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Gear & Equipment

TaylorMade makes twin driver debuts with R15 and AeroBurner lines

TaylorMade's Nov. 13 launch of two new drivers -- the movable weight, multi-level adjustable R15 and the lightweight, swingspeed-focused AeroBurner -- makes the same case about what kind of driver you should buy that the company first made nearly a decade. The idea, which hearkens back to previous twin-driver introductions like the R9 and the Burner SuperFast, is that there are two kinds of golfers looking for two types of clubs: the technician and the bomber.

The technician is about dialing in precise launch conditions and navigating his way around the golf course strategically, with planned routes and trajectories. The bomber prefers high, far and straight, a less subtle approach that might be phrased as "swing first, ask questions later."

But both new drivers will build on the company's primary metalwood technologies of a center of gravity positioned more low and forward for less spin and improved energy transfer. Both also will feature a channel in the sole designed to enhance the way the face flexes for improved ballspeed all over the face. 

loop-taylormade-R15-Driver-350.jpgThe R15, which will be made available in both white and black versions, is the technician's driver. It features a sole channel with two independently movable 12.5-gram weights. The sole channel, or "speed pocket," is similar to the predominant feature on the successful SLDR drivers. It allows players to position weight in draw or fade settings, as well as positioning the weights in either a middle position or extreme heel and toe locations for improved stability. Compared to the SLDR, the R15's sole channel has been shifted slightly closer to the face (12 millimeters) to contribute to the way the face flexes at impact. That movement forward also helps further push the center of gravity forward. According to the company, more than 75 percent of the clubhead's total mass is in the front of the driver.

The R15 also utilizes an updated version of the company's adjustable hosel, which now accommodates 12 settings and a loft range of plus/minus two degrees. It's available Jan. 9 ($430, 9.5, 10.5, 12, 14 degrees) and will be offered in both a 460cc and 430cc head size. Golfers can pre-order the R15 starting Dec. 12.

The R15 line includes fairway woods ($280, 15, 16.5, 19, 20.5 degrees) and hybrids ($220). The adjustable fairway woods feature the same sole opening but with one sliding 25-gram weight to effect a draw or fade bias. Like the driver, the adjustable hosel can be set to one of 12 positions at plus/minus two degrees of loft. The hybrid or Rescue features a more compact 99cc head size and the neutral bias preferred by better players. 

loop-taylormade-AB-Driver-350.jpgAlthough the R15 offers plenty of adjustability, some players simply want distance -- and at a more palatable price. That's where TaylorMade's debut of its AeroBurner line fits in. 

According to Brian Bazzell, TaylorMade's senior director of product creation for metalwoods, AeroBurner "drastically improved the performance of the sole's speed pocket and significantly improved the aerodynamics to deliver maximum speed" compared to the successful RocketBallz line from a couple of years ago.

To assist with the aerodynamics, the club features a small fin -- present on drivers, fairway woods and hybrids—in the heel area of the club to reduce drag. A raised center on the crown, as well as a more rounded toe, also are designed to help get the club through the air more efficiently. 

In the driver ($299), the speed pocket is twice as large as on the JetSpeed model. By not adding adjustability, the pocket could extend across the entire sole. Also helping speed is an overall lightweight design -- the total weight is less than 300 grams -- with a 50-gram Matrix Speed Rul-Z shaft.

The fairway woods ($229) and hybrids ($199) continue the company's pursuit of woods with low, forward centers of gravity, as well as a sole slot, something the company has been focusing on since its RocketBallz line. 

The hybrids, called AeroBurner Rescue, also have the speed pocket as well as a shaft length that has been shortened a half-inch from the JetSpeed rescues to provide more consistent contact. 

As with the R15 line, the AeroBurner, also available Jan. 9, comes with a new matte finish, "pearlized" white paint clubhead. TP options are available for all the metalwoods. 

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Gear & Equipment

TaylorMade to debut R15 drivers tonight

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In the era of the global marketplace, there are no secrets anymore, and news embargoes of product launches seem to be about as effective as leaving a bowl of chocolate-chip cookies in a room full of kindergarteners and asking them to wait.

Hence, it comes as no surprise to anyone that TaylorMade will be unveiling a new driver tonight at a special New York City media event at Golf & Body in Manhattan. The R15, which from all previously published accounts and leaked details from TaylorMade’s Japan website, appears to feature movable weights in the familiar sole track made famous by the company's highly popular SLDR driver, which was launched in 2013. 

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The weights appear to slide in a track towards the front of the sole. The SLDR driver emphasized a “low forward” center-of-gravity location aimed at reducing spin and improving the efficiency of energy transfer at impact by placing the center of gravity more in line with both the center of the clubface and the club’s loft. 

Based on the images, the club will be offered in both black and white head styles. TaylorMade first introduced its drivers in white in 2011 with the R11 and RBZ models. It moved off that color in mid-2013 with SLDR, but returned to special limited edition white versions of the SLDR this summer. 

Tom Kroll, TaylorMade product evangelist, described the company's position on white this way last summer: "We still as a company strongly believe in the performance and technology of white and the contrast of a white crown with a black face, and how it aids alignment and the entire aspect that white represents. I think we’re definitely standing behind that. It’s a part of our culture, and people have come to associate TaylorMade with white." 

More details on TaylorMade’s plans with R15 are expected from tonight’s event. Stay tuned. 
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Equipment

Cobra's Fly-Z line pushes weight movement and speed

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Cobra’s new Fly-Z and the Fly-Z+ drivers may not look the same, but both start with the same basic design principle: Saving weight. Both clubs feature a redesigned face structure and hosel from last year’s Bio Cell/Bio Cell+ drivers that combined with a milled indentation around the perimeter of the face saves more than four grams from their predecessors. The Fly-Z+ also incorporates lightweight carbon fiber in the crown and sole to save another 7.5 grams compared to last year’s Bio Cell+. 

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The Fly-Z ($330), which also features a lighter titanium crown design, utilizes the weight savings to produce an oversized, forgiving shape and a high moment of inertia (stability on off-center hits). The saved weight in the Fly-Z+ ($400) makes room for a 15-gram weight chip in the sole that can be positioned toward the front to produce low spin, a flatter trajectory and more roll or toward the back to produce more carry through somewhat more spin. Each model comes in six colors and each features an adjustable hosel with eight loft settings.

The Fly-Z+ is Cobra’s first foray into weight adjustability, and the company’s philosophy is to address the current technology debate in the industry over whether weight should be redistributed to a low and forward center of gravity position or to the more traditional idea of one that’s deeper (farther back from the face). TaylorMade has been the more outspoken advocate of a low and forward setting with its top-selling SLDR driver, while Ping with its equally high-selling G30 has pushed for the higher moment of inertia (stability on off-center hits) design found in many “low and deep” CG positions.

“Many golfers ask why would I need a driver where I could move weight to the front or the back,” says Tom Olsavsky, vice president of research and development at Cobra Puma Golf. “The main reason we want to do this is we want to give you the performance difference that those two weight settings will provide. Some companies say front weight and some companies say back weight. We’re going to give you the choice. We know on tour that some players prefer front settings and some prefer back settings based on the way they swing and what fits their games.”

The line also includes a non-adjustable, offset and draw-biased driver, the Fly-Z XL ($280). It’s available in 9.5, 10.5 and 11.5 lofts. 

All three drivers feature an additional structural element called a “Speed Channel” mirrored throughout the entire line of Fly-Z metalwoods and irons. The emphasis is on building more ballspeed potential through creating extra face flexibility and weight savings. The metalwoods utilize an indent circling the perimeter of the face that reduces face thickness on the front of the club’s extreme outside edges. 

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On the Fly-Z collection of irons (Fly-Z, Fly-Z XL), that same channel moves off the face to an area on the front of the sole and around the perimeter of the cavity. It’s designed to reduce weight that can be redistributed elsewhere, maximize overall face flexibility, as well as minimize sole thickness so that the sole’s flexing can contribute to additional ballspeed. The Fly-Z irons ($800 with hybrids for the 3- and 4-irons) feature an undercut cavity design with a thermoplastic insert fixed in the cavity to control vibration. The Fly-Z XL irons ($500 for eight irons, $600 for the combo set with two hybrids) include a hollow section low in the cavity back on the 4- through 8-irons for higher launch while the shorter irons feature a traditional undercut cavity design. 

The Fly-Z line of clubs will be in stores in January.
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Equipment

Cleveland's latest take on the might of light

CG_BLACK_DRIVER3.jpgAt the elite level, it seems golf is increasingly becoming a power game. That’s all well and good when you have plenty of power to burn. For average golfers, though, power often isn’t so easy to come by. In fact, Cleveland Golf estimates that average golfers, particularly seniors and recreational players, may have swing speeds 15 or more miles per hour slower than the average on the PGA Tour (113 miles per hour).

One solution that’s been offered successfully in Japan for years is clubs with lighter than traditional overall weights. Most notable has been the XXIO brand of drivers launched by Dunlop Sports, which repeatedly have been that country’s top seller, pushing well below 290 grams in total weight. That’s a good 10 percent below the weight of many typical drivers played in the U.S. 

Cleveland, whose parent company is Dunlop Sports, has been developing lighter overall weight golf clubs since the beginning of this decade with clubs like the original CG Black, a driver introduced in 2011 that weighed just 265 grams or about 60 grams lighter than some of the leading drivers in the game at the time. Now comes the new family of CG Black metalwoods and irons, all aimed at average golfers and all featuring an ultralight platform. It’s what Cleveland’s engineers call an emphasis on “increasing the average golfer’s ease of swing.”

Says Jeff Brunski, director of research and development at Cleveland Golf/Srixon, “We looked at the typical average golfer’s swing and ball-flight inefficiencies, and targeted our technologies specifically geared toward them.” 

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The new CG Black driver weighs five grams less than its predecessor, is the lightest driver on the market from a major company and features the concept of lower “swing MOI.” This refers to the moment of inertia of the entire club from head to the butt of the shaft. Instead of a measurement of how stable the club head is on an off-center hit, swing MOI is a theory having to do with how little resistance a particular club might have to being moved. For example, a sledgehammer might have a high swing MOI in that it requires more force to move it faster, but a 260-gram driver like the new CG Black might have a lower swing MOI, making it easier for those less skilled or strong to manipulate it. The concept of swing MOI was also front and center with the recent introduction by Wilson of its adjustable D200 SuperLight driver, which weighs just 268 grams. 

The new CG Black ($350; 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees), which is not adjustable, features the lowest swing MOI of any 460cc driver in company history, and includes a Golf Pride Tour 25 grip that is less than half the weight (25 grams) of a typical rubber grip. 

The CG Black line also includes a sub-300-gram family of fairway woods ($200; 15, 16.5, 18, 20, 23 degrees), which features a 24 percent lighter face that allows the weight to be distributed for higher clubhead stability at a lower total weight. The CG Black hybrids also are about 25 grams lighter than typical hybrids and come in a range of five lofts ($170; 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25 degrees). 

Rounding out the new CG Black line is a mixed set of irons ($700) that includes hollow hybrid-like long irons with 1770 high-strength steel faces, two-piece middle irons with a high-strength steel face insert and traditional one-piece cavity back short irons. It features a center of gravity slightly farther back and lower than last year’s super game-improvement 588 Altitude irons.  

The full line of CG Black clubs is scheduled to arrive in stores next week.
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Equipment

Nike's Vapor drivers move in new direction

Vapor_Flex_Driver1.jpgThe adjustable driver is not new. It’s been around in the mass marketplace for the better part of a decade. While the vast majority recently have focused on changing loft, face and lie angles through rotating hosels, the cool trend from the beginning has been about repositioning center of gravity. 

There have been movable and sliding weights that shifted the CG horizontally toward the heel or toe to produce shots that, respectively, tone down a slice or calm a hook. There even have been drivers that independently from other settings can adjust the vertical center of gravity from high to low, an effort to either better match a player’s specific impact position or effectively let a player choose between low spin or mid-spin.

Now, Nike is offering the option to control CG location in a front-to-back dimension. It's an idea we've seen in some sense with the first TaylorMade r7 driver where the heavier movable weights could be put in the forward position or the rearward position, and most recently with Mizuno's JPX 850 driver that was put in play earlier this year by Luke Donald. The new Vapor Flex driver ($500, available Jan. 30) features a weight cylinder housed flush with the sole that can be flipped so the heavier end is toward the face or toward the back of the driver. The weighting change lets a golfer alter launch angle and spin rate independent of the driver's other loft and face angle settings.

“Often in the fitting process, there’s an opportunity for a final adjustment to develop the shot shape and ball flight the athlete is looking for,” said Nate Radcliffe, Nike’s director of engineering. “As the last step in the fitting process, that can be the difference between the athlete being comfortable with the fitting and really being able to compete with it on the golf course.”

According to Radcliffe, there’s about a two-millimeter difference in the CG location front to back. He says the change from front to back can increase launch angle by a degree, while the change from back to front can reduce spin by 300 rpm. The CG movement also affects the clubhead’s moment of inertia, which is a measurement of its resistance to twisting on off-center hits. On the Vapor Flex, this means the back CG position has about a 300-point higher MOI. Theoretically, some better players may prefer a club with slightly lower MOI, since off-center hits are not as large a concern and because they might find it easier to manipulate the clubhead. 

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Radcliffe says the weight cylinder system is made possible by the use of the company’s lightweight RZN polymer resin material found in its golf balls and also in the new Vapor irons. “The power of RZN is that it allows us to remove and relocate mass within a club head.” said Radcliffe.

The Vapor Flex (left) is built on the same technology platform as Nike’s Vapor Pro driver that Rory McIlroy recently put in play, as well as the Vapor Speed driver (below right, $300, available Jan. 30), which was also launched today. All three new Nike drivers include a redesigned sole cavity found previously in the Nike Covert and Covert 2.0 drivers. Radcliffe said the redesign included lowering and stiffening the back portion of the cavity to concentrate the flexing toward the front of the crown to improve ballspeeds. 

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Like the Vapor Pro, Vapor Flex also features the return of a sole channel toward the front of the club to improve the way the face flexes, particularly on low impacts. The channel, which was first part of Nike’s VR drivers in 2010, has been completely redesigned, including some 37 iterations before a final version was settled on. It’s designed to vary in flexibility (it's shallower in the center and deeper towards the heel and toe) to improve the way the face flexes on both on-and off-center impacts.
 
"This is a completely new channel," said Radcliffe. "It does not have a uniform depth."

The drivers also feature a rotating hosel adapter that allows players to independently adjust face angle and loft. The head adjusts between 8.5 and 12.5 degrees with one of three face angles for a total of 15 unique settings. The new hosel is 30 percent lighter than previous versions.

The Vapor Speed features a larger footprint and a slightly higher moment of inertia than McIlroy’s previously debuted Vapor Pro. The crown also slopes down more from front to back compared to last year’s Covert 2.0 to yield a larger face area.   
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Equipment

Wilson Staff pushing lightweight limits

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The theory about making clubs lighter is less weight should make the club easier to swing faster. But it’s not that simple. “Lightweight is fairly easy to do,” says Michael Vrska, director of innovation for golf clubs at Wilson Staff. “The key is to how you use the limited available mass.” 

Still, the company is pushing the limits of lighter weight. Fueled by ultralight shafts and grips and an adjustable driver head that is the lightest in the industry, Wilson unveiled its D200 line of woods and irons this week by talking about how to make lightweight clubs work for more golfers. The D200 line includes a driver with a total weight less than 270 grams, fairway woods and hybrids that use 49- and 54-gram shafts and a superlight super game-improvement iron that redistributes 48 grams to the heel and toe to improve stability on off-center hits.

Vrska says the most important aspect of the company’s new D200 driver is not just its lighter overall weight-just 268 grams-but something called club moment of inertia. While the MOI most golfers think of has to do with how stable the club is on an off-center hit (higher is generally better), the thinking on club MOI is just the opposite. Club MOI has to do with how resistant an object is to some force causing it to move (like say a golfer trying to swing it). A lower club MOI, theoretically, might mean a club is easier to swing faster. Vrska says the club MOI on the D200 is the lowest on the market. The D200, which also features a thinner, webbed, variable thickness crown through the use of a chemical etching process, also is the lightest adjustable driver in the game with a head weight of just 189 grams or about 15 grams lighter than most adjustable driver heads today. Each of the three lofts (9, 10.5, 13; $300) can be adjusted up or down one degree, and put in a draw setting.

The face size on the D200 also has been increased by 9 percent and redesigned compared to the D100. The thickness of the lower perimeter of the face has been decreased by 12 percent to further improve face deflection on off-center hits. 

Also fueling the lightweight design is a special 25-gram Golf Pride grip and a 44-gram UST Mamiya Elements Chrome shaft. 

The line includes fairway woods and hybrids with Carpenter 455 steel face inserts. Vrska says the high-strength Carpenter 455 is able to made 20 percent thinner than traditional 17-4 steel and 13 percent thinner than some Chines steels labeled “455.” The thinner face helps create the highest spring-like effect readings for Wilson’s fairway woods and hybrids in its history. Both the fairway woods and hybrids have extended low heel and toe regions for a 5 percent larger face area. The fairway woods (15, 18, 21 degrees; $250) use a 49-gram UST Mamiya Elements Chrome shaft, while the hybrids (17, 19, 212, 25, 28, 31 degrees; $180) feature a 54-gram version. Both use the 25-gram Golf Pride grip found on the driver.


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The D200 irons continue the lightweight theme, but while the saved weight is repositioned in the heel and toe, it’s how the weight is saved in the head that is especially interesting. The design features extending the same thickness of the already thin face around the leading edge and into the front part of the sole. The sole is thinnest on the longer irons and the weight is moved farther back in the cavity. As the lofts progress higher, the face-to-sole transition area isn’t as thin and the weight moves forward to control trajectory and feel. The saved weight, almost 50 percent of the club’s total mass in the 4-iron, is repositioned to the heel and toe to lower the center of gravity and to raise the head’s MOI by 9 percent, compared to the D100.

The D200 irons ($600 steel, $700 graphite) come with an 85-gram steel option and a 59-gram UST Mamiya Elements Chrome graphite option. 

All of Wilson’s D200 clubs will be in stores Jan. 16.
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Equipment

Callaway bolsters Big Bertha driver line

big-bertha-alpha-815.jpg“There’s really no one recipe for distance, there’s no one driver type that fits all,” said Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s R&D chief. “In fact, we found that there are three.” 

Those words herald today's introduction of two new Big Bertha drivers. The two new clubs complete a trio of fitting options with last month’s Big Bertha V-Series. While the lightweight, aerodynamic V-Series is aimed at enhancing clubhead speed, the new Big Bertha Alpha 815 and Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond (in stores Nov. 14) focus on spin reduction and forgiveness. The new introductions, each of which features two settings of vertical center of gravity positions come 10 months after the company unveiled the Big Bertha Alpha, its first driver to feature independent adjustability of vertical center of gravity, as well as loft and lie.

Both Big Bertha Alpha 815 and Alpha 815 DD feature lightweight composite crowns, the central core weight that can be flipped in a low or mid center of gravity position (the "gravity core"), heel and toe adjustable weights, an adjustable hosel and a revised face design that saves additional weight. In the Alpha 815 ($450; 9, 10.5 12 degrees), the weight is saved to provide lower spin and improved off-center hit stability compared to last December’s Big Bertha Alpha. 

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"We wanted this driver to get into the space where it's capable of delivering low spin but play with the character of being forgiving, as well," Hocknell said. "We don't think there's currently another driver in the marketplace that really accomplishes those two objectives."

When Callaway introduced its Big Bertha driver last December, it stressed forgiveness with a movable weight that slid to various degrees of draw and fade bias. It also debuted the Big Bertha Alpha, whose adjustable vertical center of gravity could alter spin rate by some 300 revolutions per minute depending on whether the core was positioned with its heavy end in the top or bottom position. But it was somewhat less forgiving, featuring a lower moment of inertia, or stability on off-center hits.
 
Fast forward to today and the new Big Bertha Alpha 815 promises to do both. Meanwhile, the Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond, as its name implies, is geared to more elite, higher swing speed golfers. Its emphasis is on extreme spin reduction.
 
The Alpha 815 utilizes eight materials (including titanium, stainless steel, tungsten, aluminum, ABS thermoplastic, and the company's trademark "forged composite" carbon fiber material) and has a lighter swingweight and overall club weight than the original Alpha along with slightly more draw bias. Also different is the head size—460cc compared to 430cc on last year’s model. The gravity core (which produces more spin in the “up” position and less when the end with more weight is in the “down” position) is identical to the original.
 
The most intriguing parts of the club, however, are the rib structures that connect from the face to the sole and the crown. “The combination of those ribs plus a thinner overall structure in the area around the face in addition to the composite crown makes the club lighter than it was before,” says Hocknell. “We have used that weight [between 5 and 6 grams] elsewhere to stretch the body in order to improve the forgiveness of the club.”
 
Hocknell went on to say that the face (which is .005 to .006 of an inch thinner on average) was designed to improve specific areas, noting that the center of the face already was at the limit and that the area near the sole of the driver is already flexible so there was no need to make it more so. Instead, Callaway engineers used internal ribs in the crown and sole to better control the flexibility of the boundary areas of the face while creating more ball speed by boosting face deflection. The company calls it RMOTO for "rib motion control"—in short, a more efficient transfer of energy to the ball while using up less weight in the face. That weight is then redistributed for more off-center hit stability than last year's Big Bertha Alpha.
 
The adjustability of the Alpha 815 expands beyond the gravity core with adjustable heel and toe weights (1 gram and 7 grams) as well as an adjustable hosel with settings ranging from minus 1 degree loft to plus 2 degrees loft, as well as draw and neutral lie angle settings. There’s also been an upgrade in the area of shaft selection as well. In addition to the stock Fujikura Speeder Motore 565, there are 13 additional premium shafts available at no upcharge from the $450 street price.
 
The Alphja 815 DD ($500, with two lofts: 9 and 10.5 degrees) version boasts most of the same attributes as the Alpha 815, but with a smaller clubhead footprint with a deeper, more open face angle and a taller gravity core that provides a larger spin difference. Furthering Callaway’s claim of a “extreme low spin driver” is that weight savings of 3 grams from the face were used to lower the CG to further lessen spin. The adjustable hosel is the same as the Alpha 815, with the movable weights of 1 gram and 5 grams.
 
Both drivers will be available in golf stores in November.
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Drivers

Titleist's sole groove is central to new metalwoods

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Titleist’s line of 915 drivers have been seen and heard at the PGA Tour level since June, even used in Geoff Ogilvy’s win at the Barracuda Championship in August. Now, they’re ready to make their official debut to the public. 

What many have noticed right away in the family of drivers (the 460 cubic centimeter 915 D2 and the 440 cc 915 D3; $450, in stores Nov. 14) is a deep groove toward the front of the sole labeled “Active Recoil Channel.” But don’t think it is just about making the flex face at impact, says Dan Stone, Titleist’s vice president of golf club research and development. “What really hasn’t been explained in the marketplace is that the channel isn’t just about ballspeed,” he says. “It also changes the spin to launch ratio, and that’s a really powerful tool. So it gives us two pops: it improves off-center ballspeed and it reduces spin.” 

The other benefit in the channel design is to produce a greater area on the face of both ballspeed and spin consistency. In short, it’s designed to make more shots perform in the neighborhood of perfect hits. 

Those bonuses are not so easily achieved. Stone says the Titleist R&D team solved a couple of problem areas that arose from having a flexible channel in the sole, particularly when it comes to center of gravity location. 

“I think acoustics is one area that we spent a lot of time designing for because of the changes in the internal structure,” he said. “The other is weight. In a way you’re adding twice the wall thickness in a place where you normally have a flat section. We worked really hard at making that as thin as possible, so we would still have a CG location that was not driving it significantly low and forward because we wanted to preserve the moment of inertia.”

Stone says the value of increased moment of inertia for increased stability isn’t just for average hacks. He says the 915 drivers achieve similar measurements for moment of inertia (or off-center hit stability) as the 913 series.  

“Tour players do tend to have a miss area on a driver that’s about the size of a nickel, as opposed to a half-dollar sized with a higher-handicapper,” he says. “But they do miss it, it just happens much less frequently. Of course, it usually comes with a shot under pressure. And with one shot meaning so much, that’s where inertia can help even them get more consistent ballspeed more often.”

Helping achieve a more stable head design and ideal CG location is the use of a lighter 8-1-1 titanium in the body, as well as a thinned out variable thickness face insert that Stone says “organically tapers” at the heel and toe to improve low, toe and heel shots. 

Both the D2 and D3 offer a slightly higher launch angle and less spin than its predecessor. Compared to each other, Stone says the 915 D2 will have a slight draw bias, while the D3 will offer less spin.

The drivers once again will feature Titleist’s 16-way adjustable hosel that allows players to independently change loft and lie angle. Each head can move loft by up to plus-1.75 degrees and minus .75 degrees, while lie angle can be shifted 1.5 degrees upright to .75 degrees flat. The 915 D2 will be available in five lofts (7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 12), while the D3 will be available in four (7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5). 

The drivers utilize five stock shafts, including the Aldila Rogue Black and Silver and the Diamana D+ White, S+ Blue and M+ Red.

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The 915 line also includes completely redesigned fairway woods (915 F, 915 Fd) and hybrids (915 H, 915 Hd), each featuring the sole channel geometry. The channel is deeper, narrower and more forward on the fairway woods than the driver to control spin. A Carpenter 455 face insert is the thinnest ever for a Titleist’s fairway wood. In each case, the “d” models are designed to yield a lower trajectory and less spin.

The 915 F comes in five lofts (13.5, 15, 16.5, 18, 21). while the 915 Fd is offered in two (13.5, 15). The 915 H is available in four lofts (18, 21, 24, 27), while the 915 Hd is offered in three (17.5, 20, 23.5). Both the fairway woods and hybrids feature the same 16-way adjustable hosel as the 915 drivers.

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Gear & Equipment

Lots of technology behind Srixon's 2015 line of metal woods, hybrids and irons

It has been known for some time the focus on golf equipment at Cleveland/Srixon was going to concentrate more on Srixon in 2015 -- and now we know what those products are going to be. Srixon unveiled its club line for next year, and it's an extensive, nearly full-line offering with two drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, a pair of iron sets and a utility iron.

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The drivers -- the Z545 and Z745 -- each boast a cup-face construction with a titanium body and high-strength 6-4 titanium face. The face has been thinned in the heel and toe areas to boost ball speed on mis-hits, and the clubs are adjustable for face angle, lie angle and loft (via a 12-way adjustable hosel). The center-of-gravity position is also moveable with the use of three adjustable weights (3, 7 and 11 grams). The primary difference between the two drivers is size. The Z545 is 460cc while the Z745 is 430cc. Both drivers come in lofts of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees and come standard with Mitsubishi's Kuro Kage Black HBP 60 shaft.

The company also touts a "Dual Speed Technology." The fancy term translates to a higher balance-point shaft, lighter grip and slightly heavier head. The theory behind it is that even though the head is slightly heavier, by reducing weight in the grip and raising the balance point in the shaft, the club can be swung faster and more efficiently, delivering more speed to the ball. This is similar to what Ping has done in recent years with its G and i series drivers, which have a higher balance-point shaft and heavier head as well. Both drivers sell for $400.

The Z F45 fairway woods (available in 3+-, 3- and 4-woods, $280) feature a similar adjustable hosel and weights as the drivers, along with a HT1770 maraging steel face for added zip. The same material is used for the face of the Z H45 hybrids ($230), which come in 2- 3- and 4-hybrid models. But unlike the drivers and fairway woods, the hybrids do not feature any adjustable elements.

loop-srixon-Z745-6-Iron-300.jpgThe hallmark of the Z 545 and Z 745 irons (both $1,000 for a set of eight, steel shafts) is a tungsten weight placed in the toe area of the 3- through 6-irons, to produce more forgiveness in the harder-to-hit long irons. Both irons are forged from 1020 carbon steel and feature a new sole design that increases the leading bounce and decreases the trailing bounce to enhance turf interaction.

On the face, a double laser-milling pattern (one parallel to the grooves and the other on an angle) is designed to augment spin consistency. The cavity-back Z 545, which is more of a game-improvement club than the muscle-cavity Z 745, has a thinner, stronger steel face to bolster distance.

The same face material as the Z 545 is used on the new Z U45 utility iron (lofts of 18, 20 and 23 degrees). The hollow-construction, iron-like club ($180) has plenty of weight placed low to assist launch.

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Gear & Equipment

Mizuno's JPX-850 driver is all about adjustability

Over the years, Mizuno has delivered drivers worthy of attention, including its new JPX-850.

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This latest club ($400) has a sliding adjustable-weight system with three weight ports (one on the heel, toe and center of the sole). You can move a pair of eight-gram weights into any port, allowing players to set up the club for a fade or draw. The adjustable hosel provides eight loft settings from 7.5 to 11.5 degrees.

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"This club allows players to adjust loft, shot shape and spin," says Chuck Couch, Mizuno's VP of product development. "Loft is the dominant factor, but to just do loft without dialing in shot shape and spin is giving the golfer less than they should get."

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