The Most Popular Drivers of 2015 Secret CG Locations

The Most Popular Drivers of 2015 Secret CG Locations

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Written By: Tony Covey

Yesterday we gave you a primer on driver Center of Gravity; what it is and why it matters. Whether you know it or not, CG location probably influenced your last driver purchase.

Today we’re going to take things a step further. We’re going to step away from the marketing, the buzzwords, and the catch phrases. We’re going to show you reality. We’re going to show you the actual center of gravity locations for 19 of most popular drivers of 2015.

Whose CG is the lowest? Whose CG is the farthest back? Whose CG locations are so high they’re nearly off the chart?

Does anyone actually offer low spin with forgiveness?

We have the answers.

Our first chart will provide you with a better understanding of relative CG between clubs. Our second chart is not to be missed. It pulls everything we’ve discussed the last two days together, and provides the best illustration of why the top drivers of 2015 perform the way they do.

The Fine Print

Before we get to our dynamic charts, it’s important to understand that although heads were measured according to USGA standards, tolerances (both in measurement and in manufacturing) come into play. The tolerance for our measurements is approximately .7mm. To account for this we represent CG using large dots rather than a smaller absolute point.

Where the dots are touching or in close proximity to one another, it’s reasonable to assume the heads offer similar performance.

These are CG measurements only. While CG placement is the foundation of driver performance, as you’re aware, loft and shaft selection also contribute to overall driver performance.

Finally, although we’ve blown these charts up to make them a bit easier to read, every last one of the CG locations represented is within that tiny little 14mm x 12mm box we discussed yesterday.

Here’s our graphic from our previous article to remind you how CG location impacts driver performance (left is front, right is back).

CG Location Relative to Face Center

This chart shows the CG locations of 19 different drivers relative to the center of the face.

To isolate a given head, simply select it from the list on the left hand side. You can select multiple drivers using the dropdown list. Individual models are color coded.

Movable weight/adjustable CG drivers have multiple dots associated with each head to reflect the CG location for the various weight positions. Hovering over a dot will reveal the driver model and weight configuration.

The x-axis represent distance in millimeters from the driver face (a value of -36, for example, represents a CG location 36mm from the face). Basically, the face would be to the right of the chart.

Observations
  • Mizuno’s JPX-850 has the lowest CG of any driver sampled
  • TaylorMade’s AeroBurner offers the most forward CG
  • Callaway Big Bertha driver with gravity core up have the highest CG
  • PING’s G30 has the most rearward CG location
  • Among the adjustable CG drivers, it’s interesting to note which models offer the most significant CG movement

The Neutral Axis

golf-geeks-neutral-axis

Still with me? Let’s kick the geek speak up a notch.

As illustrated by the image above, the neutral axis is an imaginary line running perpendicular to the center of a lofted driver face. Before you can ask, let me tell you why that matters.

As the center of gravity moves closer to the neutral axis you get less gearing (twisting) and a more efficient transfer of energy. It’s your basic ball go far argument. As with everything else in our CG discussion, the distance from the CG to the neutral axis (or GG NA is it’s called for short) is measured in millimeters, but as we learned yesterday, those millimeters matter.

#Team_____ vs. #Team_____

As you would imagine, each golf company has its own unique CG philosophy. TaylorMade, for example, believes a low forward CG is best, while Ping is a strong proponent of rear (and also low) CG positions. Sometimes there’s a legitimate argument to be made for a given company’s philosophy, and sometimes – and this shouldn’t come as a shock – the publicly stated philosophy is developed to justify a technology that perhaps isn’t quite as compelling as we’re supposed to believe it is.

It’s also important that you understand that because of where reality dictates the CG has to be, and the front-heavy nature of a driver, it’s much easier to move the CG forward than it is to move it backwards. The farther you move CG backwards, the harder it is to keep it close to the neutral axis.

Simply put…low and forward is relatively easy to achieve. Low and back is hard, which is why you don’t see many true low/back designs.

loft-vs-cg

Allowed 5 seconds of honesty and the suspension of the immutable laws of physics most R&D guys will tell you that the farthest point away from the face, and close or on the neutral axis is the ideal CG location. But like I said, putting it there is literally impossible.

So as a substitute for perfection, golf companies strive for the best we can do. Variations of the phrase low spin with forgiveness have been tossed around quite a bit this season. So keep that in the forefront of your mind as you consider the next chart.

A comparatively rear CG location near the neutral axis is the only way to truly achieve low spin with forgiveness.

CG Location Relative to the Neutral Axis (CG NA) & MOI

As with the first chart, you can sort our CG NA/MOI chart by club model. We’ve also added the ability to filter clubs by proximity to the neutral axis and MOI.

Please Note: Because MOI is represented by a positive number, the driver face would be to the left of the chart.

Observations

  • In the previous chart we saw that the center of gravity for the majority of drivers is located below the center of the face, but none of the drivers measured has a CG on or below the neutral axis.
  • With some weight positions less than 1mm from the neutral axis, Mizuno’s JPX-850 has the lowest CG of any driver measured, and likely the lowest CG of any driver on the mainstream market.
  • The CG of Ping’s G30 is the farthest back of any tested, only Ping and Cobra offer drivers which can reasonably be described as offering low/back CG, and only Ping, Cobra, Titleist, Adams, and possibly Nike can be described as offering above average forgiveness.
  • Ping’s G30 LS and Cobra’s FLY-Z+ achieve low(ish) spin with above average forgiveness.
  • All of Nike’s current offerings can be considered high CG.
  • Most manufacturers offer a sort of linear progression between models. In many cases you can connect (or nearly connect) all of a given manufacturer’s offerings with a single straight line. I would suggest that this is the best indicator of a given company’s CG philosophy relative to an entire product line
  • The difference in CG location between FLY-Z+ weight forward and FLY-Z+ weight back, as well as Big Bertha Gravity Core Up vs. Gravity Core down is substantial, while CG movement between the various positions of the Mizuno JPX-850 is minimal.

Surprises

So, did anything here surprise you? Are there some manufacturers that aren’t exactly where they say they are? We think so.

I’d also be curious to know if you’ve observed something similar to what I have. Do you favor drivers with similar CG placements or are your preferences all over the map?

Want More from the Golf Geeks?

What other topics would you like to have our Golf Geeks tackle and simplify? Let us know.

MyGolfSpy

MyGolfSpy Labs – “The Secret To Longer, Straighter Drives?

MyGolfSpy Labs – “The Secret To Longer, Straighter Drives?

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(Written By: Matt Saternus) In two recent MyGolfSpy Labs, we’ve talked about the impact of shaft flex and shaft weight.  The data we gathered showing the importance of fitting for the right flex and weight was shocking: we saw testers gain or lose 20 yards or more with the wrong flex or weight.  Today, we discuss torque, which may be the least understood, and possibly most important variable in making your drives long and straight.

“What the hell is torque?”

Some of you know what torque is, some of you have seen the word on shaft spec sheets, but the majority of you are probably encountering it for the first time.  Torque is really pretty simple: it’s the shaft’s resistance to twisting. Torque is measured in degrees (meaning: how many degrees will the shaft twist under a certain amount of force), and you’ll typically see measurements as low as 2° and as high as 5°, 6°, or 7°.

As with many other things, these numbers don’t necessarily mean a lot because there’s not a standard way to measure, but I’ve already done that rant.

“So…why should I care?”

You should care because torque is a major component in how a shaft feels, much more than flex.  You could have an XX-stiff shaft with high torque, and it might feel “smooth” or even “whippy.”  Alternately, you could have a senior flex shaft with low torque that can feel “boardy.”

Torque also has a major impact on where the ball ends up.  All other things being equal, a shaft with higher torque will lead to a club face that is pointed further left (for a RH golfer) at impact…but we know “all other things” are rarely equal when you add in the human element.

The Conventional Wisdom

The conventional wisdom on torque consists of two major tenets:

1) Players who tend to hook the ball will benefit from a lower torque shaft.  Players who tend to slice the ball will benefit from a higher torque shaft.

2) Players who swing faster need lower torque.  This assumption is built right into most shafts by the manufacturers: take virtually any shaft on the market, and the X-flex version will have lower torque than the S-flex, which has lower torque than the R-flex.

As always, we look at conventional wisdom like an email from a Nigerian prince who wants to transfer his wealth to us…that is to say, skepticallySo we put it to the test!

HOW WE TESTED

For this test, we had golfers test drivers with low ?, mid ?, and high torque ? shafts.  All 3 shafts had the same weight and flex, the only difference was torque.  The golfers were able to choose whether they wanted stiff or regular flex.  Every player used the exact same head: a 10.5* Callaway RAZR Fit.  To keep the testers from knowing what shaft they were testing, UST Mamiya supplied blacked out shafts with no distinguishing marks (I marked the grips so that I would know which shaft was which).

Each golfer hit 10 shots with each shaft and the results were measured by our FlightScope X2 launch monitor.  All testing was done at the range at The Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club.

What Effect Can Torque Have?

Validation

The numbers are indisputable: torque made a huge difference for our testers.  To validate our results, I ran our numbers past the guys at UST Mamiya to see how our test compared to theirs.  Once again, we saw the same things in our test that they did when they tested hundreds of golfers: no simple pattern, but a clear statement about the importance of fitting the golfer into the right shaft.

How Did Conventional Wisdom Hold Up?

Over the course of our last three labs, conventional wisdom has fared about as well as you would in a bar fight with Mike Tyson.

Why is Conventional Wisdom So Wrong?

Because golf clubs are swung by HUMAN BEINGS.  If golf was played by robots (and I know many of our robot-loving readers wish it was), conventional wisdom would be great.  Robots have no feel and they swing every club the exact same way.  Our testers, on the other hand, do have feel.

Tester 3 hates boardy feeling shafts, so, despite the fact that his most-hated miss is a hook, he does not like low torque shafts.  On the other hand, Tester 1 doesn’t like loose feeling shafts despite the fact that he needs all the help he can get to square the club face.  Historically, he has found better success with lower torque shafts because he feels like he can release the club more aggressively.

The Takeaway

Torque matters, and, like flex and weight, there are no easy rules to follow.  You need to try a variety of things and be fit into the shaft that will work best for you.

The other thing that we were able to see in this test is that feel is important.  In past tests, players could not always feel the changes in the equipment, but in this test, they picked up on the differences right away. This allowed them to verbalize how the feel of the equipment impacted their swing.  Though we do consider ourselves a data-driven site, and many would eschew feel as nebulous, the data seems to indicate that feel has a very real impact when it comes to a good fit.

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