Titleist’s excitement about its new 917 drivers exists on multiple levels and started as engineers discovered upon completion of the new design that they had created a product that compared to its predecessor, the 915 driver, was more forgiving, generated less spin, produced faster ball speeds, and offered enhanced customization features.
That excitement was only fueled when the 917 was adopted immediately and almost universally by Titleist’s professional staff. And getting touring pros to change drivers in the middle of their season with so much riding on the line is no small feat. What the Tour players found when they tested 917 was exactly what Titleist had originally hoped for and ultimately expected, that being better performing drivers in all areas.
“We’ve had some exciting results on Tour, guys that are switching to this product quicker than we’ve ever seen in the past,” said Josh Talge, Vice President of Marketing for Titleist Golf Clubs. “They’re picking up ball speed, they’re optimizing their spin, and they’re really narrowing their dispersion. It’s exactly what they’re looking for in a driver.”
There’s little doubt that 917 drivers will also be a commercial success with recreational players, who came out in droves across the country for a National Fitting Day that was organized by Titleist, not by coincidence, on Sept. 17. Having known that this was going to be a product that generated immense interest, TGW headed to Titleist Headquarters weeks earlier to get the inside scoop on 917.
In addition to touring the facilities, including the renowned Titleist Performance Institute, we interviewed Titleist staff members about the new 917 drivers and also conducted a consumer testing session. If putting a 917 driver in the bag is something you’re considering, here’s some comprehensive information to help you with the decision-making process:
Two Models Available: 917 D2 and D3
As has been the case with the most recent Titleist driver releases, with 917 golfers will again have the option to choose between a D2 or D3 model. And make no mistake about it, picking the right clubhead for your game is an important decision, as the two options will perform quite differently.
Most obvious when it comes to differences between the two models is the look of each head, as the D3 at 440cc has a more compact overall profile than its stablemate.
“The D3 model is a little smaller head, the center of gravity’s a little more forward; it produces a little bit less spin but has a little more workability,” said Glenn Mahler, Fitting Supervisor at the Titleist Performance Institute. “The D2 is a 460cc model, so it’s a bit more forgiving and it’s a little higher launching, has a little higher moment of inertia than its smaller companion D3 model.”
In terms of spin rates, Titleist found in its research that the 917 D3 generated about 250 RPM less spin than the D2, making it a great option for players who struggle to get their spin rate down. Of note, however, is that both 917 models spin less than their 915 D2 and D3 counterparts.
“The 917 in both the D2 and the D3 are going to spin about 200 RPM less,” Mahler explained. “So if a player was a little bit low in trajectory in a 915, it’s probably going to be a little bit more in the same setting in a 917.”
While based on their descriptions it might sound like the D3 is a better players club and the D2, which is also available in a ladies version, is more of a game-improvement offering, it would be a mistake to jump to that conclusion.
In fact, multiple Tour players, including Adam Scott, Jimmy Walker, and Justin Thomas, are using the higher-launching, more forgiving 917 D2.
Also worth mentioning when it comes to the clubhead, beyond its size and performance attributes, is that Titleist players will see a new color this year. Gone is the gloss black that was utilized with 915, 913, and 910 drivers, replaced instead by a dark grey that will take players back to earlier Titleist models, such as the popular 975 and 983.
Arguably the most unique technological innovation in the 917 drivers is the new SureFit CG, which enables golfers to adjust the club’s center of gravity in order to achieve their preferred ball flight. “SureFit CG is our first opportunity to really move center of gravity to help the golfer with dynamic face closure,” Talge said. “We’re able to impart more speed on the golf ball, give the shot shape they’re looking for to really benefit their game.” A chamber that runs along the back of the clubhead and parallel to the clubface was designed to house different weights that can be utilized depending on a player’s preference to move the center of gravity to either a back, heel position, which will create a draw bias, or a forward, toe position, which will create a fade bias. Golfers also have the option to utilize a neutral weight in the chamber if they choose, and while the 917 comes standard with 12-gram weights, lighter and heavier weights are also available to help players achieve their preferred swing weight depending on the length of their driver and the shaft weight they prefer. While the SureFit CG will have some effect on spin rates, where it has its biggest influence is in terms of helping players shape shots more easily or eliminate a miss. In its research, Titleist found that the SureFit CG made it possible for players to manipulate their ball flight by roughly six additional yards. Titleist also believes that when it comes to dialing in the 917 driver for a specific player the weight placement of the SureFit CG should be the final piece of that puzzle.
Active Recoil Channel 2.0 and Radial Speed Face 2.0
As mentioned, in addition to the unique and ample customization that 917 offers, from a performance standpoint these are drivers that are delivering lower spin rates, faster ball speeds, and enhanced forgiveness.
The driving force behind those playability benefits are the 917’s new Active Recoil Channel and Radial Speed Face.
The Recoil Channel, which has been a highly successful design feature in recent years for Titleist, has been modified in the 917 drivers, with the result being higher ball speeds and less spin.
“We’ve actually thinned out parts of the Active Recoil Channel to really make sure we’re getting even more trampoline effect, more explosion off the face,” Talge said.
In terms of lower spin rates, players can especially expect to see improved performance on shots struck low on the clubface thanks to the new Recoil Channel. That’s a shot that through the years when hit with most drivers would result in high spin and a dramatic loss of distance, but that won’t be the case with 917.
In the terms of the Radial Speed Face 2.0, it helps deliver both faster ball speeds and more forgiveness, as a thinner perimeter face width helps maintain speed on shots struck from impact points across the face.
“We’ve redesigned our Radial Speed Face to thin out certain sections,” Talge added. “Again, the idea here is to create more distance more often, which means let’s get the sweet spot wider, let’s get it deeper, let’s get it higher.”
The technology is working as well, as Titleist fitters are seeing ball speeds on the rise with nearly every player they work with, and the increases are sometimes immense.
“We’ve seen ball speed increases at a minimum of one mile an hour; we’ve seen as high as five,”said Mahler, who spent several years working with Tour players before taking over as the Fitting Supervisor at the Titleist Performance Institute. “You’re going to see more ball speed come off the face.”
While the SureFit Hosel being utilized in the 917 drivers isn’t a new technology, it is an important part of the equation and has been a game-changer for Titleist. Why? Because it gives players the ability to adjust loft and lie angle independently, which allows for tremendous options when it comes to achieving preferred ball flight and trajectory. Many players understand that loft will have a significant influence on trajectory. But with other adjustable hosels, a change in loft also comes with an automatic change in lie angle, which will influence ball flight and possibly not in the way a player wants. More specifically, more upright lie angles tend to produce a draw bias, while flatter lie angles tend to create a fade bias. With Titleist’s SureFit hosel, golfers aren’t at the mercy of an unwanted lie angle change if they decide to change loft, which is a huge benefit in terms of getting the exact flight conditions they want. “When you combine SureFit CG along with our SureFit hosel system, we’re able to really help you get that ball on the line that you want,” Talge said. “We can take misses out of play for you, and really deliver the type of performance that you’re going to enjoy.”
Of course, it’s no mystery these days that having the right shaft is a crucial component when it comes to driver performance, and Titleist is offering some outstanding options with 917, including a couple of new products.
For players who have used Titleist drivers through the years, they’ll likely be happy to see that the highly popular Mitsubishi Diamana line, a long-time favorite on Tour, is again being offered. More specifically, to fit the needs of all golfers, the Diamana shaft is available in the White, Blue, and Red Limited Plus models.
At a weight in the low 70s in terms of grams, depending on flex, the White is the heaviest of the three Diamana shafts and designed to produce low launch and low spin. It’s a great fit for high swing speed players, aggressive swingers, or those who are trying to flatten their trajectory.
The Blue, which checks in at 61 or 64 grams depending on flex, is more of a mid-launch, mid-spin shaft that’s garnered a reputation for its smooth feel. It’s a great option for players who are looking to maximize their carry distances.
The Red, meanwhile, is a lightweight, high-launch shaft that will work well for ladies, seniors, and players with slower swing speeds. Like the Blue, it also has a smooth feel, and it’s higher torque will deliver an active kick at impact.
As mentioned, there are also some new options that have been incorporated into the 917 shaft lineup: the Fujikura Speeder Pro TS 74 and the Aldila Rogue Max 65. Both are low-to-mid launching shafts, with the Speeder, with weights in the high 70s, weighing roughly 10 grams more than the Max.
“We pick what we refer to as ‘real-deal’ shafts,” Talge said.“These are one hundred percent aftermarket shafts. We partner directly with these vendors to make sure that’s what you’re getting, the same shaft you would get if you went somewhere else.”
Of course, as is always the case with Titleist, there will be a multitude of additional custom options available as well for players who need a different fit.
Setting Up Your 917 Driver for Your Game
In terms of customization, Titleist has never offered as much technology as it’s offering in the 917 drivers. And that’s great news for golfers, who will be able to take advantage of that enhanced personalization to create a driver setup that’s ideal for their swing and game.
Of course, the sheer number of customization options might also be a little bit intimidating for some, especially players who will be self-fitting their new 917 upon its arrival.
Even after you’ve chosen the best model for your game, either the D2 or D3, as well as the proper loft and shaft to meet your needs, there are still a number of different settings that you can create using the SureFit CG and SureFit Hosel to achieve exactly what you’re looking for in terms of ball flight.
All said, there are plenty of decisions to be made when it comes to the 917, regardless of whether you’re considering a purchase or you already have your new driver in hand.
To help players better understand how to choose the right 917 driver for their game and how to set it up for maximum performance, TGW spent some significant time in Carlsbad, California, with Glenn Mahler, the Fitting Supervisor at the Titleist Performance Institute, who has been fitting golfers for decades, including countless touring professionals.
We asked Mahler in this exclusive video to walk our TGW customers through the process of creating the perfect 917 driver setup for their games, and we believe you’ll find his insight to be both informative and helpful.