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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lee Westwood on Driver Fitting

I found this little video tip Lee Westwood did about getting fit for a driver. I'll expand a bit on what he says after the clip:

Lee talks basically about shaft flex and driver loft. Let's take a brief look at each.

First of all, let me state the obvious. If you have a slower swing speed, you probably need a more flexible shaft to get distance.

But too many players make a worse mistake. They think a stiffer shaft will make them more accurate. That's not always true. If a shaft is too stiff for your swing technique, you won't load it properly during your swing and that can cause you to slice the ball. If a shaft is too flexible for your swing technique, you'll load it too much and tend to hit hooks.

Clearly, if you have a trouble with hitting slices, you want to err on the side of more flex, not less. And if you have hooking problems, a stiffer shaft can help straighten you out. That's something your clubfitter can determine during your driver fitting.

As for driver loft, the number of degrees is somewhat misleading since your swing technique can make a club play very differently than the loft would lead you to believe. A good launch angle is what you're after. Launch angle is affected by several things:
  • Swing speed is a big factor. The slower your swing speed, the more loft you need. For example, if your swing speed is in the 80-90mph range, you might actually hit the ball farther with a 3-wood than a driver.
  • Angle of attack is how steep or flat your clubhead approaches the ball. If you chop down on the ball you may need more loft to get the ball up in the air. With a driver -- unlike your other clubs -- you want to swing up when you hit the ball. If you're swinging up, you'll need less loft.
  • Shot shape is one of the most misunderstood factors. If you want to fade the ball, you may need a driver with less loft while a drawer of the ball may need more.
Or, to make that last example a little clearer, let's assume you want a 10-degree launch angle.

If you like to fade the ball, the face is open relative to your swing path when it hits the ball and that increases the effective loft of the club -- it may behave like it has a 12- or 13-degree loft face. To get your fade to fly on a 10-degree trajectory, you may need only 7- or 8-degrees of loft.

Likewise, if you draw the ball you lessen the effective loft of the club -- it may behave like it has 7- or 8-degree loft. To get your fade to fly on a 10-degree trajectory, you may need 12- or 13-degrees of loft.

You don't have to figure that out yourself, of course. Just tell the clubfitter whether you like to fade or draw the ball and he'll give you the proper loft -- in conjunction with your swing speed, angle of attack, and so on -- so you end up with the correct driver to get the most distance and accuracy possible for your swing.

And Lee should know. He averages 290-295 yards per drive (that's both PGA and ET figures) and players aren't always using driver on the measured holes. He busts it pretty good.

That's also why most pro shops keep a clubfitter on hand. Make use of him (or her) and get fit properly.

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