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|The Dynacraft Avatar XMOI driver by Hireko Golf produces big drives for little cash. (Courtesy of Hireko Golf)|
Many golfers probably have not heard of Hireko Golf but they have probably heard of many of the brands this well respected component company has acquired over the past nearly 30 years. These brands include Pal Joey, Acer and Dynacraft.
For players looking to upgrade older golf equipment - and older technology - Hireko Golf offers very solid equipment for surprisingly affordable prices. For example, the new Dynacraft Avatar XMOI 460cc driver costs less than $100, fully assembled. For around $50 more, you can custom order a tricked out version that is almost certain to impress you with its length.
We took an Avatar XMOI driver (10.5 degrees) and matching 3-wood (15 degrees) out to the practice tee and course to compare them against some big-name competitors, specifically the Nike SQ Dymo driver and 3-wood.
The Avatar driver (base price, $99.95) that we tested had been customized with an Aldila NV-65 shaft ($44 extra) and Golf Pride Tour Wrap grip ($2 extra), for a grand total of $146. The Avatar 3-wood (base price, $49.95) was likewise upgraded, coming to $96. By comparison, the Nike clubs run approximately $299 and $249, respectively.
We also tested the Avatar driver against the Nike SQ Str8-FIT driver, which originally listed at $540, but can usually be found for $300-$400.
At set-up, the Avatar has a quite traditional pear-like shape, but a less-than-traditional deep (i.e., high) face. The look will appeal to purists, as will both Nike drivers.
We found the sound of the Avatar to be significantly less "clangy" than the Nike Str8-FIT, but noticeably louder than the SQ Dymo. In essence, pretty standard for the current generation of lightweight, 460cc drivers.
What really struck me and the single-digit handicapper I asked to test the clubs was the extreme length of the Avatar XMOI, compared to the other two drivers. The single-digit player had just bought the Str8-FIT, but was in love with the other club's length.
The Avatar was catapulting the ball a good 20-plus yards beyond his best drives with the Nike and beginning to make him question his purchase.
The same was true of the SQ Dymo I was testing. I was working on swing mechanics and trying (generally unsuccessfully) to take half-swings, yet my drives with the Avatar were landing at the 315-yard marker. Seriously.
The mystery of the added length was solved, though, when my guest-tester realized that the club looked exceptionally long. Indeed, when stood up against the Nike drivers, we found the Avatar's green Aldila shaft to be a good three inches longer.
To put it simply: a longer shaft means longer drives. However, it also means less control. And, out on the golf course, the uber-long Avatar delivered some absolutely spectacular drives, about half of which were found somewhere near the fairway.
As for the Avatar XMOI 3-wood, well, the shaft wasn't as disproportional as that of the driver. Accordingly, the length was not discernibly different from the Nike SQ Dymo 3-wood against which it was tested. Recall, though, that the Avatar costs $150 less.
The Avatar XMOI is a powerful driver, which - at least in the case of the club we tested - was fueled by an extra-long shaft. My single-digit playing partner, who tends to find the fairway on most holes, was duly impressed by the remarkable length that the solid, stable clubhead with its massive sweet spot delivered.
My performance was less accurate but equally long. It must be noted, though, that one can order shaft lengths both longer and shorter than "standard" on the Hireko Web site. And there's no extra charge for shorter or, importantly, longer shafts.
In short, if you're looking for an equipment upgrade at a reasonable price, Hireko Golf is a top contender.
As for my test driver, which is so long in more than one way, I'm going to hang onto it for when I enter one of those long-drive competitions.
For more information, visit www.hirekogolf.com.
July 29, 2009
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.
Whether you're a new player looking for a decent starter set, or an experienced player who doesn't want to blow your kid's college fund on new sticks, Hireko Golf offers a number of lines of clubs from putters to drivers that will fit any game.
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