Tour Edge’s Hot Launch lineup historically has been focused on affordable game-improvement. But the idea of “game improvement” will take on a broader definition with the new Hot Launch 521 series, which will feature two drivers aimed at different player types. What won’t change is the emphasis on affordability, thanks to their sub-$250 price.
It is the start of a lineup that includes multiple fairway woods, hybrids, irons and wedges—a total of 46 different right-handed lofts alone. According to Tour Edge founder, CEO and chief designer David Glod, the breadth of the Hot Launch 521 lineup is a direct result of everything the company has done in its past, particularly the experimental designs in its Exotics line of clubs.
“The things we’re able to do now at an affordable price point were things we could have only done a few years ago at our highest prices,” Glod said. “What we’ve seen and what we’re able to do is to take the Exotics line as kind of an R&D project. As we see those ideas work, they can transcend on down the line to Hot Launch.
“But what’s different now is that we’re bringing those ideas from Exotics and actually improving them for Hot Launch, things we were never able to do at this level before.”
That expanded technology platform in the Hot Launch 521 series is immediately apparent with the driver lineup. The two models reflect two different standards of game-improvement. First is the C521, which offers the traditional gains of better launch, better ball speed and improved off-center hit performance. That’s joined by the E521, which caters to players looking for more help fighting a slice and looking for higher launch.
Both models get their heat from an improved variable thickness face pattern that first was seen in the Exotics EXS 220 driver.
The pattern features a thick-thin interconnected pattern of diamond shapes designed to improve the way the face flexes both for center and off-center impacts.
“What it’s doing is creating more consistent ball speeds across the entire face,” said Tour Edge’s Matt Neeley, vice president of product development. “And compared to the diamond face on Exotics, because we’re using a cup face on the Hot Launch, we’re actually able to cover a little more surface area with the diamonds.”
Neeley also noted that an extra benefit of the face structure is weight-savings, about seven grams that can be redistributed in the head to position the center of gravity more effectively for each model.
The two different ways that Hot Launch C521 and E521 pursue game improvement might be classified as “skill enhancement” in the former and “error protection” in the latter. The Hot Launch C521 features a traditional shape, but benefits from a weight deep in the rear of the sole. That lowers the center of gravity by 12 percent compared to the HL4 driver, while also boosting the measurement of moment of inertia (stability on off-center hits) by eight percent. The lower CG means higher launch but without increasing spin. The C521 also utilizes a channel in the sole that’s deeper than in previous models to enhance the way the face flexes for increased ball speed and distance.
The C521 may be something of a value proposition driver, but that doesn’t mean it cut corners in its development. Neeley said there were at least 40 iterations of the design to get the acoustic profile just right, including two v-shaped ribs that span the interior of the sole to control unwanted vibrations.
The Hot Launch E521 takes a more aggressive approach to improving performance for players who need the most help, specifically in attacking the slice and elevating launch. Using offset, a closed face and an extreme heel-biased shape, the E521 takes the weight saved from a shallower face design and concentrates it both deep and in the heel for more natural draw.
“The goal from the start with this driver was extreme game improvement,” Neeley said, noting that the extreme weighting means the CG on the E521 is 10 percent deeper and 14 percent lower than on the HL4. “Get the ball in the air and going as straight as possible. In the past, we may have just added offset like we did in HL4, but in E521 this is a completely different design. That shallower face also really gives the player confidence that you’re going to hit up on the ball.”
The E521 design also aims to enhance confidence in its target audience by reducing the shaft length to 44.5 inches, or about an inch shorter than many competitive drivers on the market.
“What we found in our player testing is that this guy, the small loss in swing speed from a traditional length driver is really made up for in ball speed by hitting the center of the face a lot more frequently,” Neeley said.
The Hot Launch C521 and E521 drivers each are offered in three lofts. The C521 comes in 9-, 10.5- and 12-degree lofts with the Aldila Rogue shaft in five flexes as standard. The E521 comes in 10.5- and 12-degree lofts, as well as a 15-degree HL version. The standard shaft is the Mitsubishi Fubuki in four flexee.
The Hot Launch C521 and E521 drivers will be available Nov. 1 ($230).