At the beginning of 2022 TaylorMade rocked the golf equipment world with the unveiling of its new Stealth ‘Carbonwoods.’
Over two decades in the making, the Stealth’s new and unique 60X Carbon Twist Face has been comprised of 60 layers of carbon sheets strategically arranged to optimise energy transfer and to bring you the future of driver performance.
We decided to catch up with one of the brains behindthe Stealth drivers, Tomo Bystedt, senior director of product creation at TaylorMade, to find out more about how they were able to bring this incredible face technology to life.
When did you realise there were performance benefits to be had in a carbon driver face?
"It was about a 20-year period from initial concept to end product for our 60X Carbon Twist Face. There were certainly times during that two-decade long period where it looked very promising, and times when it didn’t look so clear. It was probably in 2018 that we really felt like we were onto something.
"That's when we felt we had all the pieces in place to make the technology work, to be able to manufacture it and gain all of the performance out of it that we needed to beat titanium.
"From 2018 onward we knew we could dial the technology in, tweaking certain aspects of the design in order to surpass the performance of titanium faces."
What made bringing this technology to life such a challenge?
"Since the year 2000 we essentially had to build our own technology platform and continue to build on it without really having the option to turn to other industries or products for insights. Although we have expertise in carbon fibre at TaylorMade, and have a network of partners that we work with, no one was doing anything like this.
"So, part of the reason why it took 20 years is because we had to build everything from scratch. Yes, it was a challenge, but that's kind of the cool part about it. Everything that you see in Stealth drivers has been researched, developed and built by TaylorMade."
Did you have any concerns over the durability of a carbon face?
"It was just one of a number of concerns or problems that we had to find solutions to over the 20-year design process. Durability was obviously a huge one. You can’t launch a product that isn’t going to hold up, especially given how much golfers play and how hard people are swinging these days.
"One of the ways we like to ensure durability is through worst case testing scenarios. For example, putting the club in the freezer for two days, or leaving it in the back of a hot car all day, and then hitting very hard golf balls to ensure there are no issues with durability.
"We have put in more hours on testing durability with Stealth than any other product I've ever been a part of by probably a factor of two or three. That’s why we’re so confident of the durability of the face."
How much attention was paid to sound during the design process?
"We predicted that some golfers would have the perception that this driver would sound bad based on the history of carbon and the fact that it's different from the titanium sound they are used to. What is immediately noticeable, however, is the explosive, pleasing sound with every Stealth driver at impact.
"This doesn't happen by accident though. This is something that we have engineered into the club through our understanding of what parts of the club create the sound and the feel of the face."
What was the feedback like from the pros?
"We began to bring in some of our athletes in early June of 2021, which is a bit earlier than we would traditionally get new drivers in their hands. Given how different Stealth is to anything that’s come before, we wanted feedback from the likes of Fleetwood, Morikawa and McIlroy to ensure we had nailed the design. Almost every single one of our players hit their first shot and said something along the lines of ‘wow, this thing sounds fantastic.’
"We also had fewer objections than we expected on the look of the red face. In general, tour players are more conservative, more traditionalist and more set in their ways in terms of what they like than most golfers. It can be hard sometimes to shift them out of a product they love.
"Having said that, they’re also a pragmatic bunch. If it performs better, they're going to play it. We have already seen that with the numbers of players switching to Stealth."
What can everyday golfers expect from the new Stealth drivers?
"I think first and foremost they are going to be drawn in by the unique look of these drivers. They’re going to be desperate to try it for themselves. Then, after only a few shots the sound and feel is going to be one of the first things they’ll really connect with. How it launches, how it spins and the strong ball flight are also going to be very noticeable
"The real truth, however, is going to come when they have a launch monitor and can see numbers. Whether they’re testing against their old club or other clubs on the market, they can expect to see incredible ball speed numbers. Also, the consistency on off centre hits, which is so important for the average golfer, will be abundantly clear.
"The consistency, speed and accuracy of the Stealth drivers is thanks to so many different technologies that we put in the head, all working together to give you more distance and make your misses much better."