2014 Hot List: Hybrids

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2014 Hot List: Hybrids

January 21, 2014

ADAMS PRO

STREET PRICE: $200LOFTS: 16, 18, 20, 23TECH TALK: The compact head (95 cubic centimeters) is created with tour-player input, and the high-strength Carpenter 455 steel face is thin for increased forgiveness. The slots in the crown and sole are designed to enhance ball speed, and the sole slot's cut-through construction allows for more deflection across the face.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "The weighting feels great when I swing it, and it was easy for me to work the ball either way."M: "There's a nice click sound at impact, and it produces a strong, stinger-like trajectory."HOT: A hybrid that looks like a hybrid, not a small fairway wood. It makes those long-iron distances more manageable without forcing you to revise your entire set.NOT: Some hybrid users might want more draw bias.INFO: adamsgolf.com

CALLAWAY X2 HOT/X2 HOT PRO

STREET PRICE: $200LOFTS: 19, 22, 25, 28 for X2 Hot (shown); 16, 18, 20, 23 for X2 Hot ProTECH TALK: To generate faster ball speed, the X2 Hot has a cupface that's up to 28 percent thinner than the face insert on last year's X Hot. The center of gravity (CG) in the X2 Hot Pro is 40 percent lower than it is in the X Hot Pro, which helps the Pro version produce less spin and a penetrating trajectory.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "The flight is boring, so it would be a great club in the wind." ... "If you like to play a wide variety of shots, this thing visually says you can do so."M: "Distance and dispersion stayed in a tight window."HOT: It's compact enough to look like a hybrid that lets you shape shots, and it has enough technology to make it perform like the high-lofted fairway wood you didn't know you needed.NOT: Less-skilled players might want a little more offset.INFO: callawaygolf.com

COBRA BIO CELL

STREET PRICE: $190LOFTS (adjustable): 2-3H (16 to 19 degrees), 3-4H (19 to 22 degrees), 4-5H (22 to 25 degrees)TECH TALK: The crown is thinner than last year's AMP Cell and includes a web-like structure that allows weight to be redistributed low and around the perimeter. The high-strength 455 steel face insert is thinner near the perimeter for more consistent ball speed accross the face. It comes in five colors.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "It looks aggressive, but it's actually inviting. I like that combination. I'd play this right off the rack."M: "This head is super workable, and I could easily turn the ball over and flight it."HOT: Serious work on the crown and face to make a powerful hybrid that includes two draw settings per head.NOT: We wonder if having eight settings per head and half-degree loft increments might be overkill.INFO: cobragolf.com

NIKE VRS COVERT 2.0/COVERT TOUR 2.0

STREET PRICE: $180/$230LOFTS: 17, 20, 23, 26 for Covert 2.0 (shown); 3H (17 to 21 degrees), 4H (21 to 25 degrees) for Covert Tour 2.0TECH TALK: The Covert 2.0 features larger (more forgiving) clubhead shapes for the lower lofts and progressively smaller heads as the lofts get higher (for better control). The Tour hybrids have a hosel that allows for five lofts and three independent face-angle settings.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "The flight is piercing, and I can work the ball. It plays like an iron."M: "It launches easily and gives you that heavy wood thump at impact."HOT: Most golfers use low-lofted hybrids to advance the ball and high-lofted hybrids to attack greens. Kudos to Nike for engineering a line of hybrids that matches these needs.NOT: The adjustable hosel is the largest of any hybrid.INFO: nikegolf.com

PING G25

STREET PRICE: $200LOFTS: 17, 20, 23, 27, 31TECH TALK: The CG location changes throughout the five heads. The higher lofts have a more forward CG to reduce spin, and the lower-lofted heads feature a more rearward and lower CG to improve stability on off-center hits and increase launch angle. The 17-4 stainless-steel body features squared-off heel and toe regions on the face for improved performance on strikes lower on the face.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "A nice solid crack, really feels like it's plowing through the ground and the ball."M: "Sleek, but also inviting and user-friendly. It launches the ball high and long without making you do too much work."HOT: Powerfully functional and forgiving. Plus, Ping's nFlight fitting system makes developing your set simple.NOT: We wish the clubheads with higher lofts were smaller.INFO: ping.com

PING I25

STREET PRICE: $220LOFTS: 17, 19, 22, 26TECH TALK: The CG changes as the loft changes. On the higher lofts, it's more forward to control spin; on the lower lofts, it's farther back and lower for greater forgiveness and a higher launch angle. The compact, squared-off head shape is designed to make the club perform more like an iron (meaning extra control and workability).PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "The compact look is not too small, it's just what it should be." ... "The sound and feel are out-of-this-world pure."M: "It was phenomenally reliable; it hit the center of the face every time."HOT: A true iron-replacement club. Also, Ping's hybrid shaft fitting takes swing speed and shot shape into consideration.NOT: We think there's more technological room to explore, especially in terms of face design and materials.INFO: ping.com

TAYLORMADE JETSPEED

STREET PRICE: $200LOFTS: 17, 19, 22, 25, 28TECH TALK: It has a lower profile, a lower CG and a shallower face than last year's RocketBallz Stage 2 hybrid, making it more workable and playable from a variety of lies. The new slot on the sole is smaller to save weight. It has a cut-through opening for more face flex, ball speed and less spin.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "Extremely straight—if you want to curve it, it'll only go a hair either way. So it's pretty much a one-trick hybrid, but straight is a good trick."M: "There's just enough bulk to the shape to breed the right amount of confidence."HOT: TaylorMade has rethought the sole slot to help reduce spin in addition to enhancing face flex. Pretty smart, but also making it easier to hit puts this in special territory.NOT: It wouldn't hurt if the crown graphics weren't there.INFO: taylormadegolf.com

TAYLORMADE SLDR/SLDR TP

STREET PRICE: $220/$290LOFTS: 17, 19, 21, 24TECH TALK: To increase ball speed and lower spin, the CG is farther forward than on all but one adjustable hybrid in company history. The special nickel-cobalt steel face is stronger than it was in last year's RocketBallz hybrid and thin (1.8 millimeters) to flex more at impact for optimum distance. The hosel allows you to adjust the loft by 1.5 degrees up or down.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "You can tell you're giving the ball a solid punch when you hit it because of the sound. This is a hot-rod hybrid."M: "It's got the feel of an iron at impact, but the power of a fairway wood."HOT: A robust technological effort (as expected) in a much more efficient and hybrid-like shape than previous models.NOT: The standard shaft lengths are longer than most of the other hybrids.INFO: taylormadegolf.com

TITLEIST 913H/913H.d

STREET PRICE: $230LOFTS (all adjustable): 17, 19, 21, 24, 27 for 913H; 18, 20, 23 for 913H.dTECH TALK: The low CG is placed farther back in the lower lofts—to increase stability on off-center hits—and closer to the face for higher lofts—to control spin. The adjustable hosel allows users to tweak launch conditions by changing loft and lie independently.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "This club seems more consistent than others. My dispersion area was the size of a blanket."M: "It's got a unique combination of letting you hit precise shots and giving you some leeway on mis-hits."HOT: Titleist has done all the little things right here to make your long irons irrelevant, including tweaking the offset as the lofts change.NOT: Better players might want an H.d model with less loft.INFO: titleist.com

ADAMS IDEA

STREET PRICE: $170LOFTS: 16.5, 19, 22, 25, 28, 32TECH TALK: Designed to help shots launch higher, these hybrids feature a low-profile shape and a large low-face area for increased forgiveness. The cut-through sole slot is twice as long as it was in last year's Tech V4. The crown slot is slightly longer and narrower. Less camber is designed for better results on shots hit low on the face.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "It's a fun, easy club to hit, and it flies high and straight. That said, I couldn't work the ball."M: "This powers through the ground on fat shots. It's one of the easiest-to-hit hybrids I've ever played. I also like how the slot has gotten skinnier."HOT: Everything here is built on the research that high-handicappers rarely hit the center of the face.NOT: These players do not need a 2-hybrid.INFO: adamsgolf.com

ADAMS XTD-TI

STREET PRICE: $300LOFTS (all adjustable): 16, 18, 20, 23, 26TECH TALK: The slots in the sole and crown feature a unique cut-through opening that is closer to the face, allowing it to more effectively flex and increase ball speed. The titanium face, crown and hosel are brazed to a heavier steel sole for a lower CG. The face gets thinner toward the perimeter for better flexibility.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "This thing moves it out there. It adds lots of charge to most of your shots, so if you can get beyond the look it's great."M: "The slot is growing on me, and I like the smaller shape."HOT: The brazing joint between the steel sole and the titanium face and crown has been moved to lower the CG. This kind of attention to detail is in every element of this club.NOT: Not sure those details pay $300 dividends for all players.INFO: adamsgolf.com

COBRA BAFFLER XL

STREET PRICE: $160LOFTS: 17, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31TECH TALK: Designed with more forgiveness than last year's Baffler T-Rail+, the head has 20 grams of tungsten low and back to encourage a higher trajectory and increase stability on off-center hits. Sole weights lower the CG and help reduce spin. Two rails on the sole are designed to decrease surface drag and enhance playability from a variety of lies. The high-strength 455 steel face is built for increased ball speed.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "You could take this club out of the bag without warming up and hit darts."M: "It only hits high shots, but that might be just what you need. I could use it to drop shots on a green like a wedge."HOT: The range of lofts is larger than most, and multiple-material technology is delivered at a competitive price.NOT: A blue finish with extra offset could be a turnoff.INFO: cobragolf.com

MIZUNO JPX-EZ

STREET PRICE: $190LOFTS: 16, 19, 22, 25TECH TALK: The 1770 maraging-steel face is designed thin to increase ball speed, and the large (127 cubic centimeters) clubhead has a deep face for more stability and performance off the tee. An internal sole weight pushes the CG low and back for higher launch. The face is positioned slightly forward of the shaft to aid the way the leading edge slides between the ball and turf for better, more consistent contact.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "The matte-black finish is a little darker than others, and it frames the ball well." ... "I felt I could really get after the ball with this club."M: "The pronounced thwack at impact is the sound of power."HOT: The same amount of technology used to tune sound frequencies in Mizuno irons is applied to this hybrid.NOT: The head's shape borders on fairway-wood territory.INFO: mizunousa.com/golf

TOUR EDGE EXOTICS XCG7/XCG7 BETA

STREET PRICE: $160/$200LOFTS: 19, 22, 25, 28 for the XCG7; 17, 19, 22, 25 for the XCG7 BetaTECH TALK: The XCG7 has four weight pads farther back in the sole to increase stability on mis-hits. The XCG7 Beta, which uses a thin, lightweight beta-titanium crown, has four weights pads farther forward to lower trajectory and control spin. Both have a cupface construction and a waffled grid section in the sole to improve the way the face gives on contact.PLAYER COMMENTS:L: "It feels well-balanced throughout the swing, and it produces a superior flight."M: "The front-to-back and heel-to-toe proportions are ideal, and it makes a full sound at impact."HOT: A significant one-two punch, and both models have impressive variable-thickness faces.NOT: The logo on the crown distracted some testers.INFO: touredge.com

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