By Kiel Christianson,
In 2007, Nicklaus Golf Chief Club Designer Clay Long and his team introduced the first driver on the market with its center of gravity lined up precisely behind the sweetspot. They named it the Dual Point driver.
The 2008 incarnation of the Dual Point, the Dual Point Fastback ($300-$350), features the same painstaking engineering, but it looks bigger and meaner than the original version. And odder, too.
"The head is designed around the CG at the perfect position from the shaft axis," says Long. "Then we put the center of the face on that position and designed the clubhead around it."
The result is a sort of asymmetrical wedge-shaped clubhead, which kind of swoops back toward the shaft. Some traditionalists might find the appearance off-putting. According to Long, "Jack's a bit like that, but he doesn't need a limit-dimension [460cc] driver."
For those of us not holding 18 major titles, the design is meant to maximize performance by positioning weight toward the shaft, away from the toe, and thereby reducing slices.
"There wasn't enough discretionary weight left over to make a symmetrical head," Long concedes, "so we had to shift the weight to the left to keep the CG in the center. We went with the design that played the best. We'd rather gamble on style than performance."
The original Dual Point was "buttery-smooth" at impact, perhaps its best feature overall. Interestingly, however, the best feature of the Dual Point Fastback is not the feel, but rather the somewhat quirky appearance. The swooping back of the clubhead just makes it look powerful, and seems to imprint in your head an inside-out, draw-producing swing.
And indeed, in extensive testing the Fastback we tested (10.5 degrees, S-flex Fujikura SG Pro shaft) produced more draws than any driver in recent memory.
Strangely enough, though, this relative consistency felt unsatisfying somehow. For some reason, the ball felt "heavy" coming off the clubhead. This heaviness was particularly noticeable on off-center hits, but was also apparent on center-struck shots.
Even more strangely, this heaviness didn't appear to affect distance terribly much. Drives struck in the center of the clubface were as long or nearly as long as other drivers recently tested, although shots struck off the heel or toe suffered more than with several other drivers.
In short, the ball just didn't quite "explode" off the face of this driver the way I had expected it to.
The Dual Point Fastback is a bit of a puzzle: It looks spectacular (as long as you're not a purist) and has the engineering pedigree of an F-15 fighter jet. But for some reason, it failed to distinguish itself from the large crop of 2008 drivers we've tested.
Despite being "good" or better in terms of length, control, looks, sound and price, it doesn't quite feel explosive. (And one minor quibble: The headcover is a rather bulky, pillow-like sleeve that tends to get pushed off by shorter clubs when you're walking.)
However, with Clay Long and all the other folks at Nicklaus Golf working on the next generation of Dual Point drivers, you can be sure the follow-up will be something to look forward to.
For more information, visit www.nicklausgolf.com.
August 12, 2008
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.