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HiPPO ITX-420: Big but lethargic

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
HIPPO ITX 420 Driver
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The HIPPO ITX-420 Driver is straight, but not overly long. ()

KOKOMO, Ind. - When Callaway released the ERC Fusion, which merged a carbon composite clubhead with a titanium face, there was unleashed upon the golf world a tidal wave of similar so-called composite drivers. Joe Golfer might be hesitant to go after one of these Frankenstein's monsters, though, with prices ranging north of $500 for some.

Enter HiPPO Golf's ITX-420 driver, which offers the composite technology for a budget-conscious $199. ITX Driver was recently named the longest driver for under $200 by Golf World (Europe), which tested the ITX driver using independent robot testing methods.

According to the article summarizing the testing, published in July 2004, "This driver performed fantastically well, finishing inside the top-10. It's a bargain because it's packed full of technology and features the same carbon-composite construction that several of the premium priced drivers offer."

HiPPO is a rather new Vista, Cal.-based company with several European Tour representatives, including 1991 Master's champ Ian Woosnam. It specializes in affordable, but technologically current clubs.

How it plays

We took our HiPPO ITX, a 10-degree with a stiff shaft, out on the course and to the range. And our results, though consistent, were not quite as stellar as those attained in Europe.

On the range, I liked the 420cc ITX's low profile. So many big-headed drivers force you to tee up the ball so high that standard-length tees are too short for the task. No special tees were required with this driver, though.

Although I found the ITX-420 consistent with respect to both dispersion and distance, it's length was not terribly noteworthy. Moreover, the ball flight seemed somewhat too low given the mass of the clubhead (even when I did tee up the ball on one of those coffin-spike tees).

To get a second opinion, I had a couple of other golfers take it out on the course. Don Hicks, a 19-handicapper from Walton, Ind., and Carl Stage, a 12-handicapper from Peru, Ind., each tried the ITX-420 during separate rounds, and, rather surprisingly, both came back with almost identical analyses.

"It was straighter than my driver (an older model Callaway Big Bertha)," said Don, "but I just didn't hit it as far." Carl concurred: "I wasn't getting my normal distance, but it was more forgiving. I was in the fairway even on mishits."

A third golfer, Carrick Williams, a 16-handicapper and big-hitter also agreed. "I hit it fine," he said after taking some enormous swipes at defenseless range balls, "but it doesn't strike me as overly long."

The verdict

Golf World (Europe) conducted robotic testing of the ITX-420, and on the basis of those tests, they deemed it the longest composite driver for under $200. We're not sure if it was the robot, or maybe a lack of competition (not a lot of composite drivers are priced under two bills), but our testing would suggest that the folks across the pond were a tad generous.

Neither we nor the golfers we consulted felt the club distinguished itself with respect to distance. It was, however, quite straight off the tee, and the price is very reasonable, given the solid, high-tech construction.

For more information, visit hippo-golf.com.

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.

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