The old saying "Drive for show, putt for dough" has recently been challenged by newly available data. The "strokes gained off-the-tee" statistic suggests that winners of tour events are generally well ahead of the field more often in this area than any other -- they're driving for big dough, as it were.
This re-evaluation of the importance of the long-ball should give pause to golfers who are still playing decade-old drivers.
If you're coming up 20 yards short of your opponent, even if he's in the rough, you're probably giving away several strokes a round.
Srixon's new Z 565 and Z 765 Drivers ($450) are already notching wins on international professional tours, and they are gaining a strong following on the PGA Tour.
The new models combine traditional shape and appearance with three technological innovations that ramp up ball speed compared to the company's previous models.
The Z 565 is the 460cc version, targeted at players of all skill levels.
The Z 765, at 445cc, is intended for better players who want to work the ball off the tee.
The first and most powerful of these innovations is the Power Wave Sole, a multi-step design that allows the entire sole to compress slightly at impact.
The second, improving control as well as power, is the Stretch Flex Cup Face, which extends the traditional "cup face" further around the top of the crown and bottom of the sole than ever before. This stretching of the face increases the sweet spot.
Finally, four grams have been removed from the crown and moved to the back of the sole to increase MOI and lower the center of gravity.
All of these features are packed into a club head that can be adjusted to 12 combinations of loft, face, and lie angle.
The stock Miyazaki Kaula Mizu shaft (suitable for a wide range of players) is one of the better stock shafts on the market, as well.
Playing the Srixon Z 565 and Z 765 Drivers
It's somewhat uncommon to get two models of a driver to test, so I was eager to compare the two Srixon Zs head to head. Because I still believe that someday I will be able to consistently shape tee shots (despite decades of evidence to the contrary), I first put the Z 765 in my bag.
On the very first hole of my home course, a 408-yard par 4, I set up down the right side of the fairway for a draw, away from the evil little pond that is the final resting place of dozens and dozens of my golf balls. On impact, I panicked a little, because I hit the ball solidly yet if felt and sounded almost subdued, so I thought I'd mis-hit it. Also, the ball started out just left of the pond, and I sort of expected it to drift into the water (as usual). Instead, it drew 10 yards into the center of the fairway and ended up about 130 yards from the green.
Later that round, I set up for a fade off the tee of the downhill, 485-yard sixth hole -- my nemesis shot-shape. I took a mighty lash. Now used to the smooth, buttery feel and sound of center impact, I still worried because the ball was headed left and I didn't trust that it was really going to move back as planned. But it did, and after a rather long walk down the center-left fairway, I found myself with a 150-yard approach into the par 5.
For the next round, I found the Z 565 every bit as powerful as the Z 765 on well struck balls, and perhaps a tad farther and noticeably more forgiving on off-center hits. This was especially true of thinly struck balls, which the Z 565 sent screaming down the fairway to roll out well beyond the point I had expected to find them. Nevertheless, I sort of missed the tantalizing feeling that I could, with just a modicum of skill, actually pull off the shot shapes I was able to with the Z 765.
Not all the drives with the Z 765 worked out, mind you. But when they did, they were pretty darn fun to watch.
Srixon Z 565 and Z 765 Drivers: The verdict
Srixon (along with subsidiary Cleveland Golf) is poised to step into the gap left by Nike's sudden exit from the golf equipment business.
Srixon already makes some of the best balls on the market at all price points. Expect the company's clubs to start showing up more and more on tour, as well as at your local course.
The Z 565 and Z 765 Drivers are Srixon's first true entries into the "premium" driver category, but the somewhat higher prices compared to past models buy technology that rivals that of any other major brand. Aside from the stock grips, which lack any marking to aid in setting up with the face square (or not square, for those fancy drives), these are primo "big dogs" from top to bottom.
If you just want to move the ball far down the fairway, the Z 565 is for you. If, however, you operate under the delusion that somewhere inside you a PGA Tour pro is dying to get out, try the Z 765 and let that inner Bubba express his creativity.
For more information, visit www.srixon.com.