Some people just can’t hit a driver. I have a former scratch handicap friend who refuses to use one and insists on using a pre-historic 1-iron instead.
This baffles me a little as with all the gains in golf driver technology such as large heads for bigger sweet spots and perimeter weighting for more forgiveness it is now one of the easiest clubs to hit in the bag. Even an increase in the availability of launch monitors means that you can pick a club form virtually any manufacturer and it can be custom fitted to have you launching it like a pro from every tee.
Surely it must be their lack of ability…? Possibly, but a visit to Applied Golf Technology at St Andrews Links Golf Academy in St Andrews has shown me that even when you choose the perfect club and have it custom fitted to within an inch of its life, there are still a couple of reasons why you and your driver may get on as well as Steve Williams and Phil Mickelson.
Ever borrowed a driver from a friend, or tried one on a demo day, that you hit out of sight? Yet when you order one yourself it arrives and you hit it sideways? This is probably because the shafts in these 2 clubs are not aligned in the same way.
According to the Rules of Golf, a golf shaft should flex and perform the same in all directions. However this assumes that manufacturers can make 100% symmetrical shafts every time, which in practice rarely happens. Current limitations in steel or graphite shaft manufacturing inevitably introduce a certain degree of asymmetry.
The position of the manufacturer’s logo on the shaft cannot be relied upon to indicate the correct shaft orientation. In most instances the logo is screen printed onto the shaft in a random fashion. In order to determine the best alignment position for a shaft, its individual spine and oscillation characteristics have to be tested using specialist equipment.
My own driver used to be very consistent, but if I really went for it I would lose it right. When Ed Robertson of Applied Golf Technology tested the shaft, he found it was a quarter turn out of position. I did not think this could possibly mean anything, but the aligned shaft resulted in a much more solid feel and much more accuracy regardless of how hard I tried to swing it. I thought this was the final solution until I discovered the latest development in club weighting…balanced certified weighting.
Basically each club has a moment of inertia (MOI) that may or may not be suited to your swing. By adding an adjustable weight in the butt end of the grip of your driver, you are able to change the MOI of your driver.
Optimizing the MOI stabilises the driver at impact and results in you hitting the ball out of the middle of the club more consistently with greater ball speed. This in turns means that your shots travel further and straighter.
To find my optimum MOI we first added a face sticker to measure the impact position of the ball on the face of my driver.
The results weren’t bad, but they were about to get better. Ed then added the Balance Certifed Shaft Stabliser to the butt of the club.
On the stabiliser are 2 moveable weights that can be moved to either end of the club or split top and bottom or any point in between.
Testing with the various weights showed that when I had both the weights in the bottom position I had more centre strikes
And using Trackman I could see I also had a tighter dispersion and more distance.
Grey: No weights, Yellow: Weights Apart, Pink: Weights Bottom, Red: Weights Top
The Shaft Stabliser is easy to adjust and fit if you want to play around with it and the results are certainly impressive.
So the next time someone says they can't hit a driver, give them some sympathy as they may have a point!
For more information visit www.appliedgolftechnology.co.uk
Check out our features on iron custom fitting and putter custom fitting to see how the same principles have been adapted for them.