EQUIPMENT REVIEWS: TITLEIST 915 LAUNCH
Since Titleist tour staff began putting the new 915 range in play around the PGA Championship, the anticipation for one of their most innovative products has reached a crescendo. The dedicated following they have amongst the better players has ensured a constant focus on traditional style and genuine performance gain rather than excessive innovation and gimmickry.
Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvey, Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson have all put the product straight into play citing obvious performance gains. We will hear more from them later in the article.
This year Titleist have launched the whole range pre-christmas rather than only the driver. Like the 913 range, there is a 915 D2 and D3 model, 915 fairway wood with a second smaller headed option, the FD. Also the normal hybrid along with a deep faced version 915HD.
So let’s summarise the technology in the new range of clubs. The most obvious difference is the ARC (active recoil channel) feature located behind the clubface in the sole. A similar innovation has been used by Nike and Taylormade previously but Titleist state that “Relative to competitive drivers with slot technology, ARC is wider, deeper and longer, stretching across the entire sole from heel to toe”
The intention is to create more speed and less spin by creating a flex in the overall clubhead upon impact. This is a genuine innovation and creates a distance increase that has been limited in recent years due to the rule mandating a “maximum trampoline” face effect. They have manouvered around this rule by flexing the whole head with ARC.
You may think tour professionals never hit a bad shot but Titleist found that when they
“ launched these drivers on tour, the most dominant point of feedback we received was that the spin and speed are very consistent across the face”.
This has been achieved through the Radial Speed Face design which has a
“variable thickness face insert and a central thick portion, but is thinner and organically tapered as you move out from centre to increase performance on off-centre hits”.
The final part of the jigsaw was the location of the centre of gravity in the head. Intensive R&D allowed Titleist to maintain a higher level of forgiveness (Moment of Inertia or twisting properties) despite the difficulty of doing so in combination with ARC.
With a nod to their loyal customers, Titleist have kept the 915 hosel compatible with the 910 and 913 generations. As in previous iterations a tour proven shaft and grip range is available. This also applies to the fairway wood and hybrid options. Lets look at them in more detail.
Like both 915 drivers, the 915F and 915 Fd feature the brand new ARC on the sole, but this time, in a much more forward position than the driver. The ARC also curves itself round the full length of the face, unlike the driver. This helps to create more flex in the head and results in higher ball speed and lower spin again maximising distance. The loft options in the compact headed FD are 13.5 and 15 degrees. Its designed to be lower launching and slightly more workable when shaping the ball. The F comes in 13.5, 15, 16.5, 18 and 21 degrees with an increased launch angle and forgiveness due to its slightly larger head size.
The 915H comes in lofts of 18,21,24 and 27 degrees and launches slighter higher than its counterpart the 915HD. 17.5, 20.5 and 23.5 options are provided in the HD which reduces spin levels and creates a flatter trajectory. The ARC and Radial Speed Design face are also present in the hybrid. Care was taken in the design though to provide forgiveness but more importantly consistent spin rates. Hybrids are not designed for distance, they are rated on their consistency in distance and trajectory control. The ARC is placed further back in the head to achieve these targets. Finally the bulbous toe and greater offset in previous models has been altered after feedback from the tour and from the extensive customer base.
Overall these options create an ideal product for all styles of golfer. By offering a distinctly different characteristic of launch angle and spin rate with the smaller ‘D’ options, players will not have to compromise on loft to achieve their ideal ball flight.
Titleist’s marquee player, Adam Scott, was spotted testing different versions of the 915 in August. One model pictured was the D5, a much smaller 400cc head that will not be retailed by Titleist. This experiment or trial was designed to potentially increase ball speed while noting the difference in forgiveness with the retail models. It looks great and has created a lot of buzz in social media but ultimately the very marginal gains were negated by the forgiveness and usability of the retail models.
Adam has put the 10.5 D3 in play in combination with a Fujikura Kuro Kage shaft as played by Rory Mcilroy. This is a significantly different setup that the 9.5 lofted D3 head with a Grahphite Design DI 8X shaft, that he has used since 2011. Lets hear what Adam has to say about the new product:
“Picking up 10 to 15 yards carry is a big deal. It makes a huge difference if I’m hitting a wedge in instead of maybe an 8-iron or if I’m hitting a 5-iron instead of a 3-iron. I certainly feel like my mishits – if you can even call them that, because you’ve almost got the whole face to play with – have been very good. The carry distance of what I’d call a mishit has been negligible to the ones flushed out of the middle.”
Geoff Ogilvy has just recently returned to the winners circle after an extended absence. Here’s what he had to say:
“I just unscrewed my 913 shaft and put it in the 915, and after two shots I was sold. This one is a really big bump forward in performance. The whole face is hotter, so the shots lower on the face perform way better, which for me is great because I love to tee the ball down a little bit.”
Three time PGA Tour winner and Ryder Cup player Jimmy Walker, a prodigous hitter with club head speed of 120mph was an early adopter of the new range. He states “We don’t always hit it in the centre of the club, and I think mishits are coming off with a lot more control than they used to. When you mishit shots the ball is still coming off with ample amount of speed whereas before in previous driver versions, if you hit one off the centre of the clubface a little bit, you were seeing a dramatic drop in speeds and increases in spin.”
Providing measurable performance gains and receiving high praise from the world’s best players means that the 915 range can be classed an exciting and successful product launch.
As with all equipment changes we recommend a professional fitting so that you can optimise the new product for the greatest performance gains. Titleist have fantastic custom fit centres located throughout the country with Trackman analysis and highly qualified fitting technicians. Enjoy trying the new 915 range from Titleist.