Thursday, October 28, 2010

The number one request we get at the Academy is for more distance off the tee. Since most of our clients use a driver not fit for the specifics of their swing, the solution often involves a search for a new driver. Unless they are here with us, this usually means demo days and launch monitors, indoors or out, with people whose job it is to sell you a club and not necessarily find the best fit for you. These fittings are typically number searches. Hit a number of drivers and find which one produces results closest to ideal launch, spin, and speed numbers. While this method is better than no information at all, there are some critical issues often overlooked, especially, in this era of interchangeable weights and shafts.

Make sure when you analyze launch numbers of a new driver, that you know exactly where on the club face you strike each shot. Why? Most important, regardless of ability, you never want to use the results of a mishit golf shot to fit a club, even if you like the results better than your current driver. This is a perfect example of “you get what you settle for”. What if with a little more knowledge and investigation there are better results available? What we need to find is the best location to strike the ball to produce the best results. This wasn’t a great concern in the old days; the woods were small enough that there wasn’t much room for error. You either hit the sweet spot and you knew it or you missed the shot. With the oversized heads of today there is the “in between” factor. Reasonable results that assume this is as good as it gets. But is that all there is?

With all the different options and set ups available with the modern drivers, you can’t assume that the best place to strike the ball is in exactly the center of the face. The drawing is an example of a typical fit. The red mark is the center of the clubface. The yellow mark is where we find the best combination of low spin and best ball speed. Why it is located here and not in the center requires a long explanation and it might not be necessary to know the science behind the reason. Suffice to say that how the driver is designed, the components that are used and the way the driver is set up are all contributors. So knowing why it is not at the center isn’t important, knowing the location of the true sweet spot is critical to our success. Let’s assume using the example above, we find the best results at the yellow mark, but we assume it is located on the red. While impact (green) is just off center (red) the assumed hotspot, you are ½ inch off the best location (yellow). A ½ inch miss with the most forgiving club ever made will still be less than a good strike. Acceptable, maybe, but if more distance is the issue, we are a long way from successful. The moral of the story is if the person fitting you to a driver can’t explain how to find that yellow spot find a different fitter.

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