A little history on my game for you:
Before I got this new driver 2 weeks ago, it is not uncommon for me to take 7 or 8 drops (14-16 additional strokes to the scorecard) off the tee box in 15 tee boxes. I do loose about 2-3 balls off of mishits, shanks, etc. with my long irons and hybrid into the woods and I can't find it or into a hazard, but that happens...
When I started playing golf 4 years ago, I was taught the "traditional" way (drive for show, putt for doe). I got lessons on putting and chipping and focused everything on putting, once I began to be a <40 putter, I moved on to chipping. Once I started putting myself in positions to get up and down more often, I moved to pitching. So on and so forth. Consequently, my overall score is terrible. I couldn't break 100 for 3.5 years because I couldn't get off the tee box accurately enough to not have to take a drop. I bought a good driver (Ping G10) but never could hit it. I put 2 different shafts in it (ProLaunch Platinum & Aldila VS) hoping to get different results and all it did was make things worse. My 3 wood is better, so I decided to put the driver in the bag until I could get a new driver. 4 months passed and I was immediately playing in the mid-high 90's now that my driving accuracy increased. The 3 wood still wasn't good as my fairway accuracy was around 45% with it (driver is around 30%). Distance was never an issue.
About 2 weeks ago, I went and got fit for a driver and bought a new (used) Callaway X Hot 9.5* Stiff flex driver. I've played 3 round with it and so far it has looked like:
*First time playing with new club*: 18 holes at The Republic in San Antonio, TX- (never played there before) shot a 96. 62% accuracy 4 GIR 41 putts (bad putting).
Went to range next day hit 100 balls with it.
*Second time playing with it*: 9 holes on an easy course (Quail Creek)- (usually shoot +13- +15 on their front 9). Shot +7. 71% accuracy 3 GIR 17 putts. wasn't worried about putting really. I went to play with the driver.
*Third time playing with it*: Plum Creek in Kyle, TX (pretty tough course)- My best there is a 98 (avg 101) with 5 GIR with 33 putts. I shot a 92. 57% accuracy 5 GIR 32 putts.
So in seeing that, driver accuracy is essential. I more times than not hit the green or fringe (not necessarily close to the pin) 150 and in (8i-SW). My GIR would go up if I didn't take so many drops off the tee box. I am playing much, much better golf with this new Callaway AND slowing down. I don't know why, but I always get really quick and try to crush it off the tee box. I don't do that with my irons... As I get used to this driver and continue to swing smooth, I expect to be in the high 80's real soon. You guys are right though. Assuming you have a decent enough short game, long game proves to be more important to your overall score. Sure I am a mid-low 30's putter, but I shoot in the mid 90's typically.
My theory is if I shoot in the mid- high 90's now with that horrendous driving, I can be shooting in the low 80's if I take back every single dropped ball off the tee box (96 total avg in 2014 - 14 avg strokes= 82). Now I obviously don't expect to never loose a ball or be 100% accuracy off the tee box, but if I only loose 2 balls instead of 7 off the tee box, that's an 86!
My typical distances are:
4i- 200- 210