September 06, 2018
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- A look at the new Titleist TS driver. (Jonathan Wall/PGA TOUR)
Titleist had a singular goal in mind during the creation of its new TS drivers and fairway woods: Build a product that was not only markedly better than its predecessor but focused specifically on increasing club head and ball speed. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the TS stands for "Titleist Speed."
"We wanted to get rid of the slow, spinney label that had been placed on Titleist drivers in recent years," said Josh Talge, Titleist's VP of golf club marketing. "We measured every little thing to get better results, with the goal of creating a club that's considerably faster than anything we've created in the past."
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Titleist believes the new TS2 and TS3 drivers check all the boxes when it comes to speed. In fact, they were so good during prototype testing that Justin Thomas and Rafa Cabrera Bello — Cabrera Bello picked up more than 15 yards — pushed to get the driver in the bag ahead of the usual TOUR launch at Quicken Loans National.
Constant pressure from the Tour staff led Titleist to move the launch date to U.S. Open week, where 17 players put the new drivers in play, including Thomas, Jimmy Walker and Adam Scott. Thomas wound up recording the longest drive of his career that week (422 yards) with a 9.5-degree TS3.
"It was very easy to transition, as it always is," Thomas said. "The new TS driver was instantly faster off the club and I was able to get a few more yards carry when needed. More importantly for me, my spin numbers were more consistent therefore it has helped me drive the ball much better. The fairway metal too has gone up in spin to give me control and can easily fly it 280-285 off the tee if needed. Which is such a great asset and club to have."
Most of the newfound speed comes the company's Speed Chassis, which is comprised of four different technologies. Titleist engineers began by significantly thinning out the Radial VFT face, getting it to .35 millimeters in some regions. In previous years, the face thickness on a Titleist driver was somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 to 2.8 millimeters.
With a paper-thin face, Titleist was forced to get creative with the score lines and laser them on, as opposed to etching them into the face as they've done with prior generations.
The new face design yielded a weight savings of six grams that was repositioned low and back in the head to create the deepest center of gravity (CG) position ever in a Titleist driver for a higher launch angle and lower spin, as well as a 12 percent increase in Moment of Inertia.
Titleist also plans to 100 percent inspect each face that comes off the line to ensure every driver, regardless if it's going to a TOUR winner or a recreational golfer, has the maximum allowable speed.
"We don't want the guys on TOUR to get something special and the rest of us to get something that's not as warm," said Talge. "We're always going to be within the rules of golf, but we want to give people something that says, 'We're going to be legal here, but we're not going to be so slow that you're going to be giving something up.'"
An ultra-thin titanium crown, the lightest in the industry, and new streamlined shape round out the new Speed Chassis package. Titleist toyed with the idea of adding bumped or raised areas to the crown to improve airflow efficiency but opted for a sleeker, more aerodynamic shape that reduces drag by up to 20 percent for more speed through the hitting area.
"What we found during testing was that there was no real competitive advantage, so we really wanted to provide a very classic, clean look," said Stephanie Luttrell, Titleist’s director of metalwood development. "We don't think it stands out from a shape perspective, but we really think it makes a difference."
Due to the new CG position and weight savings that was gained from the crown and face, Titleist removed the Active Recoil Channel (ARC) from the sole, believing it no longer served a purpose. Luttrell was quick to point out that with ARC no longer in the picture, players should notice a more pleasing sound at impact. Player feedback also led to a return of the classic, high-gloss black crown that was last featured on the 915 Series.
Both drivers come in at 460cc with the high launch, low spin TS2 being the "pure distance" model in the lineup. Instead of adding a SureFit CG cartridge to the sole, Titleist kept the profile simple, focusing on forgiveness across the entire face.
The mid launch, low spin TS3, which has the same forgiveness as 917D2, will continue to house the SureFit CG cartridge in the sole that makes it possible to alter center of gravity, via a cylindrical cartridge, to produce a fade or draw.
The Surefit hosel can be found on both drivers and offers 16 independent loft and lie settings. A multitude of premium aftermarket shafts (45.5 inches stock length) are available as well, including Mitsubishi's Kuro Kage Black Dual Core 50 (high launch, moderate spin), Tensei AV Series Blue 55 (mid launch, spin), Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 60 (low to mid launch, spin) and Even Flow T1100 White 65 (low launch and spin).
From a usage standpoint on TOUR, Titleist currently has a near split between the TS2 and TS3 worldwide. The percentage differs greatly from what it's seen in recent years with 917 and 915, where 917D2 and 915D3 were the runaway favorites.
TS FAIRWAY WOODS
Titleist's TS2 and TS3 fairway woods take a page from the thinner, lighter TS driver playbook with a Speed Chassis that's designed to reduce weight in the crown by 27 percent. Discretionary weight from the .4 millimeter crown was placed low and back to produce a higher launch, more spin and 11 percent higher MOI than 917 for additional stability.
An optimized aerodynamic shape and thinner VFT face boost ball speeds and clubhead speed, and work in tandem with a third-generation Active Recoil Channel that's taller than its predecessor — producing even more flexibility for consistent face deflection and speed across the face.
"We still had a need for ARC in the fairway woods," Luttrell said. "Players will be using these clubs a lot off the turf, which means the bottom of the face is a crucial area for ball speed retention."
Similar to the drivers, the TS2 fairway wood no longer includes then SureFit CG cartridge in an effort to focus on forgiveness and speed. The 175cc head is designed with a more playable, modern shape for a high launch and mid spin.
The TS3 is also 175cc but features more traditional shaping and the company's SureFit CG. For players who require more adjustability with a mid launch and low spin, TS3 should be a consideration during product testing.
Titleist has seen a similar TOUR adoption to the TS fairway woods with more than 75 put in play since they were introduced at Quicken Loans National. Jordan Spieth (15 degrees) and Bill Haas (15 and 18 degrees) are currently playing the TS2, while Justin Thomas (15 degrees) and Jimmy Walker (13.5 degrees) opted for TS3.
Mitsubishi's Kuro Kage Black Dual Core 55, Tensei AV Series Blue 65 (mid launch, spin), Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 70 (low to mid launch, spin) and Even Flow T1100 White 75 (low launch and spin) are the stock aftermarket shaft offerings. Each shaft will be making its debut with the TS fairway woods.
PRICING AND RETAIL DATE
Titleist's TS2 (8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 11.5 degrees) and TS3 (8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees) drivers retail for $500 and will be available Sept. 28. The TS2 (13.5, 15, 16.5, 18 and 21 degrees) and TS3 (13.5, 15, 16.5 and 18 degrees) fairway woods are offered for $300 per club.