Like the rest of the 915 family, the Titleist 915F fairway features the ARC (Active Recoil Channel) on the sole, but in a slightly more forward position than the driver.
It is also a little narrower than the ARC channel on the 915D driver and some may feel it looks more like a slot, but there are two reasons I would not call it such.
Firstly, Titleist politely asked me not to and they are nice people. Secondly, it is longer and curves round the full length of the face and into the body of the club, so it is a bit more integrated into the club head and not filled in like the shorter, thinner slots on other fairways.
As you may be aware by now, this style of design enables the lower half of the clubhead to flex at impact to match the compression of the crown and increase the ball speed.
In the Titleist 915F the ARC really comes into its own from the turf as I found out during an exclusive Titleist fitting session where we got to put all the 915 woods through their paces against the 913 versions.
From the tee I compared the 913Fd 13.5° driving fairway against the 13.5° 915F which is the closest in the new range to this model. What I saw on Trackman was a 20% decrease in spin and 2.8mph increase in ball speed that resulted in an extra 12 yards carry.
Great as that is, the more impressive stat is that the ball speed hardly dropped that much when I hit the ball from the turf. When the ball strikes the face lower down you lose some ball speed, but with the ARC the 915F was nearly 1mph faster from the deck with 640 rpm less spin and 5 yards longer than the old 913Fd fairway was from the tee.
This was also true on off-centre hits, so you have a great combination of consistent and longer shots from more locations on the face from whatever lie you are playing from. I like that because, whilst they have improved over the years, the low spin Fd versions of the Titleist fairways were always tough to get going from the fairway, especially from slightly downhill lies.
I loved the way the club sat at address and the more observant among you will spot that the triangular alignment aid has reversed direction. The head is particularly shiny but it is not a distraction at address and just adds to the classy looks.
Another reason for the extra distance is the uniformly thin Carpenter Steel face that is 2mm thick right across the face, compared to the 2.1-2.4mm variable thickness in the 913 model. This makes the sound and feel solid at impact so it is great to see that maintained from the previous model.
One issue I have always had with past Titleist F ranges is that the heads were too small and that is the main reason I have recommended the Fd models with their bigger heads.
With the 915 fairways Titleist has switched things around by making the F heads larger than the Fd and not before time. The 915F has a 175cc 'Full Pear' profile compare to the now smaller 915 Fd 'Traditional Pear' shape.
My first reaction was 'what have they done to my Fd driving fairway?', but as you now know from the results, the F is a much lower spinning club now, so you need to imagine that Fd now equals F and in more lofts.
The F comes in 5 lofts from 13.5° to 21°, including a new 16.5° model, whilst the Fd range is trimmed to just two lofts of 13.5° and 15°.
The Fd also comes in a 'workable' smaller head now and the spin is down on the previous model so this is really now a high swing speed or elite player club, although why they need smaller heads always baffles me. Surely they like forgiveness as much as the rest of us, especially with a longer club like a driving fairway?
Each model aslo comes with the excellent Sure-Fit Tour adjustable hosel that allows you to adjust the loft indepently of the lie. My fitter Graeme changed settings a few times to make the lie more upright and whilst sometimes it increased distance, my dispersion increased and that is the effect of lie on your swing.
Virtually all other adjustable hosels affect the lie when you change loft so whilst it has been around for a while, this is still the best system in the market for me and the slimmed down hosel that was introduced in the 913 fairways and hybrids is retained in the 915 range.
There is a wide choice of shaft including a stock choice of Aldila Rogue and Mitsubishi Diamana, both of which are decent enough and if they are not then your Titleist fitter can sort you out with another one.
Overall I would have to say that the 915 fairways are a big improvement on the 913 range and the F models with their larger heads are much easier to play from the deck, even if the ARC channel does pick up debris. A brush tool is apparently being thought of to clean this out if you don't want to take turf samples home with you.
As Titleist drivers have expanded across the handicap range, then I think that the 915F can do that for them in fairways as it has a much wider appeal thanks to the bigger heads and great forgiveness. Put this together with the Sure-Fit Tour hosel this will be one of the fairways to beat this year.