2014 Hot List: Players Drivers

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2014 Hot List: Players Drivers

January 28, 2014

CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA ALPHA

STREET PRICE: $500LOFTS: 9, 10.5 (adjustable).TECH TALK: The most adjustable driver in Callaway history, Big Bertha Alpha features an eight-way hosel that adjusts loft and lie angles independently. Adjustable heel and toe weights yield a fade or draw bias, and a first-of-its-kind convertible cylinder in the center of the head can position the center of gravity (CG) in two different (vertical) locations.PLAYER COMMENTS:"The head offers no distractions. When you try to work it, it goes where you ask it to." ... "Crisp sound, and forgiving just about all over the face."HOT: An engineering feat (the head uses eight materials), but we like the ability to change spin without changing loft.NOT: Those spin-rate differences (around 300 rpm) only have a significant effect at high swing speeds.INFO: callawaygolf.com

PING G25

STREET PRICE: $350LOFTS: 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 12 (adjustable).TECH TALK: More Ping tour staffers used this driver last year than any other in the Ping family, so don't assume this is a chopper's club. The large clubhead creates a high moment of inertia (MOI) for stability on off-center hits, and its CG is lower than any Ping driver in an effort to reduce spin.PLAYER COMMENTS:"Definitely one of the more solid drivers I've hit. The trajectory was high and fast. This thing flies." ... "Oversized but I like it. Very controllable, and feels so smooth through the zone."HOT: Ping adds subtle (but we think appropriate) adjustability (plus or minus a half-degree) without sacrificing its core driver design principles of high launch and forgiveness.NOT: It may launch higher than some better players like.INFO: ping.com

TAYLORMADE SLDR TP/SLDR 430 TP

STREET PRICE: $500LOFTS: 9, 10.5, 12 (adjustable).TECH TALK: SLDR was designed with a more forward CG to reduce spin and improve energy transfer. It features a sliding 20-gram weight in the sole that can be set in 21positions to produce a draw or fade bias. The 12 hoselsettings can change loft by plus or minus 1.5 degrees.PLAYER COMMENTS:"You get this thing set in the proper loft and the ball will just stay in the air and go." ... "I like the heavy weight of the clubhead. Feels very jumpy and explosive at impact."HOT: The technological efforts are compelling because they allow golfers to increase driver loft without the usual hindrance of excess spin.NOT: TaylorMade's product cycles can hurt trade-in values.INFO: taylormadegolf.com

TITLEIST 913D3

STREET PRICE: $400LOFTS: 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 (adjustable).TECH TALK: The more compact of the two 913 drivers, the 445-cubic centimeter head is pear-shaped and features an identical CG location to the 910D3 but with a lighter face design. The thinner, forged, variable thickness face is designed to increase ball speeds on heel and toe hits.PLAYER COMMENTS:"Perfect, deep shape. Not a pingy or aluminum sound, but also not dull. The ball just stays up in the air and never stops." ... "The head is heavier than most, which I like, and produces a crisp, clean sound."HOT: The improved face bolsters the fitting precision of the independent loft/lie adjustability on Titleist's 16-way hosel.NOT: The precise—but somewhat complex—adjustability requires you to keep the guide book handy.INFO: titleist.com

ADAMS XTD

STREET PRICE: $400LOFTS: Lofts: 9, 10.5, 12 (adjustable).TECH TALK: Adams has been ahead of the game on slot technology from the start, and the XTD is its most intricate application yet. Not only are there crown and sole slots, but a third one near the toe allows for consistent flexing across more of the face. The crown and sole slots feature a cut-through opening to further improve ball speed. The hosel accommodates 12 settings.PLAYER COMMENTS:"The slot is a little distracting, but it definitely feels hot on almost every type of hit." ... "This thing jumped and stayed in the air."HOT: For a structure with multiple openings to be uniquely flexible, this meets all the demands of a stouter, players feel.NOT: Adams' custom-shaft offerings are extremely limited.INFO: adamsgolf.com

CALLAWAY X2 HOT PRO

STREET PRICE: $330LOFTS: 8.5 (adjustable).TECH TALK: The upgraded face from X Hot Pro is seven grams lighter so weight can be repositioned deeper in the head. This yields a higher MOI for more consistent ball speeds on off-center hits. The 440cc head features a neutral CG position and a hosel that adjusts independently to match each of four loft angles with one of two lie angles.PLAYER COMMENTS:"Simple look, which is awesome. Muted sound without any annoying frequencies." ... "Feels crisp and controllable and balanced. The weighting feels right throughout the swing."HOT: A cleaner, almost classic shape, but it still embraces high-tech adjustable features and an enhanced face design.NOT: The crown seems almost too clean, like a prototype.INFO: callawaygolf.com

CLEVELAND 588 CUSTOM

STREET PRICE: $350LOFTS: 9, 10.5 (adjustable).TECH TALK: The total weight on this driver is just above 300 grams, almost 10 percent lighter than some adjustable drivers, but it still incorporates a hosel with 12 adjustable settings and a rear weight-screw designed to optimize swingweight. The 12 settings cover a range of plus/minus 1.5 degrees of loft and a 4.5-degree range of face-angle change.PLAYER COMMENTS:"The jet-black look is cool, almost like persimmon. Even with a 10.5, the ball goes out there fast and hits and rolls hot." ... "My shots were in a tight dispersion, and I could move the ball both ways."NOT: Cleveland's been an expert in making lightweight drivers work, and adding adjustability smartly raises the value.__NOT:__Face-angle changes don't resonate with better players.INFO: clevelandgolf.com

COBRA BIO CELL+

STREET PRICE: $400LOFTS: One head, adjusts 8-11 degrees.TECH TALK: The design saves weight in the crown in two ways. First, a "bio cell" pattern thins the rear crown; second, the crown insert is made of a lightweight alloy that includes magnesium, aluminum, zinc, copper and zirconium. The saved weight helps lower the CG for reduced spin. The hosel on the 440cc head features eight loft settings.PLAYER COMMENTS:"Sounds strong on every swing, and the ball just hangs in the air." ... "Mid to high trajectory, sailing, looks like it's going a mile. Very workable, and the flight is ideal." ball goes out there fast and hits and rolls hot." ... "My shots were in a tight dispersion, and I could move the ball both ways."__HOT:__Cobra's search for ways to save weight pays dividends in a club that plays, sounds and feels coolly old school. ball goes out there fast and hits and rolls hot." ... "My shots were in a tight dispersion, and I could move the ball both ways."NOT: The aesthetics are anything but old school.INFO: cobragolf.com

MIZUNO JPX-EZ

STREET PRICE: $300__LOFTS:__9.5, 10.5 (adjustable).TECH TALK: The JPX-EZ features a multiple-thickness face design for improved ball speeds. The softer front edge of the thin (0.6 millimeters) crown is designed to enhance the way the face flexes at impact. The eight settings can change loft by plus/minus 1.5 degrees.PLAYER COMMENTS:"The back of the clubhead is nicely rounded and pretty. A complete-looking driver. Sounds like a beast when hit well, feels like butter." ... "Little shallow, but a nice, classic look. Feels hot and solid off the face."HOT: The fireworks are hidden but real, thanks to meaningful face and crown technology. Special bonus: Mizuno brings the diligence of its feel technology to the driver too.NOT: Some better players prefer a more compact size.INFO: mizunogolf.com

NIKE VRS COVERT 2.0 TOUR

STREET PRICE: $400__LOFTS:__one head, adjusts 8.5-12.5 degrees.TECH TALK: The second installment of Nike's sole-cavity driver design alters the internal geometry of the cavity to control unwanted vibration for more efficient energy transfer. The new design features an enlarged face and significantly higher MOI than a year ago. The adjustable hosel allows for independent face-angle and loft-angle changes.PLAYER COMMENTS:"I don't like the red or the swoosh or the grip, but its performance was impressively consistent. A muted but strong sound and feel, and flight was low, boring and hanging in the air."__HOT:__The looks may shout, but the technology says more. Look again and all you see is a player's shape and ball flight.__NOT:__A "tour" model might be better with a lower loft range.INFO: nikegolf.com

TAYLORMADE JETSPEED TP

STREET PRICE: $400LOFTS: 9.5, 10.5, HL-13 (adjustable).TECH TALK: The first TaylorMade driver to incorporate the company's face-flexing sole-slot technology, JetSpeed retools the slot idea to make the sole more flexible. The cut-through design and the club's low-forward CG help increase ball speed and reduce spin. The adjustable hosel incorporates 12 positions that tweak loft by plus/minus 1.5 degrees.PLAYER COMMENTS:"The crown lines make alignment easy. There's a noticeable spring at impact." ... "Felt easy in my hands. Didn't have to work as hard with this one to get it launched."HOT: TaylorMade shows us that the sole slot isn't just a face-activator, but an even more intriguing spin controller.NOT: Shaft (46 inches) is longer than better players prefer.INFO: taylormadegolf.com

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