A big question lately has been, Can the face of a titanium driver fatigue over time? To answer that I checked out an article from Wishon Golf, which had a great article on this topic, so here is a quick overview of their article.
Basically what happens with the metal on the club is that it gets repeatedly stressed, which causes the overall strength to drop below the stress threshold. This can often lead to micro-fractures, because of the repeated stress put on it.
That being said, it is very unlikely that a driver would develop fatigue due to being hit so many times, because the face is not flexed in and out far enough to develop such a condition. Also keep in mind that a driver is rarely hit more than a thousand times.
Air Cannon Durability Test:
One routine test for titanium drivers is the air cannon test, which finds the specs such as bulge and roll. The test consists of firing 5,000 shots at 120mph at the center of the face and after each 500 shots; they check the bulge and roll radii. If the face radii flattens more than 1.5”, then the head is considered failed, in which case an analysis is done on the head to determine the cause of failure.
If the face radii changes substantially:
- The face wont perform properly
- The ball speed will drop
- Distance will drop
Drivers built for players with club head speeds up to 150mph have faces that are thicker, but players don’t want to increase thickness too much, since it drops the COR of the head, which can take away distance in competition
Metal Fatigue is unlikely to occur, but some changes in bulge, roll, and welding can happen, which can lower the overall performance of the driver.
To read further, visit the Wishon Blog: http://www.wishongolf.com/etechreport/2011/april/index.html#art1
Copyright: A Publication of Tom Wishon Golf Technology - April 2011
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