Titleist’s New Turn of Speed

How could the clubmaker improve on its highly-successful TSi drivers?

By Tony Dear

Titleist TSR2 Courtesy Titleist

Despite having something of a reputation for being concerned only, at least largely, with better golfers, Titleist has long maintained it actually makes equipment for ‘committed’ golfers. Its high-MoI (Moment of Inertia) T400 iron is indeed proof that a portion of its R&D budget, albeit relatively minor, is given over to the creation of a club aimed at mid-high handicappers. But while there certainly are large numbers of committed golfers who may not be terribly good at the game, it’s surely not too much of a reach to suggest the more committed a golfer is, the better they’ll tend to be – ergo Titleist makes clubs predominantly for better players.

Six years ago, having identified its drivers created significantly less clubhead and ball-speed than desired, the company began experimenting with different materials, shapes, construction, weighting, etc. to find some badly-needed MPH. The result was the TS – ‘Titleist Speed’ – family of drivers released in mid-2018 and which featured Titleist’s new Speed Chassis. The TSi2 and TSi3 came along two years later (the TSi1 and TSi4 shortly afterwards) the greatest change being the addition of an incredibly strong, lightweight, durable and fast titanium face manufactured by Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (hence the ATI stamped on the face).

When a club wins as many driver counts and does as well at retail as the TSi did you wonder why its manufacturer would ever feel the need to change it. Today’s golf equipment world works mostly in two-year product cycles, of course, and expectations for multi-billion dollar companies like Titleist (operated by the publicly-traded Acushnet Company) to innovate regularly are pretty strict.
So now we have a new quartet of all-titanium TS drivers – actually three: TSR2, TSR3 and TSR4 (the TSR1 is coming next Spring) where the ‘R’ stands for Redefined. You could argue ‘Redefined’ is a bit excessive for clubs that have changed a bit (the transition from TSi to TSR is nothing like as significant as the leap from 917 to TS), but I suppose it depends on how you define ‘redefined’.
The first thing you can’t help but notice about all three is that Titleist is still making the sleekest, smoothest, coolest-looking drivers available. The black crown and pear-shape heads with pleasingly unfussy soles (it wasn’t very long ago that busy soles full of conspicuous tech were all the rage) are just beautiful and instantly make you grow half-an-inch in your spikes, put a smile on your face and maybe even add a couple of knots to your clubhead-speed.

The most noticeable difference between the TSi and TSR drivers is between the TSi2 and TSR2. The head shape of the newer club is quite a bit different with the crown ending an inch or so above the sole and overhanging a piece known as the ‘boat tail’ which goes straight down before meeting the sole. This improves the club’s aerodynamics and allows the 9-gram backweight to be positioned unobtrusively in the boat tail. Additionally, the toe of the club has been rounded to make the face appear square or even a little open – at least not closed which was a fairly common gripe with the TSi2.
Less visible (well, totally invisible), but probably more telling, changes are to the ATI face which is extremely thin at the perimeter and slightly thicker in the middle, creating what Titleist calls ‘Multi-Plateau VFT’ (the goal to make Characteristic Time, or CT, more consistent across the face and therefore allowing off-center strikes to maintain ball-speed) and to the Center of Gravity (CG) which has moved forward a couple of millimeters. Titleist says this actually allows golfers to swing the club ever so slightly faster which should result in faster ball-speed. It also makes the shot fly a little shallower – something associated with elite players and less forgiveness. Titleist, however, says the drop in MoI is negligible and the TSR2 remains the most forgiving family member with an MoI in the high 4,900s. Titleist believes the more forgiving the clubhead becomes and the closer clubmakers push the MoI to the USGA’s limit of 5,900, the more damaging the effect on ball-speed, control and everything else the really good player holds dear.

Titleist TSR3 Courtesy Titleist

The TSi3 was the most popular of the TSi drivers and played most regularly on Tour so Titleist was hard-pushed to upgrade it and make it different while essentially keeping it the same. It did so by creating what it calls a ‘Speed Ring’ where the face is actually at its thinnest in the center (unlike the TSR2) – the theory being that TSi3 users were, and TSR3 users are, more likely to hit the ball in the sweetspot and thus benefit from a little more face-deflection. Speed Ring, unlike Multi-Plateau VFT isn’t designed to standardize ball-speed across the entire face, but rather give a little boost to center-strikes.  The five-position weight track (Neutral T1, T2, H1 and H2) features an 8-gram (other weights available) weight that fitters can move to accommodate the golfers shot-shape preferences.

Titleist TSR4 (showing sole weights). Courtesy Titleist

The TSR4 is the low-spin model with a 430cc head as opposed to the TSR2 and TSR3 which both have 460cc heads. That cuts the MoI to around 4,100 though it can be altered depending on where you put the two sole weights. Position the 11-gram weight toward the front and 3-gram weight at the back and you’ll get very low-spin and a low launch. So you better have some clubhead-speed to get the ball airborne. Switch them and you’ll create a slightly higher launch and a little more spin – about 250rpm. The TSR4 features the same Multi-Plateau VFT face as the TSR2 to keep ball-speeds consistent across the face.

Lofts – 8˚ (right-hand only), 9˚, 10˚ 11˚
Shafts – Project X HZRDUS Red CB, Project X HZRDUS Black 4G, Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue or Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Black shaft. Custom shafts available
Available – September 23rd

Lofts – 8˚, 9˚, 10˚ (left-hand 10˚ custom-only). 11˚ also available in right-hand through custom.
Shafts – Project X HZRDUS Red CB, Project X HZRDUS Black 4G, Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue or Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Black shaft. Custom shafts available
Available – September 23rd

Lofts – 8˚ (RH-only), 9˚, 10˚ (RH-only)
Shafts – Project X HZRDUS Red CB, Project X HZRDUS Black 4G, Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue or Mitsubishi Tensei 1K Black shaft. Custom shafts available
Available – September 23rd


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