Come the middle of February, 2012, golfers will be able to buy an adjustable Callaway Golf driver. Yes, the company has had the i-Mix system in the past that allowed for interchangeability in shafts but the new RAZR-Fit driver takes things to a whole new level for them. The new RAZR-Fit allows the user to set up the face angle and weighting that serves them best.
When Colt Knost was photographed testing the driver on the PGA Tour this Fall, we were intrigued, but after getting to test the driver for two days over a couple rounds of golf, we were simply impressed.
Callaway has had an interesting heritage in the high-performance driver category. Their last major success on tour was the FT-3 driver – the model used by Graeme McDowell to win the the 2010 U.S. Open even though by then it had been on the market for five full years. The FT-5 that followed had limited appeal while the last major FT driver, the FT-Tour was noticeably hot when hit dead-on but proved temperamental on off-centre strikes.
I’m happy to say that live testing in Carlsbad, California last month proved to me that the new RAZR-Fit is not only as solid as the FT-3 was, it goes beyond that with improved looks, adjustability and performance. With the RAZR-Fit they have a driver that should appeal to many golfers, especially the better player who has high demands off the tee.
My first glance at the RAZT-Fit was pleasing. The no-nonsense clubhead was void of alignment guides and the shape was engaging as well, with flowing lines and limited distractions.
Of course, a club can look good but any golfer knows that performance is the real benchmark.
Unfortunately my initial round with the RAZR-Fit was with a loft and shaft flex not exactly fit to my swing speed, which is slightly on the higher side of the scale, but I could at least tell that the sound and feel off the clubhead were much like the first look – nothing that disturbed me in any way. In fact, it intrigued me as center contact produced a nice response into my hands and a volume and pitch of sound that fell nicely in the middle between muted and shrill. I knew I had to get my hands on a driver with a better fit to get a real sense of the club, thankfully that came on the second day of testing.
On day two I was pleased to have Luke Williams in my group. He is a low handicap golfer who formerly played Rugby at UCLA and he also happens to be Callaway Golf’s Senior Director for Global Woods and Irons. Not only would I get a chance to make use of his RAZR-Fit driver with a shaft and loft more suitable to a fast-swinging player, I would have the advantage of picking his brain about the new technology in the design.
Williams says the new RAZR-Fit makes use of what they call “Speed-Frame Technology”, the evolution of the company’s variable face thickness technology that they have used for years. The goal is to create peak ball speed across a larger area of the clubface. In other words, hope for all of us when we make less than ideal contact.
The RAZR Fit will see the continued use of Forged Composite Technology, first used in the RAZR Hawk driver last year. Williams commented, “It gives us the most flexibility in design and it is a great tool for saving weight so we can move it from areas where it is not beneficial to areas where it is.”
The companies other focus, which has obviously payed off from our own assessment, has been in the sound and feel of the driver. “Sound and impact feel go hand in hand,” says Williams. “We spent a lot of time analyzing it,” he added, noting that they worked to find the types of sound that golfers prefer, zeroing in a on pitch, duration and amplitude.
In tackling the adjustable end of things Callaway engaged a philosophy in that they wanted to simply things for the user and “have changes that matter.”
I played Luke’s 8.5 degree driver in the neutral setting, one of three face angles (2.5 degrees open, neutral, 1.5 degrees closed) and six settings you can create through the use of a simple wrench. A favorable feature of Callaway’s Opti-Fit adjustable hosel is that it allows the shaft to remain oriented the way you like even as the face angle changes. All the adjustments are contained in the housing of the fitting. This ensures you can have the shaft graphics where you prefer and can also maintain the shaft position if you “spine” or “Pure” your shafts. You can also use a reminder style grip that will maintain its position throughout any adjustment.
“We wanted to have a driver that was easy for the consumer to use, one where they can easily see a change in ball flight when they make an adjustment in the face angle or weighting,” Williams pointed out as we strolled the fairways at Grand Del Mar Golf Club.
“There were a couple key components to this driver when we set out to design it,” Williams explained later on at the Ely Callaway Performance Center. This, after I had been suitably impressed by the accuracy and consistent distance the driver delivered on course. Those elements were: creating an adjustable driver that only enhanced performance, rather than compromising it, and making sure the adjustable features would not be intimidating to the average user.
Willams says that they found that with an adjustable driver most golfers , up to 90% of them, would get their club set-up and never change those settings, even when it would be to their advantage to alter them. Their goal was to have a system that encouraged the golfer to make an adjustment when they needed it, without fear that it was too complicated. “We wanted it to simple because we heard that some golfers were afraid to adjust it for fearing of breaking the club or getting it into a setting where they could not get it back to the way it was. There is no advantage of an adjustable driver if that is the case.”
Williams likens some adjustable drivers on the market, with their high number of available settings, to 21 speed spikes, saying that on those bikes there are about 12 distinct speeds you notice while others overlap so much you never make use of them. They wanted to ensure the “speed” changes in the RAZR Fit to be perceptible.
“We put a lot into this design. I think golfers will see that when they try it for themselves.”
The Callaway RAZR-Fit driver is scheduled to be available at retail on February 17th, 2012. It comes in lofts of 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, and 11.5 in right hand and lofts of 9.5 through 11.5 in left hand. The stock shaft will be an Aldila RIP NV (45.5″) and the head will come fitted with a 12 gram weight in the toe and a 2 gram weight in the heel. That is a neutral setting that can be adjusted.
The company says they will be introducing a free Mobile Fitting App and you can also expect matching fairway woods to join the driver on shop shelves in 2012.