Callaway FT Optiforce Driver Review

Callaway FT Optiforce (4)

50 Word or Less

An unexpected gem.  The most fun I’ve had hitting driver in a long time.  This driver looks great, feels amazing, and is as long as advertised.  So good it’s forcing me to reevaluate my relationship with my gamer.

Callaway FT Optiforce (36)

Introduction

When Callaway dropped a new driver on us midseason, I was excited.  I’ve gamed Callaway drivers for the last two seasons and couldn’t wait to see how they were going to improve on the Razr Fit Extreme.  Then I heard that the selling point of the new driver, the FT Optiforce, was that it was lighter and “faster,” and that the shafts I had for my RFE wouldn’t work (new adapter).  Excited Matt went away.  Negative Matt took his place.  “Ugh, light clubs are for old people.  Lame.”

Then I got the FT Optiforce in my hands and Negative Matt shut the f*** up.  Fast.

Callaway FT Optiforce (19)

Looks

While there’s only one name, FT Optiforce, there are two totally different heads: the 440 and the 460.  The differences start with looks: the 440 is smaller (duh) and the crown is free of alignment aids or graphics.  The 460 head is slightly larger with a small alignment aid and subtle crown graphics.

Negative Matt, like every other golf equipment elitist with a keyboard, thought the graphics were stupid…until he got them in hand.  Smart Matt saw that the graphics are minimal, not billboard-sized *cough* TaylorMade *cough*, and not a big deal.  Is the 440 better looking?  Yes, it’s probably the best looking driver on the market.  Does that mean that the 460 is bad looking?  Not even close.

Callaway FT Optiforce (24)

Sound & Feel

From the first swing, I was in love with the sound and feel of the Optiforce.  The solid, muted “thud” at impact stands in stark contrast to the metallic crack of most drivers, and I think it’s fantastic.  The feel almost has more in common with hitting a forged iron than it does with hitting most other drivers.

Callaway FT Optiforce (31)

Performance

New Adjustability

The FT Optiforce is the first Callaway driver to feature the Advanced Optifit hosel.  Whereas the Razr Fit, Razr Fit Extreme, and X Hot drivers adjusted to Open, Square, or Closed face angles, the FT Optiforce is adjustable for loft and lie.  You can reduce the loft by 1° or raise it by 1° or 2°.  Keep in mind that changing the loft will also change the face angle (adding loft closes the face, reducing loft opens it).

You can also select between two lie angles: Neutral and Draw (upright).

440 vs. 460

In addition to the aesthetic differences, there are significant performance differences between the 440 and 460.  First is loft: the 440 comes in 9.5°, the 460 in 10.5°.

Of equal importance is the weighting: the 460 has a draw bias, the 440 is neutral.  This difference is subtle, but noticeable, especially for those that tend to miss towards the heel.

Launch Monitor Testing

For launch monitor testing, I pitted both FT Optiforce drivers against my current gamer, the Razr Fit Extreme.  The 440 head produced numbers very similar to the RFE: launch of about 14 degrees and spin around 2400 RPMs.  The 460 head launched just a hair higher and spun 300-400 RPMs more.  This makes sense due to the additional loft on the 460.

Swapping shafts between the drivers didn’t produce any significant, consistent differences in spin numbers once I’d adjusted to the change in weight.  I thought the PXv would be less accurate, but it was every bit as good as the Diamana.  Project X has done a great job of balancing that shaft so that there is still some weight in the hands and feel for the club head in spite of the low total weight.

The big difference on the monitor was club head speed, ball speed, and distance.  With the 460 head and the PXv shaft (my best combination), I was consistently 7 yards longer than my RFE.

Real World Results

On the range, I can summarize hitting the Optiforce in one word: FUN.  I’m not a guy who likes to hit a lot of drivers on the range, but with the Optiforce I found myself emptying bucket after bucket.  When the next ball flies farther than the last, why stop?

On the course, the Optiforce was excellent.  On well hit shots, I was definitely past the spots where my drives normally stop.  As far as accuracy, I had plenty of confidence to hit the Optiforce on any hole where I would normally hit driver.

Shattered Expectations

Going into this review, I expected the Optiforce to be inaccurate due to its light weight and long shaft.  I expected that the additional shaft length and reduced weight would not give me additional club head speed.  And I expected the 440 head with the Diamana shaft to perform best for me.

Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong.

Accuracy was equal to, or better, than anything I’ve played this year.  The Optiforce is longer than my gamer.  And, while the 440/Diamana combination was good, the 460/PXv combo was the clear winner.

Callaway FT Optiforce (15)

Conclusion

Don’t be like Negative Matt, be like Smart Matt and go try the Callaway FT Optiforce.  Forget the marketing, forget the weight, forget any notions of what you think fits you, and just go hit it.  But don’t wait because the Optiforce is quickly selling out of golf shop.  Fast.

Price, Specs, and Manufacturer Notes

The Callaway FT Optiforce driver retails for $399.

The 440cc version is available in 9.5°, and the 460cc model is available in 10.5°.

The stock shaft options are the Project X Velocity 43 and the Mitsubishi Diamana S+ 64

Watch the Video

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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17 Comments

  1. Greg Duncan, Jr.

    Cool website man! Read the articles, watched the video, great job! What’s the price tag on one of those? I currently have the Diablo and I have to remember to do a bunch of little adjustments with ball placement, hands, closing the face, etc. to keep it straight. I have been looking at adjustable drivers so I will be checking this one out. Thanks! I’ll let you know how I do with it. Hope everybody is well, take care. Greg

    • Matt Saternus

      Thanks!

      The Optiforce is $399, but they’re currently doing a $59 off promotion to celebrate Jim Furyk’s 59 at the BMW Chmapionship.

      Adjustability is definitely the way to go. I think within 5 years, glued drivers will be completely gone, or a specialty item at best.

  2. Larry Santana

    Hey Matt have you tried the TaylorMade SLDR. I want to buy a new driver and im leaning towards the OptiForce after watching and reading your review but some of my friends swear the SLDR is better. Can u please help me out here.Thanks

    • Matt Saternus

      Larry,

      I have worked with the SLDR a bit. They’re very different animals, so it’s not an easy apples to apples comparison, but I’m happy to help as best I can.

      The Optiforce is a really good, low spin head. The SLDR is so low spin that it’s sometimes way below optimal; this is why TMAG is pushing the “More Loft” bit in their ads.

      My gut feeling is that if you’re a high spin player, the SLDR could be great off the rack. If you’re low to medium spin, I’d opt for the Optiforce off the rack. The best solution, of course, is to compare the two in a fitting, but that might be tough depending on your location.

      Hope that helps. If there are any other specifics you’d like me to touch on, please let me know.

      Best,

      Matt

  3. Larry Santana

    Thanks Matt im leaning towards the Opti Force even more now. Just 2 more questions, my drives always slice to the right if i dont hit the ball well do you think the OptiForce will suit me better than the SLDR if so do i go with the 440 or the 460. Thanks again for your help.

    • Matt Saternus

      Larry,

      Your first question opens a can of worms for the golf teacher in me. Do your shots slice because you’re hitting it near the heel or because of the path-face relationship? Do these slices start at the target, left, or right?

      With either head, you’ll be able to adjust the face angle to a closed position (which will also add loft)., and the Optiforce will also allow you to change the lie angle to promote a draw (not sure about the SLDR in this regard). The SLDR will give you the added option of adjusting the weight.

      Between the 440 and 460, the 460 has a built in draw bias which would suit you well if you tend to slice.

      Sorry that I only answered one of your questions. Shoot back the answers to my questions about your slice and I’ll try to make a recommendation. If you could also include some info on what shafts or shaft characteristics you like, that would be helpful.

      Best,

      Matt

  4. Larry Santana

    Matt, sometimes i do notice that i hit the ball off the heal of the club and sometimes my slice starts left and goes right but for the most part my ball starts at the target and then slices right. As far as the shaft characteristics i really don’t know. I’m still new to the great game of golf. When i break 100 i’m very happy. I’m determine to become a better golfer so i know i need better equipment and better fundamentals to get better that’s why i want to purchase the right driver. Sorry for all the questions and thanks for your help. I know you are golf teacher do you have an instructional video on fundamentals that i can purchase?

    • Matt Saternus

      Larry,

      I think that getting fit is really important, particularly for a new golfer. If you can work with someone good, like Club Champion, you can learn so much about your swing, your equipment, and your preferences.

      If you’re not going to be fit, you at least need to hit both drivers to see which one works better and feels better to you. EVERYONE has preferences, even new golfers who claim they “can’t tell” or “don’t care.”

      Something that doesn’t get talked about enough (because it’s bad for selling clubs) is that the golf swing is an interaction with the club – change the club, change the interaction. I will have an instructional post about this next week, specifically about shafts.

      My apologies for not answering your question directly, but I don’t feel like these questions have simple cut-and-dried answers.

      With regard to instruction, please send an email to Matt@PluggedInGolf.com and we can discuss how we might be able to work together.

      Best,

      Matt

  5. Larry Santana

    Matt, sometimes i do notice that i hit the ball off the heal of the club and sometimes my slice starts left and goes right but for the most part my ball starts at the target and then slices right. As far as the shaft characteristics i really don’t know. I’m still new to the great game of golf.

  6. Larry Santana

    Since you are a golf teacher do you sell any instructional video’s on fundamentals that would improve my golf that I could buy.

    • Matt Saternus

      Larry,

      I don’t have any videos for sale right now. If you have some specific questions, please let me know and I will try to create a post about them.

      I have not filled up the Instruction section the way I would like to, but that’s because a good instructional post with good pictures, etc, takes quite a bit of time and planning. Hopefully in the coming weeks and months there will be more there to learn from.

      Best,

      Matt

  7. Hi Matt, looking for the review on the Optiforce 2, called Big Bertha V series. Also, surprised not to see a review on the Ping G30. What’s up with that.

  8. Hey Matt,

    I’m currently deciding on whether to purchase the callaway x2 hot or the optiforce 460 driver. I hit both into a golf net so it was hard to see my actual results. The golf simulator said I was hitting the optiforce about 15-20+ yards father than the x2 hot. I tend to have a bit of a slice, but with practice and instructions i’m sure I can fix this. I would just like to hear your opinion on the “better” driver

    • Matt Saternus

      Cody,

      The better driver is the one you hit 15-20 yards further! Both are quality clubs, so there’s no reason not to trust the results of the fitting.

      Best,

      Matt

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