Titleist never usually rush into things when it comes to new features and with the 917 D2 and D3 drivers this is illustrated by the 5 year research process that went into creating the SureFit CG moveable sole weight.
Moveable weights are of course nothing new, but the challenge is always how to add in this feature without the necessary infrastructure taking up too much weight that could be put to better use elsewhere.
This is the discretionary weight that is often referred to in head designs and the aim is to save it in the crown or face to then reposition it low and back in the sole to get the CG in the optimum position.
The SureFit CG weight in the sole is a cylinder that is made of a composite material with either steel or tungsten inside to create a range of moveable weights from 8g to 16g.
Unscrew the cover and the weight slides out of it's home that is just a simple housing at either end that Titleist say uses up to 10 grams less than some other sliding weight set ups.
This offers two adjustable options as the different balances of weight will move the CG forward or backward depending on how much you use, which in turn will affect the ball flight.
When you have decided on the correct weight, you then get a neutral version with the weight balanced evenly and a fade/draw version that has a heavy end that can either be inserted towards the the toe of the club to create a fade or towards the heel to create a draw, with a claimed range of 6 yards left to right.
You can check which weight you have in and which way round it is by looking in the end of the screw for the circle for neutral, the + for the heavy end and a - for the light end.
If you also have the Titleist 917 fairway you will see the opposite symbol to the driver if you have them both set the same way as the weight is inserted in opposite ends for each club.
You may have spotted that the SureFit CG weight chamber is angled across the sole and that is to equalise the effect across the face.
For example when you hit a ball towards the toe it will likely fade and spin more than average. Moving the CG towards the face reduces spin, so having the heavier weight towards the toe will offset some of the extra spin created by the fade, thus keeping it straighter.
The opposite applies on heel strikes where the deeper position of the heavy weight will add spin to the lower spin characteristics of a draw strike.
So as you can see, a lot of thought has gone into the SureFit CG and it combines with the tried and trusted SureFit Tour adjustable hosel that enables you to adjust loft or lie independently by +/- 1.5°
There is also a choice of 3 new shafts with the Titleist 917 driver and the idea is that you get the best shaft, loft and lie for you and then fine tune it with the SureFit CG weight.
Aside from that the other features from the Titleist 915 driver continue with an improved ARC 2.0 (Active Recoil Channel) that is thinner in places than the 915 to increase ball speeds.
This works with the Radial Face 2.0 to raise ball speeds by around 1 to 2 mph on centre and off centre strikes.
I was surprised by how many people I play with found the sock on the previous Titleist headcovers an issue getting on and off. However, they will all be pleased to hear that the 917 headcover does away with it, which is a little sad as I liked the Tiger tail on previous versions.
As before there are two models in the Titleist 917 driver range that have different flight characteristics to suit different swings.
Titleist 917 D2 Driver Review
The 917 D2 driver is the larger 460cc head that looks a little squarer than before thanks to Titleist changing the line of the head near the heel.
The larger head means that the CG is a little further back and therefore this is the higher spinning head, even though it spins it around 100-200 rpm less than the previous 915 D2.
As you may have spotted the 917 drivers come with a 'Liquid Slate' colour finish that is supposed to echo the Titleist 975 driver. It is thankfully a darker shade of grey than the 816H hybrids, but there are many who associate Titleist with black drivers who may find this a shade too far, although after a while it is not very noticeable.
One change that is very noticeable is the impact sound which is much improved on the 915. The higher pitched crash is gone and the 917 sounds more like you expect a traditional Titleist driver to with a more solid, lower sounding smash.
I went through the full Titleist fitting process and once we had got the right 10.5° loft and shaft then the 917 D2 came out as better than the 915 D2 driver with just over 2 mph extra ball speed, but it was quite spinny at 3300 rpm with a 13.3° launch.
Ideally these two figures needed to come down, so that meant heading on to the 917 D3 driver.
Titleist 917 D3 Driver Review
As before the 917 D3 is a 440cc pear shaped head that looks great at address and more traditional than the D2.
Titleist say they drew on the popular 910 driver shape for the D3 and having had that club myself I think the 917 looks great. Combine that with the better sound and I will let them off the paint job as this is back to what I remember Titleist drivers being about.
As expected the D3 came in with a 0.5° lower launch of 12.8° and 300rpm less spin at 2900rpm so this was the better of the two heads for me.
As I was still getting a little fade on my shots, we adjusted the lie 0.75° upright to the A2 setting on theSureFit Tour hosel and then also put the 12g weight in the draw position and both of these helped straighten out the flight to give the optimum set up for me.
This was with the Diamana Blue Dialead shaft that replaces the previous 'standard' version and I felt it has a lot more feel than Diamana Blue boards of the past. Indeed all of the new shafts seemed a little more friendly than the 915 options, but if none of them work then there are a host of others available through the Titleist custom fitting service.
Titleist 917 Driver Summary
Overall I think Titleist has created another very good driver with the 917. Whilst the colour may divide opinion, the look and sound are back to where they should be after the sonic detour of the 915.
The 915 was a very consistent and straight driver and when optimised was hard to beat when I put it up against most other clubs, but these 917 touchy-feely improvements now add some fun to the mix.
The SureFit CG adjustable weight adds technical substance to the new model, adding a feature that has not been seen on a mainstream Titleist driver before. It is well thought out and the effects are noticeable and beneficial, particularly the ability to add or reduce the amount of weight in the head to get the best results for you.
It means that there is a high degree of customisation to the 917 driver, so a visit to a Titleist fitter will get the most from your not inconsiderable investment, but it will be well worth the money.