You know that move Tiger Woods makes when he's on the tee, starts his powerful downswing, and something—an idiot photographer, a crying baby—breaks his concentration, and he actually stops mid-swing? That's what happened to the golf industry in August when the U.S. Golf Association unexpectedly reversed its proposed new rule to increase the COR limit for drivers. (COR measures the "springiness" of a club when its face hits the ball; the higher the COR, the better the kick at impact, and the farther the ball will go.) Club makers, who were banking on approval, had to stop their rush to get a new generation of big drivers into production. Not to worry, though. The current generation will send the ball zinging. Here are six of our favorite—and still legal—big drivers.
CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA C4 Made of compression-cured carbon composite—hence, C4—this oversized driver (360 cc) is not only 25 grams lighter than any other but half an inch longer than regular drivers, meaning a bigger swing arc and faster speed. The result: ka-pow. Price: $540. For information: www.callawaygolf.com.
TAYLORMADE R500 SERIES The 500 series improves on the popular 300 series by using special milling inside the club face to produce a larger sweet spot. A tuned weight cartridge on the back of the head better aligns the shaft and clubhead. There are three head sizes (330, 350, and 400 cc) and a range of loft, lie, and shaft customization. Price: $400. For information: www.taylormadegolf.com.
NIKE FORGED TITANIUM Once Nike signed Tiger Woods as its chief endorser, it had to come up with some world-class golf products. Tom Stites, formerly chief club designer at the Ben Hogan Company, was hired to create Nike's first clubs. Heat-rolled sheets of higher-grade beta titanium permit closer tolerances for strength, lightness, and thickness. The Hogan influence is seen in the traditional bulge-and-roll profile. David Duval plays the club. Tiger? He's had it in his bag. Price: $369. For information: www.nikegolf.com.
MIZUNO T-ZOID BLUE RAGE Japanese club designers have been figuring out ways to get more boing for the buck for years: Most of the clubs on the USGA's nonconforming, high-COR list originate in the Land of the Rising Sun. Mizuno's engineers devised a C-shaped reinforcement on the club face that adds an overall rebound effect without crossing the COR limit. The head is a four-piece forged construction: beta-titanium face, alpha crown, and plain old pure titanium body and neck. Price: $419. For information: www.mizunogolf.com.
TITLEIST PRO TITANIUM 975J-VS This favorite driver on the PGA Tour is traditional in shape and size (312 cc), yet packs a wallop with its thin, beta-titanium face insert surrounded by a strong but lightweight 6-4 titanium body. A weight pad on the rear skirt wall allows you to more easily square the club at impact. Price: $500. For information: www.titleist.com.
PING TISI TEC This boxy, bulging driver is the least traditional-looking in its class. The top and bottom soles are nearly parallel, which Ping engineers claim produces a rigidity that reduces flex and transfers the energy to the ball. An elliptical backweight adds stability. Though the look can be off-putting, get over it: This well-balanced, easy-to-swing club produces boomers. Price: $515. For information: www.pinggolf.com.