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Square Drivers

Gordon Mott, David Savona
From the Print Edition:
Cuba, May/June 2007

To swing the hottest drivers in the ever-evolving world of golf equipment, you need to be square—by wielding one of the new square-headed drivers, that is. Nike and Callaway both have created clubs with huge blocks for heads with the aim of improving the moment of inertia and giving you straighter ball flights and longer carries.

The massive black square atop the Callaway FT-i looks as if it could hit two golf balls at once, with room to spare. The shape, which takes a little getting used to, resulted from the efforts of Callaway technicians, who started from scratch, in search of any advantage. What they say they found was that the strict use of carbon composite materials in the head allowed the designers to move weight to the far edges of the square, improving the moment of inertia. Simply put, that is the club head's resistance to twisting while striking the ball.

In a limited test, it is easy to believe. The club is definitely more forgiving, and unlike some previous composite drivers, the sound of the club hitting the ball is relatively familiar. While distance isn't easy to determine in a short test, the club did seem to provide added length off the tee.

Both the regular FT-i and Tour model FT-is can be set up for a draw, neutral or fade bias. The shafts are manufactured by Fujikura, one of the top shaft makers in the business.

The head of the Nike SasQuatch Sumo Squared driver can only be described as immense. To achieve its stunning size while maintaining PGA weight limits, Nike eschewed solid titanium and used a composite material to construct the crown. The result is an oversized sweet spot that delivers great forgiveness—on a test round, a high handicapper found it easy to put the ball into play. Even poor hits that would have sliced into oblivion stayed in bounds. The club maker boasts that the Sumo has the highest MOI—moment of inertia—in golf. While it can cure a slice, it didn't add appreciable distance in our test.

The size of the Sumo turns heads as its canary- yellow and black cover is removed, but what really gets it noticed is the distinctive sound it makes when it hits a golf ball. The familiar thwack that golfers yearn to hear is gone, replaced by the ping you might hear if you hit a Titleist with an aluminum bat.

But odd sound effects and unusual shapes may seem like small prices to pay for the considerable forgiveness both of these clubs deliver.

Visit www.callawaygolf.com and www.nike.com.

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