Pros: Top-notch stock shafts, ample forgiveness and impressive ball speeds — a balance from which every player will benefit.
Cons: The lack of an adjustable hosel at this price point is a considerable let down and the additional weight kit ($50) is overpriced.
Who’s it for: The E8 and E8 Beta fairway woods, with faster ball speeds and lower spin, are worth a test drive. They could be two of the best performers in golf.
The E8 and E8 Beta fairway woods for 2014/15 are the latest offerings from Tour Edge Exotics, a company with a renowned history of premium fairway wood offerings.
Engineering found in the E8 series of drivers are also incorporated into the E8 fairway woods. Both the E8 and E8 Beta have a “Power Grid,” which is positioned behind the face and is engineered to deliver industry-leading ball speeds. The Power Grid in the E8 is a bit longer heel-to-toe to maximize ball speeds on both heel and toe strikes. The slightly thinner Power Grid in the Beta allows the club’s center of gravity (CG) to sit closer to the face, creating lower-spinning shots.
The lower profile of the E8 is coupled with an upgraded 475 Carpenter steel face to produce higher-launching shots, whereas the E8 Beta is armed with a beta titanium cup face that is combo-brazed to the hyper-steel body and launches the ball on a decidedly lower trajectory. The deeper face and smaller footprint of the E8 Beta are refinements that will resonate with better players.
Both the E8 and E8 Beta offer sole relief in the heel and toe areas to increase versatility from varied lies and help ensure consistent quality contact. The E8 comes stock with the Mitsubishi Bassara E-Series 45, Fujikura Exotics Pro (57 or 62) or Fujikura Pro Tour (72 or 77) in lofts of 13, 15, 16.5, 18 and 21 degrees. The stock shaft in the E8 Beta is the Aldila Rogue Black (60) or Silver (60 or 70) and is available in lofts of 12, 13, 15, 16.5 and 18 degrees.
An additional weight kit to help modify swing weight is available for purchase ($50) and comes with three individual weights: 6, 12 and 15 grams in the E8 and 6, 11 and 14 grams in the Beta.
Fairway woods are like a good pair of jeans. Their value is ultimately a function of fit, reliability and consistent performance. This explains why even some of the best players in the world struggle to change out this spot in their bags, even as technology improves. There is a certain comfort when you find a 3 wood you can hit high off the deck, low off the tee and shape around the corner of a tight dogleg.
Tour Edge Exotics E8 ($249)
You can safely bag the E8 series for a couple presidential administrations, and you’ll likely find marginally better performance, especially if you struggle with mishits off the heel and/or toe.
I was entirely enthralled by the launch characteristics of the E8, but even better was the comfort I had with the club. Even at 15 degrees, the shallow profile inspired confidence, and picking the ball off tight lies was like trying to find sand in the Sahara — almost too easy. The Fujikura Exotics Pro Tour 72 was responsive, consistent and while not as tight as the Rogue, still quite serviceable.
Tour Edge Exotics E8 Beta ($299)
I tested the E8 Beta at 12 degrees with the Aldila Rogue Silver 70S shaft. You don’t need some fancy moniker to convince you there’s a value for a low-launching, fairway-seeking 3 wood that approaches driver-like ball speeds, but at 43 inches is far easier to control.
If you’re a long time Exotics fairway subscriber, you’re asking yourself, “why upgrade?” Fair question, and there isn’t a single significant reason for you to do so, but there are several minor ones:
- Awesome stock shafts: The Aldila Rogue might be one of the best stock shafts ever offered by any OEM. Period.
- The heel and toe relief is an awesome concept, more often found in wedges than woods, but is equally effective. This was particular helpful on imperfect and varied lies.
Tour Edge Exotics E8 (15 degrees) with Fujikura Exotics Pro Tour 72S
- Average Launch Angle: 16 degrees
- Average Spin Rate: 3000 rpm
- Average Ball Speed: 156 mph
- Average Carry Distance: 274 yards
- Average Total Distance: 292 yards
Tour Edge Exotics E8 Beta (12 degrees) with Aldila Rogue Silver 60S (tipped 0.5 inches)
- Average Launch Angle: 13 degrees
- Average Spin Rate: 2600 rpm
- Average Ball Speed: 158 mph
- Average Carry Distance: 269 yards
- Average Total Distance: 298 yards
Cobra Bio Cell + (14.5 degrees) with Aldila Tour Blue 75 Stiff (tipped 0.5 inches)
- Average Launch Angle: 16 degrees
- Average Spin Rate: 3200 rpm
- Average Ball Speed: 153 mph
- Average Carry Distance: 266 yards
- Average Total Distance: 281 yards
For each club, I hit 10-to-12 balls and excluded the two best and two worst shots. I also deleted any obvious outliers/mishits. All distances were measured using a Flightscope X2 launch monitor and standard Callaway range balls.
Solid Scale: Tin Can: 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – Glazed Persimmon
I give the E8 a “6” and the E8 Beta a “9.” The E8 is firm and charged with energy while the E8 Beta is like a cannon wrapped with M-80s.
With apologies to Freud, sometimes a 3 wood isn’t just a 3 wood. It can be a diet-Driver, a wind-fighting comfort blanket or a high-launching beast which makes all par 5’s your friend. In this regard a 3 wood can do almost anything, but it can’t do everything.
The E8 Beta at 12 degrees was nearly as long as my driver and over time, I wouldn’t doubt it would be a bit more consistent. At a minimum, it’s a niche product akin to other clubs we often see released around the British Open, where courses require an ability to play the game along the ground. As such, I don’t see Tour Edge selling a tremendous number of the 12-degree model. That said, I won’t be surprised if we look back and tout the 15-degree version as one of this year’s best offerings in the “better player” category of fairway woods.
Never play Trivial Pursuit against a Summa Cum Laude graduate from a private liberal arts school and never bet against someone with a Tour Edge Exotics fairway wood. It’s only in the bag because it flat out performs. The E8 series gets high marks for forgiveness and ball speeds, but it’d be nice to see more adjustability options. That said, this line is a nice improvement over the previous generation.