Titleist TSi Drivers – Key Takeaways
- Titleist has launched the new TSi series of drivers.
- The TSi2 offers higher launch and more forgiveness.
- The TSi3 offers a compact shape and adjustable weighting.
- Retail price is $549.
The new TSi driver lineup is the follow-up to Titleist’s surprising TS series. TS offered proof the company was capable of making something other than a high-spin driver and in doing so, reestablished Titleist as a serious player in the metalwoods market. It may even have helped shake the perception of Titleist as a golf ball company that also makes clubs.
That said, when designs shift as significantly as they did between 917 and TS, it’s reasonable to expect only modest changes from the next design.
You can’t fault me for thinking the i in TSi might be for iteration.
I was wrong.
As it turns out, the i in the TSi driver name stands for impact. Titleist will also accept innovation, inertia or integration (of materials and mass properties). That last one doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue but it’s arguably most in line with the TSi materials and design story.
Whatever your preferred i, all of the above come together in a driver that Titleist bills as faster in the air and faster at impact. That part is entirely unsurprising. Nobody gets slower from one release to the next.
We’ll certainly attempt to explain what all of this actually means but it probably makes sense to start with the basics.
TSi Drivers – Two Models (for Now)
As was the case with TS, TSi will launch with two models – TSi2 and TSi3. For what it’s worth, the TSi4 is already on the USGA conforming list and the expectation is that it, along with a TSi1, will join the lineup in 2021.
The TSi2 is your meaty part of the market offering. It’s the more forgiving, higher launching of the two models. It’s a safe bet that TSi2 will account for the majority of Titleist’s 2021 driver sales.
Positioned for the better player, the TSi3 trades a little forgiveness for a more compact shape and adjustable weighting. The “better player” classification is perhaps narrow so I’d add that it’s also for the golfer who likes a classic shape or who would benefit from a more precisely tuned trajectory.
I suppose it’s also for the golfer who wants moving parts.
TSi Drivers – Size versus Shape
Both TSi Drivers are 460cc but this is a classic example of size versus shape. The TSi2 has a bigger footprint with a visibly elongated heel. The TSi3 is significantly more compact and looks smaller than it is.
Not that you asked, but I don’t hate the TSi2. But I absolutely love the TSi3 at address.
Titleist says spin differences between the two TSi models should be minimal (though I’d still bet on TSi3 spinning less). With the TSi2, you get higher launch and more forgiveness. With the TSi3, you get flatter trajectory and adjustable center-of-gravity weighting.
Both models feature Titleist’s not entirely intuitive Sure Fit hosel adjustability. There’s a part of me that wishes i was for I finally made a new hosel adapter.
As with any release, the Titleist TSi driver story offers plenty of new or otherwise noteworthy highlights. Here’s your rundown.
ATI 425 Face
First, fair warning: I’m going to go fairly deep into the weeds here. The short version is that Titleist’s new face material is lighter, faster and stronger. Titleist says ATI 425 will give you a little more ball speed.
That’s the basics of what you need to know.
Feel free to join me in the tall grass, if you’d like. I’ve got another 800 words for you on the subject. If you’d just as soon skip ahead to the aerodynamics section, you won’t hurt my feelings.
Still here? Wow.
Next, let’s acknowledge that materials stories aren’t particularly sexy but, hey, at least I don’t have to talk about tungsten today. Winning! Amiright?
I thought about trying to spice things up by telling you that ATI stands for Adamantium Trampoline Infusion or that ATI is like AI but the T somehow makes it AI-ier, but I decided to shoot you all the way straight.
Look, not every acronym is fun.
Since I mentioned AI, I should also mention that Titleist would like you to know that while Callaway has staked a leadership position in the marketing of AI, it, along with basically all of its serious competitors, leverages supercomputers and the same type of optimization software to run predictive analysis and iterate designs.
The ATI stamped on the Titleist TSi driver face actually stands for Allegheny Technologies Incorporated.
ATI is the highly automated Pittsburgh-based steel company that produces the material (ATI 425 titanium alloy) that Titleist uses in the TSi driver faces. The material is made in the USA and then shipped to China where it’s formed into TSi driver faces.
You might remember ATI 425 from the crown of Titleist’s $1125 C16 Concept Driver. Same material. Different application.
An ATI 425 Primer
ATI 425 was initially developed for use in ballistic armor. It’s since been adapted for use in aerospace applications, including the Mars Rover. That’s kind of interesting, I suppose.
With that in mind, it makes sense that it would be light, responsive and durable. All of this makes it ideal for use in a driver face.
In the interest of time, I’ll skip over the finer points of ATI 425’s yield and tensile strength benefits (six percent and four percent stronger respectively compared with conventional materials) and higher ductility (plus 30 percent). The 10-second version is that ATI 425 allows Titleist to do a few things it couldn’t do with the industry-standard TI 6-4.
The specific claim – as it often is – is that the new face makes TSi drivers faster so here’s your more speed at impact part of the story.
This is typically the part of the program where the drivers can’t get any faster. The “everybody is at the limit” crowd starts to chimes in.
Imma let you finish (not really) but, yes, they can, and, no, they’re not.
TSi Drivers and the USGA Loophole
In converting from the “coefficient of restitution” rule to the “characteristic time” rule, the USGA created a loophole of sorts. The relationship between the two isn’t linear and that creates opportunities to push COR (the amount of energy returned to the ball) beyond .830 while keeping CT (how long a pendulum apparatus stays in contact with a driver’s face as it flexes) within the rules.
If I lost you there, just know that there’s still a little bit of wiggle room within the rules for more speed.
While ATI 425’s properties make for a more resilient and durable face (it’s less prone to cracking, deformation and flat spots from normal use), the conversation doesn’t end there.
When there is new speed, some (if not most) of it comes from manufacturing advancements that yield tighter tolerances. When you know you can make a more consistent product, you can be more aggressive in how you approach the limit of what the rules allow.
That’s the somehow even-less-sexy part of the ATI 425 story. What I wouldn’t give for some tungsten right about now.
When we talk about tolerances, we tend to think in terms of finished parts but it starts with the raw materials. Titleist says that ATI 425 is manufactured to tighter tolerances than conventional face materials. That creates less variation in the finished parts.
The consistency of ATI 425 allows Titleist to be more aggressive with its CT targets (make the face faster because it has fewer production outliers). It is also able to more precisely control hot spots to align the fastest parts of the face with the center of gravity to get the maximum energy transfer.
Titleist says that ATI 425 gives the TSi drivers more speed on both center and off-center strikes.
For good measure, Titleist CT tests each face multiple times during the manufacturing process. The idea is to ensure every head sold is held to the tightest tolerances. Within the big picture, it’s about doing the same thing for average golfers as it does for its Tour staff.
TSi Drivers- Improved Aerodynamics
The speed in the air story comes by way of improved aerodynamics. TSi drivers are 15-percent more efficient through the air (during the swing). If you’re looking to put a number on that, we’re talking about gains measured in tenths of miles per hour. Not nothin’, but not a lot either.
The standard disclaimer applies. Aerodynamic improvements always disproportionately benefit higher swing speed players. Moderate swing speed players’ best chance for speed comes by way of longer and lighter drivers.
The biggest gains across the board will almost certainly come from a proper fitting.
We can go back and forth over the choice of gray on the sole of the TSi2 but most golfers will appreciate the clean looks of the TSi drivers.
With allowances for the 907 D1, Titleist rarely makes an ugly driver so that part isn’t particularly surprising.
Apart from the TSi3 weight track, the most appreciable enhancement is the new face design. Titleist isn’t claiming any sort of spin benefit from its new textured face but if you’ve lost your loofah or need to exfoliate your forehead, the TSi can help in a pinch. While it can masterfully remove dead skin cells, I should probably mention I haven’t noticed any residual ball material.
The contrasting colors and lines are meant to frame the ball and show a bit more loft at address. As a guy who typically plays the lowest-lofted option in any lineup, anything that makes the driver’s face appear less like my putter’s is appreciated.
Titleist has some preliminary data to suggest the design might assist in producing more centered impact. The research is ongoing but Titleist patented it just in case.
Finally, Titleist TSi drivers feature a softer, sweeping toe. For those who notice, it’s one of those refinements that’s going to be hit or miss depending on the player. The idea is to let the golfer see the curvature of the face, giving the driver a slightly open look without it actually being open. It’s meant to make you feel like you can go after it without hooking it into the abyss, though I suspect it will make others fear slicing it off the planet.
Improved Mass Properties
Improved MOI and center of gravity placement are part and parcel of every driver design. Sure, you might get told to loft up or something but it’s not like anyone is going to come out and say, “Look, the CG placement is kinda shit and the club is so unforgiving it’s borderline unplayable.”
Within this reality, newer is invariably better.
Typically, when we talk about MOI, we talk about forgiveness in the front-to-back direction. That’s the magic that helps preserve ball speed on off-center strikes. With the new drivers, Titleist isn’t trying to max out MOI. Research with the company’s motion capture system found that there is a swing speed penalty that comes with max MOI drives. Given that MOI benefits aren’t linear (there’s a point of diminishing returns), the company sees more value in preserving swing speed than reaping incrementally smaller forgiveness benefits.
That’s not to say Titleist hasn’t done anything. With TSi, there is some front-to-back MOI improvement (five percent over TS) but the most significant gains come top to bottom where MOI is up 13 percent in the TSi2 and 10 percent in the TSi3.
That’s going to give you more consistent spin which, apart from generally providing more consistent ball flight, gives fitters an opportunity to fit to a lower spin number when it makes sense to do so.
Titleist TSi Drivers come in whole number lofts. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that when you’re looking to boost speed, one of the easiest ways to do it is to reduce loft.
It’s also true that with the deeper center of gravity and new shapes, TSi drivers produce more dynamic loft than TS. By dropping lofts half a degree, Titleist says it was able to increase distance while maintaining the trajectory golfers expect from their loft of choice.
New Track Weighting System (TSi3)
With the TSi3 Driver, Titleist has moved from its flippable SureFit CG weight in favor of a five-position rear-track weighting system. The implementation is most similar to PING in that the track sits on the trailing edge instead of underneath it.
The TSi3’s stock weight is eight grams but additional 4-, 6-, 10- and 12-gram weights are available. If you’re so inclined, the track can support more than one weight. Additional weights will boost both head weight and MOI. If you’re doubling up, expect dynamic loft to jump appreciably as well.
Increasing the weight by 4-grams will increase CG movement by 2 mm, while decreasing it by the same amount will reduce movement by 1 mm.
The weight cover assembly is made from a durable blend of polymer and carbon fiber. It’s not necessary to completely remove the cover to move the weight. That makes changing weight positions quick and easy which both fitters and golfers making unauthorized mid-round adjustments will appreciate.
Heel versus Draw
Notable in Titleist’s implementation is that instead of the familiar draw and fade labels, Titleist opted to use H1, H2 (heel), N (neutral), T1 and T2 (toe). While some golfers might find that confusing, it’s meant to convey that the utility of movable weights extends beyond shot shape correction.
Titleist believes there’s plenty of opportunity to address directional issues at the hosel. While shifting weights can build on that, the company’s focus is on using movable weight to align the center of gravity with the point of impact. If, for example, your impact pattern is consistently toe biased, shifting the weight to the T1 or T2 position will almost certainly increase ball speed.
With its TSi Drivers, Titleist is again using 100-percent titanium construction. Like PING, it hasn’t found any performance benefit in leveraging carbon fiber. Its capabilities with titanium allow it to make ultra-thin (.4mm) crowns. While carbon fiber is typically a bit lighter, when you factor in the ledges and glue necessary to support it, effective mass is a wash.
Titleist prefers titanium because it can more easily be tuned to produce the sound and feel it believes golfers prefer. You do, of course, and I think it’s fair to say that as carbon-fiber drivers have evolved, some have grown to appreciate the acoustics.
That said, you can put me solidly in the titanium camp. The TSi drivers sound and feel awesome.
TSi Drivers – Stock Featured Shafts
With Titleist TSi Drivers, there are no stock shafts, only featured shafts. The distinction is entirely semantic but it’s an acknowledgment that continued use of suspect made for designs in some competitor lineups has given stock shafts a dubious reputation.
We can nitpick the distinctions between Tensei and Tensei Pro, for example, but the larger point is that everything in the Titleist Featured Shaft lineup can be found on the manufacturer’s website and purchased at retail. No “OEM exclusives” here.
Kuro Kage Black DC (5th Generation) – The highest-launching shaft in the lineup, the Kuro Kage Black is listed as a mid-launch shaft. It features Straight Flight Weighting.
Quick refresher: that means there’s a bit of tungsten weighing (dammit!) under the grip. It’s intended to fight the right-side bias of lighter shafts.
The Kuro Kage Black is available in 50/55 grams in A, R and S flex.
Tensei AV Blue Raw – Your classic mid-launch, mid-spin profile, the AV Raw also features Straight Flight Weighting.
The Tensei AV Blue Raw is available in 55/65 grams in R, S and X flex.
HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX – The RDX means Redux or next-gen. It’s the low- to mid-launch, low- to mid-spin offering in the lineup. It’s generally well suited to more aggressive swingers.
The HZRDUS Smoke Black RDK is available in 60/70 grams in 6.0 (stiff) and 6.5 (x-stiff).
Tensei AV White Raw – The low-launch, low-spin offering in the Titleist TSi featured-shaft lineup, the stiff-tipped white is for stronger swingers looking for stability and control.
The Tensei AV White Raw is available in 65/75 grams in S and X flex.
Stock Premium Featured Shafts
But wait! There’s more! Titleist has partnered with Graphite Design to offer a selection of three Premium Featured Shafts.
Tour AD-DI – Still going strong after more than 10 years on the market, the AD-DI is billed as mid/high launch, low-spin offering. It’s available in 50-, 60- and 70-gram weight classes in S and X flex.
Tour AD-XC – Released last year, the XC is a modernized version of the AD-BB. It’s a mid- to low-launch, low-spin offering. It’s available in 50-, 60-, 70- and 80-gram weight classes in S and X flex.
Tour AD-IZ – Currently the most-played Graphite Design shaft on Tour, the AD-IZ is classified as a low/mid launch, low-spin offering. It is also available in 50-, 60-, 70- and 80-gram weight classes in S and X flex.
The featured grip in the Titleist TSi lineup is the new Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 (grey) Flat Cap. The premium featured grip is the Golf Pride Z Grip 58R.
Titleist TSi Drivers – Specs, Pricing, and Availability
The Titleist TSi2 Driver is available in 9, 10 and 11 degrees. An eight-degree option is available through custom in right-hand only. The Titleist TSi3 Driver is available in eight, nine and 10 degrees. An 11-degree option is available through custom in right-hand only.
The retail price for both Titleist TSi drivers is $549. If you prefer a deal over the latest tech, the TS series has been discounted to $350.
There is a $200 upcharge for the Premium Featured Graphite Design Shafts.
Consumer fittings begin today with full retail availability starting on Nov. 12.
For more information, visit Titleist.com.