Wilson Golf's new driver, Triton, is illegal -- for now. The USGA has deemed two versions of the driver -- the 10.5- and 12-degree heads -- non-conforming, pending a change in the product's design.
The Chicago-based company came forward with the news on Monday which had been percolating in golf circles in the prior week.
As it turns out, the USGA pushed back on two specific components of the driver's design.
First, the rear edge of the adjustable sole plate on the driver needs to be slightly reduced. We're talking millimeters. The USGA claimed the design violated the "plain in shape" rule, suggesting the feature had multiple cavities. That came despite Wilson consulting with former USGA Technical Director Frank Thomas throughout the design process.
Second, one particular configuration of the club's three adjustable weights in conjunction with the heavier titanium sole. When aligned with the 12-gram weight in the toe and the 6-gram weights in the other ports, it turns out the characteristic time -- how long the ball stays on the face -- is one microsecond more than the USGA allowance. It's a setting that would hike the swingweight into the E-2 to E-5 range, making it incredibly heavy and in a configuration that would encourage a massive fade. Wilson didn't test that configuration because why would anyone want to hit a 50-yard cut?
Wilson Golf took a risk in developing a reality series, called "Driver vs. Driver," centered on an APB call for the best driver designs no one has yet seen. However, the show turned out to be a boon, bringing in a larger audience throughout the process until a winning driver was decided.
That product was then almost immediately available for pre-order and set to launch at retail. However, because of the compressed nature of the show and Wilson's agreements with all parties, including Golf Channel, to ensure the winning design wouldn't be leaked, the review process with the USGA didn't initiate until the winner was revealed. Retailers didn't know Triton hadn't been given the USGA green-light until it was too late.
The good news is that the fix is pretty simple. Wilson Golf is redesigning the titanium sole plate, and they're putting a "DVD" (for "Driver vs. Driver") mark on it to differentiate the new, conforming design with the original. However, in the meantime, the Triton is off store shelves and retailers can't move the product until the new soles are shipped to them. For the folks that pre-ordered the driver online, they'll get new sole plate shipped to them if they register.
As for when all Triton driver heads will be conforming, Wilson expects that to happen on Dec. 19, when the next USGA list of conforming driver heads is published.