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Jack Lee

Tales of a hacker's new driver

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Not too long ago, I solicited opinions of a driver that may help me dispense with my haunting hook. (It was a frustrating experience to play a long, tough hole out in par on my second tee shot after hooking my first one into never never land, and thus waste a fine performance.) The responses were varied and provided me with several different thoughts on the topic. One parameter I was looking for was "not to break the bank", that elusive state of value for dollar.

The suggestions that I looked the hardest at were the Taylormade Burner (07) TP and the Cobra S9-1 Pro series. On the used market, both could be had for what I felt was a reasonable price.

I had been thinking that an open driver would be the answer, especially after finding out that my current driver that I had thought was neutral was one degree closed. Learning that tidbit set me to looking at the handful of neutral aligned clubs as well as the open faced ones.

In the end, I walked into a shop that had a good used selection of drivers and tried a handful out. The Cobra Pro D felt good and swung well for me, but sounded off with a wet slap kind of sound that just didn't feel right for me. The neutral club or two that I tried (don't recall them, they were that memorable) just didn't feel right. Then came the R9 460. Set up neutral, it felt very much alive in my hands. Felt good, sounded good, hit like a hammer. Price was acceptable to me (just after TM had announced the pending release of the new pair of drivers, so the price had fallen a bit) so I grabbed it.

I took my new toy to the driving range to see if it worked as well there as it had in the store. (I love buying used for the short term return policies the stores I deal with have. Don't like it in 10 days or 30 days, depending on the store, return it in the condition you bought it and you're out in no harm.) It drove well for me and seemed to work well with my swing. Not quite the distance I was used to with my older driver, but for an improved chance not to hook it, I would trade. So I kept banging away with it and it stayed in my bag.

Weather prevented me getting on a course with it until just this past weekend. I played 9 holes with my dad and fiancee (she was joining us for her first 9 holes of golf, so it couldn't be anything but an enjoyable day). The course we play has no driving range, so I wasn't able to warm up well like I like to, but still recovered nicely on the first hole. Nothing spectacular with the drive, but about what I am used to hitting there without warming up or having played for a bit. Second hole was about the same, nothing spectacular, but nothing horrendous either. Third hole, my hands seemed to come alive. There is a creek somewhere around "holy crap" and a ditch down at 220 or so. I pick out a spot on the creek bank for a line target and take my swing. Now understand that this creek has NEVER come into play for me before. I usually hit my really nice drives 30 yards short of it, so using the bank for a target had become my habit. When I hit that drive, that lovely "pure hit" sound rang off the club and the ball took off like it was on a wire. As I stood there not believing what I was watching, my ball went soaring about 8 or 10 feet to the right of my point of aim and one hopped into the creek.
My dad looks at me and says "well, it sounded good, but I didn't see where it went."
"In the creek" I answered him quietly.
"You mean the ditch?" he asked.
"The creek" I repeated.
With a smile, he says "I have done that a lot myself, but ALWAYS on my second shot."
The rest of the hole played out decently and the next hole was an uneventful par 3.
On the par 4 fifth, again I pick out my usual target and let fly. Again, that sexy crack/ping sound rings out and the ball launches like it was shot instead of clubbed. The hole isn't long, but usually is a struggle for me to get on in regulation. I just haven't been driving well enough before. When the ball comes to a stop, it is an easy 50 yards past my usual landing area and I am trying to figure out whose swing I have picked up. Again, I end up having a fun conversation with my dad as he starts looking for my ball where I usually land it and I stop him.
"Up there" I say, pointing him toward my ball.
He looks at me and at the ball and then says simply "Pretty good drive"
All I could do was nod.
Parts of the course were still closed due to the recent snows, so we skipped a few and headed over to the par 4 8th. One more time, I pick out my usual target (slow to learn, huh?) which is the inside edge of the left greenside sand trap. Once again, I swing my driver and watch my ball launch like I have always dreamed of and come skidding to a halt in the exact edge I was used to aiming at less than 5 yards from the green. I can't be sure what the hole was playing that day, but the tees we were hitting off of card 276, so any way you cut it, that was a heck of a drive.
With a grin, my dad says to me "That one I saw."
All I could say in response was "Wow".

For fear of overshooting my target, I used my 3 wood on the next tee. (Rolling hole where you want to land on the crest of the hill rather than in the valley between that and the green.) One more fantastic swing later, I was wishing I had clubbed down further as I still almost rolled it down the hill.

I struggled that round with my short game as I usually do and dad was putting on a clinic titled "it ain't how you drive, but how you arrive" to stay ahead of me. (As he usually does.) I did have a couple of really nice shots with my lob wedge (which I have struggled to get used to using) that made me feel good and I stuck the wrap up par 3 tee shot to within 10 feet, so not my worst round by any means.

I have to say that I think that I may have found the driver I was looking for. When I take my time and swing like I was taught, it crushes balls with monotonous regularity. It's a beautiful thing. So, now off we go to the same pro that taught me (in 5 minutes or so) how to swing a driver at a demo day to work on my short game and my iron consistency. I look forward to being able to pass on to you all here (especially those of you that suggested a pro over a driver change) what the results are of those lessons.

Happy hacking!!
Jack Lee

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Glad you found the fix to your hook! I used to have a wicked slice with the driver so the next time i went up for a lesson i told the pro my problem, so we worked on the driver for an hour or so. The next time I hit the range I was hooking the ball! Im still concerned that it;s a setup issue and not with my equipment. However, I recently tested the Burner superfast on the launch moniter and was bombing them down the middle. So I guess I have to hit the range a few more times and see what happens.

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When I hit that drive, that lovely "pure hit" sound rang off the club and the ball took off like it was on a wire. As I stood there not believing what I was watching, my ball went soaring about 8 or 10 feet to the right of my point of aim and one hopped into the creek.

You've found the center of the face. A lot of people on here are constantly telling me that the length of the shaft doesn't make a difference, that somehow they (usually a 15 handicap) can find the center of their driver face every time with a 46" shaft, while they can't hit a 2 iron to save their life. A 2 iron is much easier to hit pure than a driver, it's got more loft and a shorter shaft. This is why so many pros use a 2 iron off the tee, less room for error (now days, the 5 wood is more common).

Most of these people are not finding the center of their driver face. What you experienced was a center hit. The modern drivers are so forgiving that an off center hit will still play well, and most people probably rarely catch one dead center. The resounding crack that you heard was merely the center of the face, the "sweet spot." This is where all of the pros hit it every time. It makes an ear splitting pow, and the ball rockets through the air like a bullet. If you miss the center of the face, you will get maybe 220 at most, but some might even get more. I've hit 270 off center, but that's far from normal. So, anything you can do to hit the center of the face, and you will get a higher launch, lower spin, more roll, and longer distance. Miss it, and you're back to hitting a driver short of 250. Find whatever it takes to catch the center of the face.

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Isn't it great that your dad was there? You are lucky you play with your dad. My dad played virtually every day of his adult life but only played with me a couple of times. Having your dad there will be some of the best memories of your life when you are my age. Tell him.

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Isn't it great that your dad was there? You are lucky you play with your dad. My dad played virtually every day of his adult life but only played with me a couple of times. Having your dad there will be some of the best memories of your life when you are my age. Tell him.

Well said.. I play with my Da all the time and I love nothing more than playing with him(and having a sneaky pint of Guinness with him in the club house afterwards!)

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Also enjoying playing with my dad. Moved back to Michigan last fall and am looking forward to getting out with him a few times this season.


As for my driver, I have finally found the sweet spot of mine on the range this winter. It sounds sweet and I can tell I am finally hitting the sweet spot consistently

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congrats on the new driver, glad you're hitting it well. but while one degree of closure might make the ball draw more than you like, it's not going to make you duck hook the ball if you're swinging properly. i fear that this new driver prosperity might fool you into thinking that equipment can make your bad swing produce good, consistent results. i don't want to be a debbie downer, but i think you need to take a step back and address your swing fundamentals.

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Note: This thread is 3487 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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