More On Driver Shafts
One More Thing About Driver Shafts

Seems like you guys enjoyed this topic on driver shafts. I have written before that I think the driver is the "first scoring club," as it certainly sets up every whole, and I have yet to see the golf course that doesn’t play significantly easier when you are hitting most of your approaches from the fairway.

Getting the right shaft in your driver is a huge part of the equation to hitting fairways, but there is another facet of the shaft that we too often overlook – the length. Manufacturers have made drivers longer and longer over the past few years, while at the same time they get lighter and lighter. My opinion is that this trend has caused the average golfer to become a worse driver of the ball. Hear me out before you bring out the tar and feathers, OK?

First of all, the increases in clubhead speed for each inch of additional length are minimal, if they exist at all. But it is proven that – even with the new large "forgiving" drivers – you will gain much more distance by hitting the ball in the center of the face than you will by adding a few miles per hour of clubhead speed. Machine testing continues to prove that, even with these huge 460 cc heads, a miss of only ½" off the dead center of the face will cost you 7-9% in distance, not to mention accuracy. So, if you can fly your best drives even 220 yards, a miss that small can cost you 15-20 yards!!! For long hitters, the difference is even more, obviously.

Increase that miss to ¾ of an inch, and the loss of distance is proven to be 12-15%. Now that 220 yard hitter is losing 25-35 yards. And there is no way that increased shaft length could ever deliver enough clubhead speed to make up for that.

But there’s more to the story of shaft length, and here’s my personal experience.

I play an Alpha 400 cc driver on a UST ProForce V2 shaft that I have built to my precise preferred frequency. It’s 44-3/4" long. I purposely grip that driver about 1” to 1-1/4" down on the grip and it's a favorite. There’s not a fairway so narrow that I think I need to hit anything different, and I enjoy the compliments I receive about my trajectory and direction control with that club. Well, this past weekend, I was playing with my doctor friend and struggled off the tee some early on Saturday, hanging the ball high and right. He asked me why I didn’t grip down on the club anymore like I used to? Well, I wasn't aware that I had allowed myself to begin holding the driver on the end, so I re-focused and hit all but 3-4 fairways the rest of the day and Sunday.

My point is that that extra inch or so out on the club made a huge difference in my driving, and it may do the same for you. Several years ago, GolfSmith did extensive live golfer testing at their facilities in Austin, and found that almost all golfers optimize their average driving distance and accuracy with drivers of 42-1/2 to 43" long. Which is 2-3 inches shorter than the industry norm these days.

So the question of each of you is this -- Is the one bomb drive each round worth the half dozen or more bad ones? Would you get more enjoyment out of the game if you found the fairway 5 or 6 more times per round . . . or more? My guess is that the answer is yes.

So, I’m asking for you all to participate in a research project together. The next time you play, pay particular attention to your hand position on the driver. Grip down at least two inches every time and see what happens. My bet is that you will average more distance off the tee, and hit 50% more fairways than you normally do.

Share your results with all of us when you get the chance to do that, OK?

A Very Happy Thanksgiving To You All

This is one of my favorite holidays, because it celebrates giving thanks for living in this, the greatest country in the history of the world. The radical concept of our founders – the idea of a government that honors personal freedom, property and achievement; a government "by the people" created a fledgling new land that grew in only two centuries to become the flagship of the entire planet. We’ve created more scientific discovery and more wealth across the population; we’ve provide more charity around the globe, than most other countries combined. No, it’s not perfect, and probably never will be, but we enjoy a higher standard of living – our top achievers are richer, our middle class more affluent, and even our poor are better off than anywhere else in the world – all because of the power of the individual when duly motivated and rewarded.

So, enjoy your turkey and dressing and say a prayer of thanks that we have such freedoms in our lives. And give some thought to taking a few moments to make clear to the young ones around just what the sacrifices of our fathers and forefathers have given to us. I don’t think they are getting that in school anymore.

And please, please say a prayer for all the brave soldiers, police and firefighters . . . the doctors and nurses . . . and all those others around us that live their lives so that ours can be safe and free. They are the true heroes of our time, and all time.


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[ comments ]
bducharm says:
I definitely agree that any golf course will play easier from the fairway than from "other" places. Since keeping my stats here on oob, I have a 81.1% fairways hit. I challenge any golfer here to play a round without their driver in the bag and hit only the club they feel comfortable hitting the fairway. I guarantee your score will be better. So why do we have to hit driver on every par 4/5??? Ego...put it aside and try to score. Also, next month our MGA will be having a 4 club tournament. I will report my results using a hybrid, 6i, 9i, SW for my clubs.
11/24/09
 
mjaber says:
I agree that it's easier to play from the fairway. That being said, I don't think that leaving the driver at home is the best option. Given the choice, I'd rather be 120yds out in the left rough than 170yds out in the fairway. I've got a better chance of scoring well with a 9i/PW in my hands than with a 5i/6i.

At the start of this year, I was playing alot more long/mid-irons off the tee, and was starting to play well. I uprgaded my driver, and found a lot more confidence with the new club, so I've been playing it alot more off the tee since then. My fariway % is about the same, but I'm getting alot more short iron/wedges into the green.
11/24/09
 
Tim Horan says:
My local Tom Wishon clubfitter is advising a shaft length of 42.75" I know and he knows that I play better with a shorter shaft or gripped down shaft but when I am hitting the ball well or simply when the mood takes me I get out my number 1 driver with a playing length of 46" I can't help myself. When it's good it is awesome, when it's bad...keep me away from sharp objects!
11/24/09
 
Kickntrue says:
Great article Terry. I have the stats in my personal game to back this up. I cut my driver down to 43 1/2 inches and it made ALL of the difference in the world. Even better- is when you're playing with others- and they notice it's shorter. You let them hit it just one time- and they are transformed. I've played at least 3x this year with different people who said, "i don't even hit my driver because i can't control it" and after letting them hit my cut down driver- they were going out to get one themselves.
11/24/09
 
aaronm04 says:
I plan on getting a driver fitting after Xmas. Until then, I use some low-tack paint tape (the blue stuff) and wrapped it around the tip of my driver grip. The helps me grip down on my driver. I really haven't noticed a difference in my distance. If anything it has improved with the better contact I've been making. If you can't get fitted for a driver, a little tape on your grip can be a friendly reminder to grip down.
11/24/09
 
SteveS says:
I've been playing a 44" driver, choked down 1" or so for the past year and my driving has become so consistent I've earned the nickname "Steady Eddy" by the other seven guys on our yearly trip to Myrtle. My drives are generally 220-230 yds(slow swing speed due to arthritis)and average 85% FW's per round. My current driver is a 10.5*(.5* closed face for a effective 11* loft) and a A-flex Grafalloy Attack Lite shaft from Golfsmith. Based on previous post by Terry, I'm waiting on componets to build a 13* driver with an X-flex Grafalloy ProLite 35. My only "problem" is remembering to grip down;@aaronm04 - I like your suggestion.
11/25/09
 
DiC says:
I'm really torn on this one.
As a (roughly, not official) 20 handicapper I have stopped carrying a driver as I never feel I have the confidence to hit it well, and on the occasions I have given my cheap old HiPPO 1 metal another chance I end up slicing miles off course and making a mental note to take it out the bag again when I get home.
I currently use a 17 degree HiPPO Driving Iron off the tee (Ultralite System Matched Super Carbon shaft) and fairly consistently hit 200-220yrds on or about the fairway.

Terry: If I was to invest in a shiny new driver would I really gain a huge amount of distance over this? I'd love to be able to hit an extra 40 or 50 yards and be playing my 2nd shot with an 7, 8 or even 9 iron rather than a 4 or 5 but my worry is that I'd spend the money and either not actually get a lot more yardage or I'd be back to playing my 2nd shots from the trees again.
What are the stats on distance differences from a driver to driving iron?

Thanks
11/25/09
 
Banker85 says:
i have the same problem of not getting into routine so i dont remember to grip down but when i do the control is much much better. i feel i get to "armsy" sometimes kinda like i am reaching the club out too far, and when i choke down on my woods (dr,3w,4w) it helps me push my body thru the ball better getting more solid contact and power driving thru the ball.
11/25/09
 
Swingem says:
I'd like to get some more input regarding where you trim length from the shaft, tip or butt, and the relative advantages and disadvantages of both. Additionally, can you expand upon the effect that this has on swing weight?

Have a great Thanksgiving all!
11/25/09
 
ksu_FAN says:
I haven't been able to hit my driver for a couple months with any consistency and I've failed to "fix it". I went to hitting a 3 iron off the tee on all par 4s/5s, then got a 2 iron and am able to "get around" the course just fine, still maintaining about 80% playable drives. Granted, I don't play super long courses, but even when I do its not terrible. I plan on giving it a go with a driver again, but I've found if I can play a 2 iron 200-220 yards and be consistently straight, its much better than a 230-240 yard slice (or worse) with a driver.
11/25/09
 
Kurt the Knife says:
heading out to the range right now.
Gonna try the choke.
Let ya'll know how it goes.
11/25/09
 
dd5277 says:
I don't know about gripping down on a driver, but my handicap dropped 4 strokes when I started taking one extra club when hitting a short/medium iron, gripping down to almost the bottom of the grip, and taking an easy swing. The increase in accuracy was nothing short of amazing. I intend to try it with the driver and see what happens. Can't be any worse than it is now, :-).

Happy Thanksgiving, all!!
11/25/09
 
Kurt the Knife says:
Well,
it helped narrow my spray pattern a bit.
11/25/09
 
TravisMiller says:
Ok If i was going to measure my driver, would i measure it from the top of the hozel or toward the bottom? Don't mind my dumb question I don't know that much about golf equipment stuff?
11/25/09
 
Tim Horan says:
@dreugan - with the club grounded on it's natural lie measure ground to butt along the shaft so sole to butt
11/26/09
 
TravisMiller says:
Thanks Tim
11/26/09
 
nswynnerton says:
Terry, what you wrote agrees with Tom Wishon's theories in his book "The Search for the Perfect Driver". In that book he offers a suggested length based on arm length. Leith Anderson of California Golf Technologies says the average length of the driver on the PGA Tour is 44.5". Sergio Garcia's driver is 43.75". My contribution is this: A long driver, say 45.5" and longer, messes with one's swing. It must be flatter, which is quite different from the rest of the swings. Not everyone's natural swing can accommodate the needed change. My favorite...a counterweighted 44" Taylor Made R7 425 TP or Orlimar 420 HipTi 9.5 deg, also counterweighted with 45 grams in the butt end.
11/26/09
 
Banker85 says:
What does he say about arm length. I have long arms so i am sure a shorter driver shaft would be even more beneficial. is this correct thinking?
11/27/09
 
nswynnerton says:
In the book I referenced Wishon has a table of suggested driver shaft lengths as a function of distance from wrist-to-floor (page 54). The longer the distance, the longer the club. My measurement is a tad over 36" and, as a starter, he recommends a 44" driver in my case. If you let me know your measurement (shoes on, measure to crease at wrist) I'll look it up for you. Incidentally, he says the 'Holy Grail' of length fitting for the driver is to use the longest one you can 'swing with control'.
11/27/09
 
blake_p says:
I made my 460cc driver to be 45-1/4 and I started gripping down about 1-1/2 earlier this fall. I made the change because the club felt more comfortable in my hand and durning my swing. I think it has made a huge difference. My fairway percentage is up and my distance is more consistant.
11/28/09
 
windowsurfer says:
My 460cc Clvlnd Hi-Bore 9.5* is 45.25" and slightly more upright than my 435cc Mac NVG 10.5, which is 44.75". My wrist is 34.5" or so (long arms for 6'?) Both stiff graphite shafts, but my feel is that the Mactec 65g "Quadra Action" is stiffer. I hit the Mactec a lot better. Draw the mac, fade or slice the Hi-Bore. More consistent by far with Mac. Is it the shaft, the 10.5 vs 9.5, the driver head technology (as 7 gazillion ad dollars would have me believe), the lie angle or some mysterious combination? Swing improvement? How the heck could I ever possibly pretend to know? I'd have a better chance of handicapping a Trifecta at the track. Thanks to eBay and lots of range balls and many rounds, I found a driver that works - that's all I know.
11/28/09
 
bashngouge says:
Tried the choke on the driver, better consistency (12 out of 14 fairways) with no loss in distance. Thanks for the tip. However, I would have better luck putting with a garden tool in the last round. Fix that!
11/28/09
 
SteveS says:
@Swingem - First of all I'm no expert, but here's my thoughts: I've read many, may articles and built a few clubs over the past 3 years. If you're looking to shorten your driver an 1" or so; trim from the butt-you will not notice the difference. Trimming from the tip will make the shaft stiffer. Swingweight impact is also negligable. Most people can't tell the difference. Removing an 1" from the butt will reduce the overall weight by 2 grams at most. I don't think you will feel that;
11/29/09
 
David Fox8 says:
I'm real late to the party, but just stumbled upon short driver discussions. I took my old Callaway X460, 9* S cut from 45" to 44". Went to the range last night and was extremely pleased with the results. I'm a 17hdcp hitting 40% fwys with the my driver the last few months. A normal drive length is ~240 with anything 250+ killed (for me). My flight path is generally a slight pull with a gentle fade, but have been have losing them farther right and not playable. Range balls aren't the best judge; however my drives maintained their distance. Contact was better. I was working the both both ways on demand, and mishits seemed to be playable in the 215 - 220 range. Can't wait to try it on the course.
10/28/11
 
David Fox8 says:
one addition: made no adjustments for swing weight. chopping the inch and new grip took it from D3 to C8. It feels fine.
10/28/11
 
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