2008 Wood/Hybrid Buyer’s Guide

What is the freshest category in golf? We think fairway woods and hybrids have benefitted from a ton of new technology, making them more playable and more useful than ever before.

Today, fairway woods have become longer, bigger and more powerful than ever. Hybrids, on the other hand, have become more specific, acting as either long-iron replacements or high-lofted fairway-wood replacements. The key is to begin analyzing your current set makeup in order to determine what's missing. Need a club that goes 215 yards and stops on a dime? How about a 3-wood that flies almost as far as your driver, albeit a lot straighter? Maybe both? Discerning your needs is crucial to hitting better shots. And with today's models, it's hard to go wrong. Choosing the right set of woods and hybrids isn't as daunting as it looks. With fairway woods, try and look for models that resemble your driver, complete with the same or a similar shaft and look. That will ease the transition from driver to fairway wood and vice versa. With hybrids, simply determine whether you'd like to replace a long iron or a shorter fairway wood. If you opt for long iron replacements, you might favor a hybrid shaped more like an iron. And if it's fairway woods you want to replace, try a hybrid that looks more like a wood.

Understanding Our Charts Key Features: What distinguishes this fairway wood from the rest. What We Like: We have our preferences, too. Basically, what impressed us in our review. Who It's For: The type of player this fairway wood is made for. Clubhead: The material used for head construction. Clubface: Indicates the material used for the strike area. Lofts: The lofts available in right-handed models. Left-handed models vary and can be found on each equipment manufacturer's Website. Custom Options: Whether or not custom options are available. This includes shafts, grips, weights, etc. Shafts: The stock graphite offerings from the manufacturer. Other shafts may be available.



Adams Insight XTD a3

Key Feature: Is it a fairway wood or a hybrid? According to Adams, it's both. Made for players who want the playability of a Boxer hybrid with the distance of a fairway wood. What We Like: The sole design does wonders for minimizing turf drag, which then leads to faster ball speed and ultimately, higher and farther shots. The offset model is great for slicers. Who It's For: Depending on what model you pick, there's a club for everyone. Better players will like the versatile Pro version. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Custom Options: Yes _â" Lofts: 13, 15, 18 Shafts: Aldila DVS graphite (X, S, R, A) adamsgolf.com | $199 Bobby Jones Player Series

Key Feature: The unique shape utilizes a forged Maraging Steel face insert that helps move weight low and deep in the clubhead. The result is more spin and a higher trajectory. What We Like: The mix of new club geometry and old-fashioned good looks make the Player Series a great pick for most golfers. We like the old-school knit headcovers as well. Who It's For: Players who want a higher trajectory and more carry (and hence more distance). Clubhead: Maraging steel _â" Clubface: Same Custom Options: Yes _â" Lofts: 13, 15, 17, 19 Shafts: Graphite Design JS graphite (X, S, R) bobbyjonesgolf.net | $200 Bridgestone J33

Key Feature: Traditionally shaped for better players, the J33 fairway woods feature an elastomer insert within the clubhead to reduce vibration for a greater transfer of energy at impact. They have a real tour-inspired look too. What We Like: The classic good looks make the J33 a popular choice among players who like to work the ball from the fairway. Who It's For: Better players with moderate to fast swings who want trajectory control and distance when used off the tee. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Custom Options: Yes _â" Lofts: 15, 18, 21 Shafts: Aldila NV graphite (X, S, R) bridgestonegolf.com | $179 Callaway FT Fairway

Key Feature: Using Callaway's Fusion technology, the FTs have a stainless-steel face and body, with a tungsten-infused sole. Translation? Callaway really tinkered with its weight. What We Like: The OptiFit system enables golfers to choose from a draw-, neutral- or fade-producing CG. There's also a cool Tour version. Who It's For: Players who want to take advantage of their natural ballflight and move the ball. Clubhead: Stainless steel, tungsten blend Clubface: Stainless steel _â" Lofts: 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 _â" Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: Fujikura Fit-On E-160 graphite (S, R, A); Fujikura Fit-On E370 graphite (FT Tour) (X, S, R) callawaygolf.com | $249 Callaway Ft-i Squareway

Key Feature: Borrowing from the square-shaped Ft-i Driver, the Squareways are the most forgiving Callaway woods ever. The carbon crown and stainless-steel design helps make hitting from the fairway as much fun as hitting from the tee. What's next, square irons? What We Like: The square shape is easy to align. The ball seems to fly a mile! Who It's For: Golfers who want maximum MOI (distance and accuracy) from a fairway wood. Clubhead: Stainless steel, carbon _â" Clubface: Stainless steel _â" Custom Options: Yes Lofts: 15, 18, 21 _â" Shafts: Fujikura Fit-On M graphite (S, R, A) callawaygolf.com | $299 Callaway X

Key Feature: The biggest new wood from Callaway packs a driver-sized punch. What We Like: The leading edge hugs the ground—a must considering the bigger size of the head. The 44-inch shaft makes the X a venerable alternative to the driver. Who It's For: Distance-hungry golfers who want a fairway wood that'd pass as a driver a few years ago. There's also a Tour version. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Custom Options: Yes _â" Lofts: 13, 15, 18, 21 Shafts: X Fairway 08 graphite (S, R, A, U); Fujikura Fit-On E-360 graphite (S, R); X Steel (S, R, A, U) callawaygolf.com | $179-$219 Cleveland HiBORE XLS

Key Feature: The new HiBORE XLS is 24-percent bigger than the original HiBORE and also features a redesigned crown section with "stability foils" for enhanced alignment. The MOI of these fairway woods is also very high, making it a stable club from just about any kind of lie. What We Like: It looks great, feels great and the two shaft options are, well, great. Who It's For: Every golfer who wants a club that lifts the ball off the ground in a hurry. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Lofts: 13, 15, 19, 22 _â" Custom Options: Yes Shafts: Fujikura Fit-On M (Gold: X, S, R, A) (Red: X, S, R) clevelandgolf.com | $179 Cobra Speed LD

Key Feature: The extended profile from front to back means the CG is going to be placed low and deep, helping golfers get the highest trajectory possible. What We Like: Each fairway wood has a draw bias, helping golfers not only hit it straighter, but farther as well. We like the several loft options. Who It's For: Players who tend to hit slices with their fairway woods but don't want to resort to an offset design. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Lofts: 15.5, 17.5, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26 Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: Speed Pro LD graphite (S, R, A, L); Nippon steel (S, R) cobragolf.com | $129 Hippo HEX2

Key Feature: The Hex2 fairway woods have a carbon crown that's fused with a Maraging Steel clubface, all wrapped up in the HEX2's unique hexagonal shape. What We Like: The shape helps bolster the MOI, and even though it's very different than any other fairway wood—we love the way it sets up. Who It's For: Golfers who want technology without the premium price. Clubhead: Maraging steel, carbon _â" Clubface: Maraging steel _â" Lofts: 17, 21 _â" Custom Options: N/A _â" Shafts: Hippo CP4 proprietary graphite (S, R) hippo-golf.com | $99


Key Feature: Using what KZG calls "Gravitational Force Technology," the GF2 enables clubfitters to adjust among 49 different weight configurations. What We Like: The stainless-steel body and sole are very strong, but the proprietary steel used in the clubface is what launches the ball at blazing speeds. Who It's For: All types of players who want to put the task of clubfitting in the hands of clubfitting professionals. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Lofts: 15, 19, 23 _â" Custom Options: Yes Shafts: KZG Novatech graphite (X, S, R, A, L) kzgolf.com | Custom Order Macgregor MT Fairway

Key Feature: Even though it's a steel clubhead, the MT features a Cup Face design that creates an enormous sweetspot and added strength behind the ball at impact. What We Like: The new direction MacGregor is taking in creating traditonal shapes designed for the discerning player. Also, the offset version is a good one for chronic slicers. Who It's For: Virtually all types of players who appreciate technology that's hidden inside the clubhead. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Lofts: 13, 15, 16.5, 18 _â" Custom Options: Yes Shafts: MT proprietary graphite (X, S, R, A, L) macgregorgolf.com | $199 Mizuno F-60

Key Feature: Mizuno's "Perimeter Weight Slot." This feature distributes weight deep and toward the perimeter, raising the club's MOI and COR. What We Like: Its ultra-lightweight titanium crown. That feature, plus the lineup's stainless-steel body and Perimeter Weight Slot, ensures that the F-60 lineup provides a high launch and forgiving overall experience. Who It's For: Golfers who crave forgiveness in their clubs and prefer a more traditionally shaped clubhead. Clubhead: Titanium _â" Clubface: Stainless steel Lofts: 13.5, 15, 16.5, 18, 21 _â" Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: Exsar FS3 (S, R, A, L) mizunousa.com | $200 Nickent 4DX

Key Feature: Each 4DX fairway wood has a titanium crown that's brazed with a stainless-steel body, resulting in added strength where it's needed and less weight in the crown. Twin XW weights in the rear section of the clubhead bolster the MOI and deepen the CG. What We Like: Smooth looks and the new Evolver technology makes shaft-swapping easier than ever before. Who It's For: All types of golfers. Clubhead: Stainless steel, titanium _â" Clubface: Stainless steel _â" Lofts: 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: UST SG3 graphite (X, S, R, A) nickentgolf.com | $199 Nike SQ SUMO2

Key Feature: A square shape (that, because of its Powerbow weighting, doesn't look it) jacks up its MOI. The result is a higher launch and greater overall distance. What We Like: Nike's repackaging of their popular, similarly shaped driver into a smaller package. It's also fun to look at. Who It's For:Golfers who don't scoff at interesting shapes and want to hit the ball straight as an arrow. (That includes us.) Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Cryogenic steel _â" Lofts: 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: Diamana graphite by Mitsubishi (X, S, R, A) nikegolf.com | $230 Nike SQ2

Key Feature: The new SasQuatch 2 fairway woods employ a Monorail sole design for reduced turf drag, and the bulk of the club's weight is placed toward the rear perimeter of the clubhead. This means a high MOI and deep CG, which equals higher and farther golf shots. What We Like: The cryogenic steel face helps the golf ball pop right off the face. Who It's For: If it's good enough for Tiger Woods, it's good enough for everyone, right? Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Cryogenic steel _â" Lofts: 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: SQ Diamana by Mitsubishi Rayon (X, S, R, A, W) nikegolf.com | $239

Ping G10

Key Feature: The crown and the sole meet in the back, which means the G10 fairway woods have a low profile and low CG for higher shots. What We Like: The low leading edge makes it hard to miss the ball, and the playability this club has from just about anywhere on the course rivals anything we've tried. Who It's For: Ping has a loft and model for everyone, including those of you who need a club with some draw bias. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Custom Options: Yes _â" Lofts: 14, 15.5, 17, 18.5, 21.5, 24.5 _â" Shafts: PING TFC 129 graphite (X, S, R, A, L) pinggolf.com | $219 Ping Rapture

Key Feature: Each Rapture has a plasma-welded titanium face that lightens the load up front and a weight pad directly below the CG to help promote a higher trajectory for more distance. What We Like: The all-titanium design combined with discretionary weight toward the perimeter really seems to bolster the MOI, helping to make this fairway wood among the most forgiving you can buy. Who It's For: Anybody looking to reach more par-5s in two shots. Clubhead: Titanium _â" Clubface: Same Lofts: 14, 17, 20 _â" Custom Options: Yes Shafts: PING TFC 909F graphite (X, S, R, A) pinggolf.com | $299 Srixon Z-Steel

Key Feature: Called Impact Power Body technology, the Z-Steel has varying degrees of thickness across the face, crown and backwall for the utmost in energy transfer upon impact. The tungsten nickel insert lowers the CG for a high launch and more stability. What We Like: This club is designed to promote a high launch with low spin—in other words, just what touring pros want. Who It's For: Golfers who want the aforementioned characteristics and low spin. Clubhead: Maraging steel _â" Clubface: Steel Lofts: 12.5, 14.5 18.5 _â" Custom Options: Yes Shafts: SV-305J graphite (S, SR) srixon.com | $199 Taylormade Burner

Key Feature: With an amazingly high MOI, the Burner is a must-have if you need stability and distance from both the tee and fairway. What We Like: The low-profile design helps golfers get the ball airborne, virtually eliminating thin shots. The TP version is a great choice for better players, and the Draw option is a great one for slicers. Who It's For: Those who want to hit it straight and far. End of story. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: Same Custom Options: Yes _â" Lofts: 15, 18, 21 Shafts: RE*AX graphite (X, S, R); Dynamic Gold Lite steel (X, S, R) taylormadegolf.com | $199-$249 Taylormade r7 CGB Max

Key Feature: A triangular head shape that features three adjustable weight screws (totaling 18 grams) for the utmost in perimeter weighting and MOI. What We Like: The adjustable weighting can affect a golfer's ballflight by a whopping 22 yards. Just the thing for slicers who want to hit a draw, or vice versa. Who It's For: People who can't seem to get the ball airborne and need its high MOI properties; golfers who don't mind its triangular shape. Clubhead: Titanium _â" Clubface: Same _â" Lofts: 15, 18, 21 _â" Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: RE*AX SF 45 graphite (X, S, R) taylormadegolf.com | $300 Titleist 906F4

Key Feature: A Titleist fairway wood for the rest of us? This club has a low profile, high MOI and exceptionally hot face, for a solid blend of both distance and forgiveness. What We Like: The pear shape and low profile inspires more confidence, and we really like the boost in shot trajectory from the fairway. Who It's For: Better players who like their clubs square at setup; golfers who like its melding of tradition and technology. Clubhead: Stainless steel _â" Clubface: 275 Carpenter steel _â" Lofts: 13.5, 15.5, 18.5 Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: Aldila VS Proto 80 (X, S, R); Graphite Design YS-6+ (X, S, R) titleist.com | $200

Tour Edge Exotics XCG

Key Feature: Its titanium cupface. Trust us, you'll notice the difference: faster ball speeds and an explosive launch. It's a big 3-wood. What We Like: How it's put together. Its lightweight titanium crown and cupface are joined with a steel body, creating a low and deep CG. The ball gets airborne in a hurry as well. Who It's For: Better players who don't mind the slightly open face at address and who wouldn't mind a 3-wood that goes as far as most drivers. Clubhead: Steel body, titanium crown Clubface: Titanium _â" Lofts: 13, 15, 16.5, 18, 21 Custom Options: Yes _â" Shafts: Aldila NV 65 (R, S, X) touredge.com | $350 Hybrid Heyday

Golf industry experts say that for the first time ever, golfers are buying more hybrids than fairway woods this year. That phenomenon is happening for several reasons, the first being that manufacturers are mostly only making 3- and 5-woods, and some 7-woods, these days. When golfers play higher lofts, they typically seem to be opting for hybrids. "With fairway woods, the 15-degree is the most popular loft we sell," says Mark Christensen, Cleveland Golf's business unit leader of woods and hybrids. "The 19-degree wood still gets bought a lot, but we stopped the 22- and 25-degree models, due to lack of demand. Hybrids are eating up all of the higher loft sales." Another reason for the shift: Now that people know all about hybrids, they want more performance from them, including high launch and trajectory, the ability to hit them off the tee, distance and more green-holding control. That's why manufacturers have begun incorporating into woods and hybrids all of the same geometry and use of multiple materials that they've been building into drivers the past year, in an effort to lower the CG and increase the MOI. Because hybrids have shorter shafts than fairway woods, they're easier to control. So this year, even more hybrids are bearing hybrid-specific shafts that are generally weighted accordingly and sport a tip section that balances flex and torque, producing the optimal trajectory and ball speed. Ultimately, choosing woods or hybrids comes down to having clubs that cover all distances at the long end of your set.

Adams Idea a3 Boxer

Although not square-shaped, the Boxer comes pretty close. Designed to help push the CG low and deep in the head and effectively boost the MOI, the Boxer is an easy-to-hit option from just about any lie. We especially like the cambered sole, and the stock Grafalloy ProLaunch Red shaft is a nice touch. So is the offset version for players who need to keep their slice at bay. All models are sneaky long, too. Lofts: 16, 19, 22, 25 adamsgolf.com | $149 Bridgestone J36 Hybrid

Designed for players who want both forgiveness and the ability to shape shots, the J36 Hybrids utilize a neat internal weighting structure to increase the MOI for resistance to twisting and loss of distance. Also innovative, the progressive leading edge design means the leading edge of the clubface gets sharper as loft goes up, making it a cinch to hit it solid. Better players will love the versatility of these clubs. Lofts: 16, 19, 22, 25 bridgestonegolf.com | $179 Callaway FT Hybrid

The next gen hybrid from Callaway features Fusion technology that doesn't use carbon—instead, it's a fusion of a stainless steel face and body with a tungsten-infused sole. This means the weight in the sole can be strategically manipulated, and depending on the model of choice, golfers can choose between a draw, fade or neutral design. By the way, the CG is low and the MOI is high for super forgiveness. Lofts: 18, 21, 24, 27 callawaygolf.com | $199 Callaway X Hybrid

Designed with a sole similar to the X Fairway Woods, the X Hybrid is designed to minimize turf drag while still keeping the leading edge close to the ground for crisp, clean contact. The MOI on the X Hybrid is also high, meaning these hybrids will help golfers not only hit it straighter, but higher and farther as well. Other notable features include VFT face tech, S2H2 hosel design and TruBore shaft technology. Lofts: 18, 21, 24, 27

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