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 firstname.lastname@example.org. He'll answer a few lucky readers' questions every Wednesday on GOLF.com.
Dear Gear Doc,
I play a 10.5° TaylorMade Burner driver and hit it 270 yards. My friend swears that if I were to switch to a 9.5° driver I would add at least 10 yards to my drive. Is this true? James
It is impossible for me to tell if a 9.5° would go farther based on what you've told me, but here is what you should look for. If you are hitting the 10.5° driver very high, or get no roll after your shots land, then it might be too much loft. I suggest you try to hit your current driver on a launch monitor. That will give you a better understanding of how close to optimum your launch numbers are, and whether or not you should switch drivers.
I tried various clubs at a demo day and found the best fit for me are irons which are 4° flat and one-inch longer than standard. I understand how the change in lie works, but what does the extra inch in length do? Bruce Mayfield
Adjusting the length in a golf club should put the player in a more comfortable position and allow him to swing without fighting his own body.
But remember that longer clubs get heavy. It might not be a problem early in the round, but you could get fatigued and loose some shots that you normally wouldn't. Good club fitters can adjust the weight of the heads so the swing weights come out normal.
What is interesting to me that you need irons with a lie angle that is 4° below standard (flat). That's unusual. You may have found a club that was flat enough for your swing and the length just didn't matter for the amount of shots you hit. Go through an iron fitting, or at least try some clubs that were equally flat but not as long, to see what will work best for you.
Dear Gear Doc,
My sand wedge is fine in fluffy conditions, but I need something for the mud. Like lots of other golfers, I play golf on municipal courses and the sand is always wet, hard, immovable and mostly mud. Can you recommend a more appropriate wedge to use in that situation? Does anyone make a mud wedge? You could be knighted for the correct answer! Kriss, Washington, DC
Lets just say no one markets a "mud wedge", but there are wedges that will perform better than others in these conditions. When there is little cushion under the sand, you want to play a wedge with very little bounce. This will keep the wedge from skipping off the hard mud and into the ball, which leads to thin shots. Conversely, if you are playing in soft, muddy or grassy conditions that provide a lot of cushion under the ball, then you should play a wedge with more bounce. I'm not sure that I will be knighted for this, but hopefully it helps.
I'm looking for a good pair of sunglasses that will keep sun damage down and perform well on the course. What makes a lens a good 'golf lens' and do I really need polarized sunglasses to reduce glare? Which is more important, lens color, darkness or polarization? Tanner Bateman
Find some glasses that will provide your eyes protection from the sun and everything else should be secondary.
Watch golf on TV and you will see a lot of tour pros wearing glasses that take them off when they read greens, so I wouldn't focus too much game-improvement aspects. What I do think is extremely important is how they fit. You want to make sure the frames will not move when you swing, and that they don't hurt your nose or ears if you wear them for a long period of time.
You should also pay attention to how close the lens comes to your cheekbone. Many glasses have a large gap between the lower edge of the lens and your cheek. These lenses filter light coming straight into your eyes, but don't filter your peripheral vision. Many players find that distracting.
Hot Stix Golf is the largest independent club-fitting lab in the country. It provides Tour-level club-fitting services to professionals and amateurs of all abilities. To learn more, visit hotstixgolf.com or call 877-513-1333.