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Pro Shop: A New Groove

Cleveland Golf, whose wedges have long been the most popular on Tour, is excited about the new metal in its latest model, the CG10 ($141 steel; $166 graphite). Called Carbon Metal Matrix (CMM), it's less dense than traditional carbon steel, and the feel at contact is noticeably softer. The clubhead maintains the traditional Cleveland style, but the weight savings from the CMM allowed designers to add extra mass behind the hitting area to give the CG10 a little extra punch through the ball. The cushy feel and muted sound at impact gave us the impression that the ball was staying on the clubface longer, which enhanced our sense of control. Available in lofts from fifty-two to sixty degrees with a choice of low, standard or high bounce (standard bounce only with the fifty-two). Call 800-999-6263 or visit clevelandgolf.com.

Compared with some manufacturers that roll out new irons with tidal regularity, Titleist does so only rarely. These new clubs replace the popular DCI line, which has been on the market in one form or another for more than a decade. The 704.CBs ($899, steel only) are cavity-back clubs designed for good to better players who don't want to take on pure blades or Titleist's smaller-headed Forged 690.CB irons. The 804.OSs ($899 steel; $1,080 graphite) are oversize irons designed for good players who want a little more forgiveness. Both new sets lose the visible carbon-mylar insert featured on the back of the DCIs, but most of the other changes are subtle and primarily enhance feel and playability. They also have improved "near U" grooves, which have greater volume to deliver more consistent spin in various lies, and are made with an updated forging process that allows for a slightly thinner face and better weight distribution around the clubhead. The 704.CBs have longer blades and more cavity volume than their DCI 762 predecessors but are still workable. The 804.OS irons have a still larger head, a thicker topline, more offset and a slightly lower center of gravity than the 704.CBs, but they feel just as exquisite on purely struck shots. The 804.OSs are the most forgiving clubs in the Titleist lineup. Call 800-225-8500 or visit titleist.com.

Ben Hogan, best known for its elegant blades and other traditional clubs, has been pushing the envelope lately. Among the new offerings this year are its first-ever hybrids and this set of forged "transition" irons called the Apex F.T.X. ($1,080 steel; $1,280 graphite). Although still elegant in appearance and very much a player's club, the Apex F.T.X.'s morph gradually from long irons to short irons. The three- through seven-irons are midsize, perimeter-weighted cavity backs with an added muscle-back feature; as the lofts increase, the blade grows shorter, the cavity shrinks in volume and the mass of the muscle back expands, gradually de-emphasizing forgiveness in favor of greater feel and control. On the eight-iron and higher, the cavity back disappears entirely and you're left with a muscle-back blade, for optimum control. All the irons feel great, and we were impressed at how the thin topline and the view from the playing position remained consistent throughout the set. Call 866-834-6532 or visit benhogan.com.

For those who want super-forgiving irons and are willing to pay a premium price for an array of jazzy features, TaylorMade presents the RAC CGB ($1,250 steel; $1,500 graphite). Thanks to tricks such as a hollow topline and an unusually thin clubface, designers were able to reposition a lot of weight into the flange on the rear of the club (CGB stands for "center of gravity back"). We found that launching high shots with the CGBs was easier than with any other TaylorMade club. The "Ascending Mass" shafts are slightly lighter in the long irons to promote higher swing speed and slightly heavier in the short irons to enhance feel on scoring shots. TaylorMade hasn't left anything on the table with the CGB, and the result is a club that is fun and easy to hit well. Call 800-888-2582 or visit taylormadegolf.com.

In 1995 the innovative Tight Lies fairway woods launched Adams Golf into the big time, so it's not surprising that the new Ovation ($200, graphite only), which will replace them, is not radically different. But that doesn't mean it isn't better. Adams has made subtle improvements in launch angle (it's higher), spin rate (it's lower, for longer carries) and forgiveness (it's better, thanks in part to tungsten inserts on the rear of the clubhead). We found them as easy to hit as any fairway woods we've tested. Available in standard, offset, senior's and women's versions in lofts up to twenty-seven degrees (the eleven-wood). All come standard with a cool green Aldila shaft. Call 800-709-6142 or visit adamsgolf.com.


Bored with putters that cost merely hundreds of dollars?Consider this one from puttermeister Robert J. Bettinardi. The BETTINARDI 44 MAGNUM, made to commemorate Bettinardi's forty-fourth birthday, costs $1,500 and is what Wyatt Earp would have carried if he'd been a golfer. It's engraved with Wild West-style design elements (including a revolver shooting a bullet on the sole plate) and has forty-four precisely embedded copper ingots on the clubface. It putts well, but more to the point, it's a collectible, as only 444 have been made. Call 708-802-7400 or visit bettinardi.com.


The future of information, according to the folks at Ambient Devices, is at a glance. That is, you'll learn things by just taking a peek. The AMBIENT ORB ($150), a grapefruit-size glass sphere, comes programmed to glow according to how the stock market is doing (green when it's up, red when it's down and yellow when it's calm). But you can personalize your globe to any information available online, from your own portfolio's status to your local "golf forecast," an algorithm of temperature, wind and rain. Call 617-758-4129 or visit ambientdevices.com.


The GREAT BIG BERTHA STAFF-TOUR GOLF BAG CARRIER ($299) wraps your sticks twice—first in a cushiony cocoon and then in a thick nylon outer shell—for the most protection this side of a hard case. Big enough to fit a Rodney Dangerfield-size cart bag, the Staff-Tour features oversize inline-skate wheels and a rear storage compartment that can hold a weekend's worth of clothes. It's part of a new line of travel gear and accessories by Callaway that includes wheeled duffels, a carry-on bag, laptop bags and more. Call 888-668-0717.


They look like napkin rings, but these unlikely gizmos fly like golf balls. BIRDIEBALLS ($18 a dozen or $46 for two dozen with two practice mats) climb high and draw and fade realistically but travel a fraction of the distance that regular balls do (sixty yards tops, even with a driver). This makes them both fun and useful for practicing in the backyard or at the park. Call 303-590-1623 or visit birdieball.com.


If you often wrestle with your double-strap golf bag, behold the Shling, a new super-simple carrying system that comes with the OGIO TRICK SS STAND BAG ($229). The Shling is like a yoke that sits comfortably around your neck. It's easier to put on than two snaky straps, and with it you'll find yourself walking upright as opposed to hunched over. The lightweight Trick SS has full-length three-way dividers and nine pockets. The Shling can't be purchased separately or attached to your current bag, but Ogio will soon have its entire golf line fitted with it. Call 800-922-1944 or visit ogio.com.


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