Yo, Gear Guy! How much performance difference should I see between my old driver and new driver?

August 1, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Yo, Gear Guy!, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s deputy editor of equipment, Mike Chwasky) fields your hard-hitting equipment questions.

I tried my four-year-old driver against a new model and saw little difference in overall distance. Is it all just marketing hype after all? — Steven on Instagram

I understand your question and also get why you might think some of the admittedly bold marketing claims from major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) can occasionally sound like hype. However, the reality is even a driver model as little as four years old has been passed by the technologically of current models, despite the fact that your testing/fitting yielded similar overall distance.

In your case it’s very likely that the four-year-old model you’ve been playing is either nicely fitted so your performance is optimized for launch, spin and ball speed, or simply as poorly fitted as the new model you were testing that yielded comparable results.

I personally always test new models when they come out and occasionally the old and new models produce similar results. But in my case my gamer is always fitted to a tee, meaning I have the right shaft flex, shaft weight, shaft length, overall weight, loft, lie, grip size and swing weight optimized to produce the desired launch and spin numbers. When I find a new model that I think might be a good candidate for a replacement I get it set up properly to see how it compares to my well-worn model. I know that sounds potentially difficult, but believe it or not if you visit a premium-quality fitting studio they can pretty much dial in a new driver, or any other club for that matter, fairly quickly and provide legitimate data in the form of objectively collected launch monitor numbers to illustrate exactly what the new model does versus your old one.

My advice — if your current driver provides optimized performance than by all means stick with it, but to make sure that’s really the case I recommend visiting a qualified fitter who can set up a new model equally well.