Once upon a time, equipment companies used the annual PGA Show in late January as a stage to release heretofore unseen product.
Though that’s no longer the case (one might even make the audacious argument media embargoes have become more bark and less bite), the first month of the year is still chock full of new product introductions. It’s three solid weeks of release insanity.
Like several other brands, Tour Edge’s 2020 line of metalwoods – EXS 220 – targets the opportunity gap (products priced above bottom-dollar box sets but below the market rate set by major OEMs such as TaylorMade, Titleist, PING, and Callaway).
Tour Edge has historically offered equipment specific to this demographic though it’s typically relied upon the slightly scaled back Hot Launch line to do so. With the EXS 220 release, Tour Edge is promoting a belief that golfers can have access to top-shelf construction and materials at price points major OEMs have abandoned.
Eliminating some of the peripheral noise and marketing speak, metalwood tech stories are fundamentally centered around MOI, CG location, aerodynamics, and face technology.
CG (center of gravity) and MOI (forgiveness) are competing factors as a more forward CG location is useful for reducing spin, but limits forgiveness. The converse is equally true. As such, a good bit of club design looks to push the CG as low/rearward as possible, which is achieved by creating discretionary weight, primarily through the use of lighter materials (think using carbon instead of titanium or titanium in place of steel).
The current challenge engineers encounter with face designs isn’t maximizing CT in a single “sweet spot” (that was achieved some years ago), but instead getting consistently high ball speed numbers across as large an area as possible.
Enhanced aerodynamics tend to benefit higher swing speed players disproportionately – and because every element of a design comes at a cost, it isn’t generally as much of a focal point for OEMs looking to keep prices comfortably below market norms.
EXS 220 DRIVER
Throughout the EXS 220 line, Tour Edge incorporates Diamond Face technology, its version of variable-face-thickness. Tour Edge states that the 42 “diamond shapes” function as “mini-trampolines” and work in concert with the shallower, high-grade 8-1-1 titanium face to create consistently fast ball speeds (even on off-center hits) and reduced spin. The precise location and depth of each diamond shape is the result of information gathered from Tour Edge’s impact simulation software.
The elongated footprint (and adjustable 9-gram back weight) helps to produce a stock heel-toe MOI number 20% greater than the previous EXS driver. While we’ll have to wait for our 2020 Driver CG/MOI report to confirm, Tour Edge puts the specific number at 5440, which would place it among the higher MOI (i.e., most forgiving) drivers on the market.
To reposition more weight low/rear in the clubhead, Tour Edge utilizes Triple Carbon Fiber technology (specifically on the crown and heel/toe areas of the sole), which frees up more weight than the Dual Carbon Technology found in the previous EXS driver.
Using concepts borrowed from acoustically-designed venues (concert halls, recording studios), Tour Edge uses a Sound Diffusion Bar to achieve its desired sound/feel.
The EXS 220 driver is available in three lofts – 9.5°, 10.5°(RH and LH), and 12°. An adjustable hosel allows for loft adjustments of +/- 2°.
The suggested retail price for the EXS 220 Driver is $349.99.
EXS 220 Fairway
As with the EXS 220 driver, Tour Edge went with a high-launch/low-spin design for the 220 fairway to help golfers achieve more optimal launch conditions in an effort to maximize distance.
The EXS 220 fairway metals carry over Diamond Face technology, which works to help retain ball speed on off-center strikes. Additionally, a new Hyper-Steel face construction (14% lighter than the previous EXS fairway metal) and dual carbon fiber sections on the heel and toe create a fair amount of discretionary weight which is repositioned low/rear in the clubhead.
Some of this saved weight is used to create the fixed 6-gram weight in the sole while additional weights (3, 9, 11, and 14 grams) are available to allow players to dial in preferred swing weights.
With a more favorable CG location and restructured architecture, Tour Edge asserts the 220 fairway to be “impressively longer” and more forgiving than it’s predecessor.
Again, trust but verify.
Because players use fairway woods off the tee and a variety of other on-course situations, Tour Edge employs a SlipStream Sole, this time with wider speed channels to allow for more efficient (e.g., less speed loss) turf interaction. As with the driver, the 220 fairway is acoustically tuned via an internal Sound-Diffusion bar.
The EXS 220 fairway metal line does not feature an adjustable hosel and comes in five lofts – 13.5°, 15°, 16.5°, 18°, and 21°. Only the 15-degree model will be available in left-handed. Canada weeps.
The suggested retail price for the EXS 220 Fairway is $249.99.
EXS 220 Hybrid
The objective with the EXS 220 hybrid is to “bring the power of a fairway metal to a hybrid design.” Tour Edge’s take on the Super Hybrid starts with a lighter 450-Hyper Steel/360-degree Cup Face construction. At face value, it sounds like a winning idea.
Functionally it should give golfers another option in long-iron/hybrid/higher-lofted fairway metal space in the bag.
Maintaining technological continuity, the EXS 220 hybrid features the same Diamond Face technology and Sound Bar as the fairway and driver. It also utilizes the SlipStream sole to engage the turf and lower the leading edge, promoting more solid contact.
Where the EXS 220 hybrid differs a bit from the driver and fairway is in the CG location and overall footprint. On the size spectrum, the 220 hybrid is closer to a fairway wood than a driving-iron. An adjustable 4-gram back weight helps to boost MOI/forgiveness. While the footprint is a little deeper face to back, the CG is also slightly raised as a result of the heel and toe indents located on the sole of the club.
The purpose of this CG location is to reduce spin, and all things being equal, offer a more penetrating trajectory.
The EXS 220 Hybrid comes in a #2 (17°), #3 (19°), #4 (22°), #5 (25°), and #6 (28°) models.
The suggested retail price for the EXS 220 Hybrid is $199.99.
SpeedTested Shaft System
You likely noticed we didn’t include information on stock shafts. That’s because Tour Edge has taken a different approach with the EXS 220 series using an in-house swing robot to help determine optimal shafts for each club.
“This new way of looking at how to pair custom shafts is unique to the industry,” said David Glod, founder of Tour Edge. “We have invested heavily in R&D, and one of the first things we did with our new in-house swing robot was to test at different speeds. This has led us to do a bit of pre-custom shaft fitting for anyone buying EXS 220.”
To be clear, Tour Edge states that its robotic findings were confirmed by player testing. While it isn’t reasonable to suggest there’s a single shaft which best fits every golfer, it is at the very least a point of differentiation which could have some positive benefits for the target clientele.
EXS 220 Driver and Fairway SpeedTested Stock Shafts
- 85 MPH or Below Fujikura Air Speeder: Ladies (R3) | Senior (R2) | Regular (R)
- 85-95 MPH Fujikura Ventus 4T Core: 5-Regular | 6-Stiff
- 95 MPH or Above Project X HZRDUS Smoke Yellow: 6.0 Stiff | 6.5 X-Stiff
EXS 220 Hybrid SpeedTested Stock Shafts
- 85 MPH or Below KBS TGI Tour Graphite: 50g Ladies | 60g A-Flex
- 85-95 MPH KBS TGI Tour Graphite: 70g Regular | 80g Stiff
- 95 MPH or Above Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black: 6.0 Stiff | 6.5 X-Stiff
The reality is most golfers walking into a big box retail store are going to gravitate toward so-called big-name brands – at least initially. The challenge for Tour Edge and others is to become the third or fourth club in the conversation and then win its fair share of battles from that point.
Glod’s hope is a simple one – “Our goal is to make anyone who hits these side by side to clubs that cost twice as much to question why they would ever think about spending the extra money.”
Good question. What do you think?
For more information, visit TourEdge.com.