Wilson D7 driver takes targeted approach to the ultra-lightweight driver market
The new Wilson D7 driver, it would be too easy to say, simply continues the trend in some quarters of driver designed with ultra-light overall weight. It would even be too easy to suggest that the Wilson D7 is just the next generation in the company’s own focus on drivers that at a sub-280-gram total weight heft the same as some current models with the grip removed.
But the D7 is something more by weighing less, said Jon Pergande, Wilson Golf’s global innovation manager.
“This is tearing apart the driver and figuring out what do we want to do and how to take the best advantage of weight and mass properties and what they can do,” he said.
Pergande said the project behind the D7 line of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids is not materially the science project of lighter weight as has been seen in past models like the D300, but new research optimization routines in shape and managing sound in a lighter structure, learnings about what certain classes of players might not want in their drivers and how those learnings shape design and even stealing a few ideas from Wilson’s other sports groups including what tennis legend Roger Federer does with his tennis rackets to improve feel.
The starting point was the weight. As Bob Thurman, Wilson Sports vice president of research and development, puts it, the D7 driver grew from that sub-280-gram number right from the start.
“We’re making the decision that this is a 272-gram play, so what’s the best use of 272 grams to help our prototypical player who struggles in developing clubhead speed to hit the ball as far as possible?”
What it meant was designing three lightweight drivers in one frame. It also meant removing elements that worked against that ultra-lightweight approach. There’s no adjustable hosel on the D7 drivers and that resulted in saving nearly 25 grams. An ultralight Lamkin Microlite grip of 28 grams and UST Elements Helium shafts that weigh as little as 45 grams further help shift weight lower.
The weight saved by having a fixed hosel is distributed in distinct ways based on loft. The 9-degree model has a lower, forward and more neutral center of gravity, the 10.5 is also neutral with a GG in the middle between the more forward position and a more rearward CG; and the 13-degree features the deepest CG as well as a heel or draw bias to fight a slice.
There’s further weight savings from a combination carbon composite and kevlar crown. Pergande said the design lowers the CG by more than nine percent compared to just a carbon fiber crown, and the kevlar also helps to damp vibration for better sound and feel. It was a design process that involved mountains of computer modeling to understand sound and feel both from the perspective of both the player and nearby onlookers, as well as the type of ball being played. It also borrowed from Federer’s Wilson tennis racket designs, which have incorporated a kevlar braid for over two decades based on his feel preferences.
“He’s had kevlar weave built in to his Pro Staff RF97 rackets, only the ones he plays, for sound purposes,” Pergande said. “It’s a great vibration damping mechanism.
“We spent a lot of energy on how do we push sound into the domain where it’s not offensive to the ear, where’s it’s loud but pleasing, understanding what is good. Our goal was to move it in the competitive space for composite crowns. Most players saying that’s the preferred sound. That’s where the modern drivers are going.”
The unique place Wilson is taking the drivers is the idea of creating speed for golfers who aren’t going to develop new, faster swings. The idea, which is centered on a 192-gram head design, is what Pergande called “effortless distance,” but not simply a mad rush to the lightest materials possible. In fact, while the A- and R-flex shafts weigh in the mid-40-gram range, the S-flex is 57 grams because those shafts typically played by faster players can afford to be a little heavier. The overall effort is to create a club that’s easier to swing by reducing not the clubhead’s stability on off-center hits “moment of inertia” but the overall club-shaft-grip system’s resistance to movement from a point at the golfer’s grip, what’s called “club moment of inertia.”
“We do believe in that club MOI, making it easier to swing the weight of the club and making something easier in their hands that they feel comfortable with,” Pergande said.
The new D7 fairway woods and hybrids incorporate new shaping fueled by Wilson’s staff of tour and elite players, but still with light weight elements. Both benefit from a lightweight crown design that saves five grams, as well as thinner, lighter Carpenter 455 steel alloy face design. The crown, which feeatures structural arms that radiate from the front to the perimeter support ultra-thin pockets less than 0.6 millimeters thick.
The D7 driver is available in 9-, 10.5 and 13-degree models ($300), while the fairway wood ($200) is offered in 15-, 18- and 21-degree lofts and the hybrid ($180) comes in 19-, 22-, 25- and 28-degree lofts. All D7 metalwoods will be at retail Jan. 21