Callaway

epic    

Performance  ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Look/sound/feel ★★★★★
Demand ★★★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT If the crown looks similar to the Epic drivers and fairway woods, it’s because the same ultralight carbon composite is used. That lighter top makes room for an arcing tungsten weight low inside the head to help the ball launch higher with less spin. Like the fairway wood, it’s also powered by the company’s cupface design: the face wraps around the crown and sole with a thin rim that flexes so that off-centre strikes fly like on-centre hits. Available in four lofts with an eight-way adjustable hosel.

COMMENTS (L) The ball jumps off the face, and it’s forgiving on mis-hits. (M) Sleek finish, and it cradles the ball at address. (H) You can launch it high, and it’ll land soft. That crack sound is perfect.


Callaway

rogue/rogue x      

Performance  ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★★
Look/sound/feel ★★★★½
Demand ★★★★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT These are the first hybrids to feature Callaway’s “jailbreak” technology. Two internal steel bars directly behind the face brace the crown and sole and stiffen the body. This concentrates the flexing across a wider area of the face for maximum ball speed and distance. The company’s trademark cupface technology provides even more flex on those not-dead-centre hits.

COMMENTS (L) The way it glides through the turf is pretty great. I couldn’t hit one bad enough to call it a miss. (M) It flew straight with almost any swing I put on it. (H) The width of the toe gives you confidence. Good distance on mis-hits. It was like a baseball pitching machine, shooting balls out straight one after another.


Cobra

f8/one length  

Performance  ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★½
Look/sound/feel ★★★★
Demand ★★★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

   

VERDICT Like the F8 fairway woods, the hybrids use sole rails to keep the head square and gliding through the turf. The rails also add weight low to help your shots launch higher. All that extra weight is possible because Cobra uses a high-strength, lightweight 455 steel face insert and a smaller hosel. As interesting as that technology is, Cobra’s also offering a single-length version (about the length of a standard 7-iron) in three lofts. It actually has more stability and a lower centre of gravity for higher launch than the standard versions.

COMMENTS (L) The rails let you get down after the ball so you can hit solid, high-launching shots. (M) Easy to control and work the flight. (H) The feel is awesome – like I’m hitting a forged iron.


Ping

g400

Performance  ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★
Look/sound/feel ★★★★½
Demand ★★★★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT One of the goals of this hybrid was to make it easier to launch. Ping did this by using a dense sole weight in the back and a strong and thin maraging-steel face insert to increase flexibility and ball speed. The result is the highest-launching and softest-landing hybrid in Ping’s history. Five lofts are available – from
17 degrees for better players with fast swing speeds to 30 degrees for slower-swinging golfers looking to replace their 6-irons.

COMMENTS (L) Just put this in your bag. There’s no need to figure anything out. (M) It has a powerful sound that will make people stop and take notice. (H) I could hardly hit a bad shot with this club, and the ball really flew out of bad lies.


PXG

0317x

Performance  ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★★
Look/sound/feel ★★★★½
Demand ★★★½

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT By using carbon fibre for its crown instead of steel, PXG saved weight on top and reallocated it low and farther forward. The lower centre of gravity means your shots won’t spin as much, and they’ll launch higher, a good recipe for distance. Inside the sole is a honeycomb pad of thermoplastic elastomer. It absorbs unwanted vibrations. The seven ports on the sole let you move the weight to tame your hook or slice.

COMMENTS (L) The face is very responsive, but you only get that “wow” factor when you hit it dead centre. (M) It frames the ball perfectly. Really easy to line up to your target. Surprisingly forgiving for a smaller head. (H) When I hit it well, it went.


TaylorMade

m3

Performance  ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★★
Look/sound/feel ★★★★
Demand ★★★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT Tiny changes equal big benefits – like the screw on the adjustable hosel that weighs a third less than it did on last year’s M1. This provides more room to position the centre of gravity forward, and it frees up room to make the slot in the sole wider for better performance on strikes that occur low on the clubface. The 30-gram sliding weight also makes it simple to dial in a draw or fade.

COMMENTS (L) It had a firm sound to it. There’s no vibration; it just rockets. Workability was good. (M) This club will hide a multitude of sins in your golf swing. Smooth, powerful, great distance and easy to turn over. (H) The adjustability was great for dialling this in for me. I got a lot of power from it and plenty of distance.


TaylorMade

M4

Performance  ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Look/sound/feel ★★★★½
Demand ★★★★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT Unlike the M3, the M4 doesn’t have a weight track. But something you can’t see is a weight pad inside the bottom of the club. Last year, it was one long piece, but by splitting it into two, the club is more stable at impact. This deep position helps shots launch high like the company’s hybrids are known and loved for. External ribs stiffen the sole to control sound.

COMMENTS (L) This has a sleek, futuristic look that I like. I’m able to hit shots with less ball spin, which is good. You can still get distance on mis-hits. (M) High, straight ball flight – now those are fun shots to hit. (H) It gives you consistent, predictable results. No ballooning, no nonsense, it just works. Its best quality is the distance.


Titleist

818h1/h2

Performance  ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★★
Look/sound/feel ★★★★★
Demand ★★★★½

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT Titleist has used sole channels in past models, but this one is better in two ways. There’s a cut-through opening for optimal flexibility, and an elastomer to cover it. That means the face can flex while gliding through the turf. A weight cartridge in the sole lets you achieve the ball flight that you want. The new models are slightly smaller than the 816 versions but more stable with a higher launch.

COMMENTS (L) It’s easy to feel confident with this in your hands – the perfect mix of looks, performance and distance. (M) I love the timeless shape. A fusion of old-school style with new technology. You get tour performance in a shape that’s not intimidating. (H) It has the sound of a good, solid iron. It glides through the turf beautifully.


Callaway

big bertha os

Performance  ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Look/sound/feel ★★★★
Demand ★★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT This is another Callaway club with cupface technology in which the face wraps around the crown and sole to help improve distance on off-centre strikes. The large face and generous size create a forgiving shape, and that’s enhanced by stabilising sole rails and a weight screw deep in the sole. Making the club even more forgiving are five available lofts and an eight-way adjustable hosel. Combined, that’s 40 possible setups from 18 to 33 degrees.

COMMENTS (L) At this size you’re not carving shots with it, but so what? It gets the ball up easily and has great carry. (M) Had a soft feel and a mid-high penetrating flight that went straight. (H) It’s forgiving with a nice pop off the face. I really like the alignment aids, too.


Cobra

king oversize

Performance  ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★
Look/sound/feel ★★★★½
Demand ★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT Cobra enlarged the clubhead to increase stability and forgiveness on off-centre hits. Making the face even more effective on low-face strikes is its L-shape – where the face wraps into the sole. However, a larger clubhead generally equals a higher centre of gravity, which leads to more ball spin and a lower launch. Not good. So Cobra addressed this problem by making the crown out of a thin, strong carbon composite and adding an internal tungsten weight low and deep in the head to control launch and spin.

COMMENTS (L) The balance felt right. (M) This will help a lot of players. You don’t have to swing hard to get the ball flying. (H) The way it sits is beautiful. I’ve got a lot of confidence with the size.


KZG

H370

Performance  ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★
Look/sound/feel ★★★½
Demand 

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT These hybrids were built to be forgiving and to get the ball in the air. Both are achieved in part by positioning the centre of gravity low and deep in the slightly offset head. The maraging-steel face insert has good flex at impact to improve ball speed. But what sets these hybrids apart is a loft range that runs from 18 to 42 degrees – or 3-iron through 9-iron.

COMMENTS (L) The head size is a little big for me, but it out-performs its look. Hit it in the centre, and it’s just what you want. (M) The forgiveness was good – probably because of the offset. (H) It has a nice crack when you get hold of one. I liked the ball flight. It was more penetrating than high. But I could still stop it.


Mizuno

clk

Performance ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Look/sound/feel ★★★★
Demand ★★½

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT It’s probably not something you’ve thought about before, but the stronger the steel, the thinner you can make it. Mizuno used a high-strength maraging 1770 steel for the face to make it as thin as possible. This means more flex for distance and saved weight for higher flight. The wave feature on the sole places more mass low, leading to a higher launch with less spin. Four lofts with eight-way adjustable hosels make it easy to fill your distance gaps.

COMMENTS (L) This shape is exactly what a hybrid should look like. The ball flight is perfect. (M) I was impressed with the distance when I hit it low on the face. (H) It has the look of a club for better players, but I still liked how it set up and performed.


Srixon

H65

Performance ★★★★
Innovation ★★★½
Look/sound/feel ★★★★
Demand ★★½

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT Though its lofts are limited, these hybrids are designed to dial in the right ball flight. That notch in the crown that runs parallel to the face deepens in depth as the lofts increase to help you launch the ball with more speed. An internal weight pad is farther back in the lowest loft to also help with launch. The weight pad then shifts forward in the higher lofts to control spin. The higher lofts also feature a more rounded sole to increase workability.

COMMENTS (L) It has a nice, clean look. The whole face feels sturdy, like you can hit it anywhere without consequences. (M) An average swing with this club produces an above-average result. (H) It gets up in the air with plenty of zip. Even my mis-hits had good distance.


Wilson

C300

Performance ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★
Look/sound/feel ★★★½
Demand ★★

2018 Hot List: Hybrids

VERDICT You’re probably wondering what those dark lines are on the crown. Flip the club over, and you’ll see them on the sole, too. They’re actually holes in the head that are filled with thermoplastic urethane. That compound isn’t rigid, so the holes give the metal around them – including the high-strength steel face insert – the tendency to flex more at impact for more distance. Sole weights and an adjustable hosel let you achieve your preferred ball flight.

COMMENTS (L) I love the shape and was surprised how good it performed on mis-hits. (M) I want to replace my long irons with this. They’re so much more playable. (H) Turf interaction is really good.
I felt like I could make this do everything I wanted it to.