3 Critical Keys to Increasing Driver Distance

Posted by on Jan 24, 2012 in Clubfitting, Driver Fitting, Tips | 98 comments

What golfer isn’t impressed by the driver distance of tour players? But what about us mere mortals with our 60 to 90-something mph swing speeds? The number one thing that keeps all of us from hitting the ball farther is the physics of impact, otherwise translated to mean “if you don’t have the swing speed, you can’t hit the ball to the screen at the end of the practice range.” But there are three things in a driver which, if matched and custom fit accurately to your swing, can bring about a good bit more distance.

 

Critical Key #1

The LENGTH of your driver is critical. If you buy into the premise that the longer the driver, the longer the drive, you have just bought into a load of malarkey and you’ll be destined to a constant fight with your #1 wood. There is one and only one exception to this rule – if you have a swing tempo that is as smooth as silk, an inside out to square swing path and if you have a late wrist-cock release, you can get a few more yards with a longer driver length. Unfortunately, for most golfers those swing traits are rare which translates to mean a shorter driver length is better.

The longer the length of the driver, the harder it is to consistently hit the ball on-center and solid. If you miss the “sweet spot” on the face of your driver by only a half-inch, you just gave away some 5% of your potential distance. Miss it by a full inch and you lose 10% of your potential distance.

Standard length men’s drivers today are between 45.5 and 46.5 inches in length. Women’s drivers are but 1 inch shorter. Now think about this – the average driver length on the PGA Tour since 2005 has remained steady at 44.5”. If the pros could hit a 45.5”- 46.5” driver consistently solid and accurate, bet the farm they would be using that length because distance with control is a huge advantage in this game. Unless your swing is smooth as silk with a late release, tip number 1 is to be custom fit for the driver length that best matches your swing tempo, swing path release and golf athletic ability.

Critical Key #2

For maximizing your driver distance is the LOFT angle on the face of your driver. If your swing speed is 90-100mph and your driver loft angle is lower than 11 degrees, 90% of you are losing distance by playing the wrong loft. If your swing speed is 80-85 mph, the average driver swing speed of a male golfer today, you’re giving up real distance increases of at least 10 yards or more if you are not using a driver with a loft angle of at least 12-13 degrees. And if you have a swing speed under 80mph and you’re not using a driver with at least 14-15 degrees of loft, you too have more distance waiting to be unleashed.

Critical Key #3

Total Weight and Swingweight of your driver is critical key #3. In other words, we’re talking about how much your driver weighs (total weight), and of that weight, how much of it is in the head (swingweight). The total weight and the headweight of your driver have to be matched to your physical strength, your swing tempo and your golfing athletic ability. Play with too light of a total weight or swingweight for your strength, tempo and ability and your percentage of off-center hits increases.

Addressing these three points for YOUR swing through proper custom clubfitting can only be done by an experienced custom clubmaker, so FIND A CLUBFITTER near you and you will see 10 or more yards off the tee this year!

98 Comments

  1. Tom,
    I was fit for a new Titleist TS2 Driver 45.25 inches but a D7 swingweight. Do you find that to be generally a heavy swingweight? I want to say it’s 4 points above standard. What are the benefits of a heavier Driver? I’m 53 and swing around 95mph, average around 230-240 yards, including rollout. I can change the weight to 4g less with a separate weight I bought. The weight is toward the back of the head and replaceable. Thank you.

    • CLIFF

      Keep in mind there are two different weights when it comes to a golf club, the TOTAL WEIGHT and then the head weight feel which is measured as the swingweight. yes for sure D7 is a very high swingweight and would be in today’s equipment 6 swingweight points higher than average. What happens if a golfer ends up with too high of a swingweight can be, 1) a noticeable increase in the amount of effort to swing the club on the downswing to impact, in some cases so much more than the golfer starts to move around more as an offshoot of having to work harder to swing the club which then results in a drop in shot consistency, 2) a tendency to push the ball out to the right, to leave the ball “hanging” out in “right field” so to speak because the higher headweight feel makes it more difficult to square the face around at impact, 3) Just an overall feeling of it taking too much work to swing the club so the swing speed begins to drop lower causing a distance loss.

      The real problem however with this driver is the 45.25″ length. For 98% of all golfers anything over 44″ is too long and will cause a definite problem with achieving as good of a level of shot consistency as you might be able to achieve. The only golfers we find in our research who truly are well fit in that long of a driver have these swing characteristics – 1) smooth, rhythmic tempo, 2) inside out to square swing path, 3) later to very late unhinging of the wrist hinge angle on the downswing, 4) average to flatter swing plane. If the golfer is faster/aggressive with the tempo, outside in with the path, early to midway with the release or more upright in his swing plane then in no way can he play as well with a driver longer than 44 than with one that is 44 or shorter.

      TOM

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