One of the many things that I like about Titleist is the fact that they have a product cycle that last two years. A cycle that they are adamant about observing. Golf consumers know that when Titleist releases a product it is definitely worth a look.
If you were to go back and look at the previous generations of Titleist drivers a few things come to mind. One constant of Titleist products is that they’ve always been had a feel that can be best described as “solid”. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the classic 983K or the venerable 905R the older generations exuded that quality. More recently the 915 followed suit with a couple of “bells and whistles” thrown in for good measure. The other quality that Titleist has been committed to is their retention of maintaining a classic pear shape (907 series notwithstanding). These are aesthetics that have always appealed to players. Having brought up the 915 series I was at their National Fitting Centre (Canada) during a Team Titleist outing for the launch of the 915 range of metalwoods. I left Eagle’s Nest Golf Club (Toronto) that cold October day very impressed and to be honest I thought that the 915 D3 would end up in my bag… it didn’t. As the 917 series was launched this past fall I couldn’t help but wonder what they would be like in comparison. How would the 917 compare to the 915 or even 910 (which still remains my favorite driver from Titleist)?
I had the opportunity to attend a launch event similar to what I did for the previous two generations however I couldn’t attend. Prior to attending the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show (Demo Day) I had never visited the Titleist demonstration area. Mostly because I had already manged to swing their new products well in advance of the show. 2017 would be much different. After swinging various manufacturers throughout the morning I made my way over to Titleist. Much to my surprise, I had no issue getting in some swings right away with product and quickly directed my attention towards the 917 D2 and D3 drivers.
For 2017, Titleist re-introduced new and improved versions of their most recent technological advances. First seen in the 915 metalwoods,their Active Recoil Channel and Radial Speed Face (Version 2.0) were front and center. In case you’ve forgotten the Active Recoil Channel is what Titleist R&D engineers did to address spin reduction while increasing ball speeds through more trampoline effect. However this time (Active Recoil Channel 2.0) the channel has been more refined. Radial Speed Face 2.0 is what Titleist did in an effort to construct thinner face walls along the perimeter of the face. This also aids in increasing ball speeds in particular to when strikes haven’t been struck off of the center of the face. New to the 917 is the SureFit CG which “allows the CG to be moved from a back, heel position to a forward, toe position through interchangeable weights, optimizing spin and launch conditions for every player”. The SureFit Hosel returns and offers 16 independent loft and lie settings to enable golfers the luxury of finding their optimum setup. Make no mistake about it the 917 D2 and D3 are the most adjustable drivers that Titleist has ever offered.
The 917 D2 driver is a 460 CC pear-shaped head that offers distance and forgiveness. Meanwhile, the 917 D3 offers a classic pear-shaped profile but it’s a head that is “Tour inspired” as it’s slightly smaller coming with a head volume of 440 CC. The 917 D3 head offers distance with more workability than the 917 D2 while having lower spin rates and a slightly lower launch. Whether it’s the D2 or the D3 both models have a standard length of 45″and the stock shaft options are premium. Models of premium shafts available include the Aldila Rogue M*AX 65, Fujikura Speeder Pro TS 74, Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana LTD. White 70 and the Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana LTD. Blue. All four are terrific options.
Dispensing with some of the technical information I thought that it would be time to talk about my observations. First, I have to point out that I never spoke to anyone at Demo Day as I was more or less ignored by representatives at the booth. Secondly, I will say that I never tried the SureFit CG technology because no representatives took the time to approach and/or assist me and I couldn’t find a wrench. Honestly, I was a little put off by the lack of their attentiveness. Something I found a little disheartening seeing that 12 out of 13 of my clubs are Titleist and I am proud to play Titleist. They are a brand that I have always felt confident holding in my hands and that confidence goes right to my head. In the past, Titleist has been looked at in golf circles as being “elitist” and maybe in this instance they figured that I didn’t have the appearance to be worth their time. I really don’t know why it happened but it did. Either way, this review isn’t about their “customer service” which I would score a perfectly rounded “0” out of 10. If there was a review that could truly live up to the moniker of “The Home Of Organic Golf Reviews” then this would be the one.
In the address position both drivers are so eye-pleasing that it’s almost not fair. I love the charcoal crown on the black face and when you look down at the crown you want to make a swing. I would end up swinging two drivers and the D2 and D3 were shafted with the same Fujikura Speeder Pro TS 74 in X-Stiff and had lofts of 9.5*. All of the settings were stock. Generally, I swing a Stiff flex but this was the shaft that I just happened to grab. In the past, I have seriously considered going to X-Stiff based on my tempo and aggression and decided to not to bother to look for a softer flex. Recent launch monitor numbers indicated that making a switch to X-Stiff might be the right choice as I saw 105 mph 7 iron clubhead speeds. Working out has seen me get stronger so the time might be right for such a switch. Anyways, I made the first pass with the 917 D2 and my swing was rewarded with a ball flight that was long and straight. I chose a spot at their hitting area that was to their extreme right. This location afforded me the opportunity to make swings both downwind and with a slight change at address (aiming to my right) I could see what the ball would do with a knockdown crosswind. I loved the launch and ballflight that I witnessed. The ball showed no signs of ballooning and upon landing there was rollout adding to the already impressive carry distance. I teed up several more balls with the D2 and each was the same result. Every swing yielded shot patterns that were straight or a slight draw. The launch looked about as good if not better than I have seen with any driver. Something can be said for the Active Recoil Channel 2.0 because the ball really jumped off of the face which reminded me of when I was at the product launch for the 915… but better. Switching over to the 917 D3 I looked down at that classic 440 CC Titleist charcoal head and immediately I grew extremely fond of it. I made several confident swings and to be totally honest… if the 917 D3 launched lower and had lower spin I couldn’t pick up on it with the naked eye. I would suggest that the carry and overall distance looked to be about the same. I’m all for making observations using my senses (prefer real-time flight over launch monitors) but when it comes to comparing two similar heads from the same manufacturer with one claiming lower spin and launch… I want to see hard evidence. I think that with all things being equal they were in fact… equal with the exception of my love affair with the smaller head of the D3.
Titleist doesn’t mention anything about forgiveness when talking about the 917 D3 but this isn’t to say that the 917 D3 isn’t forgiving. I firmly believe that to a degree there is in fact some forgiveness. After all ,the D3 also boasts the same Radial Speed Face technology to help with off-center hits that’s found in the 917 D2. Forgiveness was something that I did not test because I just wasn’t missing the sweet spot. Or perhaps, that fact speaks volumes about the forgiveness found in both models. Titleist says that the acoustics and sound are Tour validated “to inspire confidence and feel”. I don’t know what that means exactly but what I do know is that the sound and feel was “perfect”. The sound was typical of Titleist and the feel at impact was solid. It was everything that Titleist aficionados have come to expect from the brand. Bear in mind that my perfect may not be your perfect and the term is relative and intimate to each person.
In closing, If you’re in the market for a new driver you may want to give the Titleist 917 D2 and 917 D3 a look. Performance, great aesthetics and even better sound and feel with premium stock shafts. What’s not to like? The 917 D2 and D3 retails at $649.99 CAD or $499 USD. Visit the Titleist website for more information.
Until The Next Tee!