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Clubs: Tour Edge Exotics Driver Review


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By Donald MacKenzie via TheSandTrap.com
After 20 years in the golf business, Tour Edge finally has a big stick to compete with the big boys.

touredge_exotics_driver.jpgTour Edge Golf is celebrating 20 years in the golf biz this year - and the company is also celebrating its recent move from the value segment of the industry to the thick of the performance segment. After several successful years of selling solid products at a price below the big names, Tour Edge introduced its Exotics line of high-performance, premium-priced equipment last year. The first product was a line of fairway woods that garnered good reviews and a vocal group of fans.



New for this year is the Exotics driver. Does it live up to the promise of the Exotics fairway woods? Read on to find out.



Tour Edge has long had a well-deserved reputation as a hidden gem in the golf club market. The company has always made good equipment at reasonable prices, and in recent years Tour Edge has been tinkering with some cutting edge technology.

The Exotics line was born when the company realized that it had the R&D capability to make some unique, high-performance producs - products that would be more expensive to make, and would need higher price points. Does the performance justify the price?



Construction
The 460cc Exotics Driver is part of the Exotics sub-brand for Tour Edge, which also includes the aforementioned fairway woods, an adjustable-weight hybrid, and steel/tungsten irons. Each product in the Exotics line features a multi-material design, and the driver is a prime example.



Three different titanium alloys are used in the Exotics driver. The body of the driver is 6A4V titanium, which is used in most titanium drivers. The crown, however, is made of 15-3-3-3 beta titanium, which is very thin (0.4 mm) and light, and helps keep the driver's center of gravity very low. Instead of using a welding process to attach the crown to the body of the driver, Tour Edge uses a unique (some would say "exotic") combo-brazing process. This is proprietary chemical bonding process that creates a permanent bond using a vacuum heat-curing technique. According to Tour Edge, the advantage of combo-brazing is eliminating the relatively heavy metal used in traditional welds, while improving feel and energy transfer due to the integrity of the bond between the crown and the body.



touredge_exotics_driver_sole.jpg
The Tour Edge Exotics driver uses a combination of not one, not two, but three different kinds of titanium.



The face of the Exotics driver is made of forged SP700 beta titanium. SP700 is known for having excellent rebound properties. The face is laser-welded using a robotic process, which Tour Edge claims creates the tightest tolerances in the business. As with combo-brazing, the laser weld eliminates excess material that can be part of traditional and plasma welds. The intended result of the laser weld is improved rebound.



Lasers are also used on the hitting surface of the Exotics face insert. The score lines are laser-engraved, which is meant to make the lines less deep and more consistent than cast or milled score lines. As a result, the face is stronger and has the potential for greater energy transfer.



Three types of titanium aren't enough for you? Hang on. The Exotics driver also has a pair of six-gram fixed tungsten screws in the rear heel area of the clubhead. Tour Edge says it placed the 12 grams of weight in that area to strike a balance between forgiveness and power. The tungsten screws help square the face at impact, and the low, deep center of gravity also improves the moment of interia (resistance to twisting) on off-center hits.



touredge_exotics_driver_face.jpg
The scorelines on the face of the Exotics driver are laser-made, ensuring a more consistent and shallower depth.



The Exotics driver is available with one of three well-known graphite shafts, each tweaked for use in this driver. The Graphite Design YS-Exotics 50-gram shaft is available in four flexes and is best-suited to slower-swining golfers (up to 100mph, according to Tour Edge). A Fujikura High-Launch 55-gram shaft is available in three flexes for golfers who swing up to 105mph. And an Aldila NV-Exotics 65-gram shaft comes in three flexes, including an X-flex that will handle tour-level swing speeds. All three shafts are 45", though Tour Edge can create custom lengths.



The stock grip is the very comfortable Golf Pride Dual Durometer model. One of the first things I usually do with a new driver is replace the stock grip, but I was very impressed with the Dual Durometer's feel and performance.



Aesthetics
In terms of looks, the Exotics driver fits right in with most of the top drivers on the market today. The top of the driver is a very serious deep black with a high-gloss finish. There is no alignment mark on the crown - a feature I like, but that's a matter of personal preference. Otherwise, the Exotics driver doesn't stand out in any particular way at address. The shape of the head at address is very similar to both Titleist's pear-shaped and TaylorMade's rounder drivers, which means it is not likely to turn anyone off. It definitely looks more traditional and more austere than the Cleveland HiBore or Nike SQ drivers.



The underside of the Exotics driver is a bit more distinctive. The mirror polish used on the face area extends to the sole of the driver, where a subtle "X" logo is at the center. The loft of the driver is stamped on the heel and filled with red paint, as is the word Exotics at the rear of the sole. The Tour Edge logo is also on the sole, near the toe. The two tungsten screws are set next to each other and look a bit like twin exhaust pipes.



touredge_exotics_driver_back.jpg
Those aren't turbo powered exhaust pipes, but the two six-gram tungsten weights you see here. They're located in the heel to help square the face at impact.



The Exotics driver doesn't have the same top-to-bottom V-shape as many other drivers, where the area where the crown meets the body of the club marks the widest point of the clubhead. Instead of tapering down to a narrower sole, the Exotics driver remains fairly wide at the bottom. The sole has plenty of relief, though, so if you wanted to try hitting it off the deck, you could get away with it. I tried this a few times and found the Exotics driver to be better than most super-sized drivers off the deck - but it still isn't likely to be a shot you'll use very often.



The face of the Exotics driver is not especially deep, but it isn't as shallow as the Nike SQ. I'd say the face depth is comparable to the TaylorMade r7 460. As with the look at address, the Exotics driver is pretty similar to other drivers on the market in terms of hitting area.



The other interesting thing I noticed about the Exotics from an aesthetic standpoint is the short hosel length. Unlike the longer traditional hosels that you see on most other drivers, the Exotics driver hosel is barely there. It's more substantial than the little "sleeve" atop the no-hosel design of a Callaway wood, but not by much. This design likely helped Tour Edge move more weight toward the sole of the club to keep the center of gravity low.



touredge_exotics_driver_address.jpg
At address, the TourEdge Exotics driver resembles both Titleist's pear-shaped drivers and TaylorMade's more rounded drivers. Also notice the shorter hosel.



The headcover that comes with the Exotics driver is quite nice. It is a red-and-black neoprene design that has a leather-like swatch of red material at the end with the "X" logo. Silver piping is used for an accent, and a zipper on the underside makes the headcover an easy-on, easy-off model. The word Exotics is large on the headcover in two places, and the Tour Edge logo is tucked away on the bottom of the headcover. There is no sock-like extension off the end of the headcover to get bunched up in your golf bag.



Performance
How did all the technology put into the Exotics driver work on the course? Quite nicely. I've been using a 10.5° model with the Aldila NV-Exotics 65 shaft in a stiff flex for my last several rounds, and I've really enjoyed using it.



For me, the Exotics driver is a great point-and-shoot driver. It wants to hit the ball straight, and so should you. When I put a good swing on the ball, the Exotics responded with good results. It's as long as other recent drivers I've played, and can be scary long on your best swings.



The Exotics driver was very forgiving on less-than-perfect swings. You lose some distance on off-center hits, but not much. More importantly, this driver really keeps the ball in play. During one recent round I hit every fairway on the front nine despite a couple pretty marginal swings. Balls hit low on the face still climb into the air and run out nicely, while the hot spot for the driver seemed to be fairly high on the face. Heel and toe shots worked back toward the center like a charm.



touredge_exotics_driver_shaft.jpg
The familiar Aldila NV green. The Exotics driver also comes with Fujikura and Graphite Design YS shafts designed specifically for the club.



The only trouble I got into with the Exotics driver was when I tried to work the ball. Hitting a fade wasn't a problem, but when I tried to turn the ball over my draws became hooks. If you're someone who fights hitting it left, the 8° model of the Exotics driver has a 1° open face to help keep you in play. While the 9° and 10.5° models are supposed to have square faces, my driver seemed a bit closed. There's also a 12° model with a 1° closed face.



The sound and feel of the Exotics driver are outstanding. Soundwise, the driver isn't nearly as loud or obnoxious as some of its competitors. The sound was similar to the lower-toned sound you'd expect from a Titleist driver. The feel was my favorite part of hitting this driver. On off-center hits, you get plenty of feedback, but nothing harsh. But on well-struck shots you're treated to a powerful, springy feel that is better than any other driver I've hit. The multi-material design has certainly been tuned to perfection.



Conclusion
It looks like Tour Edge has another Exotics winner on its hands. The Exotics driver has a very interesting technology story to set it apart from other drivers. Aesthetically, the driver doesn't stand out - but that's probably a good thing. The subtle looks will appeal to better golfers. All levels of golfers will appreciate the distance the Exotics driver generates, which is on par with other top drivers, and the outstanding forgiveness. And though it doesn't necessarily translate into performance, the feel of the Exotics driver is unmatched.



touredge_exotics_driver_headcover.jpg
Even the headcover is a winner. Finally, a headcover without that stupid "sock" part!



I would recommend the Exotics driver to anyone looking to try this year's best drivers, though I would advise you to consult with a golf professional or clubfitter to get the right loft and shaft for your swing type. If you get one dialed in to your specs, you'll likely join the rapidly growing group of Exotics devotees.



Exotics drivers have a street price of $399, which puts it in the ballpark with the Callaway Fusion FT-3, Cleveland HiBore, TaylorMade r7 425 and Titleist 905R at a premium price. Exotics drivers are available in 8°, 9°, 10.5° and 12° for righties, and 10.5° for lefties.

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