KZ Golf's PFT/300 Driver
By Kiel Christianson,
Big names dont always denote big companies. Take for example KZ Golf (KZG), based in Studio City, California, whose Maraging Power Driver burst onto the long-drive competition scene in 1998. KZGs flagship product soon became a favorite of those guys you see on TV smacking 400+ yard drives. KZGs various components also became immediate favorites with custom clubmakers, who invariably found them to exceed expectations.
KZGs newest offering, the PFT/300 Driver, has received a lot of attention from these same folks already. PFT stands for progressive face technology, and refers to the same design feature that has been incorporated in the Calloway VFT (variable face technology) models. The center of the PFT/300 clubface is just 2.3mm thick, and the periphery of the face is a miniscule 1.8mm. This makes the face of the PFT/300 one of the thinnest unsupported faces on the market, possibly the thinnest.
The idea, of course, is that this progressively thinner face results in the dreaded/coveted spring-like effect, but a legal amount of it is in the case of the PFT/300.
Two other technological features that KZG has proprietary rights to are the high-tech steel alloy used in the face and the method by which the face is attached to the clubhead, called brazing. The steel alloy face is unique in the market today: Most other clubs that are 300cc or bigger (the 300 in PFT/300 refers to the 300cc clubhead volume) are made of titanium. According to Lisa Shinnerer, VP of KZ Golf, their steel alloy outlasts and outperforms titanium.
The proprietary method by which KZG attaches the clubface to the clubhead, called brazing, has been used by metalworkers for decades, but KZG obtained a patent for their method of applying the process to building golf clubs. And according to Shinnerer, It is really the secret of our success.
For you golfers interested in the nuts and bolts of club production, brazing is the joining of metals through the use of heat and a filler metal, whose melting temperature is above 840°F(450°C) but below that of the metals being joined. Brazed joints are very strong; on non- ferrous metals and steels, the tensile strength of a properly made joint will often exceed that of the metals joined. On stainless steels, it is possible to develop a joint whose tensile strength is 130,000 pounds per square inch. Brazed joints are also ductile, meaning that they are able to withstand considerable shock and vibration. Basically, even a wicked toe-shot by John Daly on steroids couldnt damage the brazed KZG drivers.
In just three short years since KZ Golf was founded, they have built a loyal following, mainly by word of mouth. Scot Baran, owner of Swingin Round Again Golf in Etobicoke, Ontario (416-259-7227), whose shop draws PGA and mini tour players from all over North America, calls KZ Golf, a brilliant golf club company.
And what does Baran say about the PFT/300? Its a bit of a new angle for them. The Maraging Power appealed to traditionalists, with its smaller [230cc] head. But the PFT/300 has a bigger head and this revolutionary new steel. Its a bit of a bow to the markets demand for larger clubheads, but its definitely KZG good and KZG long. The high-tech crowd loves it In fact, Baran was probably the first person in Canada to lay hands on the new PFT/300, but he soon lost it. That club is firmly ensconced in the bag of a good friend of mine. Hell never give it up. Personally, Im one of those traditionalists whose tastes run toward the KZG Maraging Steel, but I must admit that when I received my own PFT/300, it sent a little thrill up my spine. The clubhead comes in your standard midnight black, but it also comes in passionate purple and candy apple red. And when my club arrived, with its red clubhead and matching red AJTech 4470 (stiff) shaft, I couldnt wait to get to the practice tee.
KZG VP Lisa Shinnerer had warned me of one thing, however: It has, how shall I say this, a very distinct sound when you hit the ball. I found that Shinnerer wasnt lying. When the PFT/300 contacts the ball, it sounds as if youre hitting a railroad spike with a sledgehammer. And people do stare. Even Scot Baran notes that his customers love the club, If they can get past the noise. Shinnerer said KZG thought about trying to dampen it, but decided against it who would want to mess with this sort of distance?
And how does the new driver perform? Well, Im not sure it beats the Maraging Power, but it is no shorter, either. Being used to smaller driver heads as I am, it took a little while to get used to the very light 300cc clubhead, but when my weight stayed back and my wrists turned over fast enough (and I stopped over-swinging), the PFT/300 simply crushed the ball. The 9-degree model sent the ball out on a rope. And after passing it around to a few other golfers of varying handicaps, most found the same thing: Solid in-air distance and considerable roll.
The only issue is the effect of that ultra-thin face on an off-center hit. With thicker, more uniform clubfaces, missing the sweetspot is less of an issue. However, when a clubface varies in thickness, becoming thinner out toward the periphery of the club, off-center hits seem to me to be penalized more in terms of distance. This is of course a concern with all clubs from drivers to putters but it is worth keeping in mind that just because a clubhead is big doesnt mean you can make sloppy contact and expect optimal results, especially if the part of the clubface that hits the ball is only 1.8mm thick.
Priced between $350-400 (depending on shaft, etc.), the PFT/300 qualifies as a premium driver. But KZG has grown its following and market share largely underground, and in just a few short years, its equipment has fully earned the label of premium. And although the sound it makes on contact is, um, distinctive, most folks can get used to it. In fact, I developed a great drill to work on my swing tempo: I tee up six balls in a row and start singing Ive been working on the railroad all the livelong day . On every fourth beat, I whack a ball.
What other club comes in bright red or purple AND with its own sound effects?
Club SpecificationsSuggested retail price: $349-399
Clubhead: 17/4 stainless steel
Clubface: proprietary steel alloy
Clubhead size: 300cc
Clubhead weight: 198g
Lofts: 7.5, 9, 10.5, 12 degrees (RH); 9 and 10.5 degrees (LH)
Face height: 50mm
Shafts available: AJTech, Grafalloy, UST, Royal Precision, Rifle, True Temper
Colors available: midnight black, passionate purple, candy apple red
Address: 3735 Cahuenga Blvd., West Studio City, CA 91604