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TaylorMade R11 Driver Review

If you are looking at the TaylorMade R11 Driver, you are probably looking for an
oversize club head with long drive potential, maybe up to over 400 cc. Also, you
probably have enough experience to realize that the larger the head the greater the
danger of ending worse off than just 150 yards down the middle of the fairway, but
lost in the woods or just lost. A 200 plus yard slice or hook is not what you have
in mind. Of course, it is not just about size and distance; it’s a combination of
loft, angles, and flight path. Imagine being able to adjust these features to fit
your swing with one club head.

With the TaylorMade R11 Driver, a unique combination of features allows the golfer
to control loft, face angle, and CG (head center of gravity) independently. Namely,
these are Flight Control Technology (FCT) for loft, Adjustable Sole Plate (ASP) for
face angle, and Movable Weight Technology (MWT) for CG (center of gravity control).
In more technical terms, these technologies (FTC) provides eight settings to create
+/- 1 degree loft change, (MVT) provides weights (included or available) to adjust
trajectory left/right by25 yards, and ASP setting of +/- 2 degrees (Neutral, Closed
or Open).

To simplify, the TaylorMade R11 Driver’s provides eight settings to increase or
decrease the effective loft (from 4 degrees open to 4 degrees closed by one degree
increments). There are two places for placements of the TaylorMade R11 Driver CG
weight (10-gram screw and a 1-gram screw included). Placement in the heel or in the
toe allow for draw (heel) or fade (toe) control and according to the manufacturer
will provide up to 25 yards of right-and-left adjustability.

In essence, you can choose the 10.5 degree or 9.0 “beginning standard head for a
start and adjust to a range of 8 degree to 11.5 degree for the that under speed of
light swing or that slow, power swing or try the 9.0 for, or just not sure then
adjust a little up or down.

All of which presents a large number of decisions for a tester/reviewer to consider
in judging this club. The majority of reviewers have tested either the “off the
shelf” base 9° or 10.5° FTC models with the Fujikura Blur 60 R (58 grams), and the
TaylorMade 360 grip.

These testers/reviewers have reported that their drives ranged from “above average”
to “one of the longest I’ve tested” to simply, “I bombed it.” However, many testers
reported hitting higher than normal. As to direction/accuracy, testers reported
consistent results and described the TaylorMade R11 Driver as a straight-shooter or
on-the-mark.

Dampened, muted, and soft were the terms most commonly used for feel. Reviewers did
voice the common opinion that all-in-all the TaylorMade R11 Driver is an easy to
swing, balanced club with some spring in the face. The general opinion/advice was
that aggressive, faster swingers should decrease their chances for that irksome hook
or fade with weight placement. When prodded, most testers said the white paint job
was briefly distracting but quickly forgotten and irrelevant to performance.

For “non-professional” reviews, comments in purchasers’ emails on various websites
are positive. To quote, paraphrase a few:

  • My bad swings are big hooks and a standard loft and neutral face angle combined with this shaft have straightened my ball flight. No more worry about the left side of the hole!
  • The ball can the leave a useful temporary dimple mark on the black face to confirm the hit area so you have some feedback. Don’t worry they wipe off easily.
  • The sound is pleasing and there is some difference between a center hit and anything off-center, but it’s not a “clang”!

The standard TaylorMade R11 Driver comes with a Fujikura Blur (45.75 inch) shaft in
M (Senior) 56 grams, R (Regular) 58 grams, S (Stiff) 59 grams, and X (X-Stiff) 60
grams sizes. Included with the multiple setting combinations for FTC, MVT, and ASP,
the total number of configurations available to the consumer/user for the TaylorMade
R11 Driver are impressive.

If one tries them all, you might get a bit fatigued by the end. However, if you find
your feel/swing, you will have chosen an excellent club and still have the choice to
adjust sort of on the fly later. Hopefully, such an exhaustive search won’t be
necessary and betwixt-and-between extreme and medium settings will provide what fits
your swing with the TaylorMade R11 Driver.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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TaylorMade R11S Driver Review

One of these days, we’re going to get a club that adjusts from being a driver to a putter and everything in between all in one neat package.

Until that day arrives, consider the TaylorMade R11S Driver, which offers a plethora of face, loft and lie combinations. It has a moveable weight to change the center of gravity, an adjustable sole plate and the  company’s Flight Control Technology that allows settings to be fixed independently.

All that high-tech means there are 80 ways to set launch positions. Any one of them will nail the ball with a big kaboom.

The club’s special sole plate lets a player use five face settings: open, slightly open, neutral, slightly closed and closed. If you get handy with the system, you’ll probably be able to adjust the club on the course depending on what kind of shot you want to make.

The company’s promotional language sounds almost pornographic: “Bigger, faster, longer.” Whew, I need a towel and an Arnold Palmer to cool down.

You will get pumped swinging the TaylorMade R11S, particularly if you’re a short hitter, which most of us are or there wouldn’t be all this technology to help us get the ball down the fairway.

During a driver review, players really appreciated the bounce of the R11S driver’s 460cc club head. It’s manufactured with TaylorMade’s Inverted Cone Technology, which increases launch speed for better distance. It’s almost like hitting a SuperBall off a trampoline.

If you miss the trampoline, don’t worry. The R11S has a big, forgiving sweet spot, the COR point, that puts mishits pretty close to the landing zone. And with all that adjusting, slices and hooks will pretty much fade away.

Speaking of a fade, you can encourage one by putting the 10-gram weight in the toe. If you want a draw, put the weight in the heel. With that kind of science, who needs a swing coach?

The look is pure science fiction at its most subtle. It’s face is black and the crown is white, with a finish that resists glaring hot spots that can get in your eye on a sunny day. The juxtaposition of white on black somehow makes it easier to see what you’re doing and improves aim and alignment.

During the driver reviews, at least one player argued that TaylorMade has gone too far in the adjustment category, but he was shouted down by duffers who would rather fiddle with their clubs than with their swings.

With the TaylorMade R11S driver, you don’t have to worry about where your elbows are or if you’re breathing in or out on your backswing. All you have to do is fix the settings and fire away. That’s worth $399.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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Cleveland CG Black Driver Review

Cleveland Golf started 40 years ago making high-end replicas of classic golf clubs. It first ventured into high-tech designs in the 1990s, but players balked at the radical look. Such a reaction seems rather quaint these days. Players are teeing it up with clubs that look straight out of a military hardware catalog.

There has been a recent trend toward more traditional looking clubs, but modern technology isn’t going away. I can’t imagine hitting an old 1-iron. You don’t get much help from the old clubs, but they sure looked good, like a link stick is supposed to.

Enter the Cleveland CG Black Driver. It’s look doesn’t exactly hearken to the olden days, but its feel does. It’s a classic attitude meshed with today’s golfing science. Few other companies, perhaps none, have the background and sensibility to meld the two eras together.

During one driver review, a player whistled like a construction worker at first site of the CG Black driver.

The company’s awareness even extends to the head cover, which has a handle for easy removal, and it’s made with a variety of fabrics and textures. Pulling it off is like unveiling a museum piece. Except the the beauty underneath can produce prodigious tee shots and envious looks from playing partners.

The Cleveland CG Black driver reviews all come back with sterling recommendation; although, I’d say this club isn’t for everyone, and certainly not for players looking to get a quick fix of their slice or hook. It does, however, induce a launch path that favors a high draw. For a player without too many afflictions, the club might be the one he’s looking for.

For the rest of us with swing speeds under 100 mph, we’re going to see significant increases off the tee. This is because the shaft is light–it barely feels like you’re holding anything–and club face is manufactured with a built-in trampoline effect, which means that a lot of energy is transferred to the ball at impact. This collision zone is where the extra distance come from.

The Cleveland CG Black driver is colored black, with a little subtle white and silver tones. The 460cc head stretches back from the face and “sleek” is the word that comes to mind. There is no doubt that it is a blend of the old and the new. When you pull that cover off, be careful the club doesn’t launch itself right out of the bag.

The CG Black driver is a single club all by itself, no adjustment gears, but it does come in a variety of lofts. Take you pick. You’ll probably be glad you spent the $399.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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Nike VR-S Driver Review

For a company that got into golf just because it signed Tiger Woods to a $40 million contract to pitch their wares, of which it only had clothes at the time, Nike has become a prime player in the sport’s technology boom. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that the company is doing a lot better than its star ad man.

The company’s newest club is the Nike VR-S Driver, which blew away test players with its long, straight ball flight. One of them during the driver review positively gushed.

“I love this thing,” he said. “The sound is great, it’s easy to aim and you just feel like you’re going to hit it a ton..”

Ball flight is what Nike’s NexCOR is all about. The translation of “COR” is Coefficient of Restitution, which sounds boring and too much like science class for me, but, you know, this is golf so maybe it makes sense. COR is the measurement of energy produced during a collision, like for example a Nike VR-S Driver’s club face against a golf ball. Nike’s lab rats can measure how much power is transferred from the club to the ball and that’s COR, or in the company’s lingo, NexCOR, meaning they’ve taken it a step further.

The more oomph that a club can impart to the ball at impact, the farther off the tee the ball will go. In the case of Nike’s VR-S Driver, the science is in the club face, which is deeper and the head is more streamlined than previous link weapons.

The head itself is 460cc, and the face is also big, with what the company calls “multiface thickness,” which sounds like the club has more than one face, but the thickness is the key. The club makers have varied it all over the face to provide better energy transfer even on mishits.

The Nike VR-S Driver also comes with “straight fit” technology that eases adjustment for swing types. Most drivers coming out these days are adjustable, but Nike allows up to four degrees of loft change, along with opening and closing the face to fit unique swings.

Alignment and setup are aided by the look of the club. The head is traditionally shaped, rather than square, and the color scheme of silver and gray, with black and a little red, or maybe that’s orange, is handsome and doesn’t distract as some clubs can. Plus it’s big and that just adds to the feeling of power.

Speaking of feeling. The light Fubuki shaft is great in the hands and is solid through the ball.

Nike has designed the VR-S driver’s club face to reduce spin, which increases roll down the middle of the fairway, where you’ll be more often if you use this club. Is it worth the $300 price tag? Jury is out on that one.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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Titleist 910D3 Driver Review

A playing partner arrived at the first tee with only one long club in his golf bag. He pulled out the Titleist 910D3 Driver and said:

“I paid three-hundred-plus dollars for this, and I’m going to see what it can do.”

He declared that he was going to use it for every shot, by which he meant every long shot, including teeing off with it on the par 3s. He wanted to give the club a complete driver review.

We thought he was crazy, which is about par for him, but he figured that since the Titleist 910D3 promotes a powerful ball flight that’s more workable than other drivers and helps with distance too, he could swing easier and get better results.

“It has a tour grip with a feel like velvet, and the Mitsubishi shaft is really light,” he said.

He also pointed out the SureFit technology, which allows for independent adjustment of loft and lie. The 910D3 is the first club to let a player do that. With other adjustable clubs, when the face angle changes so does the loft. Titleist has patented this dual adjustment, which makes it easier to fine tune the club to a player’s swing tendencies.

It’s not designed, however, to cure horrible hooks and slices. The system focuses on “launch optimization,” the company calls it. This means that the club head has a larger sweet spot and that the ball flies off the tee with authority. It has a low launch and a low flight, so if you like the ball up in the air, it may not be for you.

It looks like a dominating club. It’s black, with subtle red, silver and gray accents and a traditional pear-shaped head. The style says, “smooth,” and gives you confidence that you’ll swing with abandon.

The way Titleist manufactures the 910D3 puts the weight in the back of the club head, which increases stability, another aspect that promotes confidence.

My partner has always been partial to the way a Titleist driver sounds when club head impacts the ball, and the 910D3’s lively smack brought back memories of the days when woods were actually wood and not metal.

During his 910D3 driver review, my partner also found that the club’s shorter length helped him feel more comfortable during the swing. It’s 45-inches long, an inch shorter than today’s standard length. The old maxim about shorter clubs being easier to swing apparently also works for drivers.

Titleist is touting the 910D3 driver as being a club for the average swinger with a high handicap.

It helped my partner. He not only drove the ball farther consistently, including putting it pin high on a 210-yard par 3, he had so much confidence from those shots that he used his other clubs better and broke 100 for the first time.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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TaylorMade Rocketballz Driver Review

Rocketballz is a silly name, which can never be spoken without a sideways glance from someone. It seems ideally suited for garish knickers and stupid hats, but the TaylorMade Rocketballz Driver is built for ridiculous distance, no matter what you’re wearing, so the grade-school humor is balanced out.

Words like “searing” and “penetrating” get used by players during TaylorMade Rocketballz Driver reviews. These guys are swinging and smiling. They also say, “wow,” a lot.

It’s not the most forgiving club, but the company’s Inverted Cone Technology does enlarge the sweet spot and the lightweight Matrix shaft makes for faster swing speeds. It also has a grip engineered to keep a player from holding the club too tightly.

That last feature is a good one for a player I know. He holds the club so tight that his fingers get numb and any feel is impossible. They say you’re supposed the hold the club like you’re holding a bird: too tight and you’ll hurt it; too loose and it’ll get away. For this guy, the club must seem like a hawk attacking him because he tries to strangle it. Anything that promotes a good grip is worth the money.

Another feature of the TaylorMade Rocketballz driver that inspires confidence is the club head’s black and white color scheme. The contrast makes it easier to align and aim, which is something I often have trouble doing. It’s maddening when I make a decent swing with good contact and the ball goes where I was aiming, except I was lined up wrong. This head is a duffer’s version of a seeing-eye dog.

The patented Flight Control Technology allows easy adjustment of lie, loft and face, with eight settings that will improve impact, flight line and curtail hooks and slices. It sends the ball off the tee and helps increase rolling distance, especially on firm fairways. At the same time, you get some good hang time, so you can watch your ball fly far and roll even farther. It’s always cool to see that little white object keep moving.

At 46-inches long, the club is standard length, but it feels shorter, maybe because it’s so lightweight. It’s stable, however, and the club face comes around square pretty easy. The club’s big hitting zone turns mishits into good misses, which is always appreciated.

The company made the club for players who want to hit the ball strong and keep it in play. Sounds good to me.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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Cobra S3 Max Driver Review

How many miss-hits do you think you’ve had in your golfing life? Don’t count the babbling attempts to defend how much time you spend on the “silly game” to your wife or girlfriend. Just count the mistakes on the course itself. A thousand? Some rounds, it feels like you’ve never hit a good shot and never will again.

Feeling the pain of high-handicappers everywhere, Cobra, a big-name club maker, sent its engineers into the laboratory and didn’t let them out until they studied more than 25,000 miss-hits and the result was the Cobra S3 Max, the latest straight hitter based on the company’s E9 Face Technology.

Cobra’s lab rats discovered that golfers most often whack low on the heel to high on the toe in an elliptical pattern. So to their par-loving minds it made sense to make a club face that mirrors that pattern and gives a player more room for error. They don’t call it the sweet spot anymore, either. The Cobra S3 Max has a “Sweet Zone.” No more swinging for a precious spot that is tantalizingly almost never there. With Cobra, you go for the “zone.” Basically, they put a whole bunch of sweet spots all over the club face, which virtually eliminates miss-hits.

The technology doesn’t stop there. The S3 also has an adjustable head that has three settings, open closed and neutral–and the head is built with an offset hosel to guard against slicing. The scientists call that promoting “maximum draw bias.” High-handicappers in this driver review called it more consistent drives. An offset also helps put the hands ahead of the ball, which promotes the proper descending blow.

The hosel is part of the club head than connects to the shaft and is most often manufactured in line with the club face. An offset design like the Cobra S3 Max is good for beginners and others who struggle with accuracy. Better players won’t like it because it hampers how much they can deliberately spin the ball, like a fade around that dogleg on purpose, a shot most of us only hit by accident.

The 46-inch long S3 looks good, too, with a big head that seems smaller than it is and a fancy alignment mark that helps line up the club at address. Some testers for the driver review thought the mark, which is Cobra’s snake logo, was too distracting, and others were disappointed with the distance and didn’t like the subdued feel at impact. But the balance got good marks.

The sound of club against ball is low-key, which I think is a good thing.

The Cobra S3 Max comes with the Fugikura graphite shaft, a titanium head and is available in a variety of lofts.

Manufacturer’s suggested price: $299

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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Callaway RAZR Hawk Tour Driver Review

No matter how high their handicaps, golfers always look on the bright side. We don’t swing like the pros–heck, sometimes Tiger Woods doesn’t either–but we carry on, boosted by the precious few times when we’re able to put the golf driver against the ball at precisely the right place and see the little white orb glide through the air to land where it was aimed. To a duffer, there is no sweeter joy.

Well, hitting that sweet spot off the tee just got a whole lot easier, thanks to the new Callaway Razr Hawk Driver series. Heck, with either the Razr Hawk Driver or the Razr Hawk Tour, you can hit it on the toe, heel, a little low, a little high, just about anywhere and the ball will land someplace playable.

Not only do these drivers look like sleek par crushers, a black color scheme, with red alignment lines, that is straight forward and not overly showy, the sticks are made with crazy light “forged composite,” co-developed with Lamborghini racing engineers, and with a graphite shaft. Talk about easy swinging.

The Razr Hawk is 46-inches long and the Hawk Tour is 45.5, which means a wide swing arc, and that coupled with the light weight means your swing speed will be faster and the ball will go farther. As much as 20 yards farther. You’ll be closer to the hole for your second shot, which might be foreign territory, but you’ll get used to it.

While the Hawk Tour has a 445cc head, slightly smaller than the Hawk Driver, both have cast titanium cup faces for better ball speed on miss-hits. And better pop, what the experts call a “trampoline effect.” The ball flies off the club.

The weight is balanced to give these club heads a lower center of gravity, which helps put the ball up in the air. And who doesn’t like long, high-flying shots from their golf driver? The balance is exceptional because of a manufacturing process that’s melts ultra-thin carbon fibers and then shapes them to the club maker’s exact specifications. The company says that the aerodynamic design reduces drag by more than 40 percent over the FT-9, which caused a bit of a sensation a few years ago with its fusion technology.

And they are made to last, too, with an aluminum skid plate for extra durability.

Every player knows that a golf driver is one of the most difficult clubs to hit, but the Callaway Razr Hawk Driver series has forgiveness built right in, so much so that beginners can put them in their bags and swing with confidence.

The impact sound isn’t as high-pitched as many other drivers, which I happened to like. In fact, about the only thing wrong with these drivers is that I still have to do the swinging.

Both models are priced at $399.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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Adams Speedline 9088UL Driver Review

What’s in a sound? One of the worst things that’s ever happened in sports was the introduction of aluminum bats in baseball. That sharp ping with a hollow echo can’t compare to the crack of a Louisville Slugger on a hanging curve ball.

A similar thing has happened in golf. The loud burst of peak sound caused by modern drivers not only ruins the tranquility of the course, it likely damages your hearing. In the old days, you could barely hear a good shot. It was more of a powerful swoosh. Golf should be like that, a bit understated.

That’s one of the reasons I like the Adams Speedline 9088UL Driver. It’s light-weight and has the big modern head, but the impact sound is deep, solid, not so all-metal. It lets your shot speak for itself. How many times have you heard that wacky, loud ping and watched a monster slice over to the wrong fairway.

Speaking of a slice, and who hasn’t had a few choice words for that common miss-hit, according to this driver review, the Adams Speedline can help put that banana on the straight and narrow, without all the torturous swing corrections and desperate stance changes.

And, of course, it’s extra light. At 280 grams, it can brag about having one of the lowest swing weights of any of the competition. It has good balance and doesn’t pull at the hands, which makes it easier to release the club head for a nice follow through.

The light weight means faster swing speed, so the ball will go farther, and since the driver is designed to forgive bad strikes, the shot will likely land where you can find it. You’re going to get more consistent distance and be within 10 yards on either side of the target line.

At the business end of a 46-inch shaft, the Adams Speedline 9088UL has an aerodynamic head that puts the ball in the air off the tee. It might take a little getting used to, but tee it up a littler lower and find the sweet spot. By the way, pros don’t tee it up as high as you and your buddies do.

Despite its light-weight bona fides, the Speedline 9088UL has a feel to it that many other such drivers don’t. One guy who tested it for a driver review got all giggly after being able to draw the ball on purpose for the first time in nearly a half century of golf.

The color scheme is black on black, with a matte finish and cool depressions on the head. It looks great in the pro shop, but black tends to scuff easy and show its wear. Ah, well, that’s what head covers are for.

Two versions are available, standard and a club face that sets closed to help draw the ball. The grip is the Adams Velvet.

Manufacturer’s suggested price is $399.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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Cleveland Launcher DST Review

Build it light for a longer flight. A lighter club means greater club head speed which will propel your ball further down the fairway. This basic principle is at the heart of Cleveland’s Sub 300g technology, and the Launcher DST brings it all together.

Beware, though, as this is not the big bopper for the newbie. Cleveland has matched a Mitsubishi Diamana Red 45.75 inch shaft weighing in at a mere 47 grams. If you haven’t mastered a solid, fundamentally sound swing the extra length will simply allow a deeper exploration of the surrounding wooded countryside.

With that said, though, the good golfer might just love this bat. With a total weight of only 292 grams, almost 10 percent lighter than the standard driver, the Launcher DST still maintains a D4 swing weight, giving it a presence in the hands that is amazing considering its actual heft.

The head appears traditional, as that has evolved. With a maxed out 460cc volume and a familiar pear shape, there is very little crazy design flash that would suggest the innovation that this driver represents. If anything, the appearance of the club is deceiving, not striving for attention from the bag. It may even be just a bit boring. If your bragging rights are greatest at the beginning of your round as you unload your trunk rather than when the scores are added up, this may not be your club. However, if you are the last man standing after splitting fairways all day with bombs from the tee, try the Cleveland Launcher DST.

There are a few models available to try to dial the lightweight champ to your game. There is a draw model that closes things down by 3 degrees, and the pro tour model goes the other way, building in a fade and pairing down the head size to 430cc and sporting a slightly heavier and half an inch shorter Diamana White shaft.

The design principle behind the Cleveland Launcher DST could not be simpler, and they have pushed the envelope to achieve a super lightweight driving machine that could feel like the right stuff in the hands of the golfer that knows how to use it. Take a peak at our selection of Cleveland Drivers to see if you find a match for your game.

Cobra ZL Driver Review

The new Cobra ZL driver is the latest from the golf juggernaut, and it is one of the few clubs refusing to turn its back on carbon-fiber technology. It’s still early in the shelf life of this club to know whether Cobra has overcome the reputation carbon-fiber has for being brittle, but they have addressed the other knock the material carries, and that is the high pitched “ting�? it is noted for at impact. Frequency tuning has brought the sound down an octave or so. Frequency tuning has also pointed out how superficial the concerns are of the club buying public. Would I be willing to pick up 10 extra yards if my club suddenly intoned Culture Clubs greatest hits on impact? Alright, that might be too big a penalty to pay, but you get the idea. Cobra has also gotten rid of its characteristic dimples, a fad that had run its course along with the mullet and shoulder pads for women’s dresses.

The ZL hosel is adjustable to three different settings; open, closed or neutral. Unlike some competitors that have made such adjustments nearly unlimited, the simple three position option is a welcome one, leaving the golfer freed from endless fiddling and with more time to hit balls off the mat. There is also a weight screw in the back of the sole plate that helps to dial in more or less loft, maybe impacting trajectory by the factor of a half degree of loft.

The head blends a carbon-fiber crown and sole with a titanium body and 6-4 titanium face, making for a light head that has plenty of COR and MOI and probably lots of other acronyms that I’m forgetting.

Top it off with a too long 46 inch Adila shaft and you have a very expensive, high-tech club that looks great in the bag and on the tee, but probably not so much on the scorecard. Distance claims which accompany every new driver introduction are dubious and the bulk of golfers will find the shaft too long to control while the hosel mechanism will make the choices of changing out the shaft very limited.

Guess I’ll keep looking for Boy George to get me 10 more yards.  Great deals are often found on Cobra Drivers when looking online, take advantage.

November 12, 2018 | | Sport

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