CALLAWAY ERC FUSION DRIVER
Greatest-hits packages aren't always successful, but Callaway's new ERC Fusion driver ($625), which updates and "fuses" the best bits of technology from several earlier Callaway drivers, is an exception. The titanium face is similar to that of the too-hot-to-be-legal ERC II driver, while the carbon composite body comes from the C4. The result is a USGA-complying, relatively compact (360 cubic centimeters in clubhead volume) and exceedingly solid-feeling club. There are three variations of the Fusion, each with different weighting, and it's available in nine different lofts, so we highly recommend being custom fitted.
CALLAWAY HX TOUR BALL
Pair the Fusion driver with Callaway's new flagship ball, the three-piece HX Tour ($50/dozen). Improving on the HX Blue and HX Red balls, the Tour features slicker aerodynamics, a more supple core and a tougher cover. Call 800-588-9836 or visit callawaygolf.com.
TAYLORMADE RAC HT IRONS
With these new, mega-game-improvement RAC HT irons ($736 steel shafts; $960 graphite), TaylorMade goes its own merely super-game-improvement RAC OS irons one better. Like recently introduced lines from Nike and Ping (reviewed in our November/December issue), the HTs, for "high trajectory," take no prisoners when it comes to launching the ball skyward (thanks to a wide sole that protrudes from the back of the club), correcting off-center and/or slice-inducing hits (due to strong perimeter weighting and significant offset), and inspiring confidence at address (thick topline, large clubhead). The HTs, designed for players with slower swing speeds, come standard with lightweight graphite shafts. Call 800-888-2582 or visit taylormadegolf.com.
WILSON DEEP RED II DISTANCE IRONS
The Deep Red II Distance irons ($749.99 steel; $899.99 graphite) also qualify as game-improvement clubs, but they aren't as aggressively so. The graphite shaft has been engineered for more consistency in the tip, more flexibility in the center for extra distance and more feel in the grip. The steel version, though thicker than normal in keeping with Wilson's Fat Shaft tradition, is a True Temper "Step Control" model that Wilson says mimics the performance of the graphite. With a thinner topline than is usually found on game-improvement clubs, solid heel-toe weighting and a vibration-dampening insert, the Deep Red IIs feel great through the ball and will appeal to a wide range of players. Call 800-469-4576 or visit wilsongolf.com.
COBRA AUSSIE PUTTERS
For those who balk at the high price of many putters these days, Cobra's new Aussie line is worth a look. The eight basic models ($109 each) reflect eight clean, classic designs, from heel-toe weighted blades to face-balanced mallets. All are done up in soft steel with a dark nickel finish to help reduce glare and a light-colored milled alloy insert. Pictured here are the Melbourne II blade (bottom), with a full-shaft offset, and the Perth II, a full mallet with a half-shaft offset. All Aussie putters have precise white sight lines and produce a great roll. The only trick is finding the model that best speaks to you. Call 800-555-9282 or visit cobragolf.com.
ADIDAS FLAGGE SHIRTS
Three stripes have been Adidas's trademark for more than forty years, and while that's not changing, Adidas Golf now introduces another logo: a waving "Flagge" (with, of course, three stripes on it). Typical of the clothing in the new Flagge line is the ClimaCool Mini Rib Stripe Polo ($65), made of moisture-wicking CoolMax Extreme fabric. Unlike traditional cotton blends, this 100 percent synthetic material won't stick to the skin when you perspire heavily, allowing for a freer swing. It also feels cooler. The ClimaCool Short Sleeve Zip Mock ($60) has small perforations for even more air-flow. Call 800-456-8633 or visit adidasgolf.com.
NIKE MOJO BALLS
The wild box with its psychedelic description ("Built to bend your brain with a cosmic brew of flight") is clear evidence that the Mojo ($28 a dozen) is not Nike's premium ball. Instead, it's the company's new entrant into the long-and-soft ball category pioneered three years ago by Precept's MC Lady. The Mojo achieves great distance off the tee thanks to its high-velocity core and feels reasonably soft around the greens, though it lacks some of the spin and control with irons for which low handicappers are willing to pay a premium. Other recent long-and-soft ball debuts include the softest-ever Pinnacle, the Exception ($24/dozen), and the Wilson Staff DNA ($19.99/dozen). Call 800-922-6453 or visit nikegolf.com.
DREMEL CLEANING KIT
Here's a neat accessory to keep in the trunk of your car or even in your golf bag: the battery-operated Dremel Golf Cleaning Kit ($29.99). Use the brass brush and watch the tool kick out even the most baked-in debris from the grooves of your clubs. Then switch to the bristle brush to jettison dirt and grass from your spikes. We would like to have seen bigger brushes, especially for the shoe-cleaning operation, but this gadget from a well-known power-tool manufacturer is small, sturdy and reliable. Call 800-437-3635 or visit dremel.com.