Look, mom, no loft.
For 2013, another trend is emerging in drivers: no loft stamped on the clubhead.
TaylorMade (R1), Nike (VR_S Covert), Cobra (Amp Cell) and Adams (Super S) all have it. Or better said, they don’t have it.
The TaylorMade and Nike drivers can be adjusted anywhere from 8.5 to 12.5 degrees. The Cobra driver can be altered from 8.5 to 11.5 degrees, and the Adams driver can be changed from 9.5 to 11.5 degrees.
Engineers have been able to squeeze an adjustability mechanism into the hosel of these drivers, creating a wide range of lofts and allowing golfers to quickly change the loft with a torque wrench. Thus there is no single loft number on the drivers. Golfers must find their optimum launch conditions through personal on-course testing or by using a launch monitor.
“This is the driver I’ve been dreaming about for years.” Nike club designer Tom Stites said of the redheaded VR_S Covert, which has adjustable loft and lie to go with a perimeter-weighted design.
In another version of the same trend, Titleist 913D2 and 913D3 drivers have variable loft and lie choices. These driver heads have a loft stamped on them, but the loft can be changed from plus 1.5 degrees to minus .75 degrees.
Despite the sudden popularity of loft adjustability, some companies have gone in the other direction. Callaway, with its new Razr Fit Xtreme driver, is one.
“We are trying to optimize each loft based on the player we anticipate using them,” said Evan Gibbs, manager of performance analysis at Callaway.
Gibbs said the lower lofts have slightly smaller heads (440 CCs for 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees) with more workability and a more penetrating trajectory. The higher lofts have larger heads (460 CCs for 11.5 and 13.5 degrees) with more forgiveness and the ability to help golfers get the ball in the air. In addition, the performance of each loft is optimized through specific center of gravity locations and variable bulge-and-roll face designs. The lower lofts have slightly more fade bias, and the higher lofts provide more draw bias.
“Getting the proper loft is crucial to the whole process,” said Gibbs, indicating that modern construction techniques coupled with precise fitting benefit any golfer, regardless of handicap.
Meanwhile, the beat goes on in the world of adjustable loft drivers.
“We can fit any person with any kind of swing,” TaylorMade executive vice president Sean Toulon said of the R1. “And it gets better. If a golfer’s swing changes, he can adjust the driver to fit his new swing.”
It’s a new year, with plenty of new choices.