It’s become intrinsic to how Callaway create new clubs. But what is Artificial Intelligence and how does it help golf club design? Let’s take a closer look
A key part of Callaway Golf’s product launches since 2020 has been the involvement of artificial intelligence, or AI. Despite being something more usually associated with Sci-Fi movies, Callaway claim that the utilisation of AI has revolutionised how they build their clubs – notably the faces on their metalwoods.
But what is AI design, and how does it work?
What is AI design in golf clubs?
The short answer is that the R&D team at Callaway feed some information about the way certain types of golfers strike the ball into a super computer, and let it whizz away to spit out the formula for making a clubface which best helps to suit those golfers – be it Tour Pros or higher-handicap amateurs. This face is then built into the design of the golf club, and hey presto! You’ve got yourself a snazzy new Driver!
However, as you might expect, there’s slightly more to it than this. In order to produce the faces suggested by the algorithms within the computers, Callaway’s designer and developers had to totally change the way they went about building clubs, with new manufacturing processes needed to actually create the super-thin titanium faces required for the product design. This also included finding an entirely new titanium alloy that was strong enough to be used in golf clubs when coupled with these unique designs!
The good news for Callaway was that the use of AI actually sped up a lot of their day to day development. For the debut of their ‘Flash Face’, first seen in the Epic Flash drivers, the company used machine learning to cycle through 15,000 designs, something which would have previously been wholly unrealistic in the building of a new club.
The company also found assistance from the AI in the overall designs of the clubs too, not just the driver faces themselves, helping to develop their full golf club offering – helping with aerodynamics, launch, spin, feel, and forgiveness. This allows them to more quickly test new theories or designs, helping to hone in on the final version more easily.
What’s more, with decades of data from golfers of all ability, Callaway Golf have been able to use AI to more easily build differences into the design of their products to suit different types of golfer – even within the same product family.
In their 2022 lineup, whilst the naming of the Rogue ST MAX, MAX D, MAX LS and Triple Diamond LS may be similar, the products themselves differ greatly, and have been created for differing golfers. The low spin models (LS) are generally designed for the better player, helping to manage unwanted spin, with the MAX and MAX D (draw) models generally offering a touch more forgiveness for those that may not always find the centre of the face …
However, even after just a couple of years, the AI innovation is not limited to metalwoods, with the company using it to help develop their iron lineup too.
The Rogue ST iron range features an AI-designed Flash Cup Face, designed to maintain ball speed across the face of the club, helping to get your approaches pin-high, even on poorer swings. Additionally, the AI technology has been used in Callaway irons to create more optimised launch, loft and spin throughout the set. Although all of the major brands will now tailor their lofts according to the wider designs of their irons (and the needs of the intended customer), Callaway claims the use of AI maximises performance, enabling their designers to make minor adjustments which maintain consistency, and forgiveness, throughout their sets.
One last, but important, point to mention is how AI is helping Callaway create and refine separate technologies within their products. The most pertinent example being their much-discussed ‘Jailbreak’ technology. Whilst this was first seen in their 2017 Epic range of metalwoods, AI has helped the company to tweak the initial design from two bars which joined the crown to the sole of the golf club, to the new ‘Jailbreak Speedframe’ – something which spreads this forgiveness wider across the clubface and helps increase ball speed.
So, the next time you fly your new Callaway driver past your playing partners, flush your fairway woods or manage to hit the green on a slightly missed iron shot, you can thank the kind folk in Callaway R&D for adding a team of super-computers brimming with AI to their already impressive team!