Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Every Wednesday, we'll tap into the expertise of our exclusive research partner, Hot Stix Golf, to answer reader questions and help you navigate the increasingly complex word of golf equipment. If you have a question for the Gear Doc, e-mail it to geardoc@hotstixgolf.com or post a comment below. He'll answer a few lucky readers' questions every week on GOLF.com. The latest installment is after the jump.

Dear Doc,After being away from the game for 10 years, I'm playing golf again for the first time since high school. Some friends tell me that the best way to improve is to take lessons, but others say I should get fitted for clubs first. Should I get fitted based on my horrible current swing, or should I get some lessons and a better swing and then get fitted? Thanks, Scott Dear Scott, This is an excellent question, and one that I get often. I think if you are committed to lessons and will stick to the practice regimen, then you should take lessons until you and your instructor agree that your swing is beginning to take shape. At that point, get fitted. Gear Doc, I play a Nike Sumo2 8.5-degree driver with an Aldila SV 65 proto stiff shaft. My swing speed is 100 mph and I hit my driver 270 yards with very little or no roll. Sometimes the ball even bounces backward. Someone suggested that I should get a 9.5-degree driver and a shaft with a high kick point. I live outside United States and don't have access to a launch monitor, but I was thinking about buying a Titleist 907D1 with a Pro Force v2 7070 shaft. Do you think that will help me reduce the backspin of my drives? Best regards, Jose Dear Jose, It sounds to me like you generate a lot of spin. This could be due to many factors, but going to a 9.5-degree driver with a higher kick point shaft almost certainly will NOT fix the problem. I would say you would benefit more by switching to a much lower spin driver head like the Bridgestone J33 or the Callaway HyperX. And you might also benefit from experimenting with a lower-spinning ball. Here are several good options; TaylorMade Burner LDP, Bridgestone E6, Callaway Tour iX and TaylorMade TP Red. Hey, Gear Doc, How important is the weight of a shaft (driver, hybrid, wedge, etc.)?    Most companies push 65-gram driver shafts, but I heard that Tiger plays an 83-gram shaft. All things being equal, do heavier shafts add distance? Could it increase clubhead speed?  Would it be worth it? Thanks, Justin Blair Dear Justin,Shaft weight makes a very big difference, but maybe not in the way you think. Heavier shafts are usually more effective for players with a fast tempo. They often improve accuracy, but they decrease clubhead speed, which means less distance. I often see better players (I think Tiger qualifies) using heavier shafts because the weight helps them "feel" the club during the swing, and that improves accuracy.
I talk with golfers every day who say they would give up a little distance to hit more fairways. But in reality, they want to hit more fairways and add distance.
My advice is to experiment with various shaft weights in your driver until you find your comfort level.

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