First Wooden Driver Head >250cc in Volume/Size
1994 – Golfsmith Long Jon Laminated Maple & Graphite Insert Driver
In the early 1990s, the trend had already begun to design larger size driver heads. As a form of driver head size comparison, the golf industry began to reference the volume of the head in cubic centimeters (cc). In the early 90s, stainless steel woodheads were the established norm as titanium had not yet been used as a woodhead material. However, the clubhead production foundries had not yet achieved the skill to cast very thin wall sections with adequate durability so it was not possible in the early 90s to make stainless woods larger than 200cc.
In the early 1990s there was still a reasonable demand for wooden drivers. Because Golfsmith was the largest component clubmaking supplier in the industry, it was important for the company to offer the widest possible array of clubhead designs which still included wooden driver heads. Prior to the Long Jon, the largest wooden driver head was 200cc in volume. To make a larger size wooden driver to follow the trend in the beginning stages in metal woods, Tom chose laminated maple for the woodhead material because it was stronger than persimmon. After performing extensive R&D to determine the maximum possible size of a hollow cavity inside the wooden head to reduce weight, and through using a very light polymer face over the full width of the face to further reduce weight, the Long Jon driver was able to be designed to a significantly larger wood head size at just over 250cc in volume which also allowed the model to have the highest moment of inertia of any wooden head ever created.
First Driver with Adjustable Hosel Sleeve
1994 – Golfsmith AHT Metal Woods
While golfers are now familiar with the adjustable hosel sleeves used on many OEM drivers beginning in 2009-2010, the first driver and fairway woods to offer this concept for customization were the AHT woods that Tom designed for Golfsmith International in 1995. The hosel of the AHT woods was designed to accept a precision machined aluminum sleeve into which the shaft was inserted for assembly. The sleeve was machined with its bore at a 2* angle so that when the sleeve was rotated in the hosel, the change in the angle of the shaft into the head resulted in a change of the lie and face angle.
The modern adjustable hosel sleeves follow the same principle of changing the angle of the shaft into the head. But in their case, the companies decided to totally change the way loft is measured in a driver or wood so they could use the change in shaft angle into the head to offer a change in the loft angle of the head when the head is held in a 0* square face position in the address position. The same thing could have been done with the AHT Driver and Woods if the golfer chose to rotate the face to a square position behind the ball.
The reason Wishon chose to have his original adjustable hosel sleeve deliver custom changes in face angle and lie is because he believed strongly that wood loft is only measured when the head is soled in its natural address position. Tom feels is it wrong to change the way loft is measured by referencing it only when the head is held in a 0* square face position because such an alteration forces the face angle to never be able to be customized at the same time to help golfers achieve better accuracy.
Wishon’s adjustable hosel design was not just created and offered in a driver, but also in a full set of fairway woods to allow golfers to experience a custom face angle and/or lie angle adjustment in all their woods.
First Driver Family Designed with Separate Models Matched to a Different Golfer Swing Speed
1995 – Golfsmith Designated Drivers
In the mid-1990s, Tom was the first to educate clubmakers and golfers of the importance of matching driver loft to the golfer’s clubhead speed and angle of attack to optimize distance. Key to this information was the realization that the slower the golfer’s clubhead speed and more downward the angle of attack, the higher the driver loft must to be to maximize the carry distance of the shot. Prior to this information, clubmakers and golfers had always assumed that the lower the loft, the greater the distance generated by the driver and few if any drivers of 12* loft or higher were ever created for golfers.
Created for Golfsmith in 1995 Wishon’s Designated Driver series consisted of 5 different stainless steel driver heads, each designed with a different loft, face height and face angle that was matched to 10mph increments of golfer clubhead swing speed from <70mph up to >100mph. By engraving the different clubhead speed range on the sole of each driver head, clubmakers could choose the right driver model for a golfer based on their clubhead speed to offer the golfer a better chance of being fit with a driver to achieve the most distance possible for their swing speed.
First Graphite & Metal Hollow Cavity Driver Head
1995 – Golfsmith Power Link Driver
Golfers may recall the 2004 Callaway Fusion driver and believe its metal + graphite hollow body design was the first time a company had created a hollow body, composite and metal driver head. However, the first such metal + graphite hollow body driver head design was designed by Tom Wishon in 1995 for release by Golfsmith in 1996. Tom had always been intrigued by the possibility of combining two materials of totally different density, heavy and light, in the same clubhead for the purpose of improving weight distribution and center of gravity (CG) location.
The Power Link represented a pioneering design in both weight distribution and in the new manufacturing techniques necessary to permit such a design to be produced. The Power Link driver’s investment cast stainless steel face, sole and hosel piece was placed into a compression mold with a special inert core so that graphite sheets could be molded to the steel face/sole piece to create the complete shape of the hollow driver head. Modern graphite + metal wood heads do not employ this complicated bonding procedure of compression molding and instead incorporate gluing the graphite piece to the metal body. This method is more cost effective but it limits the positions that the graphite material can be attached to the metal body to facilitate more changes in the MOI or CG.
The revolutionary compression molding technique enabled the Power Link driver to have a high portion of the driver head’s weight positioned in the sole and face to keep the CG low and more forward to create a balance of a adequately high launch with a penetrating ball flight shape. A particular challenge in the design was to achieve a high level of repeatable precision in the cast stainless part to enable each cast piece to properly fit in the compression mold the same exact way every time. An additional task in this breakthrough design was to determine how to engineer the fit and the durability of the graphite shell to perfectly fit to the edges of the steel all around the face and sole edges.
First heel weighted draw bias metal driver for fade reduction or draw enhancement
1996 – GOLFSMITH ACCUCORE DRIVER
The concept of heel weighting in clubheads to assist golfers to reduce the tendency to fade the ball was first suggested in 1968 in Alastair Cochran and John Stobbs’ milestone book, The Search for the Perfect Swing. Working in conjunction with the late Elmore Just’s Louisville Golf Company in 1991, Tom and Elmore designed a heel weighted wooden driver to test Cochran & Stobbs’ theory. But the problem with creating a heel weighted design in a wooden head was that the relatively density of the laminated maple or persimmon did not allow more than 10-15 grams of weight to be positioned in the heel. This amount of heel weighting proved to be insignificant in its ability to reduce a fade or enhance a draw.
To be able to create a visible change in the flight of the ball, Tom felt the heel positioned weight had to be in excess of 25 grams, yet because of assembly requirements the total driver head weight had to be no more than 200 grams. In the early 90s, no clubhead foundry possessed the manufacturing skills to bond dissimilar metals in a steel or titanium body driver head. To be able to make a 200 gram driver head with a durable wall structure and with more than 25 grams of discretionary weight permanently secured in the heel area of the head, Tom knew the head body material of such a driver had to be a high strength aluminum alloy.
The first AccuCore driver prototypes made in 1994 with a 25 gram brass heel weight showed only a very small draw bias flight tendency for the shot. Successive prototypes were made to further thin the walls of the 7005-T4 aluminum alloy head so more weight could be put into the heel. Finally with the heel weight at 43 grams, testing showed a distinct draw bias shape for shots hit with the driver. The AccuCore metal driver was introduced for sale in 1996 and represented the golf industry’s first metal wood with draw bias heel weighting. The first such heel weighted driver offered by a major brand golf company followed several years later.
First Stainless Steel Driver Head to Exceed 225cc Volume
1996 – GOLFSMITH SS-235 DRIVER
When Titanium woodheads were introduced in the US in 1994, the lower density and high strength to weight ratio of Titanium opened the door for clubhead designers to meet golfers’ increasing demand for ever-larger driver head shapes to further increase the MOI to improve off-center hit performance. However, Titanium drivers were significantly more expensive than what the majority of golfers in the US were yet willing to pay. This meant there was also a demand for larger stainless steel drivers. However, the largest stainless steel driver up to 1995 was only a little more than 200cc in volume/size because clubhead casting foundries had not yet developed the ability to consistently cast stainless steel with the much thinner wall sections necessary to allow the head size to be increased. The original Callaway Big Bertha driver that triggered the trend toward larger size driver heads was approximately 200cc in volume.
The SS-235 driver was a 235cc volume/size driver head investment cast from 17-4 stainless steel which employed changes in the ceramic shell formation of the casting process followed by a different heat treatment process of the cast head to allow the SS-235 to have a thinner wall construction which still was strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of normal use. This increase in volume/size pushed the envelope in stainless steel driver head manufacture to a size and a level of casting expertise not seen before in the golf industry.
First Metal Woodhead to Exceed 350cc Volume
1997 – GOLFSMITH Long Jon Jumbo Metal Driver
By the early 2000s, a 350cc metal wood driver was considered to be a small size driver head. In 1997, titanium driver heads were just beginning to approach the 300cc barrier in head volume/size because the skill required to consistently cast a titanium alloy with very thin wall sections did not yet exist among the clubhead production foundries.
Again turning to high strength aluminum alloys for the solution, Tom designed the Long Jon metal wood driver to be forged from aircraft grade 7075-T6 aluminum. Through the forging process, it was possible to achieve the required material strength and toughness in the thin wall sections that were required to be able to manufacture a 350cc volume/size driver head at the required head weight with the necessary head durability. At the time of its introduction in 1997, the Long Jon was over 50cc larger than any metal driver head yet made.
First Metal Wood With Stainless Steel Body & Aluminium Hosel
1997 – GOLFSMITH Bi-Metallic Woods
A clubhead designer can look at the weight comprised in the hosel of a clubhead in two ways: 1) the weight of the hosel represents mass that could be incorporated to move the CG closer to the heel side of the clubhead, or, 2) it could be mass that can be eliminated or reduced in some manner and re-distributed in the head to improve perimeter weighting (MOI) or to further customize the center of gravity (CG) location.
Following the latter design concept, the Bi-Metallic woods were a full set of driver and fairway woods in which Wishon designed the body of the woodheads from 17-4 stainless steel and the hosel from high strength 7075-T6 aluminum. By creating the hosel from such a light weight material, 65% of the weight that would have been used in a hosel of the same 17-4 alloy as the body of the head was able to be moved into the sides of the woodheads to increase the MOI of the heads and offer a little better off center hit performance than was possible with stainless steel woods made with a conventional stainless steel hosel. In addition, because the hosel was made from aluminum, vibration from the head up to the golfer’s hands was also reduced.
First Metal Wood With Titanium Cup-Face Construction
1997 – GOLFSMITH BlackHawk Driver
Even before Tom began to assign finite element analysis to predict the performance of a metal wood face design, he was aware that the strength to modulus ratio of Titanium made it a better face material for increasing ball velocity. Tom also realized that the spring face capability of a Titanium face would be enhanced by increasing the surface area of the face that could be unsupported or untouched by welding. Driver heads in which the face was welded to the head body on the edges of the face experience a reduction in the total area of the face that could flex inward at impact.
By first forging a 6/4 Titanium face in a cup-face construction and then casting high strength 7005-T6 aluminum material of the body of the Black Hawk Driver around the ‘cupped’ edges of the Titanium face, the deflection (spring face) capability of the face for its designed size was able to be maximized over the more rigid face edge of a plate formed face piece. The same ‘cup-face’ Titanium face construction as first employed by Callaway Golf in their Titanium woodheads did not come about until 2 years later.
First Beta Grade Titanium Alloy Driver Introduced in the USA
1998 – Golfsmith Beta Titanium 255LT Driver
Alloys of beta grade Titanium offer a significant increase in strength and hardness over typical 6/4 Titanium. Even when combined with the higher modulus of beta Ti alloys, their strength to modulus ratio is such that a driver could be made larger in size than when made from 6/4 Ti alloy. In addition, the properties of a beta Ti alloy could offer the chance to create a driver with a higher C.O.R. than what was possible using the 6/4 Ti alloy in the sub-300cc titanium driver heads that were the limit in size at the time. Only later did designers and production factories learn how to achieve a maximum allowed COR with common titanium alloys such as 6/4 which was achieved when titanium drivers began to exceed 400cc in volume with their accompanying larger face area.
While the golf market had become accustomed to the higher price of a 6/4 Titanium driver over stainless steel drivers, the higher raw material cost of the more sophisticated Beta grade titanium alloys would raise the price of a driver even higher. Therefore, in the late 1990s, all of the US golf companies were hesitant about switching from 6/4 Titanium to a driver made fully from beta grade Titanium. Because Tom was relying on computer modeling at this time to predict the performance of a driver face design, he knew the potential for both increasing head size and improving the COR of the driver face design that the beta grade titanium alloys offered. The 255LT beta Titanium driver was the first driver head commercially offered in the US made fully from a beta titanium alloy.
First DRIVER WITH MARAGING STEEL ALLOY FACE TO EXCEED 300CC IN VOLUME
1998 – Golfsmith Super Sonic Boom Driver
Maraging steel is a classification given to certain alloys of steel which typically possess strength up to and more than twice that of common stainless steel alloys such as 15-5 and 17-4. By the late 1990s, maraging steel alloys had only been used as a face plate attached to a stainless steel body and never designed to be larger than 240cc in size/volume. By attaching the maraging face to a 300cc forged high strength aluminum body, the Super Sonic Boom Driver not only became the largest steel face Driver in the golf industry, but the maraging steel face eliminated the less popular low-pitched â€œthudâ€ sound of an all aluminum woodhead. The result was a high performance ultra-thin face construction that not only increased the COR but rendered a more favorable sound at impact.
First Boron Carbide Metal Matrix Investment Cast Clubhead
1998 – Golfsmith Cermet 2000 Driver
Aluminum metal matrix composite (MMC) materials have been classified as being ‘aluminum on steroids’. On its own, the highest strength aluminum alloys can rarely exceed 100,000 psi in yield strength (To contrast, 6/4 Ti and 17-4 stainless steel are 135,000 psi, 10-2-3 Beta Ti is 185,000 psi and Carpenter 455 steel is 250,000 psi). However, by adding a ceramic material to a high strength titanium alloy, the strength of the resulting metal matrix composite can be significantly increased, to the point that some MMCs will approach and even exceed the strength of specific stainless steel alloys.
As a material for potential use in clubhead manufacture, MMCs held the potential for a high strength to weight ratio so a larger head size could be designed with additional weight still available to be positioned in specific areas of the head to enhance perimeter weighting (MOI) or customize the head’s center of gravity (CG) location. In addition, MMCs also posed the chance for creating a high COR face. High strength aluminum alloys have a modulus of elasticity that could be conducive to allowing the face to flex enough to achieve a high COR. However, since the strength of even high strength aluminum alloys is considerably lower than stainless steel, no aluminum alloy could actually deliver a high COR face because the much greater face thickness required to achieve adequate durability would block the face from flexing enough to achieve a high COR. With the addition of ceramic material to the high strength aluminum, the resulting MMC could be high enough in strength to allow thinning the face to a point that enough face flexing could occur to allow the face to achieve a higher COR.
In the mid-1990s a company named Langert Golf had introduced a small size driver head made from Aluminum ‘alloyed’ with a ceramic called Silicon Carbide (SiC). The head was produced through an expensive die casting procedure that was required to keep the distribution of the SiC particulate consistent through the aluminum and thus achieve consistent strength equally in all areas of the head. SiC MMCs are known to be very brittle. The Cermet 2000 Driver was innovative because previously, no MMC Driver head had yet been produced by the less expensive procedure of investment casting.
In addition, the MMC used in the casting of the Cermet 2000 Driver head incorporated the use of Boron Carbide (B4C) ceramic particles. Using B4C ceramic material in the aluminum alloy allowed the strength of the MMC to be higher than an MMC made with SiC ceramic particles. Through investment casting, the tooling costs and the head cost could be greatly reduced, while the use of B4C increased the MMC strength while making the MMC less brittle.
This allowed the Cermet 2000 to be made with a larger head size and in different model options for a price that was much less expensive than a Titanium driver head. In succeeding versions the Cermet heads originated by Tom Wishon expanded their performance potential with the addition of bi-material weighting in the head body to further improve on their perimeter weighting (MOI) capability.
First Metal Wood to Vary Face Thickness to Match Different Clubhead Speeds
1999 – Snake Eyes Elasteel Driver & 3 Wood
From basic computer modeling studies of wood face design, Tom noted that the maximum ball speed and highest smash factor (ball velocity divided by clubhead speed) occurred when the face was flexed inward to its maximum point before permanent deformation. At the same time, computer modeling revealed that the amount the face could flex inward was proportional to the clubhead speed of the golfer. That meant golfers with slower swing speeds who were buying titanium drivers with faces designed to flex fully only for the highest swing speeds of golfers were not getting the maximum amount of face flexing for their clubhead speeds.
Tom designed each of the three Snake Eyes Elasteel drivers and 3-woods with a different face thickness to achieve maximum face deflection for a different range of golfer swing speeds. Thus the golfer with a 75-90mph swing speed used an Elasteel driver with a 2.25mm thickness face, a golfer with a 90-105mph swing used the Elasteel driver with a 2.6mm face, and golfers with a >105mph swing speed used the Elasteel driver with a 2.9mm thickness face.
As a result all three ranges of swing speed players were able to gain a similar amount of face deflection and ball velocity performance increase. Such a design concept required a communication campaign to prevent high swing speed golfers from using the Elasteel driver and 3-wood designed only for the lower swing speeds! Fortunately, people listened as only four Elasteel drivers were returned with broken faces from being used by a player with a higher swing speed than what the head was designed to withstand!
First USGA C.O.R. Non-Conforming Driver with Steel Alloy Face Construction
2000 – Snake Eyes AerMet CMF Drivers
In 1998, the USGA adopted a limit of 0.830 for the Coefficient of Restitution (COR) of Drivers. Not until 2008 did the Royal & Ancient of St. Andrews enact the same rule. Between 1998 and 2008 golf companies would create two versions of each driver model, one with a COR of below 0.830 for use by golfers in countries under the jurisdiction of the USGA rules (USA & Mexico), and the other with a higher COR for use by golfers in all other countries under the rules of the R&A.
Because they wanted to keep track of all non-conforming >0.830 COR drivers to prevent them from showing up in competitions in the US and Mexico, in 1999 the USGA began to publish a list of all of the drivers in excess of the 0.830 COR limit.
Until the design of the Snake Eyes AerMet CMF drivers, every driver on the USGA’s COR non-conforming list was a titanium alloy driver. No golf company had developed a steel driver with a COR over the USGA limit because it was felt in the industry that the strength to elasticity properties of steel could never allow that to be done. Working with Carpenter Specialty Metals company, Tom identified their AerMet high strength steel alloy as potentially suitable to be able to design a 300cc size all steel driver with a COR in excess of the USGA limit. (The USGA tested COR of the Snake Eyes AerMet CMF drivers was 0.854).
First Metal Wood with Cup-Face Construction Forged From High Strength Steel
2000 – Golfsmith TI Steel 465
Prior to 2000, all woodheads using a high strength steel alloy for the face had been made by either press-fitting the face piece into an open cavity on the face surface, or welding the face piece on the outer edges around the face of the wood. Such attachment methods of the face to the body of the head reduced the area of the face that was able to be flexed inward and with it, reduced the potential for a high strength steel face to offer the same ball velocity as a titanium alloy face.
During this time, Tom had been working with a number of companies specializing in the development of higher strength steel alloys and studying computer face modeling of the various alloys that possessed strength properties in the range of 250,000 psi and higher. Tom had been working with alloys made by Carpenter Specialty Metals for previous high COR face designs and chose a new Carpenter alloy, Custom 465 which achieved its higher strength in part because of the addition of titanium to the alloy. Hence the reason this model was named Ti Steel 465.
With such ultra-high strength alloys, Tom had determined it was possible to create steel face drivers that could offer the same high COR as any of the titanium alloys. However, to do that required that no welding touch the back of the hitting face. Hence, by creating a face forging die that would wrap the face piece around in a cup-face construction to allow the welding attachment to be on the top, sole and sides of the body of the head, welding was kept off the back of the face, the face’s deflection capability was maximized, and the high strength steel face construction was able to achieve the same high COR as a titanium driver. This was the first time a steel alloy in a cup face construction had been used in the production of a driver head.
First Driver with GRT Vertical Face Design For More Consistent Launch Angle
2004 – Wishon Golf 515GRT Drivers
Wishon Golf demonstrated the technical knowledge and the courage to deviate from more than 100 years of tradition in woodhead face design to depart from the old dimensions of vertical roll radius and replace that with a unique vertical face design that ensures more consistent loft up and down the face while still generating the proper vertical gear effect necessary to achieve a preferable ball flight shape without excessive spin.
As driver heads grew from 200cc to 460cc between 1990 and 2005, driver face heights increased from an average of 1.5″ (39mm) to an average of 2.2″ (55mm) up to as much as 2.4″ (60mm). During this increase in head volume and face height the traditional vertical roll radius of 10” or 12” continued. When face height increases by some 40%, using the same vertical face radius causes the loft of the driver to be as much as 3 degrees lower on the bottom of the face and 3 degrees higher on the top of the face.
To achieve a consistent launch angle with such taller face drivers using the same vertical roll radius that was first established for far smaller face heights, golfers have to develop the skill to hit the ball in an area the size of the head of a thumbtack. Wishon Golf’s original Graduated Roll Technology (GRT) vertical face design incorporated a 0 roll vertically flat face over the bottom 2/3’s of the face height while transitioning to a 14” vertical radius for the upper third of the face. The result was a driver retained its designed loft over the bottom 2/3’s of the face while only experiencing a +1 to +1.5 degree increase in loft on the top third of the face. This meant impacts anywhere on the lower 2/3’s of the face took off with virtually the same launch angle and spin while shots hit higher off the face only increased slightly in launch angle while retaining the vertical gear effect necessary to achieve a penetrating shot shape without excessive spin.
Later Wishon modified the original GRT specs to be a consistent 20” vertical roll radius because the original flat lower and radiused upper face design proved too difficult to maintain the level of consistency required. But the 20” vertical radius still achieves the same goal of preventing the loft from being too low on the bottom and too high on the top half of the face to offer more consistent launch and spin. The 20” vertical radius continues to be used on every Wishon Golf brand driver.
First Driver with CENTRE OF GRAVITY MORE THAN 40MM BEHIND THE FACE FOR HIGHER LAUNCH ANGLE WITH HIGHER BALL SPEED
2004 – Wishon Golf 949G/Ti Driver
In technical publications from its ongoing R&D, Wishon Golf exposed the golf industry to the fact that for many golfers, a rear-located center of gravity (CG) has more of an effect on increasing launch angle than a low CG position. From that, TWGT discovered that it was possible to combine a much more rear-located CG with a conventional loft angle and achieve a higher launch angle previously only thought to be possible from increasing the loft.
By pushing the CG back to an amazing 44mm behind the face in the 949G/Ti driver, Wishon Golf was able to deliver the launch angle of a 12 degree driver with the ball velocity of a driver with a loft of 10.5 degrees. As a result, golfers custom fit to the 949 G/Ti have experienced the best of all worlds – higher launch angle for more carry distance with a higher ball speed not previously possible with that optimum launch angle. The 949G/Ti CG is 6mm (1/4″) farther back from the face than the CG of the Callaway Fusionâ„¢ driver and thus stands as the first driver to be designed with the CG more than 40mm behind the face.
First Driver with Internal Rotating Weight Arm for Optional CG, Draw Bias, Fade Bias
2005 – Wishon Golf 715CLC Driver
The mass of the weight on a movable weight driver is limited by the mass of the head body and the overall mass specification that the golf companies choose for their driver designs to be not more than 20 grams. From his work in designing heel weighted/draw bias driver models in the late 80s and 90s, Tom knew that moving 20 grams anywhere on the head would only allow the slightest visible ball flight adjustment and chiefly for very accomplished ball strikers with higher than average clubhead speed.
To a professional or elite level amateur player, a 20 gram weight movement will create a visible flight change because players of that ball striking skill level have such consistent ball flight that they will notice a 3-4 yard movement of the ball in flight. But to the average golfer whose swing path, face delivery and point of impact varies from swing-to-swing, no real change in ball flight shape will be seen from moving only 20 grams around the outside of the head.
Wishon Golf’s 715CLC driver was designed to allow up to as much as 40 grams of discretionary weight to be moved virtually anywhere around the inside perimeter of the head cavity to create custom options for changing the center of gravity position, and from it, allowing the clubhead to perform in a high launch, low launch, draw bias or fade bias manner.
Using the 40 gram rotating weight arm, a change of 3.5 degrees in launch angle could be seen between the ‘at face’ to ‘away from face’ positions of the weight arm, and a correction of up to 10 yards of sideways ball movement could be made when the weight arm was rotated into its draw or fade bias positions for players with average clubhead speeds. The 715CLC departed from the typical moving weight screw design on the outside of the head created by many companies and offered a more dramatic adjustment in ball flight through a much heavier movable weight than is employed by any other company.
First Driver with CNC Machined Crown for Changing Weight Distribution, CG/MOI
2006 – Wishon Golf 949MC Driver
In 1995, Tom Wishon designed the Power Link Driver – the first graphite + metal hollow body construction driver for the purpose of replacing metal with lightweight graphite to more radically move the center of gravity of the head. Few of the large golf club companies did not begin making their version of a graphite + metal hollow body driver before 2005. Bonding graphite to a metal woodhead in a hollow shell construction brought with it a greater chance for head failure. In the mid-2000 graphite + metal driver models the stress of repeated impacts posed the potential to fracture the bond between the graphite and metal to cause a higher than desired failure rate for such composite and metal heads.
To overcome the higher incidence of head failure but to still be able to remove weight from the top of the driver to facilitate a more rear located center of gravity and higher MOI, Tom developed the process of CNC machining the underside of the top piece of a 4-piece construction titanium driver head to remove the weight necessary for moving the center of gravity and increasing the MOI. Specific areas of the top of the Wishon Golf 949MC driver head which were not subject to high stress were machined 60% thinner than is typical for conventional titanium driver design to accumulate weight which was re-positioned in the rear of the head to achieve the desired rear center of gravity position for higher launch angle and higher MOI for better off-center hit performance.
First Driver To achieve a COR of 0.900
2006 – Wishon Golf 0.9OL Driver
In his design career, Tom Wishon has always been fascinated with learning how to work with different materials and different face design techniques to increase the amount of face flexing to increase ball velocity for more distance for both on and off-center hits. When the USGA enacted a rule change in 1998 to limit for the spring face capability of clubheads (COR limit of 0.830), the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which administers the rules for golfers in other countries, did not ratify the COR limit imposed by the USGA. Only after pressure from the USGA did the R&A agree to institute the 0.830 COR limit for clubheads. But the R&A delayed their enactment of the COR limit for clubheads until 2008.
As a result of numerous requests from Wishon Golf customers in foreign countries and motivated by a desire to see just how high he could engineer the COR of a titanium driver head, Tom relied on his experience in high performance face design to create the Wishon Golf 0.9OL, the first driver head to ‘reach the 0.900 COR barrier’ in the game.
First <200cc Steel Driver with 0.830 COR Face
2008 – Wishon Golf 525F/D Fairway Driver
It might seem odd for Tom to go to work on developing a sub-200cc size driver with a high COR face design at a time when the golf market was not interested in buying steel drivers, let alone one at a small volume/size of 190cc. The 525F/D was designed as a ‘Thriver’: a club to use as an alternative to a 3-wood off the tee on tight par-4 and par-5 holes which would generate very close to the distance of a 0.830 COR titanium driver but with better accuracy from the shorter assembled length compared to a driver.
By relying on a cup-face construction with a very high strength steel alloy forged to a thickness of only 1.8mm, the 525F/D was designed at a size of 190cc with a 40mm face height and did achieve the USGA/R&A COR limit of 0.830/CT 257. As such, the 525F/D became the first steel driver head with a size smaller than 200cc to reach the spring face limit in the rules of golf.
First Titanium Driver With A Bendable Hosel for Lie and Face Angle Change
2014 – Wishon Golf 919THI Drivers
The 919THI drivers were first introduced in 2008. Still the mainstay driver model in the Wishon Golf product line as of 2019, the 919THI may be the longest continuously offered driver model in the moden history of golf equipment. Part of the reason for the 919THI’s continued success is because Tom made small changes in the design every so many years to tweak its performance.
One of the most major improvements that Tom did to the 919THI drivers was changing the material from which the hosel is made to a highly ductile pure titanium material called CP4. The 919THI has always been a 4-piece construction model. Originally the 4 pieces of the crown, sole/skirt, face and hosel were all formed from 6/4 titanium alloy and then welded together to form the head. Since the hosel is a separately formed part of the driver, by switching the hosel from 6/4 Ti to CP4 Ti, the 919THI hosel was able to be easily bent to enable a +/-4* change in the lie angle and face angle to allow clubmakers to offer their golfers a wider array of custom fitting options than was ever possible in a driver previously.
The 919THI was offered in loft options of 9*, 11*, 13* and 15.5*. Through Wishon Golf’s Hand Select Program relying on the normal +/-1* tolerance for loft clubmakers could order a 919THI driver head in any loft from 8* to 16.5”. With the additional custom capability of the bendable hosel for a +/-4* range in lie and face angle to go with the loft options, the 919THI became by far the most customizable titanium driver ever created.
The modern adjustable hosel drivers offered by the major golf companies cannot come close to the level of customization of the 919THI driver. While the adjustable sleeve allows golfers to play a variety of different lofts, with that comes the elimination of any options for a custom face angle and a ‘catch as catch can’ option in lie.
The greatest achievement of the 919THI driver is that it became the only titanium driver in the history of the game that is capable of being customized for as much as an 8.5* range in loft, an 8* range in lie and an 8* range in the face angle.
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