Phil Mickelson showed up at Augusta National this week with his "Frankenwood" driver -- a club Callaway developed after Mickelson asked for a modern 2-wood that he could hit as far as a driver but with a flatter ball flight and more shot-shaping control.
Mickelson is known for his unorthodox approach to equipment -- he carried two drivers in his bag in one Masters, and played a U.S. Open without a driver -- but this time he’s breaking new ground. The X Hot Phrankenwood is currently a prototype, but like other X Hot fairway woods it features a stainless steel construction with Callaway’s Speed Frame Face Cup (made of Carpenter steel) and an ultra-thin steel body.
Here's what Mickelson said about the club at Augusta National on Tuesday:
It's almost like a small driver but its put the 3-wood technology of our X Hot into a driver. What it's done is taken a lot of spin off of it. And if you watch, you'll see a lot of the shots off the tee that I hit have a lot more scoot on them.
He added that he's already seeing the payoff in distance during his practice round this week:
Tee shots on 9 are getting down to the bottom of the hill, and I haven't been able to do that in years. The tee shot on 10 is getting another 15 to 20 yards, giving me a club or two less than I've had in years. The tee shot on 15 is getting down to where I have one or two clubs less, and because it comes off fast, as well as low spin, it's running, which is exactly what I wanted here.
According to Evan Gibbs, manager of Callaway's performance analysis group, the key for Phil was getting a club that let him hit down on the ball slightly (more like he does with all the rest of the clubs in his bag) while also producing low spin and the ability to move the ball in both directions.
"When Phil hits up on the ball with a driver, it makes the transition to the rest of his clubs more difficult, so he wanted something that let him make his normal, slightly descending swing without creating too much spin. He also wanted to be able to hit the ball from right-to-left, which is critical at Augusta, without losing distance. Utilizing the same technology found in our X Hot 3Deep fairway wood we were able to give him what he asked for simply by creating a slightly larger clubhead and putting a 45" driver shaft on it."
Gibbs added that Phil's Phrankenwoods (he has two) have been machined, heat-treated, and welded entirely in Callaway's R&D facility in Carlsbad, which is extremely rare for a metalwood product.
Phil’s X Hot Phrankenwood has 8.5-degrees of loft and measures only 250cc’s (most modern drivers are 460cc’s). A 45-inch Fubuki k 70X Prototype shaft makes the club as long as a typical driver.