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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why Phil Has Two Drivers

I'm really amazed at the confusion that surrounds Phil's two drivers. Let me try to shed a little light.

The last time Phil carried two drivers, one was set up for hooks and one for slices. That's simple enough to understand.

This year they don't have different playing characteristics. The differences are that one is an inch longer and has less loft, the other (presumably) is his regular driver. And everybody seems mystified why, if these are the only differences, why doesn't he just carry the longer one and choke down on it for shorter shots?

Here's why: The more loft a club has (that is, the larger the number of degrees on the face), the more backspin it develops. Backspin stabilizes ball flight, kind of like a gyroscope. It's why you can hit a 9-iron straighter than a driver; the greater backspin off the 9-iron makes it tend to fly straighter. It's also why it's harder to hit large cuts and hooks with short irons.

As we have all learned from the science of ball-fitting, part of getting distance involves reducing backspin. By reducing the loft and adding an inch to the shaft of his long driver, Phil grabs another 15-20 yards. But there's a trade-off: he loses some accuracy.

Now let's say he wants to hit a shorter shot. Sure, he can choke down on that longer-shafted driver... but he's still lost some accuracy. He can't control the direction of the ball as easily, although that's the logical reason to use the shorter club, right?

That's why Phil's carrying two drivers this week. One of them is for when he's got a wide-open shot where he can go for distance without worrying so much about accuracy, the other's for shots where he still needs more length than a 3-wood but accuracy is a bigger concern. I suspect he'll use the long driver to shorten the longer, more open holes and the shorter driver when the hole is tight.

Will Phil's plan work? I don't know... but I think he's proven he knows what he needs at Augusta. I'm not going to question it.


  1. How does Phil tell Bones which driver he wants?? Can I have Driver #1 please? Gimme the bigger Big Dog?

    I carry 2 drivers in my bag's called a 3-wood.

  2. I think a lot of weekend players would be better off just using a 3-wood. Unless they have a swing speed better than 90mph, they would probably hit the ball further using a 3-wood with a driver-length shaft.