Your Driver: Is It Your First Scoring Club?
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I take great issue with the industry's extreme, and almost complete focus on distance - not just with the driver, but with the irons as well.
Without picking on anyone, some new iron sets have pitching wedges with as little as 43-44 degrees of loft (which was an 8-iron when I was younger).
Does that really help your game ? No.
Is a 6-iron easier to hit if you put an "8" on the bottom ? No.
But where this quest for distance is abused the most is on drivers. We see the average driver in the store at 46-47" in length now, when the old standard was 43", then 44" up to about 6-8 years ago.
And average golfers are buying them like hotcakes. But do you realize that very few tour players are using a driver over 45" in length ? Why ? Because they know they cannot be reasonably accurate with longer drivers ! So, if the tour players know they can't control a driver that is 46-47" long, what the heck makes amateurs think they can ?
A few years ago, GolfSmith did an extensive live golfer test at their huge facility in Austin, Texas, where they had hundreds of golfers hit drivers of all sizes, shapes and lengths. They found that almost every golfer achieved his best average driving distance with drivers that were 43-1/2" long ! Now, that was when 45" was the new "standard", but the point remains clear to me:
Your driver is probably too long for you to hit efficiently !
The fact is, no matter what the technology, a ball hit squarely and solidly will be longer than one hit around the perimeter of the face. And you'll hit more solid shots if your driver is shorter.
You can prove this to yourself. In your next round of golf, choke up on your driver a full inch every time you hit it. I'll bet you'll find that you hit more solid long drives than you have in some time.
In my own case, I did this with three different drivers, and found that with each one, my best performance came when I was gripping the driver to effectively make it 44-1/4" long.
I've been a scratch or low-handicap player my whole life and historically am a very good driver of the ball. As I began to take advantage of the new technology I found my driving accuracy failing, and I didn't like it.
So, I just began to choke up on these long drivers and my accuracy came right back, without a loss of distance ! And I don't care what golf course you play, it's easier from the fairway.
Oh, and there's another significant side benefit to this alteration to your driver. When you shorten it, you can use lead tape to bring the swingweight back up to where it should be. By positioning those few grams of lead tape strategically on the clubhead, you can bias your driver for a draw (weight in the toe) or fade (weight in the heel).
You can also place the lead tape in the back of the head for a higher ball flight if you need it, or right on top of the crown behind the face for a lower ball flight.
It's fun to tinker, and I trust you will find this driver tuning to be interesting and beneficial.
And about that title of this article ? If you don't think the driver is your first scoring club, review your last round and count the penalty shots from the tee, and those holes where you took yourself out of play with your tee shot.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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[ comments ]
Your suggestion of "bias your driver for a draw (weight in the toe) or fade (weight in the heel)" seems to be a contradiction to common thought; heel weight to hit a draw. Was this a typo or a new school of thought?
As Lee Trevino said when I was a baby,'Drive for show and putt for dough'. The better golfers are looking to shave just a couple of shots off their score by buying a driver which gives them extended distance or accuracy. Lesser players should concentrate on accuracy and improving their short games, that will save them a LOT more shots in the short term.
I've been struggling with my driver this past month so on Sunday I did choke up about an inch and tee'd the ball slightly lower. It made a huge difference to my accuracy.
Jim Brayer says:
Terry: any suggestions as to how long a driver should be for a 65-year old fogie with a 9.7 index? My driver is a Ping G15. I love the idea of hitting more fairways--what a concept! Thanks
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