This month Golfsmith is introducing two new innovative drivers that truly represent a marriage of the latest design and construction technologies: the Snake Eyes 675T and Lynx Black Cat drivers. Both of these models represent the latest engineering feats in manufacturing and fabrication.
For the past year, geometry has been the greatest technological chase for driver designers. This has been the result of the United States Golf Association’s (USGA’s) limitation on head volume and footprint dimensions. Back in 2002, when the head volume limit was established at 460 cubic centimeters, the footprint dimensions were not considered important. That was because most of the driver heads on the market were under 400cc. As the size of each subsequent generation of drivers increased, so did their forgiveness, which we measure as moment of inertia (MOI).
It took only a few years before all drivers were being manufactured at 460cc. The next engineering challenge was to increase the forgiveness while remaining at 460cc. This was first pursued using weights around the club’s perimeter (most commonly in the form of screws). Subsequently, taking advantage of the USGA footprint limitations has been another means of increasing drivers’ forgiveness. Those dimension limits are 5 inches as measured from heel to toe (length) and 5 inches from front to back (breadth). There is also a vertical (height) limit: 2.8 inches. Together, the 460cc head volume, maximum footprint size and vertical height all contributed to a new array of driver shapes that previously did not exist.
One of these new shapes is the triangle. The Snake Eyes 675T driver utilizes a triangle shape to strategically position weights in three corners. The heaviest of the weights is centered directly in line with the clubhead’s center of gravity (CG). This places additional mass in line with the intended impact area for increased energy transfer to the ball upon impact. The low rearward position of the heaviest weight also contributes to a higher dynamic launch angle by deepening the CG far behind the clubface.
Two lighter weights are positioned forward at the heel and toe. Their function is to help stabilize the clubhead on an off-center impact. Working in conjunction with the rear weight, this three-weight system minimizes clubhead twisting through mass resistance, for straighter shots.
Fig. 1 A triangular weight configuration makes
the Snake Eyes 675T driver very stable and forgiving.
The 675T driver is also the first Snake Eyes driver to incorporate all of its weights in the sole of the club. In the past, additional weight mass has been placed on the skirt. The sole position of the weights shifts the CG into a lower position, closer to the ground. In fact, the 675T driver has the most favorable CG% rating of any driver we have developed; 50.2% of the impact area is above the driver’s CG. Compared to an average of 42.6% for the rest of the product line, the 675T has the ability to impart vertical gear effect (the effect that imparts a higher launch angle with a lower spin rate for above-CG impacts) more efficiently than any other model we offer. The high launch/low spin combination is the one-two punch that so many golfers are looking for to maximize their driving distance.
Fig. 2 More clubface above the center of gravity
means high launch and low spin.
The Lynx Black Cat driver is a blend of the triangular and bullet shape. While a triangular head shape is easy for many to visualize, a bullet shape requires some further description. Most drivers have a greater heel-to-toe dimension than front-to-back (breadth) measurement. By extending the breadth of the club to equal the heel-to-toe dimension, the shape of the head is contorted. The result of this reshaping leads to a geometry we call a bullet driver shape. Extending the breadth farther back increases the clubhead’s forgiveness, for straighter shots across the entire face. The Black Cat driver has blended the bullet and triangular shapes together for a unique and very appealing look at setup.
Fig. 3 Our two new driver shapes
are both appealing and effective.
As with the 675T driver, the Black Cat driver incorporates extra weights to stabilize the head and enhance performance. Our approach to the design places four different weights in a perpendicular orientation to the clubface. While the extra mass of the weights helps to stabilize the head for off-center impacts, each weight can be replaced or repositioned to achieve a desired CG bias. For example, a golfer requiring help in drawing the ball would position heavy weights in the two heel weight port locations, with light weights toward the toe, thereby creating a heel (or draw) bias setup. Heavier weights in the rear versus lighter ones near the face create a higher dynamic launch angle by shifting the CG more rearward.
Fig. 4 Four weight ports make the
Lynx Black Cat driver extremely adjustable.
We carried this design with four adjustable weights through all the Lynx Black Cat drivers and fairway woods. The Black Cat hybrid utilizes two adjustable weights in its midsize hybrid design.
There are two features that the 675T and Black Cat drivers have in common. The first is an extra-thin 15-3-3-3 beta titanium crown, half the thickness of a traditional driver crown to eliminate weight without sacrificing strength. Both drivers incorporate a hybrid fabrication, utilizing a sheet-rolled beta titanium crown in addition to a CNC-milled face and an investment cast 6-4 titanium sole. This type of construction was necessary to remove crown weight so that discretionary weight was available for the weighting screws on the Black Cat driver and sole weights on the 675T driver. Due to the complexity of these sole geometries, an investment cast approach was used. This allowed us to create the screw housings with minimal material, again leaving more discretionary weight for the screws.
The drivers’ second common feature is their face design. As with the crowns, the faces are constructed from extremely strong 15-3-3-3 beta titanium. A variable face thickness, incorporating a 2.6mm general thickness with a 3.2mm island, creates a uniquely reactive response for upper face impacts. The coefficient of restitution is the same in the upper face as at the center of the face. This leads to consistent ball velocity and control for impacts in these locations. This is the same high-tech face construction used in our Killer Bee Yellow Hornet LD driver, which Pat Dempsey used in his runner-up finish in the Re/Max World Long Drive competition.
Fig. 5 In both models, variable face thickness
produces consistent velocity and control.
From a performance standpoint, these two drivers have been a blessing to work on. Regardless of all our challenges in achieving our weight and cosmetics goals, the performance aspects of these two clubs has been outstanding. As we venture into new types of clubhead geometry, there are always challenges concerning performance and sound, but that was never the case with the 675T and Black Cat drivers. Their impact sounds are crisp and eventful, and ball flights are steady, true and penetrating. In short, it has taken some extra time to get these models to market, but they have been worth the wait.
Fig. 6 High launch angles and low spin rates
mean more distance for most golfers.