The new Titleist 917 metalwoods family of drivers and fairway woods is replete with technology enhancements, but all those features really serve one purpose: To make it more likely that a player will find a club that matches up with his tendencies and enhances his capabilities. In other words, optimizing the perfect fit one player at a time.
The key feature that pushes the Titleist 917 drivers and fairways to a new level of optimizing individual performance is a weight cylinder that can be oriented in the sole to alter the center of gravity and affect trajectory, direction and how a player squares the face at impact. Dubbed “SureFit CG,” this unique take on movable weight technology came directly from the experience of Titleist’s research and development team with its extensive tour staff.
“We discovered that about 30 percent of our tour players were customizing the center of gravity location by using a light flat weight and using hot melt,” said Stephanie Luttrell, director of Titleist metalwood development, who equated the more precise level of weight movement of the SureFit CG system vs. hotmelt with the same level of precision in the company’s 16-way adjustable hosel vs. simply bending the hosel by hand.
“If 30 percent of the world’s best players are needing help in terms of manipulating the center of gravity to get their face to square up appropriately for them, then there’s a huge potential for the golfing public,” Luttrell said.
The weight system, which features both a neutral weight and a draw-fade weight that is heavier on one end, is uniquely positioned at an angle in the sole to promote better spin consistency for the draw and fade positions, encouraging a little more spin in the draw setting, while minimizing spin in the fade setting. It’s all part of a measured approach to the idea of adjustable weight so that the system doesn’t negatively affect the clubhead’s moment of inertia, or off-center hit stability.
“We didn’t want to find ourselves using up discretionary mass in an area where it really doesn’t benefit or impact the vast majority of golfers,” Luttrell said.
The Titleist 917 metalwoods’ adjustable center of gravity system also may have an effect that goes beyond the physics of repositioning mass, and one that may be even more beneficial, Luttrell said. “When you can take one side of the golf course out of play, then it frees you up to swing more confidently and more aggressively towards the golf ball,” she said. “When we’ve seen players do that, they gain more clubhead speed and ball speed, and it’s difficult to give players more clubhead speed.
“You can give a person more consistent impact when you find their right cg location... It is a trajectory tool for right to left, but when you properly fit it, it absolutely is about distance.”
The 917 drivers, the 917D2 and 917D3, feature several upgrades from the 915 drivers. Most notable are refinements to the channel at the front part of the sole to improve flexibility in the lower half of the face and also reduce spin. The channel has been selectively thinned in the heel and toe section compared to the 915’s constant thickness.
Also enhanced is the 917 drivers’ face insert. The variable thickness face features eight distinct areas around the center section. Each section is designed with a constant thickness that varies from section to section and is consistently thinner in the top and bottom of the face than they were on the 915 drivers.
The 917D2 is a 460-cubic centimeter model with a deeper center of gravity, a higher MOI and a higher flight than the 440-cc, lower spinning 917D3 (about 250 rpm less, according to Luttrell). The 917D2 is full pear shape, while the 917D3 is a tour-inspired more compact pear shape.
The Titleist 917 fairways feature a more dramatic tweak to the sole channel seen on the 915 fairways. In order to increase face flexibility, the channel is open into the head and is filled with an elastomer insert that features a concave depression to provide more give at impact and thus more ball speed potential. “This allows the channel to deflect in the way it would if the insert wasn’t there,” Luttrell said.
The fairways also incorporate a variable face thickness design to improve off-center hit ball speed.
The 917F2 features a larger profile for more forgiveness, while the 917F3 is a more compact design with a deeper face and less spin.
The Titleist 917 metalwoods, which debuted on the professional tours this summer with wins by Greg Chalmers at the Barracuda Championships and Jimmy Walker at the PGA Championship, will be available in stores October 21, although Titleist has scheduled a national fitting day for September 17. The 917D2 is offered in 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degrees, while the 917D3 will come in 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees. The retail price will be $500. The 917F2 fairway wood is offered in 13.5-, 15-, 16.5-, 18- and 21-degree lofts, while the 917F3 is offered at 13.5 and 15 degrees. The retail price is $320.