It’s been a few months since we took a peek at the technologies major OEMs are working on. In an ever-increasingly competitive space amid an industry in contraction, OEMs seem to be digging deeper and going bolder to attract consumers (Callaway’s driver with a spoiler from the July edition of this series comes to mind here).
In a survey of what’s recently been made available for public consumption, that trend continues.
Let’s take a look at how our friends in Fairhaven, Carlsbad, Fort Worth and Phoenix are pushing the envelope.
TaylorMade: Multi-layer face insert
TaylorMade is working on a driver with a multi-layer face insert that includes the prepreg plies technology we discussed in a previous installment in this series. The filing also makes mention of an “undercut fill structure,” which “can include at least three ribs equidistantly spaced from each other.”
TaylorMade: Contrast-enhanced club heads
TMag is also looking at “contrast enhanced” crowns. As the company’s filing states, “new approaches that permit more accurate and repeatable alignment are needed.” The filing also makes clear that the both black and white crowns are being developed.
Callaway: Adjustable iron-type golf club head
Callaway is exploring a highly adjustable iron head. As you can see from the image above, multiple sections can be adjusted. The filing refers to “features that allow for the adjustment of the principal moment of inertia angle and/or turf interaction, including an adjustable weight cartridge or an adjustable sole plate and a lightweight face.”
Callaway: Multi-material putter
The Carlsbad-based company is also working on a “multiple material putter having a high moment of inertia and a low center of gravity,” according to another filing.
The filing further states: “Most putters are constructed in such a way that the head is made from a single type of parent material, such as steel. There is a need for putters that have increased moments of inertia and low centers of gravity.”
Titleist: A workable and forgiving iron
Moving on to Titleist’s R&D efforts: The company is continuing to work on cavity-backed players irons that offer more forgiveness and more workability at the same time. A lengthy paragraph from the filing lays this out in detail.
Previous game improvement club heads have relatively higher MOI-Y, at the expense of a higher MOI-SA because they are relatively large. Generally, better players have a tendency to prefer golf clubs having a lower MOI-SA so that they can control the orientation of the club head throughout the swing with greater ease….There remains a need in the art for an improved iron-type golf club. In particular, there is a need for an iron-type golf club that provides a lower MOI-SA in combination with a higher MOI-Y.
Titleist: Optimizing club heads for sound
Titleist is also working on a driver that’s sound is “is aesthetically pleasing when the golf club head impacts the golf ball.” The filing indicates that today’s large, flat driver typically produce lower frequency sounds, which golfers, according to Titleist, don’t like.
Ping: Tuneable everything
The denizens of Phoenix are toying with irons with multiple adjustable weights, as a recent filing makes mention of. The filing further suggests that loft can be tinkered with.
Nike: Actually analyzing impact through sound
If you remember the “microwavable golf ball” Nike applied for a patent that we mentioned a few months ago, then this might not surprise you: Nike is working on technology to analyze impact sound to “determine one or more characteristics of the impact, and generating an output based on the determined impact characteristic.”
What does that mean? A few paragraphs in the filing sheds a little light on what Nike’s up to:
“The amplitudes and frequencies of the audio signal may be analyzed to determine various characteristics such as a magnitude of compression of the golf ball, an impact location on the surface and/or a speed with which the surface impacts the golf ball.
“The determined characteristics may be used, in some arrangements, to determine a golf ball impact location on the surface of the golf club head. Alternatively or additionally, the characteristics may be used to identify a type of golf ball best suited for a particular user (and/or, e.g., golf club head speed). In yet other arrangements, the determined characteristics, such as golf ball compression, may be used to insure the quality of a golf ball.
“According to other aspects, a mobile communication device may be configured to detect golf ball impact sounds and to determine the various impact characteristics. In one example, a mobile communication device may record the sound of a golf ball impact and to visually indicate the golf ball impact location against a golf club head.”