Titleist is a traditional company, and with tradition comes a somewhat slower, more calculated pace. Though drivers have been capped at 460cc for a few years now, Titleist has made due with drivers measuring less than 400cc - the 905S and the 905T.
Late last year, PGA Tour pros began playing the rumored "905R" in significant numbers. Ernie Els and Adam Scott were playing the driver as early as one year ago, and "spy shots" were showing up on Internet forums. Speculation ran rampant, as it is wont to do, and the public was interested, to say the least.
In March, Titleist formally introduced the 905R. Considered by many a "bigger" version of the 905T, nearly every Titleist staff member playing a 905T switched, as did some playing Titleist's 905S.
Until earlier this year, I was one of those 905S users. I had a chance to give the 905R a spin, and here are my thoughts.
Titleist's Driver Line
Though you can visually compare Titleist's three 905 drivers online, here's a quickie cheat sheet:
905R 905T 905S ---- ---- ---- Head Volume 460cc 400cc 400cc Face Height Medium Medium Deep Front to Back Deep Medium Shallow Launch High High -0.5° Spin +150 RPM Baseline -200 RPM Workability Good Good Very Good
Much like the 905S and the 905T, the Titleist Pro Titanium 905R is an all-titanium, pear-shaped driver. Described by many as "a bigger 905T," the description is largely accurate. The R, like the T, is a shallower-faced driver that delivers a little more spin and a little more cut correction than the 905S.
Like the previous 905 models, the 905R incorporates a variety of materials. The main portion of the head is 6-4 titanium. A lightweight aluminum hosel tube guides the shaft through the clubface in a traditional bore-through design, but also saves weight. A thin beta titanium (SP7000 Ti) plasma-welded face insert creates a hot sweet spot. An acoustic multi-material sole plug completes the head.
The hosel tube, made of CNC milled 6061-T6 aluminum, upset some golfers when it was introduced in the S and T because Titleist recommends that only Titleist reshaft the 905 drivers, but the weight savings and stability gains necessitated its inclusion in the 905R. And, truth be told, those originally upset by Titleist's recommendation have calmed down quite a bit.
The 905R's 460cc head is 15% larger and offers 10% higher moment of inertia (MOI) for forgiveness on off-center hits. According to Titleist, the sweet spot is 35% larger than the S/T. The center of gravity (CG) has also moved further back from the face than in the T, resulting in slightly more spin and a more stable, higher launch. Some of that CG movement came from moving the acoustic sole plug, a multi-material plug that, in the S and T, is located closer to the center of the sole. In addition to moving the weight back just a bit, the plug helps to fine tune the sound of impact.
I'm a fairly traditional golfer, and Titleist is arguably the most traditional of the larger golf companies. Golfers from any decade in the 1900s would likely feel at ease looking down at a Titleist club.
In woods and drivers, tradition means "pear," as in pear-shaped heads. Titleist's 905R, like the 905S, 905T, 983K, 983E, 975, and every other model before it, has a pear-shaped head that appeals to the traditional sense. The white score lines, metallic grey finish, and simple triangle/line crown markings complete an austere look that harkens back to the persimmon woods of old (or at least to Titleist's PT series of steel woods from the mid-90s).
Though I appreciate having 460cc of forgiveness, my eyes don't like looking down at 460cc of metal. To that end, the 905R hides its bulk well. Never did I feel like I was swinging a large metal balloon at the end of a stick - a feeling I've had with some rounder 460cc drivers. I also prefer a deeper face, and though the 905R is not as deep as the 905S I used for more than a year, a simple adjustment to my tee height resolved the issue of face depth for me.
The 905R features a square face and a gently rounded sole designed to keep the face square at address. The metallic grey finish doesn't extend to the sole, but two "pie slice" accents accentuate a sole that is both uncluttered and immediately recognizable. Though I've become accustomed to driver heads of all shapes and sizes this year (including the r7 425, the HiBore, the FT-3, and others), my eyes still favor a pear shape, and the 905R is as attractive a driver as exists.
As I wrote in last summer's Titleist Science Van article, the 905S is a lower-spinning, lower-launching head without the heel weight (and thus leftward bias) of the T. As the T's bigger brother, the R shares the same characteristics: higher spin, higher launch, and a little heel weighting to help close the face. I chose a UST ProForce V2 75 to try to minimize the spin, lower the ball flight, and keep the face open just a tiny bit longer.
My first round with the 905R did not go very well. I hit two fairways, and both were a result of bad swings that blocked the ball to the right. The other twelve drives were pulls to the left: the heel weighting had nabbed me. For 95% of the golfers in the world, this is a good thing. Unlike most golfers, however, my bad misses are left, and I typically don't need any extra help closing the face of my driver through impact.
After a small correction to my grip and a minor forward press to counter the "helpful" weighting, I began pounding drives with my normal small cut. I could feel the location of the head throughout the swing, providing a very connected feeling, and the results were surprising. Though I'm not a fan of changing a swing to suit a single club, the changes I needed to make to get good results from the 905R were rather small.
My ears have become well attuned to the solid sound my 905S makes on impact - as well as the slightly off-key sounds the same driver makes when impact is made outside the sweet spot. The 905R sounded like I would imagine a larger 905S or T would sound. Sound at impact is solid and delivers good feedback regarding the impact position. Miss low or high, towards the toe or heel, and the sound will tell you. Hit the sweet spot, and you'll hear a lower-pitched, solid crack unlike most other drivers out there.
The sound of sweet spot contact is made even sweeter by a unique feeling the 905R provides. Contact on the sweet spot provides a unique "springy" feeling. The sensation my hands receive on solid contact is that I can feel the face of the driver flexing and then rebounding, followed by little post-impact shockwaves. Though I may lack the words to properly describe this feeling, I can assure you that it's a good feeling, and a powerful one at that. On center contact, the golf ball rockets off the face.
On off-center hits, the feeling is not quite as solid or powerful, yet the ball still travels appreciable distances. The 905R may not be quite as forgiving as the Nike SasQuatch or some other drivers with higher MOI, but then again Titleist drivers historically haven't been built for golfers who miss the sweet spot by an inch and a half. My worst swings, or those that produced contact 3/4 inch or less from the center of the clubface, suffered minimal distance loss and still found the sides of my course's extremely narrow fairways.
The trajectory on solid hits was rather impressive. The ball starts high and hot, but gets down the fairway rather quickly. Despite the lower-spinning, lower-launching shaft, I did experience a little ballooning on shots into the wind, but no more so than I saw with the 905T. Shots in calm conditions or downwind had a flatter trajectory and still managed to hit the ground running, providing a good amount of roll.
As suspected, the 905R was a tad tougher to work than my more neutrally weighted 905S. Draws turned into hooks a little too easily, and I had to work a little harder than I'd have liked to hit purposeful cuts. The average golfer who fights a slice will welcome the ease with which the clubface closes through impact.
Though I'm a big fan of proper driver fitting, and while I believe some drivers are much better suited for your swing than some others, I also know that nearly every modern driver hits the ball as far as equipment rules allow. If you've been properly fitted for loft, lie, and shaft, a signification portion of the decision between driver A and driver B comes down to esthetics and personal feel. Given the choice between another driver with similar performance and the traditional, classy 905R, I'd take the Titleist every time.
Titleist's 905R is available in lofts of 8.5°, 9.5°, and 10.5° for righties and lefties. Righties can also order a 905R with 7.5° or 11.5° loft. The lie and length are industry standard: 57° and 45 inches.
The 905R, like the S and the T, can be ordered with one of several stock shafts: the Aldila NV 65, the Graphite Design YS-6+, the Titleist/Fujikura Speeder, and the UST ProForce V2 75. Note that the stock ProForce v2 is the 75, not the 65.
If you custom order a 905R, you can get every weight ProForce v2, from 55 to 95. Or you can get the Aldila NV in several weights (55-105), the NVS 65, the Fujikura Speeder, Tour Platform, Vista Tour, ZCOM Six, or TW, the Graffaloy Blue, ProLaunch Blue, or ProLite, Graphite Design's YS series, Mitsubishi's Diamana, a Rifle, and about eight other shafts you can view at the 905R custom shafts page.
The standard grip is the Titleist Tour Velvet Cord. Finally the headcover, it's worth mentioning, has even been improved, both in appearance and functionality with longer elastic sock that stretches further into the headcover for easy-on, easy-off performance.
If you're a Titleist 905T user, the upgrade to the 905R is nearly a no-brainer: it provides more forgiveness, a larger sweet spot, and the confidence that comes with a 460cc head. If you're one of the few 905S owners, approach upgrading to the 905R with caution, as the performance characteristics and face shape are different than you're used to. Golfers coming from any other driver would do well to give the 905R a spin, if for no other reason than to see what a pear-shaped driver looks like.
Like nearly all of Titleist's clubs, the 905R is not for the once-a-month golfer. Those golfers might be better served by a driver from Titleist's sister company Cobra. The 905R is not the most forgiving club out there with the highest MOI. It doesn't feature composite materials or movable weights. It doesn't sound like a fungo bat, errr, FT-3 at impact.
But the Titleist Pro Titanium 905R is a traditionally shaped driver that packs a powerful punch for the better player. Though the 905R isn't my gamer due to the heel weight and the extra RPM, I sometimes take it with me in practice rounds to check my contact and to feel that awesome "springy" feeling. It's a feeling unlike any other, and if you find the center of the face often enough with your driver, the feeling alone may be worth the $399 retail cost.