Driver test 2012, part deux

May 28, 2012

I’m sticking with my Titleist 910 D3.

Or at least I was. The Titleist isn’t the longest driver I’ve hit in the past few weeks, or the sweetest feeling — that would be the TaylorMade RBZ (I’m not sayin “rocket balls”) and the Cleveland Classic driver, respectively — but it is the incumbent. I don’t have to buy it. If I were to buy a driver, I would, as I stated in part one of this faux scientific study, probably have picked up the CC, with 310-gram Tour model with an extra stiff Miyakazi Kusala shaft. According to the monitors, I killed that one. (I only field-tested a regular shafted 290 model — but it felt sweet too.)

I like the Titleist both because it flatters my opinion of the kind of golfer I am (traditional, low handicap player whose smart enough to know distance isn’t everything) and because I already own it. But my recent acquistion of the Cobra Long Tom fairway wood (they call it a two wood — it’s really a small-headed, 12.5 degree driver) has sort of changed my thinking.

First of all, it hit that Cobra crazy long. Long enough that I could use it as a driver. Long enough that I hit it more often than the driver. I can turn it over fairly easily. I have even managed to fade it (a memorable shot — I carried a 250 yard bunker and it rolled out to about 290). Were I a reasonable person I would just carry the Cobra and not worry about a driver. (I will have to pick up a used one as soon as someone trades one in — I doubt this model is going to stay in production forever; I may be the only player who’s actually good enough to use it who likes it.)

But I am not reasonable. I play golf. And I have delusions that I can still play as well as I did 15 years ago. Which is why I’ve put the RBZ in my bag (for the time being at least).

It is monster long when I catch it. And when I miss it — well, it’s adequate. I pop it up and it goes 240. It’s not workable like the Titleist, it’s not a surgical instrument like the Titleist, but it is a launcher. And I’ve put a slightly softer shaft in it than I usually use (the only advantage I really see of adjustable clubs like the RBZ is the ability to quickly and safely change shafts) — an Adila RIP beta. (I use the slightly more rugged RIP alpha in the Titleist and in a couple of other clubs.)

I started out with an Oban Devotion in the RBZ (which, if you’re keeping score, is a 9 degree Tour head) and had pretty good luck with it in a scramble (ask TMFW about the drive on the 18th). But I get better results with the softer shaft (sue me, I like the feel) and there’s not quite so small a margin for error. I can usually hit it straight, and I’m working on hitting a fade.

When I want a draw, I’ll hit the Cobra.

Anyway, for now the Titleist is back in the closet, though I like knowing its around. It’s just a little longer than the Cobra when I nail it (it’s shaft might even be a quarter of an inch shorter than the Cobra) and I can’t hit it off the fairway. It’s the perfect driver for my normal swing.

But (and myabe this is ironic) a Titleist rep put me on a Trackman at a ball-fitting the other day (he confirmed what I thought, I’m not studly enough to play a Pro V1x, I should stick with the Pro V1) and pointed out that my driver swing typically caught the ball on the descent — I was actually delofting the club a degree or two, resulting in too much spin and a lower launch angle than optimal. (This is geeky I know, but you’re reading it.)

He pointed out to me that if I tee the ball higher and moved it up in my stance I’d effectively gain 20 or so yards. (This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this, of course, but I’d gotten used to hitting pretty, spinny shots that didn’t go very far. I thought I was just getting old.)

Here’s the ironic part. When I moved the ball up and teed it higher, all of a sudden my trusty D3 felt kind, well, indifferent. Not bad, but with the adjustments to the swing, I was able to go longer and softer with the shaft. Enter the RBZ, with slightly less loft and an inch and a half more shaft than my gamer. When I hit that well, it was no contest. When I missed it a little, it wasn’t that much worse than the good shots with the Titleist. And so, for now, at least, there’s a new driver in the bag.

Not that you would, but none of this should be taken as an endorsement of any of these products. Like I said, if you ask me what I like — I liked the Cleveland Classic. And the Ping I20. Were anyone to give me either of those drivers I’d happily play them. (Or the Ping G20.) But I had to give those back.

I didn’t much like the Adams Fast 12, but that’s purely because I have a problem with ultralight drivers. I never hit the TaylorMade Burners very well either (though I did love the R11 — and the R11 s doesn’t seem to me to be much of an upgrade). I honestly don’t think it’s possible to buy a bad driver from a legitimate company today (I’m including compnent companies like SMT and Krank and Golfsmith in that statement and excluding knock-offs and, of corse, counterfeit clubs).


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