Over the years, golf club technology has made dramatic changes. I started wondering how has golf club technology really made a difference in our golf games? Then I thought…I can do a test using TrackMan!

The Golf Club Technology Hypothesis

Golf club technology helps us in multiple ways:

  1. Lighter materials allow us to swing faster. Faster swings should increase ball speed.
  2. Lighter materials allow for larger club heads / sweet spots. This should created more forgiving clubs.
  3. Stronger materials allow for the ball to rebound off the face faster. Today’s terminology calls this “Smash Factor.”

The Golf Club Driver Technology Test

Step 1 – Select Golf Clubs

Step 2 – Gather Data

Step 3 – Analyze the Data

Step 4 – The Results?

Step 1 – Select Golf Clubs

Gather different golf clubs from different eras of Golf Club Technology. I thought about my old wood headed drivers that transitioned to steel headed drivers. Those transitioned to some original titanium headed drivers, until we arrived at titanium, adjustable, customizable drivers. The 6 selected drivers?

  1. Branca Persimmon wood driver (abt 1985)
  2. Tommy Armour 855 Silver Scott steel driver (1995)
  3. Callaway Big Bertha War Bird steel driver (1995)
  4. Callaway Great Big Bertha Hawk Eye titanium driver (1999)
  5. Ping G5 460cc titanium driver (2005)
  6. PXG Gen 5 0311 titanium / carbon fiber driver (2022)

Driver 1: Branca Persimmon Driver, 43.5″ length, graphite shaft, released around 1985

Driver 2: Tommy Armour 855 Silver Scot, 44″ length, steel shaft, released 1995

Driver 3: Callaway Big Bertha War Bird steel driver, 44″ length, graphite shaft, released 1995

Driver 4: Callaway Great Big Bertha Hawk Eye titanium driver, 45″ length, graphite shaft, released 1999

Driver 5: Ping G5 460cc titanium driver, 45″ length, graphite shaft, released 2005

Driver 6: PXG Gen 5 0311 titanium / carbon fiber driver, 45.5″ length, graphite shaft, released 2022

Step 2 – Gather Data

Hit a series of shots with 6 different golf clubs. Look at the data to see what we can learn.


Swing Speed Ball Speed Smash Factor Height Carry Distance

Step 3 – Analyze the Data; What Did We Find?


  • Modern clubs help you swing faster.
  • Modern clubs increase your distance.
  • Modern clubs are more forgiving.

Lighter club heads allow the club length to get longer without getting too heavy. The increased length of a club shaft increases swing speed. Increased swing speed increases distance.

Instead of having a solid driver head, the weight of the materials can be moved away from the center of the gravity. This effectively increases the “sweet spot” which makes shots that are mis-hit fly straighter and further.


  • New materials are harder and therefore increase the smash factor. This is incorrect.

We thought that using steel then titanium would increase the amount of rebound off the club face. Let’s explain Smash Factor.

  • If a golf club travels at 100 mph, and the initial ball speed is 120 mph, the Smash Factor is 1.20.
  • If a golf club travels at 100 mph, and the initial ball speed is 150 mph, the Smash Factor is 1.50.

We found that the average Smash Factor was just as high with a well struck wooden driver than a modern titanium driver. We found that a solid wood driver is really hard. The ball rebounds well off that surface. However, because of the weight of wood, the driver has to be significantly smaller, and therefore much less forgiving.

Modern materials help golfers by being more forgiving. 

Step 4 – Summary

Golf club technology has evolved massively over the years. TrackMan gives an incredible amount of data which can conclusively tell us that newer clubs truly do help us hit the ball both longer and straighter. Golf is still a really hard game, but thanks to game improvement technology, we really can potentially play better golf!