Nike SQ Sumo² A few companies have tried in the past to design square-headed drivers, but with today’s manufacturing know-how, the concept now makes a lot more sense. Nike’s Sumo² improves upon last year’s SasQuatch driver by pushing weight out to the newly created rear corners of an even bigger clubhead. As K. J. Choi demonstrated by winning the Chrysler Championship using the Sumo² and as we discovered in testing, the ball goes where the clubface is pointed at impact, with markedly less sidespin. The club’s face and body are titanium, and the crown is a weight-saving composite. Also new, with a (slightly) more traditional look, is the SQ Sumo. $480 SQ Sumo²/$360 SQ Sumo. Call 800-922-6453 or visit nikegolf.com.
Callaway FT-i and FT-5 Callaway’s new square-framed driver, the FT-i, has a smaller footprint than Nike’s but a taller titanium face—the company’s biggest face ever. The rest of the clubhead, except for the thin aluminum soleplate, is made of a lightweight graphite composite. That allowed designers to mold an impressive forty-four grams of discretionary weight into the rear corners, increasing stability. Callaway’s goal was to improve forgiveness not just on shots hit left and right of center but also above and below the midline, and the consistent trajectories we saw in testing suggest the designers succeeded. The sound at impact is loud and metallic. The mostly composite FT-5 (with a slightly shorter shaft than the FT-i’s) is a less rounded, more angular upgrade of the FT-3, with improved sound. Both drivers are available in draw, neutral and tour-fade configurations. $625 FT-i/ $535 FT-5. Call 800-588-9836 or visit callawaygolf.com.
Ping Rapture The shadowy spider-web pattern on the crown of the Rapture is cosmetic, but it represents the honeycomb frame beneath the titanium cover into which composite material has been injected. The weight saved in this low-stress area is relocated internally low and back to create an optimal launch pattern and more forgiveness. The composite-metal blend is a popular idea these days, and Ping does it as well as anyone. For one thing, it got the sound just right. $475. Call 800-474-6434 or visit pinggolf.com.
King Cobra HS9 King Cobra has jumped into the carbon-composite game with this successor to its popular F-Speed drivers. The overall look and extra-large titanium clubface of the HS9 are much the same as in the F-Speed, but a composite crown and two patches of composite on the sole gave designers some extra weight to push the center of gravity lower and farther back, increasing stability and momentum through impact. Each of the HS9’s three versions—X, F (shown) or M—is tweaked for different player profiles, based on ball speed. $480. Call 800-555-9282 or visit cobragolf.com.
TaylorMade r7 460 TP A pair of superb clubs for better players. The r7 460 TP has the same forgiving 460cc clubhead as the r7 460, but it has the square face angle low handicappers prefer. The weight screws—totaling up to twenty-four grams in two ports—can be adjusted to influence left and right movement on a drive by up to fifteen yards. For the right player, the look and feel of this gem is as good as it gets. $725. Call 800-888-2582 or visit taylormadegolf.com.
Tour Edge Exotics Tour Proto Made with the same top-shelf materials and advanced welding process as the company’s Exotics driver, the Proto’s face is two degrees open for players who not only don’t slice but also like to work the ball a bit off the tee. The head has a heavier feel and more visible roll to the face—both features that are favored by good players. The stock shaft is the excellent Aldila VS Proto. $500. Call 800-515-3343 or visit touredge.com.