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Monday, July 2, 2012
Thoughts On Carrying 2 Drivers...
Tropical Storm Debby drenching much of Florida, I started to think about owning
2 different driver lofts and/or shafts in order to better suit myself for the
weather. Florida summers usually see heat, humidity and then downpour for about
15 minutes to an hour. This actually works out nicely for courses from tee to
green as the rain gives the ground the water it needs and the extreme heat and a
little breeze dries everything up nicely. Then it’s a rinse and repeat
However, if we go without rain for 2-3 days, the ground gets
very hard and you’re now likely to see brush fires. Conversely, sometimes the
rain goes into overload for a few days and absolutely drenches the
With that, I was curious about approaching 2 different drivers.
Now, obviously one could change their swing mechanics to hit the ball lower or
higher. In fact, I usually do that a few times a round with my irons, usually
switching to a higher ball flight mechanics on front pin locations. But, that
may occur 2-3 times a round max.
Because if I’m in the
Danger Zone, I’m usually just thinking about making good contact and finding the
green. So that generally takes away my 3-iron, 4-iron and 5-iron shots. And if I
have less than 150 yards into the green, I’m probably hitting no more than a
9-iron with my stock swing and those shots generally fly high enough and spin
enough to get a front pin location shot close.
However, if I’m trying to
hit high ball drivers to counter soft fairways, now I’m probably altering my
swing at least a dozen different times on the course and I don’t quite feel that
comfortable in doing so.
my reading, it appears that essentially there’s ‘optimal total distance’ and
‘optimal carry distance’ with the driver. So, optimal distance does NOT
necessarily mean that the driver will carry the furthest. In fact, there’s
likely to be some driver components that will max out the carry distance, but in
‘normal conditions’ will not max out the total distance.
The main factor
appears to be the launch angle. And it appears that if you can find the driver
components that equate to maxing out total distance, than you need to find the
driver and components that will increase the launch angle by roughly 2°. So, if
you’re optimal total distance launch angle is 9.3°, then your optimal carry
distance launch angle will somewhere in the neighborhood of
belief is that if you’re going to do this, you should just change the loft of
the club. The shaft and head model should probably remain the same. Sometimes
companies will have similar clubhead models, but alter the location of the
Center of Gravity. The lower CoG can produce a higher launch angle while the
higher CoG can produce a lower launch angle. I believe Titleist’s D2 and D3
models are built that way.
This may not be a bad way to go, if you can
find a company that has driver models built like this. Still, the differences in
CoG may not affect the launch enough and may affect the spin more which may or
may not be conducive to increasing your carry.
The shaft can help with
this, particularly if the tip-section of the shaft is softer which will help
loft the ball in the air. But, I think it’s very risky to change a shaft too
much. In Tom Wishon’s June 2012 eTech Newsletter
(http://wishongolf.com/etech/archive/2012-2/june-2012/) he states that the
maximum difference in launch angles they see between shaft bend profiles that
fit a golfer is 2°. While that sounds exactly what we want, it sounds like that
is still a rare case to get as high as a 2° difference. Plus, that 2° difference
is from the lowest launch angle to the highest launch angle for those given
shafts. So, if I hit a Graphite Design shaft that ‘fits’ my swing and it’s the
lowest launching shaft of the bunch at 8°, then the highest launching shaft
could be an Aldila shaft at 10°. But, the optimal total distance launch angle
may belong to a Harrison shaft at 9.3°. So in order to max the carry, I actually
need to find a way to get the launch angle at +2° higher than the 9.3° Harrison
Lastly, you would need a lot of shafts to try out with a Trackman
or a FlightScope X2 in order to get closer to that 11.3° launch angle that
optimizes carry distance.
Thus, my belief at this time is that you can
probably alter the launch angle consistently by altering the static loft in the
driver and keeping the head model along with the shaft model the same. How much
the static loft will have to change would probably need Trackman or FlightScope
X2 to get a precise measurement.
COMMON WIND PLAY
One of the things that I have found to be a myth is that
hitting the ball high into a wind will automatically cause the golfer to lose
more distance than if they hit it lower. I don’t find that necessarily true.
Where I think golfers get mostly into trouble with high trajectories into a
tough breeze is with accuracy and predictability of the ball flight.
think where the distance differences come from a lower ball flight versus a
higher ball flight is from a ‘spinny’ shot. The extra spin causes the ball to
balloon in the air and the golfer would have been better hitting a lower
trajectory shot. But, if the golfer hits a higher trajectory and keeps the spin
loft lower, they can easily hit the higher trajectory shot into the wind
here’s the formula for spin loft:
Dynamic Loft – Attack Angle =
So what happens with those high ballooning shots is the
golfer may increase the steepness of their attack angle and/or increase their
dynamic loft. Both of which will increase the spin loft and cause a ‘spinny’
shot that balloons into the wind.
Let’s say my ‘stock’ swing produces these
All things being equal, I would
hit Shot #2 further, even though I hit it higher in the air because the Spin
Loft had decreased and I’m not hitting nearly as ‘spinny’ of a shot as Shot #1
which had a lower Max Height.
USING 2 DRIVER IN THE BAG AT
With that, I have talked to clubfitters who have discussed
success with having themselves and their customers who use 2 drivers in the bag
at once. These are often in windy areas where the golfer can use the higher
lofted driver on a hard tailwind and a lower lofted driver in a strong headwind.
So as long as the golfer does not alter their attack angle, they can
effectively reduce the Spin Loft or increase Spin Loft.
The idea is that
they could take their ‘normal swing’ and if their attack angle stays the same,
they’ll reduce the Spin Loft with the lower lofted driver into the wind. And
with the wind, they’ll increase their spin loft which is okay in a strong
tailwind. However, it should be noted that if the wanted to hit it purely
FURTHER with a tailwind, they wound want to actually decrease the Spin Loft by
shallowing out our hitting up with their attack angle. But again, this requires
the golfer to alter their swing and many golfers, even PGA Tour players, do not
like doing this in a round of golf.
most famous case of using 2 drivers at once goes to Phil Mickelson. Of course,
most presume that Phil was automatically correct in his decision because the
first time he used 2 drivers at Augusta, he won the Masters. But, winning
doesn’t always necessarily mean that the player made the right
However, upon further examination, I think Phil made a brilliant
move because it not only put him at a SIZEABLE advantage over the rest of the
field, most of the golfing world thought he was nuts and he did it
First, we should understand that from a statistical standpoint,
expected scores for Tour players start to change when there’s a difference of 25
yards or more. Also, we should remember that hitting the fairway does provide an
advantage to golfers, even Tour players. From about the same distance, Tour
players will hit their approach shot about 30-40% closer on average from the
fairway than the rough.
However, that does not mean that a Tour player
should just take a 3-wood out and hit fairways. Why? Because the loss of
distance between using a 3-wood versus a driver off the tee is too great. And I
think most Tour players probably hit their 3-wood about 40 yards shorter than
their driver off the tee. So not only does their expect score likely go up when
they scale back 40 yards, but you add that up over a round of 18 holes and now
you are seeing a sizeable difference.
In other words, ask yourself
‘would you buy a driver that you hit 40 yards shorter but can hit 80-90% of the
I think most golfers would say ‘no way.’
then…who should consider using 2 drivers in the bag at once?
who can be pretty sure that they can get about 25+ yard advantage with each
driver when used for each condition (ala tailwind vs. headwind
2. Golfers who are long enough where they likely will not need a
3-wood off the deck on par-5’s.
3. Courses that do not call for many
3-wood shots off the tee.
4. Golfers who can hit one of the drivers well
off the deck.
In Mickelson’s situation, his drivers were designed to work
the ball. One could hit a draw, the other a fade. So, there was no 25+ yard
advantage from that perspective.
Mickelson fit well into #2. Holes 13 and
15, Phil could get in two with an iron. #8 may be a stretch for Phil to go
driver-hybrid into, but I think he can get somewhat close. Furthermore, it’s a
tall order to reach that green in 2 shots for anybody.
Phil also doesn’t
hit the driver off the deck much like a Bubba Watson would, so that ruins #4 for
However, the brilliance of the idea was behind #3 and in the end,
that affected #1.
Augusta does generally call for some 3-woods off the
tee for long hitters like Phil. #10 is a perfectly example. It’s a 500 yard
par-4, but it goes straight downhill and bends to the left. The longer hitters
generally take a 3-wood off the tee and with the downhill slope and super-fast
fairways, they can belt one about 310 yards down the middle. The golfers who use
driver are almost exclusively shorter hitters, who will hit it the same distance
But with Phil and his 2 drivers, he had such confidence
in them drawing and fading on command, he could comfortably belt the fade driver
on #10 and hit it, let’s say 350 yards. Thus, while he technically didn’t hit
either driver noticeably further, the fact that he could use the driver on holes
where the longer hitters were using 3-wood, Phil was gaining a sizeable
With the golfers who want to use 2-drivers for wind purposes,
I would first ask “can I get a 25+ yard advantage with either driver versus
using the stock driver?’ If so, I would then start to contemplate using
2-drivers, if I feel I won’t need a 3-wood that much or that I am really adept
at hitting one of the drivers off the deck.
PHIL'S DECISION AT
THE 2009 US OPEN
In the ’09 US Open at Torrey Pines, Mickelson
did not utilize a driver and while he missed the cut, that does not
automatically mean that he’s wrong.
However, I do believe that was a poor
For starters, I do believe that he reasonably could use the
driver on 2-3 holes at that tournament. And on those holes he was probably
losing roughly 40 yards on each tee shot. Total that up, and it comes to 80-120
Secondly, if he gets in a situation where he desperately needs a
birdie, he needs to leave himself with a shorter approach if he can. But, he
doesn’t really have that option if he doesn’t have a driver to bomb away with.
Given his length off the tee, my belief is that the only way going
without a driver would have been a smart decision is if he was very confident
that he could hit his 3-wood accurately enough to be in the top-5 in the field
in driving accuracy. Otherwise, he’s really putting himself behind the
This is something I may wind
up trying out. Currently, I utilize a 10° loft Wishon 919THI driver with a
45-1/8” UST Mamiya VTS Silver 65x shaft. My feeling is that if I don’t optimize
my total distance with this club, I come very close. Thus, I think I probably
need something like a 11.50 to 12.0° head with the same components in order to
find a driver that maximizes carry.
That being said, I don’t think a
golfer has to gain 25+ yards off the tee with an alternate driver if they are
only using one of the drivers for those set of conditions. It’s when you carry
2-drivers in the bag, which may be an entirely smart move, that you need to
consider the potential pitfalls and