The advent of titanium clubs in the 1990s was a major step forward in the science and technology of golf club design. Titanium is lighter, stronger and more elastic that other metals. Although titanium is primarily used in drivers, you may find fairway clubs, irons and shafts made of titanium. Club engineers and designers are especially excited about using titanium to improve the performance of putters.
Titanium is used in the club heads of drivers because it allows manufacturers to increase the overall size and the sweet spot without increasing the overall weight. Drivers with titanium club heads and graphite shafts weigh less than stainless steel club heads and shafts, which enables you to increase club head speed and hit the ball farther. In addition, the larger sweet spot means mishits are likely to travel farther and straighter. Since titanium is more elastic and stronger than steel, a thin titanium club face is said to increase the trampoline effect of the ball springing off the club face, although the USGA says this effect is limited to pro-level players who generate very high club head speeds.
Fairway metals and hybrids are manufactured from titanium for the same reason as drivers: The lighter, stronger and more elastic material can enlarge the sweet spot on the clubs without increasing the weight. The main drawback is the price. Many golfers will pay $300 to $500 for an elite titanium driver while shying away from shelling out so much money for other clubs. The use of titanium club heads for irons has been limited for technical reasons as well as price. As a paper from the Institute for Materials and Advanced Processes at the University of Idaho explains, it's harder to hit titanium irons from the fairway because their larger faces have a higher center of gravity than steel clubs. This causes shots hits with titanium irons to travel in a lower trajectory than those hit with steel club heads.
As "Golf Digest" wrote in 2010, "Titanium has been the material solution in drivers for years, but it might have more application in putters." In the "Golf Digest article, Callaway club designer Austie Rollinson says titanium is a better material than steel for putter heads. He explains that titanium is stiffer and softer than steel, allowing designers to adjust the center of gravity to the optimal spot. Titanium also dampens vibration better. "If price weren't an issue, titanium would probably replace steel in putters," Rollinson said.
Designers like titanium for shafts as well as heads. As Golf.com states, they are lighter than steel shafts, enabling you to increase your club head speed and hit the ball farther. They do an excellent job of dampening vibration, which lessens the potential for injuring your hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders when you make impact with the ground. The expense of titanium, however, makes it an impractical choice for most golfers.