HYBRIDS

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HYBRIDS

December 28, 2008

ADAMS IDEA TECH A4/A4OS

STREET PRICE: $170WEBSITE: adamsgolf.comLOFTS: 17, 19, 22, 26 (a4); 17, 19, 22, 25, 28 (a4OS)TECH TALK: Adams combines a square head and a maraging-steel face to increase ball speed and moment of inertia (MOI)–to 3,400 in the a4OS. An adjustable sole weight in the a4 allows the company to customize swingweight to fit any player. The a4OS comes with a lightweight magnesium crown and heel-toe tungsten sole weights to optimize the launch angle. Its offset hosel is designed to reduce slicing.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Adams has figured out hybrids better than anybody. The ball just takes off, and it's forgiving, too.'' ... (L) "Wow! This hits the ball longer than any other hybrid out there." ... (T) "It's really easy to hit, even off tight lies. Versatile, like an iron."HOT: Another hybrid leap for Adams, and the premium shafts (Graphite Design YSQ-HL and Mitsubishi Rayon Javln FX) are a bonus.NOT: A rectangle lacks an aesthetic flow.

BOBBY JONES WORKSHOP EDITION

STREET PRICE: $200WEBSITE: bobbyjonesgolf.comLOFTS: 16, 18, 20, 22, 26, 30TECH TALK: A thin, lightweight hosel helps lower the center of gravity (CG) and features a notch that allows the lie and face angle to be adjusted. Constructed of multiple materials, the clubhead has a thin, strong Carpenter 465 face and a thin maraging-steel crown to relocate 30 grams to the sole.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Amazing. I just hit three balls right on top of each other. It's incredibly easy to get in the air. Certainly good enough to get over the looks." ... (L) "For such a small head, it gets the ball in the air, and you can really work it any way you like.''HOT: Being able to bend the hosel for different lie and face angles on a hybrid is new thinking other companies will soon copy. This feature and designer Jesse Ortiz's contoured sole get high marks for versatility.NOT: The snub-nose toe shape of yesteryear's cleeks might not appeal to modern tastes.

CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA DIABLO

STREET PRICE: $160WEBSITE: callawaygolf.comLOFTS/BOUNCE: 18, 21, 24, 27TECH TALK: This straightforward 17-4 stainless-steel design incorporates Callaway's variable-thickness face for increased efficiency on off-center hits. A pair of rails on the back of the sole helps improve turf interaction; they also get the leading edge of the face closer to the ground so players can get the ball up fast, even from heavy lies.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "A stealth-fighter-looking club with cool graphics. Without question, it's easy to hit and very long." ... (L) ''This club does every trick in the book. I hit about seven different shots with it, and it did everything I wanted it to do.'' (T) "This is one of the most user-friendly hybrids you could hit."HOT: A favorite across all groups, Callaway finally gets the hybrid category right.NOT: We get it: Diablo, the devil, heat. The red color still looks "roller rink."

COBRA BAFFLER TWS/PRO

STREET PRICE: $149WEBSITE: cobragolf.comLOFTS: 16, 18, 20, 23 (Pro); 16, 18, 20, 23, 26, 29 (men's TWS); 23, 26, 29, 32, 35 (women's TWS); 23, 26, 29, 32 (seniors' TWS)TECH TALK: The TWS has three internal weight pads on the perimeter of the sole to place the CG back and low. This is designed to increase the MOI and help launch the ball more easily. The large, laser-welded 275 maraging-steel face is intended to provide consistent ball speed across the entire face.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Just a fantastic golf club in all aspects. It's so easy to swing, and the weight seems just right. It has great distance, too."... (L) "The leading edge makes you feel like you can dig the ball off the ground and launch it way in the air for a mile."HOT: A genuine upgrade from DWS, it defines easy, and the smorgasbord of lofts guarantees something for everyone.NOT: No maraging-steel face for women and seniors. Why?

PING G10

STREET PRICE: $150WEBSITE: pinggolf.comLOFTS: 15, 18, 21, 24, 28, 32TECH TALK: The unassuming 17-4 stainless-steel head features more technology than meets the eye: An internal weight pad in the sole and a thin, sloped crown are designed to lower the CG and help raise the MOI. A plasma-welded, variable-thickness face is intended to help players add ball speed.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Has a very powerful sound. Really forgiving on mis-hits." ... (L) "This is the Holy Grail. I could hit this thing for a month. Super-workable. Plus, it doubles as a driver because you can use it off the tee on short par 4s."... (T) "It works the ball back into play even on heel shots."HOT: Extensive research–and 10 radial ribs inside the crown–went into tuning the sound of this club, to great effect. It's one of the most solid-feeling hybrids on the market.NOT: The sloped crown and orange color might turn off some traditionalists.

TAYLORMADE BURNER RESCUE

STREET PRICE: $160WEBSITE: taylormadegolf.comLOFTS: 18, 20, 23 (tour launch); 17, 19, 22, 25, 28 (high launch)TECH TALK: Both models feature thin clubhead walls (0.6 millimeters) and a sole that's distinctly wider than the crown. This allows designers to redistribute weight and move the CG deeper and 35 percent lower than last year's Burner Rescue. The longer, lighter shaft and grip are aimed at boosting clubhead speed. The smaller head has a slight fade bias, and the larger head is designed to draw the ball.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "It's so forgiving, you can't mis-hit it." ... (M) "I found the smaller version more appealing. Definitely very long and high."... (L) "I hit it out of divots and off the toe, and it still performed well."HOT: These two models from TaylorMade cover all types of skill and size preferences.NOT: Wide, fairway-wood-style footprint might not be the most versatile from all lies.

ADAMS IDEA PRO GOLD

STREET PRICE: $220WEBSITE: adamsgolf.comLOFTS: 16, 18, 20, 23, 26TECH TALK: A square-shape player's hybrid might sound like an oxymoron, but the Idea Pro Gold's narrow sole, neutral face angle, lower-loft options, maraging-steel face and mid-range CG are designed for the faster swinger who's looking for a hybrid with a high MOI that will produce a long-iron-like ball flight.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "I really prefer the smaller profile of this one; it feels like you can get it off the ground much easier."... (L) "I hate how it looks, but it performs really well. There's a lot of 'oomph' when it strikes the ball." ... (T) "Set it down on the turf, and you can tell right away it's a player's club."HOT: Maybe not a traditional look, but a real crowd-pleaser for the high-speed set. The 17 custom-shaft options help, too.NOT: Good luck getting more than $200 for a hybrid in this economy, and that sole weight clogs with dirt.

CALLAWAY FT

STREET PRICE: $200WEBSITE: callawaygolf.comLOFT: 18, 21, 24, 27TECH TALK: The FT's stainless-steel body is equipped with a high-density, tungsten-infused sole that moves 50 percent of the clubhead's weight to the sole. This optimizes launch conditions and offsets the weight of the longer hosel--a feature that allows for a constant distance between the leading edge of the face and the shaft axis throughout the different lofts.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "It has a nice sound and ball flight." ... (M) "Very traditional-looking. In a way it's almost too long–you definitely don't need two of these in your bag. Really amazing in the rough."... (L) "A really solid club. It'll keep you in contention." ... (T) "It's forgiving on tough lies, even downhill."Hot: The technology's hidden but powerful, and the look is almost vintage. The neutral and draw options serve two kinds of players. NOT: Super game-improvement players need more help than the draw version offers.

CLEVELAND LAUNCHER

STREET PRICE: $150WEBSITE: clevelandgolf.comLOFTS: 16, 19, 22, 25, 28TECH TALK: The company's first "traditional" hybrid might be its most effective. Engineered on an iron chassis, the Launcher has a parabolic leading edge for easy turf interaction, and the horseshoe-shape perimeter sole weighting helps create the highest-ever MOI for a Cleveland hybrid. To save more weight, the crown has stayed low, and the rear walls have been minimized.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Good feel and balance. It breeds confidence."... (M) "I really like the look of the longer head and how the ball jumps off the clubface. This is the longest hybrid I've hit." ... (M) "The alignment aid is distracting, but this club is very easy to launch off the ground and very forgiving."HOT: Proof that good sound, feel and performance don't have to come with a hefty price tag and an odd shape.NOT: It's unanimous: The flame alignment decal looks like an unfinished tattoo.

MIZUNO MX-700

STREET PRICE: $160WEBSITE: mizunousa.comLOFTS: 17, 20, 23, 26TECH TALK: The strong, lightweight ES230 steel face is plasma-welded to a 431 stainless-steel body to expand the hottest area of the face. The drop-down crown design helps lower the club's CG and allows lie and loft to be adjusted.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "I could hit it blindfolded. Super performance. Excellent ball flight."... (M) "The two-tone crown graphics are busy, but it sets up perfectly flat and square. Perfect, aggressive ball flight." ... (T) "It's got a hot face. Every ball felt like a flier–a great distance club. Trajectory was a little inconsistent, but that won't bother the average player because the distance is there."HOT: Known for forged, soft-feeling irons, Mizuno isn't afraid to turn up the volume in its utility metals.NOT: Another odd-looking crown decal that will keep some players moving on to the next contender.

NICKENT 3DX RC

STREET PRICE: $100WEBSITE: nickentgolf.comLOFTS: 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29TECH TALK: The tungsten-polymer inserts in the sole serve two purposes: They increase the club's MOI by 25 percent over the original 3DX Ironwood, making the club more stable through the swing, and the polymer backing helps dampen vibration. Six lofts will fill every possible gap you might have in your bag.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Goes right where you're aiming, good swing or bad. Easy to hit." ... (M) "Destined to be a classic. It might not be as forgiving, but when you hit the ball, it goes." ... (M) "The weight and balance made it very easy to swing. Good distance and a nice sound." ... (L) "I think I'm going to hit this well just by looking at it."HOT: Nickent's reputation was built on this kind of quality. Golfers get tour-proven performance for $100.NOT: Off-center hits feel worse than on others.

PING RAPTURE V2

STREET PRICE: $200WEBSITE: pinggolf.comLOFTS: 17, 20, 23, 27TECH TALK: An investment-cast 17-4 stainless-steel body with a machined, variable-thickness face has been plasma-welded to a two-tiered tungsten soleplate. That moves 48 percent of the clubhead's weight to the sole and positions the CG low and deep to enhance launch conditions.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Anyone could hit this. Very easy to launch, and that scoop in the back isn't distracting at all."... (M) "It's certainly plenty long enough." ... (L) "Got to be the farthest yet. Off the tee it released when it hit the ground." ... (T) "More penetrating ball flight than the G10."HOT: The second go-round on Rapture is just as powerful and more playable. The weight movement is no small party trick. Plus, Ping's fitting options are unmatched.NOT: Are we sure there's a performance leap between this and the G10 at $50 less?

TITLEIST 909H

STREET PRICE: $190WEBSITE: titleist.comLOFTS: 15, 17, 19, 21, 24TECH TALK: The size, shape, CG location and offset change gradually from loft to loft in this 17-4 stainless-steel clubhead that also features a fast, Carpenter 455 steel face insert. The face is larger and longer than previous Titleist hybrids to add a touch more forgiveness. A factory-adjustable swingweight screw in the back of the sole allows for customization and a low, deep CG.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Beautiful club. It looks like a BMW. Simple and elegant."... (T) "Great trajectory. Not too spinny."... (L) "I've never hit a Titleist hybrid I liked until now."... (L) "Super-traditional-looking at address. Rock-solid feel at impact, and mis-hits didn't travel too far off-line."HOT: It's elegant and efficient, provided you have the training.NOT: This is truly a club for high-speed players who don't want a high-launching hybrid.

TOUR EDGE EXOTICS XCG-V

STREET PRICE: $250WEBSITE: pinggolf.comLOFTS: 16, 18, 21, 24TECH TALK: The lightweight, V-shape titanium cupface is brazed to a heavy steel soleplate to move 66 percent of the clubhead's weight to the rear of the heel and toe for a higher MOI and improved launch. A complicated brazing technique bonds the two materials without leaving a weld. The titanium hosel frees an additional 30 grams of weight to add to the sole.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "A wind-cheater. It flies like nothing's in its way–like a bullet."... (L) "There's nothing bad about this golf club. No manipulating necessary: You just set it down perfectly and swing."... (T) "I roasted a few out of divots."HOT: This meaty hybrid is in fourth gear right out of the headcover. Its low spin rates give it a distinctly metal-wood-like ball flight.NOT: Resale value can justify some expenditures, but this brand isn't there yet.

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