2014 Buyer's Guide Woods
Hybrid technology is right up there with fairway woods
Cobra GolfKey Features: The oversized rails on the sole, the deep and rear weighting, and a low CG make this the most forgiving Baffler ever. And that's a pretty strong statement, considering the product name has lent itself to several iterations in its 40-year history.
Wow Factor: Yes, it's easy to hit. Yes, it's really forgiving. Do we need to go on? If we must, it's worth noting how slick it looks at address. It has the looks of a Tour-friendly hybrid, but the performance of a club designed for mid- to higher-handicappers.
Specs: Six lofts (17°, 19°, 22°, 25°, 28°, 31°), with a Baffler XL graphite shaft.
cobragolf.com | $159
ExoticsKey Features: The Power Grid design is said to increase the springiness of the clubface, helping to increase distance and
forgiveness across more points on the clubface. Sole weights are distributed across the sole to lower the CG, helping the ball to fly at a higher launch for more distance.
Wow Factor: They look fantastic. And, seriously, if you haven't tried the Exotics line by Tour Edge, you're missing out. This hybrid performs. The XCG7 Beta version that's also available is more compact and promotes a more moderate launch angle. Both are rock-solid
Specs: Four lofts (19°, 22°, 25°, 28°), with a Fujikura Exotics Fuel graphite shaft.
touredge.com | $159
MizunoKey Features: With "EZ" already in the name, is it any surprise that these clubs are going to be easy to hit? They are, but that doesn't mean they aren't versatile. These hybrids have a deep face (which we love) and an extended distance front to back, making them as close to looking like woods as can be allowed. That means they look easy to hit, feel easy to hit, and seriously, do we need to say it again?
Wow Factor: They look like woods, but perform like hybrids, launching the ball high with ample spin. The fact that they have deep, maraging steel faces makes them a cinch to use off the tee, from the fairway, in the rough, sand, etc. Nice orange shaft graphics, too.
Specs: Four lofts (16°, 19°, 22°, 25°), with a Fujikura Orochi Black Eye graphite shaft.
mizunogolf.com | $89
PingKey Features: Each i25 hybrid is optimized with a precise CG and less bulge and roll (curvature side to side and top to bottom) than do most hybrids, making them easier to align and also to maneuver the golf ball. That's not to say they aren't forgiving; they're actually designed for a high launch.
Wow Factor: Everything? The only thing we wish it had was a stripe on the crown, but other than that, it's PING's best hybrid, to date. The compact shape is exactly what better players want for true shotshaping and added control.
Specs: Four lofts (17°, 19°, 23°, 26°), with a PING PWR graphite shaft.
ping.com | $219
PingKey Features: A true "driving iron" in the purest sense, the Rapture D.I. is like a 2-iron on steroids. It has a wider sole and a high MOI, which makes it exponentially easier to hit than a standard 2-iron. That said, it's still a shotmaker's club due to the low spin rate and the medium trajectory it yields. It's really fun to hit.
Wow Factor: If you want to curl a 2-iron around a tree from 225 yards, this is the club. No wonder Tour players are giddy for it. It was made specifically with pros and competitive amateurs in mind.
Specs: One loft (18°), with a PING TFC graphite shaft.
ping.com | $199
TaylormadeKey Features: The SLDR has a revised Speed Pocket for added distance and the CG is more forward and lower, making it a cinch to hit the ball high with less spin. (That's what you want for huge distance.)The hosel is adjustable for a precision fit. The TP version comes with a premium Fujikura Motore Speeder shaft.
Wow Factor: Huge distance with an adjustable hosel? Sure, we'll take one. Or two. Okay, three. They're fun to hit, and despite the big length, they're actually maneuverable. We dig that.
Specs: Four lofts (17°, 19°, 21°, 24°), with a Fujikura Speeder 82 shaft.
taylormadegolf.com | $219
TaylormadeKey Features: The redesigned Speed Pocket is smaller, but according to TaylorMade, is actually more effective than it was in last year's RBZ Stage 2 hybrids. All you need to know is that they're crazy-long and very easy to hit.
Wow Factor: Add some loft. These launch the ball a mile, so don't hesitate to opt for some added loft for more distance control. The real question is, do we miss the white? Nope. These hybrids have a fresh, non-white decal and perform exceptionally from practically anywhere on the course (except the cart path—just take the free drop, okay?).
Specs: Five lofts (17°, 19°, 22°, 25°, 28°), with a Velox T graphite shaft.
taylormadegolf.com | $199
TitleistKey Features: The hosel is adjustable for loft and lie angles, and the Sure Fit weight can be interchanged via a small weight in the rear sole region. The 913H.d model is similar, only the Sure Fit weight is closer to the face for a more controlled launch and more shotmaking versatility. That means a lower spin rate, too.
Wow Factor: Titleist certainly crossed the chasm into game-improvement territory, with the 913H being remarkably forgiving and long (more than we expected). The 913H.d model is more what we expected, in terms of being a club designed for players who are okay with a lower launch and more maneuverability.
Specs: Five lofts (17°, 19°, 21°, 24°, 27°), the 913H.d in three lofts (18°, 20°, 23°), both in a variety of shaft options.
titleist.com | $229
Wilson StaffKey Features: The first adjustable hybrid from Wilson Staff, the M3 allows for a finely tuned loft for whatever conditions or weather you may face.
FG Tour M3
Wow Factor: We like the adjustability, feel and how easy they are to hit. But we can't help but take things at face value, too, which is to say these hybrids look fantastic. We dig the black on black. A lot.
Specs: Four adjustable base lofts (17°, 19°, 21°, 23°), with an Aldila RIP shaft.
wilsonstaff.com | $199
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