The end of the cold war signaled the beginning of hard times for
U.S. defense contractors. One successful conversion from swords
to plowshares occurred in the titanium industry, where
manufacturers that had once provided the lightweight but
extremely strong metal for use in military aircraft began
selling it to Callaway Golf in 1995 for use in drivers and
fairway woods. Since then, titanium has become a buzzword for
high-tech hipness in sports equipment of all types.
Callaway's Biggest Big Bertha driver ($500) is the granddaddy of
space-age sporting goods. Because titanium is so light, the club
face can be larger and has a bigger sweet spot. Recently
Callaway introduced the Great Big Bertha Hawk Eye driver ($500),
which includes a tungsten screw that lowers the club's center of
gravity, if not your handicap.
Head's Ti.S2 tennis racket ($190) is the follow-up model to the
company's Ti.S6, the top-selling racket worldwide since its
introduction in October 1997. Manufactured with a
titanium-graphite weave, the S2 weighs only 8.6 ounces before
Easton's Ti-Core softball bat ($329) also combines titanium, in
ultrathin sheets that are bonded to the inside surface of the
shaft wall, with graphite. The result is an extremely
thin-walled bat with a generous sweet spot.
The Mongoose Pro RX 10.7 bicycle ($2,399) has a titanium frame
that weighs only three pounds. The frame's flexibility allows it
to absorb a rough ride better than a standard steel or aluminum
From K2, the Merlin VI SL skis ($795) are the ultimate in high
performance schuss-wear. Their light weight makes them more
maneuverable, and the resiliency and durability of the titanium
helps to reduce the chatter at high speeds that's common in
fiberglass and wooden skis.
Wilson's Staff Titanium Straight Distance golf ball ($35 a
dozen) is the latest in a line that has increased Wilson's ball
sales by 50%. According to Wilson, the ball's titanium core not
only produces longer distance but also provides a larger sweet
spot. The company claims that the balls can reduce hooks and
slices by three to four yards.
Finally, Wilson's Titanium tennis balls ($4.79 a can) use
titanate powder in the rubber to increase their durability. No
word yet on how high the balls will fly.