New for 2010, The Hackers Paradise will feature four Shoot Outs throughout the year. Each quarterly Shoot Out will focus on a different category of golf club and will rely on a panel of golfers assembled from local golf courses in the Sarasota, Florida area. The members of the panel are everyday, recreational golfers and are not affiliated with either THP or any golf company. After extensive testing of the featured clubs by the panel, THP compiles the data and publishes the rankings as determined by the independent panel.
THP kicks off 2010 with a bang by holding a “Pre Show” Driver Shoot Out (DSO) in honor of the PGA Merchandise Show, where manufacturers introduce their latest equipment offerings for the coming year. THP invited manufacturers to submit their best drivers for testing prior to the PGA Show and we have the results first. While none of THP’s Shoot Out testing is scientific, and we still recommend that every player hit as many clubs as they can before making a final decision on what works best for their game, THP thinks our Shoot Outs are a great way to cut through all of the marketing claims and find out exactly what the typical golfer thinks about the newest crop of clubs.
For this year’s DSO, we assembled 24 golfers in three handicap categories to test each driver submitted for the DSO. The DSO panel included eight low-handicap players, eight mid-handicap players, and eight high-handicap players. (Click here to read a short biography for each member of the testing panel.)
Before presenting the results of this year’s DSO, it is important to keep several things in mind:
1. Not a single driver submitted to THP for the DSO performed poorly. To the contrary, most received excellent marks from the panel as a whole. In the final analysis, the differences between the various rankings boiled down to one driver simply fitting a player better than another driver.
2. Panel members hit every driver on a large range with a painted line down the center of the range in order to measure accuracy.
3. All distance measurements were done with Bushnell Rangefinders and GPS units, which have consistently scored very well in THP testing for on course distance measuring.
4. Each panel member used the same new Bridgestone e7 model golf ball for testing every driver. For the DSO, THP wanted a distance ball with a penetrating ball flight, and our staff felt that the new Bridgestone e7 was the perfect choice.
5. There was a definite trend toward certain clubs within each handicap group. Each handicap group consistently performed better with the same two or three clubs.
6. Clubs were available in multiple flexes, and lofts were at or around 10 degrees for each club.
2010 Driver Shoot Out Participants (in alphabetical order):
Adams Fast 10
Adams Speedline 9032 LS
Callaway FT Tour
Callaway Diablo Edge
Callaway Diablo Edge Tour
Cleveland DST Tour
Fourteen Golf JC-909
Geek Dot.com This
Nike Victory Red
Powerbilt Air Force One Air Foil Tour
TaylorMade Burner Super Fast
TaylorMade R9 Super Tri
Tour Edge Exotics XCG3
Wilson Staff Smooth
Panel Evaluation Categories:
Looks (subjective category) – How did the club look to each panel member? Was the club pleasing to the eye and did it inspire confidence?
Feel (subjective category) – How did the club feel to each panel member? Did the club feel steady during the swing and solid at impact?
Sound (subjective category) – How did the club sound to each panel member at impact? Did the sound inspire confidence, or was it distracting?
Distance (objective category) – Overall distance (carry + roll) of each shot.
Accuracy (objective category) – Distance of deviation (right or left) from center line.
Overall – Mathematical sum of the scores assigned to each of the categories.
Notes: Each driver was ranked on a “most favorite” to “least favorite” scale for each category, with “1” indicating most favorite and “22” indicating least favorite. Because they are the most objective factors in the test, Distance and Accuracy were weighted more heavily in calculating the final Overall scores.
Each tester was asked to rank each driver based on aesthetics only, and rank them from most appealing to least appealing. Panel members were asked to judge appearance at setup, appearance of the sole, and overall appearance of the driver.
The following five clubs scored highest in the Looks category:
1. Ping i15
2. TaylorMade R9 SuperTri
3. Srixon Z-TX
4. Nike Victory Red
5. Bridgestone J38
Each tester was asked to rank the drivers from most favorite to least favorite based on their own personal interpretation of how the clubs felt during the swing and at impact. The Feel category undoubtedly generated the most discussion among THP staffers because every golfer seemed to use varying criteria. Descriptions such as “texture” and “feedback” were commonly used when debriefing the panel members about their selections in the Feel category, and panel members frequently commented how different each driver felt as they tested more drivers.
The following five clubs scored highest in the Feel category:
1. Ping G15
2. Callaway Diablo Edge
3. TaylorMade R9 SuperTri
4. Fourteen JC-909
5. Callaway FT Tour
Each tester was asked to rank each driver from most pleasing to least pleasing based on the sound at impact only. Sound carried a great deal of weight with testers and post-testing discussions suggested that sound can make or break a driver for many golfers. While some panel members prefer a loud sound at impact, others prefer a more muted and subtle sound.
The following five clubs scored highest in the Sound category:
1. TaylorMade R9 SuperTri
2. Srixon Z-TX
3. Callaway Diablo Edge
4. Callaway FT Tour
5. Ping G15
Each panel member was asked to hit seven balls with each driver. The longest and shortest shots were eliminated and distance was determined by averaging the remaining five shots. Distance was measured after each shot using a Bushnell laser range finder.
The following five clubs scored highest in the Distance category:
1. TaylorMade Burner Super Fast
2. Nike MachSpeed
3. Tour Edge Exotics XCG3
4. (tie) Callaway Diablo Edge
4. (tie) Adams Speedline Fast 10
5. Cleveland Launcher DST
As with the Distance measurement, each panel member was asked to hit seven balls with each driver (the same seven shots used for determining distance.) Using a center line painted down the range, distance from center was measured after each shot and recorded. All seven measurements were averaged and drivers were ranked based on the smallest average distance from the center line.
The following five clubs scored highest in the Accuracy category:
1. Fourteen JC-909
2. Nike Victory Red
3. Callaway Diablo Edge
4. Ping G15
5. TaylorMade R9 SuperTri
To determine the Overall rankings, scores for each driver category were added.
The following five clubs collected the best Overall scores in our 2010 Driver Shoot Out:
1. Callaway Diablo Edge
2. Ping G15
3. TaylorMade R9 SuperTri
4. Cleveland Launcher DST
5. Bridgestone J38
Interestingly, the top scoring driver, Callaway’s new Diablo Edge did not finish first in any of the individual categories. What it did do, however, is score in the top five in all but one of the categories. In other words, the Diablo Edge may not be the best at any single task, but it performs every task very well – certainly not a bad trait to have for the longest club in your bag.
Overall, what we found during testing is that almost all of the clubs are excellent performers. Scoring for the top spots in each category was always close and, in some cases, the difference between rankings came down to a few yards right or left of center. We also found that every club will feel and perform differently in a different player’s hand and, for the best results in your game, you should test as many different clubs as you can get your hands on.
The Spring issue of THP: The Magazine will have a lot more information on this year’s DSO, including players’ quotes, most and least favorite picks, and complete break downs of the results by handicap category. Available March 2010, THP: The Magazine is a must read. Until then, discussions of the DSO are available on the THP forum, where readers can join in and discuss the 2010 DSO with other golfers and THP staff. Join the forum now and let THP know what you liked or disliked about the 2010 DSO, and how your favorite driver fared.
The 2010 DSO has come to an end and, as always, we had a blast doing it. THP hopes its readers enjoy learning how players “just like you” performed with the various clubs in their hands. One final (and big) thank you to all of the equipment companies who were gracious enough to submit clubs for the 2010 DSO.
UPDATE: CHECK OUT THE FORUM AS WE ARE GIVING AWAY ONE OF THESE DRIVERS. OWN ONE OF THESE BEAUTIES BEFORE THEY EVEN HIT RETAIL STORES! CONTEST RULES HERE!
DRIVER SHOOT OUT CONTEST