By SCOTT KRAMER
The latest fairway woods and hybrids are truly more sophisticated than ever. Bearing weight schemes, adjustability, draw biases, aerospace materials and shaping, these clubs are now as complex as top-line drivers. And they kind of look like them, too.
Manufacturers want you to be serious about your clubs at this end of the set. In fact, 20 percent of all iron sets this year are being offered with hybrids instead of long irons. And while those “combo” sets become even more popular, most of them are still being offered in a traditional all-iron sets form, as well. And of course, the hybrids are being sold individually, too.
Several new fairway woods and their matching hybrid siblings are extensions of familiar line names, such as Callaway Diablo Edge, TaylorMade Burner, Cleveland Launcher DST, Cobra S2, and Adams Speedline FAST 10. These clubs are also easier to hit this year, bearing game-enhancement features such as shorter, more-controllable shafts that still play as if they’re longer; higher lofts to help you get the ball airborne quickly; material combinations that lower the center of gravity, to ease the ball skyward; and versatile sole shapes that prevent the club from snagging on turf at impact, thus endorsing a cleaner impact with the ball.
Our advice: If you need several clubs at the long end of your set, try to get fairway woods and hybrids that are part of a set. You’ll find the feel and distance gapping to be consistent that way, which will allow you to swing away with more confidence.
Adams’ high-MOI, thin-faced Speedline FAST 10 fairway woods have sole curvature for cleaner ball striking, and strategically placed weight pads to optimize flight. A Draw version is also being offered with a weight pad in the heel. ($299.99)
Callaway’s Diablo Edge high-MOI hybrids feature a wide, shallow profile and a low, deep CG. This helps improve clubhead stability at impact. ($139-$159)
Cleveland’s Launcher DST fairway woods have a “low-drag” sole that improves ball contact, and lower weighting that helps the ball get up higher. ($179)
Cobra Baffler Rail H hybrid has a thin, maraging steel face insert, strong loft, and dual-rail sole. ($169)
Nike’s Victory Red (VR) Hybrids are for better players, with a Tour-inspired design that includes an ultra thin clubface and Split Compression Channel. ($203.99)
TaylorMade’s Burner SuperFast 17-4 steel fairway woods are designed to help you pick up some clubhead speed – thanks to an aerodynamic clubhead shape, lightweight club, and slightly long shaft. ($199)
Tour Edge’s Exotics XCG-3 woods have a lightweight titanium face and body plus a tungsten sole that accounts for 63 percent of the clubhead’s total weight. ($299)
By SCOTT KRAMER