The metalwoods are designed with a flatter roll on the faces to increase launch angles by 1.5 degrees. The irons feature a deeper undercut cavity (similar to last year’s X Hot irons) for a faster-flexing face. Offering a higher loft on the sand wedge (56 degrees) improves greenside versatility.
The seven-club version ($700) includes a driver (13.5 degrees), 3-wood, 5-hybrid, 7-iron, pitching wedge, sand wedge and putter. The 12-club set ($1,000) adds 5- and 7-woods, a 6-hybrid and 8- and 9-irons.
In Callaway's Edge hybrid-iron set, forgiveness takes many forms.
The company touts the Edge as its most stable iron, but the design didn't just strive to make mis-hits better, says Evan Gibbs, senior manager of product performance. It also tries to help golfers improve in spite of themselves.
"These players don't have consistent swings, so you want a little more offset and a wider sole that's going to give them more forgiving turf interaction," he says.
Those features, with lofts that are 1 to 2 degrees higher than Callaway's X2 Hot irons, can help get the ball in the air. "For higher-handicap players, it's less about controlling spin and more about getting those launch angles high," Gibbs says.
In stores Friday ($700 in steel, $800 in graphite), the set has three hybrids (4H-6H) and five hollow-cavity irons.
The trend in hybrids has been toward looking like smaller fairway woods instead of iron-replacement clubs. Adams, which has been at the forefront of the hybrid movement, is trying to shift the clubs back to their traditional, more compact size.
The Adams Pro, which checks in at 95 cubic centimeters, is more than 25 percent smaller than last year's Adams Super S. "We think the smaller size inspires confidence and makes the club more versatile," says Justin Honea, senior director of R&D, on the company's approach to bridging the gap between irons and fairway woods.
Designed with a shape based on tour-player input but with average-player forgiveness in mind, the Pro ($200) features a high-strength Carpenter 455 steel face to enhance ball speed. Thin slots stretch across the crown and sole--the latter has a cut-through opening--to improve face deflection.
Available in 16, 18, 20, 23 and 26 degrees, the Pro also uses a more "upside down" iron-like face profile for a larger hitting area.
It took awhile for consumers to latch on to hybrids, but once they did, the movement was swift and substantial. During the past five years, hybrid sales have often accounted for 30 percent or more of the metalwood market. However, Golf Datatech's February sales report (the latest available) reveals that hybrid sales comprised just 24 percent of the metalwood market.
Is the trend reversing?Probably not. Craig Zimmerman, general manager of RedTail Golf Center in Beaverton, Ore., says that more clubmakers are integrating hybrids into "combo" iron sets.
Some of these sets have two or three hybrids included," he says. "So although fewer individual hybrids are being sold, the total number is likely the same. These are still extremely helpful clubs for a large number of golfers."
[Illustration by Eddie Guy]
Draw it up: Tianlang Guan played two new fairway woods. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images
You might think players would be reluctant to make equipment changes at the year's first major. But the challenges of Augusta National (the need for a right-to-left tee shot, firmer-than-normal turf, greens that are more receptive to higher shots) had several players making changes or tweaks.
Adam Scott had a new driver, changing from Titleist's 910D3 driver to the newer 913D3. Scott kept the same specs, including 9.5 degrees of loft and a Graphite Design Tour AD DI-8X shaft.
Lee Westwood recently tried a Ping Scottsdale TR Anser B putter, 38 inches long. For the Masters, Westwood was back with the TR Scottsdale Shea he'd been using, at a conventional 35 inches.
Tianlang Guan [above], 14, tested a Callaway X Hot 3-wood and 4-wood in Augusta before the tournament. The 3-wood was 43 inches with 14.1 degrees of loft. The 4-wood was 42 inches with 17.1 degrees of loft. Guan liked that he could draw the clubs, so he putt hem in his bag
Tiger Woods added a Nike VR_S Covert 3-wood, preferring the way he could turn the ball right to left with it.
Tee it up: The X Hot 3Deep clubface is 10-percent taller than the X Hot.
If 60 is the new 40, then 3-wood is the new driver. Or at least it's the second driver. That's one reason Callaway released the X Hot 3Deep fairway wood -- a supersize version of its X Hot line -- to its tour staff. The impetus was Callaway staff player Phil Mickelson's desire for a fairway wood that is long enough to use as a second driver but playable off the ground. The face on the X Hot 3Deep is 10-percent taller than the X Hot, so the center of gravity is slightly higher and more in line with the impact area on tee shots, leading to more ball speed. Look for Mickelson to have the club in his bag this week and at the Masters.
You can watch a pro golf tournament on television multiple times a day every weekend of the year, but only once a year will you see an hour of network golf coverage devoted to the stuff that really matters to average golfers: the hottest gear in the game. That hour comes this Sunday when Golf Digest and NBC Sports combine for the fifth annual edition of the Golf Digest Equipment Insider, a tour through the game's latest technologies in clubs, balls and fashion.
The show will be hosted by Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" co-stars Holly Sonders and Gary Williams, and will feature insight from Golf Digest Senior Editor for Equipment Mike Stachura; Golf World Senior Editor E. Michael Johnson and Golf Digest Fashion Director Marty "Mr. Style" Hackel.
The Golf Digest Equipment Insider will feature segments on every equipment category in the bag from drivers to putters, as well as a special segment on club-fitting and a closer look at the problem of counterfeit clubs. Throughout the show the leading experts in equipment technology at all of golf's top manufacturers will offer their perspective of how modern innovation is making the possibility for improvement not only commonplace for the top players in the world, but for average golfers, too.
The show will air at 1:00 p.m. ET, prior to Golf Central Pre-Game and the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a sneak peek.
Cobra's new line of AMP Cell metalwoods will be noticeable for its array of colorful choices (Silver, Directoire Blue, Barbados Red and Vibrant Orange) but that shouldn't overshadow the technology housed inside and around the flamboyant clubheads.
"This acquisition reflects our commitment to continued growth in the golf category," said Herbert Hainer, CEO of adidas Group, TaylorMade's parent company. "The proposed combination of Adams Golf and TaylorMade-adidas Golf brings together two highly complementary sets of brands, combining Adams' focus on game-improvement as well as senior and women golfers with TaylorMade-adidas Golf's focus on the younger and the low-to-mid handicap golfer."
The acquisition by TaylorMade caps a whirlwind few weeks for Adams, which posted sales of $96.5 million in 2011. CEO Chip Brewer left Adams for Callaway Golf on Feb. 28 with company founder Barney Adams taking over as interim CEO.
To illustrate the club's performance, TaylorMade has provided a video of Dustin Johnson testing the RocketBallz fairway wood, complete with ProTracer graphics:
Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade's chief technical officer, explained the slot was positioned in the sole because it is an area that is normally not very flexible due to the amount of weight positioned there. The other benefit, he said, is that golfers tend to make contact with fairway woods and hybrids low on the face. Placing the slot in the sole adds speed to those shots.