While technically it isn’t the start of the PGA Tour season, this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii often marks the start of the new equipment season. Naturally, it will be the new drivers drawing the most attention, and several anticipated launches already have cropped up on the USGA’s list of conforming clubheads in the last few weeks. Here’s a quick alphabetical rundown of the new heads that might find their way into the bag of some of the 39 tour players in the field at Kapalua this week.
Included on this week’s conforming list are 13 versions of Callaway’s latest driver. Those include several standard models with what appears to be a rear sliding weight and several models with a “⬥⬥⬥” marking that in the past has been a version targeting better players, especially those on tour. There also is a Paradym X model. Details are coming this week, but a look at the heads shows references to ‘Forged Carbo’ and ‘Jailbreak AI’. The former refers to the company’s bundled composite fibres that can be formed into non-linear shapes with multiple thicknesses. The latter is Callaway’s internal structure that joins the crown and sole to stiffen that region to direct more flexing into the face. Callaway has used ‘artificial intelligence’ design features on its clubs to enhance forgiveness and ball speed in the face and other weight-saving structural elements.
Put on the conforming list last month, the new models feature markings that include ‘Pwrshell’ and ‘Pwrbridge’. The former has been seen on past Cobra woods and irons and refers to a face design that overlaps into the sole for better flexing. Full details on the Aerojet models are due next week, but the conforming list shows a standard Aerojet, an Aerojet Max and and Aerojet LS.
These drivers, which are expected to be announced later this month, went on the conforming list in the autumn and already have been played on tour. Keegan Bradley used the G430 LST during his victory at the Zozo Championship in October. These models (G430 Max, G430 SFT and G430 LST, the latter the most prevalent among tour players) seem to continue the general theme of past models with the Max version offering the most forgiveness, the SFT aimed at fighting a slice and the LST being a low-spin option. One notable change is the phrase ‘Carbonfly Wrap’ that appears only on the LST model. Seems a reasonable guess that ‘Carbonfly’ refers to the use of carbon composite, something that hasn’t been a part of Ping drivers since the Rapture driver more than 15 years ago.
Srixon ZX Mk II
The company’s driver family looks to be getting larger as it now includes three models: a ZX5 LS Mk II to join the ZX5 Mk II and ZX7 Mk II. All models again include a marking referencing Rebound Frame. That technology was introduced in 2021 and refers to a design feature that uses alternating stiff and flexible regions around the face, and into the crown and sole, to create more face flexing across a wider area. The ZX7 has been the more compact, lower-spinning model compared to the ZX5, which has been a larger shape with more forgiveness. Presumably, the LS references lower spin. Details likely to come this week.
TaylorMade Stealth 2
The company’s follow-up to last year’s big hit, Stealth 2’s family of three drivers looks to be next version of a carbon-composite face. The line-up includes the standard Stealth 2, the Stealth 2 Plus, which again features an adjustable weight track in the sole, and Stealth 2 HD, which last year referenced a head designed for higher launch and fighting the slice. These models again include the ‘Speed Pocket’ in the front of the sole, which has previously referred to a cut-through channel in the sole designed to improve the way the face flexes. More details are expected next week on these new models.