Published on July 11th, 2013 | by John Fritz0
Preview: Callaway FT Optiforce Drivers
Where would we be without midseason product launches? For every golfer gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair over the rapid obsolescence of that shiny new driver they bought a month ago, is there some desperate soul who has just been giving a strand of hope to cling to for the rest of the season? Is there such a thing as a gotta-have-it club when The Masters, the U.S. Open and the Fourth of July have all come and gone?
In the past few days we’ve learned about new drivers in the works from both Callaway and TaylorMade, both of which will hit the market within a couple weeks. These will be the third new drivers of the season for each company (or the fourth for TaylorMade, if you consider a new paint job to be a totally new driver). What gives? Are these guys just trying to wring one last revenue spike out of the season? Or are these new drivers an honest attempt to diversify product offerings to reach a wider range of skill levels?
Probably both. It’s not exactly unheard of to have three drivers: PING, not known for rushing products to market, currently has three production drivers for sale, and hasn’t taken much heat for it at all, since the Anser driver really did offer some unique technology, namely, PING’s first-ever driver with adjustable loft capability. We can’t speak to where the TaylorMade SLDR driver will fall into the current lineup, but Callaway’s FT Optiforce driver seems to fill the “super lightweight” niche that they must feel they’re missing out on.
The idea behind it is that a lighter club will result in faster swing speeds and, ultimately, more distance off the tee, because as Callaway would be quick to tell you, “Fast is Longer than Slow.” Thus, the FT Optiforce has been equipped with a lighter clubhead, grip, and a crazy-light 43-gram stock shaft, the Project X Velocity. Add in a +/- 1-degree loft sleeve, Draw or Neutral clubhead bias options, and two head sizes — 440cc or 460cc — and you should have something for everybody here. That is the hype coming from Callaway, anyway.
What’s the downside? Well, for very consistent ball-strikers, there might not be one. However, a consistent complaint about other super-lightweight drivers is that it’s very hard to “feel” where the clubhead is during the swing, resulting in more shots that don’t hit the sweet spot, pretty much negating the distance benefits of swinging the club faster. With a 46-inch shaft and a swingweight of D0 for the 460cc head (D2 for the 440), the FT Optiforce driver isn’t going to solve that problem for you. There is also a heavier, 64-gram Diamana Blue shaft to choose from, too, but now you’ve compromised the benefits of a lighter club… another example of every performance gain coming with a trade-off in today’s game.
Check back for a full review of the Callaway FT Optiforce drivers once they officially drop.