Golfers in drivers’ seat with new technology
MONTREAL — It’s time to customize for optimum launch conditions. While it might sound like we’re talking about computers or space travel, those are the new buzzwords in the golf club industry when it comes to drivers this season.
Manufacturers have embarked on the most significant technological design trend in years, giving golfers the ability to adjust clubs for a particular desired effect . . . and do it on the fly. Whether this means a round of golf will take longer to play as a result remains to be seen, but for now these new adjustable drivers — from TaylorMade, Nike Golf and Cobra Golf, specifically — are the talk of the industry.
Leading the way is TaylorMade’s R9, a driver coming on the heels of its acclaimed predecessor, the R7 Limited. The company hit the retail market with it last month.
The R9 boasts “flight control technology” or FCT, and “movable weight technology” (MWT). With a removable and adjustable shaft, golfers can customize the angle of the clubface, lie and loft, as well as reconfigure the centre of gravity by shifting tiny weights in the clubhead to further affect ball flight and trajectory.
In addition to promoting higher trajectories and longer carry, the side-to-side adjustability of the R9 can be as great as 75 yards. And adjustments can be made in a matter of seconds with a proprietary wrench that comes with every driver.
“The R9 driver offers eight positions, and changing from one position to another is easy,” said Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade’s chief technical officer. “When changing, it’s important to recognize that as the face angle closes, the loft increases; and as the face angle opens, the loft decreases.”
Harry Arnett, the company’s senior category director of equipment, added: “Every golfer, whether a tour pro or high-handicapper, knows that the position of the face angle at address is critical to confidence. Strong players prone to hooks much prefer looking at a square or slightly open face at address, while slicers find reassurance in seeing a closed face. FCT gives the golfer the ability to adjust the face to the position that they like best, which is a huge advantage.”
Nike’s SQ Dymo STR8-Fit and SQ2 Dymo STR-8 Fit (pronounced “straight fit”) also allow you to adjust the face of the club. In fact, it can be adjusted into face and lie angles to produce eight different types of shots. Nike testing shows the eight settings can produce as much as 45 yards of “directional difference.”
If you push, fade or slice the ball too much and you want to draw it or hit more to the left, you can change the position of the clubface to a more closed position. If you hook, pull, or draw the ball more than you want, you can manually change the clubface to a more open position. Clubface angles range from a neutral position of zero degrees to one or two degrees either closed or open. The Nike club is also user friendly, providing visual and audible feedback when the clubhead is secured to the shaft.
Cobra Golf boasts the King Cobra L5V as its longest and straightest driver in the 35-year history of the brand. It also happens to have the largest clubface in the industry.
With multi-material, it features a 6-4 Titanium body and face insert, the compliment of which is an ultralightweight carbon composite crown and sole inserts. The use of different materials allowed Cobra engineers to move the centre of gravity lower, with 68 per cent of the “effective hitting area” above the centre of gravity and further back. It’s a characteristic the company says promotes a higher launch and lower spin, resulting in more distance and accuracy.
But the proverbial icing on the cake is the fact the L5V’s face can be adjusted for a draw, fade or neutral position through its adjustable flight technology. It has a unique hosel screw port, for which L5V comes equipped with a proprietary torque wrench.