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Review: Nike Covert 2.0 Hybrids

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Pros: The crew at Nike took a fresh approach in designing the new VRS Covert 2.0 hybrids, making the lower-lofted clubs more forgiving and easier to launch than previously offered models. These new hybrids are long, accurate and versatile. If that isn’t appealing enough, they’re also easy on the eyes.

Cons: The FlexLoft system, which allows golfers to adjust loft and face angle independently, is only available on the Covert 2.0 Tour hybrids. Some golfers might find that the vibrant red paint job is too much of a head-turner and would prefer to play a more understated set of clubs.

The Takeaway: Golfers of varying skill level are abandoning their long irons in favor of hybrids. If you’re searching for a more forgiving utility club that can help you land the ball softly on long approach shots, the new Covert hybrids are up for the challenge.

Overview

When it comes to hybrids, Nike hasn’t come close to upending traditional market leaders Adams, Callaway, Ping and TaylorMade. But that hasn’t stopped the engineers behind the swoosh from introducing one of the most forgiving clubs in the utility category.

Tapping into what the folks at The Oven call “Linear Transition Design,” Nike released the VRS Covert 2.0 hybrids with progressively smaller head sizes as loft increases, while increasing the face height on each model. It’s a pattern commonly seen in fairway wood design that focuses on improving both the performance and playability of lower-lofted clubs. As you would expect, the 2 and 3 hybrids (17 and 20 degrees, respectively) play more like fairway woods, while the high-lofted hybrids are more iron-like and designed for approach shots to the green.

Compared to last year’s models, the new Covert hybrids have many subtle, but notable improvements. The new heads on both the tour and standard models are slighter heavier and deeper-faced. Nike’s patented NexCOR face technology has been reengineered to deliver faster ball speed and increased distance, even on off-center hits. The high-speed cavity design that was the signature feature introduced a year ago has been reinforced with Nike’s new Fly-brace technology, which increases stability, improves energy transfer to the ball and reduces twisting at the moment of impact.

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The Tour model allows the golfer to adjust the loft (up to five degrees) and face angle independently using Nike’s FlexLoft system. The standard edition hybrids are not adjustable, but are available in five models ranging from 17 to 26 degrees. Both the tour and standard hybrids are paired with premium shaft offerings from Mitsubishi Rayon. The tour hybrid uses a Kuro Kage Silver 80-gram graphite shaft for more stability and lower spin. The standard edition comes with the Kuro Kage Black HBP Graphite 70-gram shaft, which has a higher balance point to allow for the slightly heavier club heads.

As in the case of Nike’s Covert drivers and fairway woods, the candy-apple red paint job on the crown can take a little getting used to at first, especially if you’re not accustomed to receiving unsolicited attention. I haven’t been paired with a single golfer on the course who hasn’t stolen a wayward glance at my bag.

Owners of the original Covert hybrids will notice that the design of the new models remain virtually unchanged. Nike wisely resisted the urge to overhaul what is already regarded as a winning design. This time around, Nike took to refining the underside of their golf clubs, smoothing out some of the chunkier elements, reducing the footprint and giving the VRS Covert typeface some much-needed oomph.

The following hybrids were tested using factory-set loft and face angle settings:

  • Covert 2.0 hybrid (20 degrees) with a 40-inch Kuro Kage Black 70S ($179 MSRP)
  • Covert 2.0 Tour hybrid (20 degrees) with a 41-inch Kuro Kage Silver TiNi 80S ($229 MSRP)

Testing was conducted at Pete’s Golf Shop in Mineola, N.Y., a Golf Digest Top-100 club fitter, and was supervised by Kirk Oguri, an equipment specialist and teaching professional. The clubs were evaluated using a Foresight launch monitor.

Performance (Covert 2.0)

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The Nike Covert 2.0 hybrids, much like the drivers and fairway woods, have slightly heavier heads than last year’s models and ship with Golf Pride’s 55-gram 2G Tour Wrap grips. I found, at times, that the driver and fairway woods were challenging to swing optimally, especially for golfers like myself who have spent years playing lighter equipment. The hybrids, on the other hand, were remarkably easy to hit.

The standard edition hybrid played very much like a high-lofted fairway wood. The center of gravity is much farther back in the traditionally-rounded club head, and is more forgiving than its tour sibling. Needless to say, it’s designed to launch higher and spin more. My swing speed is about 95 mph with a driver, and my average shot produced a launch angle of 14 degrees and 4500 rpm of total spin. My ball speed was 121.1 mph, leading to a carry distance of 174 yards (192 yards total).

The numbers were nearly identical to my gamer — a 2011 TaylorMade Rescue (19 degrees) — that came stock with a regular-flex, 65-gram Aldila shaft. My lower-spinning TaylorMade actually produced a little more rollout than the Covert, and was generally easier to work in both directions. I found the Covert, on the other hand, a little more difficult to turn over, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Given a choice, I’d rather play a club that consistently produces a certain shot shape than have to worry about the occasional double-cross surfacing at the most inopportune moment on the course.

Performance (Covert 2.0 Tour)

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This was the rare case where the tour model clearly outperformed the standard-edition counterpart for a golfer like myself who doesn’t generate tour-level club-head speed.

The Covert 2.0 Tour, with its smaller, less-rounded head, produced a penetrating ball flight, even on off-center hits. My numbers on the launch monitor were considerably more desirable than the results I generated swinging the standard model. My ball speed went up 123.1 mph while my total spin decreased by about 800 rpm. My average carry was 186 yards with a total distance of 203 yards, an increase of 12 yards of carry.

Even though the tour model (set at 20 degrees) is supposed to behave like a fairway wood, it launched more like a driving iron for me. If I had to choose between the two, the lower-launching tour model would be the outright winner. The compact profile of the head is more versatile from a variety of lies, particularly out of the rough where a well-engineered hybrid can truly save a stroke. The fact that it hits the ball a little farther than the standard edition is an added bonus.

Look and Feel

Nike straddled a thin line bringing the Covert designs to market. The team wanted their clubs to look brash, muscular and athletic, reinforcing the ethos of their brand. But they also wanted the Covert drivers, woods and hybrids to pay homage to the classic club designs of yesteryear: clean, understated and sophisticated. In my estimation, they’ve succeeded in striking a balance.

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The VRS Covert 2.0 (Performance) at address.

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The VRS Covert 2.0 Hybrid at address.

The Covert hybrids are confidence-inspiring at address. There are no unnecessary graphical elements applied to the crown that make a play for your attention. Some golfers have expressed annoyance about having to stare at the white Nike swoosh near the heal, but I’ve never thought twice about it.

The hybrids, much like the other clubs in the Covert line, feel well-balanced in the hands. As mentioned previously, they are not lightest sticks in the marketplace and a golfer has to avoid the urge to over-swing and let the weight of the club do the work. When you do hit a well-struck shot, the hybrids will let you know it with an unmistakable whoosh that will please golfers who are sticklers for sound.

There are a few minor differences that should be noted between the different hybrid models. The head on the tour version is slightly heavier than the standard model and features a black, matte finish that can help to reduce glare. The FlexLoft adjustable hosel system is also only available on tour model. Whether that feature is a deal breaker or not is up to the individual golfer to consider when analyzing both their playing style and gapping needs.

The Bottom Line

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The debut of the original Covert drivers, woods and hybrids were a surprise hit in the golf equipment arena. The message from Beaverton, Ore., was plain and simple. Can you hear us knocking? Considering all the changes, the second-generation Covert line has succeeded in improving the look and performance of each club, and it appears that Nike is ready to kick that door down.

The new hybrids are packed with innovation, forgiveness and versatility. Whether you require a club that can stick the green on a long par 3, or prefer a hybrid that can compete with and probably out-drive most high-lofted fairway woods, there’s a Covert designed around your needs.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://store.nike.com/us/en_us/pd/vr_s-covert-2-tour-hybrid-4-golf-club/pid-947697/pgid-10282896″ oemtext=”Learn more from Nike” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003CRBT5S/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B003CRBT5S&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=3IP66WJHWKTN5SML”]

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Rusty Cage is a contributing writer for GolfWRX, one of the leading publications online for news, information and resources for the connected golfer. His articles have covered a broad spectrum of topics - equipment and apparel reviews, interviews with industry leaders, analysis of the pro game, and everything in between. Rusty's path into golf has been an unusual one. He took up the game in his late thirties, as suggested by his wife, who thought it might be a good way for her husband to grow closer to her father. The plan worked out a little too well. As his attraction to the game grew, so did his desire to take up writing again after what amounted to 15-year hiatus from sports journalism dating back to college. In spite of spending over a dozen years working in the technology sector as a backend programmer in New York City, Rusty saw an opportunity with GolfWRX and ran with it. A graduate from Boston University with a Bachelor's in journalism, Rusty's long term aspirations are to become one of the game's leading writers, rising to the standard set by modern-day legends like George Peper, Mark Frost and Dan Jenkins. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: August 2014 Fairway Executive Podcast Interview http://golfindustrytrainingassociation.com/17-rusty-cage-golf-writer (During this interview I discuss how golf industry professionals can leverage emerging technologies to connect with their audience.)

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. djcwardog

    Apr 8, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I have read the GolfWRX reviews on all the 2014 Covert 2.0 clubs. I found Rusty’s review of these 2.0 hybrids to read well and it provided me with good scoop on the differences between performance and tour models. I am just a bit older than when I was custom fitted at GolfWorks (in Ohio) back in the late ’80’s. My then-103 mph driver swing speed has mellowed a bit to ~10 mph slower. That plus a tendency to get a sore neck or lower back without warning made me realize that DG S-300 shafts were no longer a fit for me. I made the switch over to the Covert 2.0 irons in R flex graphite first and was amazed. An easier swing kept fairly flat allows me to still move the ball and even draw it a bit – all without undue strain on neck and back. That experience made me look for the woods and hybrids to try. What I have ended up doing is to use the performance driver head and the older Machspeed SQ flat black Reg flex shaft, in the flex loft adapter, set at 12.5*, with the pulled-shaft having been tip trimmed to play at 44.5″. Buying all this used, I then put Reg flex performance-model (not silver from tour clubs) Kuro Kage shafts (pulled from performance 3 and 5 woods) into a 3-wood and a 5-wood adapter, to play in the Covert 2.0 Tour heads. Works great for me and allows dialing in lofts to gap the clubs properly. I keep the face angle at neutral. Now with Rusty’s review above, I plan to find a 2.0 Tour #4 Hybrid and reshaft it with the 2.0 performance model #3 hybrid Reg flex Kuro Kage shaft I have saved (they are the same length) and dial in the loft to use it in between the 5-wood and the 4-iron of this set. As for the candy apple red paint job, I like it! Reminds me of hot rod cars and also of the fact that these clubs are metal. If I want something else, I can put my “old” Honma persimmon woods in the bag along with early ’70’s aluminum shaft Spalding Executive irons for a retro round!

    Bottom line – great reviews on some great clubs that have helped an older ailing back still play the game!

  2. yo!

    Apr 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    How come clubmakers always come out with a 2.0 version but never a 3.0 version after that?

  3. Seeking70s

    Apr 18, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Yikes what a bunch of bad attitude negative people. His review in my opinion is very accurate. Go hit em and stop being curmudgeons. Great review Rusty!!

  4. Charlie

    Apr 18, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Tell me how the look of this club inspires confidence? What are you looking at? The cheap Nike branding? Or the pearly red finish? For a journalism student, this writer does not dig deep with that one.

  5. Jack

    Apr 17, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Seriously, every club that gets review on the site is “awesome” according to the reviews and never actually have any critical analysis for any club. Then you see that it’s a club review done by a hack that writes for the site that probably couldn’t tell the difference in any clubs to begin with. Might as well call these “reviews” just advertising to please manufactures that give away all these trips and products. Golfwrx is nothing more than a corporation controlled site now.

    • Billy

      Apr 17, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      Maybe because every OEM MAKES A GREAT PRODUCT, this is 2014.

      Every single company makes great stuff, up to the consumer what to buy.

      Jack, GOLFWRX does not need you, if you think it is too “corporate”.

      Make your own site if you don’t like the best golf site on the internet.

  6. paul

    Apr 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I look forward to when writers get a little more inspired and start using new words and phrases. Tired of “penetrating trajectory”, and “penetrating flight”, and “penetrating ball”. Starting to wonder if all golf writers have a thing for “penetrating”…

  7. Mat

    Apr 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Is every review required to use “confidence inspiring”?

    Stick to the facts, man.

  8. Seeking70s

    Apr 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Ditto my findings too on the Tour model!! My buddy hit mine and is buying some tomorrow. Best I ever hit. Have the 3 and 4 and love them. Great SOLID feel and waaay better then last years.

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Hybrid Reviews

Review: Callaway XR and XR Pro Hybrids

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Pros: The hottest hybrids in golf. The XR and XR Pro are also exceptionally well-rounded, with pleasing looks, feel and performance from the tee, fairway and rough.

Cons: Not adjustable.

Who are they for? Golfers who desire a more iron-like hybrid will likely prefer the XR Pro, whereas those seeking a slightly larger, more forgiving club that plays more like a fairway wood will find the standard XR a better fit.

The Review

Copy and paste. By that I mean, copy the review for the XR and XR Pro fairway woods and paste it right here. Everything I loved about the XR fairway woods applies to the hybrids, and the criticisms are nearly identical as well. Essentially, these clubs are long, forgiving and visually appealing. The only knock? No adjustability.

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Callaway’s XR and XR Pro (right) hybrids.

Sometimes an equipment manufacturer will redesign a product in hopes of invigorating sales. Sometimes the redesign provides tangible benefits for the player. With the XR and XR Pro hybrids, Callaway has done both.

A redesigned internal standing wave, which boosts MOI, a measure of ball speed retention on mishits, offers golfers more distance regardless of where they hit shots on the face. Couple that with a center of gravity that is as low as Callaway has ever engineered in a hybrid (for a higher launch and less spin), and you have one bad mama jama.

Generally, golfers who opt for a hybrid do so for one of two reasons. They either want a club that performs a lot like a long iron, but is more forgiving… or they want a club that launches high like a fairway wood, but offers more control. Either way, the XR series has you covered. In both on-course and launch monitor testing, both hybrids launched higher than previous models. So if you prefer to see a flatter ball flight, going down in loft or pairing the head with a lower-trajectory shaft will help.

I’ve never hit a hybrid so high while still maintaining an ideal trajectory. Don’t be shocked if you demo either club and find that it launches higher and carries farther than what’s currently in your bag — especially if you currently carry a long iron or driving iron.

With these hybrids, the sweet spot is gone. It’s more like the sweet zone. As long as you can make semi-solid contact, the results are acceptable. If you’re an above average ball striker, you’ll likely find your misses to be decidedly more consistent.

In testing, both clubs excelled as secondary options off the tee, and more than held their own from the ground — even in light and deep rough. That said, where both clubs differentiated themselves for me was on long approach shots or second shots into a par 5. Being able to hit a club high enough (and far enough) to hold a green from 220+ is something the XR series does better than any other hybrid I’ve tested.

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The XR and XR Pro (right) hybrids at address.

A note for better players: The smaller profile of the XR Pro is not indicative of its forgiveness. In fact, I found it to be pleasantly forgiving — much more so than other hybrids with similar shape and playing attributes. Ultimately, if you select the XR over the XR Pro it will be because the XR gave you better trajectory and distance numbers, not because one model was significantly more forgiving than the other. In fact, both models exhibit the holy grail of exceptional distance, hardy forgiveness and precise workability. It’s why no hybrid did better than the XR in GolfWRX’s 2015 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids List. 

The XR and XR Pro hybrids come in a variety of lofts. The XR Pro is offered in lofts of 16, 18, 20 and 23 degrees, whereas the XR is available in lofts of 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees. Stock length on the 20-degree XR Pro is 40 inches, whereas stock length on the 19-degree XR is 40.5 inches. If you do get fitted and ultimately select one of these models, be sure to discuss length, as the iron you’re replacing is likely at least 0.5-inches shorter.

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The XR hybrid (bottom) has a larger face area than the XR Pro, making it slightly more forgiving.

For people who might only look at the number associated with the club (i.e. 3H = 19 degrees), caveat emptor. In testing, the 3 hybrid had carry distances closer to a 5 wood than a 3 iron. As such, if you’re looking to replace a specific iron, I’d suggest starting at a number one higher than the iron you’re looking to replace. Specifically, if you’re dropping a 3 iron, start by testing the 4 hybrid. In addition, I found the 19-degree XR hybrid to launch nearly identically to the 20-degree XR Pro, albeit with less spin. I can’t help but think that was intentional on the part of the Callaway engineers.

Again, I’d like to see both models with the same array of shafts, as some might look at the stock shaft in the XR and presume the club is geared toward slower-swinging or less demanding players. This simply isn’t true.

The Numbers

Head: Callaway XR (19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X LZ (Stiff)

  • Average Ball Speed: 145 mph
  • Average Backspin: 5400 rpm
  • Average Launch Angle 22 degrees
  • Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 237 yards
  • Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 214 yards

Head: Callaway XR Pro (20 degrees)
Shaft: Project X LZ Pro 6.0 (Stock)

  • Average Ball Speed: 145
  • Average Backspin: 5100 RPM
  • Average Launch Angle 21.5 degrees
  • Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 239 yards
  • Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 215 yards

Gamer Head: Callaway Alpha 815 (20 degrees)
Gamer Shaft: Veylix Rome 988 (Stiff)

  • Average Ball Speed 143.8 MPH
  • Average Backspin 4975 RPM
  • Average Launch Angle 19 degrees
  • Average Carry Distance (at 5000 feet): 238 yards
  • Estimated Carry Distance at Sea Level: 215 yards

The Takeaway

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Callaway’s XR Hybrids received top ratings for distance and forgiveness on GolfWRX’s 2015 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids List.

The XR and XR Pro hybrids from Callaway, with apologies to Tina Turner, are “simply the best” — at least for me. The lone shortcoming is a lack of adjustability, and depending on where you fall on this topic that may not be a significant weakness.

In describing the XR series, one quickly runs short of superlatives. Selecting either model as an upgrade to what’s currently in your bag is akin to throwing a rock into the ocean and hoping it gets wet. It’s nearly a can’t-miss proposition.

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Hybrid Reviews

2015 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids

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Following the trend of new drivers and fairway woods, hybrid clubs have become much lower spinning than their predecessors in recent years. It’s a change that has widened their target audience from golfers looking to replace their long irons with clubs that fly higher and stop quicker on the greens, to… just about any golfer.

How do you know if you should consider a new hybrid? If you’ve ever wished that your current long irons or hybrids carried farther, that’s a pretty good indication that an updated model could be good for your game.

Our 2015 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids are plenty long, but they’re also very forgiving. So even if you’re not interested in hitting your clubs farther, you could still find more consistency from one of the six models below.

The Winners

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The clubs and subsequent ratings were selected by our Gear Trials Panel, six of the top-rated custom golf clubs fitters in the world. Our 2015 Gear Trials Panel includes:

Learn more about our Gear Trials: Best Clubs Lists

The Ratings

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While reviewing each of the 2015 Best Hybrids below, remember the purpose of the clubs. They bridge the gap between a golfer’s shortest fairway wood and the longest iron they can hit consistently. Some golfers can make that transition without a hybrid, while others may need several hybrids.

The best way to learn if a hybrid is good for you, or how many hybrids you might need, is to go through a professional fitting — but if that’s not an option for you, you can use our rating to your advantage. The hybrids that scored highest in our Distance Ratings tend to work best for golfers looking to shed spin, while the clubs that score high in our Forgiveness Ratings tend to be more consistent on mishits.

Along with our six winners, we’ve also listed three lower-spinning alternatives: Callaway’s XR Pro, TaylorMade’s AeroBurner TP and Titleist’s 915Hd. These clubs will work best for a smaller percentage of golfers than our six best hybrids, but they’re fueled by the same technologies as our winners.

Note: The list below is in alphabetical order.

Callaway Big Bertha

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  • Headsize: 126cc (3 hybrid)
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 3-degree range
  • Price: $249.99

You might be surprised to see Callaway’s Big Bertha hybrids, which were released alongside the company’s Big Bertha irons in the Fall of 2014, make our list. If so, you probably haven’t hit them.

[quote_box_center]”The Big Bertha is hard to miss,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists. [/quote_box_center]

The reason to play a Big Bertha hybrid over the higher-rated XR hybrids are:

  1. Their larger size, which makes them appear more fairway wood-like than any other hybrid on this list.
  2. They’re adjustable, which allows golfers to dial in the exact loft and lie angle they need to get the most out of the clubs.

Like the XR hybrids, the Big Bertha hybrids use Callaway’s Hyper Speed Face cups to boost their ball speeds and forgiveness. They’re slightly higher-spinning than the XR, however, which will work very well for their target audience of slower swing speed golfers. But higher swing speed players shouldn’t count them out — particularly the 3 hybrid when adjusted to 18 degrees.

The Big Bertha hybrids are offered in lofts of 19, 22, 25, 28 and 32 degrees.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.callawaygolf.com/golf-clubs/hybrids-2015-big-bertha.html” oemtext=”Buy it from Callaway” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NURXJHG/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00NURXJHG&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=AJVRSOTPPURINDGU”]

Callaway XR

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  • Headsize: 122cc (3 hybrid)
  • Adjustable Hosel: No
  • Price: $219.99

Callaway’s XR is likely the longest hybrid on this list, receiving the highest possible rating of 10 in distance, and thanks to Callaway’s slick engineering, it also ties for first in forgiveness (9.5) with Ping’s G30 hybrid.

[quote_box_center]”This should be the first hybrid you test,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists. [/quote_box_center]

Like Callaway’s XR fairway woods, the XR hybrids set themselves apart from the competition with a mid-sized club head that offers a high launch, relatively low spin and more forgiveness than its predecessors. They’re offered in lofts of 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees.

Our lone request for 2016: Can you make future models adjustable, Callaway?

Want a more iron-like hybrid? Callaway’s XR Pro hybrids ($229.99) measure a slim 98cc at 20 degrees, and offer a lower-spinning trajectory that many better players prefer from their hybrids. They’re offered in lofts of 16, 18, 20 and 23 degrees, but we recommend the 20- and 23-degree models in particular as 3- and 4-iron replacements. We wouldn’t be surprised if you carried them as far, if not farther, than your older, lower-lofted hybrids

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Cobra Fly-Z

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  • Headsize: 105cc (3-4 hybrid)
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 4-degree range
  • Price: $199.99

Cobra’s Fly-Z hybrid is sized like a better-player hybrid, but packs the forgiveness we’d expect from a larger model. That’s thanks to its rearward center of gravity (CG), which boosts consistency.

[quote_box_center]”Fly-Z, like [Cobra’s] Bio Cell last year, will still perform for the average player,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists. [/quote_box_center]

If you’re a high-spin player, however, the Fly-Z might not be for you. It’s one of the highest-spinning models on this list, which is the reason for its relatively low Distance Rating (8).

Like the Fly-Z fairway woods, the strength of the Fly-Z hybrids is their versatility. They’re offered in three models: a 2-3 hybrid that adjusts from 16-19 degrees, a 3-4 hybrid that adjusts from 19-22 degrees and a 4-5 hybrid that adjusts from 22-25 degrees. Its wide-ranging adjustability is a great tool to have if you need to fill a specific yardage gap in your bag.

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Ping G30

geartrials_slider_hybrids_pingg30

  • Headsize: 110cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: No
  • Price: $229.99

[quote_box_center]”G30 gets the ball up in the air easy, and is on par with the G25 with slightly more ease to height,” said one of our Gear Trials Panelists.”[/quote_box_center]

The G30 hybrids use a new heat-treated 17-4 stainless steel face that boosts their characteristic time (CT), a measure of spring-like effect, 20 points higher than the G25 hybrids. They’re still not as long as other hybrids on this list, but they offer a noticeable improvement in ball speed over past G-Series hybrids, and with their similar trajectory that means they’ll likely carry a few yards farther for most golfers.

There’s no turbulators on the G30 hybrids, due to their smaller, more aerodynamic size, but the shape of the hybrids was tweaked from the G25 to include a flatter top rail and a higher heel section that gives them a more square appearance at address. We like the look, and see it as a change that will be enjoyed by the majority of golfers.

We wish the G30 hybrids were adjustable, but they are offered in five lofts: 17, 19, 22, 26 and 30 degrees. The higher-lofted models, because of the G30’s higher-spinning nature, are great for golfers looking for more stopping power on the greens, while the 17-degree model will be enjoyed by better players seeking a replacement for a pesky driving iron or a troublesome 4 or 5 wood.

TaylorMade AeroBurner

geartrials_slider_hybrids_aeroburner_v3

  • Headsize: 112cc (19 degrees)
  • Adjustable Hosel: No
  • Price: $229.99

What the AeroBurner lacks in forgiveness, it makes up for in horsepower. Golfers may or may not be able to hit it as far as Callaway’s XR, but the AeroBurner offers a unique shape that’s intriguing for those who haven’t found much success with traditional hybrid shapes. It’s also one of the highest-launching, if not the highest-launching hybrid on this list.

The calling card of the AeroBurner, however, is speed — from its Aerodynamic crown shape and its lighter weight, which will convert to more swing speed and more distance for some golfers. The AeroBurner hybrids are not adjustable, but they are available in lofts of 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees.

Need more fade bias? TaylorMade’s AeroBurner TP hybrids ($269.99) offer golfers a more traditionally weighted hybrid. They’re the same size as the standard versions, but come with heavier heads and shafts that tend to give better players more control over trajectory. They also have a 2-degree flatter lie angle and a 1-degree more upright face angle that will please golfers who have struggled with the hybrid hooks in the past. They’re available in lofts of 19 and 22 degrees.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://taylormadegolf.com/AeroBurner-Rescue/DW-WZ206.html” oemtext=”Buy it from TaylorMade” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QLVP7JG/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QLVP7JG&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=O5BLTFF3VXFAZFYA”]

Titleist 915H

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  • Headsize: 118cc
  • Adjustable Hosel: Yes, 2.25-degree range
  • Price: $249.99

Looks aren’t a factor in our Best Hybrids list ratings, but if they were, Titleist’s 915H would likely be the winner.

The 915H’s pear-shaped head is large enough to inspire confidence, but not too large as to limit versatility. While the 915H is not the longest hybrid on this list, or the most forgiving, it’s great in both areas, and offers noticeably more ball speed than previous hybrids from Titleist thanks to the company’s new Active Recoil Channel — a deep slot that extends across the entirety of the club face. For that reason, we recommend trying a higher-lofted version of your current hybrid, if you carry one.

Titleist’s 915H is fully adjustable, and is available in lofts of 18, 21, 24 and 27 degrees. It comes stock with the best selection of stock shafts on this list: four “real deal” models from Aldila and Mitsubishi Rayon that are available in a wide range of weights, bend points and flexes.

Need less spin? Titleist’s 915Hd ($249.99) offers the same technology as the 915H hybrids, and is roughly 100-200 rpm lower spinning. It also has a slightly smaller club head (107cc) that many better players will prefer. The 915Hd hybrids are offered in lofts of 17.5, 20.5 and 23.5 degrees. We recommend the 20.5-degree model as a 3-iron replacement for better players looking for more carry distance and consistency.

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Hybrid Reviews

Review: Taylormade R15 and AeroBurner Hybrids

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Pros: The R15 and AeroBurner hybrids offer faster ball speeds and more distance than the SLDR or JetSpeed hybrids.

Cons: The smaller, peanut-shaped R15 might turn some golfers away who like to see more meat behind the ball. Like the driver and fairway woods, the AeroBurner offers no adjustability.

Who are they for: The R15 is aimed at better players looking for a more compact hybrid that still delivers fast ball speeds across the face. The AeroBurner is aimed at any golfer looking for more forgiveness and more ball speed from their hybrid, even on slight mishits.

The Review

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The moment you pick up an R15 hybrid, you’ll know that this club was built for versatility. The smaller, tour-inspired shape is designed to maximize playability from virtually any lie. I found the club to be equally good from tight lies, off a tee and out of the rough.

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At Address: A TaylorMade R15 hybrid (19 degrees).

The smaller shape, which better players will appreciate, sets up square behind the ball and like the fairway woods, feels like you’ve got a powerful, precision mallet in your hands. Even with the smaller footprint, an open channel at the front of the sole increases ball speeds across the face.

Like other hybrids on the market with adjustable hosels, the R15 also has a 3-degree loft sleeve, which allows golfers to optimize launch conditions. The standard setting promotes a neutral ball flight, something I confirmed during testing.

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The AeroBurner Rescue is a blend of performance and forgiveness. Like the other AeroBurner metal woods, the Rescue has an aerodynamic shape with a raised center crown, the company’s new hosel fin, and a low, forward center of gravity, all working together to deliver maximum speed and distance.

The sweet spot is up to twice as large as previous models thanks to an improved Speed Pocket and Thru-Slot technology, according to TaylorMade, and instead of trying to gain clubhead speed with a longer shaft, the AeroBurner hybrids actually have a shaft that is 0.5-inches shorter the company’s previous hybrids, which will give most golfers more control.

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At Address: TaylorMade’s AeroBurner Hybrid (22 degrees).

Unlike the R15, the Aeroburner Rescue is also available in 5 (25 degrees) and 6 (28 degrees), giving golfers the freedom to drop their 4, 5, and 6 irons from the bag and replace them with more forgiving and easier-to-hit clubs. Even if you want to keep your 4 and 5 irons in the bag, the AeroBurner might fill that gap giving you the chance to hit shots you might never have tried before.

Testing

To this point, I’ve been split between the R15 and AeroBurner metal woods, with the R15 driver and AeroBurner fairway woods performing the best for me during testing. As I always do, I started the testing at the driving range. Just as I saw with the fairway woods, the launch angle, distance and peak height of both clubs appeared to be slightly higher than my current gamer. This time however, the R15 was the stand out. The feel at impact, a stable, neutral-to-slight-draw shot shape, and good distance was exactly what I was hoping to see.

That said, the AeroBurner didn’t disappoint. The flight was slightly higher and with more draw bias, but the distance was extremely close.

Unfortunately the weather has been hit or miss in Georgia, so I had to complete my launch monitor testing indoors. I headed to Golfsmith Extreme in Smyrna, Ga., where I tested the R15 and AeroBurner hybrids with a GC2 launch monitor and an Ernest Sports ES14 Doppler-based launch monitor simultaneously using premium golf balls. To get comparison data, I also tested TaylorMade’s SLDR and JetSpeed hybrids from 2014.

The Numbers

R15_Chart
Launch monitor testing confirmed my initial impressions on the driving range that the R15 was outperforming the AeroBurmer, but not by much. In fact, the margin between these clubs when you look at the numbers alone is razor-sharp.

The R15 produced 1 mph more ball speed and 1 more yard of carry on average over the AeroBurner, with slightly more spin and a slightly lower launch. The shot shape bias was neutral to a slight draw, which is what I was expecting. The AeroBurner on the other hand, produced consistent draws for me.

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The R15 hybrid has a 3-degree adjustable hosel, allowing golfers to dial in launch, spin rate and trajectory bias.

While the margin between the R15 and AeroBurner was extremely close, both clubs outperformed the SLDR and Jetspeed hybrids. The R15 was 5 yards longer than the SLDR and 6 yards longer than the JetSpeed. Looking at the best shots with all the clubs, the longest during the testing session came with the R15 — even though the SLDR and JetSpeed produced very similar ball speeds.

Distance isn’t the only reason we should buy a golf club, and with the R15 and AeroBuner hybrids producing similar numbers, I also wanted to look at the consistency of the two clubs. I did this in two ways.

First, I assessed the dispersion of the shots. In this case, the AeroBuner edged out the R15 with a slightly tighter dispersion, albeit further left of target.

Second, I took a look at the difference between the best shot and the average shots of the clubs. We all love stomping on a shot that ends up flying further than we expect, but the majority of golfers, myself included, prefer reliability and consistency to the rare bomb. In this case, the R15 was more consistent than any of the 3 clubs in every category except spin and peak height, where the AeroBurner was slightly more consistent.

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We found the AeroBurner hybrid (above) to be slightly more forgiving than the R15 hybrid.

With more consistent distance, a compact and versatile head shape, and the ability to adjust the loft with the 3-degree loft sleeve, the R15 rescue has found a place in my bag. That said, the AeroBurner Rescue also comes in a TP version which has a flatter lie angle and a slightly more open face, which might give the R15 a run for its money.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://taylormadegolf.com/AeroBurner-Rescue/DW-WZ206.html#start=3″ oemtext=”Buy the AeroBurner hybrid from TaylorMade” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QLVP7AU/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QLVP7AU&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=I37VEEWUWBLIISTJ”]

The Takeaway

The R15 hybrids have a 3-degree Loft Sleeve and come in lofts of 17, 19, 21 and 24 degrees. The stock shaft is Fujikura’s Speeder 77 Evolution hybrid (X, S, R and M Flexes). A TP version is also available for $279 with Fujikura’s Speeder 869 Evolution Tour Spec shaft.

The AeroBurner hybrids ($199) are offered in the following models: 3 (19 degrees) 4 (22 degrees), 5 (25 degrees) and 6 (28 degrees).

For the better player looking for versatility from a classically-shaped club, the R15 is a great option. The larger, more forgiving AeroBurner is an excellent choice for golfers looking to maximize forgiveness.

Also, for those golfers looking to replace their long irons with hybrids, the AeroBurner will allow you the consistency to play the same model hybrid from your 3 all the way to your 6-hybrid.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://taylormadegolf.com/R15-Rescue/DW-WZ150.html#start=1″ oemtext=”Buy the R15 hybrid from TaylorMade” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QLVM1JK/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00QLVM1JK&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=HZKLNWIIIMZAKKNW”]

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