According to our consumer survey data, Sub 70 is the No. 1 direct-to-consumer golf equipment brand. The model isn’t unique: cut out the middle-man and pass the savings along to the consumer. But, as with any model, it comes down to execution. And it’s difficult to point out any real flaws in how Sub 70 has established itself as the leader in this segment of the market.
That context is important, in part, because it sets a level of expectation. What Sub 70 delivers is an appealing combination of performance, value and customer service. And if past is prologue, I expect Sub 70 to augment its line by updating several existing models and strategically adding pieces geared toward lower-handicap golfers.
That said, let’s recap the two most recent Sub 70 metalwood offerings as both give us a good idea as to what we might expect from Sub 70 in 2022.
849 Series Drivers
Sub 70 now has two 849 series driver models: 849D and 849 Pro.
Modern driver construction is all about light base materials and strategically placed heavier ones. To clarify: wherever feasible, manufactures employ titanium (generally face and body) and plenty of carbon (crown and sole). And, yes, sometimes the face.
These materials free up discretionary weight that designers shift around to alter the center of gravity (CG) which impacts shot characteristics such as trajectory, spin and shot shape.
To that end, the 849D employs a standard 6-4 titanium body alongside a Beta-rich titanium face and carbon composite crown.
Moreover, the 849D is a game-improvement model that targets mid- to high-handicap golfers. And, as we’ve come to expect in golf parlance, the D stands for “draw.” Draw-biased drivers tend to have three common characteristics: a square or slightly closed face, upright lie angles and draw-biased weighting. Sub 70 849D checks all three boxes.
Looking at the sole, you’ll notice three separate weight ports: one on the rear and one in the heel and the toe. The default arrangement is 12 grams in the rear and three grams each in the heel and toe. Quick math tells us that’s 18 grams of moveable weight in the sole. With that, both 849 series drivers utilize an adjustable hosel (+/- 2°) which allows the golfer to change loft, lie and face-angle—just not independently. The point is, even though the Sub 70 849D is designed with the intention of draw bias, golfers have plenty of options to tweak ball flight.
Sub 70 849 Pro
The Sub 70 849 Pro favors workability over forgiveness for the golfer who is looking for a more compact footprint and lower trajectory with less spin. That’s another way of saying that if the 849D is built for the masses, the 849 Pro is a nod to the typical requests of better players.
It’s only 10 cc smaller (450 cc) than the 849D but the shaping and slightly open face angle at address are clear indicators that Sub 70 went with a “less is more” approach this time around.
Beyond that, the two models share a good bit of DNA. The material foundation (titanium body, beta titanium face, carbon crown) is the same. As are the locations of the three (12 gram rear, three gram heel and toe) weight ports.
In essence, it’s two versions of the same blueprint with slightly modifications to total volume, face angle and lie angle. However, given the adjustable hosel with 12 settings, golfers have plenty of latitude to moderate launch, trajectory and shot shape.
Sub 70 949x Fairway
The Sub 70 949x fairway replaces the outgoing 939x fairway wood which performed reasonably well in our 2019 Most Wanted fairway wood testing. Regarding the 939x, it produced above-average ball speed with high marks for carry distance consistency. The only knock on the 939x is that it didn’t rate highly in the looks department. Sub 70 believes the updated 949x will maintain performance while offering golfers more meaningful adjustability with better sound and feel.
At less than $200, the Sub 70 949x fairway offers a robust slate of modern technology and materials. The 455-carpenter steel cupped face produces “the hottest ball speeds possible off the face” according to Sub 70. Perhaps a bit audacious but I wouldn’t be surprised if the 949x matches or exceeds some ball speed numbers from higher-priced competitors in 2022 Most Wanted testing. TBD on all of that.
A carbon composite crown frees up weight that Sub 70 uses to help shift the CG location lower and toward the rear of the head. All things being equal, this promotes higher launch with less spin. For many golfers, that’s the recipe for additional distance.
Two weight ports (rear and heel) allow golfers to select either higher launch and more forgiveness (12-gram rear/six-gram heel) or a moderate draw bias (12-gram heel, six-gram rear). As with the 849 series drivers, the adjustable hosel provides a range of loft (+/- 2°), lie and face angle settings.
Some critics decry Sub 70 designs as too basic. But simple isn’t the enemy of substance. As our testing indicates, Sub 70 isn’t just a lower-priced alternative to the major brands. It manages to punch above its weight class and, in many cases, outperform more expensive competitors.
That said, it’s fair to point out that a limitation of the DTC model is that frequently steps in the R&D process are outsourced. Third-party vendors don’t have the R&D budgets of major manufacturers and, as a result, DTC equipment may lack cutting-edge materials or production processes. On some level, this only matters in so far as it impacts performance.
But driver technology (and, to a lesser degree, fairway woods and hybrids) are the arms race of the golf equipment industry. Major manufacturers spend tens of millions of dollars on fractional improvements. It costs a lot to push the very edges of the envelope and DTC brands don’t have this depth of resources to dedicate. However, this is one of the reasons Sub 70 can offer equipment at a fraction of the price of mainline brands.
With that, it’s reasonable to think that Sub 70 specifically, and the DTC model in general, is best suited to compete with industry stalwarts when the benefits of certain technologies aren’t quite as pronounced.
As always, tell us what you think.
Pricing and Availability
Standard pricing is $329 for 849 series drivers and $189 for 949x fairway woods.
To check inventory status and available stock shaft and grip options, visit Sub70.com.