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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Thoughts On Driver Lengths
most common question I get asked from golfers when I put together clubs for them
is undoubtedly ‘how long should my driver be?’
Here’s a list of
the things that I think are affected by the length of a driver:
Clubhead Speed 2. Consistency of Centeredness of Contact 3. Swing
According to Tom Wishon (pictured above), he states that since 2006 the
average length of a driver on the PGA Tour is 44.5 inches long. I tend to
believe him because when I was fitted by Avery Reed, a former Tour Van employee
of Taylor Made, he told me that he never fitted a Tour player for a driver
longer than 45-inches long in his time on Tour.
Wishon has also stated
that when it comes to clubhead speed, there is just no discernible difference in
clubhead speed on clubs that are ½-inch or less in length. I know I used to
think that ½-inch of shaft length would make a difference. Now we know that’s
That being said, I don’t quite agree with the wrist-to-floor
methodology that Wishon uses when it comes to driver length fitting. I have
found that the problem is that it usually fits the golfer for too short of a
For instance, I used the wrist-to-floor methodology and came up
with a 43.5-inch driver length. That’s because I have very short legs and long
arms for somebody my height (6’3” tall with a 28.5 inch inseam).
while ½-inch in driver length won’t make a difference with clubhead speed,
1-inch or more will. I had a golfer come to me saying that they were fitted for
a 43-3/4 inch driver that they hit very consistently and accurate. But the way I
fitted them was different and they were using a 44-3/4 inch shaft. We had to
order the same shaft again, this time make it longer. The result was their
clubhead speed went from about 102 mph to 110 mph. I know that we were doing it
with different driver heads (going from an Adams driver to a Wishon 919THI), but
I found the difference in clubhead speed rather astonishing.
thing most golfers don’t consider is how the length of the shaft will affect
their swing mechanics. One of the key parts starts at address with the waist
bend. Simply put, you must have some waist bend at address. That’s one of the
big things that separates a golf swing from a baseball swing…the bend of the
waist at address. There are plenty of other differences, but waist bend is an
integral part of the swing. Without it, you can make it difficult to control
your clubface, path and low point while losing clubhead
That’s why it’s ridiculous to see a golfer who is using a 45-3/4
inch driver when they stand 5’8” tall. My driver is 45-inches long and I’m 6’3”
tall. Masters Champion Bubba Watson is 6’4” tall and has been usinga 44-3/4 inch
driver until recently when a PING rep told me he’s down to 44-1/2 inch
So if you’re using too long of a driver, your mechanics could be
off at address and never give you much of a chance in the rest of the
longer the shaft, it almost inherently becomes more difficult to consistently
hit the ball on the sweetspot. This is understandable given the added length to
Recently, Miles of Golf Driving range in Michigan did a study
where they had different golfers swing the same driver head with the same shaft
and swingweight…but with different shaft lengths. One being a 44.5 inch length
and the other at 45.5 inches.
The results showed that there was almost no
rhyme or reason to what golfers hit what driver better. Some hit the longer
driver better in all facets…distance, accuracy, centeredness of contact and
consistency. Others hit the shorter driver better. And it didn’t matter what the
golfer’s clubhead speed was.
As I posted here, I believe what happened
was the club’s MOI was very different (the entire club, not the MOI of the
So the shorter club, which most likely had a lower MOI may
have fit certain golfers swing and the longer club probably had a higher MOI
that fit the other golfer’s swing.
I know I’ve trimmed of ¼-inch off the
butt end of a shaft before and it altered the MOI by 60 kg/cm2 less than it was
before. Of course, that may vary with different shafts because much of MOI
matching has to do with how the weight is distributed throughout the club. But,
60 kg/cm2 is a LARGE difference.
Where drivers are so different from the
rest of the club is that drivers are pretty much based on golfers trying to find
the club they hit the longest, most accurately and with the most consistency.
With irons, distance control tends to play a bigger factor as well as
So while finding the right shaft model is often the golfer’s
main consideration, they should probably look at driver shaft length FIRST and
then consider the model second. And if they can understand the ramifications of
going with a longer or shorter shaft, they are now pointed in the right
direction of finding the best driver for