CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Until just recently, monstrous 460cc drivers have been designed with high-handicap golfers in mind. They were not built for workability or feel, only for getting the golf ball as far from the tee as possible, no matter how outside-in or overly steep the swing.
Times have changed, though, and now even Tiger and Phil> - and just about everyone else on the PGA Tour - wields one of these toaster ovens on a stick. And if they can be engineered to respond to the demands of these guys, they are plenty good even for the single handicappers and club champs among us.
One of the most impressive "players" drivers to come along this season is the Yonex Cyberstar CT 460cc driver (MSRP $450). This golf club has a carbon-composite crown seamlessly bonded to an ultra-thin beta titanium face and partial sole.
The Yonex doesn't have many visual similarities to the current crop of big-headed golf clubs. There are no moveable weights, no Terminator-esque metallic fins or bulges, and only one tungsten plug near the heel of the swoopy, almost artsy sole plate.
The Cyberstar CT has a simple, sleek classic profile that belies its extreme control and boo-yah! distance.
We tested the 10.5-degree Cyberstar CT fitted with a stiff Yonex LE 60+ shaft. Off-center hits were rewarded if they were high or low on the face; low-struck balls rolled forever. Those struck too far toward the toe or heel ended up extremely straight but noticeably shorter.
The draw-promoting weighting and extreme swing-speed I attained with this club combined to exacerbate my natural hook. But when I was able to slow down my swing and connect in the sweet spot, it felt as if the ball wasn't even there.
Most impressive, however, was the workability of this club. Despite my low-teen handicap, I found myself moving the ball around (on the range, at least) with relative consistency. Nevertheless, we sought out a single-digit player to put the Yonex through its paces.
Jerry, a 5-handicap from Urbana, Ill., agreed to see if he could hit the same kind of high cuts, hooking runners and big boomers he gets out of his smaller Nike Ignite. He could, and he did.
"I've never been all that impressed by these big-headed drivers," Jerry said. "But this one handles like a more traditional, smaller-headed club. But it's much longer."
One relatively small drawback to the design is the partial carbon-composite sole - only about two-thirds of it is covered with titanium. Carbon material scuffs and scratches easily, and after just a couple of rounds and practice sessions the partially naked carbon sole showed obvious wear.
Big isn't always better. And it certainly isn't always beautiful. But in the case of the Yonex 460cc, big happens to be both. Although players of any level will surely find something to like about this driver, it will be most appreciated by low-handicappers who can fully utilize its precision control and workability.
For more information visit www.yonex.com.
March 16, 2006
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.