The new Integra 450 driver is a stretch-limo of a club and with its massive head certainly raised a few eyebrows when I took it for its test drive to the West Course at Wentworth.
|Massive head of the Integra 450.|
I had been invited to play in a charity day for communications giant Reuters to raise money for the orphaned children of war-torn Burundi. It occurred to me how many kids the cost of one of these would clothe and feed…but that’s another story.
At £199 plus £10 post and packing and postage, it appears good value for a big-headed titanium driver, compared with some of the more expensive but slightly smaller-headed monsters out there. However, it’s a real handful.
Having smacked a large bucket of hard, range balls the previous evening at my home club until my hands were raw and tried to compare it with my Callaway Big Bertha and a TaylorMade 360, I put it in the hands of a couple of specialists.
My own pro at Greetham Valley, John Pengelly, preferred the TaylorMade but then not much impresses John, who's a bit of a traditionalist.
Angel Gallardo, the former Ryder Cup player, exclaimed something in Spanish when he first saw the size of the head but after a few low hits, thrust it back at me with a shrug of the shoulders. The man who has had 17 holes in one in his career, was not impressed. ‘My back's not great; I stick with persimmon,’ he said with a twinkle in his eye.
The rep from Callaway, a former club pro, who was encouraging competitors to try the new VFT and ERC II drivers, also had a few swishes – large and cutting - but declared the yellow regular shaft too whippy for his six foot frame and WWF forearms. Well he was hardly going to endorse it, was he?
Bravely however, I took it on to the first tee, to some gasps from my playing partners and outdrove the lot of them, 265 yards directly behind a tall sappling in the left rough!
Sadly that was the best I could do with it throughout the round. It needs a slow wide swing in a tall, slender frame – and that does not paint a picture of me or my action - and even then there is no guarantee of consistency.
The Chester-based importers, who admit they are not quite there with a suitable shaft, will certainly not be short of takers for this jumbo fruit bowl on a stick but I detect it will be purchased more for effect than performance.
A bit like those guys in the 1960s and ‘70s who bought Rupert trousers because they thought they could look – and play – like Johnnie Miller, Tom Weiskopf and Jack Nicklaus.
Occasionally you will hit a real boomer which will impress your friends. It will feel as if striking a marshmallow and will fly for ever. But too often it will fade away or you’ll will miss-time it and it will feel off the clubface what the Irish describe perfectly as ‘a bit empty.’
Don’t underestimate the Integra 450, though. In good hands and with practice and patience it can save you strokes and gain valuable yards. The secret is to swing it slow and wide and concentrate on a solid strike.
Trying to force distance from it could end in tear or in the back of an ambulance.
GOLFmagic rating: 7/10. Price: £199 plus postage and packing Only available mail order: 01276 566274