The right golf gear can really improve your score

Army golfers — you know . . . left, right, left, right — can became straight shooters, or at least straighter shooters, with the new TaylorMade R9 and the Nike Dynamo STR8-FIT drivers.

Golf Town manager Colin Ferster shows off four of the new big drivers on the market this year.

Army golfers — you know . . . left, right, left, right — can became straight shooters, or at least straighter shooters, with the new TaylorMade R9 and the Nike Dynamo STR8-FIT drivers.

Both clubs have an adjustable face, allowing the user to dial up the ball flight of his choice by turning the base of the shaft.

“The R9 is a very popular club because it has just so many adjustable properties in it,” says Golf Town manager Colin Ferster. “You can open the face, close the face . . . you have the interchangeable weights, allowing you to move the ball left to right.

“Plus, you can add and reduce loft and you can even make it more upright. it’s a fully adjustable club.”

That’s good news for the golfer who simply can’t hit a ball in a straight line.

“Let’s say you have a bit of a slice. You close the face to help that,” says Ferster. “If you take lessons and get better at golf, you can change it back so that it’s a neutral face. It’s a totally new innovation.”

The Nike Dynamo is a similar club, minus the weights.

“The Dynamo has eight settings for opening and closing the face, but it doesn’t have the weights in the back so you can’t adjust it that way,” says Ferster. “But you can make it upright or standard.”

“If you put the same swing on it every time, you can definitely manipulate the ball flight,” adds Red Deer Discount Golf Centre manager/owner Dave Hoppe of the Nike Dynamo. “If you have a hitch or a flaw in your swing, you can definitely adjust the club so you can continue on with that flaw and that will allow you to live with it, or sort of ‘dance with who you brought’. You don’t have to change your swing, you can adjust the club so it can help fight that or correct what you’re doing.

“You don’t have to physically do it yourself. That’s the beauty of it, because golf is all peaks and valleys. One week you’re hitting it great, the next week that swing is gone. So you can just tweak it with this club.”

Also new this year is the Callaway square-headed driver, the FT-iQ.

“This is the longest driver Callaway has made and it’s very forgiving,” says Ferster. “With the square shape, you have a really high MOI (momentum of inertia) with the weighting in the outer corners. It also resists twisting. Basically, you can turn the club easily, as if you were lifting weights with a barbell close to your hands. It’s the same principle.”

Other new Callaway drivers are the F-T9 and the Big Bertha Diablo, which has two different heads — a neutral head, which is square, and a draw head, with the face closed.

Ping has the new version of the Rapture, which features tungsten weights in the back of the head.

“This club was rated by Golf Magazine as one of the most forgiving drivers this year,” says Ferster.

A new entry from Adams — the Speedline — features more of a stream-lined look, in terms of the head.

“They did some research in Texas, including wind-tunnel testing, on the aerodynamics of a head and picked up three and a half to four miles per hour of ball speed by changing the aerodynamics.

This club will give you a little more distance off the tee,” says Ferster.

Hoppe, meanwhile, is fond of the new Cleveland drivers, including the Monster and an updated version of the Launcher.

“The Monster has a very large head, one of the biggest on the market,” says Hoppe. “It has a square look and is probably their most forgiving club. Amazingly, it actually doesn’t hit the ball crazy high. Instead, you get a good, penetrating ball flight. It’s a great driver.”

As for the Launcher . . .

“They got away from making this club for a couple of years. It’s probably back by popular demand,” says Hoppe. “This is one that a lot of people are going for. It gets the ball up very quickly and also is really forgiving.”

Fairway woods

Not surprisingly, the TaylorMade R9 is a hot seller.

“It has the same features as the (R9) driver,” says Nevada Bob’s manager Chad Cargill. “The whole R9 spiel is that you get to make your own club, it’s totally set up for the individual.

“The fairway wood has the same custom advantages as the driver, minus the weights. But you can move the head around . . . you can close it or open it up. It has a little less variance (than the driver) because it’s a smaller club, so there’s a little less movement in that regard.

“But once again, it’s the new thing in golf. You can only go so far regarding the size and shape of the club, but you can make this club fit totally to your game.”

The Ping V2 Rapture is another fairway club that specializes in getting the ball airborne.

“People will remember the original Rapture from about a year and a half ago. It was really popular but kind of fell off the map a bit before they brought it back this year,” says Cargill. “The big thing here is they’ve put in tungsten so there’s more weight down low in the club. These are just super-easy in terms of getting the ball up in the air.”

Hybrids

When you think of hybrids, you think of Adams.

“It’s the one company that you look at as being the point between mid-range and top of the line,” says Cargill. “When it comes to hybrids no one really compares to Adams and this year they’ve come out with the new A4OS.”

The new club uses tungsten weighting for extra forgiveness, and sports a somewhat over-sized head.

“For every single level of player, Adams has a hybrid, and all of them are amazing,” says Cargill.

He gets no argument from Hoppe.

“The Adams hybrids have more of a square face, which is a proven technology for more forgiveness,” says the Discount Golf Centre proprietor. “Adams has some top-end designers and they’ve put the company on the map. They kind of get overshadowed by some of the bigger-name guys, but in terms of technology, Adams is every bit as good.

“Chad Campbell didn’t win the Masters this year, but he was close, and he uses Adams. The big thing is they are affordable for most people.”

Irons

The new TaylorMade Burner irons, with their gun-metal finish, are attractive clubs, while the likes of Mizuno, Titleist and Callaway offer products that are both pleasing to the eye and versatile.

“The technology in irons has really changed so much in recent years,” says Hoppe. “Most have the over-sized heads and some of the companies are putting hybrids in with their sets as opposed to just straight irons, which certainly makes them more appealing to the average golfer. Mizuno, for example, has a couple of hybrids with the MX-100 set.”

Titleist has carried over its AP1 and AP2 irons with both cast and forged heads, and the new Callaway X-22 is a repolished model of the X-20.

“The X-22 has a little different shape, but you can still see that it’s from the same family,” says Hoppe, who also likes the new Callaway Big Bertha irons with their clean look and practicality.

The newer Ping irons have kept their original look, although it is a cleaner appearance, with the Rapture V2 clubs featuring full titanium heads for more forgiveness and explosiveness, and the S57 blade irons geared for the low handicap player.

The Cleveland XLi irons are all hybrids, while the CG7 Gold and CG7 Tour clubs appeal more to proficient players.

“The key word is forgiveness and the over-sized models give you that,” says Hoppe. “Most people want that but they also want clubs that look good. Right across the board, this might be the best year for both attributes. It seems like everybody has a really good-looking product.”

Putters

The Nike OZ, with its attractive $100 sale tag, is flying off the shelves.

“This is the putter that is really selling. It has a funky design and it’s tough to find a half decent putter for that price,” says Cargill.

The Callaway Odyssey has also come out with a less expensive product in the Crimson series.

“It’s a $99 putter and in these economic times we’re selling a lot more of these than the $300 putters,” says Cargill. “They’re using the same designs as in their higher-end putters, but the inserts might be a little harder and the material is not quite as expensive. It’s an opportunity to get a good putter that doesn’t break the bank.”

New from TaylorMade is the Itsy Bitsy Spider, which features a smaller head than the original Spider.

“A lot of people thought the Spider head was just a little too big,” says Cargill. “The new club is a bit smaller that way, but it still has the AGSI grooves, which gets the ball rolling right away, and the adjustable weights.”

The Odyssey 2-Ball remains popular and a deluxe version — in the Black series — retails for over $300.

Ping’s latest entry into the short-club category is the iWi Craz-e.

“They’ve taken some technology from drivers,” says Cargill. “There’s a package of weights that can used to make the putter a little lighter or heavier. The weights keep the putter a little more stable.”

Contact Greg Meachem at gmeachem@bprda.wpengine.com

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