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 »  Home  »  Equipment  »  Play Testing  »  Drivers  »  The Newest in Drivers for 2008
The Newest in Drivers for 2008
By Tom Landers | Published  10/6/2008 | Drivers | Unrated
New Driver Shapes Make Your Misses Better
Untitled Document

It was an idea that started back in 2001, but not until this year were design engineers convinced that it was time for drivers to undergo a radical change.  The fluid, symmetrical head has given way to the square shape, the bullet-shape and even the triangle-shaped driver heads.
  The idea of the new shapes was the result of designers trying to find ways to help golfers still hit good shots, even when they happen to mis-hit the ball. An off center hit causes the clubhead to twist, resulting in a shot that flies down the fairway and leaves the short grass headed for the thick rough or even worse. The square, bullet or triangular shape of the new clubheads allows for extreme weighting in the head. This ensures the clubhead rotation around its center of gravity is reduced. Less twist means a straighter shot. It is all about maximizing moment of inertia (a club’s resistance to twisting on off-center hits). Now that the USGA has put a number to MOI, manufacturers are departing from traditional shapes to maximize their club’s MOI.
  Traditional shapes wouldn’t allow for the kind of movement of the weight necessary, so the new shapes were born. It was time to put what looked like a car hood on the end of a shaft and step up to the tee box. Crazy? Perhaps, but ask anyone that reared back and poked a solid drive with the brand new square head driver and they’ll tell you that although it may look different, they’re thrilled with the performance they get, drive after consistent drive.
  And remember that unusual sound you heard from the 2007 model? Say goodbye. The 2008 square drivers models have more of a crisp, pinging noise that we are accustomed to hearing from a normal metal face.
  The club that most golfers hit just 14 times a round might be the one club that designers spend the most time tweaking and reworking to find that magical shot that every golfer can repeat over and over again. This year, club manufacturers like Taylor Made, Callaway, Hippo, Nickent, Nike and others are picking up where they left off last year when drastic changes to the shape of the clubhead made headlines.
  Benoit Vincent, the Chief Technical Officer of Taylor Made Golf says that last year, was the year of Geometry.
  “The driver head shape, as we knew it was gone,” proclaimed Vincent. “Very different shapes became part of the game. Elongated or square heads replaced the pear-shaped driver heads that we were used to.
  “I think of the changes in 2007 as the first generation. In 2008 and possibly into next year as well, we will continue to try and perfect the new shape of the driver. The shape change was due to the industry’s effort to increase the MOI and move the center of gravity as far as we could. At Taylor Made, by elongating the head, we created a wonderfully different look, while making the club technically better.
  “This year, we will be perfecting the old – the new look created in ’07 – while inventing new ways to make it better. We found out that it’s okay for our eyes to look down at the club and see a different shape. This new look brought a new level of performance. You can’t change the shape so dramatically if you do not deliver performance.
  “We broke the rules on appearance. Now we are setting out to improve on the performance of the current shape. The dual crown on this driver and weighted power base will increase the carry and distance. And the new head shape promotes a lower, deeper and precision-placed CG for higher launch angle and lower spin,” said Vincent.
But they aren’t the only club manufacturer to make big changes this season. We have taken our swings with most of the new offerings from many of the golf companies…big and small. Which is the best for you? Take a moment and read through our reviews. See what each club does and determine which one fits YOUR game. Then head to the nearest shop and get a hold of a demo model and hit it yourself!

Adams Insight XTD a3 | 800-709-6142 | $300

Unique Features:The Insight XTD a3 from Adams features the same technology as the a3OS, but without the added weight in the heel.  This will likely attract better players to the a3, as it provides more workability than its sister club, without losing the high MOI and tremendous distance that Boxer Technology creates.  That’s a main reason the Insight XTD a3 is the official driver of the Long Drivers of America.
  Tester Comments: Long, Straight drives. Was surprised by the feel, the head design, the sound of the ball off the head – it was great … I’m a hooker - teed this up and hit it dead straight or left to right all day long!! Easily an extra 20 t0 25 yards!

Alpha C-830.4 | 800-222-1186 | $500

Unique Features:  The C830.4 from Alpha takes fantastic technology and pairs it with the ability to customize shafts, making this one of the best drivers that most golfers have never heard of.  The plasma-welded face transmits a solid feel with no wasted energy, while Variable Face Thickness helps golfers achieve maximum results even on less-than-maximum swings.  The $500 price tag may seem steep, but that includes three shafts that are easily interchangeable.

Tester Comments: Forgiving and good ball flight ... It is good to hit a driver you have never heard as see it perform as well as any brand name … Gained 10 -15 m of controlled distance.

Bobby Jones Workshop Edition | 866-858-5522 | $500

Unique Features: Clubmaker Jesse Ortiz has long been known as one of the industry’s foremost authorities on clubmaking.  This isn’t likely to change with the introduction of the Bobby Jones Workshop Edition, a triangular driver that is an impressive marriage of form and function.  The club’s “Triangle of Stability” delivers the forgiveness of a square-headed driver to more areas of the clubhead, eliminating inefficient weight and moving it behind the center of the face.  This results in a sweet-sounding impact that flies as good as it feels.
  Tester Comments: Launched shots a bit higher than normal for me, but added distance … My mis-hits found the center of the fairway, not just the fairway … Odd look but straight drives, very straight.

Bridgestone J33 460 | 800-358-6319 | $299

Unique Features: An elastomer compound insert within the clubhead reduces vibration throughout the crown, sole and face of the club. The reduction in vibration accounts for a more efficient energy transfer resulting in more distance. A patented Low Modulus (Thin) Crown flexes slightly at impact adding loft to the clubhead, which enhances the vertical gear effect. The enhanced vertical gear effect then leads to an even higher launch and further decreased backspin off the tee.

Tester Comments: I was able to work the ball more with this driver than others … Nice clean lines and a solid feel at impact.

Callaway FT-5 | 800-228-2767 | $430

Unique Features: The FT-5 from Callaway is a more traditionally shaped driver that still provides a tremendous amount of forgiveness and distance.  A 25-gram weight is located in the back of the club, lowering the CG and improving trajectory.  The FT-5’s wide titanium face is extremely hot, and the club’s forgiveness translates into consistent distance from heel to toe.  Like the FT-i, the FT-5 is available in draw and neutral models, giving players the option to fight that pesky slice or work the ball in any direction.
  Tester Comments: I hit more fairways with this driver then I ever hit in my 40 years of play and I hit it longer … FT-5 will get the ball up straight from the club face. A very high launch angle and straight.

Callaway FT-i | 800-228-2767 | $500

Unique Features: Callaway’s FT-i driver is pushing the limits of what a driver can do.  Unlike most of its competition that is manufactured almost exclusively with titanium, the FT-i’s body is made of a carbon composite that is even lighter than titanium.  This makes it possible to shift excess weight into the corners of the clubhead, drastically increasing forgiveness on all shots.  The option to choose either a draw or neutral model is a welcome surprise.
  Tester Comments: It took me a bit to get used to it, but it feels great, hits the ball pretty straight and is longer than my driver … I really like the FT-i. may have sacrificed a few yards, but the FT-i is definitely easy to hit and straight …  It is not as easy to work the ball, but if you can hit it straighter, who cares?

Cleveland Hibore XLS | 800-999-6263 | $300

Unique Features:  The folks at Cleveland are taking this whole Moment of Inertia thing pretty seriously.  The HiBore XLS features two “stability foils” on the perimeter of the clubhead for maximum performance on mis-hits, and the scooped crown allows for more weight to be repositioned deeper and lower in the sole of the club.  With Full Face Performance for a larger effective hitting area, the Hibore XLS also assures users of fantastic distance.
  Tester Comments: Plays more consistent and is farther than any other I’ve used however it’s loud … Accuracy and distance make up for the sound … Longest driver by far.

Cobra Speed LD-M | 800-225-8500 | $300

Unique Features: The Cobra Speed LD-M is pushing USGA limits to the maximum.  The clubhead reaches the USGA limit of 5’ X 5’.  The COR of the face is maxed out thanks to a milled dual rhombus face insert, and the club’s CG is pushed lower and deeper due to its sharply sloped crown.  The Speed LD-M features a draw bias to offset slicing tendencies, and it is available in straight and offset head designs.
  Tester Comments: Higher trajectory and straighter drives … Distance about the same but better carry … Slight closed face keeps my drives in the middle of the fairway

Dunlop Tao | (888) 215-1528

Unique Features: Designed for average golfers, the Tao’s oversized stainless steel construction is engineered resulting in a lower center of gravity, aimed at allowing the player to attain a higher launch angle and low ball spin. The Tao’s low center of gravity and larger sweet spot enables the player to get the ball in the air at an optimal launch angle. The result is more yards off the tee, especially for those with swing speeds under 100 mph.
  Tester Comments: I found myself on the fairway and a lot closer to the green … As good as the top brand names … The first time that I made contact with the ball it went long and straight.

E21 Golf Emc2 | $599.00

Unique Features: It features a multi-material Scandium cup face technology with variable wall thickness. The forged scandium cup face is designed to maximize energy transfer and provide a larger sweet spot.  The extremely low angle of dispersion it creates maximizes both distance and accuracy on off center mis-hits. Scandium’s strength to weight ratio is better than that of titanium and the weight saved in the face of the driver is used more efficiently to increase MOI and create a higher more consistent ball speed.
  Tester Comments: Center hits felt like “butta” … Handsome and a straight hitter … One of the best I hit.

Mizuno MP-600 | 800-966-1211 | $400

Unique Features: The Mizuno MP-600 and its customizable weighting system allow golfers to find the settings that work for their swing.  Two eight-gram weights on the new Fast Track system can be tuned 15 different ways, with each yielding a different CG and ball flight path.  The clubface of the MP-600 is plasma welded and CNC milled.  Combined with CORTECH design and its multiple face thicknesses, this results in truer, longer shots across the entire face.
  Tester Comments: Liked the sliding adjustable weight track, a lot easier and quicker than others I have tried … Among the best shaped drivers in a long time … Forged driver face gives a good solid feel, control, distance and reasonably forgiving.

Nickent 4DX SuperMAG | 888-642-5368 | $379

Unique Features:  A super thin magnesium crown allows more weight to be moved near the heel and toe for an MOI reaching 5300m making it one of the most stable and forgiving drivers available. The proprietary polymer XW inserts help achieve a high MOI for maximum forgiveness and dampen vibration. The innovative use of magnesium creates a solid sound. The patented A-Frame Face Technology raises the sweet spot so solid contact is made more consistently.
  Tester Comments: Felt a little light but it really screams and is very straight … Trajectory was a little high, but distance and accuracy were awesome … I like the feel and looks of this club. When you hit it properly you get a solid click and it flys off the club and feels great.

Nickent 4DX Evolver | 888-642-5368 | $400 (one shaft) $480 (two shafts)

Unique Features: The Evolver is one of the first clubs to take advantage of the recent USGA ruling allowing interchangeable shafts.  With the Evolver, customizing your clubs has never been easier.  Golfers will now be able to put any shaft they desire into their club in just seconds.  Windy conditions?  Install a shaft that lends itself to a lower ball flight.  Rain soaking the course?  Put in a shaft that will allow more carry.  Now everybody can give their clubs the same attention that PGA Tour players get each week, and with the Nickent Evolver, it’s easy as can be.
  Tester Comments: Changing shafts was easier than I thought, not sure I would change often … I got more yardage off the tee than with my other driver … Cool having options, I like the driver and the high launch shaft best.

Nicklaus Fastback | 800-322-1872 | $300

Unique Features: The Nicklaus Fastback driver has stretched the rules to the limit in an effort to create unprecedented power and accuracy.  Dual Point technology allows weight to be centered behind the sweet spot, creating tremendous distance and stability on well-struck shots.  The multi-layered face of the Fastback expands the effective hitting area, preventing off-center shots from losing much distance or accuracy.  Micro Welding ensures durable construction while eliminating excess weight, which allows more weight to be focused in the spots that matter.
  Tester Comments: A little hard to look at but demo results were good … Shot dispersion was notably tighter with the Nicklaus compared to the others … never owned or considered Nicklaus clubs before, until now.

Nike SQ Sumo 5000 | 888-799-6453 | $359

Unique Features: The Nike SQ Sumo 5000 offers something for every level of player.  For high-handicappers, the club’s PowerBow design redistributes weight to the perimeter of the club, optimizing CG and increasing MOI for more forgiveness and a tighter shot dispersion.  For better players, the Sumo’s updated body design makes it possible to shape shots from left to right or right to left, while the NexTi titanium face and its high rebound qualities push the distance envelope even farther.
  Tester Comments: Sumo 5000 - best driver tried for overall performance --- and longest driver tried … I used this driver several times and have yet to mishit the ball with it … More forgiving than last year’s and the sound it makes is great.

Nike SQ Sumo Squared 5900 | 888-799-6453 | $479

Unique Features: Let’s get this out of the way first.  If you can’t hit the Nike SQ Sumo Squared 5900 straight, it may be time to take up croquet.  The ultra-high MOI of this square driver turns everything but a whiff into a long, straight journey down the fairway.  PowerBow design places weight in the corners of the clubhead, making it easy to square the club at impact.  The 5900’s deep, multi-thickness face yields a higher ball speed on more than just sweet spot hits.  This is one of the few clubs that make it difficult to hit a bad shot.
  Tester Comments: Really reduced my fade to almost a straight shot … Distance is good but not the longest driver I’ve hit - ball flight is pretty high … Sounds like a normal driver and very forgiving.

Ping G10 | 800-474-6434| $350

Unique Features: The G10 from Ping is a driver that doesn’t force golfers to hold anything back.  Its extra-tall clubface is perfect for teeing it high and watching it fly, and the deep internal weight pad in the sole of the club easily facilitates a high, low-spin launch.  Drives will achieve greater consistency due to the variable thickness of the clubface, and the G10’s high MOI will keep them straight, even without optimal contact.
  Tester Comments: Super hot face and workable. I like the clean appearance … Remarkable forgivness and distance … Hands down the best that I have tried.

Powerbilt Citation WMD | 888-488-4653 | $250

Unique Features: The “Weapon of Mass Distance” from Powerbilt seeks to add yards to the games of those that don’t have the swing speed of Tiger Woods.  Designed for average golfers, the WMD is two inches longer than most drivers, allowing the clubhead to travel at a higher rate of speed at impact.  The WMD also has a highly resilient no-weld face.  The result is more yards off the tee, especially for those with swing speeds under 100 mph.
  Tester Comments: Extra Easy to hit and very forgiving … nothing sexy about the club it just worked well … As good as any higher priced name brand driver on market.

SMT Indio | 888-693-4001 | $239

Unique Features: The Indio is the first patented piece in the SMT line of clubs. The 430 cc Indio features a revolutionary cross hatch crown design and a double forged top and bottom of the crown designed to reduce weight significantly and place the weight in the sole of the club. Angular fins in to sole also adds weight in the sole where needed for long, accurate drives.
  Tester Comments: One of the best feeling Heads I have ever hit …  I was hitting it long and straight … Easy to look at and a great solid feel.

Srixon Z-RW | 888-477-4966 | $300

Unique Features: Golfers will have no trouble sending high, straight drives into the fairway with the Srixon Z-RW.  The club’s optimal weight flow design places excess weight on the heel, making it easier to square the clubface at impact.  The Z-RW’s Starburst Power Face design amplifies the effective hitting area, creating forgiveness from heel to toe.  The forged titanium face increases ball speed and promotes consistency, while the tungsten weight that is housed deep in the club’s sole delivers a high, soaring launch.
  Tester Comments:   A very forgiving driver … Hits very straight … The trajectory was high and distance good.

TaylorMade CGB Max | 800-888-2582 | $500

Unique Features: The latest evolution in the movable weight driver market.  Three weight ports in the sole of the club allow a drastic change in trajectory, from a slight fade bias to a large draw.  With this, golfers will be able to customize the club to fit their swing, making it easier to find the fairway.  The club’s triangular head shape yields an incredibly high MOI and a deep CG that are responsible for superior forgiveness and a high, explosive launch.  The red hue of the crown ensures that the CGB Max will stand out from the crowd in more ways than one
  Tester Comments: This is one GREAT Driver. Very forgiving and long! …  longest & most forgiving driver I have ever hit … Even the miss hits go as far as my best shots with my other driver.

TaylorMade Tour Burner | 800-888-2582 | $400

Unique Features: Each aspect of the TaylorMade Tour Burner was made with distance in mind.  The combination of SuperFast club technology and a lightweight Fujikura shaft increases swing speed.  The Tour Burner’s extremely light crown allows extra weight to be added deep in the sole for a deep, low-spin ball flight.  Inverted Cone Technology expands the effective hitting area, adding distance to off-center drives.  If all else fails, the fierce black look of the Tour Burner should scare a few more yards out of each drive.
  Tester Comments:  Ball flight has a boring trajectory that gets you well down the fairway … This driver is the real deal, period! … I hit far more balls into the middle of the fairway.

TaylorMade Burner | 800-888-2582 | $360

Unique Features: TaylorMade’s assault on the driver market continues with the Burner.  Dubbed as the “bomber’s” driver, the Burner’s low, bullet-shaped head makes it look a weapon capable of some serious damage, and in this regard, looks aren’t deceiving.  The super-deep center of gravity afforded by the clubhead’s shape gets the ball airborne quickly for a longer, higher ball flight.  Despite being 460cc, the Burner is lighter than other its driving competitors, almost as if it’s asking the one holding it to go ahead and let ‘er rip.
  Tester Comments: Great club- easy to swing for the size. Great feel … Easy to play with and it sounds as if a bomb explodes … This is all you need to be a good golfer!

Titleist 907D1 | 800-225-8500 | $400

Unique Features: High MOI is the name of the game with the Titleist 907D1.  With a triangular clubhead, the 907D1 will take some getting used to for the more traditional crowd, but the straight arrow trueness it authors off the tee will dispel any doubts immediately.  The 907D1 is easy to square at impact, and its deep, low CG sends drives high and far with minimal spin for increased roll.  The club’s sleek black finish and polished luster give it an impressive aesthetic to boot.
  Tester Comments:Very accurate,where you aim you will hit it … Really nice driver; feels great at setup; very forgiving! … Very straight with good distance.

Titleist 907D2 | 800-225-8500 | $400

Unique Features: The Titleist 907D2 has the same outstanding look of the 907D1, but without the triangular clubhead.  The 907D2 has a slightly lower MOI as a result, but will fit the purist’s eye better.  The club’s crown and hosel are very light, allowing for the movement of mass to the base of the clubhead.  This low CG, when paired with the beta titanium face insert, promotes a high, low-spin launch for increased carry and roll.
  Tester Comments: Great club!! Traditional looks, no gimmicks … Very forgiving and long for a Titleist driver … Feels and looks like you can smash it miles and not hit it left.

Tour Edge Exotics XCG | 800-515-3343 | $400

Unique Features: It takes a healthy dose of innovation to match up to the big boys of the golf industry, and Tour Edge has innovation in spades.  The company’s use of an unprecedented magnesium crown has given the Exotics XCG a smooth, vibration-free feel at impact while simultaneously permitting the displacement of extra weight to the rear of the club’s sole.  This has reduced the Exotics XCG’s spin and greatly improved its MOI, giving it a remarkable amount of forgiveness for a club that isn’t clunky in the least.
  Tester Comments: Awesome driver. Looks great, sounds great, it’s a bomber … When you hit the sweet spot with this club you feel like you should be on TV Sunday afternoon! … Great driver. Ball really jumps.

Tour Edge Exotics XLD | 800-515-3343 | $300

Unique Features:  We’ve seen square clubheads and triangular clubheads in recent years, so why not a pentagonal one?  Tour Edge is taking geometry to the next level with its Exotics XLD driver and its pentagonal head.  Before the old-timers call their Congressman, though, it should be noted that the shape is not unfriendly to the eye.  In fact, it’s only marginally altered from traditional round clubheads.  All the shape does is allow more weight to get behind the center of the clubface, providing a high MOI and low CG.  If that doesn’t convince anyone, the milled, laser-welded titanium face and super-thin titanium crown should.
  Tester Comments: Funky to look at but delivers what it promises, long distance … Great distance … I not only hit the majority of the fairways, but, my drives were, on an average, almost 20 yards farther.

Tour Edge Geomax | 800-515-3343 | $200

Unique Features: The Tour Edge Geomax is a sweet-sounding, smooth-swinging driver that doesn’t skimp on the aesthetics.  A 20-gram tungsten rear sole weight ups the Geomax’s MOI while deepening the CG for a higher launch angle.  The Geomax keeps the ball in the fairway with a unique, geometrically sound shape that reduces twisting on off-center hits.  Unlike other high-MOI drivers, the Geomax’s sound will keep golfers coming back for more.
  Tester Comments: Good-looking club at a very reasonable price, not as long as other drivers though … Good height and distance off tee.

Wilson Spine | 773-714-6400 | $300

Unique Features: Some golfers may be put off by the Wilson Spine’s funky crown, but give it a chance and this club can do wonders for your game.  Extra weight was taken from the crown of the club and relocated to the perimeter, creating a high MOI that resists twisting on impact and keeps off-center shots flying straight and far.  The driver’s “spine” adds stability behind the clubface, enhancing ball speed on well-struck shots.  The high launch angle and low spin rate of the Spine reduces drag and increases flight time, leaving short approach shots time and time again.
  Tester Comments:  Long and forgiving … Best driver I have tried from Wilson in years … Very responsive club. The combination of the shaft kick point and the explosive head response gives me an additional 20 yards carry.

Best Appearance
  Nike SasQuatch SUMO 5000
  Ping G10
  Titleist 907 D2
Best Forgiveness
Nickent 4DX SuperMag
Nike SasQuatch SUMO 2 5900
TaylorMade CGB Max
Tour Edge Exotics XCG

  Best Consistency
  Adams XTD a3 Callaway FT-i
  Nike SasQuatch SUMO 2 5900
  TaylorMade Tour Burner

Best Feel
  E21 EMC2
  Ping G10
  Titleist 907 D2
Tour Edge Exotics XCG

  Best Distance
  Callaway Fusion FT-5
  Cleveland HiBORE XLS
  Cobra Speed LD-M
  TaylorMade Tour Burner
  Tour Edge Exotics XCG

  Best Value
  Nickent Evolver
  Tour Edge Bazooka Geomax

Best Overall Performance
  Callaway Fusion FT-5
  Nike SasQuatch SUMO 5000
  Ping G10
  TaylorMade Tour Burner
Tour Edge Exotics XCG