The USGA’s latest update to the list of conforming driver heads featured a couple of interesting additions: TaylorMade’s yet-to-be-released Stealth and Stealth Plus drivers. TaylorMade’s yearly equipment cadence all but assured a new driver was in the pipeline — only this doesn’t appear to be your run-of-the-mill metalwood.
In fact, it’s very possible Stealth isn’t even a metalwood. The word “Carbonwood” is situated on the toe section of the Stealth driver, and the description for both drivers also lists the face as a “60X CARBON, TWIST FACE.” For those keeping track at home, the constant in both names is carbon.
Carbon-composite is a popular material application in the club design space and has been used most recently to remove excess mass — particularly the sole and crown — and reposition it in strategic locations to affect launch, spin and stability. But it has also played a role in several face designs over the years.
Both Callaway and Yonex released carbon-composite driver faces in the early 2000s, but neither product took off. The knock on the material, as it pertained to face construction, was that it never produced the sound or ball speed numbers to make it a viable long-term option.
Since then, Titanium has remained the face material of choice for nearly every manufacturer in the industry.
Considering TaylorMade’s history in the metalwood space — they were the first company to introduce the steel-headed driver — one could surmise they’ve rectified the sound and distance issues that have plagued carbon faces in the past, especially if their loaded Tour stable is going to be using it in the not-too-distant future.
The black-and-white photos also reveal an aerodynamic sole design that looks to be a blend of SIM and SIM2. The Stealth Plus also incorporates a weight track that looks eerily similar to the one found on the original SIM driver. It should be noted the SIM2 and SIM2 Max both used a fixed TPS weight port to alter launch and spin, as opposed to a conventional adjustable track.
A speed pocket is also positioned just behind the face. It’s been used in the past to improve face deflection, particularly on shots that catch the bottom of the structure.
The timing of the USGA’s approval is also a curious one for TaylorMade, which typically waits until the beginning of the new year — like most manufacturers — to unveil new product.
This leads to an obvious question: Why is TaylorMade launching a new driver in December?
It’s pure conjecture at this point, but with Tiger Woods announcing his intention to play the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie, it’s possible we could get a glimpse of the driver in the flesh very soon. (It should be noted all drivers must be approved and listed on the conforming list before they can be used in a Tour-sanctioned event.)
Woods was recently filmed taking cuts with an iron and fairway wood during the Hero World Challenge, but the driver remained under inside his famed “Frank” headcover.
Was Stealth hiding in plain sight? We’ll find out soon enough.
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