By Dominic Choma, Club Fitter
When manufacturers are designing a driver, their main goal is to help the golfer hit the ball as far and as straight as possible. They are many different ways to achieve this goal, as evidenced by the many different options available on the market today. Terms such as “Jailbreak”, “Turbulators” and a new one this year called “Twist Face” are all names for different technological advances available in today’s drivers. While they are all different from each other, the goal of each remains the same: to help the golfer hit the ball farther and/or straighter.
When it comes to helping the golfer hit the ball straighter, the main idea is to boost the amount of forgiveness that the club head offers. Forgiveness essentially breaks down to how good of a result the player gets when he does not make his best swing. When a golf club is more forgiving, the golfer’s bad shots should be closer to their good shots, allowing the golfer to achieve greater consistency. There are many ways to make a driver more forgiving for a given player. Some of the more popular ways to add forgiveness is to boost the stability, or Moment of Inertia of the club head, or by adding movable weight to the club head. By making the club head more stable, it will not twist or deflect as much at impact which will result in a shot that ends up closer to the intended target. Movable weight allows the golfer to place weight in a manner that will help fight their big miss, for example moving more weight to the heel for a golfer that tends to slice and/or miss their shots to the right. This method provides forgiveness by correcting a miss that tends to give the golfer trouble, making their misses playable instead of unplayable.
A new form a forgiveness introduced this year by TaylorMade is named “Twist Face”. Twist Face is designed to help enhance shots that are hit on 2 different parts of the clubface, high and on the toe, and low on the heel. Shots hit on the low heel area tend to curve more to the right with a higher spin rate, while shots hit on the high toe area tend to curve left with a lower spin rate. To help counteract these two shots, TaylorMade has added more curvature to the clubface than what a normal clubhead will have. The low heel area has less loft and is more closed, while the high toe area has more loft and is more open. According to TaylorMade this added curvature will allow a shot struck on the high toe and low heel area of the clubface to be 4-7 yards closer to the target line. This is the difference between a shot that ends up a few yards in the rough, vs a shot that ends up in the fairway.
To put Twist Face to the test, I decided to hit a few shots with an M3 460 and a Ping G400 Max. The reason I chose the Ping G400 Max is due to the fact that it has the highest Moment of Inertia on the market, or in other words it is the most stable clubhead on the market. Essentially this is a test of stability vs face curvature. For this test I used a 9 degree G400 max head, and a 9.5 degree M3 460 head set at standard. The shaft I used for both club heads was the TPT 15 with a Mid Kick Point, Mid Torque, and Standard Weight. I used this shaft mainly because it is my gamer shaft, and it allowed me to use the same exact shaft in each clubhead using the club Conex system. I set the weights on the M3 on the Max Forgiveness setting, with both weights split in the extreme heel and toe of the Y track.
Essentially the only major difference between the two clubs being hit was the club heads themselves. Results are below.
|Club||Clubhead Speed||Ball Speed||Launch Angle||Spin Rate||Launch Direction||Spin Axis||Carry||Total|
My goal was to get both club heads to perform the same in terms of launch angle and spin rate which essentially is what happened here. Looking at the overall numbers they are very similar, save for the ball speed which was 1.8 mph faster with the G400 Max. The reason why we see that would be in the increased stability of the G400 Max. With a more stable club head, you will see more consistent ball speeds on mishits. As you will see in a second here, I was not exactly hitting every shot on the middle of the face on this day.
In terms of the dispersion, both the yellow circle (G400 Max) and the light blue circle (M3 460) in the first chart look very similar with many of the shots concentrated around the target line. This is showing us that both clubs were providing a consistent pattern and dispersion and honestly either one of these drivers would work well as a gamer. The main difference I see is that the TaylorMade had a tendency to go slightly more to the right compared to the Ping, but overall both club heads had a consistent pattern that would work well on the golf course.
Now to the interesting part. As we talked about earlier, twist face is designed to help correct shots that are hit in two areas of the clubface, the high toe and the low heel. I happened to hit a few shots with each clubhead that were towards the high toe area, and the results were interesting to say the least. The first picture below is a shot I hit with the Ping G400 Max:
As we can see, I stuck this shot approximately 11mm towards the toe, and the ball started slightly left of the target line and had a good amount of curvature to the left. Overall the ball ended up almost 87 feet left of the target. With this strike and a less forgiving club the result would have been worse, but still 87 feet offline is borderline in terms of how playable my next shot would be. The next picture is a shot hit with the TaylorMade.
In terms of strike point, this shot was hit 14mm towards the toe. So in terms of where the ball was struck on the club face, the strike points were extremely similar. The major difference is this shot started slighly left and had a slight draw to it instead the higher amount of curve that the same strike with the Ping had. Because of the lower amount of curve, this shot ended up 32 feet left of the target, which on just about any hole you can play will end up in the fairway. I can 100% attribute this to twist face, as a strike that far off center for me will generally have a decent amount of curvature to the left, whereas this shot held its line with very little curvature.
You might have noticed 2 dots from each club that are significant outliers when compared to the rest of the sample. Those two shots were included for a reason. Both of those shots were toe strikes that were hit with each club where I left the face slightly open in relation to the club path. As we can see the shot with the Ping carried farther and was closer to the target line when compared to the shot with the TaylorMade. What is the point? Twist Face can actually be a detriment for someone who consistently hits the ball off of the toe, with a face angle that is open to the club path. This is where a proper fitting comes into play, in making sure that the player gets the right driver for their game and their particular misses.
Forgiveness is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the golf industry and for good reason. A golf club that is more forgiving will allow the golfer to play better golf by making the result of their good shots and their bad shots closer together. The Ping G400 Max and the TaylorMade M3/M4 drivers both have helped my customers hit the ball with more consistency, even though they feature different technologies. Figuring out which one is right for your game is something that an experienced fitter can help you figure out. The result will be longer and straighter drives, and most importantly lower scores.