The Longer The Length Of A Driver, The Farther You’ll Hit The Ball
This topic really is a sore point with me because so many golfers cannot hit their driver to the best of their ability because of it.
If you wander into any golf retail store, you’ll notice that the men’s drivers from all the golf club companies are between 45 1/2 and 46 1/2 inches in length. Yet, in every year from 2005 through 2010, the average driver length among all players on the PGA Tour was 44.5 inches.
Now, does that not strike you as being slightly odd? I mean, here are the best players on the planet—players for whom distance off the tee is absolutely critical to their chances for success—and they are routinely using drivers that are shorter than the ones that are being peddled to you!
Let me tell you another story. For almost the entire 20th century leading up to the 1980s, the standard driver length for men was 43”, for women 42”. Did humans all of a sudden get 3” taller starting in 1980? Nope. What happened was simply a result of competition to sell more golf clubs in an overcrowded golf equipment industry, and to do so at the expense of the vast majority of golfers’ potential for playing proficiency.
Everyone on the planet thinks that a longer driver length means a higher clubhead speed, which in turn means more distance. The fact is, the only golfers who actually do experience a higher clubhead speed from a longer length are golfers with a later to very late unhinging of their wrist-cock angle on the downswing. That’s maybe 25% of all golfers, if that.
The next problem also deals with percentages, but this one’s far more certain. Among 100% of all golfers, the longer the length of the driver, the more chance they have of hitting a higher number of off-center shots. That right there is why the average driver length on the PGA Tour has been around 2 inches shorter than the length of the drivers being sold off the rack to you and your buddies. Even the pros, as good as they are, know they cannot hit a longer length driver as consistently solid and oncenter and as accurate as one a little shorter.
In my estimation from over 25 years of Clubfitting research, the drivers sold off the rack in shops are too long for 90% of the men and 98% of the women golfers who buy them. Let me tell you precisely who can successfully use one of the 46 1/2” drivers that populate every golf store on the planet.
If you are a golfer with a smooth tempo, if you swing with an inside/out to square swing path, have a late release of your wrist-cock angle, and a good sense of swing timing and rhythm, then you are in luck. Go right ahead with my blessing and use that pole. If that’s not your swing, then go get a new driver fitted and built from scratch; only this time get it not only built to the right length for your swing; but also get the shaft, loft, face angle, grip size and swingweight that’s also best for your swing.
The pros on tour know they can’t hit the length of the driver you bought off-the-rack as consistently on center or as straight as they can one that is shorter. Believe me, they’ve all tried because they all know how valuable another 10-15 yards off the tee could be to their bank account. They also know how tough it can be to grow their bank account when they’re hitting their second shot with the ball sitting in four inches of rough. The irony is that here you are hitting most of your drives on the toe or heel, watching the ball slice into the trees, praying you can make that one good swing out of ten with your driver that is 2” longer than the average tour player’s driver and thinking the whole time that it’s your fault.
So, how do you know what is the right length for you? The way a good clubmaker determines proper length is by first measuring the distance from your wrist to the floor and referencing that dimension to a chart to obtain an initial driver length recommendation. After that, the clubmaker looks at your swing and golf athletic ability to determine if your best length is a little longer, the same or maybe even a little shorter than what the chart starts out saying.
Notice that these are all decisions that are best made by an experienced custom club fitter working face to face with YOU—not by the marketing and sales departments at some club company 1000 or more miles away