Music to your Ears: A ringing Endorsement for some new drivers
When Cobra Golf’s engineers worked with International Space Station experts to incorporate the see-through space port on the sole of its new KING LTD driver, it wasn’t just for a cool look. The window’s addition saved four grams of discretionary weight, and helped eliminate the need for hot melt glue, a sticky substance that typically goes into a driver to catch internal debris and fine-tune the clubhead weight. That glue also affects impact sound, too.
“Hot melt dampens the sound,” says Tom Olsavsky, vice president of research and development for Cobra. “Designing this driver the way we did, we kept the impact sound in a good range without using hot melt.”
The result is a resonating impact sound — not overly loud, but still mighty — that golfers tend to associate with solid feel. “With faster swing speeds, you get more sound amplitude — think of it as a volume dial — so that a fast swinger typically prefers a less loud-sounding club,” says Olsavsky. “Hence, many better-player drivers are not typically as loud as an average player’s. Slower swingers can use a little more volume, since this gives feedback that the shot is going farther.”
It’s down to a science. In fact, manufacturers now easily determine how a club will sound at impact through computer modeling software before they ever get one in their hands. With multiple-material drivers, that accomplishment relies on the internal structure. For instance, Tour Edge officials “improved sound in our new EX9 series with added internal ribs in strategic locations on both the sole and crown,” says David Glod, president and founder. “We wanted a pure, crisp, titanium sound.”
TaylorMade’s sound engineering methodology includes optimizing club shape and internal structural design to target specific head vibrational frequencies, amplitudes and durations to achieve the desired sound. According to Todd Beach, vice president of product development, “We know sound is directly related to feel and is the first feedback you get when hitting a shot. We put even more effort than typical into sound optimization for our M1 — the sound had to be robust for all of its 208 different T-Track weight settings — and we received extremely positive comments about sound when we first introduced it to our top TOUR players.”
Impact ultimately lies in the ear of the beholder. Some sound advice: Check out these newcomers on the range.
Cobra’s KING LTD ($449) features a carbon fiber crown, titanium face and adjustable loft.
TaylorMade’s M1 460cc ($499) features multiple materials and is adjustable for loft, left-right ball flight and launch angle.
Tour Edge’s Exotics EX9 ($300) has an adjustable hosel and heel weight, for tuning ball flight, while variable thickness enhances speed across the face.
Wilson Staff’s FG Tour F5 ($380) is deep-faced and adjustable for both loft and left-right ball flight.