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It shouldn’t be a surprise that the OEMs make a lot of claims in their advertising.
But… how often does a claim stack up? Does it really matter? We hear a lot of them in golf. Many are about a physical feature that’s supposed to enhance the performance of a driver. Some of them include:
- fins (“turbu-thingies“) on the crown
- slots on the sole and/or crown
- cavity-backed drivers
- funky shapes
But do they really matter?
The short answer is “no”.
Let’s juxtapose golf with another product: eye lash enhancer. Even during football games, we might run across some celebrity touting how long and luscious their eyelashes are, thanks to the product they’re selling.
Then you’re hit with the fine print…
So they make all kinds of claims stating how awesome your eyelashes are gonna look, but if you want the best results, apparently you’re gonna have to use lash extensions.
Every company makes claims as to what their products can and can’t do. Some are more straight-forward; others need fine print.
Video games do it, too. It’s a kind of “placebo effect”; you may think the fin/slot/shape may have a tremendous effect on the performance of the club, but it might not. At least, maybe in a controlled setting under perfect conditions, but not in the real world.
Check these two pics out:
Both of these drivers are marketed as being “forgiving”. Using different methods, weight is pushed to the perimeter. This is to help increase the moment of inertia (MOI), the club’s ability to resist twisting when struck off the heel or toe…
But I can attest from personal experience that, especially with the first driver, slices will still happen. Hooks, too.
Now think about the slotted drivers. Those slots are supposed to allow the face to flex more, per the marketing stuff. But waitaminit… that’s what COR (coefficient of restitution) is. I’ll let Tom Wishon explain COR for me:
COR is actually a measurement of the energy transfer in a collision of two objects. It can be expressed in a number between 0 and 1. For example, when the USGA put a COR limit of 0.830 on driver faces, that meant no driver would be deemed to be conforming to the rules if more than 83% of the energy in the collision of the driver head with a golf ball were transferred from the head to the ball.
Wanna know something else? The USGA enacted that max of 0.83 back in 1998!
Could a slotted driver help with off-center impacts? Maybe… but face technology has come along some… but you’ll still lose distance when you miss the “sweet spot”.
What about those fins? They’re supposed to help reduce drag on the clubhead, which should help you increase swing speed. More distance, they say. Distance sells…
They’ve tried other ways to make this happen. One company (which, if you look above, you can see the one I’m talking about… it’s the blue one) cut out “scallops” on the bottom. They’ve since dropped that.
Clubheads aren’t the exception
One shaft company tried to sell a series of shafts as having a rough paint texture that helped create swing speed. Originally, they said it was like a NASCAR machine.
I emailed them years ago, asking how that was, when I’ve seen how NASCAR “paint” is applied. Check out this example:
Pretty cool… but they’re vinyl stickers, not paint.
I also mentioned another company that does use a rough texture on their shafts, and why they don’t mention anything in their marketing about it helping to create faster swing speeds.
Needless to say… I didn’t get a response back.
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Am I the only one surprised that there hasn’t been an influx of grips that boost swing speed, prevent slices, etc.? Really, I can’t be the only one…
Don’t get me wrong; I’m NOT bashing anyone. Most companies won’t make a claim without some form of evidence, even if it’s minute.
As I’ve said, maybe in a controlled setting these things might actually work. We, however, don’t play golf in a controlled setting. We are not robots, either.
No matter what club you use, if all else is equal someone with a faster swing will hit the ball farther than you. If you have excellent mechanics, you’ll hit better shots than those that don’t.
If you’re looking at buying new clubs, it all goes back to the three questions that matter most:
- How much are you willing to spend?
- Are you willing to get properly fitted for your purchase?
- What do you like to look at (the aesthetics)?
That’s really it. If you only swing the driver 90 mph, will some fins or slots automatically boost you to 100 mph? No… maybe 91, but how will that effect your game?
Now think about it differently: if you gamed a 9* driver with that 90 mph swing, but switched to a 12* model after a proper fitting, you’re going to see a MUCH better improvement in your output, regardless if your driver has fins, slots, or is shaped like a home plate.
We could argue if the “placebo effect” is good or evil– and trust me, they are- but it comes down to you and you alone.
If you like what you’re buying, like the price and get it fitted… that’s all that really matters.