Nick Bayly gets an exclusive swing with Callaway’s latest FTiQ driver and finds that the future is still square, but with more than a hint of a curve about it
WHETHER OR NOT square-headed drivers can ever be viewed as objects of beauty, it’s hard to be unimpressed by Callaway’s second generation FTi driver. Boasting sleek and sporty lines, with a head inspired by the back end of a Lamborghini sports car, the FTiQ (£379 for standard model, £399 for Tour version) screams for attention like a spoiled child ignored while throwing a tantrum.
With its two square-shaped weight portals reminiscent of the iconic Italian car’s tail lights and a Crown reminiscent of a bonnet sliding smoothly into the rear section, it’s enough to make Jeremy Clarkson drool. And the petrol head comparisons are further highlighted by Callaway’s performance ratings compared to the Lamborghini and featuring speed, size and price.
And there's definitely more substance than style at the heart of the FTiQ's appeal.
While it retains its 460cc volume, the clubhead is visually much less squat and square than its predecessor; more athletic at address. The Tour model sits square between your toes and really sets up nicely behind the ball, with the subtle V-shaped sightline ready for action.
As for the titanium clubface it has x-shaped centre section with just enough surface texture to repel moisture and impart spin. That's also a feature in Callaway’s Hyper X driver. Both also have a hyperbolic face to deliver consistently high ball speeds whether hit purely or off centre.
Callaway’s English-born club designer, Dr Alan Hocknell, has refined the head to make it more visually appealing and improving almost every other aspect.
My first hit with the FTiQ revealed a dramatic difference in sound compared to its elder brother, much less 'tinny' (to quote one of Callaway’s own staff players) and delivering a more satisfying thwack off the clubface.
It’s hard to understate the importance of impact sound to the ears of a golfer consumer and they’ve come close to getting it right with this club, in the use of a carbon composite chassis, prone to deadening both feel and a sound.
Larger than its predecessor, the FTiQ is more aerodynamic which helps it move faster through the air to createa higher clubhead speed. My first tee shots were surprisingly long with a ball flight more penetrating and with lower spin.
Using Callaway's I-Mix technology, switching shafts and heads for various custom-fit combinations I still found the standard Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki 45.75 inch shaft in pearl white finish most appropriate to my specifications. It won’t fit everyone’s eye, but it performs pretty well. Besides, there will be plenty of custom fit shaft options to keep even the most discerning shaft geek happy.
The FTiQ will be available from mid-October in regular and Tour models, offering a 1-degree closed face and a neutral face, respectively. But, as with the original FTiQ fights against shaping the ball to any great degree, so those old school Callaway players who like to work the ball might yet take some convincing that it's better than the traditional FT3 or FT5.
An impressive piece of kit and a marked improvement on what came before. Existing FTi users might struggle to come to terms with forking out a further £379 for a superior product, but paid-up members of the anti-square brigade might well have to take a second look. As the Top Gear presenter might say: "The FTiQ is a highly tuned driving machine for the modern man.