PowerBilt TPS 460cc driver: Long but hard to control
By Kiel Christianson,
(Jun 1, 2006) - PowerBilt has a long, venerable history in sporting goods. Parent company Hillerich & Bradsby also produces Louisville Slugger baseball bats. Over the past couple of decades, though, as technology and innovation have driven the golf-club market, PowerBilt has slid off many golfers' radar.
Last year's introduction of the TPS 460cc driver marked what might be the beginning of a renaissance. The TPS retains a very traditional clubhead shape and set-up while boosting the clubhead size to the maximum allowed by the USGA. Weight has also been redistributed via a tungsten injection in the rear of the clubhead.
The TPS entered golfers' collective consciousness via the 2005 Re/Max Long Drive Championships. Johny Barnes, 56, of San Antonio, Texas and Jay Wall, 55, of Tulsa, Okla., won their districts and reached Super Senior Division finals using the Powerbilt driver. Barnes hit a 351-yard blast to qualify, Wall a 316-yard bomb. (Neither finished in the top six at the nationals, however.)
How it plays
So the TPS is powerful. But how does it perform overall? We took our 9-degree TPS 460cc out to the range and onto the course. We played the stock Aldila PowerBilt shaft (stiff flex) with the stock Winn grip. We found the grip slick from the beginning, lending an overall feeling of lack of control.
The D0 swing weight was comfortable - light enough to create good clubhead speed, heavy enough to feel connected throughout the swing. Contact in the center of the clubface was rewarded with above-average power, but length suffered from the 9 degrees of loft. Given the mid kick-point of the Aldila shaft, a higher loft would be recommended for most average golfers, to get the ball higher in the air for more carry.
Seventeen-handicapper Aaron Benjamin from Champaign, Ill., tested the club on the range for us. He liked the traditional look and feel but complained of an overall lack of feedback: "I like to feel where I make contact, and I don't feel that with this club."
Thirteen-handicapper Bob McCurdy from Marion, Ill. alternated the TPS 460cc during a round with the Nike SasQuatch. The SQ would be in his bag by the end of the season, he announced, but after a few off-center flares with the TPS, he decided to leave the headcover on the PowerBilt.
In our testing, the PowerBilt TPS 460cc flexed its muscle, consistent with its success in long-driving circles. However, we found it hard to control ball flight, both vertically and horizontally. Personally, I was very uncomfortable with the grip, which may have caused me to squeeze too hard, thus affecting my shots.
Nevertheless, the TPS is extremely sharp, with a very clean, sleek shape and set-up and deep blue luster. At around $230, this driver would be a good option for golfers looking to upsize, as long as the shaft, loft and grip were right for their comfort and skill levels. PowerBilt's been in the game long enough to know how to make a solid club, but they need to move beyond tradition if they want to rebuild a broad following. The TPS is a start.
This material has been provided by Golf Publisher Syndications. The opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of management.