Equipment

First Look: Titleist 917 Drivers

Gear Factor: Titleist 917 Drivers
Stephanie Luttrell, Director of Metalwood Development for Titleist, discusses the new Titleist 917 driver. The driver promotes more ball speed and less spin.

Titleist might be known primarily as a ball company, but it's producing an impressive club arsenal as well. In June, prototype 917 drivers debuted on the PGA Tour. (Jimmy Walker captured the PGA Championship in July with the D2 version.) Now the finished products are ready to meet the masses.

Both the 917 D2 and 917 D3 have familiar features, plus a few new wrinkles to help you hit it farther and straighter. An updated "Active Recoil Channel" along the sole helps increase ball speed on shots struck low on the face. With thinner walls toward the heel and toe (the previous channel had constant wall thickness), there's more face flexure and less spin on low hits.

Photo:

Titleist 917 D3 driver.

In Titleist's robot testing, 917s generate 1 mph more ball speed than the 915s on half-inch off-center hits. Plus, a new Ti 6-4 face insert design (thinner than the 915s toward the edges) means that mis-hits travel nearly as far as center strikes. All this is accomplished with a similar MOI as in the 915s (4,500 to 4,600), to maintain speed on off-center hits.

The drivers are packed with adjustability features, too. Both the fourth-generation SureFit hosel and the new "SureFit CG weight" are used to alter shot shape and direction. With the now-familiar hosel system, you can change loft (-0.75° to +1.5°) and lie (0.75° flat to +1.5° upright) independently of one another. The removable 12-gram "SureFit CG weight" corrects shot shape while also impacting ball speeds -- company officials have found the proper CG location frees up players to swing harder and with more confidence. Each driver comes with a pair of these 12-gram carbon tubes. (Only one is used at a time.) The neutral-weighted tube has equal mass on both ends while the other (9 grams on one end and 1 gram on the other) is used to tweak draw or fade bias. The tube gets inserted at an angle -- the toe is closer to the face than the heel -- for more consistent spin between draws and fades. Titleist says the loft/lie adjustment and movable CG weight each create up to 12 yards of left-right directional change in player testing.

Photo:

Titleist 917 D2 driver.

The 460cc 917 D2 produces 250 rpm more spin, on average, than the 440cc 917 D3. The D2 also has marginally more forgiveness and draw bias than its brother. (The 917s launch shots similar to 915s and with 100 rpm less spin than before.) The 917 D2 comes in 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5° and 12°, and 917 D3 in 8.5°, 9.5° and 10.5°. Five stock shafts include: Aldila Rogue Max (65 and 75), Fujikura Speeder Pro Tour Spec (64, 74 and 84) and Mitsubishi Diamana Limited Red, Limited Blue and Limited White. $500; in stores October 21st.

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