Whether they're basing it on the laws of physics that they learned in a high school math class or on the fact that the guys that win those long drive contests on TV swing some big sticks, lots of golfers believe that the secret to long yardage off the tee is a longer club. And, in theory, they're right.
All things being equal, a longer club will hit the ball farther. Unfortunately, though, all things are seldom equal.
Basic laws of rotation and motion show that, yes, a longer club will generally result in longer drives. There was even a study done in 2008 by the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick in Ireland that found that an increase in club length from 46 inches to 50 inches resulted not only in an increase in club head speed, ball speed, and carry, but -- and here's the interesting part -- it was achieved without any significant loss of accuracy.
At ClubCraft, we love science. We respect science. Our beliefs and philosophies of club-fitting and club-building would be reduced to guesswork and hunches if they weren't firmly rooted in science.
So, why are we so skeptical about the results of a legit university research department study? Digging deeper into the study, it shows that it was based on the drives of seven very low-handicap golfers. For one thing, that's a pretty low sample size for a study. For another thing, most of us aren't scratch golfers.
At ClubCraft, we have decades of combined experience in the club-fitting industry. We've seen thousands of golfers -- from beginners to World Number #1s -- hit away in our bays. Technology like TrackMan gives us a wealth of information about your game. Yes, the five-foot-five guy with the 48-inch driver may very well hit a monster drive or two, but the overall dispersion of his shots makes it obvious that those bombs were clearly the exception and not the rule. That same player given a shorter club may not get the same distance, speed, and carry, but his dispersion will much tighter.
We're guessing that a more consistent game is what you'd rather be playing.
And that's why you also shouldn't be looking at long drive competitions. Sure, those guys can hit the daylights out of the ball, but -- ultimately -- they aren't playing the same sport as you. Yes, what they're doing involves a golf club and a golf ball, but that's about where the similarities end. Their goal is to hit one out of eight balls onto another planet. They don't care -- or have to care -- that the other five balls went several miles in the wrong direction. You don't have that luxury when you're out playing. Your job is to confidently navigate an eighteen-hole course in as few shots as possible. If seven out of every eight drives end up in the woods, the water, the wrong fairway, or the parking lot, it's going to be a long day. And you're not going to have much fun.
To truly play at your best, your clubs have to match your swing and your body. And that's going to involve a lot more than simply tweaking the length of your club.
In addition to proper shaft length, we'll make sure that you're playing with the proper shaft frequency (stiffness) for your swing speed and tempo and that the grip, shaft, and head all work in harmony to give you a balanced club with the proper swing weight for you. Whether it's a driver, an iron, or a wedge, every club in your bag should feel like it's an extension of your body. That's what a Tour-Style fitting is all about.
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Influence of shaft length on golf driving performance