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|Power Play's Juggernaut Driver is non-conforming but fun to play. (Courtesy of Hireko Golf)|
There are many paths to par. Down the middle, on in regulation and two-putt is one of those paths. For many of us, though, the path runs through the woods, and into a bunker, culminating in a lucky long putt.
If you're the bomb-it-and-find-it type, Power Play's Juggernaut Driver ($114 base price, assembled) is for you. Well, it's for you if you also don't care so much about the rules. (More on this later.)
If you're the straight-and-narrow type, Dynacraft's Driving Iron ($36 base price, assembled) is for you (with no fear of running afoul of the rules).
Now that I've whetted your curiosity, a few clarifications are in order.
First, Power Play and Dynacraft are component manufacturers, both of whom are owned by Hireko Golf. So if you haven't heard of them before, you're excused.
Second, the Juggernaut Driver measures 515cc -- considerably above the USGA limit of 460cc. So the clubhead is huge and -- just in case this wasn't clear -- non-conforming in any play for which a handicap will be posted.
Third, driving irons used to be very popular among pros and amateurs alike, especially on firm, fast fairways (as in links golf). With the advent of hybrids and various fairway wood head shapes, however, the driving iron's popularity waned considerably. However, the time might be ripe for these clubs to make a comeback, given recent advances in iron technology, such as perimeter weighting and semi-hollow heads. Dynacraft's Driving Iron, at just $36, provides a tantalizing opportunity for experimentation.
I took both the Juggernaut and the Driving Iron to my home course to compare them head-to-head on familiar ground, where the yardages from all points are better known to me than my own kids' birthdays.
On the 408-yard first hole, the Juggernaut drifted right, but 20 yards past the pond on the right side of the fairway. I had just 130 yards in to the green, but had to hit my second low under tree limbs and also needed to fade it past the greenside bunker -- a tough shot, which I failed to execute, leaving me in the sand.
On the same hole, the Driving Iron produced a laser up the fairway, with just a slight fade, and left me 170 yards in from the short grass. My approach left me just on the front fringe to a back pin.
After a lucky bunker shot to 8 inches and a solid lag putt up the hill to one foot, respectively, the two par putts were mere formalities.
Two very different paths to par.
The rest of the round proceeded along similar lines (except for the easy par aspect). The Driving Iron put me in the middle of the fairway most of the time, but about 30-40 yards back from where I usually am with my regular driver. The Juggernaut put me 10-20 yards ahead of my normal driver on several holes (but not all), but also took me into the trees and rough, usually on the right side of the fairway.
After all was said and done, I scored a few strokes better with the Driving Iron ball.
As noted, the Juggernaut is non-conforming, but if you just want to go out and whack the ball a long way, it might be for you. I found the greater mass of the clubhead somewhat hard to square at impact, and consequently hit a lot of fades and even some slices. The extra distance generated by the large clubhead was often counter-acted by a loss of distance due to this ball flight.
The Driving Iron gave me incredible confidence on the tee -- especially on holes where I normally hit my 4i hybrid or 5-wood. Interestingly, I also found the driving iron to be excellent on long second shots from the fairway and light rough. On one par 5, two shots with the Driving Iron left me just to the left of the green. It was certainly more consistent than my 3-wood or even 5-wood, and about 25 yards longer than my 4i hybrid.
The loft on the Driving Iron is 18 degrees, which is basically somewhere between a traditional 1i and 2i. But with its bulkier, semi-hollow head and perimeter weighting, it is incredibly easy to hit -- incalculably more so than those old butter-knife blades.
So, the choice is yours: Which path to par will you take?
For more information, visit hirekogolf.com.
June 23, 2014
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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