2014 NEW DRIVER OVERVIEW- Ping I25, Callaway Big Bertha, Callaway Big Bertha Alpha, Callaway X2 Hot, Callaway X2 Hot Pro, Adams XTD, Exotics XCG7

DRIVERS – OVERVIEW

From what I’ve seen so far, 2014 will be an exciting year with several new drivers being introduced which will deliver explosive ball speed and even lower spin. As technology improves, more and more manufacturers are embracing the higher launch and lower spin concept while others are still reverting to the same old gimicks in hopes of selling more drivers which are basically the same old models but with only minor cosmetic changes. As the trend continues on tour, don’t be hesitant to go with higher launch/loft coupled with a lower spinning head.

In the not-to-distant past most drivers were designed to actually add spin which would help the ball climb to an optimum trajectory. The problem with these antiques (and by antiques I mean some drivers that are as little as 2-3 years old!) is that once the ball stops spinning they drop out of the sky at a much steeper angle of descent. If the angle of descent is too steep then you are loosing optimum distance (which is measured by both carry distance AND roll).

If you are tired of getting out to your drive in the fairway only to notice that your ball only rolled 2 feet from where it landed! We are proud to now utilize the industries leading Doppler Radar based Launch Monitor which not only tracks and calibrates the driver head during the swing but also measures and calibrates the ball from as soon as it is struck until it stops rolling. We can now improve upon our state of the art launch monitor driver fittings to provide you with a custom built driver which provides both maximum distance and roll with the tightest dispersion available.   As always we will be offering a diverse line and mix of drivers this year and look forward to getting everyone on the launch monitor for testing.

Ping I-25 Driver

Note: I am excited to announce that Ping is flying me out to headquarters next month for a week long workshop with their designers and engineers. Look for future posts regarding more detailed feedback and analysis of the new 2014 Ping Line. 

The immediate thing you will notice about the new I-25 is it’s look. It has that great flat black finish like the I-20 but also has subtle “racing stripes” along the crown to help you line up your drives for even better accuracy. According to Ping, it has taken them nearly 3 years to perfect these stripes which run perfectly horizontal across the crown (a difficult feat due to the curvature of the crown/head itself). According to Ping most drivers have a lie angle of 45d but when most golfers actually set up to their driver the actual lie angle is more like 45 degrees  If the driver is not placed in the optimum position at address then the stripes will not line up correctly (kind of like the see more putter approach). Ping also placed the COG more forward in the face vs the G-25 in order to lower spin. Although the I-25 is not as forgiving as the G25 I think it is a great improvement to both the Anser ad I-20 which I found to be quite spinny on shots struck towards the top of the face. This is summarized by Ping engineers improving both the inertia and MOI of the I25 (Ping engineers were able to make a significant improvement in the top-to-bottom MOI of the i25; it’s 8 percent higher than its predecessor, the i20 driver. That creates more consistent spin rates on shots struck both above and below the sweet spot, leading to longer drives. The i25 also has 15 grams of tungsten weighting positioned on the rear portion of its sole, helping boost heel-to-toe MOI by 1 percent over the i20.

Ping’s new i25 driver has a center of gravity that is more forward than the company’s G25 driver to help golfers reduce spin on their tee shots. But discussion about the i25’s engineering feats will likely take a backseat to a more obvious change to the new club: black racing stripes that run from the top of the driver’s face to the back of its crown to help golfers set up square to their target line.average golfers use a driver with a lie angle of about 58 degrees. But when they place their drivers in the address position behind the ball, their lie angle measures about 45 degrees. That’s why if you look at the racing stripes in most orientations other than the setup position, they don’t look straight. But they look perfectly straight at address thanks to the special tooling Ping created to stamp the stripe on the head and verify its proper placement.

 

 

Adams XTD Driver

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-I have been working with these for about a month and have been very impressed with the results. The only drawback has been getting the higher CT (250+) which seem to be Cherry Picked before I have gotten them. Hopefully this has been rectified and I look forward to pushing these beasts going forward because they really are long.

In R & D terminology XTD stands for  eXtra Time and Dollars. Adams certainly didn’t spare anything on this line. As Adams Golf is now fully integrated w/ their new owners everyone there is more focused on the job at hand. Most people don’t know that before the TM purchase Adams Golf was spending more per year on R+D then Callaway and Taylor Made COMBINED (feel free to check past yearly statements of all 3 to confirm). Read on for more technical information or skip to the bottom for The Good Stuff.

Do to the overwhelming success of the slotline technology in terms of both higher ball speed and forgiveness off the face, Adams has now extended that technology into its drivers. As I’ve stated numerous times in past posts, drivers have really hit a wall in terms of added distance due to the limitations imposed on them by the USGA. Driver improvements over the past year have been directed more towards lowering spin and increasing loft while also adding in the gimicky “adjustability” capability. The holy grail of any driver design is to produce a head which provides minimal spin (based on swing speed), optimal launch, and maximum forgiveness. The USGA limitations  of these factors involves;

C.O.R. – The Coefficient of Restitution (COR) is the measurement of how “bouncy” an object is during impact. An object with a COR of 1 collides elastically, bouncing perfectly with no energy loss. While an object with a COR of 0 is said to collide inelastically, effectively “sticking” to the object it collides with. Mathematically, it’s measured as the ratio of velocities before and after an impact. When thinking in these terms, it’s easy to see that a higher COR means a faster ball speed after impact. And a faster ball speed means more distance. The USGA limits COR to 0.83

C.T. – Coefficient of Time which is a sub-factor of C.O.R. and in lamens terms means how long the ball stays on the face at impact. When struck the longer the ball stays and compacts on the face the faster it will be released;

“239 micro-seconds was the approximate amount of contact time that corresponded to a COR value of 0.83. 257 micro-seconds was the approximate amount of contact time that corresponded to a COR value of 0.837 – the actual maximums that are often quoted (allowing for manufacturing tolerances).

So now for the good stuff

So the optimum/conforming barrier for C.T. is 257. Due to limiting restraints during the manufacturing process most manufacturers shoot for an average C.T. of 240 w/ +/- 10 u.s.

-Taylor Made Consumer CT Target = 242 +/- 8 u.s.

-Taylor Made Tour CT Target = 245 +/- 5 u.s.

So now you know why some of the exact same drivers perform better than their identical counterpart. Your friend who has the exact same driver doesn’t know that his face tested out at 250 ct while yours tests out only at 234 ct (assuming the broad range scenario of a standard TM consumer driver of +/-8 u.s.).  I can tell you from experience that when a new box of heads is delivered to a tour trailer the pro’s scramble over each other trying to cherry pick those heads marked with the highest possible C.T. (and yes those guys are always looking for more yardage just like you and I).

The biggest driver manufacturers typically pull 4% of finished production to test for all USGA conforming standards.   This is done not so much as checks & balances but more importantly to avoid the fiasco that Cleveland Golf went through years ago with their Cleveland Hybore Driver which had something like a 30 u.s. window (+/-15 u.s.) so that a larger proportion of those heads tested came up as non-conforming. The expense that Cleveland Golf had to go through to issue a re-call and change heads was enormous.

Now the BEST stuff;

Due to the fact that Adams does not produce the massive amount of driver heads as their competitors they can better design and manufacture heads with significantly tighter tolerances.  The new XTD Driver line will be produced with the following guidelines;

-A revolutionary new and improved manufacturing process will guarantee that the XTD will operate in a 7us (+/- 3.5us) window which will push the 257 usga limit (which will guarantee the XTD as having the hottest face in golf).

– Instead of batch testing a small % of each finished shipment (standard AQL is 4%), ADAMS WILL CHECK THE CT OF EACH AND EVERY HEAD UP TO 4 TIMES DURING THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS TO ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE THE HOTTEST FACE IN GOLF.

In summary – it just flat out doesn’t get any better than this.

Note: The XTD line is interchangeable (driver, fairway, and hybrids) and will be compatible with the same shaft adapters as the Taylor Made R1 series. 

Callaway Big Bertha

The new Big Bertha Driver is so revolutionary, it deserves to carry the most legendary name in golf. It’s faster, more robust, with our new Adjustable Perimeter Weighting for maximum distance from a total performance driver. Don’t just take our word for it. Go hit it. You’ll see.

CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA ALPHA

Everything we’ve learned about adjustable drivers (and that’s a lot) has led to the Big Bertha Alpha. It’s a total performance package of maximum distance, and….it’s the most advanced driver anyone’s ever made. When you take the revolutionary new Gravity Core, enhance it with Moveable Weight, and dial in the Advanced Adjustable Hosel, you’ll be longer than you’ve ever been. Independent launch monitor showed this bad boy lowering spin as much as 400 rpm with the gravity core set in the low spin position.

Callaway X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro

 

 

X2 Hot = We set out to create a driver better than one played by the longest hitters in golf. To do that, we had to start fresh and change everything. And the result is not incremental – it’s up to 11 yards longer.

X2 Hot Pro = If you want to work the ball like a pro with penetrating trajectories, more neutral bias and low spin, we’ve got a more compact, 440cc head for you.

Exotics XCG7

Batavia, IL – After six successful XCG driver launches, the new XCG7 driver offers more variability, technology, and material upgrades than its predecessors. Continuing the Exotics tradition the XCG7 drivers bring premium technology to today’s techno-savvy consumers and increases commercial viability by offering two clubheads., the XCG7 and XCG7 Beta. The XCG7 adjustable driver is available in two different clubheads, 440cc (Beta) and 460cc. The XCG7 driver features upgraded performance in a 6A4V titanium, 460cc driver head that produces easy-launching and high trajectory with added forgiveness. The new driver incorporates added adjustability with loft options from 8.5 to 12 degrees in ½ degree increments. The Beta, 440cc adjustable clubhead presents a smaller, refined shape composed of 6A4V titanium with a deeper, beta titanium face. The new head also incorporates added adjustability with loft options from 8.5 to 12 degrees in ½ degree increments creating a penetrating trajectory.

Maximizing distance, engineers designed the Power Grid. Positioned directly behind the hitting area, the Power Grid creates an accordion-like effect and increases spring-effect by flexing at impact. The Power Grid alternates in thickness from 0.5mm to 1.0mm, allowing the thinner dimple-slots to flex, producing a hotter launch. Four advanced-position hexahedron weight pads maximize MOI for greater stability in each clubhead. The weighting positions the center of gravity in the optimal location in the XCG7 lower and deeper in the head for mid spin and a higher launch angle. For a more penetrating launch angle, and to minimize spin, the pads in the Beta are located higher and closer to the face.

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Picture courtesy of Tour Edge’s Facebook Page.

Further enhancing stability, weight is removed from the rear center of the sole. This dual-step cavity in the XCG7 allows the extra weighting in the rear heel and toe to provide maximum forgiveness. A wider cavity is featured in the XCG7 Beta to move weight forward for a higher CG.

Variable face thickness technology offers multiple levels of thickness that maximize the spring-like effect from more points on the face, especially in the heel and toe areas. Completing the new XCG7 design is a Tour-inspired matte black finish which reduces glare and features the Exotics logo on the top heel.

The XCG7 driver’s appearance is distinctive and easy to differentiate the two clubheads. The XCG7 Beta’s chromatic medallion includes ‘Beta’ on the plate, and ‘Beta’ appears in white on the hosel.

The XCG7 drivers features Tour Edge’s lifetime warranty and 30-day play guarantee. It is available in the most popular shafts on the market; Fujikura Fuel and Tour and the Matrix Ozik White, Red and Black Tie shafts.

 

About Andrew Hodson

I am the youngest with in a golfing family which has spanned three generations. My grandfather started the tradition in England (Bert Hodson-1931 Ryder Cup Team) and has since passed on his knowledge and love of the game. Although I did not follow in the steps of my father and grandfather on a professional golfing level, my love of the game and commitment to accurately fit equipment has only grown. Even as a kid I enjoyed re-gripping clubs which eventually led to refinishing wood heads, re-shafting, and now has culminated in more detailed custom club fitting, building, and repair.