Callaway square head driver - the inside story

“The club naturally wants to hit straight shots, which is great news for the average golfer,"says British designer.

Posted: 20 October 2006
by Bob Warters

Callaway square head driver
Callaway Fusion FTi

Callaway golf has revealed that its staff players Phil Mickelson and Michael Campbell are already testing the new Fusion FT-i and FT-i Tour square-headed drivers, with a view to including them in their bags for 2007 when the clubs will be available to the golfing public.

The breakthrough clubs were unveiled at trade shows over successive weeks in Sweden and Germany and received outstanding responses, with pre-ordering from buyers reaching 'unprecedented volumes' in readiness for April availability, says a spokesperson for the Chessington-based company.

Dr Alan Hocknell, Callaway's British-born vice president of innovation and advanced design has been answering questions about the driver and says: “The club naturally wants to hit straight shots, which is great news for the average golfer."

Here are extracts from his latest interview, with Today's Golfer's Simon Daddow:

Where did the idea for a square driver come from?

The first time we discussed a square driver was in 2001 during a brainstorming session where we were thinking up ways to produce the ultimate performance driver based purely on physics. At that time we weren’t thinking about a real driver, just the most efficient design.

What makes a square shaped driver better than a traditional rounded head?

Callaway square head driver
FTi 'reduces miss-hits'

What usually happens when a shot is miss-hit or not precisely struck from the centre of the clubface is that the club twists, resulting in the ball flying off-line. However, the square shape of the FT-i allowed us to create extreme weighting in the corners of the clubhead, outside the weighting zone of a traditional driver, which reduced the amount the club rotated around its centre of gravity. Essentially, we have optimised how the club reacts to hitting shots anywhere on the face so it naturally wants to hit straight shots, which is great news for the average golfer.

Why is the FT-i made of different materials?

We have known for some time that carbon is the future of driver design because there are some things you can do with carbon that you can’t do with titanium. By using a lightweight carbon composite for the FT-i’s body (carbon is significantly lighter than titanium), we created discretionary weight that could then be precisely positioned to enhance the club’s performance. It also allowed us to create the OptiFit weightings to generate the draw, neutral and fade shot bias. Combined with the titanium cup face, the golfer will benefit from increased ball speed on shots all over the face.

Is the FT-i legal? The Rules of Golf say club heads must be ‘generally plain in shape.'

Yes it is. We discussed our ideas with the ruling bodies at a very early stage and made our plans clear. That included showing them sketches and models of what we were designing. Any designs with a flat surface on the rear of the head were rejected because they could have been used as another striking surface.

Callaway square head driver
On the face of it - the shape of things to come

Will Tour professionals be using the FT-i?

There is a Tour version, aimed at better players. Phil Mickelson, who I work closely with, has already tested the club. We will be working together on an equipment strategy for each of next year’s Majors.

Phil used two drivers to win the Masters in April. Is there any chance he or other players might use the FT-i for straight drives and a traditional shaped driver for shaping tee shots?

Clearly, it’s a possibility and Phil has shown how you can use two drivers for different shots. The FT-i is great for long-carrying, straight drives, but there may be an advantage to carrying a driver for a specific shape of shot, too.

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So there I was in a museum ,staring at the rear bicycle reflector lamp,thinking"What shape and color can we take it too next" but it still won't come to me.

Let's have square snooker cues,oval tennis rackets and bent darts,all in the sake of marketing.Can you imagine buying one of those(let's face it,the majority of culpable gullable people will)and not being able to hit it.

Capital T in traditional for me ,please.
I have enough trouble finding the hole I just took a club out of in these self sealing bags,this will help a bunch?,mmmmm

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 10:55

nike have a square sasquatch coming out next year also

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 11:02

I refer you to my good friend, Huey Lewis - "it's hip to be square" ;-)

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 12:41

Hueys right McAl,

Puke ,huey and ralph all at the same time.

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 12:43

It's not what you hit it with, it's where you hit it to that's important.

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 17:22

Golfers are like gardeners they will buy anything.

Return the club face suqare to the ball tha is what your hands are for.

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 17:33

This is the consequence of "allowing" all those fugly putters into the bag. They should never have made it off the drawing board of whatever drug-addled cretin designed them in the first place.

Now it's drivers, next it'll be irons unless the golfing public vote with whatever taste they have left, and leave these things on the racks in the golf stores.

And before anybody gives me the "If it works I'd use it!" just remember, this works too, but I'd bet not many of you drive one.

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 17:36

Couldn't agree more,when did golf become non esthetic.
Everything I own golf wise has an esthetic nuance there somewhere,I like how it looks,I like how it feels and I like what it does and as a package overall,an unspoken style that suits me.
I dress the same and the courses I play where i enjoy them to the hilt have to be the same,even the atmosphere.So if it's all becoming space invaders,lets have moving obstacles across the ball flight line,big metal ramps to hit them off,special speed humps at 280 if you hit them on the tilt you get a bonus knock on .
Get these ugly mothers complete with utility,you 'll only see 4 clubs in the bag.And If I see one oap whose holding me up and knocking it sideways,get the gel out for extraction and I don't get care if his issa has matured and he's got disposable income.

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 17:56

I think it looks great and can't wait to try it. I am sure it has many design merits.

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 19:44

The "drug-addled cretin" that designed the 2ball is probably faffing about on his £5M yacht off Biarritz, while we freeze our berries off over here.

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 21:46

They said:
"The first time we discussed a square driver was in 2001 during a brainstorming session where we were thinking up ways to produce the ultimate performance driver based purely on physics. At that time we weren't thinking about a real driver, just the most efficient design."

When what they really meant to say was:
"We were bored in the office one day and our sales were below target, so we thought of the most bizarre gimicky feature we could without regard to physics, efficiency or design, for which we could charge gullible golfers £300, and we just hoped that a few of them could hit the thing in a straight line".

Posted: 23/10/2006 at 21:47

Money doesn't equate to class or style, HP. Have you seen Donald Trump's hairstyle lately, on the Big Break?

And what they forgot to say, Astro, was "Let's scratch around the internet and see if we can steal someone else's designs.".

You could try this, and I'll give you a clue - google "Jack Hamm" and see how many monstrosities you uncover.

Posted: 24/10/2006 at 01:06

"Let's have square snooker cues,oval tennis rackets and bent darts,all in the sake of marketing"

oval tennis racket -that's been done in the 80s (not a reference for good taste). Check this out:

Personally I have no issue with square drivers. Not pretty for sure but come on, it's not that radical

Posted: 24/10/2006 at 10:45

Why don't they stick a Stuka whistle and whine so that when it's on the right plane,it makes the appropriate noise.

Posted: 24/10/2006 at 10:49

great idea

Posted: 24/10/2006 at 10:51

Stupid Stupid Stupid!!!

Just what we all need.. another Golf Yeti.. lol

i've seen too many people with more money than ability out there...

here's an idea, why not sink your 500bucks into some lessons and learn how to strike a ball properly..

Posted: 24/10/2006 at 19:04

It would be interesting to look into the responses when drivers moved from WOOD to metal; balls became bigger: hickory gave way to steel etc. etc.

With those in mind why does a player using a 460cc titanium driver see himself as a traditionalist?

Golf equipment evolves and if this works then it is the next stage in that evolution.

Posted: 28/10/2006 at 15:33

There is an article in the Times sport section today on square headed drivers. The article states that there is a Sq headed driver in the museum at the University of Loughborough that a Pete Cowen, then a player, but now a leading coach used to swing as he helped a shaft manufacturer with its research. "it made a horrible noise", Cowen said, "and it looked funny. But it helped you line up the ball".
The article also states that they have been known about for decades and that Japanese clubs of that design were around in the seventies and eighties.. It would appear that it is the devolment of new materials that has enabled sq-headed drivers to be brought to the marketplace while conforming to the maximum size of 460cc. The aticle does end up stating that all is not rosy with a distinctive noise and less distance. The advantage being that the club naturally wants to hit straight shots.

Posted: 28/10/2006 at 16:15

interestin to see handicaps of these traditionalists as every low handicapper or pro I know wud use anything that gave him 15 more yards and a couple more fairways a round! I will be getting a demo one out both callaway and nike, Testing against my titleist and couple of others and using wots best next season.

Posted: 17/11/2006 at 00:35

Here here Mr. Rushworth.
Absolutely the best point made so far.
You call yourself a traditionalist because that Mack truck of a driver you are swinging on the end of the 16 times wound in overlapping trellis weave carbon fibre rod (which weighs all of maybe 70 grams) is oval and not square.
Pot, meet kettle, kettle . . . pot.

Posted: 30/12/2006 at 08:59

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