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|The Hippo Hex2 "has a lot going on," to say the least. (Courtesy Hippo Golf)|
Golf clubs with higher moment of inertia, or MOI, offer better energy transfer on off-center hits, and companies are going to great engineering lengths to maximize MOI in their drivers. The Hippo Hex2 and Tour Edge Bazooka Geomax are two good options.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - MOI - moment of inertia - is the current buzzword of the equipment world. MOI is to golfers what Paris Hilton is to bored, middle-aged white folks. Everyone's excited about it, but no one knows why.
Well, some of us equipment nerds do - vaguely, anyway.
MOI is essentially the resistance to rotation around an axis. As driver heads got bigger, the center of gravity moved farther away from the shaft - the axis. Thus, off-center hits resulted in twisting, which decreased the amount of energy transferred to the ball.
In short, the higher the MOI, the better energy transfer on off-center hits. The USGA and R&A have set a limit of 5,900 g-cm-squared, with a tolerance of plus or minus 100 g-cm-squared.
In order to maximize MOI, equipment companies have gone to great engineering lengths. Some have innovated bizarre shapes (the most famous example of which is the square-headed Nike Sumo2), while others have stayed more conservative in shape, relying on weighting instead.
Until just recently, though, all companies seeking more MOI have also sought more moolah. The MSRP of the Sumo2, for example, is just south of $600.
Some companies are introducing drivers with big MOI for much smaller money, though, and we've located two of the best: the Hippo Hex2 with a radical geometry, and the Tour Edge Bazooka Geomax, which has a more traditional profile.
If you like eye-catching designs, the Hippo Hex2 is for you. The six-sided club head is, according to Hippo Golf, designed to decrease air resistance and thus increase club head speed.
To me, it looks like a spaceship from Battlestar Galactica. One of the bad-guys' ships.
"That club's got a lot going on," Jeff Hicks, a 12-handicapper from Peoria, Ill., said after first seeing the Hex2.
Then, after setting up with it, Hicks looked up and said, "It may be funny-looking, but it just makes you want to smash the ball, doesn't it?"
Indeed, in a few shots with the Hex2, Hicks was over-swinging so much he almost lost a shoe.
My results with the Hex2, which features ultra-light woven 3K carbon fiber radius side rails married to a 6-4 titanium crown and sole welded to a forged Beta Ti face and six grams of additional weight at the aft corners were, in a word, impressive.
Strengths compared to the Nike Sumo2 were the sound, which was solid and non-offensive, and immense distance, which equaled that of the Sumo2 when struck on the sweet spot.
The weakness was forgiveness, with noticeably less distance on off-center shots.
But at just $199, I could learn to live with a few less-than-optimal drives interspersed with towering 300-yard blasts.
If you find bizarre shapes distracting, the Tour Edge Bazooka Geomax driver offers MOI of over 5,000 with a relatively traditional shape - or at least as traditional as a 460cc driver can look.
According to Tour Edge, the MOI of the Geomax exceeds that of both the Adams Insight BUL and the Nike Sumo (not the Sumo2) drivers, in part by placing a 20-gram tungsten weight as far away from the face as possible.
This driver yielded perhaps the most consistently straight - and even controllable - drives of any of the new breed of high-MOI drivers I've tested so far (or at least equal to the Adams Insight BUL), both on the range and on the course.
Interestingly, however, distance was not in the top tier of high-MOI sticks. One potential source of the 10-15 yard decrease is the shaft, which was on the driver I tested a full inch shorter (approx. 44") than, for example, the Hippo Hex2.
Nevertheless, I found the Geomax to be by far the best Tour Edge driver I've ever swung. It was certainly the most consistent and least expensive, also $199 MSRP.
As with the Hippo driver, there is a trade-off. In this case, if the trade is 10 yards less distance for more balls in the fairway, it's a pretty good deal.
And for both clubs, the price is definitely right.
For more information, visit www.hippo-golf.com or www.touredge.com.
September 6, 2007
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, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
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