I've written several times about the driver being your first scoring club. If you are keeping your drives in the fairway, and only reasonably "out there", your scores will drop measurably. It's no secret that approach shots are just easier to hit from the short grass, with no obstacles in your way. This is as true on the PGA Tour as it is for each of us.
So, what is the key to hitting more fairways? I think there are several, but it all starts with the equipment in your hands. Finding that driver that is just right is like finding a needle in a haystack, unfortunately, but it can be done. To understand why it's so hard, you have to stop to think about the odds you are fighting.
The major brands are making several hundred thousand drivers each year. They design their clubhead, then select a shaft vendor that gives them the best price for their specifications. Those two components begin rolling into the factory by the tens of thousands, and the assembly line workers begin gluing them together, following the "graphics standard". That means that the shaft graphics go on top, on the rear side, or underside . . . on every driver.
The unavoidable problem with this is that all shafts are not the same. Graphite shafts have a spine—they are NOT symmetrical. Somewhere running down the length of the shaft is a stiffer cross-section, and when the driver is put under loading and unloading, the location of this can dramatically affect the way the shaft reacts. If you pull a dozen drivers off the rack, you will find that this spine is in a dozen different specific locations. Those drivers will not perform exactly the same in a golf swing@!
Compounding this matter, almost all modern drivers are now adjustable, meaning you can rotate the shaft in the head to change the loft and face angle. But that also moves the spine around the shaft, so that the shaft itself will not perform the same at each of these options.
Think of your driver like a tire and wheel on your car. You can buy a $125,000 Mercedes, with the best wheels and tires money can buy ... but they still have to balance each tire with the wheel it is mounted on. If it's not balanced, your new car will shake like crazy when you get to highway speed. But the proper placement of as little as an ounce or two can totally change the performance of that 50-75 pound tire/wheel combination.
So, when you realize that your 10-11 ounce driver is going to accelerate from zero to 100+ miles per hour in the 8-10 feet from the top of backswing to impact, and the shaft is going to load and unload while flexing in multiple orientations, the very slightest little blip in that shaft/head match-up can have serious implications.
Understanding this is the first piece of the puzzle. On Friday I'll finish up this examination of driver shafts.
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