Written By: Tony Covey

“New Active Recoil Channel™, Radial Speed Face and High-MOI Design Deliver Lower Spin and Higher Speed with Exceptional Forgiveness”

Well, I suppose it’s fair to say that Titleist has nailed the requisite buzzwords for any new driver release.

  • It’s got new technology (Active Recoil Channel)
  • It has a Radial Speed Face (why have a face at all if it’s not speedy)
  • It has a precise high-MOI design
“The new 915 drivers are a game-changer for us. We’ve increased speed and lowered spin without sacrificing MOI or forgiveness – and we’re the first to get that combination right.” – Dan Stone, Vice President of Research and Development, Titleist Golf Clubs

The FIRST to get it RIGHT. That’s trash talk, boys…by Titleist standards anyway.

We’re basically one precise alignment graphic away from BINGO.

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Titleist Not Being Titleist

Reasonable observers would likely agree that Titleist is being much more aggressive about telling the story of its 915 product line. While I’d be shocked to see Titleist market anything to the extent of TaylorMade or Callaway, my read on this release is that Titleist both sees an opportunity in the market, and believes it has a unique and compelling product that can fill that need.

Also, it’s been 2 years since the 913, so a Titleist driver was going to happen anyway.

So what makes the 915 series special?

Let’s look at the things that Titleist believes are important to know about the 915 Series.

LOWER SPIN, HIGHER SPEED THROUGH NEW ACTIVE RECOIL CHANNEL

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Channels and slots in golf clubs are nothing new, right? Compression channel, Speed Slot, Speed Pocket, and probably a handful of others I missed are fairly well-known at this point.

Titleist is finally joining the party with the introduction of its Active Recoil Channel. Past incarnations of slot technology have essentially promised 2 things:

  • Faster ball speeds across the whole of the face
  • Specifically better performance from shots stuck below the center of the face

To an extent, Titleist is promising much the same. More flex = more speed = more distance.

But wait, there’s more!

The most intriguing thing about the Active Recoil Channel is that Titleist claims the design also helps to reduce spin. This reduction in spin, which as you’ll read in a bit, is achieved without the extreme forward CG placement found in TaylorMade’s SLDR. That would be compelling.

ARC’s spin reducing design is the primary reason why Titleist believes the 915 series is a game-changer. On the subject of ARC, Titleist says this:

“The Active Recoil Channel is a major technical leap in the area of spin reduction. In player testing, we’ve seen significant distance gains, up to 15 yards for players who need spin control”  – Dan Stone, Vice President of Research and Development, Titleist Golf Clubs

Yeah…that’s right. Titleist just made a yardage claim of it’s own.

And then it said this:

“We began incorporating Active Recoil Channel in the prototype phase about four years ago, but this kind of technology requires a lot of fine-tuning if you’re going to do something that’s different, as opposed to making a cosmetic or marketing change. By adding significant technology for speed and spin without sacrificing MOI, we think we’ve done something very special that nobody’s done to this point.” Dan Stone, Vice President of Research and Development, Titleist Golf Clubs

and then this:

“With the Active Recoil Channel, the ball is compressing in a different manner and doesn’t have the chance to gather as much rotational energy so it departs the club face with less spin. It also creates a greater recoil effect, which imparts more speed, particularly low on the face.”  – Dan Stone, Vice President of Research and Development, Titleist Golf Clubs

Like I said a few hundred words ago, with the 915 Driver Titleist has brought out a more aggressive, dare I say, slightly more modern approach to getting its message out.

It’s less matter-of-fact. It’s innovation focused and damned if it doesn’t have me genuinely excited about a new Titleist driver for the first time in a decade.

What else does Titleist want you to know about?

INCREASED BALL SPEED THROUGH RADIAL SPEED FACE

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Though the clever names may differ, like slots, nearly everyone in the driver business has some form of proprietary face technology.

So with that in mind, stop me if you’ve heard this part before.

The Radial Speed Face design features a variable thickness face insert. Basically, the center of the face is thicker but gets thinner as you move outward towards the perimeter.

In the case of the 915, the face is actually organically tapered as you move away from the center. That’s right…organically tapered.

The reality is this sort of design is basically commonplace. Faces are thicker in the middle primarily to pass COR tests, and then thinned to better maintain ball speed on off-center hits.

So what makes Titleist’s implementation any different, or more to the point, any better than anybody else’s?

According to Titleist, the real difference is that its Radial Speed Face works in conjunction with Active Recoil Channel. ARC gives you the most benefit when you miss low on the face, while the Radial Speed Face insert gives you similar benefits on heel and toe strikes.

“ARC does an excellent job increasing ball speeds overall, however, its biggest effect happens low on the club face where the channel is positioned. As you move off center and mishit heel or toe, that’s where the Radial Speed Face insert kicks in –you’re getting more flex in those areas which helps generate more speed.” – Dan Stone, Vice President of Research and Development, Titleist Golf Clubs

What some may find compelling is that this story…a combination of channel technology, and proprietary face technology will likely prove inarguably similar to what we’ll hear from Nike when they begin talking about the Vapor driver in earnest.

Whose better lives up to the billing? We’ll see, but I’m certain most will assume an advantage for Titleist.

HIGH MOI DESIGN FOR DISTANCE AND FORGIVENESS

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While it still surprises people when I tell them, the reality is that recent Titleist drivers have been among the most forgiving in the industry.

Seriously…that stuff about Titleist drivers being almost exclusively for better players…it’s mythology at its worst. If high MOI and forgiveness is at the top of your list, you definitely should be looking more closely at Titleist.

Seriously.

And really, as long as we’re talking about mythology, let’s clear up what the actual benefit of higher MOI is. Actually, let’s let Titleist do it, because I really couldn’t explain it much better myself.

“Many golfers understand high MOI as straightness or accuracy, but high MOI is truly about speed and distance. It’s about maintaining speed across the face for increased distance consistency. We’ve added great performance with the Active Recoil Channel and Radial Speed Face to lower spin and increase speed, and by having high MOI we don’t have to give any of it up. – Dan Stone, Vice President of Research and Development, Titleist Golf Clubs

The short of it is that bulge and roll are primarily responsible for bringing your ball back towards the fairway when you don’t quite hit it where you want to. MOI is about maintaining ball speed (and consequently distance), on those same less than perfect strikes.

Got that?

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As I’m sure you’re well aware, plenty of golf companies produce high-MOI drivers. On numbers alone, you’re not going to do much better than PING’s G30.

What makes the design of the 915 driver interesting is that Titleist is claiming to have found the perfect balance between CG position and MOI.

If we look at what Titleist is saying through Goldilocks’ real-world eyes it goes something like this:

  • The TaylorMade SLDR CG is too forward and MOI is too low.
  • The PING G30 CG is too rearward (actually, probably too far off the neutral axis) and MOI is higher than it needs to be.
  • The Titleist 915 CG position and MOI is just right.

The point is that everybody in the industry has their own version of the ideal CG and MOI story. If you want to draw a comparison with someone else in the industry; the Titleist story isn’t much different than the Cobra story.

Low is good, but because of differences between theoretical ideals and what’s practically possible right now, it’s important to not push too far forward, or too far rearward. It’s all about finding the right balance.

What is worth reporting is how Titleist was actually able to prevent the CG from moving to a place it would like consider too far forward.

The Active Response Channel adds mass close to the face, which would, by itself, move mass low and forward. TaylorMade says this is good. Titleist says not so much.

“It’s easier to move your center of gravity low and forward, but if you choose to go low and back to preserve MOI it’s more of a challenge. Low and forward reduces spin, but what you give up by going forward is forgiveness and MOI, so there are some tradeoffs. There is a significant distance potential in terms of the consistency of our products versus competitive low-spin products.” Dan Stone, Vice President of Research and Development, Titleist Golf Clubs

To offset the undesirable consequences as far as CG placement is concerned, Titleist moved from a 6-4 titanium to a 8-1-1 material for the crown of the 915 Driver. That change allowed Titleist to thin the crown to .5mm (the lowest in the industry), and further save weight by tapering the top line and leading edge, and adding thin pockets in low stress areas near the front of head.

That latter bit isn’t wholly dissimilar from TaylorMade’s thick-thin or Cobra’s CELL crown technologies, but the ultimate result is that the efforts freed up discretionary weight which Titleist was then able to reposition farther back in the head in order to achieve the more desirable CG location.

Whether or not Titleist is actually the first to get CG positioning absolutely right is a question that can only be solved through performance testing.

INDUSTRY-LEADING ADJUSTABILITY WITH SUREFIT TOUR HOSEL

Industry-leading?

I suppose that’s a matter of perspective. Sure Fit does some things well (adjusting lie angle is pretty sweet), but the system is also unnecessarily complex. Yes, I know it comes with a manual, but should a golf club really require a manual?

Shouldn’t grip here, swing basically cover it?

Arguably Titleist’s system is the least intuitive adjustability system on the planet today, and while intuitiveness and effectiveness are two different animals; if the system is too complex for the average golfer (he never messes with it), then actual effectiveness is inconsequential.

I would have liked to see Titleist do a bit more to evolve the system than just tidying up the paint.

While I don’t have any concrete facts to support what I’m about to say, the counter to my own argument is that it’s likely that a higher percentage of Titleist drivers are custom fit compared with the industry leaders in total sales.

I’d also assume that the average Titleist customer is at least more likely to be invested enough to take the time to dabble with the adjustability than the average off-the-rack guy. The system isn’t without advantages, but there’s room for improvement. #TheresAlwaysBetter.

For those who work with a fitter, or know how a computer works, a range of SureFit Tour weights are available to help you achieve your desired swing weight with most any shaft.

TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE

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As is the Titleist way dating back several releases, the 915 Driver will initially be available in two distinct models.

The 915D2 is a 460cc with what Titleist calls a full pear profile for maximum forgiveness. Loft to loft, the D2 should produce a higher peak trajectory with an additional 250 RPM of spin compared to the D3.

The workable and forgiving 915D3 is a 440cc head with slightly elongated design to help achieve the desired MOI and CG position. Noteably, the face is 3mm deeper than the previous generation, and the D3 offers a slight draw bias due to what Titleist calls a dynamic face closure.

PRICING, SPECS, AND, AVAILABILITY

915D2 is available in 7.5º, 8.5º, 9.5º, 10.5º and 12º lofts. 915D3 is available in 7.5º, 8.5º, 9.5º, and 10.5º. (7.5º lofts are RH only.)

The stock lineup includes the Aldila Rogue Black 70 (mid-launch) and Aldila Rogue Silver 60 (lower-mid launch); and the Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70 (low launch), Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Blue 60 (mid launch), and Mitsubishi Diamana D+ Red 50 (high launch).

In addition, Titleist offers an industry-leading (Titleist’s words, not mine) number of custom shaft choices.

The new 915D2 and 915D3 drivers will be available in golf shops worldwide beginning Nov. 14 with an MAP of $449 (MSRP $499)

File that last bit under I TOLD YOU SO.

For those not paying close attention, Titleist has just raised the price of its drivers by $50. Look for several manufacturers to do the same over the next season or two.

The increase not only helps to offset higher production costs, it also puts more money into the retailer’s pocket (though actual retail margin percentages are unchanged from previous years).

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Have Your Say

You tell me, are you excited by this Titleist announcement, or is this just more of the same?