The discussion of more driver loft for increase distance has decided to rear its confusing head again. It is interesting that the hype created by manufacturers is fueling the potential desire to change driver settings without really understanding the reasons or science of why hitting it higher is important. I have recently changed my hitting technique to launch my ball a bit higher to gain some added distance, but that is because I was handcuffing myself by trying to drive the ball versus launching the ball. More on that below. Regardless, it is important to understand that hitting the ball higher does not necessarily equate to longer distances with the driver; there are so many other factors to understand!
Before I launch into my experiences (yes I went there 😉 ) I have added two videos that I feel are important to this conversation. The first is by Mark Crossfield who discusses some of the challenges to just hitting the ball higher. The second by Rich Shiels talks about optimum angles and spin rate that every golfer should know. Take a look:
My driver challenges started when I was fitted (yes fitted) for a 12° driver about six years ago. During that positive experience, the launch monitor seemed to provide the data the fitter was happy with, but when I actually received the new driver I could not hit it well at all. I look great coming off the tee, but just fell out of the sky at about 200 yards. I decided after a year that it was time to change back to my old driver. And I used my old equipment with a 9.5° loft for another 1.5 years. I still think to this day that this club was not suited for my game and I made a decision on the new club without fully understanding what I was looking for. Spin rate seemed to be the greatest culprit to my woes.
Fast forward to 2018 where I purchase my current Callaway Rogue driver. I have it set for 9° and hit the ball well most of the time. Like all players I have the odd miss hit, but that is the nature of amateur golf. My ball flight was low and driving, but recently I have decided that I need to make a minor change and raise my ball flight a bit to maximize the most from this very dependable club.
I was watching a video about driver verses iron swings. I realize that my driver swing was very iron-like and I was hitting the ball at the flat of my swing. I usually produced good results, but I thought I could do better and so I started down another minor path to improve my driver distance.
So, I launched (yes I went there) into my process of making minor changes to my swing when hitting the driver. Basically, I added a shoulder tilt to my set up. I dropped my right shoulder about two or three inches. This pushed my left hip forward just a bit into a better hitting position for my driver. Now, I hitting on the upswing part of my club arc and this is producing a higher ball flight.
The change in ball flight has not added any discernable difference in yardage yet, however I am swinging under control and my tempo is smoother. As a result I am not losing any accuracy and expect that as I continue to groove this minor change that I will also see more distance off the tee. The key, however, is to ensure that the swing remains comfortable and I do not lose any accuracy.
Back to the videos. Both Mark and Rick caution golfers not to chase distance by arbitrarily adding loft to the driver. If we do not understand why we are doing this change and what to expect, then making changes will just cost you money. An important point from the videos is that your current equipment might be perfect for your game, but is not set up properly. For that, I recommend that you visit your local professional and use a swing monitor to determine the best settings.
Chasing the latest trends in golf can be a costly venture. Even though my driver fitting failed in the past, I still believe that it is the best method to receiving the most value for your hard earned money. Every swing is different as as such one club cannot fix everyone’s challenges.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!