Callaway FT-I Driver – Forgiveness Experience

The whole idea behind the new Ft-I driver is the square head shape. The reason for this shape is to move more weight to the far outside corners of the head to increase the MOI. This will increase the forgiveness of the club on off center hits, which most of us tend to get once in awhile. If not most of the time? I haven’t hit any of the other newer Callaway drivers lately, so I can’t compare it with those drivers, but I can compare this Ft-I Tour drive with a lot of the new drivers out today. What I found was that this FT-I Tour driver is very impressive in terms of being easy to hit straight, as most every ball I hit with it has had a nice straight trajectory. In case you’re not familiar with the design of this club, you should know that the front section of the head is a titanium cup. The back section is a composite graphite material. This allows more weight to be available to be placed where it can do the most good. There are 50 grams of weight available for improving the ball flight, and increasing the forgiveness of the driver. This means the head can be setup for a fade, a draw, or a straight ball flight. I tested the neutral bias model, as I wanted to be able to work the ball both ways, and I felt the neutral bias was the best choice for this. Moving some of the available weight low in the head, also helps to increase the launch angle and reduce the back spin. The FT-I Tour is available in either 8.5* or 9.5* of loft, with a wide variety of custom shafts. Go to the Callaway website for a list of available shafts.

Callaway FT-i Driver

What sets this driver apart from a lot of others, is that for a forgiving driver, it’s also rather easy to work the ball left and right when I want. I wasn’t expecting to be able to work the ball as well as I can with this driver, so it was a rather nice surprise when I teed up a range ball, and set up to hit a fade with it. To my surprise, I got a nice fade to the right. This is one thing I look for in a driver, being able to hit a nice fade when I want or need it. For the most part, I can hit a fade pretty well with most of the drivers I own. This one is right up there with the best for this. Hitting a draw with a driver is another story. While I can hit a fade okay, hitting a draw can be less than successful. With the Ft-I Tour, I was able to hit a draw fairly well. Not as well as a fade, but that’s not a surprise, as I can’t hit a draw real well with any of the drivers I’ve tested. Of the ones I’ve tested, the FT- I Tour is at the top of the list. Right up there with the Cobra LD and my SnakeEyes 600TC. If working the ball left and right is a part of your game, this driver is one you should demo. This is also one of the longest drivers I’ve ever hit. In fact, I hit what I believe is the longest drive ever, in terms of carry yardage with it. During my first test session, it teed up a ball with a 4 inch tee, and hit a range ball 290 yards carry. I’ve hit longer drives, when you factor in roll yardage, but for carry yardage only, this is the longest I’ve hit to my knowledge. I know I’ve never hit a ball at the driving range that far before. And since range balls don’t normally go as far as good tour quality balls, I’m quite impressed with this FT-I Tour. One other thing needs to be mentioned here. This was a 290 yard carry drive, with a 9.5* driver, which is a bit on the low loft end for me. It has been my experience with a driver, that I gain a good bit of yardage with a higher loft head. Most of my drivers have either 10.5* or 11.5* of loft. So hitting a 290 yard drive with this 9.5* head was very impressive.

As I mentioned above, this driver will provide as much forgiveness as any other on the market. It will also allow you to work the ball left or right, assuming you have that shot in your bag already. Add in the fact that it’s as long as any of the other new 460cc drivers, and you have a combination that’s hard to beat. If you take the time to demo one, be sure to try all the available shaft options. This is one of the nice things about testing a Callaway driver, you can try different shafts and heads. Callaway is to my understanding, the only company with a testing setup were they can change out the shaft with any head design they sell. You can try different loft heads. You can try different heads, be it the FT-I, FT5, or X460. You can try different shafts with different flexes, or different kick points. If you have a favorite shaft for a driver, there’s a chance you can try that shaft in a few heads and see what you hit the best. While I didn’t test this driver before I did this extended demo, I did pick out the shaft I felt would work for me. I chouse the ProForce 75 Gram V2 for a couple of reasons. One was that my last fitting on a ShaftLab recommended I go to a 75 gram, stiff flex shaft. Add to this the fact that I hit another driver with a 67 gram V2 rather well, it seemed like a good way to go for this in-depth review. With the 9.5* head, a lower kick point shaft might have been a better choice, but I’m rather impressed with the combination I tested. The only thing I’d like to see Callaway do with this head is make it in a higher loft. With the 9.5* head, my ball flight was pretty good, but I think a little more loft would have raised my ball flight a few more degrees, for even more carry yardage. When I tested this driver on a launch monitor, my launch angle average was 13.2*’s, and I’d like to see it at 15*’s. for optimum carry. As well as this 9.5* FT-I Tour performed for me, I’d love to see Callaway make it available with more loft.. A 9.5* FT-I Tour might be okay for the tour players, but if Callaway wants to sell this driver to more amateurs, a higher loft head might be a good idea. Especially when you consider, not all of us amateurs have a good enough swing for a low loft driver. While it can be said that the standard FT-I driver is available in higher lofts, it also has a closed face angle. Something a lot of good golfers don’t like. The square face of the Tour version, is the main reason I chose the Tour version over the standard version for this review. Supposedly, the Tour model offers more workability, and this is what I was interested in testing. I’ve also been told be a few company reps for different OEM’s that the open face tour head will allow you the hit the ball a bit farther, if you have the swing to hit them straight. If you’d like more loft, you should check out the standard model, which is available in 9*, 10*, 11* or 13* lofts. If you prefer a square face, a Grafalloy ProLaunch shaft might be worth trying with the 9.5* Tour head for a higher launch angle.

Bottom Line

This is a top quality driver for the better golfer looking for long straight drives, and the ability to work the ball both ways. It’s got the forgiveness and distance to equal any driver you might be thinking of getting. If you can hit the ball high enough with only a 9.5* head, be sure to demo this driver soon. If not, demo the standard model of this driver with more loft. I forgot to mention the sound. This driver is louder than all my other all titanium drivers. But it’s not as loud as the Cobra LD or Nike Sumo drivers. I can notice the louder noise, but it’s not offensive, and I doubt you’ll notice it much after a bucket of range balls. Personally, I like the sound. It lets me know I hit a good drive, and any time I have to walk farther to get to my ball in the fairway, I couldn’t care less what the driver sounds like. The same can be said for the square shape head. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but it’s not ugly in the least. Again, once you get used to the look at address, I doubt you’ll have any reason to not like this driver. And I think you will find a lot of good reason to like this driver a whole lot. In my opinion, the only real negative might be the price. At $499.99, it’s one of the highest priced drivers available. But it’s also one of the best. I’d recommend you take one for a demo drive, see how you hit it, and then decide if it’s worth it or not. Only you can decide how much it’s worth to find more fairways, and hit it deeper than ever before.

Callaway FT-I Tour driver. 9.5* loft
75 gram Stiff flex UST ProForce V2 shaft
Retail price $499.99

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