Your First Scoring Club
I made another visit to “Oz” yesterday, as I took time out from my business trip to Dallas to look inside a PGA Tour Superstore. As I wandered around, looking at what must have been a million dollars or more in inventory, I determined not much has changed in this business since I first started writing this blog over four years and 500 articles ago. So this morning’s blog is a revisit of a topic I wrote about way back then, which still holds true today. It was about thinking of your driver as your first scoring club.

* * *

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 irons have “P-clubs” 43 degrees of loft (which was an 8-iron when I was younger). Does that really help your game? 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 thing 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 was shorter. You can prove this to yourself. In your next round of golf, grip down on your driver a full inch . . . or even two . . . every time you hit it. I’ll bet you’ll find that you hit more solid long drives than you have in some time. And your accuracy will be much improved.

Regardless of your skill level, there isn’t a golf course anywhere that doesn’t play easier from the fairway than it does from the rough, bunkers, OB, water, etc.

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 grip down on these long drivers and my accuracy came right back, without a loss of distance!

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 is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
legitimatebeef says:
Well then they are all scoring clubs if you're gonna put it that way. All clubs affect your score I guess. See this ball? It's my scoring ball. See this tee? Well you get the point.
8/2/11
 
Envythepea says:
I totally get this, Terry. I've noticed that I have a times driven the ball as far with my 3-metal as with my driver. I'm going to try the gripping down a couple inches next time out. I don't know about the lead tape part though. Does that go on and off the club easily?
8/2/11
 
DoubleDingo says:
I wrapped some first aid tape around the grip of my Cobra driver so I know where to grip it and have it be similar in length to my Persimmon driver that I hit very straight.
I knew my eyes weren't deceiving me! I knew the pro's drivers looked shorter than what is bought off the rack.
8/2/11
 
dartboss04 says:
good read as this addresses my main struggle this year...i was thinking of shortening the shaft on my ping g15...do you need to add more weight to the head or is that just an option for better feel? will it affect the actual peformance if they just cut off length?
8/2/11
 
RyanJ says:
When measuring a shaft do you begin where the shaft enters the club head? If I find that my shaft is 45", can I just cut 1.5-2" off and re-grip?
8/2/11
 
Banker85 says:
I have been wanting to do this since i got my TM Tour Burner 2 years ago, which i believe is 46". I dont like gripping down that much becasue the grip feels different in my hands then when i grip it at the top. Anyone know the cost to either get the stock shaft cut down to 44 or 43" or to get a new shaft at the desired length?
8/2/11
 
kingwood hacker says:
I cut down my r9 460 from 45 3/4 to 44 1/2 and hit it 10 yards farther than I did before.
8/2/11
 
kingwood hacker says:
Banker, my local guy charges $3.00 to cut down a shaft. After you put a new grip ($3-$15 depeding on the grip plus $3.00 labor to install it), you are out no more than $20.
8/2/11
 
kingwood hacker says:
oh, and 20 minutes
8/2/11
 
TeT says:
Banker is right, choking down on a driver is not the most comfortable due to grip feeling different. Keep in mind anyone who does cut it down; its an easy fix to lengthen again, extenders are cheap and pretty much fail safe if you allow time for the adhesives to cure.
8/2/11
 
Banker85 says:
wow that is much lower then i thought it would be. Thanks i am going to check with a local club fitting shop and get this done!
8/2/11
 
Kickntrue says:
Interesting- the big name manufacturers will give you the run around on doing this. I've tried to have companies send me cut down drivers as "specs" and they won't do it because they say it changes the swing weight and messes with how the club was made to be hit. Personally though- when I've done it myself- results have been VERY positive.
8/2/11
 
brian575 says:
One thing that Terry did not mention is that you can also gain some of the swing weight back to your clubs by going to an ultralight grip. That would eliminate the lead tape that some people think takes away from the clubs appearance.
8/2/11
 
madmac3948 says:
Informative...Sooooo that's why I hit
My 3wood so much better and with more accuracy
then my driver. In fact I often out drive my friends with my 3, while they are hitting their drivers.
8/2/11
 
dartboss04 says:
Couldn't wait...just had this done on my g15 today...had the Winn ultra light grip put on...clubmaker also recommended some small tungsten adhesive squares as I would need too much lead tape to compensate...he said that the grip got me 2/3 of the way there so I may just try it out as is...
8/2/11
 
dooboo says:
Just checked my TM burner TP spec...from 09 model year. 46.25" Holy cracking...that is long. No wonder why I spray my ball off the tee with my driver. I started to choke down on it about an 1/2" to 1", but I should be actually choking it down to 2" to gain accuracy and hit my driver with confidence.
8/2/11
 
toothid says:
TERRY: Your article mentions that lead tape on heel corrects a draw (hook) and tape on the toe corrects a (slice) fade. My local golf shop suggested just the opposite (and it worked). Further online research confirms that lead on the heel corrects a fade (slice) and tape on the toe corrects a hook. What am I missing?
8/2/11
 
mlf16507 says:
toothid. you are correct. By putting tape on toe it slows the toe down and prevents hooks. By putting tape on heel it slows the heel down and prevents slices. Check out Diamond Tour Golf or Hireko for a thriver. It is a driver with 12.5* or 14* loft with the weight of a 3 wood(210 grams) Made to built a 431/2" or 44" I carry a Thriver and a 47" Mizuno(50gram shaft with Winn Lite grip-275grams total. I use the Thriver on tight driving and the Mizuno when it calls for bombs away.If a need a long shot from fairway with a good lie I use the Thriver
8/3/11
 
larrynjr says:
I just read this article but have come off the course with my best nine of the year(42). I was gripping at least 2" down on my driver and hit more fairways and greens than I ever have before. This does work.
8/3/11
 
wedgeguy says:
toothid,

Actually, I've seen the "lead tape effect" go both ways. It depends on the driver, shaft and golfer. With most amateur players, in my observation, the way I mention actually works, because the clubhead is passing the hands through impact, so the lead tape on toe or heel accelerates, not slows down, that end of the clubhead through impact. The fun of lead tape is that you can try things to see what works for you.
8/3/11
 
Matt F says:
I had my Burner cut down to 44" last year. With a new grip, cost me $15, but the real value was just hitting it better than I had been.
8/3/11
 
LeeRob says:
brian575, using a lighter grip will indeed change the swingweight, but have almost no effect on the dynamics of how the club feels in motion (MOI). You really need to get the swingweight back into a useable range factoring in a nominal grip weight. Playing without a glove would make a bigger change than a light grip.
8/3/11
 
Skyblue says:
I had a thought, if you shorten the length of your driver without altering the clubhead, the clubhead travels slightly slower because of the smaller radius of you swing. But because of the reduced swing weight of the club you increase the swing speed thus offsetting the distance loss.
8/15/11
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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