Written By: Tony Covey
My god, what an absolutely fantastic year for drivers 2013 has been. Seriously. The spring crop, which included TaylorMade’s R1 and RBZ 2, Callaway’s XHot and RAZR Fit Extreme, as well as outstanding offerings from PING, Titleist, and Nike, barely scratched the surface of the whole of what would become available. Toss in Optiforce and SLDR and for guys who needed new drivers, or just wanted new drivers, it has been a phenomenal season.
Yeah, that’s great for the big guys, but what about the smaller companies? Hireko’s Acer XS proved to be deadly accurate. Krank’s Forumla 5 is one bad mother…(shut yo’ mouth), and then, or rather…and now there’s the Fister Model I.
The who? Model what? Seriously.
Apparently because the driver market is not already over-crowded, Three-time World Long Drive Champion, Sean Fister decided to design the Model I driver. Now I know what you’re thinking (because I was thinking it too); how does being able to hit a golf ball really far qualify one to actually design a driver?
I won a closest to the pin contest once, maybe I should start designing irons (or at least 7 irons). Don’t we have actual engineers for this sort of thing?
The last time a noted long drive guy designed a driver we ended up with The Hammer. Pow!
As it turns out, back in his competitive days, Fister spent a lot of time with Dunlop the engineers that designed the clubs he played. Over time he became more involved in the design process, so it’s not like he doesn’t have some experience in the field. Besides, I don’t much care if you’re an aerospace engineer, rodeo clown, or former long drive champion. If your designs perform, I’m good with it.
The Marketing Angle
While just about everybody’s marketing sounds the same these days, there are a few things about the Fister Model I that are worth mentioning.
The body and the crown are forged from SP700 Titanium. We get can get the metallurgists in here to argue about which titanium is the best titanium. Fister claims that forging the crown allows it to be thicker where it needs to provide support, and lighter in other areas to save weight.
The body and face feature tongue-and-groove construction for a more consistent shape.
A weight port screw helps optimize the center of gravity, MOI, and presumably swingweight as well.
The most compelling feature is what Fister calls an “Accordian Compression Channel“. The channel, which I suppose isn’t wholly dissimilar from Nike’s compression channel, or Adams/TaylorMade Speedslot redistributes impact force away from the face. The result, according to Fister, is increased ball speed with reduced spin.
The Fister Model was is available in lofts of 9.0° and 10.5°. While it’s not adjustable in the modern sense, the Model I has been designed with adjustability in mind. The hosel is designed to allow for easy bending of up to 1° in any direction.
Finally, Fister offers 3 stock shaft selections from Fujikura; the Motore F1 (low launch/spin), Motore F3 (higer launch), and FUEL (mid launch and spin). Unlike many offerings from larger companies, Fister’s stock shafts are absolutely the real deal with real Fujikura graphics. No watered-down, co-branded, nonsense here.
We could talk about looks and sound and feel all day long (but we won’t). We can read and quote the Fister golf website as well as the next guy too, but all that’s worth knowing is whether or not Fister’s Model I can hunt with the big dogs, or if it belongs on the K-Mart bargain rack . To find out we put the Fister Model I to the test using the same formulas we used when we conducted our Most Wanted Driver Test earlier this year.
How did the Fister Model I Perform? Lets find out.
Comparing the numbers between slower swing speed players and higher swing speed players you’d think we were looking at two different drivers. The sub-100 MPH swing speed crowd didn’t launch the ball any higher or lower (in terms of general averages) than anything else we’ve tested this season, however; the slower swinging guys struggled to produce enough spin to keep the ball in the air. As you would expect, distance suffered as a result.
Low spin can be a great thing, but there are most certainly golfers who actually need more spin. Me…I love low spin…the lower the better. That’s great for me, but it’s most certainly not the ideal for everyone.
Simply put, for our slower swing speed players, the Fister Model I is not a good fit.
For higher swing speed players…well, as I said, it’s a totally different story. For those guys, launch angle was slightly down (significantly so for one tester), and spin numbers were also among the lowest ever produced by the majority of our high swing speed players. Not surprisingly given the way the numbers came together, ball speeds (again, for our +100 MPH swingers) were well above average compared to the other drivers we’ve tested this season.
When you couple those numbers with 150-160MPH ball speeds…yeah…it’s a really good thing.
Among all of our testers, it was our highest swing speed player who got the most benefit from the Fister Model I; averaging over 300 yards for the first time ever.
While the overall averages suggest a driver capable of providing average distance, this is a clear case of what in thoroughbred racing circles is known as a horse for the course.
Slower swing speed players, and guys who generally need more spin will almost certainly find more distance elsewhere. For higher ball speed players looking to cut spin, the Fister Model I is true to its creators nickname.
It’s a beast.
Looking purely at yards offline, and without respect to distance, the Fister Model I is the very definition of average. Unlike distance, we saw no discernible correlation between swing speed and accuracy (not that we expected there would be one). Generally speaking, slower swing speed players were no more or no less accurate than higher swing speed players.
When we look at our other accuracy-related numbers things get a little more interesting, and perhaps even slightly confusing.
As we’ve pointed out before, with the exception of perfectly straight balls, and balls that draw or fade towards the center line; the more a ball travels up the fairway, the more offline it also travels. When you consider accuracy, you absolutely must consider it’s relationship to distance.
So as you may know, when MyGolfSpy looks at accuracy we do so with consideration for distance. We call it TRUaccuracy.
The other accuracy-related number we look at is Fairway% (based on a theoretical 40-yard wide fairway). In most cases, the higher the fairway percentage, the higher the TRUaccuracy score. In the case of the Fister Model I, however; the numbers provide a bit of mixed message.
While the TRUaccuracy number was slightly above average, the fairway percentage number came back slightly below average. What this suggests is that while our testers might not have been as precise with the Model I as they have been with some other drivers, they’re bigger misses were, comparatively speaking anyway, better misses.
Our takeaway is that for guys who place an absolute premium on accuracy, the Fister Model I might not be ideal. For guys who are simply looking for something as accurate as most anything else, the Fister Model I will get the job done.
Our overall driver scores are based on what the PGA Tour calls total driving. Total driving is what you have left after you subtract the yards offline from the total distance. In addition to being a pretty solid indicator of overall driving performance, Total Driving helps us make specific recommendations about who should consider purchasing a given driver.
For guys focused on distance, we can tell you if the driver has enough pop to offset any distance issues. For guys smart enough to put a premium on accuracy, we can tell you whether or not an accurate driver is still long enough to keep you close to your buddies.
The Fister Model I is a perhaps a bit of a unique case. It should go without saying that some drivers are more suited to one type of player than another. With the Fister Model I, the divide is more evident than with many of the other drivers we’ve looked at this season.
Overall the numbers are very good – outstanding…like Top 5 for the season to date outstanding, but that’s slightly misleading. As we’ve said, for slower swing speed players the Fister Model I is likely no better than average, but for higher swing speed players, particularly those who would benefit from a low spinning driver, the Fister Model I is exceptional.
For our golfers, the Fister Model I was, on average, the lowest spinning driver we’ve tested this season. Launch angle was ever-so-slightly below average as well, but certainly not low enough to warrant further discussion (or any concern for that matter).
As we’ve said, low spin, even with average launch isn’t for everyone, and think it’s reasonable to assume that the lack of a 12+° head, and perhaps an even higher launching/spinning shaft option would almost certainly have improved performance for our slower swing speed golfers.
If I were to limit myself to a single word to describe the looks of the Fister Model I it would be “Uncomplicated“. The glossy black, crown is clean (no alignment aid). There are no visible aerodynamic wings, or any of that sort of nonsense. It’s very much a traditionalist’s driver.
The face is silver, and while it could simply be a matter of visual perspective, it appears to have less bulge than most drivers we receive for testing. In that respect it reminds me of PING’s K15, albeit with a much more traditional shape.
Apart from the Accordian Compression Channel, and the weight plug, the sole is also relatively uncomplicated.
As far as sound and feel are concerned, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Fans of more muted drivers might find the Fister to be louder, and perhaps a bit harsh, while fans of big popping drivers (PING G25) might find the slightly higher pitch of the Fister Model I off-putting.
Center struck hits feel exceptional, and like most, it can be a bit harsh when your impact moves a bit closer to the perimeter. That’s called feedback, and many find that to be a desirable trait in a golf club.
In my estimation it’s very much middle of the road. There’s nothing truly exceptional or even noteworthy about the sound or feel, and that’s not a bad thing.
If you’re a high swing player, particularly one looking to reduce spin, I’d say you definitely need to check this one out. With Fister’s No Hassle 30 Day Guarantee you literally have almost nothing to lose. Given the Model I’s ability to cut spin to the lowest levels of any driver we’ve tested this year, if you can achieve anything near your ideal launch angle you could see appreciable distance gains.
Slower swing speed players (below 100MPH) – we can’t in good faith recommend that you go out and blindly buy the Fister Model I (not that we’d suggest you blindly buy anything). If you are curious, however; I definitely wouldn’t argue against leveraging that money back guarantee program. It never hurts to try, right?
Retail price for the Fister Model I Driver is $399.99 with free shipping. It’s available through FisterGolf.com
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