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Hit Long Hit True

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The new breed of high-tech drivers can help you master that tee shot.

You’re at the tee, in the zone, and locked in on the task at hand. You address the ball, raise your driver and swing powerfully in a graceful, perfect arc. The clubhead makes contact right on the sweet spot and square to your target. The ball soars into an azure sky before landing in the fairway, hundreds of yards away and perfectly positioned for a short and easy shot to the green.

Then the alarm clock sounds, and you wake up.

We all execute perfect tee shots in our dreams, but on the golf course it’s not that easy. Hitting that little ball hard and straight with even the best club seems nearly impossible to the novice golfer and is vexing to even experienced amateurs.

Perhaps that’s why golf club manufacturers lavish so much attention and research on the development of new drivers. And for 2013, they’re offering a bumper crop of innovative new clubs, many of them featuring adjustable heads that allow precise tailoring of loft and clubface angle. At the same time, they’ve improved materials and streamlining in order to maximize energy transferred to the ball and optimize the ease with which the clubhead moves through the air.

TaylorMade, long a major supplier of drivers for touring pros, is among those marketing an adjustable driver. Tom Ovasky, senior director of product creation, as quoted in Golf Digest, said, “With a few adjustments, golfers can improve their results in minutes.”

That’s what we like to hear.

Tech Assistance at The Tee

The new breed of adjustable high-tech drivers utilizes one or more adjustments to change the face angle, loft setting and lie. By altering those variables, the path in which the ball travels as it leaves the club can be changed, as can the direction and rotation of spin. All of those factors have an effect on how far the ball will go and where it will land.

If we were all perfect golfers, we could find the driver that’s best suited to our game and stick with it. But most of us are far from perfect when it comes to swinging a golf club consistently, and our game varies greatly from one day to the next. An adjustable club head allows compensation for those variations while compensating in part for the individual golfer’s weak points.

Some makers offer adjustable clubhead weighting as well. By moving weight inboard, a slice can often be corrected. And an uncontrollable slice is probably the most common problem that amateurs face on the tee.

Other features common to the best new drivers include wider sweet spots, weighting that optimizes the moment of inertia for longer drives, and even clubhead styling that helps golfers square the driver’s face when addressing the ball and may even make the clubhead look larger than it really is. That, say the manufacturers, can inspire confidence. And confidence is a big part of the game.

Choose Your Weapon

TaylorMade’s R1 series of drivers allow a dozen different lie, face angle and loft settings. Movable weights enable further adjustment and an adjustable soleplate can change face-angle appearance at address. The manufacturer says this driver than can be tuned to fit both Tour pros and amateurs. According to TaylorMade spokesman, Brian Murphy, the R1 is the number one driver played on the PGA Tour.

The R1 offers seven standard and five upright loft options between 8° and 12°, along with seven face-angle options. To expand the sweet spot of the clubface, TaylorMade employs Inverted Cone Technology. In addition, the clubhead is styled to help the golfer address the ball squarely. TaylorMade notes that in trying to square a conventional, unmarked clubhead, many golfers fall victim to an illusion that suggests the clubface is square when it is actually open, inviting a wicked slice.

Nike has developed an adjustable driver as well. It’s called the VRS Covert, and it features independent adjustment of loft and face angle, allowing golfers to customize the club to fit their swing, thereby maximizing distance and accuracy. Dual axis adjustment decouples the loft and face angle variables, thus multiple configurations are possible.

This conforming driver is built with a cavity back for longer, straighter shots, and the manufacturer’s Nexcor face technology provides a wider sweet spot.

The driver is available in “Tour” and “Performance” versions. The Performance club is engineered to redistribute weight into the corners, thus increasing the moment of inertia in a traditional head shape.

The Adams’ Super S driver is, in the words of its maker, “a big bomber” that allows easy adjustment of loft. Adams’ Fast Fit Adjustability provides a 2° range of loft variation, enabling golfers to change the adjustment as their game varies. A streamlined head optimizes clubhead speed through aerodynamic efficiency.

Adams says the new driver is the first with a VST expanding sweet spot that enables consistently longer drives. It’s also the most aerodynamic driver Adams has ever produced. Because the clubhead slips smoothly through the air, speed is optimized. The company has even given thought to clubhead color and says that the matte white crown and contrasting faceplate make the head appear larger, which helps with alignment while inspiring confidence.

Cobra’s adjustable driver is called the Amp Cell. The drivers MyFly™ technology provides six different loft settings over a range of 3°. The manufacturer says that its SmartPad technology squares the face at every loft setting.

A 12% larger face shape is said to deliver faster ball speed even on miss-hits. The titanium head is available in four dramatic colors.

The Amp Cell Pro model has a 440 cc head with a lower, more neutral center of gravity and is available in two colors.

-Par Shooter

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