Which driver length should you be playing to get the most out of your tee shots?

August 22, 2019

Getting fit for the right clubs has never been more important. Actually, that’s not true – it’s always been important, but now there are more businesses built around club-fitting than ever before. Ultimately, driver is the club that tends to keep golfers the most captivated (and frustrated). Everyone who tees it up would love to hit the ball higher, straighter and father than ever before. But how to know what driver is best for you?

While a professional fitter like True Spec Golf (which like GOLF is operated by the 8AM holding company) can make a big difference in your tee-box performance, you can make a few smart decisions yourself before popping into a retailer. The first move? Determining the best driver length for you. Standard, off-the-rack drivers usually check in around 45 inches, while the USGA limits driver length to 48 inches for its competitions. So, why doesn’t everyone max that out?

“Most manufacturers have lengthened their standard driver from 45 inches to 45.5 or 45.75, because a longer shaft typically results in more club speed and hopefully more ball speed and longer drives,” says Kevin Sprecher, a GOLF Top 100 Teacher based at Sleepy Hollow CC in Scarborough, N.Y. “However, in many cases the opposite happens, because longer shafts makes it more difficult to hit the center of the club face.”

Hitting the sweet spot is one of keys to accuracy. The more balls that are struck off-center, the more time you’ll spend searching for tee shots in the rough. Also, finding the center of the face is critical for maxing out distance. If you add clubhead speed with a longer shaft, those extra mph are useless without flushing the shot with center contact.

So, how should you determine which shaft length is right for you?

“I recommend using impact tape or face spray and see if you can hit near or on the center more often than not,” Sprecher says. “I’d go as short as 44 inches and as long as 47 inches. If there’s no difference, then I suggest using the longest shaft you feel you can control.”

As an alternative to tape or spray, another way to find the right driver length is through launch-monitor testing. Experiment with longer and shorter shafts. When you add length to the shaft, do you get any extra yards off the tee? If not, there’s no need to carry a longer club. And before you have a couple inches chopped off your driver shaft in the name of finding fairways, just remember that cutting those inches can recalibrate the club’s swing weight and overall feel. Make sure you leave that task to a professional.

Regardless, of how you make the final decision, driver length is important, and maxing out the club’s performance has never been easier. There may be no better way to quickly improve your performance off the tee.

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