There were three shots in the same round that convinced me -- each more than the last -- that the Tour Edge Exotics EX9 Long 3-wood deserved to be in my bag.
I was playing on a windy day at Argyle Country Club, which is pretty much every day there. My father-in-law and I came to the tee on the 430-yard downhill par-4 sixth. It's the hardest hole on the course, a dogleg left that typically plays into the wind and has a large, two-and-half-tier green that sees a lot of three-putts. There's a bunker on the right corner, one I can reach when playing from the middle tees, like I was with my father-in-law. I hate playing those tees on that hole. The tee shot feels cramped with driver because a tree on the left cuts off my ability to fly over the dogleg with driver. The bunker is in play. This was the perfect spot for the Long 3.
And it delivered.
Into a 15 mph wind, I hit a low-ish draw to curl to the left of the bunker and left myself some 165 yards to the hole.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW
Five holes later, we were into the wind even harder on the 305-yard 11th. It's my favorite hole on the course because I typically smash driver as hard as I can with impunity. But with the wind blowing so hard in my face, it made no sense. I got out the 3-wood and took a crack. Again, low-ish draw that cut through the wind. I was shocked when I had 44 yards left to the hole.
Then, on the final hole, a 390-yard severely uphill par 4. By the time I typically get to 18, I make a lazy driver swing and wind up making an annoying 5. I got out the 3-wood, teed up the ball a little higher and got the drive on to the second tier, leaving 135 yards to the hole.
The EX9 Long 3-wood is really a Frankenstein club. It's a 185 cc 3-wood head with a 2-wood shaft. It has a deeper (taller) Beta titanium cup face designed to be longer off the tee and used primarily as a position club for the player who is willing to give up a few yards off the tee to be in the fairway. The variable-thickness face is combo-brazed to the steel body, not only delivering distance but also forgiveness.
The club also has the Exotics Slipstream sole, familiar to fans of the company. The sole's metal "waves" have been shortened to reduce turf interaction, though that's not something that really came into play for how I've used the club. The eight-way hosel adjustability is not only useful for dialing in to your game, but it's particularly helpful to get in tune with course conditions. There's a 9-gram weight ported into the center of the sole that creates a penetrating ball flight. Tour Edge sells an optional weight kit with three other choies.
There are two base loft options, and I chose the 13-degree loft over the 15-degree option. I wanted to keep the ball a little lower and go a little longer. Run out is my friend, and I have long sought a stinger shot off the tee. I had become enamored with the brief mini-driver craze, but I didn't get to try one out before that trend fizzled. The reality is that not many golfers think of compromising perceived distance (because most amateurs don't know how far they regularly drive the ball) for measurable accuracy.
The Long 3-wood head is big enough to feel like it's not a standard 3-wood standing over a tee ball, but it's not so much larger that it feels like workability is difficult. The added shaft length -- about 1 inch longer than most standard 3-wood shafts -- is almost impossible to notice. The sound off the face is a little louder than a standard 3-wood thud, but you won't feel confused as though you're hitting a shrunken driver.
My good drives wind up anywhere in the range of 300-310 yards. With the Long 3-wood, I'm in the area of 260-275 yards. That 30-35 yard difference may be a lot for some players. However, for most, it should be a reminder to check the tees you're playing. You should be able to handle that kind of drop off.
On most courses and in most situations, I could leave my driver at home and play a full round with the Long 3-wood off the tee on longer holes and use a standard 3-wood on shorter holes. The lure of the driver is pretty strong, but it's something I'd like to try a few times and update here.
With our second child on the way, it's been tough to get time to go to a fitter and get this club on a launch monitor (as opposed to playing a quick 9 or 18 by walking through my backyard fence into my club). We'll remedy that in the next couple of weeks and bring that data here, too.
The Tour Edge Golf Exotics Ex9 Long 3-wood is available now for $300 in five shaft options, in A-, R-, S- and X-flexes.