What exactly is wrong with the Powerbilt Air Force Driver

Air Force N7

Just about everyone that has hit this driver gets an extra 10-20 yards yet no one seems to buy it.

Why?

I imagined everyone would want extra distance from their driver.  Even Bob hit it further but was lukewarm about it. He should have been over the moon that he had actually found a driver that lived up to its claims.

Is the name wrong?

Embarassed having it in your bag?

What's the problem with it? Is it wildly inaccurate?

Maybe it doesn't deliver the distance despite all the reviews?

Be interested in your answers,

David

Biggest problem is that the only place you can get one is off the net, ebay has a few on there, but I need to try before I buy, now if there was somewhere op norf around here somewhere with a range that sells them I may be tempted till then that extra 20 yds has to be found in my Cleveland!!

Mindthepond wrote (see

Ditto)

Biggest problem is that the only place you can get one is off the net, ebay has a few on there, but I need to try before I buy, now if there was somewhere op norf around here somewhere with a range that sells them I may be tempted till then that extra 20 yds has to be found in my Cleveland!!

Ditto. Snainton doesn't.

I must admit that apart from a review in today's golfer ( which I ignore the content of anyway) I haven't ever seen one. I am a self confessed techy when it comes to my clubs, however the proof is in the hitting, if you can't try one at a range or launch monitor then what will make you buy it? Getting 15 or so drivers built to suit different swings and taking them to local clubs for people to try may get them to remove their blinkers regards ping / taylormade / etc being better. Also if they're not selling well I'm sure they'll be plenty of stock to dip into for trial clubs.... If it feels right looks good at address and fires the ball out there who cares who made it IMHO.

Seems that the reviewers were impressed but too worried about what their mates would say when they pulled it out the bag on a Saturday round. In their shoes I think I would stick my old drivers head cover on it , whack it the extra 10 - 20 yards and tell my playing partners that it was the zft tees I was using! !

Looks okay to me in the picsif it works and its cheap enough then I would use it for sure.......

I did some work with PowerBilt when they launched the driver so whilst a bit biased, do have a bit of insight.It is a great driver. All the tests that were done at launch showed a significant increase in distance. In an independent test by several different members of the U.K. media, every player hit the ball further than with their own driver, with the biggest increase being 27 yards. As well as distance, it won 'straightest on test' on the TG driver test last year.The problem, as stated above, is that very few pro shops took a chance on it. The distributor even offered a free club for Pro shops to trial. Even with this, very few took them up on the offer.I just think that it arrived at the wrong time. It was launched in the U.K. just as the golf industry started tightening its belt. This led to many potential stockists being less prepared to take a chance on a new brand and to keep their orders to the big brands that they knew would sell.A real shame as I do think this is a great product. An up side for everyone now is that if you are prepared to take a bit of a chance and order on the internet the prices have come right down for what is genuinely a 'premium' product.

Good info DavW75. Can you tell us whether there is any significant difference between the really cheap last years model and the new one (N7)?  I know the old air foils had a tendency to explode and the Air foil 2 cured that. Incidently, ordering on the Internet, is not taking a chance.  It is the present and the future. I have done virtually all my ordering for everything via the internet for 10 years or more, saved thousands and have only been bitten once (on Ebay).

of course ordering a golf club via the internet that you haven't had an opportunity to try before buying is taking a chance.

Paul L 11 wrote (see)

of course ordering a golf club via the internet that you haven't had an opportunity to try before buying is taking a chance.

That's why I'm researching it first.

You can research it all you like but if it's not suited to your swing it will be as much use as a chocolate teapot.

georgiemac wrote (see)

You can research it all you like but if it's not suited to your swing it will be as much use as a chocolate teapot.

It's all about the shaft which is why I was concerned about the head exploding if you tried to change it.

Funky wrote (see)

David check out www.rockbottomgolf.com  they have the airfoil at £42.64p

Yes seen that but it's the old thin skinned exploding version not the Airfoil 2.

I should point out that I hold all rights on gas filled driver heads under Golfcon.com.(Lionelirons inc.)See here  eleven years ago, when my alter ego and I invented them (or forecast them)  OK, we were a bit wrong on the estimate of 500cc drivers - which seemed ludicrous at the time. . . but hey, we were only 40cc out

Really not sure how to insert your quotes, but in response to David V: The original PowerBilt Air Force One had trouble with the head leaking. It never exploded - fortunately Nitrogen is pretty much inert. This was only available in the U.S.The model that followed, the model that launched to the U.K., is the PowerBilt Air Force One Air Foil. As far as I know, there have been no problems with leaking from this. There is a newer version - the Air Foil 2 - but that is only available in the U.S. I'm really not sure whether or not you can change shafts on them without releasing the gas. I will find out though and report back. The standard shafts are good quality though.

Dave W.. there is a 12.5 degree senior flex N7 on ebay for "only" £107 is there something different about it??? or is a a dud??

MTP - If it's the one located in Glasgow that you mean it looks OK to me.The photo has the Air Foil branding on it below the Air Force One, so if that is the photo of the actual product then there should be no problems with the gas retention. The 2008 model that had the gas problem was a U.S. only model that had no Air Foil markings.Obviously I can't guarantee anything and I'm surprised to see a brand new one for that price but it does look OK.

Taz - that's the Air Foil 2, only available in the U.S at the moment.

Yes, there have been a lot of changes since the original. However, on US Ebay the N7 Air Foil TOUR is going for £42 new and the Air Foil 2 for £186.  I presume the Glasgow dealer had got hold of old stock. I'll probably get the cheap one to test  when we're in Florida this year.It's a pity the valve in the back doesn't have a pressure indicator. One wonders how many people are banging away with empty drivers! Also may explain the occasional buyer who found no increase in distance. 

I remember chatter about this and stupid claims relating to the gas inside, 100% of the  people I spoke to about this (In the USA who run component companies) laughed at the ridiculous marketing that accompanied this.Dave W - keen to know more about this, but as there is a maximum energy transfer from club to ball that all manufacturers are at, there is no way NONE that a club can go longer than the others by 10 or 20 yards - if it does its not legal or its the shaft!OR - it might have a different loft to that stamp (Like the Major manufacturers) -  My head would explode if this went 20 yards past ANY manufacturer with the same spec, i.e. loft and shaft length - unless .83 does not apply as they have a different gas inside (Which matters not a jot as the limit is the limit) - club is on Iron Byron at 104mph ball goes too fast, club is non conforming - they do not attach a shaft as far as I know when testing heads now (They use that crazy AIR GUN on woods)and measure the rebound from there.Wow a lot of writing - 

Worldlongdriveseries, have you actually tried it?  You yourself say :- "KNOWLEDGE" BASED PURELY ON internet BASED LEARNING IS NOT WORTH THE PAPER IT WAS WRITTEN ON".

Nope not tried it - not sure why that matters really?  Driver heads are limited in the energy they are allowed to transfer to the ball - energy transfer ratio or co efficient of rest .83  So its irrelevant whether I have hit it or not as its a fact that a golf head can only transfer 83% of the energy from at the set testing speed. Now, it could be that this produces a great result at a slow speed as faces are all tested at 1 speed by the RandA to conform and knowing this the manufacturer has directed the golf mag to use slower swingers (Features and paid advertising are not normally seperated)Anyway no clubhead is longer than any other within the rules to any degree worth caring about- there are illegal clubs and illegal balls, I have the cell phone number for 6 owner / designers of clubheads and they all try and make a driver to the limit - I know that the daft claims that surrounded this club were treated as daft amongst those I know anyway.ANY CLUB manufacturer that says that their club is going to give you 10 or 20 yards is either a liar or drunk.They tried to baffle people with a gimmick and it clearly did not baffle people - Any reviews claim a club is the longest for a tonne of reasons (If you give a decent size testing group the correct loft and golf ball you are going to give them 10 yards on average) then swing away and proclaim a wonder club.That is an excellent quote though!

I would also expect any of these demo's to have the shafts correctly fitted when this would not normally happen giving an advantage also.  There are two sst puring machines in europe and I have access to one of these - I bet you I can have your clubs reshafted and improved without changing anything other than the fit.  I have some lovely info on how a 1 degree variation from the spine impacts a club head / shaft and ball at various speeds.Normal clubs - shaft goes in any old wayClubfitter - uses his clamp to do a job but still has varianceSST PURE - maximises performanceStick the correct loft on the shaftEnsure correct swing weightEnsure proper golf ballWhen you want to get something sold you can make these things work for you, but the bottom line is any manufacturer could make a head that hit the ball further - but they cannot do this any longer as they are limited by the regulations.

WORLDlongdriveseries wrote (see)

Nope not tried it - not sure why that matters really? 

So for a true test we require say 5 low handicap players with swing speeds from say 85 to 115 MPH.The Powerbilts are then analysed  for loft and shafts (same as the normal headed drivers) fitted using SST.  The players are issued with normal headed drivers of the same loft tailored and built to suit them using SST. They then hit 20 balls with each driver and compare results.It was my understanding that the PB head allowed the trampoline effect to be much more effective below the testing speed of 110mph whilst being perfectly legal at 110 MPH thus allowing the legal COR to be more available at swing speeds less that 110mph. Now not many amateurs swing at 110 so most would be able to avail themselves of the benefit and, thus, get greater distance. COR is a strange beast (see http://www.ewp.rpi.edu/hartford/~hillb2/MEP/Final%20Report/Final%20Repor...).

davidyou asked the question i think enough people have given you the answer to the question. It's a daft name, it doesn't look great, and people don't trust the marketing spin.  If you want to go and buy one, carry on, and if it works for you great.  if it doesn't, then don't say you didn't get plenty of advice.

Paul L 11 wrote (see)

davidyou asked the question i think enough people have given you the answer to the question. It's a daft name, it doesn't look great, and people don't trust the marketing spin.  If you want to go and buy one, carry on, and if it works for you great.  if it doesn't, then don't say you didn't get plenty of advice.

Actually no one has. I was hoping to hear from people that had tried it.  I, too, had reached similar conclusions from the blurb until I read the independent mygolfspy.com review.

WLDS - lots of good points, particulalry about the COR figures. I completely agree that all manufacturers are working to get as close as possible to the legal limit so it is hard to distinguish between them.You also hit upon the one thing that does distinguish the PowerBilt Air Foil. It is targeted at people with a swing speed under 105 mph. I'm nothing to do with the technical side at PowerBilt so can't put together a watertight argument, but what I know is:By filling the head with compressed nitrogen PB are able to use a much thinner face on the club than other manufacturers. This is because it is supported evenly by the compressed gas rather than by internal bracing. (This is also how you would know if the gas had leaked - the face would buckle when hit). This thin face enables players with slower swing speeds to get a higher COR, Smash Factor and Trampoline effect than with other clubs, at that swing speed.The Air Foil Tour is designed for people with higher swing speeds (over 105mph). The distance increases do reduce significantly with this club. It has a slightly thicker face to offer more support so most things remain the same as with trqaditional clubs, although tests did see consistently higher smash factor results. This club does only offer minimal increases in distance though.What it does do though is significantly reduce dispersion patterns on off centre hits. As the face is supported evenly by the gas it has much more flexibility across the whole face and forgives off centre hits a bit moreSorry for the length of explanation, hopefully it addresses some of the points raised

Dave W 75 wrote (see)

By filling the head with compressed nitrogen PB are able to use a much thinner face on the club than other manufacturers. This is because it is supported evenly by the compressed gas rather than by internal bracing. (This is also how you would know if the gas had leaked - the face would buckle when hit). This thin face enables players with slower swing speeds to get a higher COR, Smash Factor and Trampoline effect than with other clubs, at that swing speed.The Air Foil Tour is designed for people with higher swing speeds (over 105mph). The distance increases do reduce significantly with this club. It has a slightly thicker face to offer more support so most things remain the same as with trqaditional clubs, although tests did see consistently higher smash factor results. This club does only offer minimal increases in distance though.What it does do though is significantly reduce dispersion patterns on off centre hits. As the face is supported evenly by the gas it has much more flexibility across the whole face and forgives off centre hits a bit moreSorry for the length of explanation, hopefully it addresses some of the points raised

POINT 1 - irrelevant - manufacturers can make thinner faces but that would render their clubs illegal - its not technical ability that restricts companies its the regulations.POINT 2 - What is inside the head is of no consequence, the energy it can legally transfer is restricted - most heads are hollow and filled with special H20 at 1 atmosphere.POINT 3 - thicker face = less cor its more impressive to make a thick faced club that goes a long way rather than a thin one - so the tour thing would be clever but there is no way there will be any significant gain and again its by bending the rules (Picking specific Very slow or very fast golfers and showing them gains whereas the golfers who swing at a more normal speed will see no difference at all as they are at the test speed) POINT 4 - Stability of the club is also resticted by design parameters - if there is actually a class leading number, then this should probably be used to sell it rather than the daft gas thing! - The difference in the mass of the gas relative to air and then relative to the materials of the club matters not a jot - unless air is waiting until its in normal driver heads and bouncing around unseen- My take on the original question - why did it not sell?The marketing focused on the gas inside the club - goflers get their initial information from reading golf mags / golf forums and other golfers who have previously done the same - informercials in the USA are painful and a new technologoy (The gas) sounds super duper but making big daft claims with a flawed science and logic will quickly get people saying they bought the club and it sucked ass - followed by others asking why the hell they thought it would go further because they had a different gas in the head!Teed up to fail in my opinion - use air - sell the drivers in the normal way and they will not be ridiculed - see the XHAMMER - pow

Again, I'm not a technical person but hopefully I can address some of your points WLDS. Point 1 & 2 - Anyone can make a thin club face but it would break after a few uses. The use of compressed gas is to support the face of the club not to make the ball go further. The fact that they can use a thinner face, using the compressed gas to support it is what allows lower swing speed players to get more out of the club.Most heads are filled with air at 1 compression. The PB Air Foil is filled with compressed Nitrogen - Nitrogen is one of the most stable gasses under compression - at a much higher psi to act as a support to the face, not to make the ball go further.Point 3 - Not sure where you're going with that one. But I can just say again that the Tour version (swing over 105mph) has a thicker face (2.8mm - still thinner than many others) The reason for this is so the face doesn't get damaged with the higher impact speed. As I said in my last post, the distance increases in the Tour version are significantly lower but the up side is that in testing it showed lower dispersion patterns than most other drivers.Point 4 - Sorry, don't really understand but as I said, I'm not a technical personYour response to the OP - partially fair. The driver was a big success in the U.S. and the infomercial model worked well for them - this would never transfer to the U.K. market. The reason it did so well though is that it works. There are other factors such as PowerBilt being a much bigger name in the U.S for both golf and their parent companies main sport - baseball so many more stockists were prepared to try out their new technology.I think perhaps you're right that too much has been made of the gas aspect as it does come across that people focus on it being the 'magic' ingredient. In reality it is just a part of the technology used in the product.The one thing that I would say about the club is that it does work. You can dismiss the technology all you like but in all the tests that PowerBilt have done and that have been replicated independently, the vast majority of golfers see an improvement in their driving distances, particularly those with lower swing speeds, and most see a reduction in dispersion, particularly those with higher swing speeds. Bob was part of the media testing we did. As a trustworthy source of independent analysis you could ask his opinion.I don't mean this to be at all confrontational. I understand most of your concerns about the claims made, but what I've seen, and experienced when using a PB Air Foil, is that the reality is quite different.

Dave W 75 wrote (see)

Agreed

Dave, I agree with all your points and I think you were rather too polite with WLDS. His long winded answer didn't actually address your points. It was more of a rave and rather confused technically. He failed to reply to my suggestion of a true test and made no comment on the COR link I put up. Maybe he simply has an aversion to the possibility that something other than one of his shafts can give us average guys greater distance?  Either way, I feel that his very negative attitude is not worthy of further reply unless he actually tries the test I suggested. 

My drivers are 78% nitrogen - har har - negative attitude -

Its a stupid gimmick that people laugh at - is that negative enough?

Well I have read all WLDS technical stuff and all the explanations with interest and then went looking on the US websites for reviews etc. There is a lot of guys saying its a crap product because of the mumbo jumbo and the adverts on Golf channel BUT of guys who had actually hit one of these things NOT ONE criticism!! every review I have read has be positive, everyone was getting more yards and straighter too.. So unless Powerbilt are filling these sites up with their own reviews and purging all the bad ones I would say this is worth a go, IF only there was a range selling them!!!

Mindthepond wrote (see)

Well I have read all WLDS technical stuff and all the explanations with interest and then went looking on the US websites for reviews etc. There is a lot of guys saying its a crap product because of the mumbo jumbo and the adverts on Golf channel BUT of guys who had actually hit one of these things NOT ONE criticism!! every review I have read has be positive, everyone was getting more yards and straighter too.. So unless Powerbilt are filling these sites up with their own reviews and purging all the bad ones I would say this is worth a go, IF only there was a range selling them!!!

I'll report back in October.  First thing I am going to do when I get to Florida is order one of the £42 ones from US Ebay.  I could care a damn about theories. I just bought a custom fitted Titleist D3 that hits the ball straighter and 10+ yards further than my custom built TM R7 largely due to the lighter Fuji shaft so I thought.  I fitted a similar shaft to the R7 and I was all over the place! Now, if this pumped up package by PB sends it another 10 yards then I'm sold. Every yard counts at my age!!  On that subject, I just ordered some Cobra S3 irons after trying the 7 iron in steel and graphite.  Steel was far more reliable, the beautiful high and long ball flight and general forgiveness was a revelation. My present irons are Callaway 2006 Big Berthas.

David V - Just heard back from PowerBilt and it's fine to change the shafts in the same way you would any other driver

Dave W 75 wrote (see)

David V - Just heard back from PowerBilt and it's fine to change the shafts in the same way you would any other driver

Thanks for the info.  UK Ebay now has the Tour model at 79.99 (item num 170674807248) new with choice of shafts. Still about twice the US rate but reasonable.  Have to say that the thing that concerns me most is not knowing whether the thing is fully charged or has a tiny leak. I have this notion of the thing gradually losing performance as it deflates!PS Curiousity finally got the better of me. I just bought one on Ebay to satisy it. Will report next week. PPS Turned out the seller had no Regular shafts so he refunded my money + £5 for the bother!  Very annoying.  PPPS Maybe he has one after all. He's letting me know on Monday.

OK I'm a sucker for all this stuff (gotta find more yards!!) so got my mate to bring me one back from Orlando, 50 bucks, first impression reasonable head paint job great shaft, bit heavier than my Cleveland but that is the lightest driver in creation...The set up I have got is the 12.5 degree with regular shaft.. Anyway straight down the range to try it, (I didnt have any old balls left so I had to use crappy range balls).. Fortunately the guy in the tractor was just clearing the range of balls so I could see my results, hit the Cleveland first & hit loads of the low pulls I have been getting of late but then hit a real cracker so using that as a marker started with the Powerbilt first couple were low and left again but then it started to flow, lovely trajectory exactly what I have been looking for, length MMMM jury is out they did seem slightly longer but couldnt really tell how far but the dispersion was terrific best I have seen I reckon(yes even better than the Geek!) Anyway I am gaming it tomorrow at Branspeth Castle, If I'm not straight there I'm dead!! Will report again after then!!

Finally got mine off Ebay this AM. 10.5 Reg.  Unfortunately, it's absolutely pissing down here so testing will have to wait.

If I may: Ok...why the failure in the marketplace of the PB AF Driver.  This is not new technology.  In S. Ca. around 1990 a gentleman invented the first 'type' of this product.  You had to pump air thru the grip butt area like you would fill a tire on your car.  Here was the problem...as a good friend of mine was the S. Ca. Rep.  I went to a Demo day and I immediately noticed that when the possible consumer hitting the Demo on the range..literally 'cringed' or shut their eyes when the downswing was in motion.  Why?  As most of you have guessed...they were afraid that at impact the head may explode!  It was as simple as that...and I noticed the same thing, almost 20 years later, at a friends golfshop.  Same exact reaction.  Like they were swinging a 'gernade' on a stick.  But, as an industry veteran..it probably would have done better without the PowerBilt name attached to it.  I hate to say that as I know at one time PowerBilt was a Monster and owned the Open Stock club biz and their woods and irons were second to none...but, that was 30 years ago.  In the mid-80's they were getting weaker and by the early 90's were not even a factor in the biz.  Essentially just Wal-mart box sets (3/8 with bag and putter) and Kids sets kept them alive for years.  So what we have is a combination of a 'tired and hanging by it's fingernails' once great company with the golfing consumer literally afraid to hit this club unless they have a flak jacket on.   So, ask yourself this...If PowerBilt disappeared tomorrow...would the Golf Biz miss them?  I think you know the answer to that one.  That is how you measure a company in the retail market.  Once you start to bleed in this biz...it's like a hemorage..it's Damn hard to stop the bleeding. And it doesn't matter how good a club performs, unfortunately, if it doesn't retail...WHO CARES!  The performance and the retail MUST work together...one without the other is doomsday for that particular product. 

Geeko, one problem with your premise is "personal" part that you have missed out, "IF" the have produced the best club ever (jury is still out!!) and you have one you have stolen a yard or two from every course you play which will help eventually so if you are not a product name snob and just go for performance you will be a better golfer!! HOWEVER there is no way I can give any sort of performance report on yesterday, it was probably the most miserable I have been on a golf course rain coming down in sheets, greens on the edge of unplayable and the furrow part of the rig & furrow fairways was full of water and believe me Branspeth is not a course to be playing when you are miserable, No cover, long uphill walks long long par 4s, 3 x par3 over 200 yds & over deep gullies just a hard course I played sh1t and my partner played sh1tter, 31 points in a better ball!!!! Anyway playing on my own place in the morning so will report after that..

Good post Geeko.MindthePond, I think Geeko is saying that even if it were proven to be objectively the best/longest driver out there, if only a few afficionados bought it because of branding non-recognition, then it doesn't matter. It and the company will eventually fail. In my field (not golf), I've seen some really good products, not just by my reckoning, that have good technical specs and a good price don't do well or are even a complete non-starter. It's a bugger.

My test will have to wait as I was struck by vertigo yesterday so might be a while.  Dammit.

OK lets get things straight this thing will not give you any extra yards its all b0ll0cks as far as I can see... It is however very easy to hit !! My Cleveland is about a inch longer maybe that is the reason I hit the Powerbilt straighter and about the same distance but my experience is dont bust a gut to get one... BUT it is staying in the bag for now!!!

 We have all seen products in every market that seem like or are a good idea and yet it will not retail...so, it all comes tumbling down.The key to retail is that you MUST capture the imagination of the buying public.  It they buy into what you are doing, saying and it makes good sense to them....that is when a product has the best chance for survival.The 'real' downfall of PowerBilt started in the mid-80's when Fuzzy Z. was hired by PB and K-Mart to do a commercial on National T.V.  Here you had a very popular PGA Tour Star 'punching' wedge shots throughout a K-Mart store advertising PowerBilt.  That one Ad cost them all their Green Grass accounts and their Asian market accounts.  If your considered a Top Tier Major golf company...why would you want to be associated with K-Mart?  That started the slide that they never recovered from. Such a shame.  But, there are many others we can name...even in the UK some really great golf companies bit the dirt.Geeko

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