Tech Talk: Callaway FT OptiForce drivers and fairway woods

by   |   July 1, 2013
Callaway FT OptiForce Drivers Spotlight

While the mechanics of hitting longer drives are complex, the physics behind hitting a golf ball farther is fairly simple — golfers have to increase their ball speed, improve their launch conditions, or do both.

Golf’s ruling bodies have capped the amount of ball speed that can result from a center strike with a driver, which has left many golfers scrambling to find new ways to hit it farther with the big stick.

Sure, golfers can pick up extra yards by continuing to improve their launch conditions, and today’s drivers also give golfers more ball speed on mis-hits than ever before. But what about new, unbridled distance gains that will have golfers chomping at the bit to hit their next tee shot?

Callaway’s new FT OptiForce drivers are the lightest drivers in the company’s history, and were designed to give golfers more club head speed. Increasing club head speed has the potential to give golfers more ball speed, which will result in increased distance.

The OptiForce drivers come in two different sizes — a 460 cc model that targets golfers who need more forgiveness and a higher launch, as well as a 440 cc head that is geared for better players who desire a more penetrating trajectory.

“Callaway has always placed the golfer’s performance first when developing clubs, and we feel strongly that one club head does not fit all golfers,” said Dr. Alan Hocknell, senior vice president of R&D for Callaway. “Players using an 8.5-degree driver are fundamentally different than players using 12.5-degrees of loft, so with the FT Optiforce Driver we have optimized each of the two available heads — the 440cc and the 460cc –- and adjusted critical elements like size, weight, center of gravity position, moment of inertia and others so that golfers have the best chance to optimize their launch conditions for better total performance.”

460 FT OptiForce Driver

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440 FT OptiForce Driver

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One of the ways OptiForce drivers create more speed is with more aerodynamic head shapes, which Callaway says create 23 percent less drag on the downswing than previous models.

The drivers also offer increased speed through the reduction of head weight and total weight. Both drivers have Callaway’s Forged Composite Crown, which allows the 460 OptiForce to be made with a weight 192 grams — 3 grams lighter than Callaway’s X Hot driver. Likewise, the 440 OptiForce driver is 3 grams lighter than the X Hot Pro driver at 195 grams.

Those driver heads are also equipped with lighter shafts, which further maximize a golfer’s potential to swing the club faster. As stock shaft options, golfers can choose between the super light True Temper Project X PXV shaft that weighs 43 grams (at the stock length of 46 inches), and the more standard weight Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana S+ shaft, which weighs about 64 grams.

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The 460 OptiForce is stamped 10.5 degrees, but Callaway’s revamped OptiFit hosel allows golfers three other loft settings — 1 degree down to 9.5, or 1 or 2 degrees up to either 11.5 or 12.5. The 440 OptiForce is stamped 9.5 degrees and features the same range of loft adjustability.

The new OptiFit system also allows golfers to pick a lie setting, either S for standard or D for draw, which makes the driver more upright. The system seems complicated at first, with two different rings that twist independently and have both lie and loft markings, but it is simple to use once golfers realize that all they have to do is line up the desired loft and lie setting with the white lines on the hosel.

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While changing the loft of an OptiForce driver does change the face angle (adding loft slightly closes the face, while subtracting loft opens the face), the design of the new OptiFit hosel makes those face angle changes much more minimal than in previous models.

Both OptiForce drivers will be available July 12, and will sell for $399. Also to be released on July 12 are a line of FT OptiForce fairway woods ($229), which feature the same principal design as Callaway’s X Hot fairway woods in a lighter, higher-launching, higher-spinning package.

Click here to see photos of the fairway woods in the forums.

The OptiForce fairway woods are not adjustable, and come in the following models: 3 wood (15 degrees), 4 wood (17 degrees), 5 wood (19 degrees), 7 wood (21 degrees) and 9 wood (degrees). They’re sold with either a True Temper Project X PXV 53-gram shaft or a Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana S+ 62 shaft.

Click here to see what members are saying about the FT OptiForce line in the forums.

Click here to see what members are saying about the FT OptiForce line in the forums.

About

Zak is the Managing Editor of GolfWRX.com.

He's been a part of the company since 2012, when he was hired to develop GolfWRX's front page. Since that time, GolfWRX has become the go-to destination on the web for golf equipment news, tour news, instruction and opinion.

Zak also developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers who want to improve their skills and allows established golf professionals to communicate directly with readers.

He played college golf at the University of Richmond, where he took too many strokes. Good thing he also studied journalism and creative writing.

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss all the cool gear and insider info that's part of his job.


46 Comments

  1. Pingback: Callaway Ft Optiforce Fairway

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  3. HOM BOMB

    August 23, 2013 at 2:08 am

    Out of all the Callaway drivers past/present the FT Optiforce 440 driver is the best head they’ve come out with in years, reminds me of my older model but trusty FT 5 TH (tour hosel) & FT 9 TA drivers that I won’t let go of. The Optiforce 440 has the bomber distance of the FT 5 TH as well as it has that compact look of the FT 9 TA & the ball just a seems to explode off the face. I don’t agree with the lighter/longer = more distance, for the past 5/6 years my normal driver is 44.25″ because it’s just easier to control & I hit it as far as I would with a 45″/45.5″ shaft. I tried lighter 60g shafts in my driver about a year ago but I wasn’t as consistent with it & was just way to light. When I got my FT Optiforce 440 drivers the first week of August one was shafted with a Accra TourZ CB/85/M5, the other with a Oban Kiyoshi white 65/05 both tipped 1.25″. Both are great shafts but I ended up with the TourZ CB/85/M5, the feel of the shaft is unreal for a 85g shaft, was more consistent, & gained about 5-8mph higher ball speed over my X Hot Pro with the same shaft. This head is the real deal, you don’t need to go with a super lightweight shaft to take advantage of the great technology of this driver. Besides using a 85g driver shaft the head is also hot melted to 206g by Cally to get me to a D4.5 swing weight. If you give this driver a test driver with the right shaft you won’t be disappointed. There’s a reason why the FT Optiforce has been the #1 Callaway driver since it came out & 12 of 14 Callaway European Tour players are also gaming this big stick. Thumbs up to Callaway for bringing out a true players driver this year.

  4. Chip

    July 31, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I was able to demo the FT Optiforce driver last weekend. I was looking for a driver that was lighter in wieght. After hitting a few balls on the driving range, I started to think that I may have found my driver. When I took it to the course I was amazed at the added distance and control, especially distance. I consistantly hit more fairways and added 25 to 30 yards to my drives. Instead of trying to avoid fairway bunkers, I just flew over them. It was actually hard to mishit a shot in my opinion. I have read some pretty negative remarks regarding this driver, but I couldn’t diagree more. All golfers are not the same, and a light wieght driver may not be for you. But if you really want more distance and greater control, this driver may be a good option for you. I bought the driver and the 5 wood and could not be more pleased. It will lower my handicap for sure. I am a 14 hcp and used to drive 235. Now I am hitting my drives past 260. Great choice for me presonally.

  5. Michael

    July 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Great post! I bookmarked your site so I’ll be back again to check out more posts.

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  7. Martfin

    July 11, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Got to hit the 440cc OptiForce driver and the 3 wood today at Golfsmith. The 3 wood I hit well but preferred the Razr Fit Extreme which to me just felt more solid. Distance numbers for me were about the same though. The drive on the other hand felt great, it was effortless to hit and at least 15-20 yds longer than my Razr Fit and every shot was down the middle. Both clubs were using the Diamana stock Stiff shafts. I think I could be tempted by the driver.

  8. mike

    July 7, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    I personally liked the razrfit design better. The weights allow me to swingweight the club after its cut down to 44.5 and the open setting will be missed by more than a few of us.

  9. paul

    July 6, 2013 at 10:34 am

    In swinging something that weighs around 300 grams i don’t think removing 3 of those is going to make it that much faster to swing. and keeping in mind that a club has the aerodynamics of a brick with a rounded back i don’t think that improving drag off it will make it much faster. you could improve how much effort it took to swing it much more by making it smaller, or making the front more aerodynamic.

  10. Johnjohn

    July 3, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Agree, Callaway needs to read Tom Wishon’s book. Besides Clevelans has done the lighter/longer thing for yrs, nothing new

  11. Mike B

    July 3, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Nice looking driver, but if you want more distance, go non-conforming!

  12. Jeffrey

    July 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Like others in here, fell in love with the Superfast. I’d catch a few sure, but the club was so light, it was hard to swing with tempo, and yeah, keeping it on the course, yeah right. I’ve never gone through so many golf balls. I play a shorter and heavier shaft in my current driver, and wow, it finds fairways, and misses are just off the fairway.

  13. Mike

    July 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Hmmm, the hosel looks like an extended version from Titleist SureFit. So are the two offerings of head size. Have seen it before

  14. Dirk

    July 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Yeah, I’m with Danny. I heard this song a few years ago when Superfast came out.

    Fool me once, and all that.

  15. hvilletn

    July 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    OOPS! I think something is wrong with the content in this article. How many people missed this . . .
    “The 460 OptiForce is stamped 10.5 degrees, but Callaway’s revamped OptiFit hosel allows golfers three other loft settings — 1 degree down to 8.5, or 1 or 2 degrees up to either 11.5 or 12.5. The 440 OptiForce is stamped 9.5 degrees and features the same range of loft adjustability.”

    • paul

      July 3, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      I had a laugh over it.

  16. Jason

    July 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Saw these in person and the 440 and fw shape is really nice. Can’t remember if there’s a weight port tho? The 195 g head won’t work for me as others mentioned- if you like a shorter driver w heavier SW you’ll have to use lead tape I guess?

  17. Scott

    July 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Uhh the sole of club looks like a female anatomy part cant believe they didnt catch that.

    • pablo

      July 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      hahahahaha no kidding it does!

      • pablo

        July 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm

        maybe by design for subliminal effect LOL

    • Zack

      July 6, 2013 at 3:46 am

      That’s why u get a “penetrating” flight with this driver. ;)

  18. Tim

    July 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Nothing really new here, but I’m sure someone will buy into it.

  19. Klayton

    July 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Loved the old FT-9 Tour. Possibility of this head being similar only lighter and adjustable??? Not a big fan of light and long clubs. Would have to cut the shaft down to 45 and get something heavy like my Diamana Whiteboard 83X that is in the Razr fit right now.

  20. Callaway X Hot

    July 2, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Sure you will increase club head speed with a ligher driver but what about control?

  21. roger

    July 2, 2013 at 4:22 am

    COOL! so the old razr Fit will be on sale!
    Just bought a Razr Fit Driver used . Love the old stock sales.

    • Todd

      July 2, 2013 at 10:42 am

      I also picked up the older Razr Fit used here recently, and am pleasantly surprised by the performance! The used price was great, and within only a few practice rounds and range visits, I bagged this over my Anser driver. There was no denying that (for me) this club was straighter and longer. I’m convinced that I got lucky with the shaft that came with the Razr thought — the Fuji Motore tour spec. I think with the right shaft fitting, any of these drivers could be great. It will be interesting to see what players think of the Optiforce.

      • Ted

        July 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        Todd,

        I agree. I played last year’s Razr Fit for over a year. You made a great choice. (I recently switched to the xtreme which gives me a lower trajectory that is better for hard fairways and the windy conditions I typically play.)

  22. vince

    July 2, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Light weight head with a light weight made for (i presume) shaft and improved aerodynamics.. heard that before and sounds gimmicky. Guess I’ll wait and see how it really performs.

    • Jay

      July 7, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Maybe not, I bought an original Blueboard off eBay that was pulled from a razr fit extreme and it was a real deal. Had all the proper tags under the grip.

    • Nicholas

      July 13, 2013 at 3:35 am

      A lot of the new equipment is being given to the consumers with high end shafts at no extra charge, meaning stock. Take for instance Titleist in their Diamana + line for their 913′s or even Ping for their Aldila Rip’s. It’s improving just a tad for folders who actually care about their numbers and hitting fairways or greens.

      • Nicholas

        July 13, 2013 at 3:36 am

        Golfers.. Not folders. Stupid iPhones.

  23. paul

    July 1, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    I think it looks less like a toy then the xtreme . and it isn’t called Xtreme. so its already on the right track.

    • Ted

      July 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Although, I respect Paul’s opinion, I disagree. I have been using the xtreme for over three months and it looks nothing like a toy. The deep black gloss finish is very unobtrusive and it looks great at address.
      It performs better than any driver I have ever played or tested and beleive me I have tested all the top drivers!

      • paul

        July 3, 2013 at 8:51 pm

        I thought the sole looked toyish to me. at address i love the driver. i have hit quite a few of my best drives with a friends club. at least you didn’t disagree with the Xtreme name that i find irritating. couldn’t they have come up with something better? Optiforce sounds better to me. good job callaway

  24. Joe Golfer

    July 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Looking forward to reviews on this later on after testing.
    It looks sharp, though I’m partial to a tiny alignment aid on the crown.
    Like the other posts, I’m not sure longer and lighter is the answer, though I’ll wait for the GolfWRX tests to see those Trackman or Flighscope results.

    • Jay

      July 7, 2013 at 8:47 am

      I think the alignment aid is only on the 460. I think the bottom looks kinda cheap but if it performs well that 440 with the Blueboard would rock after I cut it down to 44 1/2

  25. 8thehardway

    July 1, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    The hosel looks like a Rubik’s cube but I can’t wait to see how they perform.

  26. Danny

    July 1, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I had a longer and lighter Burner Superfast that crushed the ball into the trees. Tempo killer,

  27. t

    July 1, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    longer and lighter is bad. makes the game harder, not easier.

    • Sectxag06

      July 2, 2013 at 12:04 am

      Absolutely agree. Best thing I’ve done is cut down my driver shaft. Control is better than 1-2 mph swing difference.

    • Chuck

      July 4, 2013 at 10:01 am

      Wow. Just what I was thinking. What a great, simple comment right off the bat.

      How does Callaway propose to solve the problem of hitting more fairways with driver? One could reasonably suggest, “Get lessons.” That’s fine, I suppose. Buy equipment to help you hit it farther, and get lessons to help you hit it straighter.

      But having played golf much more seriously than I have any right to, for several decades, my problem is hitting fairways. Not driver distance. And modern technology has not helped in that regard. I have been moving toward shorter, heavier drivers and it has been making the game more enjoyable.

      All good engineering recognizes that there are always tradeoffs in physics.

      I have a few specific issues with this report as well. I presume that it is a typo, that a driver marked “10.5″, less one degree of loft via hosel adjustment is “9.5,” not “8.5″ as written.

      Also, just speaking for meyself, I never felt limited in my ability to get a driver whose loft fitted me. Just choose a head from 7.5 to 10.5 degrees of loft. Everybody made one. No; the real problem was finding open face angles. When we are seeing many tour-player spec sheets featuring drivers at 4 to 6 degrees open, it is pretty clear that a lot of retail options are limited. And to my eye, these new Callaways look closed (sigh — like so many other retail drivers) and the adjustibility doesn’t seem to be there, at least not by way of this description.

      • PGAPankey

        July 7, 2013 at 11:11 am

        Callaway doesn’t care if you hit more fairways, that’s not why MOST people buy a new driver. When someone comes into my shop and looks at the newest driver they always say the same thing. “I’ll buy it if it goes longer than mine”. They never say “I’ll buy it if I hit more fairways with it”. As Craig Kilbourn used to say on Sportscenter, callaway is “in business to do business”. The majority of golfers want a club to go farther, not straighter.

      • Dave

        July 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm

        I agree, Chuck. I am a more experienced golfer as well… and while distance is important, the combination of distance and accuracy is MOST important, and should differentiate one club from another. In addition, your comment about open face is right on. Most manufactures offer only closed faces. Like you, I need a face that is a couple of degrees open… and for the life of me, I can not understand why manufacturers do not provide more options for golfers like us. Maybe we will get there some day… one can only hope. In the mean time, if anyone has some suggestions, plz let me know… tx.

        • moz

          December 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

          tweak the grip simples.

      • Martin

        July 11, 2013 at 4:54 pm

        I would like to see one of the big companies build a 44″ driver and swing weight D1/D2, and emphasise ballspeeds from centre strikes. Shorter driver and more ballspeeds from less clubheadspeed!! Now that’s the driver i would like.

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