FT OPTIFORCE might sound like something out of Star Wars but Callaway's latest driver galaxy more than allows its users to perform supernatural feats.
In fact, it can even amplify certain physical traits such as speed.
Enough of the 'force' jokes for now, but seriously, the Callaway FT Optiforce 460 driver really is a force to be reckoned with heading into 2014.
Callaway engineers understand that trying to be everything to everyone in one driver head is almost impossible, and so with that in mind, FT Optiforce is available in two different clubhead sizes of 440cc (designed for better players craving a more penetrating ball flight) and 460cc (designed for players seeking better forgiveness and higher launch).
This allowed Callaway to modify everything from head size, moment of inertia, centre of gravity, weight and even bulge radius to produce optimal conditions across the loft options in each head.
Weighing in at just 290 grams, FT Optiforce is the lighest driver Callaway has ever designed. To achieve the lightweight package, Callaway used the same forged composite crown found in its successful RAZR Fit Xtreme to dub-down the head weight.
According to Luke Williams, Callaway's global director of woods and irons, the new aerodynamic profile reduces drag during the swing by 20%, compared to some of Callaway's other driver models.
"The emphasis for this driver was all about speed," said Williams. "The original concept came from some work we were doing with aerodynamics. We had a shape we'd worked on a couple years ago that was the best aerodynamic shape we'd ever had, so we decided that should be the platform for this driver."
The company has also designed an Advanced OptiFit hosel that expands the ability of golfers to adjust loft and lie. All you have to do is line up the desired setting with the white tick marks on the hosel and you're off.
Changing the driver’s loft will change the face angle slightly (more loft closes the face, less loft opens the face), but the Advanced OptiFit hosel was designed to minimise those changes, which to many golfers may not even be noticeable at address.
Thankfully I was afforded the luxury of taking the 460cc version out for a test drive at Hersham Golf Club this week to see what all the fuss is about. Here's how I got on...
Placing FT Optiforce 460 down at address and there's a dark side - oh stop it! - with a simple white alignment aid in the middle. Crown to glove and there are eye-catching red and black graphics that provide that sense of energy, force, motion and dare I say it, throwback to Star Wars. The large, aerodynamic head shape sits nicely behind the ball and provides confidence that you'll nail the sweetspot.
The 460 comes in just one loft - stamped at my normal 10.5-degree - but can be adjusted 1-degree down or 2-degree up in 1-degree increments. There's enough adjustability to get excited about here - the name of the driver game today - but perhaps there won't be quite enough for the gearheads among you to get excited about. Time will tell, I guess.
FT Optiforce is also fuelled with Speed Optimised Technology, a combination of lightweight aerodynamic head, light saber, sorry light shaft, and grip - all of which combine to produce the additional ball speed and distance. This is by far the ligh In layman’s terms, FT Optiforce looks like it's been on the Slim Fast but can still send it out there a long way; kind of like Charl Schwartzel.
The 460, 3 grams lighter than its sister 440, utilises a 43g Project X PXV that spans 46 inches. There's very minimal mid-kick with this shaft but it's incredibly lightweight. I found the head was nicely weighted and that provided the perfect combination for me to go after the ball.
In terms of performance, the 460 is hard to fault. Of the 30 drives I struck on the range, I averaged 248 yards total distance and 225 yards carry. That's some five additional yards on the X Hot that I hit during our Ten of the Best: 2013 Drivers test. Impressive. My dispersion pattern was pleasing too, with an average offline distance of just 12 yards, while ball speed fell just shy of 150mph and vertical launch hit 12.5-degree. For the record, I swing at around 100 mph.
FT Optiforce 460 flies very high, is particularly forgiving on off-centre hits, and most importantly, it's long.
If there's one negative, I had two or three drives that ballooned on me a touch, but maybe those were just bad swings. Some players may also want a little more adjustabilty for a game improvement driver. £300 is a little expensive but that's the norm for a premium quality driver for 2014.
Overall, ball flight matches Callaway's claims. This is very much a high-launching, forgiving driver that will see you playing for the short grass more often than not.
All in all, I'd recommend this driver. May the FT Optiforce be with you. I'll get my cape...