Ernie Els May Go With a Shorter, Heavier Driver at Bethpage
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Earlier this season, Phil Mickelson put a unique Callaway FT-9 driver into his bag. Unlike the FT-9 drivers that had previously been released, Mickelson's had a hosel, so the club had to be examined by the USGA and deemed legal for competition.
Maybe Phil was onto something, because Ernie Els and a few other Callaway players have switched to the FT-9 Tour Authentic driver. Because the Tour Authentic version of the FT-9 has a smaller head and different weighting, it allows skilled players to work the ball more effectively off the tee. The standard FT-9 has a higher moment of inertia (MOI) that helps mid- and higher-handicap players hit straighter drives.
On Tuesday morning at Bethpage, I had a chance to speak with Barry Lyda, a PGA Tour rep with Callaway Golf, about Els's driver. He told me that the two-time U.S. Open winner is experimenting with heavier shafts so he can feel where the club is in his swing more easily.
"Ernie is using a 100-gram True Temper Project X graphite shaft in his Callaway X 3-wood," Lyda said. "He said he'd like a driver made with the same shaft, but I told him that I can't make him one with that shaft because I don't have a head light enough to offset the weight."
Els has been playing a UST Mamiya ATTAS 76 in his driver.
To compensate for the extra weight, Lyda cut a full inch off Els's driver, making it 44". Lyda said that should reduce clubhead speed and create a lower ball flight for Els. To offset that lower ball flight, Lyda added loft, making an 8.5° and a 9.5° head for Els to try.
The Callaway FT-9 Tour Authentic driver is currently only available to the public on the company's Tour Authentic Web site. In the video below, Lyda explains the differences between the standard FT-9 and the Tour Authentic model.
(Photo by Fred Vuich/SI)