Interview: Titleist's Richard Temple talks 915 metalwoods

Golfmagic catches up with Titleist product and fitting manager Richard Temple following Titleist 915 launch

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 1 Oct 2014
0

How do the new 915 woods differ to the 913 woods in terms of technology?

Quite a lot, in answer to that! 915 has basically got three new technologies that have taken 915 forwards.

A big game-changer, which we would describe it as, is the new ARC technology - the Active Recoil Channel.

I'll be honest and say the proof is in the pudding, you've got to hit it to really see it, but everything we've done in terms of getting people to hit the product has given us the confidence in the way the product performs. ARC is the most visible technology in 915, it's a little bit different from our perspective.

First Look: Titleist 915

We've tended to do a lot of technologies that are hidden under the hood as the US would like to describe it.

ARC is obviously much more obvious and what it does, it basically takes away spin from the product and adds speed to it. It primarily takes away spin because instead of the crown of the club being the main point of the head flexing, you've got a combination of the crown and the sole flexing together which helps to stop the ball rolling up the face and creating excess spin. That's the key to taking spin out the product.

ARC acts exactly like a spring, pulling it back and letting it go so that it pushes the ball forward and creates additional speed, so much so that we've had to change the way we do the face insert technology because we'd made it too fast within the USGA and R&A legal limits.

Watch: How Active Recoil Channel works

Couple ARC together, on the driver, with this Radial Speed Face, we've basically been able to thin out the perimeter areas of the face and actually we've had to thicken up the face centre which is something we're quite proud of because most people are trying to make it as thin as possible to get to the legal limits, and we've actually had to just tone that down a little bit.

Watch: What Radial Speed Face does

But ARC has had a secondary benefit in that it reduces stress across the face which has enabled us to take away some thickness from the perimeter of the face, enabling us to create more speed on off-centre hits which has been a real plus because not even the world's best always hit it out the middle of the face.

It's been great watching some of the guys on Tour hit this product and hit mis-hits to see how their spin didn't climb to where it would in the past and that's obviously helped straighten them up, so they're loving that. The best way that they've kind of described that is when getting a lot of the players to go to their preferred shape of shot when trying to hit the fairway, like a cutty steer off the left side with a nice bit of fade to get it back in play, the guys are seeing some great numbers on that where their speed is typical of what they'd see on centre hits and spin has been similar to that, so they are finding those sorts of shots are performing like some of their best hits. 

And then part three, what we didn't want to compromise with ARC technology was the MOI properties of the 915 metalwoods.

Watch: High MOI design of Titleist 915 drivers

By putting a channel in the front of the head you're adding quite a lot more material to the build process which typically moves the CG forward and more toward the face. That can be good in terms of taking spin out the product and adding speed to it but it's detrimental to the forgiveness of the product. We didn't want to lose that because, again, even the world's best and typically the average player is not hitting it the face centre. When you get it right it's good but when you get it wrong, if the MOI properties are not high, it will create some pretty ugly shots.

By managing to maintain the MOI properties, consistent with our former Titleist 913 line, by saving as much weight in the front of the club as possible, literally gram by gram, and pushing that weight as far back and more into the heel and back of the club, that just enables us to maintain the CG that is pretty comparable with 913, giving us relatively high MOI properties. That's given us a good balance between good speed and spin from the face insert but good MOI properties from the overall design of the club. 

With ARC making the sweet spot larger on the critical part of the face, would you say it’s fair to say Titleist is targeting an even broader range of player this season?

I think it's just a big plus of the product itself. Titleist has often been seen as a brand for better players. We call them serious golfers, but serious golfers aren't just your Tour players or club champions, they are those players who seriously want to improve their game. Those guys that sat and watch the Ryder Cup at the weekend, those that have lessons, those that spend money on their equipment, those that read magazines and visit Golfmagic to find ways to get better at the game of golf. Most of those people are double digit handicappers and upwards, and we're strongly confident that 915 and the rest of the Titleist golf product line has benefits for all those types of players.

So yes we talk a lot about the look and feel of our product being for better players, but we do a variety of lofts with 12-degree D2 drivers, 27-degree hybrids - with a SureFit Tour hosel that enables that to go up more if need be - and we've got lightweight graphite shafts all of which are suited to all standards of player. 

The likes of TaylorMade have obviously gone down the low, forward CG/Loft Up route but what do you believe is the best combination for driver technology right now?

I think it's different for every golfer out there. Everyone's launch conditions are different so there is not a one-size fits all. Other brands might claim there is, but what we do know is that every player of every level will benefit from a reduction in spin to hit the ball a little bit further. For some of those players it might be that we need to add a bit more loft to get the maximum benefits out of it, but conversely, there are other players who will benefit from the other way.

One of our big positives and we've seen it with some of the fittings we've done, we haven't had to increase the amount of loft for players. One of our sales guys actually went down in loft. Look at the Tour players, some have changed a little bit, most of them have changed at worst the SureFit Tour setting, but generally the product still launches like the 913 but the reduction in spin and increase in speed is seeing distance gains for everybody.

Our mantra is can we provide a product that spins less but still has high MOI properties. That's where we headed. 

What players are the D2 and D3 drivers aimed at?

With 915, we've kind of moved them apart. D3 clearly spins less than D2 and tends to be for the player who likes to work shots a bit more. For the guy who is challenged with a bit of a fade bias shot, the D2 will benefit them a bit more. D3 for the guy who wants to take as much spin out their game.

How much longer do you anticipate the new 915 drivers, fairway woods and hybrids will be for the average player?

Again, very player dependent but I'll be honest and say people I've seen testing the product, which is a lot, I've not seen one person who hasn't gained yardage. The key for us is getting the product into players hands and getting them fit for it at one of our Titleist National Fitting Centres or Titleist SureFit partners. We feel our experts will be able to look at the numbers and work with these players to improve their distances and their accuracy. It's not all about distance, it's about finding more fairways too. 

What influence have Titleist staff players had on the new 915 line?

A huge amount. We've a two-year product life cycle which we think is essential to allow the R&D team to develop new technologies, processess and evolution. The Tour players do a lot of work telling us what they do and don't like from day one of the process. Our Tour validation process has been going on since the back end of July but the guys have done lots of work in the months leading up to that to help us fine tune the design long before we took it out to a competitive landscape. 

We notice Titleist and FootJoy ambassador Adam Scott has been using the 915 D3 driver recently. What's the World No.2's feedback been thus far? 

He loves it. Adam put the new 915 driver in play a few weeks back and that's great testament to it because he's one of the greatest drivers in the game. Adam felt very confident and comfortable with the 913 but he's already put 915 in play. Scott ultimately settled on a 10.5-degree 915 D3 with a Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 80X shaft (44.75 inches) that was tipped 1-inch, after seeing distance and accuracy gains versus his previous driver. 

Adam is quoted as saying it's clearly faster, spinning less and he's getting better dispersion numbers. 

He told us: “Some things are gimmicks and Active Recoil Channel is not. The fact is it’s producing more miles per hour off the club for my ball speed. That’s massive. Picking up 10 to 15 yards carry is a big deal. It makes a huge difference if I’m hitting a wedge in instead of maybe an 8-iron or if I’m hitting a 5-iron instead of a 3-iron. 

“Not only by adding ARC are you gaining the miles per hour, but with the other innovations and redistribution of weight throughout the head the sweet spot gets bigger as well. I certainly feel like my miss hits – if you can even call them that, because you’ve almost got the whole face to play with – have been very good. The carry distance of what I’d call a miss hit has been negligible to the ones flushed out of the middle.”

What they're saying: Titleist players on new 915 drivers

First Look: Titleist 915 metalwoods

How do the new 915 woods differ to the 913 woods in terms of technology?

Quite a lot, in answer to that! 915 has basically got three new technologies that have taken 915 forwards.

A big game-changer, which we would describe it as, is the new ARC technology - the Active Recoil Channel. I'll be honest and say the proof is in the pudding, you've really got to hit it to really see it, but everything we've done in terms of getting people to hit the product has given us the confidence in the way the product performs. ARC is the most visible technology in 915, it's a little bit different from our perspective. We've tended to do a lot of technologies that are hidden under the hood as the US would like to describe it. ARC is obviously much more obvious and what it does, it basically takes away spin from the product and adds speed to it. It primarily takes away spin because instead of the crown of the club being the main point of the head flexing, you've got a combination of the crown and the sole flexing together which helps to stop the ball rolling up the face and creating excess spin. That's the key to taking spin out the product. ARC acts exactly like a spring, pulling it back and letting it go so that it pushes the ball forward and creates additional speed, so much so that we've had to change the way we do the face insert technology because we'd made it too fast within the USGA and R&A legal limits.

Couple ARC together, on the driver, with this Radial Speed Face, we've basically been able to thin out the perimeter areas of the face and actually we've had to thicken up the face centre which is something we're quite proud of because most people are trying to make it as thin as possible to get to the legal limits, and we've actually had to just tone that down a little bit. But ARC has had a secondary benefit in that it reduces stress across the face which has enabled us to take away some thickness from the perimeter of the face, enabling us to create more speed on off-centre hits which has been a real plus because not even the world's best always hit it out the middle of the face. It's been great watching some of the guys on Tour hit this product and hit mis-hits to see how their spin didn't climb to where it would in the past and that's obviously helped straighten them up, so they're loving that. The best way that they've kind of described that is when getting a lot of the players to go to their preferred shape of shot when trying to hit the fairway, like a cutty steer off the left side with a nice bit of fade to get it back in play, the guys are seeing some great numbers on that where their speed is typical of what they'd see on centre hits and spin has been similar to that, so they are finding those sorts of shots are going as some of their best hits. 

And then part three, what we didn't want to compromise with ARC technology was the MOI properties of the 915 metalwoods. By putting a channel in the front of the head you're adding quite a lot more material to the build process which typically moves the CG forward and more toward the face. That can be good in terms of taking spin out the product and adding speed to it but it's detrimental to the forgiveness of the product. We didn't want to lose that because, again, even the world's best and typically the average player are not hitting it the face centre. When you get it right it's good but when you get it wrong, if the MOI properties are not high will create some pretty ugly shots. By managing to maintain the MOI properties, consistent with our former Titleist 913 line, by saving as much weight in the front of the club as possible, literally gram by gram, and pushing that weight as far back and more into the heel and back of the club. That just enables us to maintain the CG that is pretty comparable with 913, giving us relatively high MOI properties and that's given us a good balance between good speed and spin from the face insert but good MOI properties from the overal design of the club. 

With ARC making the sweet spot larger on the critical part of the face, would you say it’s fair to say Titleist is targeting an even broader range of player this season?

I think it's just a big plus of the product itself. Titleist has often been seen as a brand for better players. We call them serious golfers, but serious golfers aren't just your Tour players or club champions, they are those players who seriously want to improve their game. Those guys that sat and watch the Ryder Cup at the weekend, those that have lessons, those that spend money on their equipment, those that read magazines and visit Golfmagic to find ways to get better at the game of golf. Most of those people are double digit handicappers and upwards, and we're strongly confident that 915 and the rest of the Titleist golf product line has benefits for all those types of players.

So yes we talk a lot about the look and feel of our product being for better players, but we do a variety of lofts with a 12-degree D2 drivers, 27-degree hybrids, a SureFit Tour hosel that enables that to go up more if need be, we've got lightweight graphite shafts all of which are suited to all standards of player. 

The likes of TaylorMade have obviously gone down the low, forward CG/Loft Up route but what do you believe is the best combination for driver technology right now?

I think it's different for every golfer out there. Everyone's launch conditions are different so there is not a one-size fits all. Other brands might claim there is, but what we do know is that every player of every level will benefit from a reduction in spin to hit the ball a little bit further. For some of those players it might be that we need to add a bit more loft to get the maximum benefits out of it, but conversely, there are other players who will benefit from the other way. One of our big positives and we've seen it with some of the fittings we've done, we haven't had to increase the amount of loft for players. One of our sales guys actually went down in loft. Look at the Tour players, some have changed a little bit, most of them have changed, at worst, the SureFit Tour setting, but generally the product still launches like the 913 but the reduction in spin and increase in speed is seeing distance gains for everybody. Our mantra is can we provide a product that spins less but still has high MOI properties. That's where we headed. 

What players are the D2 and D3 drivers aimed at?

With 915, we've kind of moved them apart. D3 clearly spins less than D2 and tends to be for the player who likes to work shots a bit more. For the guy who is challenged with a bit of a fade bias shot, the D2 will benefit them a bit more. D3 for the guy who wants to take as much spin out their game.

How much longer do you anticipate the new 915 drivers, fairway woods and hybrids will be for the average player?

Again, very player dependent but I'll be honest and say people I've seen testing the product, which is a lot, I've not seen one person who hasn't gained yardage. The key for us is getting the product into players hands and getting them fit for it at one of our National Fitting Centres or Titleist SureFit partner. We feel our experts will be able to look at these numbers and work with them to improve their distances and their accuracy. It's not all about distance, it's finding more fairways too. 

What influence have Titleist staff players had on the new 915 line?

A huge amount. We've a two-year product life cycle which we think is essential to allow the R&D team to develop new technologies, processess and evolution. The Tour players do a lot of work telling us what they do and don't like from day one of the process. Tour validation process has been going on since back end of July but the guys have done lots of work in the months leading up to that to help us fine tune the design long before we take out to a competitive landscape. 

We notice Adam Scott has been using the 915 recently, what’s his and other players feedback been?

Adam put the new 915 driver in play a few weeks back and that's great testament to it because he's one of the greatest drivers in the game. He felt very confident and comfortable with the 913 but he's already put 915 in play. Adam is quoted as saying it's clearly faster, spinning less and he's getting better dispersion numbers. 

First Look: Titleist 915 metalwoods

 

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