tightest shot dispersion; as consistent a ball flight as you will find; extra-forgiving, even on heel shots; somewhat workable despite great forgiveness; energetic feedback with no sense of twisting or turning; light, but noticeable during the swing; large sweet spot and impressive spring effect. CONS: Burnt orange on shaft and sole has detractors; might be too much club for slower swingers; half-moon alignment aid could be a distraction. "It's simply an outstanding performer." — Lynn Altadonna (13) Rate and Review this club
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Nike SQ Sumo 5000 $299, graphite nikegolf.com We tested: 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°, 11.5° and 13° in Mitsubishi Diamana Yellow Board graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45.75" Company line: "A strategically placed center of gravity gives you the freedom to work the ball. Its hot cryo-steel face provides a large, responsive sweet spot. SQ Sumo has a high-MOI for greater forgiveness on off-center hits." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: The club has very respectable playability for a game-improvement driver; one of the lower ball flights, and second-lowest spin rate, in the test; accurate and forgiving, a good option to keep it away from the right rough; large face and sweet spot encourage repeatable distance and trajectory; good players will be able to find even the narrowest of fairways. CONS: Testers not crazy for the look; lack of feel makes it difficult to judge the quality of shots at impact; loud ringing on contact. "While capable of going deep, its main focus is keeping you in play." — Mark Barrette (15) Rate and Review this club
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Nickent 3DX Tour Square $249, graphite nickentgolf.com We tested: 9°, 10.5° and 12° in UST Proforce V2 graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45.5" Company line: "The clubhead is forged Titanium, giving it a hotter, more solid feel at impact. It has a penetrating ball flight, a neutral setup and a black ion plated finish." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: By far, the lowest ball trajectory of the bunch; very good alignment, head naturally sets up square to the ball; produces worthwhile accuracy; respectable distance; ball jumps nicely off face; head design seems to prevent overcooked hooks; adequate stability at contact. CONS: Good numbers on the launch monitor don't pan out to equally good results on-course; loud, awkward impact sound; off-center contact can cause noticeable distance loss; nothing performance-wise stands out. "I'm a fan of its low spin rate, accuracy and good length." — Don Ytterberg (11) Rate and Review this club
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Cobra Speed LD $299, graphite cobragolf.com We tested: LD/F 9.5° and 10.5°, LD/M 10.5° and LD/M Offset 10.5° in Graphite Design Tour AD YS graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "Increasing the crown slope and deepening the dimples moves the CG lower and deeper. The result is increased MOI and high launch for greater distance. The milled dual rhombus face insert maximizes COR." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Not as loud and "pingy" as previous Cobras; sneaky long; accurate and forgiving; head is easily identified at the top of the backswing; easy to hit draws; good distance forgiveness all over the face; draw-bias keeps mis-hits in the fairway without encouraging hooks; second-highest trajectory in test. CONS: Impact can feel hard and not descriptive; too much going on in the crown design; lack of sound, too muted at contact. "Quite forgiving— no radical movement in any direction, even if I slash at the ball." — Alan Dante (12) Rate and Review this club
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Cleveland HiBore XLS $299, graphite clevelandgolf.com We tested: 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5° in Fujikura Fit-On M Red; 9.5°, 10.5° and 11.5° in Fujikura Fit-On M Gold graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "Our largest face ever, with an extremely high MOI of 5,300 g/cm2. It has the dual crown alignment feature, distance-driven geometry and full-face performance." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Responsive to a draw or fade swing; balanced feel; total distance is right there with all the rest; clubhead has a cutaway and flared look that creates a natural alignment aid; suitable accuracy on well-hit balls; medium-low ball flight that cuts through wind. CONS: It's good but it plays like many others, not a lot to distinguish it; clubface does not communicate location too well on mis-hits; clubhead can be overwhelming and requires a period of adjustment. "I can feel the big stable head all through the swing." — Don Wilson (12) Rate and Review this club
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Callaway Hyper X $299, graphite callawaygolf.com We tested: 9°, 10° and 11° in Fujikura Fit-On X graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45.5" Company line: "Strategic hyperbolic shaping of the wall face thickness dramatically improves impact efficiency and produces the largest effective hitting area of any all-titanium Callaway driver. This generates higher ball speeds across the entire face." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Significant feedback lets you know when and where you miss it; energetic, exploding feel, great pop, very good stability; medium, penetrating ball flight; reduces sidespin on toe and heel shots; large clubface and clear alignment aid inspire confidence behind the ball; the big, forgiving clubhead allows you to take dead aim down the fairway. CONS: Light head can get lost during the swing, making some testers reluctant to turn it loose; limited workability; noticeable distance loss on thin strikes; can lose shots right. "After a good strike my forearms feel like they've thrown a knockout punch." — Mike Gorski (14) Rate and Review this club.
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Bobby Jones Workshop Edition by Jesse Ortiz $399, graphite bobbyjonesgolf.com We tested: 9° and 10.5° in Aldila VS Proto graphite shaft; 13° OLA in Aldila DVS 55 graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "Our triangular shape increases 'gear effect,' which allows for maximum correction on off-center hits. The milled face, made from Russian beta titanium, offers a distinctive sound and feel. The club is at the USGA maximum dimension of 5" x 5"." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Typical shot is high and straight, with dependable distance; impact quality exceeds expectations; not loud-sounding like many others; rock-steady stable; accurate enough to give you confidence; well-balanced club, easy to swing, clubhead doesn't lag in the downswing. CONS: Widest side-to-side dispersion in test; high, relatively straight flight takes playability out of the picture; voted least attractive due to odd-shaped head. "Launches shots a bit higher than normal, with absolute consistency." — Gary Wilson (13)
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Winner: Driver — Game-Improvement Ping G10 $299, graphite pinggolf.com A new crown pattern creates discretionary weight, which is repositioned inside the head to optimize CG location for higher launch and lower spin. Adoring fans find this to be a dynamo for players of all skill level. You can expect to get consistent trajectory, serious distance (longest in our test) and tight dispersion — traits that make it a winner. It's a bona fide fairway splitter that elicits that 'crushed it' feel. "Impressive forgiveness when I don't catch it just right."— Mark Barrette (15) • ClubTest Home Page • ClubTest Index Page • Drivers: Max Game-Improvement • Drivers: Tour • Fairway Woods