Steve Pelisek, general manager of Titleist Golf Clubs, speaks to our man Craig Dennett about the new 915 range.
There are four basic technologies that feature throughout the 915 range, can you talk us through them and what they bring to the performance?
915 drivers fairways and hybrids all incorporate four key technologies and the first one we call the Active Recoil Channel (ARC). What ARC does is 2 very important things. It reduces spin, the spin on the golf ball coming off the face, and it increases speed, and for virtually every golfer on earth, lower spin and more speed equals more distance.
The second technology is the Radial Speed Face, it’s very thin in fairways and hybrids, and in the edges of the driver, too, but in the centre we’ve thickened it in the centre because otherwise it would be too fast and non-conforming.
The third important design feature of technology is something very important to us. We wanted to achieve lower spin and higher speeds, but not at the expense of forgiveness, thus the tagline. We believe that you can have low spin and high speed without having to compromise or sacrifice MOI. That was a very hard thing to do. One of the reasons we’ve been working on this product for five years was how to incorporate ARC and the face and not suffer a loss in MOI, but we’ve managed it through some very sophisticated improvements in weight distribution, keeping ball speeds high across the face. Generally the penalty paid for a low MOI product, is that you lose ball speed when you hit it. With a high MOI product you maintain pretty much 99% of ball speed across the entire hitting area. which in effect means more distance more often.
The final technology is one that’s been on our metalwoods since 910, our SureFit hosel system, which we think is the best out there because you can independently adjust lie and loft.
Why do you feel adjustability has become a major factor for the consumer to understand?
It’s just a sign of the sophistication of the design and the requirements to continue to make products better. We work on Titleist on roughly a two-year cycle, we try to introduce a new driver every two years. It takes us that long to make a product that’s genuinely better than its predecessor. We’ve got a lot of engineers back there working really hard in a world that basically has limits on it, to conform to the rules of golf. Conforming to the rules of golf is nothing new to us, so we work very very hard to continue to improve what we already have.
In the case of drivers it’s a fun one, because we all have this inherent desire to swing at a new driver, and gaining more distance, more often, is a pretty sophisticated process and we have to delve into launch conditions, angles, spin rates, ball speeds and MOI. We’ve been doing that for years as one of the pioneers of launch monitor technology back in the ‘70’s, which we called the portable launch monitor but was nothing of the sort, you go back through the history of the Titleist brand and you’ll see we’ve always been the one to take to the golfer to explain new technology and how it can help them play better golf and shoot lower scores.
Do you feel like that message is getting through to golfers?
Absolutely. For a couple of reasons. One, we generally tend to appeal to the better player. Our equipment is premium, it’s high performance, it’s not just for better players but it is for players who take their game seriously. They take lessons, they practice, they’re willing to invest in the latest clubs. We believe the more educated the consumer, the more they’re going to appreciate the craftsmanship of the consumer.
You’ve got two drivers in the 915, as you did in 913, with D2 and D3, which type of golfer does each one suit?
D2 and D3 are the two drivers we’re bringing to market. The differences are what we think they should be. D2 is a full 460cc profile, D3 is a little smaller, 440, and it’s lower profile. That is something that appeals to a lot of players from a performance standpoint. D3 is going to be a lower spinning, lower trajectory driver than D2, that appeals to some players. D2 is a little larger, with a deeper CG, it’ll actually have a slight right to left preference on ball flight. We try to make sure we offer the golfer and our fitters performance options that will allow them to pick the one that suits the golfer best.
Distance was key message, why do you think distance is so big with drivers compared to accuracy?
We call these distance without compromise, we believe in an overall balanced design, because when you ask serious golfers exactly what they want from a driver, the answer is really a combination of a number of things that rolls into confidence. A golfer wants to stand on the tee confident that they have a driver that is fitted for them, a driver they can hit far, a driver that has no penalty in terms of accuracy. They’re all in there, it’s just that in this case, the primary benefit from where we’ve been is distance. They’re very high MOI designs, though, in terms of their forgiveness, they’re amongst the most forgiving in the game. The technologies that are unique to 915 this time are distance-generating technologies.
What are the different challenges you face?
There are a lot of different challenges when it comes to designing driver, fairway woods and hybrids and it normally comes down to the use of the club. In the case of FW you do want low spin because spin is one of things that robs a fairway wood of distance. When it comes to hybrids you do want low spin for distance but you can’t be so low spin that the golf ball won’t stop when it lands on the green, so the priorities shift, and as you shift from driver to fairway to hybrids, you still want distance, but you really need distance control as the purpose of the club changes from purely a distance machine to a distance and accuracy machine. So all of these things play into how we prioritise the technologies and how they play into the designs.
The head size in 915F and 915 F.d have switched from how they were in the 913 family, why is that?
In the 913, F.d was the larger of the two models and that was because of the performance characteristics we were trying to design into the product worked better. F. d was really a driving fairway wood, it caused a little bit of confusion in the marketplace because golfers would see the larger head and think that was the more forgiving of the two but we wanted to switch them. Now F is the larger with a slightly more boaring technology than the F.d and it probably fits a little bit more with golfer’s expectations.
Read more -> Titleist 915 metalwoods unveiled