“More Than Paint and Wallpaper”

Have you ever been in the market to buy or rent a house and you walk in falling in love with it? Those beautiful bay windows overlooking a scenic vista, the premium hardwood floors, the tasteful decor, it’s a place that you can picture yourself living in very happily. That is until you move in and within a few weeks you realize that there is a lot wrong beyond the surface. The paint and wallpaper effect.

In some cases, I’ve experienced this sort of phenomenon while testing out golf equipment over the last number of years. It makes no difference whether it’s drivers, fairway metals, or irons. Sure a new piece of equipment may look different physically, but, when it comes to performance, there’s no difference.

With the launch of the Exotics C721 range from Tour Edge Golf came technical points that made this driver very appealing and a driver that really piqued my curiosity simply because Tour Edge Golf has really been raising the bar every year.

Would the new Exotics C721 driver be that much better than 2020’s Teezy Award winning Exotics EXS 220? Would we see legit, bona fide improvements or would this years product appear to be nothing more than paint and wallpaper?

***Editor’s Note: The Exotics C721 product range should not be confused with Tour Edge Golf’s Hot Launch C721 range of products that was launched in the late fall of 2020.

The unboxing.

The Set-Up

Over the last three calendar years the Batavia, Illinois golf equipment manufacturer has been on quite the roll. Even though the company’s founder David Glod and his team have been producing great and somewhat “under the radar” products since 1986, in my opinion, the last three years have been a whirlwind for them. With sales records being set and a plethora of players seen playing their products.

In 2019, Tour Edge Golf proved with their Exotics EXS range that you could offer a premium product utilizing significant R&D, premium components without placing a premium price tag on said products. Come 2020, the brand improved from the prior year. The Exotics EXS 220 was very successful (it won a lot of Teezy Awards throughout it’s product range) and there was a very noticeable difference in terms of the acoustics thanks to their Sound Diffusion Bar (S.D. Bar) a technology used in the world of concert halls, recording studios, and theaters to make the sound more rich. But it didn’t stop there. Later on in the season they also released the EXS Pro range and while I didn’t swing the driver, fairway metals, or irons I did test and review the EXS Pro hybrid and it blew my socks off. When the 2020 Masters Tournament was played in the fall of 2020, legendary German golfer Bernhard Langer quietly had the EXS Pro hybrid in his bag during his T-29 finish.

The Exotics range from Tour Edge Golf has garnered places in the bags of PGA TOUR Champions players like Scott McCarron, Duffy Waldorf, Tim Petrovic, Tom Lehman, and as the calendar flipped to 2021 Bernhard Langer signed with Tour Edge Golf. A signing that bode well for Tour Edge. If Langer signed on to play the Exotics C721 range than they almost HAD to be good. It’s also important to note that John Daly even though he hasn’t signed with Tour Edge is playing the Exotics C721 driver, EXS Pro fairway wood, and the Exotics C721 irons. The first time out with this set-up he nearly won back in late-April/May.

RidgeBack Technology

When you’re on a roll like Tour Edge Golf, it can be both a blessing and a curse. The pressure is on to produce better products while also repeatedly coming up with game-changing innovation that can clearly make a difference. In saying this, let’s have a look at some of the technical talking points of the new Exotics C721 driver.

  • RidgeBack Technology – The team at Tour Edge developed a titanium spine that runs from the centre of the face through the crown, wraps around the head, and connects to the soleplate. The structure then acts as a brace which produces more power on centre strikes. This is created as the heel and toe areas of the face have the ability to flex more. RidgeBack Technology also yields a crisper feel.
  • Dual Carbon Wings – Noticeably different from the prior generations, Tour Edge R&D replaced some of the titanium on the crown with “Carbon Wings” which wrap around to the sole. Because of this change, engineers were able to save weight for placement in other areas. The Exotics C721 features a low rearward Centre of Gravity (CG) that also allows this head to have a very high M.O.I. (Moment of Inertia).
  • Diamond Face 2.0 – Employing 43 different diamond shapes throughout the face with varying degrees of face thickness. A huge improvement over the 3 different thicknesses in the first Diamond Face. The benefits to this technology are added forgiveness on off-centre hits, a larger sweet spot, and increased ball speeds.

We also se a 10-gram weight placed as far back and low as possible to further enhance the high M.O.I. characteristics of the Exotics C721 head. The previously mentioned Sound Diffusion Bar(s) for improved sound, and an adjustable hosel allows for changes of +/_ 2 degrees and changes in lie angles from 59* to 62*. SpeedTested shafts make a return in 2021 with an entirely new set or premium stock offerings. Engineers employed a robot named “T.E.D.” that determined the best shaft fit based on a variety of clubhead speeds.

*** Note: These are baseline recommendations by Tour Edge Golf. Visiting a certified fitter to get a shaft more suited for your needs is always an option if these shafts aren’t optimal for you.

Diamonds = Distance

The Transition

Before continuing, I’d be remiss if I failed to thank the Vice President of Marketing for Tour Edge Golf, Jon Claffey. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Mr. Claffey over the last few years. Jon, thank you!

I can’t even begin to express how excited I was to test out the C721 driver. Usually, I have my opportunity to swing all of the latest and greatest during the annual PGA Show in Orlando, Flo. A pandemic later resulted in no PGA Show in 2021, so with no show was a massive lost opportunity for me. I always enjoys pitting all of the newest against each other during the marathon that is Demo Day.

For the purposes of this testing opportunity I selected the 10.5* head, the Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX 60 in 6.0 flex (Stiff), with 2 extra wraps under the Lamkin Crossline 360 Mid-sized grip.

Actual testing of this driver involved a little bit of patience and perseverance. In Ontario, Canada (where I live) thanks to spiking COVID-19 numbers we faced a lockdown that started in December and ended on April 7th. Golf courses and driving ranges were allowed to open in the midst of freakishly nice March weather. However, as quickly as they opened they were shut down again on April 14th. For the longest time, Ontario was the only place in the world where golf wasn’t allowed to be played. Golf was again permitted over the last 2.5 weeks.

So, with all of that being said, I had the chance to get the Exotics C721 driver onto the range as soon as golf was permitted during that late-March warm spell.

The headcover. Snug fit and gone is the blue colourway.

Esthetics – The unboxing of this club took place at Niagara Golf and Batting Cages (video below) and to say that I was enamored with its esthetics is an understatement. Very excitedly, I opened the box and had my first look. The headcover is solid. Gone is the Blue/Silver/Red colourway that we’ve seen from the prior two generations. Instead, it has given way to Red/White/Black. The headcover has a snug fit but not overly so that it’s hard to remove and replace.

It didn’t take long for me to see that this driver was different, physically speaking. The crown is cool as you clearly see the weave of the Dual Carbon Wings and in saying that the Ridgeback Technology is up front and centre, quite literally. Placing the head down in front of me I felt that Exotics C721 head had a smaller footprint than its predecessor. This was something that I would later compare head to head to verify. In the address position it sits perfect (add loft and the face closes) and the shape doesn’t appear to look elongated like the Exotics EXS 220. As mater of fact I liked the shape and thought it was more ‘traditional”. Perhaps the trailing edge of the RidgeBack Technology makes it look more rounded??

The carbon is cool and looks great as the sun shimmers displaying the carbon weave. The sole is clean and sitting in a rack in a pro shop the Exotics C721 offers great rack appeal. Which brings me to the point that the “SlipStream Sole Technology” used prior is gone (see photo above). Some golfers liked it, I thought it looked cool but to each their own, right?!

If I had to use an adjective to describe this driver I would suggest the word “business”. As in “this driver is all business”. It looks like that it’s there to do a job, and do it in a serious way.

Acoustics/Feel – Whenever I test or demo golf equipment for the first time, this is one area that is key. When it comes to acoustics and feel, more often than not it’s entirely up to the individua. What one person observes may not hold true for the next person. As improved as the EXS 220 was over the EXS, the Exotics C721 driver is that much more improved. Strikes are welcomed with a crisp, somewhat muted sound. A sound that many players prefer. the ball explodes off the face. Thanks to Diamond Face 2.0, the face is very lively. Engineers at Tour Edge did a fantastic job in finding the right place for the placement of the S.D. Bar(s) as well because the sound is a delight.

Overall, the crispness of the feel combined with the acoustics of this driver places it in the Top 2 of drivers that I’ve made swings with. Yes, the sound/feel of the Exotics C721 driver is THAT good.

Forgiveness – Why mince words? The Exotics C721 is a very forgiving driver and dare I say it, it IS in my opinion the most-forgiving driver that I’ve struck. Tour Edge has devoted and invested a lot of time in increasing forgiveness or playability for golfers of all skill levels. The EXS 220 had plenty but what the EXS 220 had, the Exotics C721 has in spades. This is a head that offers an extreme amount of forgiveness. The 10-gram weight low and back combined with this driver’s low and rearward CG all contribute to a driver that in my experience, is akin to setting a commercial airliner into “autopilot”.

While I have managed to turn over a few drives (less than 10) down the left hand side (my miss) what I have not done yet is lose a shot to the right. There’s no better feeling than knowing that you’ve officially cut a fairway in half. All that this driver wants to do is fly straight. That’s exactly what it’s done, straight or a baby draw, my stock shot.

By the way, shots struck out towards the toe or heel also resulted in a straight balflight as well, further cementing the extremely high level of forgiveness found in the Exotics C721 driver.

Distance – Diamond Face 2.0 definitely does its job the way that it was intended. Between all of those variable thickness diamond shapes, the Ridgeback Technology and all of the other technologies incorporated into the Exotics C721, this driver provides explosiveness distance.

Seemingly, the Exotics C721 has turned the clock back for this golfer. Perhaps, femoral arterial surgery in February has made my legs stronger or maybe it’s the driver itself. All that I know is that I have picked up yardage that I haven’t seen in at least 8 years. While testing this club on driving ranges I thought that it was long. I compared it head to head versus the EXS 220 and quite simply, it blew away the EXS 220 by a wide margin. I’ve also pitted it head to head versus the driver that always sneaks it’s way back into the bag (which is the longest driver that I’ve gamed) and the Exotics C721 is longer than it.

Moreover, even though the weight is positioned back and low, the Exotics C721 has proven to be a lower-spinning head. I’ve seen zero evidence that this shaft/head combination balloons and the observation is further solidifed by the fact that there’s rollout.

I’ve experimented with the adjustable hosel and set in 8.5* the Exotics C721 chases down range. Buyer beware, if you don’t have some clubhead speed, the golf ball will tumble out of the sky. For the longest time during the testing process I was really liking the 11.5* setting. The golf ball just sailed and the flight was majestic. At that point I was ready to “lose” the wrench, never to tweak it again, but, I am my father’s son. So, I’m a tinkerer. I have since gone with the stock set-up of 10.5* and Neutral and “whoa mama”! My very first drive on a golf course this season, with no range warm-up landed 291 yards later. On the very next hole, another drive flew 288 yards.

It feels like it’s been a lifetime since I was able to hit drives like this. Definitely not since I played Mini-Tour events. It’s a bomber!

The Finish

The Exotics C721 driver is not just paint and wallpaper or a re-invention of the wheel, if you prefer those terms.

This is a driver that has been improved so much over its predecessor that it makes it quite hard to even fathom. A powerful, crisp sound at impact on well-struck drives. While there is a drop-off with off-centre strikes the yardage lost isn’t dramatic. This driver offers forgiveness in spades and combined with the distance that it generates, makes this driver the longest that I’ve seen in a very long time, if not ever. Bear in mind that I’m saying this as I’m getting ready to turn 50 in January.

The Exotics C721 driver from Tour Edge Golf might be the best driver of 2021. I just hope for the opportunity to test it against some other offerings from 2021 just to confirm my suspicions. This driver SHOULD be on your radar if you’re looking for a new driver this year.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

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