My first clubs were a gift from my husband. I took the hint and played those heavy sticks hard for four years—until the glorious day that I broke 100. Yes! But like most women, I'm still average. I swing at only 60 to 70 m.p.h. (versus an average 80 to 100 m.p.h. for men), and there's not a big distance difference between my long irons. I need new clubs, and luckily, my timing couldn't be better. Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade, Nike and Cleveland have all come out with major new designs specifically for women, with the emphasis on lightweight clubs that help make the ball go higher and farther. All are anything but average.
TaylorMade Miscela $700 (7-set); $1,200 (10-set); 800-888-2582; taylormadegolf.com
Specs Right-hand only (left-hand available in January); graphite shaft; one length only (no petite)
Comments An average of 4.2 degrees loft difference between clubs made for bigger distance differences. The 10-set includes driver, 3W, three hybrid mid-woods and five irons (7-SW). Visually, these clubs flow together. True to TaylorMade's claim, they match so well with slower swing speeds that hitting them is almost effortless; there's no fight. Difficult long-iron shots were a breeze with the more offset mid-woods (based on TM's Rescue Mid club design).
Bottom Line BEST VALUE No need to shop around—one price and you're done. Only thing missing is a putter.
Cleveland W-Series $100 per club (irons); $249-$390 (woods); 800-999-6263; clevelandgolf.com
Specs Right- or left-hand; petite length available; graphite shaft. Irons also sold as a set of eight ($797).
Comments The technology behind the new TA7 W irons (3-SW) is from the men's TA7 Micro Cavity line, but with weight moved to the sole to help women get the ball up easier and quicker. They were not as forgiving as some of the others, though I did like the tacky grip. The Launcher W driver (lighter and more lofted than the men's), with a massive 400-cubic-centimeter head, was the most forgiving of the bunch. Fairway woods available in 3-9.
Bottom Line The most traditional, both visually and in makeup. A solid option for the better and stronger golfer.
Ping G2 Series $110-$140 (irons); $200-$255 (woods); 800-474-6434; pinggolf.com
Specs Right- or left-hand; graphite or steel shaft; custom fit. You can mix and match to configure your own set.
Comments Sibling to the men's G2 Iron Series (page 92), the new women's G2Ls (7-9, PW, SW, LW) are extra light (in graphite). Every shot felt strong, even without exerting a lot of power. Long irons come in the G2HL model (2-5), designed for "high launch" and with an extra-wide sole to resist digging. The light-shafted G2 woods (six lofts) proved easy to get the ball up and, thankfully, were forgiving.
Bottom Line BEST OVERALL Sexy. Fun to play because they're light, forgiving and solid off the tee. Plus, lots of choice.
Nike Slingshot Irons, T-40 Woods, Women's Driver $119-$239 per club; 800-922-6453; nikegolf.com
Specs Right- or left-hand; graphite or steel shaft; petite available in February. Irons sold as set of eight ($899).
Comments The new women's Slingshot Irons (3-SW, AW) have the same game-improvement technology as the men's. A lower center of gravity, due to an arching weighted bar across the back of the club, make these easy to hit; solid, but just a bit heavier than the Pings. At 295 cc, the driver isn't as big or forgiving as the Cleveland, but I still hit it a mile. Traditional and cutting edge at the same time.
Bottom Line Nike's debut in the women's club market is positively sleek. The blue-silver combo is alluring.
Callaway GES About $500 (set of 7); 800-588-9836; callawaygolf.com
Specs Available in January; right-hand only; graphite shaft; one length only (no petite); putter included
Comments Wow. Talk about a radical design. The heads of the three woods and three hybrid irons in Callaway's brand-new Game Enjoyment System are open at the top, visibly hollow. The resulting low center of gravity made getting the ball up a cinch. They're extremely forgiving and they set up well. Having so few clubs to choose from simplifies play. Some may be put off by the nontraditional design and makeup, or the loud aluminum-bat-like sound the driver makes.
Bottom Line Sure, they're different, but they're designed to work well for women and they do.