Hot List 2008: Drivers
Our selection of gold and silver medalists in the driver category
8.5 (Tour), 9.0, 9.5 (Tour), 10, 10.5 (Tour), 11, 13 HT. Comes in draw and neutral versions. Fade version available in tour only
The titanium cup-face and carbon-composite body combine for a near-traditional shape. A lightweight frame enabled designers to tweak the center of gravity for the neutral, draw and fade versions. A 25-gram weight in the sole is designed to lower the center of gravity.
"I was impressed with the distance... I'm getting more and more used to that sound... Wow, is that straight!... Less pingy. Sounds like you've crushed it. Love the trajectory."
The OptiFit fitting system is a big bonus, and the shaft-adjustability option coming this spring is especially intriguing. This driver serves all ball flights, features plenty of lofts and wraps it up with an excellent fitting program.
A fine driver, but does a year-old product need to be more than $400?
8.5 (LCG), 9, 9.5 (LCG), 10, 11, 13 HT
The square shape helps improve heel-toe stability and crown-to-sole performance. A composite body and titanium cup-face provide design freedom for CG location. The LCG tour version is the latest addition (for lower spin), along with an interchangeable shaft-head system called I-Mix.
"This is on the smaller side, but it works as well as the bigger ones. More maneuverable... When they say it will help you hit it straighter, they aren't lying."
You don't have to like square to appreciate the effort here, especially with the addition of a tour version and the mix-and-match head-and-shaft system.
If it's square, why not push the U.S. Golf Association moment-of-inertia limit? A $500 tag prices out a lot of people who need this technology.
CLEVELAND HIBORE XLS
8.5*, 9.5*, 10.5*, 11.5*; draw version: 9, 10.5, 12; (*also comes in tour version)
The third generation of the scooped-crown design has a wider and larger face (17 percent bigger than the HiBore XL) and an MOI above 5,000. Helping to increase that number is a thinner wall (0.6 millimeters) and deeper indentations in the heel-and-toe sections of the scooped crown.
"It's the farthest, most stable driver yet. The ball doesn't balloon... This is like that country song, 'I got a brand-new girlfriend!' You just choose your loft and go... I hit one clear on the heel, and it still went decent."
The best way to make an unconventional-looking driver is to make it play like an old standby--on steroids. That's what we have here. Plus, we like the three versions.
Adding a 13-degree, nondraw version would help better players with slower swing speeds.