In terms of pure physics, men and women are only as different as the corresponding force vectors of their clubs and swings at impact. In other words, they can be completely the same or completely different. The latest club designs for women illustrate a point that every player should understand: The main objective is to get the ball in the air, and the only way to achieve this is by optimizing your swing speed and loft. If you don’t have speed, you need loft. “The ball doesn’t know the gender,” says Jeff Colton.
CALLAWAY’s senior vice president of research and development. His company has spent the last two years trying to understand women’s equipment needs. “What we found is, you have to make the clubs very tight, and you need a tot of loft. Generally speaking, launch angle has a lot more impact than spin at these slower swing speeds.”
So what you see in many women’s clubs today is much more loft with the driver (16 degrees is not unusual), much tighter shafts and more wide soles and hybrid irons through the set. Of course, not all women golfers need the same things, but generally, most should look for more loft, tighter shafts and smatter grips to address the challenge of increasing swing speed and launch angle.
One successful idea has been mixed hybrid iron sets, like those from ADAMS. “The player for these sets swings slower, so you have to design ways to increase speed,” says Michael Vrska, senior design engineer at Adams. “This player also hits it off-center and produces sidespin, so you have to design for spin reduction. And this player is a beginner, so you need the confidence that a wider sole provides. The challenge is to design a club with the right amount of spin.”
The theory is that the same backspin that might hurt distance for a better player with a fast swing speed will help a slow swinger’s shots get and stay airborne. Says Dean Snell, senior director of golf-ball research and development for TAYLORMADE: “Loft wilt increase launch angle and increase spin, and at slow speeds, you almost can’t have too much spin.”
The final word, says Snell: “Don’t be afraid of height. You have to hit the bait higher.”
PING’s Rhapsody line features drivers from 12 to 16 degrees (with a 51-gram shaft), hybrids with up to 34 degrees of loft and a G10-like iron set that starts at the 5-iron (driver: $300; fairway woods; $220; hybrids: $150; irons: $900, pinggoff.com).
The user-friendly eight-club CALLAWAY Gems set ($600, callawaygolf.com) features a draw-bias driver, a high-lofted wood, and hybrid, three irons, a chipper and patter.
MIZUNO’s 11-club Store set has a 15-degree driven 5-degree loft gaps between irons and comes in two lengths ($800, mizunousa.com).
The ADAMS idea a30S sets (available in eight or 13 pieces) are lightweight and come with a 460 cubic-centimeter titanium driver, hybrids and hybrid-like middle irons ($700/$000, adamsgolf.com).
The TOUR EDGE 12-piece Chocolate Mode includes an offset titanium driver, low-profile fairway woods, three hybrids and an iron set that starts at 8-iron ($600, touradgegolf.com).
TAYLORMADE’s r7 CGB Max line of driver, fairway woods and irons emphasizes lightweight shafts (just 45 grams in each). The woods feature movable weights, and the irons use a thin steel face and tungsten weights to increase ball speed (driver: $500; fairway woods: $300; irons: $1,300, taylormadegolf.com).
WOMEN’S GOLF BALLS: FULL OF POWER
Most golf balls are designed to launch off the tee with tow spin. But the aerodynamics of today’s golf balls made for stow swing speeds are adjusted to maximize air time. “A stow swinger just can’t generate the kind of spin that makes a ball balloon or spin back too much once it lands on a green,” says TaylorMade’s Dean Snell. That aerodynamics, he says, mean players with high swing speeds might actually hit a low-compression ball shorter. Our conclusion: If your bait speed with the driver is stow (less than 120 miles per hour) go with a low-compression ball. Then choose the ball that spins the most with your shorter irons. Don’t know your speed or spin? Get tested on a launch monitor.
The multilayer ball features a new core that towers its compression rating (S25 a dozen, callawaygolf.com).
The bait is softer than the original Noodle thanks to a methane cover and low-compression core ($16, noodlegolf.com).
The Surlyn cover and low-compression core are designed for soft feel ($15 for a 15 pack, pinnaclegolf.com).
The low-compression core allows for greater deformation; the cover has a seamless pattern ($20, preceptgolf.com).
SRIXON Soft Feel for Ladies
A rabalon HR+ cover helps improve feel and resiliency; a large-diameter core increases ball speed ($20, srixon.com).