3 Key Specifications of Driver Fitting

Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 in Driver Fitting, Tips | 11 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!

11 Comments

  1. Hi Tom, All very good information there, what are your plans for a more closed driver in the future?
    Can you also give us a guide to the directional differences in you current drivers and fairway woods?
    Keep up the good work
    Richard

    • RICHARD:
      Our model 919THI Draw Bias Plus driver head is produced with standard specs of 10.5 loft with 3 hook face angle. So it is the most closed of all our driver models. Through our Hand Select program, we can sort and measure heads to find one as closed as 4 hook when desired for a golfer. So that is more closed than what you can find with most other companies out there.

      In terms of “directional differences” in any driver head design, that is really a product of chiefly the face angle designed into the head and secondarily the offset – not anything like center of gravity or MOI differences in the head. Outside of that, directional differences come from how you assemble the club – its length, total weight, swingweight being the main elements of directional control. But speaking only of the driver head design, face angle is the main thing you design into a driver HEAD that has to do with directional control with offset being a distant second.
      TOM

  2. Hi Tom,
    Thanks so much for your site. I’ve learned a lot from reading your comments. You seem to really know what you are talking about. I’d be grateful if you could help me with a driver fitting.
    Last year I bought the titleist D3 with the stock diamana ‘ahina 72 low-mid stiff shaft. I’m a tech geek and measure my stats often and so can be accurate in saying average ball speed off the driver runs from 162 to 167 mph. I notice on video that in the middle of the downswing when the club is parallel to the ground the shaft is bending significantly FORWARD, TOWARD the ball. I’ve never seen anyone address this. Do I need a new driver, new shaft, new swing, or all of the above. I hit the ball about 280 but would be happy with more distance if possible.
    Would a custom fit club help?
    Thank you,
    Seth

    • Hi Seth-

      Tom gave me a heads up about your question as he’s off the grid for a week and we wanted to get to you in a timely manner.

      It’s hard for me to say if this driver fits you or not, because there just isn’t much data for me to analyze and there are a lot of variables that contribute to performance. Could you get more distance? Possibly. It really depends how efficiently your head speed is being converted to ball speed and what you are producing for launch angle and spin rate and how those affect what is happening down range and when the ball lands. If you are maxed out for distance then a good fitting would be able to tighten up your dispersion so that you have more on course consistency.

      In terms of the video of your swing, you have to be really careful here because it isn’t always what is happening in real life. Many cameras use a progressive scan so by the time the lower part of the image is captured, the shaft has already moved. This creates “artifacts” which are remnant images that then show up as odd things like the shaft bending more than it actually is. My guess is that this is what is happening, because to get a shaft to bend as much as it looks to you would mean that it is so soft, it’s something you would never play.

      I hope this helps.

      matt mohi

    • I know this comment 2 year old, but thought I would add in case someone else is reading this. Most likely what you’re seeing is an effect of the camera called a “rolling shutter”. It has to do with the fact that the horizontal lines at the bottom of the image are rendered later in the image than the lines above it. This is especially true if video is taken with a smartphone (esp 2 years ago). Just google “rolling shutter effect” and you’ll see examples.

  3. Hi Tom,
    I’ve had your fitting and bought your irons and wedges but held off the driver, being nervous about your suggested loft and shaft length. So, for the last 6 mths I’ve left the driver in the garage and teed off with with a No3 fairway wood. Ok, I’ve lost 20yds in driving distance but I’ve spent less time in the rough, my fairway wood play has got better and overall I’d guess my tee to green scores have come down. I’ve had to work harder to lower the flight in high winds but overall the experiment has shown a net gain.

    But I think there is a another factor in play here. It seems to me that when you are making a full swing the shaft length has an effect on the swing tempo; a long shaft forces a slower tempo and a short shaft gives you the option for a faster, crisper tempo.

    So Tom, since we each have a natural tempo to our swing, shouldn’t you be fitting the shaft length to our natural tempo rather than our swing speed?

    • Bill:

      Without question, when we write about length fitting WE DO VERY MUCH STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF SWING TEMPO AND THE TRANSITION FORCE TO START THE DOWNSWING as important elements in determining the golfer’s best final length. We’ve taught for years that golfers who are much more aggressive, more forceful and faster overall in general tempo never do well with longer driver lengths and seriously need to go shorter, much shorter than what the big golf companies ordain as the std length for their drivers.

      Other factors we also teach as length considerations are the swing path AND the point of wrist cock release on the downswing. More outside in the path as well as early to midway release means you cannot go longer.

      TOM

  4. i am 6’5 about 290 (down from 310). my driver is 45.5 in long. my average drive is right about 245. i have hit 285 yd shots a handful of times but im more consistently around the 245-250 range.

    Lot’s of my questions were answered here. im probably going to head to the the tee to green fitters in gulfport, ms this weekend for a fitting. i bought a set of ping g20 irons (3&4H) with project x rifle shafts on the irons and regular projectx shafts on the hybrids, my current driver is a 9.5 stiff flex taylormade rocketballz (green and black) and i swear i hit the ball straighter off the tee with either of my hybrids or a beginners 3 wood. my driver flight path look like if you drew the letter “C” from the bottom up while the Hybrids and 3 wood are like a lower case “r”. my questions are this:

    1)i read that a 10.5 driver with a regular flex would straighten me out but i would lose 20 yards. is this true or false? i would like to be straighter but i want to stay around the 240+ mark cause my hybrids can go 205 and straight. if i lose 20 yards off my drives why buy a driver.

    2) i also read were ping and taylormade add 3* more loft than stamped?

    any suggestions on if i should focus more on a driver or a 3 wood for my tee shots?

    thanks

    • DANNY

      When you say you are going to work with Tee to Green fitters in Gulfport, I assume you will be working with Steve Scharnhorst there on your fitting requirements. If so, TRUST HIM COMPLETELY to do the analysis of your swing and to use his depth of experience to guide you in terms of precisely what you need in your fitting requirements for your equipment. Steve is good, he is very experienced and if you work with him you will be in very good hands.

      Proper fitting is best done face to face, one on one, so that the clubfitter can SEE everything about how you swing. Fitting is completely about matching the specifications of the golf clubs to the specific swing characteristics of the golfer. As such, we certainly can offer guidelines and information from afar, but in no way can we be as accurate in offering you specifics on fitting advise as can a good clubfitter like Steve who has the advantage of working face to face with you. So trust him to tell you what you need to know to get into the best fit possible for your size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics.

      Whether you focus more on a driver or 3w for tee shots depends entirely on your tendencies to hit the driver more off line or more straight. most of us will hit a 3w more accurately more of the time than a driver because 3 woods are usually 2″ or more shorter in length than most drivers. This is true even when a golfer has been accurately custom fit because longer length like that ALMOST ALWAYS means less consistency for accuracy and quality of impact.

      As to which golf companies make their driver heads with more loft than is engraved or put on the head, yes, there are some who do this. WE’ve been told this by a number of very reputable custom clubmakers who do measure and analyze other companies’ clubs over the daily course of their work. Here at Wishon Golf, we do not pay any attention to what the other companies do in their club development work because we simply are involved in our own design, development and research work. So I can tell you that yes, some companies do this on some of their driver models, but I can’t tell you who does and does not.

      Here again, if you work with Steve, I can testify that he is VERY, VERY particular about making sure all the specs of the clubs, including loft, are exactly what he wants them to be for each golfer. So again, trust him to do a very good job for you in all your fitting requirements.

      Thanks so much for your interest, and best wishes in this great game,
      TOM

  5. Im a beginner to intermediate player been playing for 1 year. My height is 5’6. Im pretty athletic and my swing speed with my driver is around 100 mph. I have a significant sliced and I know why. My swingpath is outside to in. I have been working on that. I bought the xhot driver with a regular flex and a 9.5 loft. The 10.5 loft driver seemed to baloon it a little much. I have a full size shaft. I feel its a little long. The pro shop guy says I will get use to it. Please help me

    • Kelly
      I am very sorry to be so blunt, but when you said the “pro shop guy said you would get used to the length”, that really makes me mad. From this statement, it is evident that this pro shop guy is a complete idiot who knows nothing about proper clubfitting and how it can help golfers like yourself. There is NO POSSIBLE WAY that you should be playing with that 45″+ length of this XHot because for one, you are 5″6″ and for the other which is more important, you are a beginner to intermediate player with an outside in path. Your driver length should not be longer than 43 1/2″ and in addition, you will need a FLATTER LIE ANGLE to go with that because of your height. With a 43 1/2″ length you will have a little easier time trying to get that outside in path to be less outside in or to hopefully be more square. With a 45″+ length you would be fighting the outside in path for a very long time.

      My best advice would be to sell this driver on Ebay for as much as you can because it is not going to be able to be retro fit to fit you. Take the money and use it to get properly custom fit with clubs that can be specifically built to your needs. Take a look on the home page of our web site under the FIND A CLUBFITTER locator to see if there is a certified fitter near you with whom you could work to get clubs to fit you properly.

      Thanks for coming to us for help, and the next time you see this “pro shop guy” tell him to email me at contact@wishongolf.com and I will be happy to send him a FREE copy of one of my books so he can start learning what he needs to learn about club performance for golfers and then he can actually help the golfers he sees instead of giving them such bad advice as he has with you. Sorry for the anger here, but dammit, I really get sick of people who work in this game and don’t know squat about golf club performance for real golfers’ needs.
      TOM

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