GOLF Magazine tests drivers designed for better golfers

1 of 8 Schecter Lee
Callaway FT-i Tour Low CG $529, graphite callawaygolf.com We tested: 9.5° in Matrix Ozik X-Con graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "Its complete inertial design places weight in the extreme corners for unparalleled stability. Discretionary weight is repositioned lower in the head to reduce spin and provide a more penetrating ball flight for maximum distance." Voted Best For Accuracy Our Test Panel Says: PROS: The most forgiving club in the group; like its medium ball flight, a big improvement over the previous FT-i; reliable output in distance and direction; stable head helps shots hold their line; you can use the square shape for alignment. CONS: At test time, we had only one loft — another one may have aided some testers' launch conditions; the look makes some people tremble; mixed reviews on feel; its stock shaft makes this a bit pricey. "Get past the ribbing from fellow players and it'll help you hit straighter tee shots." — Barry Fasenmyer (4)
2 of 8 Schecter Lee
ClubTest 2008: Drivers — Tour GOLF Magazine asked a group of accomplished players — all with a handicap between 2 and 10 — to test the newest drivers designed for better players. See which was their favorite. Callaway Hyper X Tour $329, graphite callawaygolf.com We tested: 9.5°, 10.5° in Fujikura Fit-On E-360 graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45.5" Company line: "Hyper X Tour drivers are designated by half-degree lofts (8.5°, 9.5° and 10.5°) and have face angles that are slightly open, providing highly skilled golfers with a more pleasing look at address and increased workability." Voted Best For Distance Our Test Panel Says: PROS: This baby outdistances its competition; stability through the hitting zone provides consistent distance; many testers experience a neutral flight to slight fade bias, so you can take the left rough out of play; excellent spring effect on contact, shots bound off the clubface; you can get it to produce gentle fades and draws, like any good 460cc driver should. CONS: This head/shaft combo isn't for natural faders who want to eliminate right-side misses; at address, the face looks like it has little loft, which can be intimidating. "The longest Callaway I've ever hit." — Jon Dobberstein (7) Rate and Review this club
3 of 8 Schecter Lee
Cleveland HiBore XLS Tour $299, graphite clevelandgolf.com We tested: 8.5°, 9.5° and 10.5° in Fujikura Fit-On M Red and Fujikura Fit-On M Gold graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "The club is designed to produce a lower flight, and has more of a fade bias. Its clubface is 2° open, for workability, with a traditional compact pear shape, and a high MOI of 5,000 g/cm2." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Large, forgiving sweet spot provides good distance on mis-hits; promotes a fade and keeps a hook at bay; mid-trajectory is sweet in windy conditions; fans appreciate the tight dispersion pattern; a stout, head-heavy feel; an upgrade over HiBore XL. CONS: A good club, but it doesn't stand out in any one area against its competition; clubface elicits less feel than anticipated; recognizing that form follows function, the group still doesn't embrace the look of a concave crown. "Hard swingers that fight the hook should do well here." — Doug Lair (8) Rate and Review this club
4 of 8 Schecter Lee
Mizuno MP-600 $399, graphite mizunousa.com We tested: 8.5°, 9.5° and 10.5° in Exsar DS3 and Fujikura E360 graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "Our 'Fast Track' technology consists of two adjustable eight-gram weights that allow you to choose from 15 ball-flight settings. The CNC milled, plasma-welded face insert delivers maximum USGA allowable ball speed across the entire face." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Adjustable weighting is a very nice feature, and the technology is hidden well; straight enough to keep you in the short grass and long enough to keep up with the rest of your group; very playable for a big head; good amount of head mass guides the club back and through; classy, clean, understated design that aligns itself naturally. CONS: Some find it lacks a real "pop" feel on contact; less-than-ideal contact sacrifices something distance-wise; a sight aid, no matter how small, could help. "Adjustable weighting means adjustable workability." — Dave Doctora (8) Rate and Review this club
5 of 8 Schecter Lee
TaylorMade Burner TP $399, graphite taylormadegolf.com We tested: 8.5°, 9.5° and 10.5° in REAX 50 TP graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45.5" Company line: "SuperFast Technology reduces total club weight to 305 grams from an average of 320 and promotes faster swing speed for added distance. The 1° open clubface alignment is pleasing to the eye and promotes confidence and accuracy." Voted Best For Feel Our Test Panel Says: PROS: Explosive feel, to the point that you can almost sense the clubface flex and release the ball; second-longest performer in the test; provides plenty of help for a tour driver; well-balanced stick; lighter weight seemingly lets players increase clubhead speed while still swinging under control; drawers and faders will both find consistency in their ball flight. CONS: The cluttered crown graphics, including logo and web design, are a distraction; surprisingly, several testers find it sets up slightly closed. "Really good combination of power and spring-like feel." — Hoai Hoang (9) Rate and Review this club
6 of 8 Schecter Lee
Titleist 907 D2 $399, graphite titleist.com We tested: 8.5° in UST Proforce V2 75; 9.5° and 10.5° in Mitsubishi Diamana; 9.5°, 10.5° and 11.5° in Aldila VS Proto 65 graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "The tapered face insert is thinner at the top to promote high launch and lower spin, for optimum launch conditions and maximum ball speed. A 'low mass crown' and hosel optimize weight distribution and lower the CG for solid feel and better energy transfer." Voted Best For Playability Our Test Panel Says: PROS: The closest you can come to a workable 460cc driver — shaping drives high or low and left or right goes from challenging to fun; highest overall ball trajectory doesn't detract from its playability; more feedback than most clubs of its size; good looking, it hides its size very well; reliable distance from a wide variety of hits. CONS: Less roll than others once it comes down; increased workability comes at the expense of a little forgiveness. "Lets you know just how successful each swing is." — Joe Nagel (4) Rate and Review this club
7 of 8 Schecter Lee
Tour Edge Exotics XCG $399, graphite touredgegolf.com We tested: 9° and 10.5° in Graphite Design X-Quad; 9° and 12° in UST Proforce V2 65; 9° in Aldila DVS 65 graphite shaft. Shaft length: 45" Company line: "An ultra-light magnesium crown displaces weight to the heavy steel sole. This creates an extreme CG position, low spin and high MOI for ultra-long drives. The magnesium crown and hosel also absorb more shock, for a smooth, powerful feel." Our Test Panel Says: PROS: The least spin and lowest overall ball flight; can easily sense the balance between head and shaft; strong marks for look, from its shape to uncluttered finish to small 'X' sightline on the crown; a great club in windy conditions; repeatable, consistent ball flight; good stability and head feel during the swing. CONS: Middle-of-the-pack accuracy among clubs tested, but below-average directional forgiveness; too many testers find it lacks solid, powerful impact feel and feedback; not easy to bend shots in both directions. "The clubhead feels like it's loading up for action on the backswing." —Jeremy Ross (4)
8 of 8 Schecter Lee
Winner: Driver — Tour TaylorMade Burner TP $399, graphite taylormadegolf.com The clubhead is stable through the shot, even when you miss the dead-center sweetspot. Its lighter weight lets you swing harder, and possibly increase clubhead speed, without losing your balance. Inverted cone technology behind the clubface contributes to longer off-center hits. Feel free to turn this either direction on doglegs. Lastly, it has a great sound, much better than the loud crash of many drivers. "Balls jump off the face high and hard for maximum distance." — Lee Neisler (3) • ClubTest Home Page • ClubTest Index Page • Drivers: Max Game-Improvement • Drivers: Game-Improvement • Fairway Woods