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Best of the Best 2002: Golf: Best Equipment

James Y. Bartlett and Ron Crowley

Pros’ Choice

No matter how many PGA Tour players use a club that you’re thinking of buying—and in the case of the TaylorMade 300 Ti series of metal woods, the Tour count is somewhere close to 70—it’s how the club works for you that really matters.

TaylorMade has simplified the task of finding a driver that will respond to your idiosyncrasies and help you get the ball in the fairway a long way from the tee. There are three sizes. The smallest, 300cc version, with its low profile and traditional face depth, is designed for better players. The monster-sized 360cc head, designed for higher-handicappers, makes it close to impossible not to get the ball somewhere on the huge clubface. The 320cc is designed for the large middle ground. All the varieties can be ordered with different kinds of shaft flexes, including the company’s own excellent graphite Bubble shaft, and in lofts from 7 to 12 degrees.

The 300 series is just the latest in a continuing line of technological improvements from the company that launched the metal wood craze with the first steel-head drivers, the so-called “Pittsburgh Persimmons,” back in 1979. The new drivers are constructed of lightweight titanium, which allows for the inflated head size, but are very traditional looking and painted in a conservative gunmetal gray.

Lightweight, easy to swing, and solid, the TaylorMade 300 Ti, in any size, knocks the ball a long way. The fact that Ernie Els, among dozens of others, agrees is just icing on the cake.

TaylorMade Golf Co., 760.918.6000, www.taylormadegolf.com

 

Ironing It Out

Golf club aficionados will tell you that the Titleist DCI 762 incorporates the finest design technology, including a thin clubface and an innovative cavity insert of carbon and metallized Mylar. If this is more technical information than you want, just know that the DCI 762s are the irons for which you’ve been searching.

Titleist may very well be correct in claiming that this club’s great performance is due to its large cavity, its progressive offset, and its dual hosel lengths that provide precise weight distribution. On the other hand, its performance may derive from its solid feel in your hands. Certainly it’s a great-looking club, lacking the awkward appearance that mars so many perimeter-weighted clubs. Those who long for the look of a traditional blade iron will find the DCI 762 a welcome compromise.

Traditionalists will probably prefer the signature Titleist Victory Velvet full-cord grips and the True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shafts, eschewing the lure and glitz of a GAT 95 Graphite shaft. Of course, you could choose from a number of custom shafts—if your game is worthy.

Titleist, www.titleist.com


Moss Boss

The ever-beguiling flatstick. Players will go through dozens of them in their quest for Excalibur. The reason is simple: Most putters are difficult to align with the hole. They point a little to the left or the right, forcing you to fiddle with your hands and shoulders to square the clubface. Eventually, you’ll line up the shot, but by then your body is so hopelessly out of position that your stroke is doomed.

The Austin 2 model by Ray Cook solves the problem. Its slightly offset hosel positions your hands ahead of the ball where they belong, enabling you to direct the ball to where it belongs: in the hole.

Before you even pick up the Austin 2, however, you will be struck by its design—its soft curves of steel that distribute additional weight behind the clubface in the classic heel-toe style.

It looks like a putter that should work, and putting, above all, requires confidence.

Hit a few putts, and you will recognize that the Austin 2 has tremendous feel, thanks to the company’s proprietary StepFlare shaft and a traditional grip of compound rubber devised in collaboration with renowned grip-maker Lamkin. These are nice touches that should help anyone deliver putts with a nice touch.

Ray Cook Golf Inc., 512.894.4910, www.raycookgolf.com

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