Friday, January 27, 2012
Understanding the 'Hot Spot' For the Driver
Recently, I purchased Tom Wishon’s book ‘The Search For the Perfect Driver’ (www.wishongolf.com). I have only read the first few pages of it and I will have a review for it when I finish.
Anyway, one of the things that I came across that surprised me was Wishon discussing where the ‘hot spot’ or the ‘sweetpot’ of the driver is.
For the past 10 years or so, we have been
We have been told that the ‘hot spot’ of the driver is located towards the toe and up towards the crown of the club. We have been told when you hit there, that is where the golfer gets the most distance. However, Wishon essentially says that this is very very flawed in theory.
One of the things Wishon discusses if the ‘bulge’ and the ‘roll’ of the club. As most of us know, the driver face has a very slightly curved design. The face will curve horizontally to the ground from heel to toe.
This is called the ‘bulge.’ This helps the golfer with mis-hits. Thus, if a golfer misses the tee shot off the toe, the bulge and the gear effect will cause the ball to usually push and draw a bit.
Conversely, the head curves a little vertically from the bottom to the crown of the club. This is called the ‘roll.’ Wishon states in ‘The Search’ that he never really has found a function for the roll and for years it was not a factor for golfers in any way whatsoever.
However, that changed once the drivers got bigger. The loft of a driver is measured from the center of the clubface. Thus, if you have a 9* lofted driver on the stamp, that means that the loft was measured at 9* at the center of the face. But, as driver heads became larger, the roll started to become more pronounced and started to affect the loft of the clubface. So what happens is a driver with a 9* loft at the center of the face may have 11* of loft towards the crown and 7* of loft towards the sole.
So, where is this driver head sweet spot?
First, the ‘sweet spot’ is actually NOT an area. It’s actually a very fine point, about the size of a needle point. According to Wishon, when companies say they have ‘increased the sweet spot’, all they have done is increase the MOI of the clubhead around the actual sweet spot. I often get asked this with Trackman’s measurement of how far offline a ball can travel if it misses the sweetspot by 1 dimple. My answer is ‘no’, we really can’t feel a shot that misses the sweetspot by 1 dimple or probably even 3 dimples. However, that’s provided Trackman measured the sweetspot as a specific point about the size of a needle tip, not an area.
Anyway, the actual sweet spot of the driver is where we had it…at about the center of the clubhead. It’s where the clubs Center of Gravity is located.
Wishon surmises that the reason why people get into the myth of the ‘hot spot’ being located towards the crown of the club is that most golfers play with drivers with too low of a loft. So when they hit one towards the crown where the loft increases, that is more towards their optimal loft that they should be playing.
However, a golfer could hit the ball further by getting the proper amount of loft on their driver and hitting towards the center of the club instead of using a lower lofted driver and hitting towards the crown. They can also increase their accuracy. This is where fitting for loft based upon clubhead speed, attack angle and dynamic loft comes into play.
I recently spoke to a customer wanting a Wishon 919THI driver that he was surprised how far he hit it. He asked me what makes it go so far and I told him that at 11* of loft (what he purchased), the loft was much more optimal to what he had been playing at 9.5*. Personally, I think my optimum loft is more like 10*, although I’m currently using a 9* Wishon 919THI.
The other thing Wishon has done is he has made the ‘roll’ on the clubface as flat as one can possibly make it. This means that you won’t get the added loft if you hit it towards the crown or the lower loft if you hit the ball towards the sole. Thus, it encourages the golfer to hit the real ‘hot spot’ of the driver, right towards the center of the face.