Titleist 913 Driver Review – Custom Fitting
As Monday mornings go, it was early, cold and wet, although pretty normal for Celtic Manor in February. Overlooking the resort is one of only four Titleist National Fitting centres in the UK. I hoped the two and a half hour journey from Manchester would be worth it. I had never had a club fitting before and today, at Titleist, would be my first.
Titleist National Fitting Centre – Celtic Manor
I knew I was in good hands as soon as I met my Titleist Club Fitting Technician, he shook my hand and with a smile, introduced himself as Anthony. He told me to warm up at my leisure with a basket of balls on the range whilst he made the coffee.
I was here on this (typically Welsh) wet morning to get fitted for a new Titleist 913 driver. The 913 is a classically shaped driver, in Titleist’s own words this club is ‘pear shaped’ and its sleek black looks give nothing away. It arrives as a successor to the enormously popular 910 and has been designed to provide the golfer with a driver that enables ‘optimum launch and reduced spin that results in longer distances’. Technically it does this through the implementation of rear weighting and a ‘forged face insert’ that increases club head speed. My fitting today will, whilst getting me a better driver, also aim to test these claims out.
After my warm up Anthony arrived with the coffee – in a Titleist mug of course – and lead me to the fitting bay, where he set up TrackMan to monitor the flight path of my shots, but only after a quick dig at my left handedness (a common practice for righties!).
NB. TrackMan is a radar-based computer system that tracks and measures what the club head and golf ball are doing in realtime and generates a set of data that help understand and explain the characteristics of the golf shot.
We chatted about what I was looking for in my driving and my game in general. I was clear that I wanted a slightly lower ball flight, but with something that would also minimise my bad shot, which was a pull/block right. Distance was not at the top of my agenda, as I was happy with my current length. But I did want a driver that was both easier to hit and gave a more consistent result.
Firstly we looked at my current driver setup to get some base figures to compare and hopefully improve upon. Anthony immediately noticed that on my driver that the shaft was coming loose from the hosel, and testament to the thorough service that a Titleist Fitting provides, he found the time at the end of the session to re-set the clubhead for me (ensuring I had a backup driver that was safe for those around me and saving me expensive legal fees in golf injuries). The swing speed for my current driver was 108mph with a face angle of 2.8 degrees and a spin rate of 3767rpm (to quote just 3 of 21 separate TrackMan variables). These variables combined to produce an average carry of 237 yards and a driving distance of 255 yards.
The Titleist 913 D2 Driver
To start with we chose the 9.5 degree driver with a [Diamana White 65 + S] shaft. However the spin rate went up and the distance went down, which wasn’t an improvement. So Anthony fitted the [Aldila RIP a 60 S] shaft in I immediately felt the difference, though the all important spin rate which had actually increased to 3983rpm. Tellingly though the ‘smash factor’ increased substantially. My current eBay bought driver produced a smash factor of just 1.41, but after inserting the RIP shaft into 913 it jumped up to 1.44.
The Smash Factor sounds exciting, but really it just measures the ratio between club head speed and ball speed. Simply put the smash factor is a numerical value for ‘how effectively/efficiently the ball has been struck’. In context, the average tour player has a smash factor of about 1.48, a player with elite ambitions should be aiming for 1.47, the highest possible smash factor is 1.494*. For me, just improving this hitherto unknown factor made me realise the importance of efficiently converting my swing speed, weight transference and body turn into a better struck golf ball. However, for now I was just pleased to have increased my hitting power without tampering with my swing.
Anthony though, was more concerned with my landing angle than discussing my swing faults – a Titleist Fitting is just that: a fitting for your swing, not a lesson. He had listened to my concern of a high ball flight, although he translated this into achieving an optimum landing angle of the ball, which should be about 35 degrees. This means that the ball both continues to move forward (gaining more distance) in its descent, rather than dropping out of the sky and stopping. Additionally the maintained velocity of the ball should add yards of roll after landing too. In the colder, damper climate of Britain the optimum landing angle was likely to be even less, at around 32 degrees.
To try and get a lower spin rate and better landing angle, we changed down from the 9.5 degree to the 8.5 degree clubhead. With the same [Aldila RIP] shaft we managed to reduce the spin rate to 3803rpm and the landing angle to 39 degrees, which had increased distance too (now 260 yards). More importantly, it felt incredibly comfortable to hit.
Adjustable SureFit Tour Hosel
We tested two other shaft specifications with the 8.5 degree head with little improvement in the figures and a noticeable difference in how they were hit. However my ‘bad shot’ was still appearing. Which is when having an adjustable driver provides an enormous benefit. There are 20 possible settings, which can counter the effect of a slice, fade or draw by adjusting the lie angle of the sole. The change is imperceptible to the eye but instead of moving the weight distribution to either the face or the heel the 913 adjustable head does this by altering the position (angle) of the hosel.
Anthony changed the setting from the standard D4 to a C4 setting. This change didn’t miraculously cure my block pull right but it minimised its effect markedly, probably the equivalent from being in big trouble right to being just a bit right of ok. It didn’t overcompensate either, I wasn’t suddenly hitting big fades.
Anthony’s last shaft option was probably the best, he had definitely been holding out on me. Last up was the stiffest shaft yet, the [Fujikura Rombax Pro95 S], which was slightly heavier than the RIP shaft too though I didn’t notice. Ball speed maxed out at 155mph, the face angle was 0.6 degrees, the landing angle was a respectable 38 degrees and we reached a smash factor of 1.45. This increased the overall distance to 273 yards, with a carry of 252. The club felt good too, I felt more confident in giving it a little extra without losing any accuracy. It felt unerringly good. For the first time in my life I realised what it must feel like for the pros on TV as they smash three bells of hell out of the ball and still manage to hit every fairway. We had found a club, shaft and setup option that complimented my swing.
The Titleist 913 D3 Driver
If we had finished there then I would have been happy with the 913 D2. Anthony, however, still wasn’t happy with some of the figures produced by TrackMan, he still wanted improvement and a Titleist fitting wouldn’t be complete without trying the 913 D3. The D3 has a slightly smaller head and hitting face, and doesn’t have the draw bias of the D2. This was also the club that Rory McIlroy had used at the end of the 2012 season to such devastating effect. I knew I held in my hands one of the most technologically advanced drivers on the market, the first time in my 25 years of golf that I could make such a heady claim.
With the D3 Anthony found the results he wanted, the figures justified his patience; a spin rate of just 2608rpm, a face angle of 0.7 degrees, a landing angle of 33.9 degrees, a smash factor of 1.44 and a ball speed 154mph. The result for me, was not only a beautiful spread of balls, and a great shot shape, but an average carry of 249 yards and total distance of 276 yards, which was a 21 yard increase on my current driver.
The Titleist 913 Driver had certainly delivered on its promise, not only managing to improve upon an aspect of my game that had been entirely acceptable beforehand but also succeeding in bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “it’s gone pear-shaped”.
My Titleist 913 D3 Specifications:
Loft – 8.5 degree
Hosel Setting – C4
Shaft – Fujikura Rombax Pro95 S
Grip – Golf Pride New Decade Whiteout
Fujikura Rombax Pro95 S
Proforce V2 86 S
Diamana White 82 + S
Aldila RIP a 60 S
Diamana White 65 + S
* Taken from TrackMan News #3 May 2008