3 Key Specifications of Driver Fitting

Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 in Driver Fitting, Tips | 19 comments

What golfer doesn’t dream of owning that “magic driver” which enables them to hit the ball consistently solid and in play?  Tip number one; the very best driver for every golfer is never selected by its brand or model name or model number.  It is chosen by its custom clubfitting specifications and how those individual factors are matched to the golfer’s size, strength, athletic ability and most of all, to their swing characteristics.  Below, are 3 key specifications for proper Driver fitting, and a couple more for good measure.

Driver Length

It’s time to be blunt.  The standard driver length of 45.5 to 46.5 inches offered by the majority of golf club companies is too long for the majority of golfers and will prevent at least 75% of all golfers from achieving their maximum potential for distance and accuracy.  For men with an average to fast tempo with an outside/in swing path, 44” should be the maximum length; women, 42.5” to 43” should be the limit.  There’s a very good reason the average driver length on the US PGA Tour since 2005 has been 44.5” and not 45.5” to 46.5”.

Driver Loft

Driver loft must be matched in combination to the golfer’s swing speed and their angle of attack into the ball.  The slower the swing speed and the more downward the angle of attack, the higher the loft of the driver has to be for maximum distance – and vice versa.  While each golfer has to be individually analyzed to know which loft brings the most distance, here is a basic chart to use as a guideline.

 

Driver Swing Speed

  Best Loft for Carry (web  conditions)

Best Loft for Roll Out (dry conditions)

50

21

20

60

18

17

70

16

15

80

14

13

90

12

11

100

11

10

110

9.5

8.5

Based on Level Angle of Attack and Average Wrist-Cock Release Position

 

Driver Face Angle

Few drivers sold off the shelf offer options in the face angle to reduce the golfer’s tendency to slice or hook the ball.  There is no better way to reduce a slice than to fit the golfer with a more closed face angle in the driver/fairway woods.  For more severe slices, the golfer can be fit with a driver head with both a closed face and an offset hosel design.

The rule of thumb for face angle change?   At a carry distance of 200 yards, each one degree more closed the face angle is than the golfer’s current face angle represents a reduction in the slice of about 4 to 5 yards.

And a Couple More for Covering Your Golfers’ DriverFitting Needs . . .

Total Weight and Swingweight

The stronger the golfer physically and the more aggressively they swing, the heavier the total weight and swingweight will need to be.  The opposite is true for the weaker and much less aggressive swinging player.  Matching the “weights” of the driver to the golfer’s swing strength and aggressiveness is critical for swing tempo consistency and the highest incidence of on-center impacts.

Shaft

Here’s the facts about the shaft.  While the weight, the overall flex and the stiffness bend profile of the shaft has to be fit properly to all golfers, the shaft flex and bend profile are more important for golfers with a late release of the wrist-cock angle in the downswing than for golfers with an earlier release.

Addressing these three very important elements of driver fitting through proper custom clubfitting can only be done by an experienced custom clubmaker, so FIND A CLUBFITTER near you and you will see dramatic improvements in your driver this year!

19 Comments

  1. tom, love your stuff……. what do you do with swing weight if you cut down a longer driver?

    thx steve

    • STEVE
      The initial rule of thumb with swingweight when cutting down the length of a club is to being back half of the swingweight points lost in the length reduction, start hitting shots and go from there with experimenting on the effect of bringing it up anymore than that. Example – Let’s say you cut a 46″/D1 driver down to 44″. That 2″ drop will move the swingweight from D1 to around B9 for a loss of 12 points. Bring the club up to C5 and start hitting shots on the range, taking the time to note how much you can feel the presence of the head during the swing. If after 3-4 shots you sense that the club feels a little head light and you can’t really feel the presence of the head enough for your swing control and comfort, then add 2 swingweight points and do the hitting analysis for head feel again. Stop when you just start to feel that the head is beginning to feel a little too heavy and remove the last two swingweight points and play with the club for a week to see how it goes and how you feel about the head weight feel during the swing. Hope this helps,
      TOM

  2. I must be the exception to the rule. I am 77 years old, still on single figures. I have an old R7 driver which I have an UST MP5 stiff flex shaft fitted. I have the length of 46.5 fitted. I build my own clubs and have done so for years. I have tried all types of shaft length and flex combinations but this suits me best. I have always hit the ball straight and the local professional told me that the stiff flex shaft suits me because I have a smooth swing. All my playing partners comment about how straight I hit the ball, I usually only miss one fairway a round, so I guess I am lucky. I think the old saying, different strokes for different folks applies.

    • Alan

      At 77 and a single digit player, you ARE most certainly the exception to the rule of golfers ! Good for you and congratulations for that because I am sure you amaze everyone you play with ! As a single digit player who also can build clubs, there is no question this has given you the opportunity to really find out what works best for you and your swing. That’s the great thing about learning to build clubs for your own enjoyment. You really can learn a ton to help you in the game that way. For every golfer there is a distinct combination of club FEEL that best matches with their learned tempo and sense of timing and rhythm in the swing. We can define this feel empirically using several different parameters and length is one of them along with total weight, headweight, balance point, and the moment of inertia of the club too. But you are rare in terms of being able to find that 46.5″ is your best driver length. From my 30+ yrs in fitting research I would say that puts you in a small group that might be 1% of all male golfers at the very most. So, like your single digit handicap at the age of 77, you have one other thing in the game that makes you quite unique !!!

      Best to you in this great game and thanks very much for your interest in the technical side of equipment !
      TOM

  3. I have five of your drivers (two 959 10/2 degree) (1 919 10 1/2)

    two 11 degree. after reading your article on shafts length .I will have mine cut two 43 1/2 THANK YOU DON

  4. Tom,

    I am currently in Asia and very far away from my fitter in Hawaii, Gary Asano. 2 yrs ago, he put me into the following (high-launch) Blue wood shafts, which has since cracked:

    sw spd: 90-100
    wgt: 56g
    trn: 1-2
    tem: 1-2
    rls: 2-3
    strgth: 1-2

    I think I’ve outgrown this shaft due to factors incl technique and fitness; would like a little more piercing, mid-high trajectory.

    Can you speculate performance of Claymore MX 48 F4
    as possible replacement? Suggestions?

    Thank you,

  5. i’m 5’10” and bought the SLDR driver last year from Taylor Made. i left everything stock. my wrist to floor length is around 36. i have always hit a low draw, almost hook. my swing speed stays around 90. i think my draw comes from years of baseball, which has influenced my swing. with my new driver (not exactly sure of shaft length, but it hasn’t been touched), i have found myself hitting the ground behind the ball on most of my swings. with the specs i have given, what would be your recommendation on shaft length. i actually have a tournament in a few days (a scramble, so not too big of an issue), and i just want to take it to my local pro and say, “i want this X length, with X flex, X kickpoint (for height purposes)”. take an educated guess if you would…it really can’t get any worse. if your recommendation isn’t ideal, i don’t mind to start over with a true fitting based on my swing. thanks in advance!

    • TONY
      You can be very sure that the driver needs to be substantially shorter in length for you to gain control with the club and be able to play with it more successfully than you do now. You have a decision to make – whether to sell this driver as it is to get the most you can for it and then go get properly fit from scratch for a true custom fit/custom built driver or to cut this driver down shorter, have it re weighted for the shorter length, and go on using it. Your choice. If you have this SLDR cut shorter, cut it to a playing length of 44″ to start with by trimming to that length off the grip end of the shaft. Of course you have to have the grip removed to do this. but a very key part of this will be to add weight back to the head to restore the head weight feel that otherwise is hugely reduced when the length is cut shorter. About the only easy way to do that is with lead tape put on the outside of the head. How much? To at least re weight the club to a swingweight of C9 and then hit some shots to see if you feel the head weight enough during the swing, or not at which time more weight would be added back to the head.

      In the end, if you really want the best driver for your game and your swing, sell this SLDR, go to our FIND A CLUBFITTER locator search tool on our home page, type in your town/city and see if there is a good clubmaker with whom you could work to be fit for a driver with ALL OF THE KEY FITTING SPECS fit to YOU and your swing.

      TOM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *