■ Choi Woo-yeol’s Never Up-Never In – History of driver material change
Use of elastic ash wood, etc.
North American persimmon trees were popular in the 20th century
1979 First birth of ‘Metal Wood’ Greatly
improved flight distance by making it with iron
Introduced the first ‘carbon product’ in 1988 Back in the limelight on the development of carbon technology
As soon as the new year comes, global golf equipment companies are releasing new products one after another. The buzzword in the golf equipment industry in 2023 is by far ‘carbon’. Callaway and TaylorMade, two rival companies representing the golf industry, have side by side unveiled new drivers that use carbon as the main material. Here, carbon refers to carbon fiber. When acrylic fiber is heated to a high temperature of 1200 degrees or more in a vacuum state, atoms such as oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen contained in the fiber escape, leaving only pure carbon, resulting in a carbonization process that makes thin and hard carbon fiber crystals. Because of the crystal structure of carbon atoms, carbon fibers are very hard and highly elastic like diamonds.
Carbon fiber is a high-tech material that is one-fifth lighter than iron and ten times stronger, but was initially used mainly in the aerospace field because of its high price. In the 1970s, Japanese companies began to mass-produce them with cheaper materials and costs, and they began to be widely used in automobiles and sports and leisure goods. The biggest feature of the TaylorMade driver released this time is that the face of the head is made of carbon instead of titanium. The body of Callaway’s new driver head is made entirely of carbon instead of titanium.
For nearly 600 years since the beginning of the history of golf, the driver head material has been wood. In the early days, hard fruit trees such as beech and elastic ash were mainly used as head and shaft materials, respectively. In the 20th century, high-quality North American persimmon trees (Persimmon) and hickory wood were supplied in large quantities, and the hickory shaft in the Persimmon head became the industry standard.
In 1979, TaylorMade founder Gary Adams introduced the first screwdriver made of steel. This is the birth of the so-called ‘metalwood’. At the time, golf balls using synthetic resin instead of rubber golf balls were popular, but the driver made of hard iron flew farther than the existing Persimmon driver. Metal wood began to become popular in earnest in 1991, when Callaway released a driver with a head 30% larger than the previous one using precision casting technology. Since the middle of the head is empty, the weight is light and the moment of inertia is high, so the swing speed is fast and the distance does not decrease significantly even if it is missed.
Since then, the golf equipment industry has been competing to increase the head size. In 1990, Japan’s Mizuno released the first titanium driver, and titanium drew attention as a new material to replace iron. Titanium plays a crucial role in increasing the size of the driver head as it has the same strength as iron but only half the weight. The size of the ever-growing head of the driver was eventually limited to 460㏄ in 2004 by the British Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) and the American Golf Association, the two major organizations in charge of golf rules.
The use of carbon as a driver head material has a deeper history than you might think. Japan’s Yonex released the world’s first carbon driver in 1988. Callaway also released a carbon driver in 2002, and ‘golf empress’ Annika Sorenstam (Sweden) won the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a major women’s golf tournament, with a carbon driver. 메이저사이트
With any innovation, there will always be resistance. The carbon driver, which is lighter and stronger than titanium, was literally a dream driver, but the dull feel and sound caught my ankle. This is because golfers who are accustomed to the soft feel and clear and refreshing sound of the titanium driver have turned away from the carbon driver. However, as the disadvantages of these carbon drivers have disappeared with technological development, carbon materials have recently come into the limelight again. Metal materials such as titanium have already reached the maturity stage of technological development and it is difficult to expect further progress, whereas carbon fiber still has great potential for development. Like the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age, one material represents one era. In golf, attention is paid to whether a new era of carbon wood will open after going through the Persimmon Wood era and the Metal Wood era.
Choi Woo- yeol, PhD in Sports Psychology,
Professor at the Graduate School of Golf Science and Industry, Kookmin University