For an explanation of why I’m doing a series of posts about my weird back-up bag, see this introductory installment from last week.
Fairway Woods: Callaway Big Bertha Warbird Strong Four (15°) and Heavenwood (20°)
Year of Release: 1998
PGA Value Guide Resale: $15.04
My oldest clubs, two Callaway Big Bertha War Bird fairway woods, were gifts for my 14th birthday. I gamed them for my last few junior tournaments, before I hurt my back and turned my attention away from golf. I have a history with these woods; I can even remember shots — some good, some not — that I hit with them nearly two decades ago.
More than anything else in my Oregon bag, these 19-year-old clubs just look like old technology. At address they seem tiny. Compared to today’s driver-like fairway woods, the War Bird heads look like ball bearings at the end of a black pole. At the time of their release, however, they felt cutting edge. “A 15-degree four wood? A seven wood? And look at that sole plate!”
When I used the War Birds during my Oregon rounds, I tried to remember how I felt over them in 1998, when I was confident that they contained the best technology on the market. For the Heavenwood (pictured above), this mental trick worked. The club produced one high draw after another. The curved War Bird sole slid through the turf without digging, allowing me to produce good distance out of rough and bad lies. I ended up deploying the Heavenwood like a modern hybrid or a Cobra Baffler — a versatile 200-yard workhorse.
The Strong Four? Unhittable. I don’t know why. Maybe because a 15° 4 wood is as dumb an idea now as it was in 1998.
Hybrid: Nickent 3DX Ironwood DC (20°)
Year of Release: 2006
PGA Value Guide Resale: $22.56
Because of my love affair with the Heavenwood, I pulled out this hybrid only a few times during my Oregon trip, which is a shame. It’s a quality club.
Years ago, Nickent was the standard bearer in the hybrid category, but eventually bigger manufacturers caught up, and the company went bust in 2009. In spite of the many (and well-marketed) advances in rescue club technology since then, many players still have Nickents from the mid 2000s in their bags.
I found my 20° 3DX Ironwood DC to be a straightforward, effective utility. The relatively large club head has weighting toward the back and on the bottom, so it launches the ball high, feels stable through impact, and seems to resist the dreaded snap hook. The sound is a bit tinny for my taste but not bothersome. When hit well, the 3DX carries just as long as the current three-iron replacement hybrids that I’ve tried. On mishits, it offers a smidge less forgiveness than my gamer, a Titleist 915H.
A good club. For $20. That’s all.