2011 Buyer’s Guide Woods

Woods and hybrids are a breeze to hit
By now, you probably carry at least two fairway woods and a hybrid in your bag. Some golfers carry more hybrids or even swap out their irons with iron-woods. If you're reluctant to add these forgiving sticks to your arsenal (or if you're too proud to lug a bag around with lots of headcovers), don't be. Modern-day woods and hybrids have been constructed to deliver big distance and lots of forgiveness, so why make the game any more difficult than it already is? This year, add a couple new woods and hybrids to your lineup and watch your scores drop.

Golf Tips Legend

Our picks for new technologies, hot trends and equipment standouts. s = steel g = graphite

WOODS Adams Speedline F11

Beauty & BrawnKey Feature: Like the driver, the Speedline F11 woods are shaped for maximum aerodynamics, only this time, in the smaller shape of a wood that also can cut through the grass. The Vertical Slot tech is designed to add more spring-like power to every shot. What We Like: Great looks and a ballflight that pops the ball upward in a hurry. Who It's For: Golfers who want a long-hitting fairway wood, especially the titanium model. Specs: Comes in three lofts (13°, 15°, 18°) with Aldila VooDoo VS or Matrix X-Con graphite shafts. Ti, Draw model, and L-hand available. adamsgolf.com | $199/$299 ti Bobby Bones Player Series

Key Feature: The unique shape uses a forged, maraging-steel face insert for added distance and a lower CG for a higher trajectory. What We Like: The classic-meets-new geometry. Classic lines and curves mask a neo-triangular shape. 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: Golfers who want a sweet-looking fairway wood with an added boost in trajectory. Specs: Comes in four lofts (13°, 15°, 17°, 19°) with Graphite Design JS shafts. bobbyjonesgolf.com | $199 Callaway Diablo Octane

Distance DrivenKey Feature: Made of stainless steel for rugged durability, these clubs utilize VFT technology to launch the ball off the face with added distance and forgiveness. What We Like: Big power and a big sole make it easy to hit this club both off a tee and off the ground. The shaping is pure Callaway. Who It's For: Golfers who want big distance from on or off the fairway. Better players will dig the more neutral Tour version. Specs: Comes in five lofts (15°, 17°, 19°, 21°, 24°) with Diablo Octane graphite shafts. L-hand available in 15° and 17°. callawaygolf.com | $199 Callaway RAZR Hawk

Key Feature: A forged composite crown that reduces weight and moves it down toward the sole of the club. The result? More distance and a better ballflight from a great-looking club. What We Like: The Tour-inspired shaping will appeal to the player who likes to work the ball. But the forgiveness? Seriously, that will help everyone hit better, longer, straighter shots. Who It's For: For all golfers, although we suspect better players will like it even more. Specs: Comes in four lofts (13°, 15°, 18°, 21°) with RAZR Hawk graphite shafts (all flexes). L-hand available in 15° or 18°. callawaygolf.com | $229 Cleveland Launcher FL

Editors' PickKey Feature: Weight was removed from the shaft and grip (30g's worth), making the Launcher FL produce faster swing speeds, ball speeds and longer carry off the tee or ground. What We Like: The ball jumps off the face upward in a hurry. Oh, and it never stops going. Really, it's among the longest fairway woods we've every tried. Who It's For: Golfers who need big-time forgiveness and distance with their woods. Specs: Comes in five lofts (13°, 15°, 17°, 19°, 22°) with Miyazaki C. Kua graphite shafts (all flexes). L-hand available in 15° and 19°. clevelandgolf.com | $199 Cobra S3

Key Feature: A larger, hotter face that makes this all-steel design produce big distance and exceptional accuracy, even if you occasionally miss the sweet spot (which is huge, by the way.) What We Like: The oversized profile adds confidence, making it easier to swing aggressively. Also, the stock Fujikura Blur shaft is a good one. They combine to produce a lot of distance. It's a great alternative to the driver on tight holes. Who It's For: All golfer types. Specs: Comes in three lofts (13°, 15°, 17°) with Fujikura Blur graphite shafts. L-hand available in 15° and 18°. cobragolf.com | $169 Dynacraft Prophet ICT

Great Buy!Key Feature: The Dynacraft Prophet ICT series takes our revolutionary, patent-pending interchangeable hosel adapter to the fairway woods. Now with the interchangeable Prophet ICT 8-position adapter, each hosel insertion provides differing lie angles ranging from 2° upright to 2° flat, and face angles from 2° open to 2° closed. What We Like: The adjustability is very cool, but it's also long and straight from the fairway and off the tee. Also, what a great price! Who It's For: All player types. Specs: Comes in three lofts (15°, 18°, 21°) with a variety of shaft options to choose from. hirekogolf.com | $54 Fourteen SF-410

Key Feature: A classic, Tour-inspired shaping that will appeal to shotmakers who want fairway woods that launch the ball up quickly after impact with the ball. What We Like: These woods are made with a low CG, but they're also workable, thanks to the classic, low-profile styling. Who It's For: The lofts on the SF-410 woods are carefully calibrated for the average player who wants a higher ballflight. They're also very forgiving, thanks to a high MOI rating. Specs: Comes in four lofts (16°, 19°, 22°, 24°) with MD-335ff graphite shafts. fourteengolf.com | $329 Mizuno JPX-800

Forgiveness SupremeKey Feature: A Hot Metal, maraging-steel face design for distance and Ultimate Dynamic Stability (U.D.S.) tech for improved forgiveness. What We Like: Like the JPX-800 driver, these woods have a clean, no-nonsense stainless-steel appeal. The beveled leading edge slips across the grass with ease, and the low CG creates a high trajectory. The ball flies straight and far, even if you miss the sweet spot sometimes. (Hey, who doesn't?) Who It's For: All player types. Specs: Comes in three lofts (15°, 18°, 21°) with Mizuno FS5 graphite shafts. mizunogolf.com | $199 Nike SQ MACHSPEED

Key Feature: Its streamlined square shape adds more aerodynamics and pushes weight toward the corners for ample forgiveness and a high MOI. It's also easy to align behind the golf ball. What We Like: It may be a holdover from last year, but there's good reason for it. This club is easy to hit high and far. The square shape is a plus when it comes to alignment. It's almost as though it's easy to aim with it behind the ball. Who It's For: Mid- to higher-handicappers. Specs: Comes in four lofts (15°, 17°, 19°, 21°) with a UST Mamiya Proforce AXIVCore graphite shaft. L-hand available in 15° and 19°. nikegolf.com | $239 Nike VR Pro

Key Feature: Like the driver with the same name, the VR Pro fairway woods utilize a variable-compression channel that runs along the sole behind the face. This adds more distance across more points on the clubface. What We Like: This club was designed for the better player, with a flat profile and low leading edges, both of which make this not only a solid fairway wood, but a shotmaker's tool, as well. Who It's For: Better players. Specs: Comes in four lofts (13°, 15°, 17°, 19°) with Project X graphite shafts in a variety of flexes. L-hand available in 15° and 19°. nikegolf.com | $229 Ping i15

Editors' PickKey Feature: A weighting scheme that actually has a fade bias. This is so better players can more easily manipulate their shots. What We Like: It's both forgiving and really responsive to our shot-calling. We aren't pros, but hitting high, low, fade or draw shots was easy to do with this shotmaker. Who It's For: Better players who not only want to shape their shots, but also want forgiveness in a sleek, all-stainless-steel design. Specs: Comes in three lofts (14°, 15.5°, 18.5°) with PING TFC 700F or UST Mamiya AXIVCore shafts (all flexes). L-hand available in all lofts. ping.com | $229 Ping K15

Editors' PickKey Feature: Straight Flight Technology (mass toward the heel) helps golfers better square the clubhead at impact for both straighter and longer shots from the tee or fairway. What We Like: The oversized construction helps push the CG way back and deep into the clubhead, which for us, launched the ball up and out of harm's way in a hurry. The ball also lands really softly, which is what you want from a mega-forgiving fairway wood. Who It's For: Mid- to high-handicappers. Specs: Comes in three lofts (16°, 19°, 22°) with PING TFC 149F graphite shafts. L-hand available. ping.com | $199 Powerbilt Air Force One

Key Feature: Like the driver, these woods have pressurized nitrogen (up to 150 psi) in the clubhead for added strength without the need for extra weight. What We Like: The nitrogen must be working. These fairway woods, although not new this year, are still a favorite of ours, because they're so easy to hit. The ball launches up and far–two things we want from a fairway wood. Who It's For: Golfers who want some woods that have a lot of pop and firepower. Specs: Comes in three lofts (15°, 19°, 21°) with Powerized graphite shafts (various flexes). powerbilt.com | $199 Srixon Z-STAR

Editors' PickKey Feature: The hosel is adjustable for up to 12 different clubface angle/lie configurations for a true, custom fit on the fly. What We Like: Stellar looks and classic shaping. The Starburst face technology really makes these fairway woods pop with a lot of distance, even off the sweet spot. It's also made of titanium, meaning it has driver-like feel. Who It's For: Better players who want to manipulate the configuration of this sexy, new fairway wood. Specs: Comes in two lofts (15° and 18°) with Miyazaki Dromos graphite shafts (various flexes). srixon.com | $249 Taylormade Burner 2.0

Great Buy!Key Feature: The new Burner SuperFast 2.0 is a driver in fairway-wood disguise. Its lighter, longer shaft and streamlined aerodynamics increase a golfer's swing speed for more distance. What We Like: The white color is beautiful, but the real stuff is in how well this fairway wood performs. It's insanely long, just like its daddy (the Burner SuperFast 2.0 driver). Who It's For: All player types. Better players might prefer the more streamlined TP version. Specs: Comes in four lofts (15°, 17°, 18°, 21°) with Matrix X-Con graphite shafts (various flexes). L-hand available in 15° and 17°. taylormadegolf.com | $200 Taylormade R11

Versatile WonderKey Feature: Two ways to adjust: the hosel (Flight Control Technology) for loft adjustments, and the Adjustable Sole Plate for clubface angle tweaks. The result? A fairway wood that can be tailor-made to fit anyone (we had to say it). What We Like: The Adjustable Sole Plate design is extraordinary, and in our opinion, even more practical with woods than with the driver. As for performance, it worked just as we expected–long and straight with a lot of forgiveness. Who It's For: There's a combination for all. Specs: Comes in five lofts (14°, 15.5°, 17°, 19°, 22°) with Fujikura Blur shafts. L-hand avail. taylormadegolf.com | $230 Titleist 910F

Key Feature: SureFit Tour technology that yields dual-angle hosel technology for a custom, precise loft and lie angle fitting. What We Like: When it comes to fairway woods, we tend to favor more traditional shapes. And well, this one oozes tradition. It's also a solid performer in terms of distance. Who It's For: Low- to middle handicappers. There's also a 910Fd model with a deep face design that will appeal to golfers who want a more penetrating ballflight. Specs: Comes in four lofts (13.5°, 15°, 17°, 19°) with MRC Diamana __ðahina or Project X graphite. titleist.com | $279 Tour Edge Exotics XCG-4

Distance DrivenKey Feature: A beta-titanium, boomerang face design that, according to Tour Edge, helps create the company's most powerful wood ever. What We Like: The crown and sole are titanium, combo-brazed with a heavier tungsten sole that accounts for up to 65 percent of the head's overall mass. The result is an uber-forgiving and insanely long fairway wood. Who It's For: Golfers who truly want to bomb their shots high and far from the fairway. Specs: Comes in five lofts (13°, 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21°) with Fujikura Motore graphite shafts (various flexes). L-hand available in 15° and 18°. touredge.com | $299 Tour Edge Exotics CB4

Key Feature: Designed for added workability, the CB4 has a more compact, pear-shaped hyper steel body and a titanium cupface. What We Like: The CB4 has a higher, deeper CG for more penetrating shots, which also creates less backspin for more shotmaking maneuverability. We especially like the Aldila RIP shaft, as it seems to be a perfect fit. And in case you're wondering, this is still an Exotics wood, meaning it's going to be long and forgiving. Who It's For: Better players who shape shots. Specs: Comes in four lofts (13°, 15°, 16.5°, 18°) with Aldila RIP graphite shafts. touredge.com | $299 Wilson DXi

Key Feature: Designed with direct input from Padraig Harrington, these new fairway woods have a low CG for a higher launch. The radiused (curved) sole helps golfers hit shots from uneven lies, and the variable-thickness clubface makes the sweet spot a lot bigger. What We Like: The DXi is an easy-to-hit alternative to the driver, and because one of the most likable guys in golf actually uses it (Harrington), how could you not like it? Who It's For: All player types. Specs: Comes in three lofts (13°, 15°, 18°) with Aldila VooDoo VS7 graphite shafts.

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