A New Squadron of Bombers Blast the Market Place – 2003
By: Dr. Barry Lotz
Let’s face it! Golf is war. Specifically, the drivers are the opening salvo off the first tee – the machismo and bravado are on display. “Show me what you got” and “I can hit it further than you can” are the insinuated subliminal emotions that can be felt by whomever are within 20 feet of the tee box.
Each year we feature those drivers that are in the greatest demand, perform exceptionally well and are the “buzz’ of the American male golfer.
This year, we will focus on those drivers that are not from the “major” manufacturers but rather from those smaller companies with less marketing dollars but still put out a stunning and powerful driver.
To this end, this article will cover those drivers that have made the biggest explosion in terms of actual performance and hype. These are “powerful” tools compared to just 2-3 years ago. The most ubiquitous marketing themes seems to be that each manufacturer is into comparison testing of their driver versus those of the major manufacturers and stressing that their particular driver’s C.O.R. (.83) is at the maximum legal limit for a driver head.
As always, before purchasing any of these drivers, take them out for a test flight.
Until now, perfect launch conditions have been reserved for higher swing speed players and PGA Tour pros. Research shows that these players produce the optimum launch angle (the initial angle at which the shot leaves the clubface) of approximately 12-14 degrees, combined with a ball spin rate of 2800-3000 rpm for maximum driving distance.
We have identified the following six drivers as being the most popular in 2003:
Tour Edge’s JMax
The Bazooka JMAX changes all that. Now, all golfers can achieve the same optimal launch angle and spin rate sought after by today’s top professionals.
The JMAX’s club head technology not only maximizes distance, it also offers the ultimate in forgiveness. The perfect 410cc titanium body and cold rolled Beta Titanium face utilizes the best, most expensive Japanese titanium in golf. Pushing the outer limits of forgiveness and distance, the 47.5 cm2 face area provides an enormous sweet spot and turns out the maximum .83-rebound rate allowed by the USGA.
To achieve perfect launch conditions, the JMAX adjusts three key elements of its design for each loft: Face progression, sole weighting, and shaft technology. By slightly varying these key elements, each individual can achieve an optimum launch angle and spin rate based on their swing speed.
Slower swing speed players cannot generate the spin and launch angle necessary for maximum distance, so Tour Edge combined the ideal head design and shaft technology in the JMAX driver for slower-swing-speed players. For instance, the 11.5° driver features the most face progression for a deeper center of gravity (CG) and the most sole weight for a lower CG. These features put more weight behind and below the ball for perfect spin and trajectory. To further optimize launch conditions, Tour Edge engineers called on the experts at Fujikura, the leader in shaft technology. By incorporating a tip weighted, low kick point ultra-light shaft into the JMAX driver design, even the slowest swing can maximize launch angle and spin rate.
The opposite configuration of the JMAX driver fits fast-swing-speed players. In the 8.5-degree head, less face progression and less sole weight create a higher CG. Coupled with a raised kick point in the shaft, the 8.5-degree JMAX produces the ideal launch conditions for faster swing speeds.
Its sharp, sophisticated looks and color scheme appealed to all of our testers.
Lofts are available in 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5° and 11.5°
MSRP: $299.00 www.touredgegolf.com
Adams Golf Redline Driver
Adams has made enormous inroads on the Champions Tour and having the 2003 British Senior Open winner, Tom Watson, as their spokesperson, has definitely catapulted Adams back into the forefront as one of the leading golf manufacturers.
The titanium Redline driver is a 460 cc driver, the largest currently available from a premium club maker. The club is designed to have almost a 33% larger sweet spot for both maximum distance and “ease of use”. The titanium allows for the strategic placement of 90 grams of weight, a hotter face and explosive distance. Tungsten Perimeter Weighting provides straighter shots and up to 59% more forgiveness.
This driver has a deep, squarish face, a wide, wide sole and a big, round topside. At address, the club looks very large, but still reassuringly manageable. In spite of all this mass, the Redline is a good-looking driver. Its sharp, sophisticated looks appealed to all of our testers.
Adams provides a Fujikura G60 shaft as their standard offering – an excellent choice that offers the user a crisp snap and energetic zip through impact. The extremely popular Fujikura shaft definitely complements this head beautifully.
Lofts are available in 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°
Most models offer flexes in Senior, Regular, Stiff, and X-Stiff shaft flexes.
MSRP: $299.00 www.adamsgolf.com
The most distinguishable feature of the Purespin 4-70 driver is its sound. This is one unbelievably loud driver, which makes a really big, metallic noise at impact. Rather unnerves one’s opponents.
To say that the sound that the Purespin makes a loud crackling T-WAINK sound would be the understatement of the year. So loud is the noise that one can actually hear it three holes away! To be accurate, the word “t-waink” would have to be more than just emboldened and capitalized; it would have to be three times as large and made to shimmer back and forth.
Every Purespin driver is heat treated with diamonds in a vacuum oven to create a face harder than any other on the market. By maximizing the coefficient of restitution (COR), the benefit is longer drives. All 4 – 70 Series drivers feature a titanium face made of SP700, for the maximum COR. Utilizing the unique Impact Surface Control System, allows the titanium face to be forged on to an advanced composite polymer body. The drivers range in size from 270 to 470cc. At 470cc, the club offers the largest “sweet spot” and most forgiving surface for mis-hits. Titanium heads have a size limit, but combining a titanium face with a composite graphite body, decrease weight while achieving a larger hitting surface. Because of the lighter head weight, the average player can swing the club a little faster, the most significant ingredient to adding distance. Minimizing the bulge-and-roll also adds distance off the tee. The 470 model is consistently 20 to 30 yards longer than many of the major manufacturer drivers, but equal to many other drivers with large heads all while staying just as accurate. The size of the head takes a little getting used to, as does the funny sound contact with the ball produces.
At first, our testers all found the sound to be somewhat grating on the nerves, but as the sessions progressed, and the Purespin continued to produce good results, all hitters eventually adjusted to the excess aural input. In fact, it became a good feedback device. Prime, sweet spot hits make the loudest and highest pitched sounds of all wherein the
Lofts are available in 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°
Most models offer flexes in Senior, Regular, Stiff, and X-Stiff.
MSRP: $299.00 www.purespin.com
LJC Golf (formerly La Jolla Club Golf Company)
Following the success of their previous titanium drivers, LJC Golf’s new 450 Titanium driver has a 10° loft and will also be available in a 14° Hi-Launch loft in the Fall of 2003. This 14° driver is designed to provide a higher trajectory with optimum distance. Most golfers today, would in fact, benefit dramatically if they switched to a higher loft. Each of our testers was totally flabbergasted with the feel, responsiveness and especially the ball flight and distance achieved from this driver. “Hitting it on the screws is magical” was their most common response.
The color scheme has been upgraded to a sophisticated dark blue that is very easy on the eye. Golfers can choose from a wide variety of shafts to optimize the performance of the club based on their own swing speed and tempo.
The LJC Titanium Driver Series includes the 300 (8° loft), 350 (9° loft), and 400 (9° & 10° loft) models.
Based on shaft selection, the suggested retail price for the 450 Titanium Driver ranges from $299 to $599. www.ljcgolf.com 800-468-7700
GolfGear’s Tsunami Driver
GolfGear’s new Tsunami driver is the flagship of GolfGear’s line of technologically advanced products, and is based on GolfGear’s proprietary, multi-patented forged-face insert technology. The new 2003 360 cc. and 400 cc. Tsunami drivers have a very unique top dome design. The “Wave Design” structurally strengthens the entire club head. This maximizes energy transfer to the hitting area, thus preventing energy loss in the head. A new SPEED SLOT TOE wraps around the entire head, reducing drag and head flutter and removing unwanted mass thereby increasing club head speed without sacrificing accuracy. A new weight port enables the weight of each club to be within one gram resulting in greater distance and enhanced control for the player.
From what we can ascertain, The Tsunami driver has one of the strongest heads in golf. Its Multi-Patented forged face insert maximizes energy transfer to the ball and that’s where it counts. The Tsunami driver features a 10-2-3 beta titanium forged-face insert, which has been double-struck to maximize density evenly throughout the entire hitting area, and is fused into an investment cast beta titanium body. 10-2-3 beta titanium was developed by the aerospace industry for use in aircraft applications that require light weight, high tensile strength and durability, and is both stronger and denser than conventional titanium alloys.
GolfGear was founded by Don Anderson in 1989, and features a full line of proprietary golf equipment. GolfGear’s patent portfolio with respect to insert technology is the largest and most comprehensive in the golf industry, with nine domestic and foreign patents issued related to forged-face insert technology. These patents incorporate a wide variety of forged-face insert materials, including titanium, beryllium copper, stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, and related alloys thereof, and include technology able to vary the face thickness of the insert.
Gerry James, a GolfGear staff member and currently the number one money winner on the Long Drive Tour is also the holder of the pending world’s longest drive record with a 473-yard drive using the company’s new Tsunami driver.
The body of the Tsunami driver utilizes GolfGear’s contour dome design, which stabilizes club head geometry at impact to ensure consistent performance. The Tsunami driver is plated with a tungsten cobalt coating to harden the hitting surface and protect the club head.
GolfGear also offers several custom shaft options. Their standard shaft is the Tsunami shaft designed and manufactured by Graphite Design, and is in the mid-50 gram range. This is a very light, low torque shaft with a mid-kick point. Other shafts are available upon request and prices may vary. Also offered are the Graphite Design YS Series shafts, and the Fujikura Vista Pro Series.
Our testers were very surprised how good the driver felt and the distances achieved on a consistent basis. RANKMARK Testing rated the Tsunami Driver – #1 in distance in 2003.
The Tsunami driver comes in 300cc (9°) and 340cc (10°), and the new 360 cc (11°). Also available will be new deep-faced models in 300cc (8°) and 400cc (8° – 11°).
Depending on shaft selection, the Tsunami has a basic suggested retail price of $499.95.
GolfGear International www.golfgearint.com 800.955.6440
M.A.C. Powersphere Driver by Burrows Golf
Burrows Golf is the latest entrant into the golf domain. The company caused quite a stir at this year’s PGA Show in Orlando with elaborate booths and more importantly, packed to the brim at the demo day. Since then the company has made major inroads into the Champions Tour and into the pro shops countrywide. Its product is the M.A.C. (Magnitude Amplification Cavity) Powersphere driver and woods, all rather unique clubs that look as if someone gouged a bowl out of the bottom or decided it should store a golf ball on the bottom. This domed cavity is designed to redirect shockwaves created at impact, which normally travel to the rear of the club head and up the shaft, back to the clubface resulting in a “hotter”, more responsive clubface and greater energy transfer.
In any event it is backed by some sound science and it’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition), is it’s remarkable club-fitting system supposedly designed by Ferrari. The company has devised special club-fitting demo models, all contained to fit in a single golf bag, with which you can simply unscrew the shaft from the club head, screw in a different shaft and lock it in place with a small tool. Using this threading technology takes about 30 seconds and then you can go out and play with that club. Don’t like the shaft? A M.A.C. fitting bag typically includes 17 different driver heads and 30 different shafts. At least 14 of these shafts are exotic shafts such as the Fujikura Speeder, Graphite Design YS-6 and Grafalloy Blue. Simply screw in a different shaft and go back out to test the driver until you find the “perfect” driver – loft and shaft, that’s right for you.
The system is ingenious, has 540 combinations and absolves the dealer from carrying a large inventory of demo clubs.
Titanium drivers are available in two sizes, 421cc with a two-degree closed face and 350cc with draw and square face. Stainless steel fairway woods come in 3, 5, 7 and 9 models.
Our testers found the Powersphere to be long off the tee and have a great feel.
MSRP: $399.00 www.burrowsgolf.com 1.866.622.4653
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, the California Golf Writers Association, and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry. He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers” and his current book, “How to Build Business Relationships Through Golf” is in the Top Ten Golf Business Book’s best seller list.