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New Drivers Too Square for the Pros?

There’s an interesting story in the LA Times about the new trend towards square drivers. Turns out there’s a problem with this fad — pros don’t want to play the strange looking toasters on a stick.

“The penalty for being less skilled, and that includes most of us, is considerably less,” said Tom Stites, the lead club designer at Nike. “You’ll probably see more players on tour put them in play, but for the most part, tour-caliber players aren’t able to take advantage of this technology as much.”

So far KJ Choi is still the only tour player to hit Nike’s new driver. Given the need to validate new golf technology through tour players — regardless of whether that validation makes any sense — I’m wondering how likely it is that any of these new clubs will be a success. Of course this might change if Phil Mickelson agrees to use Callaway’s new FT-i driver.

The notion of players using what is popular on the PGA Tour is really part of the battle against bifurcation. I question whether a club or ball can really gain market attention these days if a PGA Tour player isn’t using them. TaylorMade struggled with their new ball last year because players weren’t using it — despite the obvious quality of the product. This year that’s changed — with a handful of high-profile players using the new ball — and it’ll be interesting to see whether the market follows this, especially with a new Titleist ProV1 hitting just hitting store shelves.

That said, the moment of inertia trend does seem to be gaining some traction with the pros, though the Times story was supported by someone hitting Taylor’s new driver, not the boxy models.

That’s fine with Robert Garrigus, who is using the Burner and is fourth on the tour in driving distance, averaging 304.7 yards.

“The square drivers are fun to look at, but they’re kind of weird to hit,” Garrigus said. “They sound really loud and hollow. When I switched to [the Burner], it was pretty much a no-brainer. Everything instantly improved.”

The Times story is here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Let’s get real. We amateurs need clubs that offer forgiveness where the pro needs workability. So what if there are two markets, scratch verses mid-to-high handicap, thats the real world!

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