KZ Golf, a.k.a. KZG, has a reputation among custom clubfitters and high-end pro-shops for producing quality gear. Small in size and sales volume, the company is not the fastest to latch onto the newest fads. But when KZG does decide to run with the pack, you can be pretty sure that their addition to the market will be worth a look.
Such is the case with the company’s new "U" Series Utility Woods (MSRP $120/$150). KZG’s flagship entry into the overgrown field of hybrid clubs is quite plain-looking, but don’t let appearances deceive: If its looks don’t inspire you, its performance just might.
Mention the word “hybrid” to most golfers just a half-dozen years ago and they would have thought you were talking about a new strain of bent grass. Today, the hybrid club has swept the equipment market like virulent poa. Manufacturers claim that the fairway wood-like irons make them easier to hit than traditional irons, thanks to lower, deeper centers of gravity.
KZG’s U-woods offer the same promises. "The ‘U’ Series Utility Woods are the ultimate replacement for fairway woods and long irons," says Jennifer King, president of KZG. "They offer the best of both worlds: the distance producing features of a fairway wood with the control and accuracy of an iron. The "U" Series are easy to play off the tee, on the fairway, and in the rough."
Control and ease of use are prime reasons why utility woods, hybrid irons, or rescue clubs (call them what you will) are becoming such important accessories in golfers’ bags. As major-winner, TV commentator, and insufferable know-it-all Johnny Miller stated in Golf Digest (Oct. 2002): "The proliferation of utility woods has been a boon to thousands of golfers who don’t have the strength, speed or skill to play long irons well."
KZG’s “U” Series woods come in three lofts: 18-, 22-, and 26-degrees. Although Miller, et. al like to stress, rather condescendingly, how utility clubs replace long irons for “average” golfers, they also provide more flexibility than traditional fairway woods, even for scratch golfers. If you pay attention to what the pros are playing, you’ll notice bags on all the major tours containing one or more utility woods these days.
I tested the 18-degree club (stiff Grafalloy Blue shaft) on the range and during several rounds, and found its loft – equivalent to a traditional 2-iron or a 4-wood – to be exactly the club I needed to fill a critical gap in my bag. The club’s shallow face and clubhead are much more effective out of the rough (where I often find myself) than a traditional fairway wood.
As such, I was able to replace my 3-wood with the U-wood, giving up only about 15 yards off the tee (where I rarely hit my 3-wood anyway), and none off the turf. The loft, 2-degrees lower than a standard 5-wood, buys me 15 yards beyond my 3-iron, which (listen up, Johnny) I hit just as far as my old 5-wood anyway. To make a long story short, the addition of the U-wood bought me space in my bag for a gap wedge, which fleshed out the arsenal of real scoring clubs.
The moral of the story is that, with practice and experimentation, you can figure out what combination of clubs works best for your game. This is, after all, why they call them “utility” clubs.
For more information, visit kzgolf.com.
August 21, 2004
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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