New Driver? Wait, Don't Buy Without Trying!

New Driver? Wait, Don’t Buy Without Trying!

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I posted an article, and since it’s getting closer to golf season I wanted to give everyone a bit of advice when buying new clubs. Driver’s are a golfers best friend. Seriously everyone loves the driver because it goes the furthest and, let’s be honest, is a fun club to hit. There is something hypnotic about catching one right on the screws and watching it sail down the fairway. If you’re in the market for a new driver however make sure you are getting the one that is actually going to make a difference.

Things you can do to help: If you’re heading out to purchase a new driver there are a few things you can do to help your fitter decide which way to go. There are tonnes of options in terms of shaft/head combinations and answering a few of these questions can help narrow down the search.

Establish your price range: This is a pretty simple one but it helps the fitter out tremendously. Not everyone can afford the latest and greatest driver out there but fortunately there are options for more value conscious buyers. Keep in mind that the bigger your budget usually (but not always) the easier it is to find the proper fit for you.

Bring your current model along: Some may be surprised to hear me say this one but I want to see what your currently using. Not only that but I want to see you hit it! There is no point in switching driver’s if I can’t beat what you’re currently doing with your own and that’s my goal I want to make you hit this new one better and show you the value of stepping up your equipment. If we can’t beat it then you save some money, it’s a win/win.

Be reasonable with your expectations: One of the biggest downers when fitting a person is when I manage to get a person 10 yards more in distance and decrease dispersion yet the person getting fitted is not satisfied. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Well I was hoping to gain around 30-40 yards.” or “I thought it would fix my slice completely.” I’ve always been fairly transparent when I fit and I can tell you it’s not impossible to gain 30-40 yards on your drive BUT it’s extremely rare. Most of the time if I gain that extra club (10 yards traditionally) in distance I’m thrilled because we’ve just decreased the amount of club you’re going to have into the hole and is going to provide you returns on your scores. Finally adjustable clubs can aid in preventing or decreasing a slice but if you are coming across the ball from an out to in path, regardless of how I set the club you will probably slice it still. If a fitter is fitting you and he cuts your slice in half be thrilled about that, he just made your shot shape more manageable for yourself!

When getting fit: When you’re getting fit there are a few numbers that we pay attention to that allows us to really maximize the Driver’s potential for a person. These numbers can be attained in a number of different ways and it’s part of the fitter’s job to find the right pairing of shaft and head to attain these.

Launch Angle: Launch angle is the initial angle the ball takes off from the club head in proportion to the ground of the horizontal plane. In laments terms, how high the ball initially takes off from the face of the club. Launch angle is important as it follows a pretty simple idea behind it. I want you to imagine a water hose and it is shooting water out at a consistent rate. You begin moving the end of the hose up and down using your wrist to change the angle it’s shooting out at. At some point that water is going to go the farthest. Too high it just goes straight up and down losing distance, Too low it just goes into the ground losing distance again. This is the same idea with launch angle in golf.

One thing I do want to make clear is that the optimal launch angle changes as well. The faster your swing speed the less launch you need in order to optimize your distance. Again think of the water hose. If you start off with fairly low pressure (speed) You will need to arc it more to maximize how far it will go but if you add pressure (speed) you will find that you need to lower the arc to maximize the distance the water gets.

To give you an idea on Launch Angle averages I have pulled the following data off the Trackman Blog which you can find here (http://blog.trackmangolf.com/launch-angle/)

Tour Averages

PGA TOUR

  • Driver – 10.9 deg
  • 6 iron – 14.1 deg

LPGA Tour

  • Driver – 13.2 degrees
  • 6 iron – 17.1 degrees

TrackMan Combine Averages

Male Amateur (Driver)

  • Scratch of Better – 11.2 degrees
  • 5 HCP – 11.2 degrees
  • 10 HCP – 11.9 degrees
  • Average Golfer (14.5) – 12.6 degrees
  • Bogey Golfer – 12.1 degrees

Female Amateur (Driver)

  • Scratch or Better – 12.7 degrees
  • 5 HCP – 12.0 degrees
  • 10 HCP – 12.4 degrees
  • 15 HCP – 13.6 degrees

Changing your launch angle can be done a number of different ways but by far the easiest way is to decrease the loft on your Driver. No other component on the club will make as big an impact as the loft on the club. If you are finding that the your launch is too low or too high try increasing or decreasing the loft to help you attain the ideal number you are looking for.

Spin: The second big stat we are looking at when fitting you is backspin. Excess backspin is a distance killer. Fortunately many OEM companies have recognized this and are now making drivers with low spinning heads that allow people to achieve the desired spin rates easier. My go to numbers for backspin is somewhere in the 2000-3000 RPM ideally. If you are finding that your backspin rate is too high it may be time to try out a few different driver heads to see if it can help you decrease your spin. A few driver models to try:

Callaway EPICCallaway GBB Epic Sub-Zero: A new offering from Callaway that has gained considerable hype and for good reason. The Sub-Zero model is a low spinning, high forgiveness driver made to help those who have excess spin issues. The Driver features new jailbreak technology which has two rods placed directly behind the face of the driver. This helps in decreasing deflection in the face and adding ball speed to your shots. Not only that but Callaway offers 4 premium no-charge shafts which can further help tune in your spin rate and launch angles.

TaylorMade ImageTaylormade M1 Driver: The M1 driver from Taylormade features two sliding weights that help players adjust their drivers for both backspin and side spin. By changing the centre of gravity of the club head you can effectively change the gear effect of a golf club resulting in greater distance from lower spin. The M1 Driver comes in two models 460 cc for max forgiveness and 440 for more workability. The M1 is available in a wide variety of shafts to help fine tune the driver to your specifications.

PING Ping G LS Tec: The LS in Ping G LS Tec stands for Low Spin. So you know right away that this driver is made specifically for the purpose of reducing spin. In this driver Ping combines it’s critically acclaimed forgiveness with a model that provides a lower backspin rate to give some of the biggest distance possible. The LS Tec is adjustable in loft up to 1 degree up or down. The G LS Tec is available in two shafts. The TFC and a tour version of the TFC help to fine tune the driver even further for those looking to max out their distance.

Additionally shaft fitting can further lower the spin rate on a player looking to fully maximize their distance. In order to find the right shaft for you I recommend finding your local fitter and booking an appointment.

That’s all for today, Saskatchewan is shining and there’s very little snow out there this year so let’s hope for an early spring!


PGA of Saskatchewan Professional Chad Lavallee is a regular contributor to the SaskGolfer community. For help with your golf game, contact Chad via his website at www.chadlavalleegolf.com

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Titleist Performance Institute Certified Instructor / Frankly Golf Putting Instructor / Level 2 Golf Canada Ruled Official / Class A PGA of Canada Golf Professional / PING Certified Fitter / Nike Certified Fitter / Callaway Certified Fitter / Mizuno Certified Fitter / Titleist Certified Fitter / NCCP Certified Coach


PGA of SaskatchewanThe PGA of Saskatchewan is a part of the PGA of Canada, which was established in 1911, and is the second oldest and third largest professional golf association in the world. The PGA of Canada is a non-profit Association comprised of 3,700 golf professionals across the country. The PGA of Canada develops, promotes, and supports members in living a better life and earning a better living. The Association consists of the National Office located in Acton, Ontario and nine Zone Offices across the country.

Saskatchewan is one of the smallest provincial PGA of Canada sections, yet has some of the most highly educated and trained Golf Professionals in the country. There are many PGA of Saskatchewan Members who dedicate a significant amount of time devoted to Instructing and Coaching golfers of all abilities and ages. For a complete listing of PGA of Saskatchewan Members who can improve your golf game, please visit their website at www.pgasask.com

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