TaylorMade Stealth Drivers: What You Need To Know Golf equipment: clubs, balls, bags

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW: A carbon composite face – not the crown or even the body as we’ve seen at various stages over the past 15 years or so, but the part of the club that comes in contact with the ball – is the basis for the three new ones. TaylorMade Stealth. Drivers. The trio includes the adjustable weight Stealth Plus; the higher launch, more forgiving Stealth; and the high launch, draft biased Stealth HD. The face, made of 60 layers of carbon composite fiber, is 40% lighter than a similarly sized titanium face to create more efficient energy transfer and better ball speed consistency across the face.

THE PRICE: Stealth Plus, $ 600; Stealth / Stealth HD, $ 580. Custom colors available as part of the MyStealth program for $ 700. All models are available for pre-order now, expected to retail on February 4.

DEEP DIVING: The titanium face driver, the staple of the golf industry since the mid-90s, has taken its course. So says the TaylorMade engineering team who, in spurts over the past 20 years, have pursued something that they believe is not just entirely different from titanium, but of course, fundamentally better. As Tomo Bystedt, senior director of product creation at TaylorMade, says, referring to the famous ‘S-curve’ for innovation, “We knew that the S-curve for the Ti was ending and the S-curve was ending. for the carbon composite faces began. “

These are, of course, mapped and unmapped waters. Other companies have made little progress or even failed dramatically when they introduced composite face pilots. Yonex is one of them, as was Callaway with the Big Bertha C4 over 20 years ago. The TaylorMade team has been studying the idea of ​​a carbon composite replacing titanium as the face material over the past two decades. The company kept pitching the idea for a product because titanium, the super strong, super light and super flexible metal alloy, really couldn’t be beat. It’s worth remembering, of course, that titanium alloys were originally the governing bodies of golf instituting rules limiting how a driver’s face could flex. Originally it was under the title “spring effect” or “coefficient of restitution” (COR), but this performance attribute has given way to characteristic time (CT), a reference to how a test laptop measured facial flexion.

TaylorMade believes the Stealth Pilots, which include the Stealth Plus sliding mobile weight; the high launch, high stability Stealth; and the slice-fighting Stealth HD, work best with respect to these spring effect properties and guidelines, as the carbon composite face is significantly lighter than a titanium face. The faces of the Stealth drivers weigh 26 grams compared to 43 grams if they were made of titanium. It’s a bit of a complex engineering theory, but the idea is that the lighter the face, the more efficient the collision, because when there is less mass absorbed by the face, there is more mass in the body. The problem with titanium is that it can’t really lighten any longer, said Matt Johnson, principal engineer at TaylorMade in its advanced design division.

“You could get thinner and thinner with titanium, but then it becomes non-compliant, so the only way to get over that is to use a new material,” he said, noting that the new Stealth faces are also 20% larger than recent TaylorMade SIM drivers. “It needs to be stiff enough but as light as possible. This makes carbon composite fibers the great untapped alternative.

The result of the carbon composite face-to-face speakers, what TaylorMade calls “carbon wood,” is what the company sees as an opportunity to create a higher spring effect over a larger area of ​​the face, something which was further limited by the properties of titanium. than by the equipment rules specific to the game.

“The reason we do this first and foremost is for speed,” Bystedt said. “Normally we explained how, when something is lighter, we use that discretionary weight and move it down or back. Well, it’s not that story. We are not going to say that it is a saving in weight to improve the mass properties. Essentially, we remove the mass from the face and put it in the club body. So the part of the club that moves momentum through the ball is now heavier. The transfer of momentum is therefore more efficient. This is why this face offers extra speed.

In other words, it’s not exactly the case that moment of inertia (stability on off-center hits) for Stealth pilots has improved significantly due to the lighter face or the fact that the center of gravity is lower or further back. On the contrary, the lighter construction means higher speed over a wider area of ​​the face, in part because the face is 20% larger than the 2020 SIM driver and the largest of all TaylorMade drivers since the Burner Superfast. 2.0 of 2011.

Plus, it’s not just that the face is brighter. The carbon composite design, which involves 60 layers arranged in different orientations, patterns and shapes, can target a higher range of high spring action than a typical variable thickness face design in titanium. Why? Because the manufacturing tolerances of the carbon composite are more precise. In addition, the carbon construction allows for a more precise and consistent shaping of the company’s patented asymmetric “Twist Face” curvature, where the face is more open in the high toe and more closed in the low heel than the curves. typical symmetrical bulge and roll. This means tighter spread on off-center shots.

Of course, the problem with carbon composite face designs is often durability. As Todd Beach, senior vice president of research and engineering at TaylorMade, says, “Composites aren’t usually designed for direct impact. If you hit a tree with your graphite handle, it will break. So it was a big obstacle to overcome.

The key to solving this problem was a thermosetting polyurethane blend cap over the carbon composite layers. Similar to polymers used in golf ball covers (especially in terms of hardness), the underside of the cap features the distinctive red-black face graphics. (TaylorMade will offer six color options as part of its MyStealth program, which also includes additional choices of finish, body color, sole decal color, and headgear.)

The protective polymer cap is not just a game of durability. There is also a nanotexture roughness pattern between the grooves to create the ideal friction for optimal spin and launch conditions to maximize distance. This sawtooth friction pattern between the grooves is only 18 microns high, about a quarter the width of a human hair. In TaylorMade’s 20 years of R&D to bring a carbon composite face to market, the friction model and the development of the special 5-axis CNC machining of this model took two years on their own, while working on other pilot designs.

The company introduced a carbon composite face pilot in Asia in 2013, the Gloire Reserve, which sold around 8,000 units, a significantly smaller batch compared to the hundreds of thousands of heads that would be needed for a global launch. At the time, Beach said the 30 percent larger face of the Glory Pool, which featured 70 layers of carbon composite, “spawned a new milestone in distance.” Eight years later, Beach sees Stealth as a global paradigm shift and, interestingly, a conception that they have been discussing with the governing body for some time. Even though the guidelines governing the spring effect have been tightened, as noted, Beach believes the precision of the carbon composite face design and the tighter tolerances allow them to stay closer to the limit than they are. traditional titanium faces.

“As we developed these ideas in carbon composites, Ti would catch up, then raise the bar, then Stealth would raise the bar and ti would catch up,” Beach said. “So we weren’t going to throw this until he could beat ti.” But we finally made it over the mountain and we are now on a whole new S-curve for innovation in composites. We are now in this era where we are basically saying that more and more of this head will be made from this material which is better than ti.

All three riders in the lineup start with the Stealth Plus (8, 9, 10.5 degrees; $ 600), which brings a sliding weight track back to the front portion of the sole last seen in the SIM rider. The 10 gram weight can be adjusted in a wide range of heel-to-toe positions to suit ball fighting preferences. There’s also the Stealth (9, 10.5, 12 degrees; $ 580), which eschews the moving weight feature to focus on mass redistribution for maximum tolerance (an MOI around 15% higher than the Stealth Plus). The Stealth HD (9, 10.5, 12 degrees; $ 580) attacks the needs of slicers by shifting the counterbalance keel feature in the sole slightly towards the heel, which adds a pulling effect but maintains high stability on the decentering. hits, the highest of the Stealth family. The Stealth will also be offered in a higher launch female specification (10.5, 12 degrees; $ 580). MyStealth custom options will cost $ 700.

Stealth Pilots are available for pre-order now and will be in stores starting February 4.

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