New Year, New Driver Technology

mizuno-st190-st190g-drivers
Mizuno ST190 and ST190G Drivers

Here’s a quintet of new drivers that will most likely send your ball further – only a few yards maybe…but further.

By Tony Dear

The layman is dumfounded, not to say totally clueless, as to how golf club manufacturers can possibly continue releasing $500 drivers every year. He wonders how they could make the loss they obviously make while remaining in business. The intermediate has some idea about business and golf, and supposes there’s a sufficient number of players updating their clubs each year for it to make sound financial sense. The clubmakers, meanwhile, are wading through piles of cash knowing the scent of distance and the sight of a fancy new driver with all the cool-kid graphics and space-age technology are more than enough to lure not only the golfers whose clubs probably do need renewing, but plenty of others whose gear is just fine and would remain so for another couple of years at least.

Regardless of how frustrated you get (or don’t get) by manufacturers seemingly coming out with new clubs every time you open a golf magazine or scan a web site, the fact is the economics of it all works out. Callaway, Titleist, and surely TaylorMade too, record net sales of a billion bucks a year, and Ping, Cobra, and Srixon’s bottom lines aren’t too shabby either.

Speed – of the clubhead and more recently that of the ball – has been the #1 buzzword for a couple of years with forgiveness, spin, center of gravity, control, feel, sound, adjustability, and aerodynamics, all making an appearance somewhere within the meticulously-prepared press releases that accompany club releases.

The TaylorMade M5 & M6, and Callaway’s Epic Flask and Epic Flash Sub Zero are currently making the most noise obviously, but while others may only be murmuring, they are certainly worth a look. Here’s a quintet of new drivers (nine models total) that will most likely send your ball further – only a few yards maybe…but further.

TaylorMade M5

A 460cc, multi-material club with a titanium and carbon-fiber chassis and carbon-fiber crown, the TaylorMade M5 replaces last year’s M3. In addition to the Twist Face that debuted in 2018, the face of the M5 is ‘speed-injected’. But here’s the thing about those ads with the race car, jet plane and space rocket sounds – the material injected int the heel and toe is actually there to slow the driver down a mite.

In 2003, the USGA and R&A set the COR (Coefficient of Restitution) limit of a driver at 0.83 which means a maximum of 83% of the energy created by the clubhead can be transferred to the ball at impact. TaylorMade made the faces of the M5 – just 1.82mm thick and backed by a Hammerhead slot designed to make the face flex more efficiently) a little too fast, and syringes inject exactly the right amount of urethane into the heel and toe to prevent them from exceeding the COR limit.

This combination ensures not only speed, says TaylorMade, but a 64% larger sweetspot than the M3. And the newly-designed T-Track enables the player to move the CG (Center of Gravity) in the head to create larger draws and fades than the M3 was capable of.

The Twist Face has been redesigned (high-toe opened slightly, low-heel closed) following extensive research, and the adjustable hosel allows golfers to change the club’s loft + or – two degrees.

$550 with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange shaft.
9°, 10.5°, and 12°
Available on Feb 1st

TaylorMade M6

There is much about the M5 that is common to the M6 (which replaces the M4). It too possesses a 460cc multi-material clubhead with heel/toe urethane injections, and the Hammerhead slot. There is the adjustable hosel that allows you to alter the club’s loft by two degrees. Where it differs from the M5 is on the all-carbon sole at the back of which is a 46g weight that lowers the CG, increases the club’s Moment of Inertia (MoI), and ensures a higher launch angle, making it ideal for mid-high handicappers looking for more forgiveness and stability.
$500 with Fujikura ATMOS Orange or Black shaft.
9°, 10.5°, and 12°
Available on Feb 1st

Callaway Epic Flash

Featuring the same Jailbreak Technology that made the original Epic such a popular driver, the new Epic Flash possesses a clubface designed by a computer model that virtually tested 15,000 driver faces rather than the half-dozen or so a human is typically able to test.

The resulting Flash face, which is forged and laser-welded onto the club chassis, has non-symmetric ridges and valleys on the inside with thick portions and very thin areas. Callaway says this generates more ball speed over more of the face than was created by its predecessor.

The lightweight carbon crown allows Callaway to place a 16g moveable weight in the sole which, in turn, allows golfers to create a draw or fade bias while the OptiFit adjustable hosel enables them to increase or decrease the loft by two degrees.

$530 with Project X EvenFlow Green, HZRDUS Smoke, or Mitsubishi Tensei Blue shafts.
9°, 10.5°, and 12°
Available on Feb 1st

Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero

The Sub Zero is shorter from front to back than the standard model, has a slightly deeper face, and possesses a 12-gram movable weight at the back as opposed to the 16g weight. In addition, a stationary two-gram weight nearer the front pushes the CG forward slightly giving a lower launch with less spin.
Both clubs come in standard green/yellow trim, but hundreds of other color combinations are offered on Callaway’s web site.

$530 with Project X EvenFlow Green, HZRDUS Smoke, or Mitsubishi Tensei Blue shafts.
9°, 10.5°
Available on Feb 1st

PXG 0811X GEN2

PXG’s new 460cc 0811X Gen 2 features a carbon crown and titanium body like the first generation 0811X, but unlike the original the new model features a reinforced front section inspired, says PXG, by American muscle cars. The new crown stiffens at impact redirecting energy into the ball rather than elsewhere in the clubhead. The result, says PXG, is greater consistency and ball speed.

Moveable chrome-colored tungsten screws and darker titanium screws at the back and front of the sole allow the golfer to manipulate the position of the CG, alter the launch angle and amount of spin, and effect a draw or fade.

PXG added a vibration-dampening elastomer with a honeycomb structure that lines the interior of the clubhead.

$575 with several custom shaft options.
9°, 10.5°, and 12°
Available on Jan 15th

PXG 0811XF GEN2

The 0811XF Gen 2 has five weight ports at the back of the sole and is designed with a draw bias. Because the weights are at the back, the club’s MoI increases and the launch angle is higher (5,900g/cm2). The interior vibration-dampening honeycomb is positioned toward the back of the club.

$575 with several shaft options.
9°, 10.5°, 12°, and 14°
Available on Jan 15th

Wilson Cortex

Deigned by Evan Hoffman, the Cortex won the second series of Golf Channel’s Driver vs Driver show last November. Like every driver featured here, it is made with both titanium and carbon which makes up 44% of the head’s surface area. A track system that allows the golfer to move an eight-gram weight forwards or backwards enables him/her to move the CG and effect launch angle and the amount of spin generated, while the positioning of triangular eight and two-gram weights in the heel and toe make it possible to affect a draw or fade bias.

With Wilson’s six-position Fast Fit hosel system, players can increase or decrease the stated loft in half-degree increments.

$500 with Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec shaft.
9°, 10.5°, and 12°
Available now.

Wilson_Cortex_Driver
Wilson Cortex Driver

Mizuno ST190

Another 460cc, multi-material club, the Mizuno ST190’s face is made of SP 700 Titanium which is a good deal stronger than the titanium used for most driver faces (10% stronger than 6-4 Titanium faces, says Mizuno). Its finer grain structure gives it better feel and enables it to snap back into place faster after impact increasing ball speed.

Small ridges and a channel running parallel to the leading edge create what Mizuno calls an Amplified Wave Sole that improves sound. The ST190 has a six-gram weight toward the back of the sole that boosts MoI, and which, the company says, favors a “more downward angle of attack”. The adjustable hosel allows you to adjust loft by + or – two degrees.

$400 with Fujikura ATMOS shaft
9.5° and 10.5°
Available on Feb 15th

Mizuno ST190G

The ST190G favors golfers with a more level attack on the ball, and features two tracks running front to back each with sliding, indeed movable, seven-gram weights. Adjusting the weights can affect spin-rate by as much as 200rpm, says Mizuno, and promote a draw or fade. Both the ST190 and ST190G have adjustable hosels.

$500 with Fujikura ATMOS shaft.
9° only
Available on Feb 15th

mizuno-st190-st190g-drivers
Mizuno ST190 and ST190G Drivers

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