Driver technology even in the last few years has come so far and the rate of development and improvement is only getting quicker, but exactly how far can they go? To answer this, we perhaps need to look at where we’ve come from.
Drivers have not always been the huge, forgiving distance machines they are now. In fact, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that they were actually made out of metal. It was TaylorMade who introduced the first ‘metal wood’. It didn’t take long for the other manufactures to follow suit and in 1995 Callaway launched the first titanium driver, the Great Big Bertha. This marked a huge leap in technology, so big in fact that titanium is still the most popular material in driver heads.
So now they had the best material, the designers started working on other ways to get the ball out there further and straighter; the holy grail being high launch and low spin. They stared with straightness by making drivers as forgiving on mishits as possible. Head size was the first thing to change as this was an easy way to increase forgiveness. However, it quickly became apparent that there needed to be tolerances on this and the law makers agreed on 460cc to be the maximum size a driver can be. So now they couldn’t make it any bigger the designers and engineers played around with different shapes to help stop the club twisting on impact. However, these have come and gone, and the traditional shape is now used across the board.
When designers started to address the distance issue with technology in the face and retaining as much energy from the impact as possible. Once again this had to be restrained and the USGA and R&A settled on upper limits for this.
Now these limits have been in place for a number of years, the trend in design has been towards adjustability and giving the golfer the ability to dial in their drive to suit their swing. The ability to change loft, lie and CG location is now common place.
So where next? Manufacturers cannot make the heads any bigger or faces any ‘hotter’ so they’re starting to chase that holy grail of high launch and low spin. However, it is not as simple as it appears and the two do not go naturally together. In the years to come manufactures are going to be trying to lower spin but keeping launch angles as high as they can. How they achieve this, we’ll just have to wait and see.
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