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Technical Tips

August 2013

Ultimate Review Acer XS Driver (Hireko)
By Tony Covey

You may have noticed that the golf equipment industry is a lot like your average kindergarten classroom. The kids that make the most noise get most of the attention. And in case you haven’t noticed; lately Callaway and TaylorMade have been making a lot of noise. By the time you work your way through Titleists, PINGs and Nikes, well…let’s just say the quiet kid in the corner barely gets any attention at all.

While occasionally you may cross paths with a socially disruptive genius, being the loudest doesn’t always translate to being the smartest, or in the case of golf equipment, the longest, the straightest…or the best.

Golfers of all ability levels should understand that there are legitimate options far beyond what the big name labels you find on the shelf at your barely-local narrow-minded big box store. While their numbers aren’t what they used to be, there are still a number of smaller companies churning out some really great stuff at prices that put those marketing-heavy big boys to shame.

Case in point, the Acer XS Driver from Hireko Golf.

We had hoped to included the Acer XS in this season’s Most Wanted Driver Test, but what I suppose you could call an “inventory situation” didn’t allow us to to include the driver. Now that the Acer XS is more readily available we decided to put it to the test to see how it stacks up against the rest of the 2103 field.

The Marketing Angle

The Acer XS is the evolution of the Acer XF series.

The new model is taller and wider than it’s predecessor. Designers were able to retain the 460cc size by making the XS shorter from heal to toe, which the company claims provides faster club head rotation, which in-turn makes it easier to square the face.

By utilizing a lightweight crown, Hireko was able to keep the center of gravity location for the Acer XF low for optimum launch conditions.

Finally, a new face construction allows for greater ball velocity over a wider area of the face.


*MyGolfSpy’s samples were built with SK Fiber Lite Revolution Shafts

Performance

We can talk about looks and sound and feel all day. We can quote websites and marketing notes word for word, but at the end of the day all that’s worth knowing is whether or not is whether or not the club in question actually performs as advertised. To find out we put the Acer XS to the test using the same formulas we used when we conducted our Most Wanted Driver Test earlier this year.

How did the Acer XS stack up? Let’s get to it.

Distance

For each and every one of our testers the Acer XS ranked at or near the bottom of the list for total distance. In some cases the difference was minimal (1 or 2 yards on average), while in other the yardage gap was substantial (10 or more yards). Not surprisingly given those type of results, the Acer XS is the first driver we’ve tested this year to score below 90 in the distance category.

So why is the Acer XS shorter?

It all boils down to ball speed. As with distance itself, with the Acer XS the majority of our testers produced ball speeds measurably less (2-3 MPH) on average than they did with even the lower ranking drivers we’ve tested in 2013.

Curiously, our highest swing speed tester actually produced his highest ball speed of the season with the Acer XS, however; the combination of comparatively high launch (really high launch) and mid-high spin resulted in distance numbers that are, quite frankly, below what we’d expect to see.

It’s also possible (likely) the shaft played at least some role in our results. While the SK Fiber Lite Revolution is described as an ultra-lightweight shaft, specs on the Hireko site list the weight of the X flex in the 70g+ plus range. This is our first experience with this particular shaft, so again, it’s hard to provide any sort of real analysis of the role it played in the sub-par distance results.



Accuracy

Looking purely at yards offline, and without respect to distance, the Acer XS is nothing less than a standout performer where accuracy is concerned. With an average miss of 10.66 yards offline, the Acer XS landed on average closer to the centerline than any other 2013 driver tested.

With the exception of perfectly straight balls, and balls that draw or fade towards the center line; the more a ball travels up the fairway, the more offline it also travels. When you consider accuracy, you absolutely must consider it’s relationship to distance.

So as you may know, when MyGolfSpy looks at accuracy we do so with consideration for distance. We call it TRUaccuracy.

When we did that we found a driver that’s outstanding when it comes to hitting the centerline…or at least getting it close. While the yards offline number is slightly inflated (in a positive way) due to the driver producing less total distance, the Hireko Acer XS posted the highest TRUaccuracy number we’ve seen this season. That’s kind of a big deal, especially if you’re a guy who struggles to find the short grass.

The other important accuracy-related number we look at is the percentage of fairways hit. In that respect, the Acer XS’s performance was slightly above average. While a couple testers missed only slightly more fairways than they normally do, others hit a slightly higher percentage.

When we tallied the various components of accuracy together, in the Acer XS, we found one of the more accurate drivers we’ve tested in 2013; trailing only Callaway’s XHot and Titleist’s 913 (#1 in the category) at the time of this writing.



Overall

Our overall driver scores are based on what the PGA Tour calls total driving. Total driving is what you have left after you subtract the yards offline from the total distance. In addition to being a pretty solid indicator of overall driving performance, Total Driving helps us make specific recommendations about who should consider purchasing a given driver.

For guys focused on distance, we can tell you if the driver has enough pop to offset any distance issues. For guys smart enough to put a premium on accuracy, we can tell you whether or not an accurate driver is still long enough to keep you close to your buddies.

In the case of the Acer XS, we’re hard-pressed to say that the accuracy gains are worth the distance penalty (8+ yards on average). The overall score, despite an exceptional accuracy score, is the lowest we’ve seen thus far. The numbers suggest that there are clubs out there that will give you as much accuracy without sacrificing nearly as much distance.


Performance Notes

While we’ve already discussed distance issues, worth nothing is that the Acer XS / SK Fiber Lite Revolution combo easily qualifies as a high launch/high spin setup.

Our testers produced an average vertical launch angle of 13.42° (highest of 2013) and an average spin rate of 3318 (only the Wilson D-100 produced more spin). For guys who struggle to get the ball in the air and keep it there, this particular combo could prove compelling, for the rest of us there are serious fitting concerns.

Finally, while the spec sheet suggests the 9.5° model has a face that’s 1° open, the driver looks to be closed by at least that much. For guys who struggle to start the ball anywhere but left, the design (whether real or imagined) could potentially make it more difficult to start the ball straight, or even out to the right.

Conversely, for guys who habitually start the ball more right than they’d like, the apparently closed face design could offer some benefit.

The Data

Subjective Notes

Cincinnati Bengals fans (all 3 of you), have I got a driver for you.

As you can probably see, the Acer XS features a couple of interesting design elements that warrant further discussion. First, the crown is a deep burnt orange with a semi-gloss finish. That orange is set against a black PVD sole and face. Quite frankly, I’m a bit surprised nobody told me they hated it. Instead the guys told me that either liked it, or at worst, they didn’t mind it. Keep in mind these are the same guys who tested the 17 drivers we included in our Golf’s Most Wanted Driver Test. They’ve basically seen at all at this point. Green crown with a pink face…no problem…at least not anymore.

The 2nd interesting design choice was to basically extend the face 1/4″ or so onto the crown. Not only does the contrast of the matte black against the burnt orange provide an alignment aid of sorts (Versa-style), the additional spacing gives you a margin for error should you decide to smack a few off the leading edge of the crown. I know…it happens to the best of us.

Where sound and feel are concerned, there’s basically nothing not to like about the Acer XS. It’s a very safe, middle-of-the road design. It’s not as loud as a TaylorMade R1 or Adams Super S. It’s not as soft and muted as the Cobra AMP, and it doesn’t have the crisp pop of the PING drivers we test. While fans of the extremes might not be impressed, most will be perfectly content with what it offers.

Recommendation

There’s no doubt that the Hireko Acer XS is a serviceable driver that is actually an intriguing option for golfers who place an absolute premium on accuracy.

Distance hounds will obviously want to look elsewhere, as will golfers who have a legitimate need to reduce launch angle or spin rates. Even with something that’s generally regarded as a low spinning shaft (Matrix m3, Oban Kiyhoshi Black, etc.) it’s highly unlikely that spin numbers would be reduced substantially enough to provide the desired launch characteristics for the guys who need a little extra help.

The lack of 8° or 8.5° head is also a disqualifying factor for those at the end of the fitting spectrum that actually benefit from less loft.

When you consider that at the time of publication every driver in our larger test came with a sticker price of $300 or more, it’s not unreasonable to ask how much more 8 yards is worth, especially if those extra yards come with more missed fairways.

Note:
Driver Comparison link
http://www.mygolfspy.com/2013-compare-drivers/


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