Its appearance at address is traditional, but the Z-RW packs plenty of technology. In the high-lofted models, the red sole weight is fixed toward the heel to promote draw bias, and in lower lofts it moves to neutral and fade positions. Hidden from view is the face’s inside wall, which features a protruding starburst pattern that allows for a wider sweet spot. Srixon designed the four zones of the clubface with differing amounts of bulge and roll to create a more uniform face deformation at impact and reduce sidespin. Indeed, we found that the Z-RW scored high marks for workability. $400. Call 800-477-4966 or visit srixon.com.
Nike SQ Sumo² 5900
The new SQ Sumo² looks similar to the original model, but differences abound. The “5900” signals that the club meets the USGA’s limit for MOI (whereas last year’s version was at 5,300). A deeper clubface is another major improvement, as is the upgrade of its acoustics: Subtle changes to its shape and wall thicknesses allowed designers to respond to golfers who had complained about the original’s sound. Finally, Nike added an attractive matte finish to the squared-off head, which is still two-toned to trick the eye into seeing a more conventional shape. $479. Call 888-799-6453 or visit nikegolf.com.
Cobra Speed LD
The trademark look of the Cobra driver is familiar by now, but in this titanium version, the crown is even more severely sloped and the dimples are deeper. This geometry—along with the clubhead’s USGA-maximum height and width—lowers the center of gravity (CG), raises the MOI and simply invites you to let loose. This driver comes in various models to fit different types of players: the Speed LD/F for players generating high ball speed, the Speed LD/M for those with moderate ball speed, and an offset version. $375. Call 800-917-3300 or visit cobragolf.com.
Cleveland HiBore XLS
What a sequel. The thick, confidence-inspiring topline sets up nicely behind the ball, giving you a peek at the tall clubface—17 percent bigger than its predecessor’s, it’s Cleveland’s largest ever. The head is gently elongated from clubface to rear, and its scoop is more subtle than in the previous rendition. Impact feels terrific: a satisfying ping with an underlying thump. Like other high-MOI drivers, its ball flight tends toward straightness, thanks to heel and toe “stability foils” in the head’s perimeter. Available in standard and draw models, as well as in a smaller Tour version. $390. Call 800-999-6263 or visit clevelandgolf.com.
Heavy Putter D3-DF
Heavy Putter continues with its core concept of being, well, heavy—thus enlisting the big muscles of the arms and shoulders, rather than the more skittish ones in the hands, to guide the stroke. It recently added a new wrinkle to the five models of its Deep Face (DF) series. The company says raising the clubface’s center of gravity to make it closer to the equator of the ball creates a better transfer of energy, thereby improving the player’s distance control. $169. Call 888-788-8374 or visit heavyputter.com.
TaylorMade TP RED/Black and Nike ONE Black/Platinum Balls
The new season brings updates to two popular lines of balls. TaylorMade has incorporated a low-drag dimple design (intended to improve distance on mis-hits from the upper portion of the clubface) into both its Red model, for higher-spin players, and its Black, for those with lower spin rates ($40; 800-888-2582, taylormadegolf.com). Nike replaced the mantle of its One series with a resilient polymer formulated to respond faster to compression, increasing ball speed on both center and off-center strikes ($56; 888-799-6453, nikegolf.com).
Mizuno WindLite Sweater
The Windlite’s inner liner, a flexible and breathable windproof membrane, brings plenty of performance. It manages to be both warm and lightweight, if a bit on the crinkly sounding side. That Mizuno conceals this liner beneath a soft cotton/acrylic shell is even better—it looks like a proper sweater as opposed to that grungy polyester wind shirt that lives in the trunk of the car. Ribbed sleeves add a nice style detail. Pictured is the quarter-zip version; V-neck and sleeveless models are also available. $120. Call 800-966-1211 or visit mizunousa.com.