Saturday, April 7, 2012

Off-The-Shelf Drivers Are Too Long

Gripping down on the club (especially the longer ones like the driver and fairway woods) may be a great idea for some golfers that will lead to gains in accuracy while sacrificing only a minimum in distance. As a matter of fact, this is a testament to why many of us should just forget the driver and use a 3-wood to tee off. I recently played several rounds using only a 3-wood and noticed no real difference in my score; I also hit the fairways a lot more, which feels fantastic.

To fool us into thinking we'll get more distance, golf club makers have been selling us off-the-shelf drivers that are two or more inches longer than the ones the pros play. And many pros grip down even still. So, that should tell us mortals that we need shorter drivers or we need to grip down.

Gripping down will change the characteristics of the shaft, making it effectively stiffer. But gripping down an inch or so won't make that big of a difference. Take care. If you're gripping down on your driver it will take some getting used to.

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!


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.

[From Your Driver: Is It Your First Scoring Club?]

But I did toy with the idea, and even had Ping build me a driver with 5.5 degrees of loft and an extra-long, 48-inch shaft. The longer shaft, which many people assume is an automatic trick to generating more clubhead speed, didn't work at all. It threw my timing off, and I didn't hit the ball much farther even when I nailed it. I did much better with my standard 44½-inch driver, simply swinging a little harder.

Trying a longer shaft is a popular suggestion these days, but most players should, if anything, try a shaft half an inch shorter than what's in their driver. (The average, off-the-rack driver shaft today is 45½ inches.) Tiger Woods at his longest used a relatively short 43½-inch driver, with a steel shaft to boot. You'll find it easier to hit the sweet spot with a shorter shaft, and you can go after tee shots without losing much control.

[From 10 Rules From Bubba Watson: Golf Digest]

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