Drivers with a twist

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In the not-too-distant future, the most popular question being asked on driving ranges everywhere will be, Do you have a wrench? Its already started on the PGA Tour with the recent introduction of Nike Golfs SQ DYMO STR8-FIT and SQ DYMO2 STR8-FIT drivers and TaylorMades R9, all three of which make it easy to change the face angle, loft and lie angle of the club with a few twists of a wrench.
 
Nikes STR8-FIT (pronounced straight fit) technology offers up eight different head positions from open to closed, allowing you to correct a slice or hook or change your shot shape to fit the course youre playing. Trevor Immelman won last years Masters employing Nikes STR8-FIT technology, setting the face angle on his SUMO 5000 driver to 1 degree open (from 2 degrees open) so hed have the ability to draw the ball more easily at Augusta National. Immelman wound up hitting 48 of 56 fairways that week.
 
Instead of tweaking the face angle with a wrench, however, the shaft in Immelmans driver had to be removed from the clubhead, reset, and then glued into the hosel by one of Nikes equipment specialists on site, a process which took approximately one hour. Now, Immelman can feasibly do it on his own in 30 seconds or less with the aid of the STR8-FIT shaft adapter, which is built into the hosel. Using the six-inch long torque wrench that comes with each SQ DYMO STR8-FIT driver (found in the headcover), you unscrew the head from the shaft, find the loft and face angle combination that works best for your game, and then reconnect; a red LED light and sound indicates when the clubhead is locked into place and its safe to hit.
 
The good news for consumers is you dont need a Nike Tour Van nearby to help you customize your driver. You can modify your driver before or after your round, not mid-round, per USGA rules.
 
If Im a slicer and I start with a club that has a naturally hooked face, then no matter how right Im going to hit it, its going to hit it less right, said Tom Stites, Nike Golfs director of club creation. It wont fix every slice, but you will move the ball more toward the desired location you want.
 
For maximum correction on a slice, you remove the head from the shaft and turn the shaft adapter two teeth marks (from neutral, represented by the yellow arrow) to the left so the L matches up with the black line on the hosel. This is a 2 degrees closed setting and should aid in bringing your slice back toward the center of the fairway or green. One turn to the left (1 degree closed) will give you a slight draw bias (right to left) whereas three turns to the left will assist in your trajectory and promote a higher draw. Conversely, to correct a hook, you turn the shaft one mark to the right from neutral for a slight fade bias (1 degree open), two marks (2 degrees open) for a maximum fade bias (left to right), and three marks for a high fade. Once you have the face angle and loft combination you desire, you lock the head and shaft back into place using the wrench.
 
For the average golfer, if your tendency is to slice the ball, youre going go be able to buy this driver, change the setting on it, and see your slice straighten out, Immelman said. It gives you a whole new driver.
 
The more traditional-shaped SQ DYMO STR8-FIT and square-shaped SQ DYMO2 STR8-FIT drivers hit stores on March 19 with a street price of $399. They are available in lofts of 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 11.5 degrees, and HL (High Launch).
 
The R9, which combines TaylorMades Movable Weight Technology - launched in the r7 back in 2004 - and Flight Control Technology, or FCT, debuted at the Bob Hope Classic in mid-January. Thirteen pros used it, including winner Pat Perez, making it the first driver to debut at No. 1 in its first week on the PGA Tour. Its been the No. 1-played driver on Tour every week since, including this weeks Transitions Championship, where 24 were in play.
 
With FCT, you can rotate the shaft and special metallic hosel sleeve to change the clubheads face angle from 2 degrees open to 2 degrees closed, affecting the amount of side to side adjustment (right and left ball flight) by as much as 40 yards. That number can reach as high as 75 yards if you combine FCT with the three moveable weights, which help relocate the clubs center of gravity. The driver comes equipped with one 16-gram and two 1-gram weights. To promote a draw and the maximum amount of right-to-left movement capable, youd set the face 2 degrees closed and place the 16-gram weight in the heel of the clubhead. For a straighter shot, youd set the face to the neutral position and the 16-gram weight in the center of the clubhead, and for a max fade youd adjust the face to 2 degrees open and move the heavier weight to the toe of the clubhead.
 
Were able to do in 25 seconds what used to take us 16 weeks to do, said Harry Arnett, TaylorMades senior director of equipment. Six, seven years ago, we would have had to build a totally new golf club. Now, we can change the face angle, adjust the draw-weighting and produce a super game-improvement club in a matter of seconds.
 
The procedure for adjusting the face angle, loft and lie angle in the R9 is slightly different from the Nike STR8-FIT system. Using the T-shaped FCT wrench, you loosen the FCT screw in the sole of the clubhead to remove the shaft from the clubhead (the screw remains in the head). Once the head is removed, you choose one of eight desired FCT settings marked on the sleeve and end of the shaft, and align it with the serial number on the back of the clubhead. From here, you slide the sleeve into the hosel of the clubhead until the tip of the sleeve catches in the well of the clubhead. Once secure, you tighten the FCT screw with the wrench until you hear a loud clicking sound.
 
To close the clubface 2 degrees and promote a draw, you align the L or Left setting on the sleeve with the serial number on the hosel; conversely, for a 2 degrees open clubface and a fade-bias, you align the R or Right setting on the sleeve with the serial number. A neutral upright setting (NU) creates a 1 degree upright lie and a slight draw bias.
 
The first time I hit it, it went long and straight, said Perez. It comes off the face hot. Its got that new shaft technology, its awesome. You can hit it anywhere you want. If youre a fader, you can set up to hit a draw. Its phenomenal technology. I look forward to where the driver is going after this.
 
The R9 and R9 TP drivers hit retail stores on March 6. They have a street price of $399 and $499, respectively, and are offered in lofts of 8.5, 9.5 and 10.5 degrees.