Equipment: Titleist 917 driver reviewSeptember 8, 2016 Golf Equipment
Equipment editor James Savage puts the new 917 driver through its paces and finds out that the new technology really does work
In our Titleist 917 driver review we’ve tried to cover all bases which you can see in the video above.
At the launch event at The Grove we spoke to Titleist‘s general manager for golf clubs Steve Pelisek to get the lowdown on the new technology.
We’ve also got some feedback from fitting expert James Monk who fitted me into the 917 driver and fairway at the launch event.
Finally we had some analysis from NCG’s resident pro James Whitaker who watched me hitting shots on Trackman.
Titleist 917 driver review – First impressions
I was super-excited about the 917 woods launch as had been fitted into 915 a couple of years ago and have been using the driver and fairway wood pretty much ever since.
For me, the 915 was a great driver and was up there with everything else on the market for performance. In terms of the looks sound and feel, I thought it stood alone as the best out there.
So I was naturally very keen to see what had been changed for 917.
The headcover is a massive improvement. It’s a one-piece leather design which is very classy. You may not think it a big deal but when you’ve paid out £350+ on a driver I’d expect the whole package to be premium. This certainly is.
There’s a different finish on the crown which is a dark grey colour. It’s similar to the finish on the 816 hybrids. I have to say I preferred the classic black finish on the 915 but maybe this one will grow on me over time.
The D2 headshape at address also is quite different to 915. I’d say it looks a little squarer which if anything, at address fills you with a bit more confidence. It’s not quite as square at say the Nike SQ Sumo but gives off the impression that it’s going to be more forgiving on off-centre hits.
For a more compact shape, the D3 could be the one for you but this review is on the D2 which I got fitted into.
Titleist 917 driver review – The technology
Titleist told me the the main story behind 917 is it does everything that 915 did but a little bit better.
The active recoil channel behind the face which helps improve ball speeds has been upgraded, as has the radial speed face.
But the key difference is the SureFit CG adjustability on the sole. It allows the clubs centre of gravity to be moved to help promote a certain shot shape, help eliminate a particular miss and align the CG better with where golfers impact the ball.
The SureFit CG system involves a cylindrical weight, a bit like the size of an AA battery which can be moved to place the CG nearer the heel or nearer to toe.
Each driver comes with two weights so one can be used to keep the weight in a neutral position if you’re not after any draw or fade bias.
As with 915 we also have the SureFit adjustability in the hosel which allows players to adjust the loft by +1 or -1˚ and also the face angle to promote a draw or a fade shot shape.
I believe this to be Titleist’s most adjustable driver to date and really underlines the company’s commitment to proper custom fitting. To get the most out of this driver you need to get dialled in with a proper fitter. This is not an off-the-shelf driver. It could be but in order to get optimum performance, a custom fitting is essential.
I was fitted into the D2 head with 8.5˚ of loft, draw setting in the hosel and the SureFit CG weight moved into the draw position. This was to try and get me getting the toe turning over a bit faster than the heel to stop my shots tailing off to the right.
Too much height and spin can be a problem for me so I was fitted into the Diamana 70 White stiff shaft which is a low launching model.
In the 915 I used the Diamana Blue 60. My fitter said I’d gained a bit of extra pace and was regularly up at 100mph so the new shaft should result in a more penetrating ball flight.
Titleist 917 driver review – Performance
In my fitting I hit a few shots with my 915 and I was finding plenty of virtual fairways but I was always on the right.
My shots were generally high and very spinny. You don’t notice this on the course – a fairway hit is a fairway hit. But on Trackman there is nowhere to hide.
I was getting about 210 yards of carry, 225-230 total distance – which as a 17 handicapper is perfectly adequate.
But my fitter was keen to get more out of my swing and with the 917 he had the tools to do that.
After putting the SureFit weight and hosel into the draw position my shots were going much straighter and if anything my miss was the left side of the fairway.
After switching to the Diamana 70 white from the Diamana 60 blue my ball flight was also much lower and the spin had come down significantly.
After getting properly dialled in with the 917 I was getting up to 230 yards of carry with a total distance of 245-250. So the improvement on the day was 20 yards.
There’s a noticeable difference in the sound which, to me, isn’t as sweet as 915 but it’s definitely more meaty and solid.
I’d say the feel is also more solid – whether this was just due to aligning the CG with the impact point, I’m not too sure but I think golfers will appreciate this difference. It helps to breed a bit more confidence.
Titleist 917 driver review – NCG Verdict
This new driver is going into my bag. I’m a huge fan and I’m confident it has been properly dialled in for me. I still need to work on technique but I know when I make a good swing this driver is going to reward me and help me to improve.
I enjoy using it and look forward to using it which is exactly what you’d want from a new driver.
As Titleist have said, it does everything that 915 did but does it slightly better and has something new with the SureFit CG. Well worth the two year wait.