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GolfWRXer gets fit for 913’s at TPI

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Buying new golf gear is fun, but buying a new driver is like buying a new car. Golfers look forward to seeing which ones look good to their eye and test-driving them. Then they find out which ones perform the best and tune them to their personal preferences.

This year’s crop of drivers, with their great looks and updated technology, make the decision of which new driver to purchase even tougher than in years past.

I’ve played the Titleist 910D3 (8.5 degrees) since it was released in 2010. I figured 2013 would be a good time to re-evaluate my long-game equipment and possibly upgrade. The driver spot in my bag has been a back-and-forth battle between my Titleist gamer with a UST VTS Black shaft and my TaylorMade SuperFast 2.0 with a Fujikura Speeder 6.2 shaft.

I have always hit the 910 better, but was losing about 10 yards to the 2.0. I was immediately attracted to the classy, subtle look and black head of the 913 driver, and was pretty much convinced that I needed the 913 line in my bag as long as it could outperform my current clubs.

After a ton of research on GolfWRX and other sources, I came to the conclusion that all driver heads are relatively created equal to extent of max distance. The underlying factor that can help us achieve greater distance and dispersion is being properly fit. What better place to be fit than where the Titleist staff goes, TPI in Oceanside, Calif.?

From Titleist:

Golf is all about confidence, in your game and your equipment. That’s why Titleist designs the highest performing equipment and offers the most precise club fitting experience in the game. Titleist’s approach to fitting begins with a unique understanding of players’ performance needs born from working with PGA Tour players, PGA Professionals and amateurs serious about getting better. Our highly skilled team of fitters utilizes the most advanced tools to help players optimize driver performance, make iron play more precise, dial in their wedges and fine-tune set compositions. 

Many people are not aware that TPI as actually open to the public and a regular chop like myself can experience the same Tour Level fitting that guys like Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson did just a day prior to my arrival (note: I paid, they didn’t). The facility was built about 15 years ago and has a staff of about 25. TPI was initially built for Titleist R&D, golf ball and equipment testing, and as a place to give staffers a place to practice and be fit. At one time, TPI actually created and operated their own fitting equipment, but that was long before the days of golf radar systems. The place looks like Fort Knox from the outside, but it’s actually extremely easy to set an appointment and gain access.

Currently the facility is still used for R&D, and as the studio for Golf Fitness Academy that is entering season nine on Golf Channel.

Once inside TPI, you’re hit with visions of golf heaven. The driving range has perfectly cut fairways, manicured greens and multiple bunkers with different types of sand. It is paradise for practice and testing equipment.

Before you even put your car in park there is someone there to greet you, grab your bag and escort you inside. They first took me on a tour of the facility, showing me the Academy Studio, 3D Fitting and practice areas. After the tour, I was shown the locker room where I changed into my shoes and was off to my fitter to get started.

My fitter had just completed a ball fitting the day prior with Jason Dufner for the new Pro V1 that will be coming to retail soon. He told me he spent 22 weeks on the PGA Tour last year, so I knew that I was in good hands and that he would help me get the most out of my equipment.

He asked a few basic questions about my game, ball flight, what I like about my current clubs, what I didn’t like. He also asked me what shafts or heads interested me and what ball I currently played. I explained to him that basically I wanted the distance of my Superfast 2.0 but with the same consistency I got with my 910.

All testing was completed with essentially brand new 2011 Pro V1Xs, and five shots were hit with each driver combination before moving on to the next.

The range is in effect a fairway with trees down each side and bunkers that you can work the ball off. It’s not like hitting on a normal range and it really gives you the perspective of playing on a course.

Fitting the driver

We started by hitting both of my current drivers (yes, I brought a TaylorMade driver on Titleist turf).

The first club he handed me was a 9.5 913 D3 with the stock Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 72X (standard tipping). Next he changed to the 8.5 head and the same shaft but tipped one inch. He stopped me every now and then to make an adjustment on the SureFit hosel or change the swing weight. He was taking notes the entire time, evaluating my tendencies, ball flight and asking questions about “how something felt.” We probably went through 15 to 20 head and shaft combinations before he had me dialed into an 8.5 D3 with a Fujikura Speeder TS 6.2X shaft (tipped 1 inch) at 44.5 inches.

Next he wanted me to hit the same setup, but in the D2 head. In the past, I was never able to play a D2 because it spun too much and launched too high. He explained the changes that were made to the 913 D2, asked me how I thought it looked at address and told me to hit a few balls. Immediately, I gained extra confidence from the bigger head and face. My best shots were as good as anything with the D3, and my misses were not nearly as punishing.

I don’t play or practice nearly as much as I would like, and having the extra forgiveness for off days is something that could really assist me. After deciding on the combo, I then asked if we could test a few more shafts in the 8.5-degree D2 and again in 7.5 degrees. After going back through and hitting about four more combos in Round 2, it was pretty clear that we found a winner. At this point we had spent about an hour and half and probably hit close to 100 balls with different drivers.

I spent a little bit of time comparing the D2 and D3, setting them next to the ball and taking a close look at the appearances. To me, the D2 inspires more confidence without looking too bulky. I think the 913 D3 is a definite upgrade over the 910 D3 – it’s far less punishing on mishits and has a more explosive feel. But I think the 913 D2 is a head that will surprise a lot of people, and years from now it will be the one that golfers remember. It’s very low spinning, yet workable and forgiving.

One noticeable difference between the D2 and D3 (besides appearance) is the sound. The D2 sounds explosive, but has a much lower pitch than the louder D3. This has something to do with the way the acoustics vibrate in the larger 460cc head versus the smaller 445cc head. They have been fitting more and more staffers into the D2 this year, although most players haven’t changed yet. My fitter told me that many players are expected to change as they get more comfortable with the new head.

Here are my final numbers with the driver:

  • Head: 2013 Titleist 913 D2 (8.5 degrees in B1 setting)
  • Shaft: Speeder TS 6.2X (tipped 1 inch)

Stats (Averages):

  • Ball Speed: 158 mph
  • Launch: 12.6 degrees
  • Spin: 2256 rpms
  • Smash: 1.49
  • Carry: 265 yards
  • Land Angle: 40.4 degrees

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

Fitting the 3 Wood:

We both knew that fitting the 3 wood would be much quicker since we had already seen what worked in the driver and knew what I liked. Again, my fitter had me hit my current setup to get a base line. He gave me a 913 FD (15 degree) with a Fujikura Speeder TS 7.2X shaft. I hit one ball and almost immediately after the ball left the club I said, “Man, that felt good.” The numbers from the first combo were almost ideal and I asked if we even needed to hit anything else? He chuckled, took the club from my hands and changed the shaft to an 8.2X. He also changed the setting to B1 and told me to hit some more balls.

The new fairways are pretty much perfect on every level — sound, feel, flight and distance. The new FD is far easier to hit off the deck than the prior model. Even so, I also hit the F version with a few different shafts. Although we found some good combos and smooth shafts, the clear-cut winner was the 913 FD (15 degrees) with a Speeder TS 8.2X shaft (tipped 1 inch) in the B1 setting.

Here are my final numbers with the 3 wood:

  • Head: 2013 Titleist 913 FD (15 Degree in the B1 setting)
  • Shaft: Fujikura Speeder TS 8.2X (tipped 1 inch)

Stats (Average):

  • Ball Speed: 151 mph
  • Launch: 9.7 degrees
  • Spin: 3426 rpms
  • Smash: 1.48
  • Carry: 240 wards
  • Land Angle: 49.3 degrees

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

Hybrid:

Before we got started on hybrids, I was thinking to myself that there was no way they would get me out of my current Adams A12 18-degree hybrid with a Fujikura Speeder HB90 Tour Issue shaft. I saw him dig into the bottom of his case into some sort of hidden compartment and out came the Titleist 913 HD (your welcome). The closest thing he had to the Fujikura Speeder TS was Fujikura’s Motore F3 95, and he recommended that I stay in the same family of shafts for all three clubs to keep the feel consistent throughout the set.

I could clearly see the group of five balls from my current hybrid in the middle of the fairway about 225 yards away. All five of my shots with the first combo were landing well past my current setup and with a much more playable flight. I was literally hitting the hybrid too far, and thought that there would be too much of a gap with my irons. That’s why we tried the 20-degree hybrid with the same shaft, but we ended up going back to the 18 degree, adding 0.75 degrees of loft to it with the D3 setting on the SureFit hosel.

(Note: The HD hybrids will be available through custom order in February 2013 and will offer a smaller shape, more offset and lower spin than the 913 H hybrids).

Here’s are my final numbers for the hybrid:

  • Head: Titleist 913 HD (18 degrees in the D4 setting)
  • Shaft: Fujikura F3 Motore 95

Stats (Average):

  • Ball Speed: 144 mph
  • Launch: 12.3 degrees
  • Spin: 3589 rpms
  • Carry: 226 yards
  • Land Angle: 42.3 degrees

The most beneficial aspect of myTPI experience was the knowledge gained during the process. The fitters there are open encyclopedias, eager to answer any question and ready to share their knowledge.

I have gone twice now (last time for irons and wedges), and have learned more about equipment there than I have learned from any other fitting. The fitters are extremely patient and will let you hit any combo or club that you desire, even when they know it won’t work for you, just so you can see for yourself. Everyone that works at the facility went out of his or her way to make me feel welcome. Other employees will come out to check in on the fitting, bring you water and just make you feel welcomed and important. I hope that this review can be as helpful for the members interested as I did my best to share as much of the information and experience as I could. I will do my best to answer any questions.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

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GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ritch

    Dec 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

    I was living in Oceanside when this facility first opened. I visited several times as a club tester. The author is absolutely correct when he describes the place as golf heaven. It is an amazing facility and the conditions are never less than spectacular. Only problem is you probably won’t find playing conditions to match at the courses most of us usually play. I believe the costs for fitting can be found on the Titleist website.

  2. Tom from NE Ohio

    Dec 14, 2012 at 10:23 am

    1. of course they treated you like a Norse God–don’t you think you might have gotten special red carpet treatment as a lead writer for GolfWrx? And how is it that you have suddenly fallen in love with the look and shape of the 913’s but seem to have overlooked the fact that the 910’s with revolutionary Tour Fit hosels look nearly indistinguishable and are great clubs in their own right!
    2. No. 1 notwithstanding, I love the new Titleist products, just got fit by an area pro and upgraded my 910 D2 with Ilima R to a 913 D3 with a Bassara W 50S…dropped my xs spin by nearly 1000 and added 10 yards

  3. Nick

    Dec 12, 2012 at 10:44 am

    You said you paid, how much did it cost?

    • Ben

      Dec 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      I did it back in 2010 and it cost $250. Got a full set fitted but had to order through Golfsmith.

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Let’s Retire Old Man Par: A Modest Proposal

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In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay entitled “A modest proposal,” in which he suggested that the Irish eat their own children. As might be expected, the piece drew a great deal of discussion and controversy. He was of course not serious, but simply attempting to make a point. As you will read this piece contains “A Modest Proposal” as well, but it is not intended to be satirical. I am for the record dead serious.

The golf industry is wringing its hands, trying to find a way to bring new players into the game, while at the same time keeping those that are in the game from leaving. They have initiated any number of programs designed for this purpose. How successful have they been? I would venture that they have barely moved the needle.

Barriers to the game

What we do know is that today there are three major barriers that confront the industry. They are first, the time required to play the game; second the costs associated with playing the game; and third the difficulty of the game.

There are among those adults that start the game, three distinct different groups:

  1. Those who would like to start playing golf but for any number of reasons decided not to take up the game.
  2. Those who once played more frequently but have reduced the number of rounds that they play.
  3. Those who started to play the game but then after a short period decided to leave it.

Those who leave the game

Those in the golf industry, the hand-wringers, have developed any number of programs to bring new players to the game. I would ask the question, “What is the point, when almost an equal number of players that start playing the game each year, decide to give it up within a span of a few months.

Does it make any sense to continue to put water into a bucket when there is a hole in the bottom? Of course not, but that is effectively what is being done. The first question to be ask, why do these new players quit the playing after a short time? In my opinion, the number No. 1 reason is the method of scoring being used.

Were an exit poll to be conducted asking these people why they quit playing, I seriously doubt they would answer truthfully. Who would want to admit that they were discouraged by their inability to succeed at any endeavor? The two answers that would be given the most often would be 1) that golf is too expensive to play; or 2) that they simply didn’t have time.  In this case both answers serve to preserve the individual’s dignity. And who could blame them?

The concept of par

Why did these individuals find the game difficult? The short answer is that while golf is a hard game to learn, there  is a more compelling reason.  I would venture, that the underlying reason they quit the game is that it ceased to be fun because of how they viewed their performance. And for one central reason… the concept of par. The idea that an amateur golfer, especially a beginner, should measure their level of success against an imaginary set of numbers that represents what an expert player would score on each hole is on the surface ridiculous.

You might imagine a beginning player scoring an eight on a par-four hole after hitting six good shots and then two putting for an eight. In the context of their ability, they should be ecstatic — but of course they are not (because as their playing partner reminds them) they were four-over par on that hole. The time has come for Old Man Par to retire. And retire permanently. He is killing the game.

Perceived failure

In another scenario, the beginning player scores sixty for nine holes, which is an excellent score given the short amount of time they might have spent playing the game. And yet their nine-hole score was 24-over par. How would that make you feel? Would you be encouraged or discouraged? You might imagine yourself back in school and regardless of the amount of work that you put into a given class you always receive an “F.” At some point, would you give up?

Why should every golfer be judged by the same standard when there is such inequality in their ability? The equivalent would be placing a high school freshman in a graduate-level college course, expecting that they could perform at the same level as the other graduate students. The disparity in knowledge, based on age and experience, is precisely the reason why there are different grades in school. The same disparity exists among golfers. In this case, the difference being the ability to perform on the golf course as opposed to the classroom.

What about the second group of players that now plays less than they did in the past? Could it be that they are no longer having fun playing the game?And then there is the third group, those that consider playing the game but abandon it for another sport. Could it be that they are intimidated by the scoring system, knowing that as a beginner par is an absolute impossibility?

Old man par 

The legendary Bobby Jones was the first to coin, perhaps with the help of his friend O.B. Keillor, the phrase “Old Man Par.” Jones was, of course, the greatest amateur to have ever played the game. He won the Grand Slam in 1930, retiring then at the age of 28.

The time has come to retire “Old Man Par” and devise a new system for measuring a golfer’s progress in the game. I know that those in the USGA. would reject the concept immediately for fear of, and here is a $10 word used primarily by attorneys, “bifurcate” the game. What that word essentially means in this context in having more than one standard. The USGA is responsible for preserving the nature of the game, but at the same time it should be equally concerned with preserving the future of the game.

Personal par

What I would suggest is a system based on the principle of what might be termed “personal par.” This was essentially the system that was used to groom a young Tiger Woods. As a young child, he was not capable of reaching the longer holes in regulation, making par a virtual impossibility. Consequently, his coach wisely devised a system in which par was adjusted upward based on his ability at a given point in time. This served to keep the young child feeling good about his performance and subsequent progress.

This is the type of system that needs to be devised for the health of the game. The system would begin at a nine-hole level using a par of thirty-six as a basis. The actual numbers are not as important as the basic concept. There would be within the nine-hole and the eighteen-hole groups five different levels as follows with assigned par for each hole and eighteen holes roughly equal with the player’s ability.

As players improved, they would graduate from one level to another based on their total score. The handicap system would work in similar fashion as it does now with a single modification. The strokes give from one player to another would depend on the level in which they fall and the par assigned to that level.

The personal par handicap system would not be as exacting as it is presently used, but it would be sufficient to allow players to be reasonable competitive without any significant sacrifice. There would then be two scoring systems then, allowing players to choose which one they wanted to use. Or a recommendation might be given that until they reach a given scoring threshold that they use the personal par scoring system.

There would, of course, be the usual concern with something new being injected into the system, but the proposed change would be no greater than when the system of equitable scoring was introduced or when courses were first assigned a course rating number.

A few years ago, when life-long teacher and educator Dr. Gary Wiren was inducted into the Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame, he wanted to pass along a single piece of advice to those teachers in the room. “Gentleman,” he started and then paused for emphasis. “We must find a way to make the game more fun for our students.”

I’m in full agreement with Dr. Wiren. The question is, “What is the best way to accomplish that goal?” I believe that that the first step in that direction is to change the scoring system so that golfers experience more satisfaction and accomplishment. That is what makes learning fun.

And so, I would have you consider “The Modest Proposal” that I have put forward. And rather than attempting to find reasons why a revised scoring system couldn’t never work, for the benefit of the game, look for the same number of reason why it could work. The time has come for Old Man Par, as we know him, to retire. He has served us well, but he has become an anarchism. He is as obsolete as the horse and buggy. Let’s hand him his gold watch and let him enjoy his golden years in peace.

And at the same time, let’s welcome the “new kid on the block” who will pave the way for the next generation of golfers pioneering a scoring system that promises to make the game more “fun.”

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TG2: What’s the most annoying breach of golf etiquette?

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Follow @tg2wrx on Instagram to enter the Bettinardi inovai 5.0 center-shaft putter giveaway.

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