Why Carry Two Drivers?

Phil Mickelson's clubs
Phil Mickelson's two-driver strategy was very 'Old School.' Getty Images
Phil Mickelson made big news a few weeks ago when he won the BellSouth Classic by a whopping 13 strokes. Part of the story was his use of two drivers (he dropped the sand wedge).

His drivers' specs were:

  • Driver No.1 - Callaway Fusion FT-3, 9.5 degree loft, 45-inches, fade bias

  • Driver No.2 - Callaway Fusion FT-3, 9.5 degree loft, 46-inches, draw bias
  • Mickelson carried two drivers at the Masters as well. And won again. This long-game combo allowed him to shape shots-draws or fades-as the hole dictated. (The draw driver also travels 25 yards farther than the fade one.)

    Phil's approach is a clever one-he's struggled at times with the big stick-but it's not a new way to attack the golf course. I wrote a piece in GOLF Magazine 16 years ago that addressed this very subject. Consider this:

    "The 1990 U.S. Open will be remembered for Curtis Strange's pursuit of the ghost of Willie Anderson and for Hale Irwin's gut-wrenching playoff victory over Mike Donald. Overlooked in the excitement, however, was Donald's method of navigating Medinah's narrow tree-lined fairways. To multiply his options off the tee, Donald carried two drivers, basing his pick on a hole's properties."

    This was more than a one-time occurrence. Donald packed two drivers — one for distance, the other for accuracy — the previous eight years. In 1990, his distance driver was a 43 1/2-inch MacGregor persimmon wood, with 9° loft. It got the call on holes with wide fairways. His accuracy club was a 12° TaylorMade Original One metal wood, a quarter-inch shorter; Donald used it on short par fours and tight driving holes.

    Donald's two-driver approach was not unique in those days. The Darrell Survey, which records equipment usage on the Tours, estimated that at least 15-percent of the field at the 1990 Greater Milwaukee Open in early September carried two drivers and nearly 20-percent of the Champions (formerly Senior) Tour pros used the combination at the GTE North Classic the same week.

    Two drivers make sense for Tour players but could they benefit weekend golfers?

    Absolutely.

    They're both functional, as the pros have proved, and easy on the psyche. If you're having difficulty hitting your distance driver one day, then switch to the accuracy driver on long holes, too. I'd add, though, that skilled amateurs would likely benefit most from this set makeup; higher handicappers would be better off learning to hit one driver.

    How you vary your distance and accuracy drivers depends primarily on shaft length.
  • The shaft of the distance driver should be standard or longer (45-inches or more). The longer shaft results in a bigger swing arc for greater distance.
  • The accuracy club should be easier to control with a shorter shaft (44 inches or so) but not as short or lofted as a 3-wood.
  • The lofts, like in Mickelson's drivers, should be identical or within one-half degree of each other. And you, too, can fidget with head weighting to create a ball flight that draws or fades.

    So get out there and buy a new driver. Or, you could re-shaft a spare one at the shorter length. Just be certain you use a reputable club maker who balances the club head with the shorter (and lighter) shaft.

    One final note: Drop a club from your bag so you're within the 14-club limit.


    Rob Sauerhaft is the Managing Editor of Equipment for GOLF MAGAZINE. E-mail him your questions and comments at golfletters@golfonline.com
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