Two decades in the making, it promises to change the driver industry forever, but how does it work? Hannah Holden explains
TaylorMade changed the driver game back in 1979 by releasing the Original One, the first metalwood on the market. Forty-three years later and they’ve done it again, introducing a revolutionary new product to their driver line-up – the TaylorMade Stealth – a carbonwood.
So what is it? And why has it been introduced?
What is a carbonwood?
A carbonwood is a driver that has a club face made up entirely of carbon. The TaylorMade Stealth drivers are the first carbonwoods to be released to the mass market.
In fact the club face of these drivers are made up of a staggering 60 layers of overlapping carbon.
The goal of any new technology is ultimately to improve performance.
Carbon is a seriously lightweight material compared to the titanium which has typically been used in driver heads for the past two decades.
To put this in perspective, the Stealth‘s face is 44% lighter compared to a titanium face of the same size.
Weight savings from swapping materials allows TaylorMade to put weight in other areas of the clubhead for – you guessed it – improved performance.
But that’s not the only advantage. It is also less dense which leads to less resistance and more efficient face flexing at impact.
This gives you a better energy transfer from club face to the ball at impact ultimately giving you more ball speed and distance.
“In the mid-2000s, our research team developed an understanding that the weight of the face can affect impact efficiency. More specifically, the lighter the face, the more efficient the impact and the better the ball speed. We realized titanium faces could only take us so far and carbon would be the face material of the future.”- Brian Bazzel, Vice President of Product Creation
The development process
Believe it or not this new technology is more than 20 years in the making. TaylorMade began working on this project in 2000 and even built an initial prototype in 2003.
Carbon is typically used in structures such as performance bikes and is not really designed for absorbing the amount of force produced when a driver face connects with a golf ball.
TaylorMade had to trial hundreds of different patterns and layering systems before they developed the 60X Carbon Twist Face we see in the Stealth.
Even then the club face was very smooth and too susceptible to scratches and abrasions. This lack of texture meant launch conditions weren’t ideal in wet weather.
So TaylorMade’s engineers went back to the drawing board and spent five years experimenting with different materials to cover the club face.
They teamed up with golf ball chemists with extensive experience of using urethane to create a nanotexture cover with textured roughness and scorelines to provide precise launch and spin properties.
“The innovation of our nanotexture technology brings the entire face together and was a key to making this driver a reality. Without this revolutionary cover design, we could not have achieved the launch and spin performance required to extract the optimal performance in dry as well as wet conditions. Once we added the nanotexture technology to the grooves, we were able to unlock the full performance of a carbon face.”– Tomo Bystedt, Senior Director of Product Creation, Carbonwood Drivers
In 2012 a small-scale composite face production facility was built to help build parts to launch the limited-edition Japan-only Gloire Reserve driver. This featured a carbon face in a titanium body to test out some of the processes.
The final piece of the puzzle was a state-of-the-art plant being built for high-volume production of composite parts.
TaylorMade wanted to reduce waste and increase efficiency. They also had to build additional facilities to bond the fully-finished carbon faces into the castings.
It took more than 20 years to develop but finally TaylorMade has ushered in the carbonwood age.
“The 20-year journey to today is a reflection of the engineering and R&D teams at TaylorMade that never gave up on the idea of a carbon face driver. The technical challenges in creating a driver face with a new material are vast. How do we take a “space age” material known for its high strength & lightweight properties, but not inherently designed for impact applications, and make it into a driver face that delivers revolutionary ball speed? Through two decades of work our team was able to solve various hurdles and create numerous technological innovations in order to bring today’s most advanced and precise driver to market.”– Todd Beach, Senior Vice President of R&D and Engineering
More information can be found on the TaylorMade website.