Driver Clubhead Size and Performance – Who Wins?
There are a number of golfers who dislike drivers which look so large to them in size they perceive it as being like a “grapefruit on the end of a stick.” Online golf equipment forums will occasionally include threads in which golfers ask golf companies to develop and introduce sub 400cc drivers. Within such comments invariably the question is asked, “can a smaller size driver perform as well as a larger one, and if so, why haven’t the golf companies offered at least an alternative smaller size driver?”
In a nutshell, if a company can be sure a smaller size driver will sell enough units to far exceed the cost of development and marketing, you can be absolutely sure they will make it. All the golf companies are in the business of making money. That’s why if you don’t see smaller size drivers being offered, the companies are convinced the demand is not going to be significant enough to merit the introduction of a smaller size driver. Period.
Way too many golfers still believe that “bigger is better” when it comes to driver head performance. This is a key reason companies do not spend the money to develop a smaller size model. From a pure performance standpoint, the larger the size of a clubhead, the higher its Moment of Inertia could be. In turn that means the larger the head, the better it’s off center hit performance could be.
Likewise, the larger the size of the head, the larger the face area could be as well. Larger size face does not mean a higher COR for more distance because we all know it is eminently possible to reach the USGA’s limit on spring face capability on a face that would be commensurate with a sub 400cc size driver head. For that matter we proved it is possible to achieve a high COR with the far smaller size of a fairway wood or hybrid. But it is true that a larger size face can make it easier to design a variable thickness face that can offer a very high level of off center hit performance.
The bottom line is that it is definitely possible to make a driver head with a volume of 380cc to 400cc that would perform every bit as well for distance and off center hit performance as any of the 460cc heads currently on the market. Yes, the 460cc head’s MOI would likely be higher, but not by so much that it could bring about a significant improvement in off center hit performance. MOI modeling studies for Wishon Golf have shown that a difference of 1400 g/cm2 in the MOI of a driver head, basically the difference between a 360cc and 460cc volume head, offers only a difference of ¼ of 1 degree in resistance to off center hit head twisting. And that’s for a golfer with a 109mph clubhead speed. For golfers with a 100mph and lower swing speed, the additional off center hit improvement from a 1400 g/cm2 difference in MOI is much less.
If all the golf companies could be convinced that enough golfers would buy a smaller size driver to make it worth the expense to develop and introduce such a model, golfers would not skip a beat in terms of the performance they could achieve with a smaller size head. It’s all a matter of supply and demand – and right now there is just not enough demand to generate a supply.