October 25, 2011

Don’t Get the Cart Before the Horse When it Comes to Your Next Driver

A cart goes nowhere without a horse to pull it.  In a comparison to picking your next driver, the shape or technology of a driver head design is of little importance unless you first get the right ‘horse’ – which in this case means FIVE critical parameters that have to be matched well to your individual size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics before any technology contained in the driver head design can help you hit the ball better than before.

1. Length

The standard length for most of the men’s drivers today is 46” or 46.5”.  Subtract one inch for women’s drivers.  Did you know since 2005 the average driverlength on the PGA Tour has been 44.5”?  PGA pros and clubfitting professionals both know the longer the length, the harder it is to hit the ball on-center and in play.  If you think you can control a longer driverlength than the best players in the game, fine, stop reading this now and go buy that driver.  But after 30 years of experience in clubfitting research I can guarantee you that 90% of the men using a 46-46.5” driveror women using a 45” driver would hit the ball farther, straighter and more consistently with a shorter length driver than what is offered on drivers sold off the rack in pro shops and golf retail stores.

2. Loft

When it comes to the driver, the loft MUST be matched to the golfer’s swing speed and whether they swing upward, level or downward at the ball (angle of attack).  The slower the swing speed and more downward the angle of attack, the higher the driverloft has to be to maximize driving distance.  Examples – a man with a level angle of attack and an 85 mph swing speed should never use a driverloft less than 13*.  The average women’s swing speed of 65mph needs 15* of loft on the driver, minimum.  Don’t believe it?  Try it and I think you’ll utter a “gee whiz” when you do.

SwingShot.com - On Course Video

3. Face Angle

70% of all golfers slice the ball.  Most drivers are made with a square to slightly closed face angle.  Not a good match in other words when it comes to a golfer hoping to reduce that slice.  If you are one of the 70%, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor when it comes to keeping the ball more in play by choosing a driverwith a much more closed face angle than what you currently play.  You won’t believe the difference it can make, you’ll reduce the number of balls you lose and the game will become more fun to play.

4. Swingweight Balance

Swingweight is an indication of the ratio of how much weight is in the clubhead compared to the weight in the rest of the club.  A swingweight of D-1 is standard for men’s clubs, C-6 for women.  The stronger the golfer or more aggressive their swing, the higher the swingweight should be to match to their swing tempo to help improve shot consistency.  Vice versa,the physically weaker the golfer or more passive and rhythmic the swing, the lighter the swingweight should be.

5. Shaft

When the thought of the shaft comes to mind, most golfers think only that the flex should be matched to the power of their swing.  While that’s true, the problem is there are no standards in the golf industry for how stiff are the shaft flex designations of L, A, R, S or X.  It is very common for the R-flex from one company to have the same stiffness as the A- or S-flex from another company.  In addition, shafts are made in a wide range of weights.  The shaft weight must be chosen to match to the golfer’s natural swing power and swing tempo to ensure the highest level of swing tempo and shot consistency.

This article was written by Tom Wishon
Without question, the answers to what length, what loft, what face angle, what swingweight and what shaft will allow each golfer to hit the driver to the absolute best of the golfer’s ability are best determined by a skilled, experienced custom clubfitter.  To learn more about how golf clubs can be custom fit to enable golfers to play to the best of their ability and to find a skilled, experienced clubfitter, please take a moment to visit www.wishongolf.com

Tom Wishon — bio 

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