If you swing fast and want to rip drives far and straight, golf equipment expert Tom Wishon has some advice. The best driver for you will be custom fitted to you, taking into account factors such as your size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics. Such precise club fitting focuses on the length of the driver, the loft, the weight of the club and the flexibility of the shaft. There is simply no substitute for a good club fitting if you want to find the best driver for your game.
A Rigid Approach
The best shaft for your driver is largely determined by your swing speed. As a chart by golf equipment manufacturer TaylorMade indicates, you're likely to be better off with a stiff or extra stiff shaft when your speed tops 100 mph. A regular flex shaft is too whippy for fast swingers. You'll probably hit the ball a long distance but it will be hard to control the driver and you're likely to wind up in the rough or sand or water on a regular basis.
The Long and Short of It
Although driver lengths have increased in recent years -- in theory, the longer and lighter modern drivers generate more clubhead speed and thus more distance -- Wishon believes the new standard of 45.5 inches to 46.5 inches is too long for the vast majority of golfers. He writes that the longer clubs "will prevent at least 75 percent of all golfers from achieving their maximum potential for distance and accuracy." The average driver length on the PGA Tour is only 44.5 inches, which supports the notion that longer is generally not better.
The TaylorMade chart recommends a driver loft of eight to 10 degrees if your swing speed hits 100 mph or higher. Wishon recommends driver lofts of 10 to 11 degrees if your swing speed is 100 mph and 8.5 to 9.5 if you generate 110 mph of clubhead speed. Loft relates to the launch angle of the ball coming off the tee. If you generate a lot of clubhead speed, you produce lots of backspin. So you want a driver with a lower loft and launch angle, in order to produce a shot that bores through the air for maximum distance. As Golf.com explains, too much loft will launch the ball high with too much spin, and it will tend to plummet to the fairway more quickly.
Other Weighty Matters
According to Wishon, the best driver for a particularly strong and aggressive 100-mph swinger is a heavier club with a higher total swing weight. Such a club optimizes tempo and promotes consistency and accuracy. You also want a higher flexpoint -- the point of the shaft that bends the most. A higher flexpoint produces a lower trajectory. In fact, the best driver for a 100-mph swinger might not be a driver at all. Wishon and other experts, such as instructor Andrew Rice, note that many golfer derive the ideal combination of distance and accuracy by using a 3-wood off the tee, a club that is shorter and loftier than most drivers.