But now, drivers that give the distance of the ERC II while conforming to PGA limits are available to golfers at all skill levels. These new drivers have a redesigned head shape, usually deeper than in traditional models. All the best performers have lighter-weight titanium faces, with the steel or heavier materials moved toward the rear of the club head. These two advances lower the center of gravity, promoting a higher ball flight and allowing golfers of all abilities to get the ball into the air faster.

Callaway ERC II
Players who make consistent contact on the sweet spot or who have high swing speeds will launch the ball noticeably farther with this driver. Arnold Palmer uses one when he's playing for fun. $625

TaylorMade 300 Series
These sleek titanium clubs, the most popular driver on the PGA Tour, outperformed the ERC II in distance for 10-20 handicappers in Rankmark's testing. The 300 Ti, with a low-trajectory ball flight, is for better players. The larger 320 Ti, with a medium ball flight and a larger, more forgiving sweet spot, is aimed at average players. The 360
Ti - the largest and most forgiving, with the highest flight - is for golfers who often have trouble getting their tee shots airborne. $499

Wilson Fat Shaft
This driver also beat the ERC II for distance in Rankmark's test, earning it a "best of the best" berth. The least expensive and most versatile of the new-generation drivers, it won't be one you'll rush to replace as your game improves. $399

Titleist 975D
Also rated a "best of the best" by Rankmark, this titanium club suits low-handicap players who want to stay legal. A new, larger version debuts late this spring. $500

BALLS