The days of 7 and 8 degree drivers are long gone. With 2 irons, balata balls, and metal spikes they belong in the garage or donation bin. You won’t even see a driver with that low amount of loft among today’s equipment at your local pro shop or retail golf store. Sure, most drivers today are adjustable, and you take it down to 8 or 8.5, but players rarely do. Why is this? When you bought a driver 20 years ago, the center of gravity was in the sole of the club head; below the ball. The head sizes were 260cc to 360 cc. Good players with high swing speeds would hit those tee shots that would come off like a low rocket and slowly rise to their peak and fall out of the sky like a parachute. That was because there was so much spin on the ball. These players could play a 7 or 8 degree driver because of these characteristics.
Drivers today, and over the last decade, are 460cc in head size. The center of gravity is now mostly distributed around the perimeter of the crown; behind the ball at impact. This design results in two important variables; the clubface will twist less on off-center hits like the toe or heel. This also ensures a lower spinning, penetrating ball flight.
The farthest drive will include the right combination of launch angle and low spin. Everyone is different. You may fit into a 10 degree, but your buddy may benefit from an 11.5. You won’t see a driver loft on the PGA Tour lower than a 9. And these are the guys with 115+ mph swing speeds. Backspin is what gets your ball in the air, but too much will result in a loss of carry distance and you ball will fall out of the sky like a marshmallow. Great with a wedge, bad for your driver. This is why once you think you have found the right loft, it is important to find the right companion in a shaft. The shaft is the engine of the golf club and is highly responsible for the amount of spin generated at impact.
Everything I have spoken about so far is the answer to this very popular question: Why do I hit my 3 wood longer and straighter than my driver? Your 3 wood has more loft, usually 15 or 16 degrees. The shaft is an inch shorter. Higher loft makes it more forgiving and you turn it over easier, thus getting rid of that nasty slice that destroys your distance. Which iron do you hit consistently better; your 8 iron or your 5 iron?
If you haven’t purchased a driver in 5 years or so, guess what?! You are in the market for a new one! Please take the time to see your local pro or fitting expert at your nearest golf shop and get fit. The results may shock you but the knowledge you take away will be beneficial. You only have strokes to lose, yards to gain, and skins to win from your buddies.
Enjoy the game and each other,
by Seth Zipay, Head Golf Professional
Published by Craig Walton