“Do I need a new driver?”
A member asked me this week. Was there new technology that would give him an extra 10 yards? Was it time to retire his Ping G15, that had served him well for seven years? Was he missing out?
Here are my thoughts and the questions I had for him. If you’re thinking about purchasing new equipment, then this may be helpful to you too.
Firstly, will 10 more yards lower your scores significantly?
A little extra distance can be helpful, but it won’t automatically translate into lower scores. Ultimately it means hitting one less club on your approach shots. Helpful, but not game changing.
How will you be gaining those 10 extra yards?
The USGA and R & A placed limits on drivers (the 0.83 COR limit) back in the mid-2000s. Every driver, from every manufacturer, built after that rule was introduced will produce virtually the same ball speed. That’s not to say, however, that manufacturers haven’t been able to build drivers that go further.
Here are their methods, some good, some to be wary of.
Weight distribution and COG location have been refined to optimise launch
Adjustability has allowed golfers to tweak loft and weight positioning to find the best launch conditions for their swings. That, on its own, can easily add 20 to 30 yards. This is technology that you should be taking advantage of.
Shaft technology has advanced over the years
Whatever your swing characteristics, there’ll be a shaft that’s perfect for you. And you don’t need to splash out on an exotic upgrade shaft either. The stock options are much improved. The right shaft can easily add 10 to 20 more yards, and help with accuracy and consistency too.
One way to build clubs that hit further is to simply make them longer. Tested on a machine, a longer shaft will move the club head faster. Swung by a human being, however, it’s a little different. Yes, a golfer may swing faster, but can they find the sweet spot? And can they square the club face to the ball? More club head speed is of little help when combined with erratic strikes and poor accuracy.
Again, this can lead to faster club head speeds, but how does it affect the average golfers’ swing? There will be a point at which a club becomes too light for a golfer to control.
Ultimately, the only way to find out is to try the latest technology. If you find a new driver that gives you extra yardage, without compromising your consistency and accuracy, then fantastic, go for it! Some golfers’ accuracy and consistency will benefit from a lighter driver. And a skilled player may find that a longer shaft has no effect other than simply adding a few extra yards to their drives.
However, if you hit one or two drives further than your old driver, but you also hit some bad shots, be wary of parting with your cash. Don’t get sucked into chasing an extra 10 yards at the expense of consistency and accuracy.
Lowering your scores is more about improving your bad shots than it is about improving your good shots.
A final question; is a £300+ driver a good investment for your game? I know plenty of golfers who like to buy the latest equipment and if that’s how they want to spend their money then I’m certainly not going to stop them. These golfers keep the wheels of the golf industry turning.
However, if your swing isn’t too hot, then there is only so much help you can get from your clubs, no matter how expensive they are – the ball certainly doesn’t care! If you’re not applying the club head to the ball effectively then new clubs are, at best, only every going to be masking up your swing flaws. I know a few golfers who try, but you can’t buy a solid golf game in any shop.
To make real progress, the best way is to invest time and money into a series of lessons and an improvement plan. That’s how to make a real difference to your game.