The 2008 Drivers, Balls and Shafts to Enhance Your Golf Game
By: Dr. Barry Lotz
|2008 is no different from previous years or for that matter, any future years, as it relates to drivers.
Manufacturers claim we can hit it further, straighter, higher, lower, and closer with every new club that emerges. Yet, after all is said and done by marketing departments, technically it’s still about MOI (Moment of Inertia) and MWT (Moveable Weight Technology). F ind the optimal high launch and low spin driver. Most importantly, however, being custom fitted for launch and shaft specifications (and ball) to your swing is the bottom line.
Now life has become much easier in choosing and being fitted for a driver with the advent of interchangeable shafts and fitting systems such as TaylorMade’s r7 CGB MAX Limited, SMT Golf, Nickent’s 4 DX Evolver and Callaway’s I-Mix. Our testing found that the TaylorMade r7 CGB MAX Limited is the superior model due to its head being designed especially for interchangeable shafts.
All of these systems allow both fitters and consumers to connect club heads and shafts quickly and effortlessly. One particular benefit is that as newer shaft technologies evolve, you can still keep your favorite driver head.
It should be noted that in general, heavier shafts promote increased accuracy and control for players with high swing speeds, while lighter shafts promote faster swing speed for increased distance. Firm-tipped shafts can help aggressive swingers to attain a lower ball flight and discourage a right-to-left trajectory, both of which promote added control and accuracy. Medium- and softer-tipped shafts can help smoother swingers launch the ball on a higher trajectory.
Another benefit for the golfer is the ability to switch shafts from a high-launch to a low-launch for a windy day.
However, in my opinion, until the universality factor is resolved, education of flexes, torques and launch conditions are more consumer user-friendly, legal considerations explored and considered, I and the majority of my testing group will stick to MWT and re-shafting and the pursuit of the ultimate driver.
TaylorMade CGB Max Limited.
This driver head is the only one of the aforementioned interchangeable systems that has been specifically designed to accommodate an interchangeable shaft as opposed to the others where the shaft was made to fit an existing head.
The Limited has a slightly smaller head than the previous r7 CGB MAX driver and is packaged with nine weight plugs and three interchangeable shafts allowing for 1,071 possible combinations.
The r7 CGB MAX Limited is as TaylorMade likes to call it, a “Tour Van in a Box” that allows golfers to enjoy a customization experience similar to that offered to TaylorMade’s Tour Staff professionals. The r7 CGB MAX Limited kit comes in a beautifully designed box and includes a newly-developed titanium clubhead with three movable weight ports; three shafts, with distinctly different launch properties; two shaft-securing bolts; one 40 inch-pound torque wrench; nine movable weights and one head cover.
As for the shafts themselves, TaylorMade went first-class as usual using:
The Fujikura® Rombax® is a standard-weight shaft (75 grams) with a medium-firm tip, and is engineered to deliver low spin and a medium launch angle. It features Fujikura’s renowned Rombax technology for increased stability and consistency.
The Mitsubishi® Diamana® White Board is a lightweight shaft (65 grams) with a firm tip and mid-section, and a softer butt-section. It’s engineered to deliver exceptional stability through impact, reduced spin, a lower launch angle and excellent feel.
The Matrix Ozik XCon is an ultra-light shaft (55 grams) with a medium-soft tip, and is engineered to deliver added kick through impact and to promote a high launch angle and low spin-rate. It incorporates Matrix X-Axis Control to lower torque and increase stability.
Available in lofts of 8.5 º. 9.5 º and 10.5 º.
Callaway I-Mix Technology
I-MIX allows golfers to purchase FT-i and FT-5 Driver club heads and easily interchange them with various shafts.
With shafts from Aldila, Fujikura and a host of other major shaft manufacturers, 1,600 plus combinations are available.
In addition to the clubhead and shaft options, I-MIX Technology includes Callaway Golf’s Opti-Fit Weighting System, which lets golfers choose a Draw or Neutral center of gravity (CG) position to help counteract their most common swing flaws for longer and straighter drives.
Lofts are available as per each club’s published specifications.
FT-5 $435 FT-i $500 Shafts from $185 – $435
Nickent 4DX Evolver
Nickent’s Evolver employs a system that connects through the hosel area of the clubhead. The Evolver package includes the 4DX head and two UST V2 shafts, one for a lower trajectory and one for a higher ball flight.
The 4DX Driver head utilizes a super thin titanium alloy crown that has been laser welded to a titanium body. This is the thinnest crown ever produced on a driver and one of the lightest driver heads on the market.
This unique construction reduces the thickness of the crown by 50%, saving weight that is redistributed elsewhere in the head. Nickent engineers also used their unique XW technology to significantly raise the MOI on a traditional shaped driver.
This same technology has been transferred to the 4DX Evolver Driver, with only minor modifications to accommodate the interchangeable hosel. The 4DX Evolver is 6 cc’s smaller than the 4DX driver in order to house the weight provided by the IST Technology.
As for the shafts included, they will be the UST V2 and UST V2 High Launch shafts.
Available lofts are 8º, 9º, 10.5º and 12º.
SMT Golf, a component company, whose primary claim to fame is that it is the first and only company to win each division of the RE/Max World Long Drive Championship, and the “Longest driver on any PGA Tour”, has introduced their version of interchangeable head and shaft technology equipment at very affordable prices.
Their USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is that unlike any of the aforementioned companies, the system that SMT employs will allow the golfer or club fitter to actually use golf shafts and club heads of different diameters to achieve a fit or feel that was never before possible. Now you can actually use a .350 diameter shaft in a .335 diameter hosel and vice-versa.
SMT Golf is offering 5 different custom packages from their line of award winning heads and shafts. You choose the heads and shafts for each package to suit your own tastes and preferences. Every head and shaft comes fully outfitted with the connector system in place, cut to your desired playing length and gripped with your choice of grip size. This is certainly a distinct advantage over similar companies with only just interchangeable shafts.
#1. ONE driver head and TWO graphite shafts – $285.00
#2. TWO driver heads and ONE graphite shaft – $329.00
#3. ONE driver head and THREE graphite shafts – $349.00
#4. TWO driver heads and TWO graphite shafts – $395.00
#5. TWO driver heads and THREE graphite shafts – $479.00
SMT Golf is also distributing the connector systems separately in the following sizes:
.335, .350 and .370 for heads and shafts.
Head connector pieces are $11.70
The buzz about this driver has been exceptional. In February alone over 10,000 units were sold!
The 460 cc Titanium driver features two eight-grams located in a rear track in the rear sole area, which can be moved to six different positions to vary ball flight.
Out testers found the driver to be both very responsive and long. Its set up and aesthetics are excellent.
Mizuno also has another driver, the MX-560, which is designed for extreme distance and great for the high handicapper.
Available in lofts of 8.5 º, 9.5 º and 10.5 º.
Wilson’s SPINE Driver
Wilson ’s new Spine driver is another of today’s “new driver geometry” class of drivers whose USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is that of generating high MOI and low CG with explosively long and accurate results. Wilson has achieved this admirably by redistributing weight from the center of the crown to the perimeter. The weight was “scooped” out of the crown a la the Cleveland XLS.
The Spine’s address footprint is large and confidence-building, thanks to the large sole. Players who take comfort in seeing an expansive and powerful-looking club head behind the ball at address will enjoy the Spine.
A UST V2 HMOI SHAFT was used to maximize distance and maintain stability, a job done exceedingly well.
Some golfers will have to get used to the sound of the driver, which is considerably less noisy than similar square faced and geometric designed drivers.
Lofts of 9 º, 10.5 º and 12 º are available.
Adam’s Insight XTD Pro
Adam’s has made phenomenal progress with their Boxer technology and their acceptance as the premier brand on the Champions Tour. The Insight XTD is the Official Driver of the LDA, which includes the RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship and the Exceptional Driver Championship.
By expanding the impact zone of the face for maximized ball speed on center and off-center hits and through Adam’s highly successful Boxer Technology, the innovative geometric shaping used in the their hybrids, has made this driver superb for greater distance.
The XTD Pro features the new Graphite Design Tour AD YSQ 65-gram graphite shaft and its face is open two degrees.
The club feels solid, stable and is very responsive. It seemed that the ball just kept going further for our higher handicappers testing the club. A good sign no doubt. The Aldila DVS 55-gram graphite shaft designed for extra kick at impact is the shaft of choice for the XTD.
Available in 8.5°, 9.5° and 10.5°
During our testing of the aforementioned drivers, we used four different shafts and four new balls. Of these, the most impressive were the Graphite Design Tour AD and Aldila NVS shafts and the Innovex and TaylorMade TP Red balls.
Graphite Design Tour AD YSQ