2014 Buyer's Guide Woods

Hybrid technology is right up there with fairway woods

Labels: Buyers GuideWoodsHybrids
Key Features: Cut-Thru Slot tech, an adjustable hosel and a titanium-brazed, variable-thickness face—okay, let's just stop right there. All you need to know is, this fairway wood has driver-like technology built into it, and it's awesome.
Wow Factor: Did we say this is a driver in fairway wood camouflage? It is, and it's not only long, it's very forgiving. Our favorite model is the 13.5° loft. It's one of the best driver-alternative clubs we've ever tried. Really, we could just ditch the driver. It's so long....
Specs: Three lofts (13.5°, 15°, 18°), with a Matrix Ozik Red Tie graphite shaft.
adamsgolf.com | $299
Tight Lies
Key Features: Cut-Thru Slot tech, meaning there's a channel behind the face on the crown and sole. This beefs up the springiness of the face for more power. Also, it has a low profile that naturally lowers the CG for a higher launch, making it a cinch to get the ball airborne.
Wow Factor: It's back! We can see some of the original Tight Lies in this new design, especially in the Tri-Sole's raised heel and sole regions. It's made to be versatile and easy to hit, which is exactly what it is. Nice work to the team who brought back the club that put Adams on the map. The club flew with a strong, high trajectory. Don't be afraid of the lower-lofted models. They're super-easy to hit. Okay?
Specs: Four lofts (14°, 16°, 19°, 22°), with an MRC Bassara Eagle graphite shaft.
adamsgolf.com | $199
Bobby Jones
Key Features: A CH-1 maraging-steel cupface design for more distance while reducing the spin rate creates a more piercing ballflight.
Wow Factor: Cool, right? The innovative brazing process saves 3 to 4 grams over welding, allowing for the relocation of that weight from the face of the club to a more desirable location in the sole. Translation? These woods are easy to hit and they perform as good as they look. Trust us. Jesse Ortiz has done it again.
Specs: Two lofts (15°, 17°), with a Graphite Design G-Series graphite shaft.
bobbyjones.com | $220
Callaway Golf
X2 Hot
Key Features: A Hyper Speed Face Cup, which is a fancy way to say the steel face is heat-treated for tremendous strength and durability. Other "hot" stuff includes internal weighting for an optimized, low-spin, high-launching center of gravity and a revised Warbird sole for added versatility. There's also an X2 Hot Pro model for better players.
Wow Factor: The X Hot was a big club last year for Callaway, and despite its success, the gearheads at Callaway claim the X2 Hot is even better. How so? It's longer and straighter.
Specs: Various lofts in Regular or Pro, with an Aldila shaft (Tour Blue and Tour Green).
callawaygolf.com | $239
Callaway Golf
Big Bertha
Key Features: The Big Bertha is back (again!), this time with a Hyper Speed Face Cup, adjustable hosel tech for loft and face angle, a precision-tuned CG and arguably some of our favorite colors we've seen on a clubhead in the last few years. Red, white (sort of) and blue!
Wow Factor: The Big Bertha driver is a hot club this year, for sure. But one shouldn't overlook these woods. They're designed to be as long as possible without sacrificing any control. We liked adding loft to get the ball a little higher up in the air for more control. These woods are crazy-long.
Specs: Three lofts (15°, 18°, 21°), with an MRC Fubuki Zeta graphite shaft.
callawaygolf.com | $269

Key Features: We're refreshed to see a fairway wood that looks as though it has shed the excess bells and whistles and just plain performs. The 588 does just that, with a huge sweet spot and classic sports car good looks. It's not that there isn't some serious tech inside—there is, only it hides it in a classic all-around design.
Wow Factor: We suspect Tour players will gobble this wood up, thanks to the clean look it has behind the ball. In our trial, we hit the ball a little higher (and actually a little longer) than we expected, which makes us think the boys at Cleveland should be promoting these woods a little harder!
Specs: Four lofts (14°, 15.5°, 18°, 20.5°), with a Matrix Ozik graphite shaft.
clevelandgolf.com | $199

Pick or Choose?
"You have to look at angle of attack," says Doug Hammer, director of instruction of the Callaway Performance Center at Troon North Golf Club in Scottsdale, of determining if a hybrid or perhaps a fairway is optimal. "Our general rule of thumb is, better players with shallow swings who are sweepers tend to like fairway woods more. Higher-handicap players, those likely to be steep, prefer hybrids."

Steep swings are delofting swings, he explains. So the weighting and the more iron-like performance characteristics of a hybrid help these types of players "get the ball into the air better, faster."

That's not to say sticks don't need hybrids; Tour usage shows they do. It's simply that the average player will just start the hybrid brigade farther into the bag. And, as for fairways, Hammer adds, "One fairway wood is a good idea for most, and I'm not sure the 3-wood is that fairway wood anymore. Most hit their 5-wood farther and better anyway because they get it in the air faster."

Heed Hammer's advice, folks. Don't always jump to the 3-wood first!


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