Review: Callaway FT-9 I-mix Driver
Hitting driver only on average 14 times a round, it can be simply madness if you can’t hit it well. It can make your round feel long if you’re not finding the fairway even if you score well. But the MaDneSs with the FT-9 is once you get your hands on one, the joyful feelings you’ll have controlling your shots.
Callaway’s Fusion Technology is now in its 4th generation. The FT-9 and FT-iq are the newest additions to the line. Both use a Titanium cup face with a composite body. The Ft-iq is the straight hitting box shaped driver, while the FT-9 is the shot making, shot shaping round head driver. In addition to the FT heads, Callaway introduced the I-mix shaft system in 2008. Rumors have it that it didn’t take off as well as Callaway had hoped due to cost and confusion. From what I can gather (based on the numerous heads and shafts backordered), 2009 is different; the I-mix system is doing well. Being a club maker I welcomed the I-mix system, because it was next to impossible to pull shafts from FT-heads safely.
I ordered an FT-9 Tour Neutral 10.5* head with Fubuki 63 tour stiff. I normally play a 9.5* driver, but I had been hearing all these rumors of people hitting the 9.5* too low and I wanted something I could hit higher. I found that my 10.5* played just like a 10.5* head. It hit nice and high, but still had pretty low spin. The problem was I just couldn’t seem to get the distance I am used to seeing out of my driver. It was going too high. I went down to the 9.5* head and now I found my driver. It hit next to perfect trajectory with a mid-high ball flight that carried to my normal places and even sometimes beyond that. This is very similar to the more updated Callaway X Hot
The great Internet debate on just about every golf forum was concerning the Fubuki Tour 63. The main reason for the debate is that the I-mix version is .350 while the aftermarket version is .335. The price seems to have changed recently, but initially the I-mix Fubuki was $129 while the aftermarket was $299. I had the unique opportunity to test them side-by-side, thanks to Frank Viola of Ace of Clubs. He did all the computer testing and profiling and found out they are different by 6 cpms and .2 torque. This is just barely noticeable in the hands of good players. After a number of rounds switching them back and forth, I didn’t find any performance differences between the two shafts, but I did notice I liked the feel of the $129 I-mix Fubuki better. I think the difference in CPM, torque, and .350 tip made it feel just a touch tighter. So if you can find an I-mix Fubuki Tour 63, it is a great deal at $129. I hit consistent high, low spinners with this shaft. It feels pretty loose during the waggle test, but oh so smooth on the down swing. Why is this such MaDneSs? It is because if you want this same club in the glued version from Callaway it is around $800.
What impressed me most about this club was how hot the head feels. The ball just explodes off the face and goes. I had some huge drives; they went high and then just carried and carried. I found that the Fubuki paired with the FT-9 head is simply a fairway finder. I was able to hit a predictable soft cut all day long. It really made golf enjoyable off the tee, to know that was going to happen, where your ball is going to go and that the second shot will more often than not, be in the short stuff.
The two big improvements over the FT-5 are the sound and forgiveness. The FT-9 is clearly better sounding. It has a much more solid whack, whereas the Ft-5 had a very aluminum bat sound. The muted sound and feeling are really just about optimal. I thought the FT-3 was too mute, almost dead feeling, while the FT-5 went too far the other direction and the FT-9 is just right. The forgiveness is also notable because even the best of ball strikers have an off day or need a little room for error. The hyper-X face technology really creates a giant sweet spot on this head. It is also longer front-to-back dropping the COG offering a lower spinning head while maintaining somewhat traditional looks.
The I-mix system also offers many options as far as loft and face angle. The tours range from 8.5-10.5. The half degree lofts designate the tour heads which are 1* open. The full lofts range from 9-11 and are set 1* closed. Then each head can be ordered either neutral weighted or draw weighted. The other main difference between the tour and regular is the alignment aid; one is found on the regulars, while the tours are clean.
The FT-9 is pure shot-making MaDneSs. This head paired with the Fubuki is an outstanding fairway finder. Going I-mix allows you to play with other shafts too without the headache of trying to reshaft a composite head. Callaway got it right on their latest evolution of the FT-line.
For more information: www.callawaygolf.com