by Frank J. Peter
GigaGolf has kindly sent us some samples of their latest club series, the Cloud 9 series, for review. The C9 VFT Composite Driver is discussed here, while the corresponding #3 Fairway Wood and Irons are described elsewhere on this site.
The C9 VFT Composite Driver epitomizes the most recent development in club head technology: the use of composite material to replace titanium.
Here is how it works
Titanium is widely used due to its relatively light weight, great strength and the ability to resist deformation.
When an oversized driver hits a golf ball, not all areas of the clubhead experience the same amount of stress during impact. It seems quite obvious that the club face will get most of it, while the top part (also called the crown) gets the least. This led club makers to replace some of the heavier titanium at the crown with the lighter weight composite material, which in essence is an ultra light mix of carbon fibres and extremely hard plastic woven into a 'web'. The composite web is supported by a beta titanium frame (see picture) to give it some extra strength, and to reduce any flexing during impact.
Replacing some of the titanium at the crown with composite material led to a reduction of a whopping 22 grams (some ¾ of an ounce) of weight in the crown. This weight, in the form of two spot-welded tungsten pads, was then re-distributed into the lower rear of the club head, which achieves two things:
It also lowers the center of gravity for the club head, which should have a positive effect on the swing speed (more on that below).
Another notable feature of this club head is the club face. It is made with variable thickness, getting progressively thinner from the center to the outside (the acronym 'VFT' in the clubs name stands for 'Variable Face Thickness'). The result is again an increased sweet spot, making the club head more consistent across the entire hitting surface.
What we think
Our C9 VFT Composite Driver test model had a 10.5 degree head with 57 degrees lie, the standard UST 360 Graphite shaft and standard GigaGolf VX grip. It is a beautifully looking, traditionally shaped club.
I was the first on to hit it and was somewhat taken aback because I sliced my first few balls. I also felt that my swing speed was faster than with 'normal' drivers, possibly resulting in my swing being slightly out of my normal plane and thus causing the slice. I discussed this with my partners, and we concluded that the lower center of gravity due to the composite crown and the lower tungsten weight pads might be the reason for that. I compensated by using a slightly stronger grip, and boy did that work. I'm not a very strong hitter, and I could add easily an additional 20 yards or so. The large sweet spot allows good distance even at off-center hits, another highly welcomed characteristic.
One thing I was concerned about before hitting the club was the sound - will it sound like hitting 'plastic'? Well, not at all. The sound of a good hit is beautiful, solid but slightly more subdued compared to an all-titanium driver, and definitely not as loud as a square driver.
As mentioned earlier, the looks are great, especially the black mirror finish one sees at address. During sunshine you can actually see the composite web sparkle a bit.
The C9 VFT Composite Driver is clearly a top performing premium club, well suited for players of all abilities. Starting at US$109.00 for the standard configuration it is more expensive that most other GigaGolf drivers, but it is clearly worth the money. An excellent club with the latest in club head technology. If you're thinking about getting one of those high-tech composite drivers but don't want to spend a fortune consider this one, it sure got our vote.