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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rickie's Shorter Driver

With all the reporting this week about Rickie Fowler sporting a driver with a shorter shaft, I started hunting for more info that might be of help for any of you curious to try it. I did find a few useful bits.

Rickie Fowler's finish with driver

According to Golf Digest, Rickie is using "a 43.5-inch Cobra F7+ driver with an Aldila NV2K 70X shaft." The shaft info may not help you, but the club model does because:
The Cobra King F7+ driver features three weights with one of them heavier than the others. Fowler had the heavier weight positioned in the front position, which is designed to produce a lower ball flight with less spin.
I chose the photo above because you can see them. Golf Digest is unclear whether that front weight is heavier or lighter this week, but they know it has been changed since last week. Note that the heavier front weight lowers his trajectory and therefore his carry distance, but doesn't seem to have hurt his overall length off the tee much at all.

In fact, GC noted that there was a noticeable amount of lead tape on the head last week, as Rickie was experimenting to find the best weight distribution. The Cobra techs then took the taped head and made weights that would match.

Here's an interesting tidbit that I didn't know before:
Fowler noted his irons and fairway woods also are shorter in length, and bringing the driver down in length made for an easier progression from club to club, as all are now approximately the same swing weight.
Rickie's only 5'9" tall, so it makes sense that his clubs would be shorter. However, given how long he is with those shorter clubs, it's a bit surprising to find that shortening his driver an entire inch merely brought its length down in proportion to the rest of the set.

The swingweight information is helpful here too. It appears from his comments in the article that his driver was noticeably heavier than his other clubs:
"The club is out in front of me a lot easier and with it being a little shorter, it is easier to save when it does get a little out of position."
The interesting part of this, which I found in a article, is that:
Fowler also is playing a left-to-right ball-flight, which helps him better control his tee shots. He was hitting a draw until recently to try to fix a fault in his swing; the club was too steep in his transition to the downswing.
Now that Fowler has fixed that, he can return to the fade.
A fade is his preferred swing, but apparently the length and weight of the driver was forcing his swing off-plane.

So what does all this mean to the average weekend player who may be struggling with the driver?

Well, bear in mind that almost all weekend players tend to hit their 3-woods better off the tee than their drivers... and 43.5 inches is the length of a standard 3-wood. Putting a driver head on a 3-wood shaft would give you extra distance because of the loft difference and the resulting lower trajectory. So the shorter shaft might not hurt your distance after all.

And you want to make sure that your driver isn't heavier to swing than the rest of your clubs. Remember, if you can't get the club around fast enough, it can unintentionally alter your swing..

The changes for Rickie have been dramatic. He's hitting something like 25% more fairways this week.. and that's played him into a 4-stroke lead. Today we'll see if he can bring it home with this new driver setup.

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