Martin Hopley
By Martin Hopley

When Srixon launched their latest range of Z 85 drivers, fairways, irons along with the Cleveland RTX 4 wedge, I nipped along to the Srixon tour truck to interview the man who made them all, Jeff Brunski, VP of R&D and Srixon Cleveland.

Hi Jeff, we have seen the Z 85 range today, and one of the products you are most excited about is the new Z 785 driver that you say that has a lot more ball speed, so how did you create this?

Ball speed is really the first thing we hear from the better player or really anyone who wants more distance. If they put a club on a launch monitor they want to see more ball speed so you have to invest in the technologies that create ball speed. For us that's a cup face and a stronger titanium face that allows us to go thinner and hotter.

Srixon Z 785 Driver

A lot of manufacturers have these cup faces, why is yours better than some of the others?

Well that's the thing, a lot of people have tried them at one point, but not a lot of manufacturers are still investing the money to use that higher strength titanium on more of the club head. It might be in fairway woods or some different clubs out there, but from a driver standpoint it's not very common. What we're trying to do with it, and why it makes a difference, is you can actually go thinner in some regions to get more flex and more ball speed.

Srixon Jeff Brunski

You say you're investing in this, is it actually a complicated process to do?

It's just a more expensive process with more expensive tooling, yes. From an investment standpoint it very much means spending the money on the manufacturing and engineering side.

So why have you done that with the driver, because it's not really an area you've been renowned for in recent times?

The reason is essentially that if we want to be competitive in drivers these days there's so many launch monitors out there you need to make a product, especially if you're not spending more money on marketing or running commercials or throwing fancy stuff out there, that has to have that ball speed performance. You can't hide anymore so we're going to spend the money, we're not cutting corners, we're investing in ball speed technology.

Does that filter through to the fairway woods as well?

Exactly. The cup face is in the 3 fairway wood and the 3+. It's not in the 5 fairway wood which is a little bit of a marketing trade-off. We could get a little more ball speed if we were to put it in there, but most people are trying to hit their 5 wood a particular distance or as an approach shot. But the 3 fairway wood has a high strength material face, cup face and carbon crown and is very similar to the driver.

Srixon Z F85 Fairway

So you've got the carbon crown in the fairway and the driver, that's relatively new for you isn't it?

Yes this is the first Srixon product that features that crown. It's a very soft feel, it allows us to reposition weight, and it's not insignificant for getting more ball speed because it makes a higher MOI product.

You were saying earlier that compared to some other of the carbon crowns yours is stronger than most, why is that?

The key thing you want to do with a carbon crown is make sure actually that the strength of the carbon and how stiff it is affects feel.

Srixon Z F85 Fairway

It might not be an intuitive thing but if you have weaker carbon composite the sound is a little off, so if we're trying to get these products in play on tour and with the better player, you can't really have any shortcuts. We don't want to give people an excuse not to play a Srixon product, so the performance has to be there and that's why we do that.

One sector I know you've had success with lately is the irons and you've got the new Z 785 and Z 585. What's difference between this series and the previous one?

It's really an incremental improvement because of, like you said, the success we're having so there's still forged construction in the 7 Series and it's forged in the 5 Series but with a high-strength steel face.

Srixon Z 585 Irons

The newest feature in that 5 series is really this speed slot which is not that different from how a cup face works, we're trying to get flex in the face and more ball speed. So the 5 Series is great feel, great distance.

Is that a deeper cut than you've had before or have you not done it previously?

We've not had a cut, in general what we've done with the 5 Series is take a high-strength steel and thin it out as much as we can and put that on the club face. Now by adding a perimeter, this flex slot, essentially we can get even more flex and even more ball speed.

Srixon Z 585 Irons

So with the previous series of iron what is it you think made them so successful, because some people liked the size of the head and others the fact that it was forged?

That's a good question actually, as a double digit handicap player it's sometimes a mystery to me. But if you talk to our tour players it's the turf interaction and the overall feel of an iron that they can trust is going do what they expect it to do, it's critical to performance.

Srixon Jeff Brunski

The better player really cares about that and I think the way we've designed the sole in each generation of these irons, that Tour V.T. sole gets through the turf and our tour staff just say that feels better than anything else out there. I think people hit it and say it feels great and I say that's because it's forged, but also that soul really drives a lot of that performance.

What is it about a V-shaped sole that makes it so different to a more traditional cambered sole?

The Tour V.T. sole ads a little bit of bounce on that leading edge and then we remove a little bit from the trailing edge so it’s the same width sole. You don't want to put a big wide sole on a player's iron so we're giving a little more bounce. It's not that complicated but more bounce actually feels better.

Srixon Z 585 Irons

It gets through the turf more easily, you maintain head speed through the turf. It's a little extra bounce on the leading edge and a little bit of relief on the trailing edge. We've been doing in wedges and competitors have also been doing it in wedges.

You've done it in wedges for quite a while now, in the RTX-3 and now we've got the RTX 4 as well, which seems exceptionally good out of grass with the new sole, maybe even more so than sand. Is that something you've found generally?

Yeah absolutely we're trying to put that into most of the wedges, and with the RTX-3 we did that, but another thing when you talk about wedges and turf performance is that no two players are exactly the same, so that's why most manufacturers make different grinds and Cleveland sort of started different bounces.

So we have four grind options in the RTX 4 basically because a lot of players want that but not everyone, so getting fit for the right grind is obviously important.

Cleveland RTX 4 Wedge

Do you feel you could target more to tour players now as well, because you've also got the CBX wedge which we obviously reviewed on the site, so what sort of extra flexibility does that give you?

There's been a ton of flexibility, and to be honest when we make that CBX wedge from an engineering standpoint and within the R&D team it was so much fun because you're just not constrained by anything. We just made the best possible wedge we could for game improvement players or anyone who plays a cavity back, and now once we've done that we can come back to the the RTX 4 and just make the better player wedge with no sacrifices. This doesn't need to work for a 10 handicap or a 15 handicap, whatever the better players need, let's build that product.

Thanks very much for your time Jeff and good luck with the range this year

Thanks a lot Martin.

Srixon Z 785 Driver Review

Srixon Z F85 Fairway Review

Srixon Z 785 Irons Review

Srixon Z 585 Irons Review

Cleveland RTX 4 Wedge Review

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