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.?
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)
- Ball Speed: 158 mph
- Launch: 12.6 degrees
- Spin: 2256 rpms
- Smash: 1.49
- Carry: 265 yards
- Land Angle: 40.4 degrees
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)
- Ball Speed: 151 mph
- Launch: 9.7 degrees
- Spin: 3426 rpms
- Smash: 1.48
- Carry: 240 wards
- Land Angle: 49.3 degrees
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
- 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.