You may have heard more than once that you can't buy a better game by purchasing new equipment. And I believe that's fundamentally true. The latest $500 driver generally isn't going to bring your handicap down. After all, is it really that much better than the previous $500 version of that driver?
But every once is a while, a new concept comes along that really does change the game as we know it. That certainly happened with the original Ping putters, the first oversized drivers and solid core premium golf balls. Those were all new concepts, and now there's another one that promises to change the game as we know it -- especially for the recreational player.
Developed by a new company called RXS, the new Teeless Driver ($297-$347, depending on shaft options) promises to make the game way easier for those who aren't scratch or near scratch players. As the name would imply – and it's also referred to as the (T)LESS Driver -- this is a driver that's designed to be so incredibly friendly to hit off the ground, you really don't even need a tee. The claim is that most players will hit this club as long as their current drivers or even longer. But most importantly, they will be more consistent.
Having lost some distance with my driver in recent years as well as a little accuracy as well in my advancing age, I was certainly intrigued by this claim. So I put this club to the test.
What makes this club different
First, though, a little about the design of this club and who's behind it: The Teeless Driver was developed by Geurin Rife of Rife Putters fame and Jeff Sheets, who develops custom golf clubs from his Austin, Texas-based firm, Jeff Sheets Golf Design.
They looked to create a club for recreational players and recreational swings, not tour swings. Part of the pitch by spokesman and former PGA Tour player and Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay is that if you don't have a swing speed of at least 110 mph and hit your driver more than 270 yards, why would you want to play the same equipment that the tour players use? So RXS designed this driver for all the tendencies most mortal players have.
Those tendencies, of course, are to slice the ball, hit it fat and hit it all over the face. The design of this titanium driver addresses all of that.
The Teeless Driver as easy to hit off the ground than it is off a tee.
First off, the face is narrower, and the clubhead is deeper than a typical driver. It has 13 degrees of loft, not the 9.5-10.5 degrees many amateurs play with in their drivers. The center of gravity is also located low in the back of the clubhead (as opposed to the front). By moving the CG back in the head, it effectively makes the entire face hotter, meaning mis-hits result in little loss of distance.
The narrow face combined with something the company calls a "Ground Control Sole" is also what makes it so incredibly easy to hit off the turf. In fact, Sheets' mantra is, "Remember, the ground is your friend." And he's right. If you hit the ground first, the club simply glides along the ground until it finds the ball. With most fairway woods, it either bounces up or digs, resulting in thin or fat shots.
"The idea was to make a club where you didn't have to fear the ground," Rife said. "So you can hit it like a 7-iron essentially."
If first impressions are important, the Teeless Driver got me at hello. My very first tee shot with this club went about 260 yards (my swing speed is around 100 mph), a high draw to the left center portion of the fairway. And it was easy to swing. (By the way, I ordered mine with the optional premium Fujikura shaft in a regular flex.)
Because the first hole on this course was a par 5 that played just over 500 yards, I got to hit the Teeless Driver for my second shot. And though I didn't find the green, I did manage to find a greenside bunker just right of the pin. No, it didn't result in birdie because I didn't get it up and down, but I either reached the green in two or was green high in two shots on three of the four par 5s that day, using the Teeless Driver. That hasn't happened in a while for me.
There are several other attributes I like about this club, and I think most recreational players would like these traits as well.
First off, while the club isn't set up with a hook face, I found it difficult to lose it right. Actually, pretty much impossible, though I did hit an intentional fade on one of the par 5s.
Although it's marketed as an easy club to hit off the deck, I liked it off a tee as well. I tried it off the ground a couple of times from the tee box, but found that teeing it up similar to a 3-wood yielded a little more distance and control for me on tee shots.
The claim is that you can hit this club out of a divot. So I tried that, successfully. And I hit it out of the rough, as well, quite easily. Because of the design, it pretty much glides through anything. It's certainly a club that gave me confidence.
I found that it's almost as long as my driver. But I believe for many players, it will be as long as their driver or longer simply because the added loft for certain swing speeds will keep the ball in the air longer, producing more carry. Many players would be better off hitting their 3-wood off the tee anyway, but this club is more player-friendly than a 3-wood. Bottom line is that the Teeless Driver is simply easy to hit if you have any sort of reasonable swing.
A game changer?
So if you do opt to take out your driver and your 3-wood and replace it with the Teeless Driver, it obviously opens up the opportunity to add another club. For many players, it might mean another wedge, and as any good player knows, wedges are scoring clubs. You could add a 64-degree wedge, if so inclined, for those short shots over bunkers to tight pins. Or you could do what I do occasionally, and add a left-handed wedge if you're a bit ambidextrous. That really comes in handy when you're pinned up near a tree where you don't have a right-handed backswing or a bunker lie up against a lip where the angle impedes a right-handed swing path.
Most of all, though, I can't emphasize enough how easy it is to hit this club. If you hit it a bit fat, it still goes. Hit if off the toe, and you lose little distance, and the same goes for heel shots.
You certainly don't need a tee, even off the teebox, with the Teeless Driver.
The Teeless Driver is reminiscent of when the Adams Tight Lies and Orlimar fairway woods came on the market. Up until then, fairway woods were designed with deep faces and pretty difficult to hit, especially out the rough (many of us were still hitting wood woods). The Adams club, a result of Barney Adams' startup venture than 20 years ago, set a new paradigm for fairway woods as it was easy to hit out of the rough and out of "tight lies," of course. As player-friendly as this Teeless Driver is, whether off the tee or the fairway or out of a divot, it could certainly create a new standard for drivers and fairway woods for recreational players as well.
At the very least, I've replaced the 3-wood I've had in my bag with the Teeless Driver and I will hit the Teeless off of most tees, so I'm thinking about taking my driver out, too. In short, I really do believe this club makes the game easier for me and it probably would for most players.
So far enthusiasm for this new club has been pretty high among the public, even though it's not available in retail stores at this time. The first batch of clubs sold out fairly quickly, but the company is working feverishly to ramp up production. You can order through RevolutionGolf.com here.