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|Hireko Golf's Acer XF Thriver is a hybrid between a driver and a 3-wood. (Courtesy of Hireko Golf)|
What do touring pros do when faced with a tight fairway? They pull a club with more loft than their driver. And if the hole is a long one, they'll pull a 3-wood, which is almost as long as a driver but has added loft to help ensure accuracy.
Why does increased loft improve accuracy? Simple physics: The more energy transferred upward in the form of backspin, the less energy is transferred to the sides in the form of sidespin.
The problem for average golfers is that typical 3-woods have smaller heads and thus smaller faces than drivers. This makes them shorter than drivers, which makes it easier for higher-handicap players to mishit.
Hireko Golf has solved this problem for average golfers with the Acer XF Thriver ($100, assembled).
What's a "Thriver," you ask? Think of it as a hybrid on steroids.
The Acer XF Thriver is a relatively simple concept that makes you wonder why no one else had thought of it before. It has a driver-sized club head (460cc) with the loft of a 3-wood (14 degrees). The club head also weighs 10 grams more than a standard driver, and the shaft is 44 inches -- one inch or so shorter than a normal driver.
The result is a club built for control that still has enough size and power to get the ball out into the fairway.
I took the Acer XF Thriver out to test at my home course, where I know exactly how far tee shots with my normal driver go.
The somewhat shorter shaft did feel more controllable than my normal 46.5-inch driver shaft. And I don't know if I was just swinging well that day, but it wasn't until the final hole until I duck-hooked a drive. This just goes to show that no club can save you from a truly awful swing.
On all the rest of the holes, however, I was pretty pleased to find my ball splitting the fairway over and over again. Even my 7-year-old son, who was playing along with me that day, said once, "Wow, Dad, that was a really long, straight, high shot!"
How did the added loft affect distance? I can say with great confidence that the 44-inch shaft and 14-degree loft cost me no more than 10-15 yards off any drive. Given that nearly all of those drives were in the fairway, it didn't seem too big a price to pay.
If you're having trouble finding the fairway with your driver, and being 10-15 yards shorter off the tee won't really affect your game, the Thriver is worth a try -- especially at just $100.
It also occurs to me that the Thriver would be a great scramble club. If you need to get a safe shot into the fairway, it's a good choice. If you need to try to reach a par 5 in two shots, the loft, size and heft of the Thriver also make it a good bet from the fairway.
In short, adding loft to your drives can help you find more fairways, and this driver/3-wood hybrid is a pretty revolutionary way to increase accuracy off the tee.
For more information, visit www.hirekogolf.com.
July 11, 2011
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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