About These Adjustable Drivers
I promised I would give you my take on these, if you really wanted to hear it. Well, the number of emails I received gave me the answer, so here goes.
In theory, this is a concept that makes a lot of sense. The ability to tweak your driver to favor a fade or draw, or a slightly lower or higher ball flight certainly would seem to be a great thing, especially if it really worked. We see most of the major brands now offering pretty-much-the-same approach to the opportunity created when the USGA ruled that such an adjustability of a golf club would conform to the Rules of Golf. By rotating the clubhead around the shaft to different set locations, you can slight alter the face angle and/or loft.
Sounds reasonable enough, right? But here’s where the theory falls well short of actual beneficial performance:
Golf shafts are not symmetrical.
Except for the most high-grade graphite shafts that cost hundreds of dollars, graphite shafts have shaft-to-shaft inconsistencies that make each shaft perform differently depending on its orientation into the clubhead. A while back I wrote about the similarity of heads and shafts to tires and wheels on your car. No matter what quality of component you have, optimum performance can only be achieved when a single shaft is matched and aligned with a single head. Just like the tire shop has to balance that high grade tire to the exact wheel it is going to be installed on.
I’m mostly referring to the shaft’s spine and how the position of that spine can cause a shaft to “jump” . . . even just a bit . . . as it loads and unloads. This is totally a function of the manufacturing structure of that particular shaft, and it has nothing to do with the graphics on the shaft. Only a properly-equipped clubmaker can show you this.
So, if you rotate the shaft around in the head, not only are you changing the orientation of loft and face angle, you are changing the way that shaft will perform in the fraction of a second from top of backswing to impact, when the club accelerates from 0 to 100+ mph, wherein the shaft loads and unloads under terrific G-forces and in a rotation around its axis. The chances of you actually getting the performance that the owner’s manual says you will are pretty darn remote in my observation, experience and opinion.
With regard to the adjustable sole plate to change lie or face angle, that’s baloney. You better not be making contact with the turf with your driver, so how can the sole plate affect anything? And those adjustable weights? I’m skeptical of how much effect on ball flight you can have by moving just a few grams around . . . . but it does make for good marketing buzz, huh?
Let me end by saying that I don’t think there is a “bad” clubhead out there. The driver you are going to bench for one of these new adjustable ones has a head that is probably as good as it’s going to get for you. What makes one driver perform better than another is all about the shaft, and if you have a driver that looks good to you, spend your time and money having it re-shafted by a skilled clubmaker who can determine the best shaft for your swing, and put the club together so that it is oriented correctly in the golf club.
You asked me to sound off, so there it is. Comments?
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I have a Titleist D910 D2 driver with a Project X-7C3 6.0 shaft. I've tried several settings and have not noticed any noticeable impact from rotating the shaft to any of the settings. Not too concerned anyway since I settled for the B1 setting which lowers the lie angle by 0.75° and leaves the loft unchanged.
Almost forgot, the B1 setting leaves the shaft in the factory default alignment.
When I started golfing I purchased a Taylormade Burner, and after my first season I talked with a local pro shop and instead of buying a new driver and 3 wood, he put new shafts on them and now I am hitting them fantastically.
I have been wanting to get my Driver reshafted since the first time i remember TWG talking about how the shaft is the engine of the club and how long shafts are by manf standards. I have 45.5 in shaft and would prefer a 44" and want it tuned and spined and aligned. That is the only logical reason i am not hitting it 300 and straight. :)
All things being equal... and not to be categorically smug, but the swinger and the swing dictate exponentially more of the ball flight than any minute adjustments of a club. Though I love golf/vehicle analogies, perhaps a better example would be the tail wagging the dog here; the club is the tail, the end of the club is the tip of the tail. I still have a collection of old wooden and other archaic drivers. Every so often I'll take them out to the range to show a friend who is learning, that they can all be hit well and with astonishing authority. Don't get wrapped up in advertising hocus pocus!
More importantly though is that Wedge Guy can see, from the club maker's perspective that retail golf equipment has almost arbitrary standards for construction. There are a small percentage of players (mostly pros) who have the opportunity to hit the same club/shaft combinations and still feel the difference in the construction method. Those guys don't shop retail, right? Most amplifier stacks are wired to be "in phase," though Jimi Hendrix often preferred the "out of phase" sound. Most people would never notice or hear the difference.
You know, even with my pathetic amount of experience, I've just always felt like they're
A) Gimmicks and
B) A bit of a cheat!
@agustin.... The factory default position is determined by the paint job on the shaft... There are a couple of shaft makers that mark the spines on their shafts, club manufacturers ignore the marks.
BTW: it is not only cheap shafts that vary in performance with orientation in the clubhead... rotate your $300 shaft 90° in the head and see what happens...
Interesting. I thought the only piece of the adjustable drivers that would really make any difference is the weighting, from my own experience. When I picked up my first "new" driver (R5 Dual-D), I immediately saw a significant decrease in my slice. I went from a big banana curve to a very manageable few yards (from slice to cut, if you will). I suppose this could simply be attributed to the forgiveness of the R5 over the stock driver I was using, but I think the theory behind the weighting changes is fairly sound... so much so that I replaced my Dual-D with a Dual TP, so that I could play with the weights a little bit and see if I could straighten the ball out even more.
Personally I also think that the movable weights etc etc are good if youre a robot and can have the perfect swing every time to give the draw or fade.
If you carn't hit your driver straight, I dont think an adjustabe driver will fix your problems ....... go and get a lesson
Shafts on the other hand ..... yes make a difference, especially flex .... get this setting right.
@TeT - I've actually hit the driver from all settings and the results where as predicted. It did not matter if the shaft was rotated 90°, 180° or 270°. The performance of the shaft did not seem to change and the shot trajectory varied as predicted by the setting. My guess is that the higher quality (and stiffer) the shaft, the less the rotation affects the outcome. I don't expect this to be the same for the cheapo stock shafts most manufacturers put on their clubs.
@davidperreau - The shaft's kickpoint also makes a huge difference. Any aspect that affects the spin of the ball will greatly affect the trajectory. Too much sidespin will result in hooks/slices and too much backspin will result in ballooned shots that will not roll and cannot be shaped. When getting fit for a driver make sure that the RPMs of the ball of the face of the club are considered.
TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT The sole plate is for adjusting face angle at address, not turf related. You should put one on your wedges to make them look cooler.
Great article.I always wondered what would happen with the spine alignment,and frequency balancing if you changed the rotation of the shaft.It kind of throws the two out the window.I never was one for gimmicks,and totally agree with the wedge guy.See a club maker and get a shaft to fit your swing.A club maker told me years ago,never change your swing to fit a shaft,always change your shaft to fit your swing.
Sheeeit to me it sounds like manufacturers ought to focus less on gimmicky stuff like this and more on producing shafts that are uniform and produce predictable consistent results from one unit to the next. It's unsettling to think that you can spend $400 on a cool new driver when actually the next one on the rack that looks identical might work better.
I curse the day I bought that damned adjustable driver. When I told the clubmaker who put my set together I had one, he just rolled his eyes.
I have a new Titleist 910D (adjustable) driver. I ordered it with a custom upgraded shaft. I hit it at the default setting when I got it and couldn't make it go straight. I'd forgotten I had it at a different setting when I was fitted. So, I adjusted it a notch or two and now hit it straight. I realize the shaft is now not optimally aligned, but I can't feel the difference. After I play this set up for awhile, I plan to reshaft with the "perfect" high-end custom shaft for me, have it pured and assembled by a qualified clubmaker so it sits correctly oriented in the head at the setting that works best for me. At the end of the day, the cost will be the most I've ever spent on any piece of golf equipment. Maybe I'm an idiot, but if I gain confidence on the tee by doing this (and a couple extra yards) what's few bucks?
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