Ask the Gear Doctor

Each week in this feature, we'll tap into the expertise of our exclusive research partner, Hot Stix Golf, to answer reader questions. If you have a question for the Gear Doc, e-mail it to geardoc@hotstixgolf.com. He'll answer a few lucky readers' questions every Wednesday on GOLF.com. Hi Doc,Big fan of the column, it's given me a huge amount of guidance the last few months. I know you've answered quite a lot of questions about shafts recently, but I think my question is different. I'm a relative newcomer to the game (about 1 year), and am looking to upgrade my secondhand driver to something slightly better and am struck by the number of shaft options available. My question is this: which has greater bearing on your performance? The clubhead you use or the shaft? I'm looking for improved accuracy and have been thinking about the Wilson Staff DD6+, but would all the benefits be lost if the shaft is wrong for my swing? Conversely, if I bought a club that didn't suit my swing but had the right shaft, would that be more beneficial?Thanks,Brian S. Dear Brian,Finding the right combination of shaft and clubhead is the key to maximizing driver performance. The best way to buy a driver is to get fit for optimal launch and spin numbers with a driver head. Then use the shaft to fine-tune the launch parameters and maximize accuracy. As you go lighter in shaft weight, you will tend to give up a little accuracy but gain a little distance.
Torque is another very important variable. If you tend to hit a slice or a fade, a higher-torque shaft will help you. If you tend to hit a hook, try a lower-torque shaft.
Shaft length is another commonly overlooked element. Most stock drivers today are longer than 45 inches. Length promotes higher swing speeds, but hitting the ball solidly is still most important, so most players are better off with a shorter shaft. If your driver is built to 45 inches, try choking down an inch and see how it feels. If you start hitting more fairways without losing distance, tell everyone that you heard it from the Gear Doctor. Dear Doc,I'm looking into getting a new set of irons and am leaning towards either the Titleist AP1 or Titleist AP2. They are similar, but the AP2s are forged. What difference does "forging" make?Thanks,Lyle Lyle,
A forged club starts as a block of metal that is hammered or smashed into its intended final form. A cast club starts as hot, liquid metal that is poured into a form. The form is then broken away, leaving the rough clubhead. Production details vary, but basically, that's the difference. The bottom line for consumers? Either process can produce outstanding golf clubs. Dear Doc,My swing speed is 85 mph, and I like the spin I get on Titleist Pro V1 balls around the greens and with my wedges. From my understanding, they spin a lot more than the Titleist DT Solo. Does that mean the Pro V1 will slice more on a mis-hit driver than the DT Solo? Thanks,Hank Dear Hank,The short answer is yes. The Pro V1 is a higher-spinning ball, so misses will go further offline. However, this can also work to your advantage. That spin can also help to bring the ball back toward the fairway.
If you tend to hit a ball with a lot of sidespin, I think you are better off playing a ball that spins less. It will help you keep it in play more, and that always makes the game more fun. Gear Doc, I currently play a Cobra LD F Speed driver with a regular flex Aldila NV shaft. I have to slow my swing down considerably to hit the ball straight and feel the club is too light for me. When I was fitted for my irons, my clubhead speed for my 6-iron was in the 90s. I was wondering whether an upgrade to the Cobra Speed Pro S or D sounds like it might be in order. Thanks for your input,Wayne Dear Wayne,I would guess that the shaft in your current driver is a little soft. The Cobra Speed Pro S or D drivers might well be a great fit for you and worth taking a look at, but if you love your current driver you might want to just look at re-shafting that. You could go with something a little heavier, or even just stiffer, and get all the performance you are looking for in the driver you already own.
Either way, you should not need to change your swing and tempo. The goal should be to maintain your tempo throughout your set, and right now it sounds like you are making an adjustment to keep you driver in play. Ultimately, when you're under the gun, it will probably let you down.

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