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Fairway Woods

•King Cobra Speed Series Fairway Wood Available in three flavors, Cobra's Speed fairway metals are part of the company's ambitious new line of woods tailored to different types of players. The F/SPEED is for golfers with typical swing speeds (87–108 m.p.h.). It has a slight draw bias and launches the ball high, with mid to low spin. The X/SPEED, with a neutral shot-shape bias and lower spin, is for those with faster swing speeds; while the M/SPEED (also available in women's and senior versions) is for slower swingers and has the most draw bias, the most spin and the highest launch of the three. The large, deep faces and forgiving construction make it easy to nail great shots, and subtle dimples on the crown help with alignment. F and M metals come in four lofts from 15.5 to 24 degrees; X comes in 13 and 16.5 degrees only. Aldila graphite shafts are standard. $220 MSRP/$179 street in graphite; $190 MSRP/$159 street in steel. Call 800-225-8500 or visit cobragolf.com.

• Mizuno F-50 Fairway Wood We love the easy-to-align, squared-off look of the F-50 at address, but it's the fairway metal's authoritative feel that makes it a winner. Among the technological tricks Mizuno deploys to achieve that feel are a carbon-fiber composite crown, which shifts more weight back and down, a sole plate designed to minimize turf drag and a steel face with three areas of variable density to boost initial ball speed. In five lofts, from 13.5 to 21 degrees, with Mizuno's Exsar FS2 graphite shaft. $280 MSRP/$199 street in graphite; $254 MSRP/$179 street in steel. Call 800-966-1211 or visit mizunousa.com.

• Cleveland Launcher Steel Fairway Wood Owing to thinner, stronger steel in the crown, the excellent '06 Launcher Steel produces a slightly higher trajectory (given the same loft) and less spin than its predecessor, for greater distance. A Launcher Comp version, with a composite crown and titanium face, may be even longer but costs nearly $400. Also available in an offset model, for players who fight a slice. In six lofts, from 13 to 25 degrees, with proprietary Launcher graphite shaft. $249 MSRP/$199 street. Call 800-999-6263 or visit clevelandgolf.com.

• MacGregor MACTEC NVG2 Hybrid UT In its first true hybrid, MacGregor managed to squeeze in nearly as much technology as it did in last year's well-received MACTEC woods. The UT has a beta- titanium face (unusual in a hybrid) that wraps around the crown, eliminating the need for welding on the face and creating a bigger hot spot. It also has four tungsten weights—two on the sole and one each at the heel and toe—to improve forgiveness and help get the ball airborne faster. The club's feel and effectiveness are both superb. Comes standard with a Fujikura graphite shaft. Available in four lofts, from 17 to 26 degrees. $179 MSRP in graphite; $159 MSRP in steel. Call 800-841-4358 or visit macgregorgolf.com.

• Ping G5 Hybrid Ping, too, is introducing its first woodlike hybrid, the G5. With the same attractive blue accents as the other clubs in Ping's new G5 line, the hybrid has a whimsical-seeming rearward slope to the crown, but its purpose is no-nonsense: to push the weight back, for higher launch and forgiveness, and to help slide the club through turf of all types. Some better players may find themselves hitting this club left, but the thin steel face creates a hot trajectory, and we found that the club's compact design makes it especially versatile. In four lofts, from 16 to 25 degrees, with multiple shaft options. $215 MSRP in graphite; $185 MSRP in steel. Call 800-474-6434 or visit pinggolf.com.

>>We'll stick with white, but new colored golf balls—with clear covers and tinted cores—may make the game more fun for kids, kidders and the fashion conscious. Muted compared to their fluorescent forebears, the Pinnacle Gold Lady ($18/fifteen; 800-225-8500, pinnaclegolf.com) comes in pink; the Precept Lady SIII Pearl Colors ($30/dozen; 800-358-6319, preceptgolf.com) comes in yellow, light blue, pink and white; while the Maxfli Noodle Ice ($20/dozen; 800-888-2582, noodlegolf.com), designed for women and men, comes in orange, pink, yellow and, oddly, green.

>> The new U.S. Kids Golf Yellow System ($140 for five clubs and bag) brings to eleven the number of different sets made by this company. Each is designed for either boys or girls of specific height and talent level and is made using the same quality components as today's full-size clubs—so no more cutting down your old set for little Timmy (or Tammy). 888-387-5437, uskidsgolf.com.

>> Sun Mountain Flight ($175) is a comfortable dual-strap stand bag with full-length individual—that's right, fourteen-way—club dividers. At just five pounds, it doesn't weigh any more, and is no bigger, than a typical carry bag with a three-way divider that leads to a lot of banging and disorganization. 800-227-9224, sunmountain.com.


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