Everyone loves the long ball, but at the end of the day, it is what you post for a final score that matters. With the Masters around the corner, some players are getting in their practice rounds. One of which was Rory McIlroy. According to a recent report from Todd Lewis at the Golf Channel “McIlroy drove the ball ‘beautifully’ during the two rounds on a recent trip to Augusta, where he apparently used a shorter driver shaft…” This got me pondering, what can the average golfer learn from one of the best players in the world?
If you are struggling to find a fairway off the tee box, it can very well be the length of the club is incorrect for you. The average length of an off-the-rack driver is now close to 45 ¾” to 46” long. I find the easiest thing to do is simulate a shorter length driver by simply choking or gripping down on the club. I encourage this for many golfers as it costs nothing to try.
Feel free to experiment out on the range or even on a few holes at your home course. If you can grip down and strike the ball better and not have an issue with direction, it is probably safe to remove the grip, cut that amount you choked down and regrip the club. Just note how much you gripped down before doing so. You may want to have a friend help to make that measurement.
By cutting the driver down in length, it does change the heft, or how head-heavy the club feels in your hands. In essence, you have effectively reduced the swingweight. For each ½” in length, that is 3 swingweight points which many golfers can start to feel. This is why products like lead tape or rubber tungsten self-adhesive weights can be added onto your golf club if it feels too light. Again, feel free to experiment at the range with different combination of choking down with different amounts of weight added to the club. Consistently pulling the ball may mean you don’t sufficient weight while consistently pushing the ball means you like have too much head weight.
Use the Technology the Manufacturers Provided
Today with many modern drivers one can change the clubhead weight via additional screws. This allows for golfers to fine-tune for swingweight as well as length. For instance, all our Acer drivers have the Gravity Port feature for this very reason. If you increase the driver’s headweight by 5g, you can maintain the same swingweight as a club that is ½” shorter.
Specially Weighted “Thriver” Golf Clubs
I would not suggest trying to choke down a golf club more than one inch as the extra material extending above the upper hand can be cumbersome to swing. Beyond this amount is it very difficult to place enough weight on the outside of the club and there may not be a heavy enough replacement screw(s) to obtain the proper balance. In cases like this, seek out specialty clubheads that are at least 10 grams heavier than a typical driver head which is 200 – 205 grams. An example of this would be the Acer XV Ultimate Thriver which was designed for men’s driver lengths between 43 and 44 inches.
What if the Driver is Too Short?
Most golf drivers have a black PVD finish making it easy to see where you hit the ball on the club face. If you find yourself hitting lower on the face relative to where you were prior to shortening the driver, then you know you have gone too short. The remedy would be to add a shaft extension to the club back to the original length or to re-shaft it.
Drivers today are longer than any time in the history of the game. With the longer arc, there is potential for more swing speed and distance. The manufacturers bank on knowing the golfer will remember the tape measure drives that they can brag to their buddies with rather than their bad results. You don’t need to be a tour player or have several OEM fitting carts to tell you what length driver you should use. As you can see, you can conduct these very cheap and easy experiments at your local range.