The Pope’s Hot New Driver

Knuth Golf’s High Heat could be the answer to your first-tee prayers.

It’s a terrible picture, taken in a hurry with a dodgy camera phone. And clearly, no one ever told the greenhorn snapper that took it to be mindful of his reflection when composing an image. And yet, for the typically inconsistent amateur golfer, this awful photograph tells a very significant story.

Look closely and you can see, on the bottom right corner of the clubface, a ball imprint. Surely a ball hit so low on the face and so close to the heel of the club would not come off the face with any great speed. There would be no positive feedback at impact, just an insubstantial, tinny click. The ball would get airborne perhaps, but not travel terribly far.

And what if the person responsible for this horribly off-center impact was more than a little tired after walking the range for half a day and standing still for long periods at the PGA Merchandise Show’s Demo Day in Orlando, Fla? Disappointing clubhead speed, and impact well over an inch from the center of the clubface—how’d that work for you?

Surprisingly well, actually.

In fact, despite the defective launch conditions, my ball flew about as far as my usual drive. The sound of impact was unexpectedly pleasing, and the strike felt surprisingly solid – almost like it came out of the sweetspot.

How can this be? How could a club produce so satisfying a result from so inadequate a strike? It would have to have been be made by some sort of genius, fluent in metallurgy, aerodynamics, acoustics, and every other science and process that goes into designing a driver head.

Dean Knuth’s your man.

A retired U.S. Navy veteran who designed systems to locate Soviet nuclear submarines during the Cold War and created a number of innovative software and wireless solutions for global security company Northrup Grumann, Knuth also spent 16 years at the USGA.

Known as the “Pope of Slope,” he invented the Course Rating System, Slope Rating, Pace-Rating System, Junior Par System and the Tournament Point System.

He also learned about clubs, specifically what prevented them from working as well as they could, and how he might improve them. He was confident, for instance, he could find a way to decrease the loss of energy when the clubhead strikes the ball.

Knuth wanted to build a driver for amateurs that enabled them to maximize their potential distance, stay on the fairway, and greatly increase their enjoyment of the game. He developed his first driver, a 420cc model, several years ago but later decided to take advantage of the USGA’s 460cc head volume limit.

“Dean explained to me the new club would be very different to the previous one as he could now position the Center of Gravity further back in the head and much deeper than it is in other brands’ clubs,” says Stephen Trattner, himself a former USGA man and Knuth’s business partner.

The result is the new High Heat, which debuts this year and on whose face I left that imprint.

Knuth says he built the High Heat “from the ground up,” and that its Center of Gravity (CG) is significantly below and behind those in other manufacturers’ clubs where the CG tends to be high and forward to aid the better player—or at least one able to generate greater clubhead speed. It is essential to position the CG as deep as possible in amateurs’ clubs, says Knuth, as a ball carries further when it is struck above a driver's Center of Gravity. “The lower the Center of Gravity in the clubhead,” Knuth continues, “the more likely an amateur golfer is to strike the ball above it, and thus maximize the distance he/she can carry the ball.”

Knuth was able to lower the CG in part by using a different titanium alloy than the one used by other manufacturers. Knuth prefers Ti 8-1-1 composed of titanium, aluminum (8%), vanadium (1%) and molybdenum (1%), whereas others use Ti 6-4 – titanium, aluminum (6%) and vanadium (4%). He also altered the thickness of the crown and sole, and placed a discretionary weight inside the head.   

The club, insists Knuth, creates a better dynamic loft and lower spin rate meaning greater carry distances, and also increases the Moment of Inertia (MoI) promoting straighter ball flight. “The deeper CG improves a driver’s Gear Effect so if you hit the ball on the toe or the heel, it should work its way back towards the center of the fairway. The face really is one large sweetspot zone. All you have to do is hit it on the face, and the driver will do the rest for you.”

I believe him.

Available in:
Right and left hand
9.5°, 10.5°, 12°

Shafts –
Aldila Magnum 44
Aldila Tour Blue 65
Fujikura Pro 53
Fujikura Pro 63

$399 –


Return of the Bridgestone Driver

Callaway’s Chrome Soft Golf Ball

The Flex Putter and other Great Products

Former golf professional Tony Dear is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. Colorado AvidGolfer publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via