The Fourteen Golf JC 909 Driver was part of our New! Ultimate Review System … from here on out at MGS you can expect to have the most thorough reviews in golf. No need to go searching from site to site or from magazine to magazine anymore…because we have come up with a system that is not only the most un-bias and painfully honest but also the Most complete, Comprehensive and Detailed Golf Gear Reviews PERIOD!
The Fourteen Golf JC-909 Review!
While a few golfers follow the Japanese market religiously, many of us have at best a passing interest in brands like Epon, Honma, and Miura (although anyone who has seen Miura irons can understand why they’re universally revered). Fourteen Golf is another of those Japanese brands. I’m guessing many of you aren’t overly familiar with the company, or it’s products, but if you happened to see MyGolfSpy’s Fourteen Golf photos from the PGA Merchandise show, there’s a good chance you became an instant fan. Being a bit of admitted wedge whore (actually, I’m a HUGE wedge whore), I was taken in by Fourteen’s beautiful wedges. I should also mention that, after seeing the photos, I was also more than a little curious about their irons.
The story that got left out of the photos, however; is that in addition to irons, and sweet looking wedges (did I mention the wedges?), Fourteen Golf makes drivers (which I quickly learned when their JC-909 landed on my doorstep). Of course, as you might suspect, in addition to the irons, wedges, and the driver I just mentioned, the company also makes fairway woods, hybrids, and yup, even some…hmm…let’s go with unique looking…putters. In short, Fourteen, like so many others in the industry, offers a complete line of clubs to fill (or in my case further OVER-fill) your favorite golf bag.
As far as the JC-909 itself is concerned; it features 4-piece, all-titanium construction. The 46.5″ shaft creates tremendous (Fourteen’s word, not mine) distance, and increased ball speed. The head features what Fourteen Golf calls “High-back head design”. What that means is that the rear of the head is actually taller than at the point where the crown meets the face. According to the company, this helps to level out the players swing by alleviating the problem of dropping the right shoulder. This results in a smoother takeaway, reducing the tendency to open the face, which promotes a smoother swing.
Finally, the JC-909 employs a “double-layer crown highlight”. The DLCH as I’ll now refer to it is basically an optical illusion that causes the 460cc head to appear substantially smaller than it actually is. Two of our testers seemed to notice the conflict between reality and appearance, but they both thought it was a really cool trick that enhanced the overall esthetics of the club.
JC-909 Technical Specifications
- Available Loft: 9°, 10.5°
- Length: 46.5″
- Volume: 460cc
- Swing Weight: D5
- Stock Shafts: MD-370Lt (proprietary)
What We Tested, and How We Tested It
Fourteen Golf sent us a JC-909 for testing. Our sample has the following specifications:
- Loft: 10.5°
- Shaft: 46″ MD-370Lt (60 gram)
- Flex: Stiff
- Grip: CH Rubber (proprietary)
Like we always do when we receive a new club, we tested the specifications against the manufacturers stated specs. I then taped the crown and sole with Ghost Tape to protect the clubs during our testing process and finally, I invited some guys to stop by, take some swings, and provide their opinions, and of course, provide us with actual performance data.
All performance testing was done using PGA TOUR Simulators, powered by 3Trac, from aboutGolf. Testing took place at Tark’s Indoor Golf Club; a state-of-the-art golf training, club fitting and repair facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY.
With our simulator’s data capture capabilities disabled so that distance and accuracy wouldn’t influence our subjective opinion polling, we asked several golfers to provide us feedback on the look, sound, and feel of the club. We also asked for their opinion on the overall value of the club, as well as their opinions on the overall quality and performance of Fourteen Golf products in a more general sense.
A subset of testers including golfers with low, middle, and high handicaps, was asked to participate in more thorough tests where not only was data collected for the shots they hit with the JC-909 from Fourteen Golf, but also for their current driver.
For full details of MyGolfSpy’s testing methodology, see our testing details page.
For the performance portion of our review, we had 5 golfers of varying skill levels hit both their own driver, and the JC-909 from Fourteen golf. Interestingly, despite the JC-909′s longer shaft, 2 of 6 golfers actually lost distance. My guess is that the measurable decrease in accuracy is partially responsible for the overall decline in distance. For his part, Dan commented that the added length was making it very difficult for him to find the sweet spot. One other explanation for the decrease in distance is the loft of our JC-909 sample. All but two of our testers (Dan & Mark) bag drivers with 9.5° of loft or less. Overall, launch data indicates that for some of our golfers, Ron in particular, the added loft of the JC-909 was simply too much. The remaining 3 testers picked up 3, 5, 5 (again) and 10 yards of total distance
Distance Grade: A
Of course it’s also worth pointing out that which the exception of 4 handicap golfer (and PGA teaching professional), Kent Tarkleson, all of our testers actually lost accuracy with the JC-909. Although Kent was actually 6 yards more accurate on average, our other golfers lost 5, 7, 8, and a whopping 15 yards of accuracy on average. Mark, who by the looks of things, favors the right side of the fairway, maintained his average of 24 yards offline. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the 46.5″ (46 5/8″ by our measurement) shaft may contribute to the occasional (or more than occasional) erratic tee shot.
Accuracy Grade: B
For those placing a premium on distance, there’s certainly a case to be made for the JC-909. If of course, accuracy is your primary concern, the JC-909 may not be for you. As you’ll see in our subjective section, we did have a couple of testers who absolutely loved the JC-909. If that’s the case, and you’re not willing to sacrifice accuracy, my recommendation is to have the shaft cut down to a more manageable length.
The Numbers For The 6 Golfers:
Performance Score: (52 out of 60)
Unlike the Cleveland Launcher DST which almost all of our users rated as average, the appearance of the JC-909 is much more polarizing. While some users did rate it the 6 to 8 range, Greg scored the looks of the JC-909 as a 2, commenting that “it looks like something you would pull of the shelf at Walmart”. Others called the appearance “simple” and “traditional”. On the high end of things, Mark, a 14 handicap, rated the looks of the JC-909 a solid 9. My personal take on things is that it’s definitely classic in appearance; not necessary what I’d expect from the Japanese market. If anything, I think it’s a bit too understated. I’d like to see a splash of something, even if it’s just on the sole, to make the club stand out a bit.
Tom, who rated the looks an 8, had this to say:
“The JC-909 has a clean, classic look, that is easy to address. The one aesethetic I do not like is the orange shaft, it can be distracting at times”. -Tom, 14 Handicap
Mark, who scored the looks of the JC-909 a 9, simply loved the clean, classic, lines:
“I like the way this club looks at address. It looks more like a fairway wood/conventional driver than a big ugly toe up masher.” -Mark, 15 Handicap
A couple of our golfers commented on the unusual ferrule design, but none really had an opinion one way or the other. It’s definitely different, but certainly not distracting.
Looks Grade: C
Just as with our testing of the Cleveland Launcher DST, we had a couple of testers tell us they couldn’t care less about the sound a driver makes. The sound of the JC-909 was called “ordinary”, and described as “nothing that hurts the ears”. I think average about sums it up. Nothing obnoxious, but nothing I would consider above average about it either. The majority of our testers graded the JC-909 in the 5 to 7 range for sound, although tester Mark, a huge fan of the JC-909, who admittedly isn’t a big sound guy described the sound like this (his spelling, not mine):
SCCCCWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEETTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!! -Mark, 15 Handicap
I’m fairly certain that’s a good thing.
Sound Grade: C
If there’s an area where the JC-909 seems to distance itself a bit from the other drivers we’ve tested recently it’s in the area of feel. While I won’t say it’s absolutely the best feeling driver I’ve ever hit, some feel otherwise. To me, it’s definitely solid, and not the least bit harsh. But overall, I rated it as average (the comparison I would make is to the Mizuno MP-600, which to me always felt a bit muted). While another golfer rated it as low as 5, most scores were much higher, with a pair of 9s and even a 10 hitting the board.
Once again there were some grumblings about a feedback. Tom chimed in again saying:
“The Fourteen JC-909 doesn’t really provide a lot feedback, mishits feel solid”. -Tom, 14 Handicap
Others concurred, but some felt that the feel when you really connect with one was so outstanding they weren’t worried about mishits.
The club just felt good all around. -Dan, 17 Handicap
10 Handicap golfer, Ben, expressed some concerns with the the stock grip, saying it felt like it would wear out in a month. I’d describe it as looking like a Tour Velvet, but feeling like a Winn. I love the feel of it when I’m holding the club, but when I’m swinging it, I do wish there was a bit more stick to it. That said, I really like the simple feather logo on both the grip, and the rear of the clubhead.
Ben was also responsible for what I consider the quote of the week. When discussing the added length of the shaft, Ben half-jokingly suggested that the JC-909 “felt like a fly rod”. While I won’t go quite that far (or course, I’m not a fly fisherman), there’s definitely some truth to the notion that for many golfer, the change in feel that comes from the added length will take some getting used to.
Feel Grade: B
The time finally came when I had to share the MSRP for the JC-909 with my testers. Jaws nearly hit the floor when I shared with everyone the $699 sticker price. Without a doubt, considering we’re not talking about a tour issue club, and we’re not talking about any high-end shaft upgrades, the JC-909 is far and away the most expensive off-the-rack driver I’ve come across. Since we believe perceived value goes a long way towards indicating the likelihood of purchase, we do score on it, and the value rating is the single biggest factor responsible for the lower than average subjective score. Even Mark, who would bag the JC-909 in a heartbeat, was hard-pressed to rate the club any higher than a 7 from a value perspective. The majority of the scores were sub-5, include two 3s (one of which came from me), and a 1. Clearly, even with the exotic Japan factor accounted for, golfers are going to have a hard time stomaching the price.
Tester Ron commented that at $700 “it would have to FAR outperform anything else” he hit. Tom suggested that for that kind of money it should come with Rodney Dangerfield’s scope. In general I think it’s 17 handicap Dan who best sums up both the affection our testers quickly developed for the club, and the disdain they felt over the price:
“I just wanted to hit this club again and again. I just wanted to hit my head when I saw the price” – Dan, 17 Handicap
I will say that asking golfers “have you ever hit a $700 driver before”, is a hell of an icebreaker. Beyond that, the Fourteen Golf JC-909 doesn’t offer much from a value perspective. There are some, however; who absolutely love this club (it basically formed a cult following over night), but even it’s biggest fans have indicated they’d need either a price drop or a salary increase before they’d be able to justify a purchase.
Value Grade: F
Subjective Score: (26 out of 40)
For woods and hybrids, our current SpecCheck involves verifying length, Swing Weight, and Flex. We measured the JC-909 at 1/8 of an inch longer than the stated spec of 46.5 (within our tolerances). Swing Weight was measured at almost exactly D5; well within our tolerances.
When measured on the DigiFlex (butt clamped 5″), the MD-370Lt shaft measured 242 CPMs, which puts it just inside the leading edge of stiff on MyGolfSpy’s Flex Chart. I actually anticipated the shaft would come up soft, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it within spec.
In a time when the golf marketplace is dominated by a dwindling handful of brands, it’s refreshing to find a strong performer from outside the mainstream. I can’t find a shred of evidence to suggest that the JC-909 from Fourteen Golf isn’t on par (sorry for the bad golf pun), with the other drivers we’ve reviewed (or will be reviewing) here at MyGolfSpy.com. Indeed, value rating aside, a few of our testers rated the JC-909 as their absolute favorite driver during one of our recent testing session. Equally as telling to me – not a single golfer indicated any strong dislike for the club. While there were most certainly some faint grumblings about shaft length, and louder grumbling over price, to a man, our testers think the JC-909 is a solid driver.
On the bottom of the JC-909′s sole, it reads, “For the Discerning Golfer”, and the price certainly suggests that JC-909 is targeted at those golfers with more discriminating tastes, or at the very least, those who can afford the higher cost associated with a more exotic driver.
Perhaps a bigger obstacle still that aspiring Fourteen Golf owners will need to overcome is the limited opportunity to actually try the club four yourself. I’m willing to bet you haven’t stumbled upon any Fourteen Golf product at your local Dick’s or Golf Galaxy, and despite Greg’s thoughts, most definitely not your local Wal-Mart. For now, you’re more than likely confined to a somewhat limited demo day schedule, but as the company beefs up it’s US exposure (and that certainly appears to be the plan), hopefully more opportunities for the average golfer to get his hands on these clubs will present themselves.
Since it might be a little while before you can try the Fourteen Golf JC-909 for yourself, I’ll leave you with the comments of one of our testers, Mark, who very quickly became a devoted fan of the club:
“I’ve tried a bunch of different drivers; Callaway, Titleist, Nike, Cobra, Cleveland, Srixon, and TaylorMade. I had never even heard of Fourteen, (please don’t be offended), that said, I felt that the Fourteen driver was the nicest/best all around driver of the bunch” – Mark, 15 Handicap
Total Score: (78 out of 100)