GOLFMAGIC tested out both of the new Titleist 915 D2 and Titleist 915 D3 drivers under the watchful eye of Titleist fitting and sales rep Ben Welch at Silvermere Golf Club yesterday.
Warming up with a bucket of balls using my current driver, leaving Ben to set up his portable shaft stand (which included more than 100 different shafts) and giant case of snazzy 915 heads, I heard an 'oh dear' during the flight of my fifth ball.
"Look I'm sorry Ben, I know I have a dodgy..."
(Ben realises his laptop screen has smashed on the journey down from Bournemouth). Cue awkward silence.
Several minutes later, I realised his DELL wasn't the only smashing thing on display.
Holding both 915 D2 and D3 heads in the palm of his hands, Ben explained to me what each had to offer and what was different to the former 913 line. 915 D2 is a 460cc pear profile head that offers maximum forgiveness, is easier to draw and during Titleist testing picked up 250rpm more spin vs the 915 D3, a smaller 440cc head that is both forgiving and workable, has no draw bias and a lower peak trajectory. Both crowns also feature a neat alignment aid, something that if you regularly read my equipment reviews, means a lot to me.
The biggest and most visible difference in the sole of the new 915 line, however, is ARC (Active Recoil Channel). This feature, acting exactly like a spring where it pulls the head back and lets it go, takes away spin from the product and adds speed to it. Instead of the crown of the club being the main point of the head flexing, Titleist has now ensured you've got a combination of both crown and sole flexing together to help stop the ball rolling up the face and creating excess spin. Ben went on to tell me that this was a process that had been in the pipeline for around five years.
Couple ARC with a new Radial Speed Face and the 915 D2 and D3 drivers present you with a much more forgiving Titleist driver than before. The Radial Speed Face is a high speed face insert that features a thick centre and radially thin perimeter in the heel and toe to deliver more distance on off-centre hits.
By putting a channel in the front of the head like ARC, however, quite a lot more material is added 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. By managing to maintain a high MOI design, consistent with the 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, Titleist is able to design a product with a low and deep CG that provides ball speed preserving forgiveness.
Hitting several shots with both 915 D2 and 915 D3 drivers in my favoured 10.5-degree loft and Diamana S+ Blue 60 stiff shaft, I instantly took a shine to the D3. I just loved the way the D3, as used by the likes of Titleist staff player Adam Scott, sat at address with its deep face pear profile. It also provided me with shot shape I was looking for - a nice little fade off my target line. The slight draw bias in the D2 was slightly hindering my miss shot that goes left when I swing too quickly.
In terms of Titleist's SureFit Tour hosel, it's easy to see why this has become an industry leading innovation. SureFit just makes things so much simpler for the customer. For the average golfer who isn't a golf geek, loft, lie and face angle adjustments can look a bit like an algebra equation, but not with SureFit's easy-to-understand 16-setting grid that allows the customer to set the loft and lie independently to optimise ball flight.
SureFit allows you to raise or lower the loft and open or close the face depending on your preference. The hosel sleeve is adjustable by changing the club to one of 16 settings; one ring has settings of 1, 2, 3 and 4, while the other has settings of A, B, C and D.
After looking at all my shot data with the D3, Ben knew exactly which code to plug me in to and that was B1. As you can see from the chart, this means I was in a standard loft but .75 flat in terms of lie. This tweak in adjustability was made by Ben to help straighten me up slightly and provide me with that desired left-to-right ball flight, as well as limit my one real bad shot with the driver that goes left.
Titleist 915 D2: Ball Speed 147.6; Smash Factor 1.51; Launch 12.2; Spin 2793; Carry 232; Distance 259
Titleist 915 D3: Ball Speed 148.4; Smash Factor 1.49; Launch 11.5; Spin 2119; Carry 228; Distance 263
It was more of a personal preference in the end when deciding upon a favourite, but the fact I felt more confident at address looking at the smaller but deeper face pear profile of the D3 and was achieving a better shot shape, a dramatically lower spin rate (D3 is 2mm taller and therefore CG is closer to the face to reduce spin) and four-yard gain in distance against both D2 and my current driver (New ARC and Radial Speed Face features clearly have a lot to do with this), the D3 got my vote of the two.
The D2, as expected because of its 460cc head, produced a slightly higher launch angle of 0.7 but that didn't bother me too much because the lower peak trajectory of the D3 was generating me with some superb run out. Launch with both 915 drivers was higher than my current driver.
The sound of both drivers was decent, too. The D3 was probably a little more hollow at impact than the D2 but both sounded pure even on those dreaded off-centre hits.
Both D2 and D3 come with a choice of Diamana and Aldila shafts at 45 inches. The shafts are standard after market shafts and not custom Titleist versions and they both seem a litter firmer than previous stock shafts they have used, but other options are available at fitting.
The new Titleist 915 drivers offer the best combination of forgiveness and distance on the market right now, particularly the 915 D3.
The Active Recoil Channel not only looks great but works incredibly well. Working in tangent with the Radial Speed Face, the wide sole channel delivers more distance by actively flexing both the crown and sole of the head at impact to launch the ball off the face with higher speed and lower spin. Couple that with an improved high MOI design preserving forgiveness, and you've got the complete driver.
RRP £379 (available November 14)
Full Titleist 915 coverage
First Look: Titleist 915 family
915 Exclusive Interview: Titleist's Richard Temple
Tour pro reaction: Titleist 915 drivers review
Watch: Active Recoil Channel
Watch: Radial Speed Face
Watch: High MOI design
For more information visit www.titleist.co.uk