These Drivers Produce Results Whether In The Hands Of A Pro Or The Average Golfer
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2018-05-07
Dr. Barry Lotz/iG
It’s a great time to be playing golf in this technological era. All aspects from clothing, equipment, learning and taking lessons are technology touched. Take advantage of what is available, but with one caveat – get properly fitted to take advantage of these products.
PING G400 Max and G400
$399.00 for either the G400 or G400 Max
PING drivers were used by Patrick Reed to win this year’s Masters, by Bubba Watson with his win at Riviera, and Pernilla Lindberg to win her first Major at the ANA in Rancho Mirage, (PING’s GLe women’s driver with a head weight that is 13 grams lighter than the company’s G400 driver (193 grams as opposed to 206 grams).
The G400 Series is the number 1 selling driver at retailers.
The 17-4 SS crown uses Dragonfly Technology and is cast ultra-thin for weight savings, which allows PING to optimize the center of gravity location and dramatically increase MOI for full-face forgiveness. In addition, PING’s Vortec Technology reduces drag by 15%, which also increases clubhead speed and ball velocity.
The 445cc PING G400 driver comes in a standard head, as well as an LS Tec (Low Spin) and an SF Tec (Straight Flight, designed to subdue a slice) model. The G400 standard head driver is available in two lofts: 9° and 10.5°. Lofts can be adjusted +/-1°. The SF Tec is available in lofts of 10° and 12° and usually produces 12 yards of draw bias over the standard model. For shafts, the Ping Alta CB55, Ping Tour 65 and 75, Aldila X-Torsion Copper, Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver Dual-Core TiNi, or Project X HZRDUS Yellow shafts are available as standard.
PING’s most forgiving and stable driver to date, the new G400 Max driver, has a deeper profile than the G400 standard driver.
Its 460cc head features PING’s domed crown Dragonfly Technology, combined with bolder turbulators to reduce drag and generate significant clubhead speed and ball velocity for ensuring distance with stability.
In fact, the MAX is PING’s highest total MOI (Moment of Inertia) ever produced, the function of extreme tungsten weighting and a higher-density back weight.
The incredibly thin, strong and fast T9S+ forged face material flexes to ramp up ball speed, and real-located weighting helps create a lower, deep CG (Center of Gravity) to elevate MOI and launch angle. Additionally, the face is textured to increase friction for reducing spin.
The textured crown and infinity edge form a highly aerodynamic speed-inducing shape with a pleasing address view that inspires you to swing away with confidence.
Our testing group was enamored with the MAX, especially the tight dispersion rate, consistent distance, and the accuracy of the driver.
There are a few cosmetic changes from the G400, such as the silver face and graphics on the sole using chrome lettering, but the biggest change is on the face where a new pattern forms a captured look with the ball using a solid line within the scoring lines that makes lining up shots a breeze.
The 460 cc PING G400 Max is available in 9° and 10.5°.
For shafts, the Ping Alta CB, Ping Tour and various aftermarket shafts, including Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Silver Dual-Core TiNI 60, Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 and Aldila X-Torsion are available.
Cobra Golf F8
Another top 3 finish by Ricky Fowler at the Masters using the Cobra King F8 driver!
The King F8’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is that the oversized shaped head boasts maximum forgiveness and combined with their CNC precision milling system, which produces a 3 percent thinner and 10 percent lighter face, that results in maximum ball speed across the face and increased distance and accuracy. Promised and delivered.
Our testers really enjoyed this driver almost as much as the F8 fairway wood (best 3 wood ever!), especially that one can see where the ball leaves an imprint on the face which in and of itself is not only very useful, but somewhat of a big deal, almost performing as a training aid.
Need to hit a draw? Just change the weight into the draw bias setting. You gotta love club adjustability in this era!
This is a game improvement driver. It has a larger footprint, a higher moment of inertia (MOI), has two weight centers, and a little bit higher ball flight than the previous F7 model.
The F8+ is more the better player and utilizes a “Tour Preferred” shape for maximum workability and offers two weight setting options; the major weight of 12 grams in the back produces a little higher flight, and conversely, when the weight is placed it the front, the ball flight will be brought down.
Both the F8 and F8+ use the Arccos analytic performance tracking system via Cobra Connect and combined with the CNC milled driver face, makes Cobra a frontrunner in the future of the game.
Callaway Rogue Driver
$499.99 for both the Rogue and the Rogue Sub Zero
Used by many of the Callaway staffers, the Rogue has become one of Callaway’s bestselling drivers of all time. The successor to the hugely popular Epic driver which featured Callaway’s “Jailbreak Technology”, which is all about increasing ball speed on both center and off-center hits to allow golfers to obtain more distance on most of their drives.
The Rogue features improved Jailbreak Technology, which debuted in the number one driver of 2018 - the Callaway GBB Epic. The Rogue increases the forgiveness and stability on miss hits.
The bars used in Jailbreak Technology are an hourglass-shape in the Rogue. While being made of titanium, they are 25% lighter, without impacting crown and sole deflection at impact. This is key in Jailbreak technology, as by keeping the crown and sole stiff, it allows the face to flex more for extra ball speeds.
The Rogue retains Callaway’s X-Face VFT (Variable Face Technology) which varies the thickness in the face for improved ball speeds on off-center hits – basically more forgiveness. Adjustability is obtained from the OptiFit hosel which is one of the best hosels being used in adjustable drivers.
The 460cc head has a larger footprint at address, and a proprietary Triaxial Carbon Crown pairs with the Boeing Aero Package to optimize weight placement and streamline club head aerodynamics through the swing. This light and strong triaxial carbon crown allows for more mass to be moved to the perimeters, for more help on off-center strikes.
Boeing and Callaway’s relationship is alive and well and for 2018 with an improved Speed Step Technology allowing for an aerodynamic design, this allows for faster club head speeds. Their engineering group say they have again been able to decrease drag, thanks to improving how long air sticks to the driver as it moves through the air.
Our testing group felt that the Rogue performed marginally better than the Epic model, but nevertheless would choose the Rogue mainly because of the aesthetics of the club and knowing that “marginally” could mean 5-15 additional yards.
The Rogue’s MOI has significantly increased. The Callaway XR had an MOI of 7,400, the Epic had 8,000, while the Rogue is at 8,600, which Callaway says offers a 16% increase in dispersion compared to the Epic.
The Rogue is offered with a wide range of premium no-upcharge aftermarket shafts at 40g, 50g, 60g, 70g and 80g weights, including Aldila Quaranta, Aldila Synergy, Project X EvenFlow, and Project X HZRDUS Yellow.
Lofts for the Rogue are9°, 10.5° and 13.5° HT. Left hand options available in 9°, 10.5° and in 13.5° HT.
As for the Rogue Sub Zero driver, it benefits from much of the same technology as the Rogue in a low-spinning driver. In 2018, Callaway wanted to bring a low spinning driver to market that also boasted high levels of forgiveness, allowing all players to game the driver should they require a low spinning product.
Compared to the Rogue, the Sub Zero has a head shape which allowed engineers to place the CG low and deep with a more neutral bias, which alongside a neutral axis, promotes a higher launch and lower spin - a recipe for long distance.
The Sub Zero driver has the improved Jailbreak Technology and X-Face VFT technology for improved ball speeds and distance and is designed to pin around 300-400rpm lower than the Rogue driver. Two interchangeable weights (2g and 14g) in the front and back of the sole allow spin rate to be adjusted up to 200rpm.
- Callaway Rogue Driver: Fixed weight in the back of the head promotes higher launch and increased MOI for greater forgiveness and playability
- Callaway Rogue Draw Driver: Added weight in the heel moves the CG inward, enhancing gear-effect on open-faced impacts to minimize slice-spin or promote draw-spin.
- Callaway Rogue Sub Zero Driver: Two interchangeable weights (2g and 14g) to adjust spin rate and launch angle. Put the 14g weight up front to lower spin, or in the back for a higher launch and increased MOI
XXIO X Driver
Depending on the model, the driver is priced from $649.99 up to $849.99 for their Prime Driver
XXIO, pronounced ZEK-si-oh, is not only one of the bestselling drivers in Japan, but has gained a strong foothold in the States since their introduction about 3 years ago. Ernie Els is the brand ambassador and the ”Big Easy’s” seemingly slow, but powerful swing encapsulates and aligns with the XXIO brand.
This 460cc niche driver is highly favored by the male baby boomer and fits, according to Chuck Thiry VP of XXIO’s North America headquarters, almost all women. This driver performs exceptionally well for those golfers, like myself, who really do swing slower (below 90 mph) and for Thiry, the phrase ”easy does it” translates into high-end sales for well-heeled golfers. I personally have gained between 10-15 yards with the XXIO 10!
The XXIO X, the tenth generation of XXIO Clubs, features a 36 gram SMART IMPACT driver shaft which is very soft and flexible, talk kick point, with the balance point moved up towards the grip.
The new MP1000 shaft is extremely lightweight and engineered to reduce the forces on your body during your swing, so you increase your consistency and hit the center of the face more often.
The heads are still fairly heavy (grams) and how the shaft, the grip and the head interact, produces lag in the golf swing which in turn puts the club on a more efficient path resulting in a faster delivery, resulting in a faster swing that sends the ball further and gets those extra yards.
XXIO’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is their new True-Focus Impact Technology. By combining a larger sweet spot with a shaft that helps you find the face-center more often and the combination of low-swing MOI, lightweight design and proprietary shaft design combine to make the X Driver exceptionally easy to swing for a wide variety of players. It most definitely increases the likelihood of center contact. Our older testers raved about the X Driver’s performance.
The second half of the True-Focus Impact Technology is the XXIO X Men’s High Energy Impact Head. XXIO expanded the high COR area of the face and optimized its placement for your impact pattern, so it’s easy to find the sweet spot. Since XXIO X makes it easier to strike the ball on the high COR areas of the clubface, it’s easier for you to hit the ball farther. Expect 10-50 yards further based on your swing speed on a center strike.
Thiry loves his mantra of “easy”. Easier distance, easier to hit far, easier to hit straight, easier accuracy and easier golf “a la the Big Easy”.
Lofts available are 8.5 °, 9.5 °.10.5 ° and 11.5 °
XXIO also produces fairway, hybrids and irons that match and complement the easy-going philosophy. The fairway woods from $399.99, hybrids from $299.99 and irons from $160.00 per club.
Cleveland/Srixon, part of the Dunlop brand distributes the XXIO brand.
We used the manufacturer’s shafts and then switched shafts using the latest shaft from Graphite Design, specifically. Bottom line is that the new Chichibu increased distance and tightened the dispersion rate for our testing group. Two ideal and optimum traits in a shaft. Our testers found they experienced great feel in their hands, nice launch and plenty of roll.
The Chichibu is a very stable shaft for being light weight and the graphics are refreshingly different as far as shaft colors are concerned.
Brand-new for 2018, Graphite Design introduces a completely new ultra-light weight premium wood shaft design - the Graphite Design Chichibu series. Named after the city of Chichibu, Japan, where the Graphite Design Japan factory headquarters is located, the Chichibu wood shaft model is a light weight shaft under 45 grams and is available in 4 flexes of R (Regular- ideal for Seniors and Ladies), SR (Stiff Regular), S (Stiff) and S+ (Stiff Plus) for precise shaft flex fitting in order to gain maximum distance.
The Graphite Design Chichibu series of wood shafts are designed for golfers with a driver swing speed range of 60 to 85 MPH. They have a soft tip profile and a Low Kick Point that will produce a High ball launch condition and Mid-ball spin rates providing added gains in distance versus normal stock shaft offerings. Individually hand-crafted to very tight tolerances, the Chichibu shafts use premium, ultra-thin aerospace quality carbon-fiber materials to obtain a light weight characteristic, as well as to provide the golfer with a shaft that possesses superior response and feedback at impact.
The Chichibu series of shafts are a fine example of an extremely high quality and superior performing golf shaft, made in Japan and that follow in line with the 25+ years of heritage that all of the premium Graphite Design shafts are so well known for.
Snell Golf MTB Red and MTB Black Golf Balls
$31.99 per dozen
For Golf balls, our testing group used Snell’s Golf new Red and Black models. From the outset, the oohs and aahs were coming out rapidly from the hitting bays and putting greens. The pricing for the balls was also a big winner with this group.
Dean Snell is the “Dean” of golf ball research and development. Having been involved with Titleist and TaylorMade’s brand name balls, he knows what it takes to produce a high quality and reasonably priced golf ball.
Both models perform admirably. Both balls conform to USGA standards and are legal for tournament play.
The MTB Red is a 4-piece construction with 338 dimple pattern with a Urethane cover providing short game control, excellent feel and durability. The ball is also available in Yellow.
The Red’s NEW inner mantle layer increases spin on short irons for approach shots and the Dual-Feel Technology provides a bit firmer feel on longer shots while continuing MTB's soft feel on short shots.
The MTB Black is the next generation of the original MTB.
It features a 3-piece construction with 360 dimple pattern with a Urethane cover providing short game control, excellent feel and durability and most importantly, a NEW 7% lower Compression Core maximizes distances by lowering spin off the Driver.
Available in white only.
About the Writer
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. Visit www.facebook.com/PGTAA to see all the latest mental strategies and equipment reviews. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry. He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers” and his previous book, “How to Build Business Relationships through Golf,” updated for 2011, is still in the Top Ten Golf Business Book’s best seller list. His latest book, “The Right Mind for Golf,” is now in its 7th reprint is available on Amazon and at the Torrey Pines golf course.