Pros: Top-notch ball speeds, particularly on mishits for a driver with a forward center of gravity. Powerbilt continues to prove that its drivers can compete against the best.
Cons: Not adjustable. Less forgiving than Powerbilt’s AFO DFX MOI driver. The driver’s distinct shape and sound are possible turnoffs.
Who’s it for: Better golfers who are willing to sacrifice a little forgiveness for longer drives on their best hits. And if you’re looking for value, the AFO DFX Tour’s $299 price point is hard to beat.
The AFO DFX Tour driver is offered in lofts 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees (RH Only). Stock length is 45.5 inches. Shafts available for no upcharge include Aldila’s NVS, Aldila’s RIP Beta, Fujikura’s Pro 63 and Graphite Design’s G Series. A variety of other models are available for $100-$200 more. Learn more from Powerbilt.
What you need to know
If you’re in the market for a new driver, you might not be thinking about Powerbilt. But my testing of the company’s Air Force One DFX drivers — both the MOI and Tour models — says you should be.
This review covers Powerbilt’s AFO DFX Tour driver, which is quite similar to the company’s AFO DFX MOI driver with one exception — it has a slightly more forward center of gravity (CG).
Moving the CG forward in a driver head creates the potential for longer drives, because when properly fit it can help golfers launch their drives higher and with less spin — one of the keys to more distance. But on off-center hits, these types of drivers can fly shorter and more crooked. For that reason, Powerbilt’s AFO DFX MOI driver will be remain the company’s most popular model. But for certain players, particularly those who generate higher club head speeds and higher spin rates, the AFO DFX Tour driver could be the ticket to longer drives.
To create the AFO DFX Tour driver, the company moved the 9-gram “valve” about 20 millimeters forward. You can see it clearly on the sole design when you compare the two drivers. But at address, golfers won’t be able to tell the difference between the two unless they’re particularly keen. The deep-faced driver heads are the same shape and color, but the face angle of the AFO DFX Tour is about 1 degree more opened than the AFO DFX MOI driver at address, creating slightly more fade bias — something most better players prefer.
I took both the AFO DFX MOI and AFO DFX Tour drivers, as well as Ping’s G30 LS Tec to The Launch Pad at Carl’s Golfland in West Bloomfield, Mich., to test all three on Trackman. After I warmed up, I hit nine shots with each club. Mishits from user error were discarded.
The calling card of all three drivers is forgiveness — with Ping, it’s because of the G30’s low, rearward CG that creates a higher moment of interia (MOI), a measure of retention of ball speed on off-center hits. With Powerbilt, the selling point is the company’s Nitrogen N7 technology, in which the head is “pressurized” with Nitrogen. According to the Powerbilt President and CEO Ross Kvinge, the patented Nitrogen N7 technology creates more internal stability in the driver head, which allows certain structures of the head to be made thinner. This creates twofold improvement: a higher MOI and a more flexible face, both of which create more ball speed.
All three drivers were tested with the same shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon’s Fubuki K 70X, each of which was tipped 1 inch. Both PowerBilt drivers were 8.5-degree heads, while Ping’s G30 LS Tec was a 9-degree head adjusted to 8.4 degrees.
Short story: This was as much of an apples-to-apples test as I could make it.
First, let’s discuss the obvious. I swung the AFO DFX Tour the fastest — 2.5 mph faster than the AFO DFX MOI and 0.6 mph faster than Ping’s G30 LS Tec. If you do a lot of driver testing, you know that different golfers tend to swing different driver heads in different ways — and swing speed isn’t the only factor that tends to change. You can see that I also swung the AFO DFX Tour with a more upward angle of attack than the other two drivers.
In the grand scheme of things, however, there wasn’t much difference in the distance I hit each club. I smacked the AFO DFX Tour the farthest (320 yards), but it was just 1 yard longer than the AFO DFX MOI and 2 yards longer than the G30 LS Tec. Each driver had its own distinct launch characteristics, though, which created three noticeably different ball flights.
As you can see in the numbers, the AFO DFX MOI was by far the lowest-spinning driver in the test, by more than 500 rpm. That was partly due to the fact that I swung it slower than the other drivers, but it shouldn’t negate the driver’s incredible forgiveness on off-center hits. No matter where I hit the AFO DFX MOI driver on the face, my spin rates never jumped to unacceptable levels. That’s key to finding fairways and maximizing distance on off-center hits.
The AFO DFX Tour driver proved slightly less consistent, as was expected. Its smash factor, a calculation of how much swing speed is translated into ball speed at impact, was 1.49. That was fractionally lower than the 1.50 smash factor of the other two drivers. Ball speed, launch angle and spin rate were all up, however, which helped me carry the AFO DFX Tour 10 yards farther on average than the AFO DFX MOI driver.
The real head turner is the comparison between the AFO DFX Tour and Ping’s G30 LS Tec. On average, the AFO DFX Tour launched the ball noticeably higher (0.7 degrees) and with less spin (99 rpm) than Ping’s G30 LS Tec driver, which is widely acclaimed as one of the best low-spin drivers of 2015. While ball speed and smash factor were down slightly with the AFO DFX Tour compared to Ping’s G30, every other metric was actually better with the AFO DFX Tour, including the most important ones: carry distance and total distance.
That’s an incredible accomplishment, and further proof that Powerbilt makes incredible drivers.