2009 Woods Buyer’s Guide

They might not be as exciting to hit as drivers, or as fun to collect as putters, but if you master your woods and hybrids, you can keep the golf ball in the fairway and knock it closer to the pin than ever before. Trust us.

If you've ever teed off with a 3-wood, you've probably gotten some serious ribbing from your buddies. "What? Can't hit your driver?" they might say. We understand. It's happened to us too. But we don't mind, because after we blister our 3-woods down the center of the fairway, we like to turn to the rest of our foursome (who are combing the rough for their drives) and say, "Who's laughing now?"

Okay, so we admit that fairway woods aren't the "sexiest" clubs on the market. Heck, it's possible to go an entire round and not hit one, but with the new materials and weighting technologies in them, they now go farther and straighter than ever. And unless you play the tips at a "Tiger-proof" course, you should tee off with one on any number of shortish par-4s. (We bet you can hit some fairway woods as far as your old driver, but unlike your old driver, you'll probably hit the fairway too!)

Comb through the following pages and pick a fairway wood and hybrid that match your needs. Keep in mind the "distance gap" between your clubs and how the right club can help fill those yardages.

Adams Insight Tech a4 Key Feature:Resembling the shape of the classic Tight Lies club with a large sole and small crown, this fairway hybrid has Adams' Boxer Technology, a hot face and a cambered sole. What We Like: The line between fairway wood and hybrid is blurred even more, making it an easy transition from one to another. Great aesthetics all around. Who It's For: Moderate swingers who want a mid to high launch off the tee and from the fairway. Specs: Comes in three lofts (13_¡, 15_¡, 18_¡) with Matrix Ozik shafts. adamsgolf.com | $269 Adams Speedline Key Feature: The Speedline combines the playability of a hybrid and the distance of a fairway wood in one. Boxer Technology makes the MOI 12 percent greater than standard fairway woods for extreme stability. What We Like: Once again, the looks are razor sharp and so is the paint job. Who It's For: Golfers who no longer want to choose whether to play either a hybrid or fairway wood. Specs: Comes in three lofts (13_¡, 15_¡, 18_¡) with Grafalloy ProLaunch Blue Axis graphite shafts. adamsgolf.com | $179 Bobby Jones Player Series Key Feature: The unique shape uses a forged maraging steel face insert for a lower CG and a higher trajectory. What We Like: The old-meets-new geometry. Classic lines mask a newer, triangular shape. All players can't help but notice how sharp they look. The high-launch characteristics are ideal for players who want more carry and distance from their woods. Who It's For: Slow to moderate swingers who could use some extra lift. Specs: Comes in four lofts (13_¡, 15_¡, 17_¡, 19_¡) with Graphite Design JS shafts. bobbyjonesgolf.net | $200

Callaway Ft-i Squareway Key Feature: With a square-ish shape borrowed from the Ft-iQ Driver, these FWs are remarkably forgiving. The carbon crown and stainless-steel construction help make these woods equally playable from the tee or fairway. What We Like: The square shape makes addressing the ball with a square clubface a lot easier. Who It's For: Golfers who want a very forgiving (not to mention very long) fairway wood that has a square shape. Specs: Three lofts (15_¡, 18_¡, 21_¡) with a Fujikura Fit-On M graphite shaft. callawaygolf.com | $299 Callaway Big Bertha Diablo Key Feature: The BB Diablo has a unique shape that allows the bulk of the club weight to be positioned around the edge of the club for a very high MOI. It also aids in closing the clubface, resulting in longer, straighter shots. What We Like: The VFT (Variable Face Technology) helps make these woods extremely forgiving. Who It's For: Golfers who want a powerful fairway wood. (Draw model also available in .5_¡ loft increments.) Specs: Three lofts (15_¡, 18_¡, 21_¡) with a Callaway graphite shaft. callawaygolf.com | $179-$199 Cleveland Launcher Key Feature: It's the Mini-Me version of the Launcher Driver! Sporting a razor-thin crown, a huge clubface and a horseshoe weight pad in the rear, this FW is built for power from any lie. What We Like: It's easy to transition from driver to fairway wood. The trajectory also is high with spin, making these a top choice for players wanting more lift. Who It's For: Golfers looking for a long alternative to their driver, as well as golfers who go long from the turf. Specs:Comes in five lofts (13_¡, 15_¡, 17_¡, 19_¡, 22_¡) with Fujikura Fit-On shafts. clevelandgolf.com | $179

Cleveland HiBORE XLS Key Feature: Bigger than previous versions, the crown section has new "stability foils" for enhanced alignment. In addition, the MOI is high, making these woods very stable at impact. What We Like: The looks take no getting used to. Hitting par-5s in two though–that's another story. Who It's For: Golfers looking for the ideal blend of distance, trajectory (high) and spin (moderately high) from a classy-looking fairway wood. Specs: Four lofts (13_¡, 15_¡, 19_¡, 22_¡) and Gold/Red Fujikura Fit-On shafts. clevelandgolf.com | $179 Cobra S9-1 Key Feature: A nine-point face that lends a huge sweet spot for maximum distance and accuracy. What We Like: The smooth looks and the lighter weight makes this club very easy to swing. It performs exceptionally well from the tee, short grass and even the rough. Who It's For: Golfers who want a fairway wood that's long and forgiving. Better players will like the all-black S9-1 Pro. Specs: Comes in three lofts (15.5_¡, 18_¡, 21_¡) with Aldila DVS-HL shafts. S9-1 M Offset and S9-1 Pro also available. cobragolf.com | $179 Hippo Hex2 Key Feature: The Hex2 fairway woods have a carbon crown that's fused with a maraging steel clubface, wrapped up in a cool and unique hexagonal shape. What We Like: These fairway woods have a draw bias, helping golfers not only hit it farther, but straighter as well. The club sets up really well (considering the draw bias). Nice price, too. Who It's For: Golfers who want to eliminate slicing as well as make good use of some innovative new technology. Specs:Comes in two lofts (17_¡, 21_¡) with a proprietary Hippo CP4 graphite shaft. hippo-golf.com | $99

Macgregor MT Fairway Key Feature: It's a steel clubhead, but the Cup Face design creates a huge sweet spot and added strength behind the ball at impact. What We Like: These clubs look like a Tour pro hand-carved them with clean, straight lines. Upon hitting them, it's a different story. They were built so anyone can hit high, long shots. Who It's For: Virtually any type of player, ranging from professionals to average golfers who want pure playability. Specs: Comes in four lofts (13_¡, 15_¡, 16.5_¡, 18_¡) with MT proprietary graphite. macgregorgolf.com | $199 Mizuno F-60 Key Feature: A sloped crown shape that moves weight away from the clubface and, in doing so, ups the club's MOI. What We Like: The 20% larger clubface, which creates a larger sweet spot. It features four weighted cavities in the rear of the sole that provide strategic internal weighting and lower the CG. Who It's For: Golfers who need a driver that gets the ball in the air and down the fairway, even on mis-hits. Folks who slice should pick up their draw model. Specs: Comes in four different lofts and five shaft options. Only LH is 10.5_¡. mizunousa.com | $199 Nickent 3DX RC Key Feature: Its maximum triangular geometry helps produce long shots whether you hit it flush or not. What We Like: It features the highest MOI and the largest sweet spot of any Nickent fairway wood ever made. Oh, and its deep clubface helps reduce spin, thereby creating a long and penetrating ballflight. Who It's For: Golfers who tend to miss the sweet spot; folks who don't mind the triangular address profile. Specs: Comes in three different lofts (16_¡, 19_¡, 22_¡) and five shaft options. nickentgolf.com | $150

Nike Dymo2 Key Feature: Its square shape positions weight to the corners and moves the club's CG back. The result? A high MOI for some exceptional stability and control. Oh yeah, the ball goes far, too. What We Like: Like its Dymo counterpart, the Dymo2 helps golfers escape just about any lie. Also, the square look makes aligning shots a lot easier. Who It's For: Golfers who have trouble hitting the ball far and in a straight line. Specs:Comes in four different models (3, 4, 5, 7) and a UST wide-body shaft design with Axiv core. nikegolf.com | $229 Nike Dymo Key Feature: A "Quad Keel" sole features four separate quadrants to minimize interaction with the turf at impact, making it easier to get the ball airborne. What We Like: In addition to its clean looks, we dig its "dig." This club will help you escape any lie. Who It's For: Golfers who have trouble controlling the clubhead through impact; folks who like to hit their fairway woods long and straight. Specs: Comes in four different models (3+, 3, 4, 5 ) and a UST wide-body shaft design with Axiv core. nikegolf.com | $229 Ping Rapture V2 Key Feature: A 61-gram tungsten sole plate that puts the CG lower and farther back for high launch and low spin. What We Like: Its shallow face and wide sole ensure stability and forgiveness while producing a high trajectory. Who It's For: PING calls it a "Super Game Improvement" club, so it's for you if you need super improving. Specs: Stainless-steel body, plasma-welded machined steel face. Comes in four different lofts (16_¡, 17.5_¡, 19_¡, 22_¡) and two shaft options, including five versions of PING's stock TFC 939F. pinggolf.com | $249

Ping G10 Key Feature: The crown and sole meet in the back, which means the G10 fairway woods have a low profile and low CG for higher shots. What We Like: Its low leading edge makes it hard to miss the ball. It's playable from just about anywhere on the course. Who It's For: PING has a model for everyone, including one with draw bias. Specs: Comes in six loft options (14_¡-24.5_¡) and a stainless-steel clubhead and clubface. Its stock shaft is a PING TFC 129 graphite (X, S, R, A, L). pinggolf.com | $219 Srixon Z-Steel Key Feature: It has varying degrees of thickness across its face, crown and back wall for maximum energy transfer at impact. The tungsten nickel insert lowers the CG for a high launch. What We Like: This club is designed to promote a high launch with low spin–just what tour pros want. Who It's For: Golfers who prefer to hit shots with low spin. Specs: Comes in three lofts (12.5_¡, 14.5_¡, 18.5_¡) and a stock SV-305J graphite shaft (S, SR flex). Its clubhead is maraging steel, and the clubface is steel. srixon.com | $199 Taylormade r7 CGB Max Key Feature: A triangular head shape that features three adjustable weight screws for personal perimeter weighting. What We Like: The adjustable weighting can affect a golfer's ballflight by 22 yards. Just the thing for slicers who want to hit a draw, or vice versa. Who It's For: People who struggle to get the ball airborne; golfers who like its triangular shape. Specs: Comes in three lofts (15_¡, 18_¡, 21_¡) and with a RE*AX SF 45 graphite shaft. Its clubhead and clubface are both titanium. taylormadegolf.com | $300

Taylormade Burner Key Feature: Its dual crown helps save weight in the clubhead and lower the CG 35 percent more than the previous Burner fairway model. What We Like: Its very deep CG means it's forgiving and easy to launch. Its SuperFast technology promotes a faster swing speed. Who It's For: Average Joes who need to get the ball airborne. A Tour model gives "sticks" a lower launch option. Specs: Comes in three lofts (15_¡, 18_¡, 21_¡). Shaft options include the RE*AX 70 FW and RE*AX SF 49 FW. taylormadegolf.com | $199 Taylormade R9 Key Feature: A triangular head shape that features three adjustable weight screws for personal perimeter weighting. What We Like: The adjustable weighting can affect a golfer's ballflight by 22 yards. Just the thing for slicers who want to hit a draw, or vice versa. Who It's For: People who struggle to get the ball airborne; golfers who like its triangular shape. Specs: Comes in three lofts (15_¡, 18_¡, 21_¡) and with a RE*AX SF 45 graphite shaft. Its clubhead and clubface are both titanium. taylormadegolf.com | $300 Titleist 909F2 Key Feature: A round profile and large face yield high-launch/mid-spin shots. What We Like: Its modern shape creates a deep CG. Its larger, longer face gave us a confidence boost. The Carpenter steel insert increases ball speed. Who It's For: Golfers who need help getting the ball airborne. Specs: Comes in three different lofts (13.5_¡, 15.5_¡, 18.5_¡) and two stock shafts (Diamana Blue 75 and Aldila VooDoo). Body constructed from 17-4 stainless steel; features a 275 Carpenter steel face insert. titleist.com | $200-225

Titleist 909F3 Key Feature: Its modern shape not only deepens the club's CG but increases its stability, as well. What We Like: The 909F3 has a smaller, deeper face–just the thing better players like to see at setup. Who It's For: Lower handicappers who can (and like to) control their ballflight. Specs: Comes in three different lofts (13_¡, 15_¡, 18_¡) and two stock shafts (Diamana Blue 75 and Aldila VooDoo). Body constructed from 17-4 stainless steel; features a 275 Carpenter steel face insert. titleist.com | $200-225 Tour edge Exotics XCG-V Key Feature: A steel body that's combo-brazed together with a titanium cup face and crown. What We Like

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