Titleist revised the 975F in an attempt to keep up with the fairway wood advances put forth by sparkling new woods from Ping, Callaway and Cleveland. The comparative dullness and lack of versatility were costing Titleist.
The designers at Titleist believe in “evolutionary” design as opposed to “revolutionary” design. Changes to clubs are made gradually. Rarely has there ever been a leap too far away from the proven standards. This revamping project is no exception to that rule. The newer model retains the same sharp-looking traditional look it had before. The 975F looks the same as the older version except for the lack of a bore-through plug and some minor changes to the graphics on the sole. A slight amount of extra face roll can be seen, as well.
The structure of the head has been changed more noticeably, however. Weight has been lowered. As Titleist says, “The lower center of gravity and increased face roll provide the proper launch angle and easy-up playability. The internal weighting is forward biased to reduce spin and produce a flatter downrange trajectory, the hallmark of all Titleist 975F fairway metals. The leading edge is beveled and radiused and the sole is crowned along the center for playability from all types of lies.”
The standard-issue shafts used by Titleist in the past drew some serious flack for being too cheaply made and inconsistent. Titleist now sells the 975F’s assembled from the factory with high-grade, TT EI-70 and Grafalloy ProLite shafts – and at the same price charged for the two regular Titleist shafts. Additionally, dozens of other well known shafts are available on a custom order basis.
The ProLite we have used is an excellent shaft that is renowned for its vibrant feel – it’s the world’s most popular, premium shaft. We have compared the new 975F against the old 975F with a stock Titleist Ultralight shaft and numerous other 3-woods as well. It did not take long to realize that the feel with the ProLite shaft was noticeably more enjoyable than with standard Titleist offerings. In the minds of almost all, a little something was just plain missing in the feel of previous 975’s. There was always a touch of dullness there – not bad, just a little dead feeling. The Grafalloy ProLite changes that. This combo is not as enjoyably vibrant as the Ping i3’s or as sweet as some Callaway’s, but it is good – very responsive and satisfying.
Trajectories have been different as well. They have been as Titleist said that they would be – more penetrating with a flatter, down-range trajectory. Also as claimed, is the ability this wood has – even with only 13.5 degrees of loft – to get the ball up quickly. It’s still not like an Orlimar or other very low-profiled wood, but it is quite acceptable. For those who have trouble gaining the requisite amount of elevation, it is suggested that they avoid this 13.5 degree version in favor of the 14.5 degree option.
A funny thing has happened with the dozen or so testers and consultants we have used on the 975F. Those that either regularly play the 975F, or are seriously considering it, have all preferred the older version. Of those who noticeably prefer other wood lines, most have favored the old version. Both feel and performance differ from model to model. The old model is duller feeling. That appeals more to those who don’t like the sharp, firm feel of the ProLite version. There is more of a “smack” at impact with the newer wood and a little more feedback tingling its way through the shaft to the fingertips.
What those who most admired the old 975F’s performance appreciated was the way that the ball left hot and flew low with an aggressive, penetrating flight path. This is an assertive wood that hard hitters will find to their liking. It is capable of very long distances even when hitting into the wind. Trajectories and distances were akin to those of a 2-wood, but with hitting ease closer to that of a 3-wood.
The moderately small-headed Titleist 975F is designed for better player. It was quickly added to the bag of one of our lead testers – our best fairway wood player. What he most likes about the wood is that he does not have to “back off” a shot when playing to tight landing zones. It has the necessary control to produce a good, low, screaming, power fade with consistent accuracy. Roll is more than with many 3-woods, but it is controlled. When asked to provide draws and straight shots, it hits with equal control.
This is not a wood that most mid to high handicappers enjoy. It does not have the cross-over appeal that has been displayed by the Ping i3’s, the Steelhead’s and the Golfsmith Tour Steel’s. All of them are easier and more “fun” to hit. The Titleist comes into its own by handling aggressive swings well. It is a conservative, stable design that works best at higher swing speeds. Those with very fast swing speeds may prefer the EI-70 or Titleist Select shaft options, however.
The traditionally-minded Titleist 975F woods are among the world’s most popular woods for low-handicappers. In the right hands, they are exceptional woods.