It may not be something that companies say often but driver technology has hit the ceiling. Yes, the big companies may bring out new clubs every couple of years, but they rarely make big advances. Well that isn’t strictly true, the companies provide their drivers with a slight shape change, a paint job and some fancy new marketing terms. Is 2017 different though? Are we starting to see some genuine technological advances? Let’s have a look at two of the biggest launches so far this year and see what’s going on.
2017 the year of drivers
The R&D departments have been busy developing some big releases for the 2017 season. Titleist, TaylorMade and Callaway have all announced new driver for this year. Titleist have given us the 917 D2 and D3, note that the 907 D1 was so ugly that they’ve never used the D1 name again. TaylorMade have released the second generation of the M1 and M2 drivers that have been a huge hit. Then the most recent of all, Callaway have announced the Great Big Berta Epic and Epic Sub Zero. This may be a lot to take in, we know, but what we want to look at here is a shift in the trends of these new releases.
The new material on the block
First it was steel, then came titanium, after that we got composites and now we’ve got composites plus carbon fibres. Yes, the choice material of aerospace and motorsport has reached golf. Both the TaylorMade and the Callaway drivers have a large amount of carbon fibre as part of their construction. The look of this material is a love/hate one.
Carbon fibre is not a completely new material to golf. Graphite is a form of carbon fibre composite and pretty much all of you will have at least one club with a graphite shaft. The shift here is that it’s now being featured in the head of the club more than ever.
Forgiveness is the focus
For many years technological advances in driver development have been focussed on making you hit it further. Now, the focus is on you hitting fairways. 300+ yard drives may impress but they’re pointless if they land out of bounds in a field.
This is something that makes the GBB Epic Sub Zero stand out. This is the low spin version of the 2017 driver, yet it is incredibly forgiving! This makes the ‘tour-preferred’ version a viable option to more than just the top players and amateurs. Many top tour pros are also putting the TaylorMade M2 in their bags. The M1 is supposed to be the low-spinning option for elite players but they seem to prefer the other option.
Throwing the weight around
Both Callaway and TaylorMade have had a rethink on the design of their drivers. The R&A and USGA conformity rules state a very strict limit of 460cc maximum head-size limit. This has resulted in these two companies getting creative with this size limit.
Both companies have altered the shape of their drivers but built exo-skeletons on these clubs. This is a structural change that strengthens the outside of the club. A good way to think of this is to think of a beetle. They are incredibly light but they have very strong outer-bodies.
Callway have been promoting their ‘Jailbreak Technology’. This consists of two titanium rods that connect the crown of the club to the soul. This makes the whole club more rigid at impact and focuses the forces generated during the swing to the face of the club.
TaylorMade have used their new ‘GeocousticTM’ technology to make the soleplate of their driver more rigid (for more detail click here). This increased rigidity has meant they can play around with other features to enhance performance. They have made the clubface 7% larger, for example, and enhanced the performance of off-centre hits too.
2017 is the year to pick-up a new driver
It is very refreshing to talk about genuine technological advances in drivers. The reviews for the 2017 offerings by Titleist, Callaway and TaylorMade are generating a lot of excitement, and rightly so!
The All Square team will be at the PGA Show in Orlando in a couple of weeks. You can rest assured that we will give these new products a try and give you our feedback on them.