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Gear review: Callaway FT-i: Robert Thompson and Fairway Stevie square-off

Price: $499.99 CDN

What they say:[photopress:fti_photo.jpg,full,alignright]

  • Designed to be the worlds straightest driver, FT-i uses patented Fusion Technology that moves weight away from the Center of Gravity. The result is a driver with increased horizontal and vertical stability that maximizes distance with total accuracy.
  • 460cc titanium drivers have made great improvements in stability and MOI. However, the weight of titanium virtually eliminates discretionary weight distribution, which is available in the FT-i Driver.
  • Using materials significantly lighter than titanium creates discretionary mass that is distributed to the extreme perimeter, resulting in increased stability and longer, straighter bombs down the fairway.

What we say (done back and forth in an e-mail exchange between Fairway Stevie and G4G Editorial Director Robert Thompson)

Robert Thompson: Fad or reality “ thats the question I had when I first started hitting the club. It looks just awful when you first pick the thing up “ kind of like an ugly black box on the end of a stick “ but it is surprising that the appearance of the club disappears pretty soon after you hit it. I must admit that when I had it out on the course I was a bit self conscious with it “ just because it looks so strange. But other golfers are drawn to it like a moth to a flame. They all come around and want to see the latest and greatest.

Fairway Stevie: Funny. I wasn’t turned off by the looks initially but the more I pulled it out the more self-conscious I became with it. The other people in my groups would ask to hit it – once. I thought that was telling. Nobody dug the look of the thing.

RT: I understand that “ but I found the sound drew even more attention. Kinda like putting a Coke can on the end of a shaft and hitting range balls with it. Someone even wrote my blog and said they were asked to leave the range because of all the racket. That wasnt my experience, but it did make a lot of noise and draw a lot of attention to me.

FS: I remember during the first round I used it that the sound actually hurt my ears. Loud it one thing but this was ridiculous. I still feel more confidence with the sound and feel of my old Titleist driver or that Taylormade Burner you’ve been sporting. We should post video of various MOI drivers hitting balls to compare decibel levels.

Of course these MOI drivers are designed to hit the ball straight. Do you remember how straight I hit it that day at eagle’s Nest. I think that grooving my swing had a lot to do with it. I have since found that the club won’t compensate for a faulty swing plan and slices and hooks are still going to happen.

RT: While I agree with your point, the truth is that if a club can reduce even a bit of a slice for the average weekend player, it has got to benefit some, dont you think? You, on the other hand, who live up to your nickname, apparently have no such problem. That said, as you mentioned, you hit the club beautifully and Im wondering if you are asking for too much. Of the rounds you played with it, how often did you actually hit it badly? I found the club to be long and largely quite straight, and I can hook the ball with the best of them.

Of course, your take on the MOI marketing pitch is essentially correct. It wont fix a bad swing.

So who, in your estimation would benefit from the club?

FS: Good question. I think the average to high handicapper with a slower swing speed could probably benefit most. As long as they don’t get too greedy for distance and over swing their balls will find the fairway more frequently which should help lower scores all around.

This brings us around to your first point. Are these drivers a fad or a trend? The early adopters have had a month or so with the clubs and the general public are just getting them into their hands now. I wonder if, when they discover that these huge headed monsters don’t give them more distance, they’ll appreciate the accuracy.

RT: But I think this one does provide a lot of distance “ it seemed quite hot to me. That said I had a hard time lining up the square clubface. Always seemed closed to my eyes. But the flight of the actual shot was impressive “ not too high, considering this is supposed to be a game improvement club.

Overall, I think the sound and the shape take a lot of adjusting to. And I wonder if consumers will give it enough time before just heading to next years drivers, which certainly wont be square.

Our Gear Head rating:
FS: So how would you rate the club? I’d give it *** 1/2.

RT: I’d give it a ***.

Gear Head Rating System:

* Dont bother
** If you really need this, go ahead but we warned you
*** You will neither be disappointed or thrilled
**** Money well wasted. This should be one of your final choices
***** Buy this now!

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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.

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