About 2 months ago a blog/forum reader of mine e-mailed me about my issues with the modern titanium driver and my flatter ABS downswing. I cannot reveal the person’s name because this person works for a major club manufacturer in helping design their drivers. He also used to design metal woods and persimmon woods when he first started out in the business.
Anyway, he told me that I may want to look at a persimmon 3-wood instead of searching for the titanium 3-wood. He said that he had done some limited testing on the persimmon 3-wood versus the modern titanium 3-woods and found that as far as distance goes, they are about the same. And when tested with humans, the better golfers could hit them just as accurately if not even more accurately. He told me that since you can bend the line angle of persimmon pretty flat and it would fit my swing, that he thought I should give it a try and that I would be better off with just the persimmon 3-wood. I guess you can bend some titanium woods, but only the ones with longer necks and only by about 2-3*.
We then talked about titanium drivers vs. persimmon and he said that as far as performance goes, the titanium driver is simply going to perform better than the persimmon. This was no shocking revelation. He did say that he felt that the persimmon actually performed better than the only metal woods, but didn’t exactly know why. I will say that back when I played junior golf, we usually used metal because you could put graphite in that easier, they were easier to maintain, and you didn’t have to worry about the insert falling out. As far as performance goes, never really thought about it much versus persimmon back then, but I guess it’s quite possible.
A few days ago I saw some Cleveland RC85 Persimmon (6-screw design) clubs that were professionally refinished on eBay that had the 1, 3 and 4 woods for a total of $40. I wanted to get them because I had only a persimmon driver that was a knockoff MacGregor made by a clubmaker and I didn’t remember persimmon being this hard to hit. And I wanted to try out the 3-wood as well. Plus, they were at a very reasonable price.
On Tuesday I got the clubs and noticed a big difference in performance, feel, etc. between them and the persimmon driver I was using. Eventually I got to the 3-wood and started crushing it. And it was pretty noticeable to me that I was hitting the 3-wood a good ways. And these clubs have flatter lie angles as well.
Yesterday I decided to play 9-holes with my persimmons, but brought out my titanium 3-wood as well because I wanted to test it on the course against my persimmon 3-wood.
The Titanium 3-wood I’m using is a Cleveland Hi-Bore XLS with a graphite shaft and a 15* loft. The persimmon is a Cleveland RC85 with a steel X100 shaft in it. IIRC, the titanium has a longer shaft.
I hit each with brand new, just out of the box TaylorMade TP Penta balls and made sure to hit 8 good shots a piece. The good news was I only hit one shot mediocre (which was with the titanium) and I only had 1 re-do.
The results were that I hit EVERY persimmon shot FURTHER than every titanium shot. On average, I would say about 3 yards further although there was one that was 10 yards further. This was on flat ground into a wide open fairway and every shot landed in the fairway. The wind was mostly a cross wind, blowing slight into us. The persimmon shots mostly had super trajectory to them. The titanium shots went higher in the air for the most part.
This is hardly a scientific approach to testing them out. Plus, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m not using the best shaft for me in my 3-wood either. But I’ll probably be gaming the Cleveland persimmon 3-wood for now (I have a metal 3-wood at home and will test it out next week). I thought some ABS’ers may be interested in how this has turned out given how upright titanium 3-woods are these days.