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I know you’ve heard the term “driver specifications”.
Do you know what they really are, and which ones we should care about? Read on to find out what they are…
Where were we? Right… driver specs. There are all kinds of things we can measure on a driver. But not too many are really important, as far as we’re concerned. The ones that are, in no particular order:
1. Loft. Loft is the angle of the face relative to the ground. Put simply, the faster you swing, the less loft you need. The slower you swing, the more loft you need. It’s a balance between how high you hit the ball and with how much it spins. Slower swingers need more height and more backspin, so the ball carries farther. Now, if you swing up at the ball (AKA, “ascending”), you may need less loft than your swing speed may dictate. If you swing down on the ball (“descending”), you might need more loft than your swing speed requires.
2. Length. Maybe the most important spec… but since I realize just now that I put it at #2 and I don’t really feel like restarting this post, we’re going to leave it here. You have to have a length that allows you to hit the “sweet spot“. Most drivers today are between 45.5″ and 46.5″… that’s pretty long, considering the max allowed by the Rules of Golf is 48″. With a robot, a 46″ driver is a pretty formidable thing… but we are not robots (but when cybernetic replacement parts become accessible, sign me up!). A robot can be placed to hit the ball anywhere on the face, with any swing speed. It makes all the marketing claims true. You may find your personal best is 43″; it’s also a possibility that it’s 48″. No one can say for sure until you try… but the majority of us may be better off with something around 44”. The point is to make sure you hit the “sweet spot”- you get the most “rebound effect”, which means more distance. You also stand a better chance of squaring the face at impact, which means straighter shots.
3. Swing Weight. This refers to how heavy the head feels. Some people like a heavier-feeling head, while others prefer a lighter head feel. Getting this right allows you to maintain a good swing rhythm, which can lead to more consistency.
4. Overall Weight. Not the same as Swing Weight; this refers to how much the whole club weighs. The average driver head weighs 200g, with some being as high as 210g (about the weight of a 3 wood), all the way down to 165g! But 200g is a pretty good average. Grips weigh roughly 50g, but again, they can be pretty heavy or light. So, barring any outliers, most of the overall weight change is going to come from the shaft, which can range anywhere between 35g and 100+g! Generally, stronger golfers may be better suited for heavier overall weights, while the not-so-strong might want lighter weights.
5. Grip Size. This one’s pretty easy. You have to be comfortable, and having the right grip size lets that happen. You don’t want to squeeze too tight, you don’t want to be too loose. Having a comfortable grip size does that.
6. Shaft Weight. Thought I was gonna say shaft FLEX, didn’t you? Well, no. Shaft flex isn’t nearly as important for the average golfer compared to shaft weight. Most golfers don’t have the ideal late release of their wrist-cock angle; in Layman’s terms, they “cast” the club. When they do that, no matter what the flex, they’ve already spent all that flex well before the club reaches hip high. However, if the shaft (and by extension, the overall weight of the club) is too heavy or too light, the club will be hard to swing efficiently.
7. Face Angle. If you’re a chronic slicer, a closed (AKA: hook) faced driver may help mitigate it. If you’re a chronic hooker (feel free to giggle, as I am while I write this!), an open driver face may help. The key word is “may”… there are things we can do to a club to make it not so slice-prone, but all of it means nada if you can’t learn to at least rotate your hands closed even a little bit (or any other maladies) through impact.
That’s really it. It seems like a lot just looking at this, and my hands are telling me it may actually be, but it really isn’t. A basic fitting of these driver specifications will cover all of this.
So there you have it, Dear Reader. Remember: Knowledge Is Power. Even if you only plan to golf a few times throughout the season, getting the basic driver specifications right can go a long way to making the game more enjoyable. Obviously, it won’t turn you into Tiger, Rory, or Phil… but it will make whatever chance you get to play a little more enjoyable.