SMT's Clubheads are a Blast

Favorite of Long Drivers Also Works for the Rest of Us

SMT Spectrum Driver Clubhead
SMT's Spectrum driver clubhead. SMT Golf

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Victor Schwamkrug likes SMT drivers so much he carries two of them when playing the Nationwide and PGA tours. Most casual golfers probably aren't yet familiar with SMT. But golf gearheads know and love the company, which makes component clubheads. Golfers who like to build their own clubs, golfers who live the grip-it-and-rip-it ethos, golfers who appreciate the SMT motto - "Swing hard, you might hit something" - know SMT well.

In fact, many of the professional long drivers use SMT clubheads.

SMT drivers are, literally, a blast.

Don't believe us? Here's a number that will get your attention: 429. As in 429 yards, the distance Schwamkrug blasted a drive during the 2004 PGA Shell Houston Open with his 7-degree SMT Spectrum driver. Schwamkrug also carries a 10-degree SMT Shinnecock driver.

Imagine playing a 577-yard par-5 with a driver and a wedge. Schwamkrug's 429-yarder was easily the longest drive in Houston Open history. Not surprising that it was Schwamkrug - undoubtedly the longest tournament driver in the world today - who hit it.

You have to figure Schwamkrug is a target of more established golf companies who'd like him to be swinging their sledgehammers. So why is he playing SMT?

"In fact, I have turned down a lot of money from one of the major manufacturers," Schwamkrug said, "to use what I thought would give me the best results."

Schwamkrug added: "I am thrilled with the quality of the heads that SMT is producing."

Schwamkrug mentioned the quality of the heads because, as stated above, SMT is a components company. A components company, for casual golfers, is one that makes the parts of the club, not the finished, assembled drivers or other clubs.

Golfers can browse the SMT catalog, find the clubhead they want and match it with the desired shaft (SMT offers recommendations for which shafts to pair with which clubheads) and grip. The "parts" can be ordered and assembled by the golfer, and that usually results in a much better price than ordering an assembled club from a major OEM golf brand.

Or, a golfer can pay a little extra to have SMT assemble the ordered parts and deliver a completed driver. Wait, there are still more options. A golfer can contact one of the expert clubfitters recommended by SMT (SMT doesn't do fittings) and order the parts and assembly through them. Or, the golfer can take the ordered parts to his favorite local clubfitter for fitting and assembly.

And finally, a golfer can simply order an SMT clubhead alone, then shop for a shaft and grip locally or use the component clubhead to replace a current clubhead.

Got all that? In addition to its high quality clubheads, SMT provides options and good deals.

The man behind SMT is Mike Tait, who gave the company his son's initials as its name. Tait was kind enough to send Golf a pair of his drivers, one Spectrum and one 455 Deep Bore, and we've been having a blast with them.

A longtime friend of Tait's is Jody Baucom, President of AccuFLEX Golf Shafts, and it was a serendipitous meeting with Baucom at the 2001 World Long Drive Finals in Mesquite, Nev., that set Tait - who had been producing clones - on the road to launching SMT, and SMT becoming the clubhead of choice for many professional long drivers.

"In the fall of 2001 ... while visiting my parents in Las Vegas, I decided to head over and see the world's longest hitters in Mesquite," Tait says on the SMT website. "I met up with Jody and witnessed the success he was having in his first World Finals, with his then 'fledgling' company AccuFLEX. I was introduced as a 'component guy' and immediately was given feedback on the needs of the hitters present."

The big bashers told Tait of their troubles finding drivers that could withstand the punishment they dished out without breaking or without the facing caving in.

They complained of receiving five component clubheads from a company, only to discover that none of the heads had specs that matched.

Tait immediately went to work, sketching out ideas on napkins. Four months later, he had his prototypes in hand.

After some starts and stops, and seven months of tweaking based on feedback from the long drivers, Tait's first clubhead, the Shinnecock, was ready for prime time.

The rest, as they say, is history. A stroll through the SMT website produces a litany of long drive championships won with SMT clubheads: World Long Drive Championship victories, Pinnacle Long Drive Challenge triumphs, LDA Tour Championship winners, top showings on the Nationwide Tour and European Tour ... the list goes on.

After Schwamkrug's blast at the Houston Open, Tait said, "These guys can play any clubs they want, and for Victor to place his trust in our product to make a living is a huge compliment."

But Tait wants to make sure golfers know that SMT clubheads aren't just for the Victor Schwamkrugs of the world.

"SMT clubs are not for long drivers only!" Tait said. "The technology that was created to keep the hardest swingers happy is the same thing that 'everyday' players need. Consistent weights, lofts, colors and materials.

"We want to make sure that people know our drivers can and have benefited the average players as much or more than the Tour players and Long Drive competitors who use them."

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SMT's clubheads didn't turn any of our testers into Victor Schwamkrug, but the two we've been using - the Spectrum and 455 Deep Bore - have received acclaim. The only drawback with either club, according to our testers, is that some didn't like the sound of the 455 Deep Bore. For that reason, the Spectrum was a bit more popular than the 455 Deep Bore - but both drivers, overall, come highly recommended.

And while this isn't a reason for anyone to choose one club over another, we'll go ahead and say that the drivers Tait sent us came with the coolest headcovers we've yet seen. One word: magnets.

455 Deep Bore

The 455 Deep Bore clubhead is a striking deep red in color. It features a very deep face. The deeper-than-standard head produces a very low center of gravity.

Another striking feature about this clubhead is that there are no scorelines on the vacuum-forged Beta titanium face. That, SMT explains, is a result of form rather than function: "Our goal is to make all of our heads play as close to the .830 USGA allowance, and that called for a very thin face, so thin, that if we were to score the face in a traditional manner, it would weaken the structure of the head and compromise our high quality standards."

SMT recommends this clubhead for the golfer "looking for the most forgiveness in their clubhead while still looking for a slightly higher than standard trajectory." SMT also notes that this clubhead plays a half-degree weaker than the listed loft.

Our 455 Deep Bore came outfitted with an AccuFLEX Assassin World Championship shaft, also in deep red. The Assassin is one of two shafts that SMT recommends for this clubhead; the other is AccuFLEX Eon Ultimate (all of SMT's recommendations are for AccuFLEX but, of course, you can purchase any shaft you want to pair the clubhead - one of the benefits of going the components route).

The 455 Deep Bore is available in right and left. Lofts are 4 through 12 degrees, plus 14 degrees, for right-handers; for left-handers, available lofts are 4 through 7 degrees, plus 9 and 10 degrees. The face angle is square at the lowest loft, a half-degree closed with the middle lofts, and 1 degree closed at the highest lofts.

All SMT driver heads are USGA conforming.

The 455 Deep Bore clubhead carries a manufacturer's price (at time of writing) of $135, which includes the headcover (magnets!) and ferrule.


The SMT Spectrum driver head also lacks scorelines on the face. This clubhead is smaller than the 455, coming in at 391cc. Our clubhead was matched with the Eon Competition shaft. SMT's recommended shafts are the Icon V.2 and Icon V3 (all AccuFLEX).

What immediately jumps out about the Spectrum is what SMT calls the "the first-ever full three-sided wraparound soleplate design."

"Due to the manufacturing process, it is almost impossible to have a soleplate that covers three distinctive sides of the head. Sole, backskirt and crown," Tait writes.

"This unique design afforded us the luxury of both deepening the center of gravity and at the same time, raising it. This gives us the best of both worlds.

Amazingly solid feel at impact and a trajectory that is not too high to promote roll."

The Spectrum is advertised to offer a deep, penetrating ball flight, which is exactly what we liked most about it. Well, that and the fantastic, solid feel (and sound) at impact.

SMT points out that this head plays a quarter-degree weaker than the listed loft. Available lofts are 4 degrees through 12 degrees. The 4-, 5-, and 6-degree models are square; 7, 8 and 9 are a half-degree closed; and 10, 11 and 12 are 1-degree closed.

The manufacturer's price (at time of writing) for the Spectrum clubhead is $109, which includes the headcover and ferrule.

Other SMT Clubheads

SMT's other clubheads in its 2004 catalog include the Shinnecock, Nemesis, Nemesis Offset, Babylon, O2 and Solitaire. The Solitaire is a fairway metal head.

The Shinnecock and Nemesis have both been used to win World Long Drive Championships.

The Babylon features what SMT calls "Titanium/Graphite Matrix Technology." It features a titanium face and body, carbon graphite composite crown and a tungsten copper insert in the back heel.

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