Shape of the future?

February 16, 2007

Twenty years ago, Huey Lewis and the News had a smash single called “Hip to be Square.” Soon, the phrase “hip to be square” will apply to driver heads. Both Callaway and Nike are hard at work on these odd-looking drivers. And they’re coming soon; expect the sticks to be at retail by next spring.

Square-headed drivers certainly stand out from the crowd. But there’s more to it than that. Manufacturers continually strive to build a better mousetrap. Current approaches for redistributing mass include newfangled geometric shapes, multi-material heads and the use of removable weights. Squarish heads are really the next logical progression (and they’re well within the Rules of Golf).

The rationale is that weight can be displaced in a square head to extreme heel and toe locations that don’t even exist in traditional-shaped drivers. This creates a higher moment of inertia (MOI), which simply means the club won’t twist quite so much on off-center hits. A higher MOI (in the vertical axis) serves to straighten out shots struck toward the heel or toe.

Callaway’s Fusion technology—titanium body with a composite rear—enables the company to move 40-plus grams to the extreme heel and toe. The Fusion FT-i driver (its working name) also has a tall, rectangular face. This should contribute to a higher MOI on shots hit high or low on the face. So you’d get a straighter ball flight (less curve) due to enhanced forgiveness and stability on shots struck high, low, heel or toe.

More on these clubs as additional details become available.