It’s always something with Wilson drivers.
The D300 is a lightweight, low-spinning, top-half performer in MyGolfSpy’s 2017 Most Wanted testing, but Pitchfork Nation got its undies in an uproar at release last year over those little Micro Vortex Generators dotting the crown like a case of the shingles.
And let’s not get started on Triton – the polarizing winner of Wilson’s Driver Vs. Driver TV program. While there are plenty of folks who swear by it, Pitchfork Nation lost its mind over the sound, which took on a life of its own on social media, as well as that big old racing stripe on the crown. And let’s not forget the whole USGA non-conforming thing that stopped whatever momentum Triton had dead in its tracks. You can now pick one up for a song.
So what does Wilson do for an encore? How about a driver so red it could revive McCarthyism.
It would be easy to dismiss the new C300 metalwood line as a matte red gimmick. It would also be a mistake as the line represent Wilson Staff’s most compelling entries into the better player category in recent memory.
Rocking The Red
We’ve seen red drivers before: there's the Nike Covert, Callaway is offering a Red Epic, and Wilson’s last iconic driver may very well have been the Deep Red back in 2000.
As mentioned above, Wilson’s most recent drivers have been solid but not spectacular performers, and there always seems to be something about them. And Wilson simply hasn't been in the same distance conversation as your Callaways, TaylorMades, and others. Wilson’s hoping to change that narrative with the C300, and is all-in on Power Hole Technology as a means to get there.
“What do Power Holes do? They increase ball speed,” says Jon Pergande, Wilson’s Global Manager of Golf Innovation. “They increase face deflection and let the face move freely through impact and provide some forgiveness across the face.”
For OEM’s, hotter faces and larger sweet spots is a never-ending quest. Pergande says everyone has pretty much maxed out USGA limited hotness (CT for you tech-heads) in the center of the face; what's left is to extend that hotness heel and toe, where the misses are.
“We don’t need help in the center,” says Pergande. “We’re putting the Power Holes in the heel and toe to spread out that impact.”
The C300 driver features two Power Holes – Urethane-filled slots that separate the clubface from the club body - on the crown and two more in the sole. The idea is the same as with the new C300 irons – Power Holes allow the face to flex more over a larger area to increase ball speed, especially on off-center hits. The C300's are replacing Wilson’s 2-year old FG Tour F5 metalwood line, and Pergande says the upgrade is significant.
“Compared to F5 we’re seeing, depending on the player, 5- to 7-yard increases with a slightly lower spin rate, a slightly higher launch, and a higher ball speed."
“The big difference, however, comes in robot testing with the improved performance across the face. That’s the biggest difference between F5 and C300 – it’s the effect of Power Holes on performance when it comes to the heel or toe half of the face structure.” – Jon Pergande, Wilson Staff
A 5 to 7-yard increase over the FG Tour F5 - a bottom end performer in MyGolfSpy's 2017 Most Wanted Driver testing - would theoretically leapfrog the C300 to the top of the heap against the same competition. Are those claims legit? Well, you can fully expect the C300 to appear in 2018’s Most Wanted test
About That Redness
If you’re okay with Power Holes on the crown, we’ll need to discuss the other elephant in the room – the matte red head.
Remember TaylorMade’s whole “science of white” thing? You won’t catch Wilson claiming anything of the sort. Pergande says the primary purpose of red is simple – to catch your eye and make you reach for it.
“Once you grab it and set it down and take a look at the head shape, can you envision yourself hitting a ball with it?” asks Pergande. “Part of the red is to stand out on the shelf and look good. It also plays into our heritage.”
“For the first few hits, it’s still a new toy in your hands, and you’re looking at the head. What we’ve found is by the fourth or fifth hit, you get back to focusing on your swing and on the ball flight. The club is just a vehicle to hit the ball with and you’re focused on results – how far did you hit it? Are you in the fairway? Are you hitting it too high, too low or just right? The aesthetics of the club go away.” – Jon Pergande, Wilson Staff
Two late season rounds with the C300 metalwoods bear this out. Pardon the glibness, but once the club is in motion, it's damn near impossible to see what color it is, or to notice Power Holes.
Both the Triton and the F5 had sounds that were, to be kind, distinctive. I wouldn’t categorize either as overly loud, but the sound was so different that many golfers couldn’t get past it. Wilson has done a good job of controlling the sound in the C300 – it has a much more solid, muted sound and feel to it, and the overall effect is quite pleasing.
Facts and Figures
The C300 driver is available in three lofts – 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees (only the 10.5 model is available for lefties) – and features a new aluminum hosel adapter called Fast Fit 3.0, which combines the adapter and ferrule into a single piece for better durability. Loft can be adjusted one degree down or two degrees up in ½ degree increments. Lofting down will open the face angle in ½ degree increments while lofting up will close the face angle the same amount.
Wilson offers old-school adjustable weights – no sliders, just simple screw-in weights in the heel, toe, and rear. The stock setup is two 6-gram weights in the heel and toe, and a 2-gram weight in the rear. Moving the lighter weight to the heel or toe provides either a draw or fade bias.
The stock shaft for the C300 driver is a Fujikura Speeder Pro 58. Given MyGolfSpy’s recent piece on OEM metalwood shafts, it’s important to point out that this particular shaft is not available from Fujikura on the aftermarket.
“It’s a Speeder Pro variant,” says Pergande. “There are a lot of Speeder Pro variants out there, but it’s part of the same family – mid launch and mid spin, perfect for the C300 player.”
A new Wilson-branded Lamkin Crossline is the stock grip. The C300 driver retails for $399.99 and is available for pre-order today on the Wilson Golf website. It’s due in stores early January.
The Secret Weapons
Internally, Wilson is calling the C300 fairway metal its “secret weapon,” and you could easily include the hybrid in that weaponry, as well. It’s only been a couple of rounds, but both pack plenty of Power Hole-fueled pop.
“We have Power Holes across the entire sole and up on the toe, as well as on the crown,” says Pergande, “because we haven’t fully realized the potential of fairway wood and hybrid faces, given the size of the faces we have.”
It’s fairly easy to pick up ball speed and face deflection simply by having a larger face, but that's a challenge with smaller faced clubs like fairways and hybrids. The C300 fairways and hybrids both use a Carpenter Custom 455 stainless steel face that’s both thin and strong – nearly 50% stronger than 17-4 stainless steel, which allows for a 20% thinner face. That thinner face also saves about 5 grams, which gets moved around for forgiveness and optimal ball flight.
On-course testing of both the hybrid and fairway has been limited, but those results show both to be long enough and plenty easy to launch, with the hybrid, in particular, providing at least two “what the hell was that?” shots – one of which wound up in the far end of a fairway bunker considered unreachable with a 23 degree.
The C300 fairway metals are available in 13.5°, 15°, and 18° models (15° and 18° only for lefties) with Fast Fit 3.0 hosel adapters adjustable 1 degree down and two degrees up, again in ½ degree increments. The fairways also have three moveable, screw-in sole weights: two 2-gram weights and one 12-gram weight, with the stock neutral setup featuring the 12-gram weight in the back.
The Fujikura Speeder Pro 68 shaft and Wilson-branded Lamkin Crossline grip are stock. Retail is $219.99.
The C300 hybrids are available in 17°, 20° and 23° lofts (20° and 23° only for lefties) and also use a 1-piece Fast Fit adapter. The hybrids are adjustable one degree up or down in loft in standard lie, as well as one degree up or down in loft with a 2° upright lie. There are two moveable sole weights, one 2-gram and one 12-gram, with the stock setup featuring the 12-gram weight in the toe.
A Fujikura Speeder Pro 79 shaft and Wilson-branded Lamkin Crossline grip are stock. Retail for the hybrid is $209.99.
Both are available for pre-sale today on Wilson Golf’s website. They’ll be in stores in early January.