124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2



Equipment

Callaway Paradym AI Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver: What you need to know

June 11, 2024
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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Callaway will launch its version of the backup tee-shot club with the new Paradym AI Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver, hopping on the trend for elite men’s golfers to find a slot in their bags for a more compact, shorter-shafted but reliably hot-faced alternative to the biggest stick. The AI Smoke Ti 340, features a combination titanium face and carbon composite construction that saves mass for trajectory-customizing front and back sole weights in a 340 cubic centimeter volume. The AI Smoke Ti 340 features Callaway’s artificial intelligence-derived, variable face thickness pattern, as developed for the Paradym AI Smoke line of drivers. It uses the expected impact patterns and downrange consistency to determine the variable thickness pattern that creates "microdeflections" for better distance and dispersion.

PRICE: $450. 11.5, 13.5 degrees. Available for pre-sale, at retail on June 27.

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3 COOL THINGS
1. Smaller but forgiving.
Callaway’s launch of the Paradym AI Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver is a simple acknowledgement that the changing game—and not exclusively at the elite level, the company submits—currently requires different clubs. Specifically, different clubs off the tee, said Nick Yontz, advanced research and development manager.

“The Ti 340 Mini Driver really does fit between a traditional driver and a 3-wood, so with different specs from the length of the club, the head size, the loft right between a driver and a traditional 3-wood,” he said. “So, what we’ve seen from a tour aspect is that tour players are rarely hitting their 3-woods into greens as approach shots. The 3-wood has become nearly a tee-only club, so situationally I think we’re going to see tour players lean into this at certain golf courses and certain setups as a club that they can use to hit more fairways.”

The AI Smoke Ti 340 checks in at 340 cubic centimeters, or 26 percent smaller than the limit for driver size. Its shorter-than-standard shaft (43.75 inches) is 1.75 inches less than the company’s drivers. As a result, Callaway is making the case that AI Smoke Ti 340 may hold kind of an appeal to non-elite players, as well.

“At the amateur level you’re going to find that the club is easier to swing and easier to hit straighter, because of that shorter shaft being able to square it up and control it a little bit more,” Yontz said. “And then at the same time you might be a player who struggles to hit their 3-wood with such a small head size, whereas the larger 340-cc volume on this head does create more forgiveness compared to your current 3-wood off the tee.”

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By contrast, the Paradym AI Smoke Ti 340 is nearly double the size of the company’s largest 3-woods in the Ai Smoke lineup. That can help to boost forgiveness, as does the fast-flexing face. In all the club is designed to launch shots higher with more spin and produce a softer landing, Yontz said.

2. Just as smart as big brother. One of the distinct ideas behind Callaway’s Paradym AI Smoke drivers is the contribution of artificial intelligence in the design of the variable thickness pattern. The different thicknesses that seem asymmetrically designed reflect the typical impact patterns and optimized ball flight for the target players for each club. The pattern is based on what the best players are looking for in a club like this and ended up somewhat similar to the design created for the AI Smoke Max version of the company’s latest drivers. The scattered array of swirling patterns creates what the company calls “microdeflections” that lead to better ball speed and less of a mishit area, Yontz said.

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“We’re seeing especially good dispersion, our ellipses of where those balls are laid out are tighter to their target so that’s the exact purpose of what a mini driver is for,” he said. “It’s to hit a very consistent and accurate distance.”

3. Weight transfer. While the face design lines up with the company’s standard, all-purpose driver model, the adjustable weighting feature is more in line with what’s done on the AI Smoke Triple Diamond driver to tweak trajectory rather than combat left and right misses. Like that model, the Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver uses front and back sole weights of 12 and four grams each. With the heavier weight in back, there’s a bit more stability with a slightly higher flight. Switch the heavier weight to the front and that should bring down the trajectory and lower spin.

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The adjustable hosel mirrors that found on the AI Smoke drivers. That includes an independent adjustment of loft (minus one degree to as much as plus two degrees) that allows the 11.5 to play as much as 13.5 degrees.