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Ken11

Driver Shaft Length Creep

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I just read an article that asserts that Tiger Woods for most of his career used a driver of 43.5" and that most pros today use drivers that are 44.5 inches in length, and yet the standard length of a driver sold to the public has now grown to 45.5 inches. The gist of the article is that the average golfer would be much better served if he used a driver shorter than those marketed to the public. If this is true, then it is understandable why so many people have trouble consistently controlling their drives.  

Does anyone know if what it said in this article about the driver lengths used by Woods and today's pros are true?

https://golficity.com/driver-length-creep-why-you-cant-hit-your-driver/

Thanks for your responses.

 

Ken

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ken11 said:

The gist of the article is that the average golfer would be much better served if he used a driver shorter than those marketed to the public.

Shortening the driver will not cure bad swings. Most golfers need as much length off the tee as they can get. 

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3 hours ago, saevel25 said:

Shortening the driver will not cure bad swings. Most golfers need as much length off the tee as they can get. 

Quality of contact can and will often improve from a shorter shaft to balance out that potential distance loss. Also, for high handicappers it is more likely that their swingspeed will top out out a length shorter than what is offered in today's standard drivers, so they may not be able to gain any benefit at all. 

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I have been messing around with a shorter driver shaft. Not sure yet if I like it or not. It seems like I hit it straighter but I'm not sure of the yardage differences yet. It could just be the shaft/head but it seems like it's stiffer and doesn't sound as good coming off the club face. I'm going to work on it this week-end and see what happens. I wanted a shorter shaft because it seems like it is easier to control. I am 5'9" and with new lengths, it just feels like I'm standing too far away from the ball.

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I don't have much information about what the pros use, and to be honest, it really doesn't matter to me.  It definitely does make news when a player changes to a shorter shaft.  What I DO know is that most of the marketing of drivers to paying consumers like you and me is based on distance, and specifically on gains in distance.  Putting aside the issue of solid contact, a longer shaft means a longer shot.  Consequently, drivers have gotten longer.

Whether that's the best choice for any individual golfer is another matter.  The only way to figure out what's best for you is to get a competent fitting, looking at shaft length as one of the (many) variables to be evaluated.  The goal is the greatest distance that's consistently in play.  Long and OB is no good, short and dead center is a little better. long and in fairway or light rough better still.  Center contact will still go further than off-center contact, even off-center with a longer club.  If you want to find out whether losing an inch helps you make center contact more often, you have to try it yourself.

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I just recently cut an inch off my driver for this coming season, down to 44.5.  I noticed that I wasn't consistent with the driver and playing in recovery mode isn't fun for the round.  I have been to the range and a few times out on the course a few with it, unusual weather for Cincy this winter so I am taking advantage of it, and noticed so far that my strikes are more solid and my dispersion is tighter.  I also haven't lost any distance with the shorter shaft.  Definitely worth trying if your unhappy with current driver results.

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9 hours ago, SavvySwede said:

Quality of contact can and will often improve from a shorter shaft to balance out that potential distance loss. Also, for high handicappers it is more likely that their swingspeed will top out out a length shorter than what is offered in today's standard drivers, so they may not be able to gain any benefit at all. 

Even that depends on the golfer. I've seen a few short test on this where they found that some golfers showed no difference between a longer driver and a shorter one. 

 

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52 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Even that depends on the golfer. I've seen a few short test on this where they found that some golfers showed no difference between a longer driver and a shorter one. 

 

I think most people would "feel" like they would he more accurate with a shorter driver. I would personally need quite a bit of data to back that up. One or two rounds wouldn't change my mind.

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10 hours ago, rocketmutt said:

I just recently cut an inch off my driver for this coming season, down to 44.5.  I noticed that I wasn't consistent with the driver and playing in recovery mode isn't fun for the round.  I have been to the range and a few times out on the course a few with it, unusual weather for Cincy this winter so I am taking advantage of it, and noticed so far that my strikes are more solid and my dispersion is tighter.  I also haven't lost any distance with the shorter shaft.  Definitely worth trying if your unhappy with current driver results.

Thanks for sharing your experience with the cutdown shaft. I hope that you revisit this thread after you have a few more rounds under your belt with this shorter driver and share your results. 

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11 hours ago, Bucki1968 said:

I have been messing around with a shorter driver shaft. Not sure yet if I like it or not. It seems like I hit it straighter but I'm not sure of the yardage differences yet. It could just be the shaft/head but it seems like it's stiffer and doesn't sound as good coming off the club face. I'm going to work on it this week-end and see what happens. I wanted a shorter shaft because it seems like it is easier to control. I am 5'9" and with new lengths, it just feels like I'm standing too far away from the ball.

Thanks for your response. Today I tried hitting a 44.6" driver at the pro shop driving range and also had mixed results. I could not really tell the difference in distance I was getting. I also found that I was trying to swing too hard in order to compensate for any potential distance loss, so many of my drives were pulls but also many were nice and straight too.  I would think it would take a period of time to get used to the change in weight and length.

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As you know, I'm and old guy with a slow swing. My Callaway Diablo Octane was 45.5", stock. I thought I hit it pretty well, even with my slow swing. And the Project x 4.5 just seems made for me.

After some testing/video, etc., the fitter (a friend and longtime pro in the business) who re-shafted and re-fitted my irons for me (another story) said something about MOI and the shaft being too long for my swing. He recommended taking off 1". I studied up on the pro and con Internet threads, and I agreed.

It has really worked for me. I have played 8 rounds with it. Straight, and as long or longer (for me). I can target it and have reasonable confidence as to where the ball will go most of the time. I don't overswing but once I went after it and the ball was easily 15 yards more in carry. That's what happened to me. (Sorry...I can't answer about the pros, but I noticed the thread kind of got away from the topic, so I chimed in.) Thanks for the topic,  -Marv

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Yes, when Tiger came on to the Tour he played a 43.5" driver with a steel shaft! I read an article where he said that only if he thought his game was suffering would he consider going to graphite, let alone a longer shaft!

Look, the club companies need to sell clubs to stay in business! The 43" - 43.5" driver was a standard for decades, maybe a century! Then the manufacturers started introducing longer drivers, promising more distance. At the same time they also introduced larger clubheads.

Longer shafts and larger clubheads equal one thing. Clubfaces that are are harder to square to the target line!

It's like Harvey Penick said, "The woods are full of long hitters!"

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23 hours ago, Ken11 said:

Thanks for your response. Today I tried hitting a 44.6" driver at the pro shop driving range and also had mixed results. I could not really tell the difference in distance I was getting. I also found that I was trying to swing too hard in order to compensate for any potential distance loss, so many of my drives were pulls but also many were nice and straight too.  I would think it would take a period of time to get used to the change in weight and length.

I have some experience with shorter driver shafts, and I might be able to provide some insight.  I can comment on some of Ken's results as well.

The length of drivers on Tour is accurate information.  The average length has been 44.5" for a number of years, with guys like Sergio Garcia playing drivers between 43-43.5"!

I have been an advocate of shorter length drivers for over 15 years.  During that time, all of my personal drivers have been between 44-44.5" with the majority at 44.25".  I have also built dozens of drivers for customers ranging from 43.5-44.75" with great results.

The biggest misconception is usually that a shorter driver might be straighter, but distance will be sacrificed.  The reality is, not only do most players not lose distance, they actually hit a shorter driver longer!  How can this be?  One reason is it's much easier to hit the ball on the sweet spot with a shorter shaft.  When this happens, everything gets better.  The other reason is most players tend to release the club early...unless your release is late, a longer shaft will actually be slowing down at impact.

Because the driver is the longest club in the bag with the least amount of loft, it is a difficult club to hit for many players.  There are many players who hit their 3 wood almost as long, or in some cases longer than their driver. Why?  Because a 3 wood has a shorter shaft and more loft.  The shorter shaft is much easier to swing and hit solidly, and the additional loft produces a better trajectory.

A couple things to keep in mind...taking your driver and cutting an inch off and re-gripping it will not have good results.  Too much swingweight will be lost, and it will be difficult to feel the club throughout the swing.  I think this may have been happening to @Ken11.  To help keep the weight up, I like to use heavier shafts.  Something in the 75-85g range will help.  Some additional head weight may need to be added as well.  If your driver has removable weight screws, replacing them with heavier weights works great, or lead tape can be used.  This will help prevent the feel of needing to swing harder or pulling the ball.  

I have been playing a shorter driver for about 15 years (current driver 44.25"), and I hit it longer and straighter than a 45" driver.  I have had the opportunity to hit similar drivers side-by-side on the course and on a launch monitor, and I'm 6-8 yds longer and straighter, and I don't have to work as hard.

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I know that Tiger started out with a shorter-than-regular driver. Don't know about now. And, his driver was steel-shaft when he went pro.

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4 hours ago, 1badbadger said:

I have some experience with shorter driver shafts, and I might be able to provide some insight.  I can comment on some of Ken's results as well.

The length of drivers on Tour is accurate information.  The average length has been 44.5" for a number of years, with guys like Sergio Garcia playing drivers between 43-43.5"!

I have been an advocate of shorter length drivers for over 15 years.  During that time, all of my personal drivers have been between 44-44.5" with the majority at 44.25".  I have also built dozens of drivers for customers ranging from 43.5-44.75" with great results.

The biggest misconception is usually that a shorter driver might be straighter, but distance will be sacrificed.  The reality is, not only do most players not lose distance, they actually hit a shorter driver longer!  How can this be?  One reason is it's much easier to hit the ball on the sweet spot with a shorter shaft.  When this happens, everything gets better.  The other reason is most players tend to release the club early...unless your release is late, a longer shaft will actually be slowing down at impact.

Because the driver is the longest club in the bag with the least amount of loft, it is a difficult club to hit for many players.  There are many players who hit their 3 wood almost as long, or in some cases longer than their driver. Why?  Because a 3 wood has a shorter shaft and more loft.  The shorter shaft is much easier to swing and hit solidly, and the additional loft produces a better trajectory.

A couple things to keep in mind...taking your driver and cutting an inch off and re-gripping it will not have good results.  Too much swingweight will be lost, and it will be difficult to feel the club throughout the swing.  I think this may have been happening to @Ken11.  To help keep the weight up, I like to use heavier shafts.  Something in the 75-85g range will help.  Some additional head weight may need to be added as well.  If your driver has removable weight screws, replacing them with heavier weights works great, or lead tape can be used.  This will help prevent the feel of needing to swing harder or pulling the ball.  

I have been playing a shorter driver for about 15 years (current driver 44.25"), and I hit it longer and straighter than a 45" driver.  I have had the opportunity to hit similar drivers side-by-side on the course and on a launch monitor, and I'm 6-8 yds longer and straighter, and I don't have to work as hard.

BadBadger, thanks for your well thought out and written response. Everything you said makes sense. If I do go to a shorter shaft for my current driver, I will try to order the shorter shaft in a heavier weight.  

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Up until about the mass introduction of the graphite shaft in the 1980s Drivers were all 43". 98% of your old wooden woods and early metal woods all had 43" shafts. 

I'm 6' 4 1/2" I can't really play a 43" driver. My wife's driver is 43.5" and I hit the hell out of it. Yes a little wild because it's a ladies flex shaft, and the grip is tiny but that is beside the point. 

I've actually toyed with the idea of having my driver cut down to 44" and my my 4-wood back to standard 42.5" (my driver is 45.5" but it's only 45" standard).

 I actually hit a friend of mine's old R540 with a 44" shaft longer than my EX9.

in response to @1badbadger. I agree a slightly shorter shaft actually will make a difference on quality of strike. (Maybe I should have stuck with standard lengths in my irons)

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Great post by 1badbadger! I've cut down a couple drivers for myself after reading Tom Wishon's book, "The Search for the Perfect Golf Club".  He advised about the swingweight change and how to correct for it with lead tape. So what I did was take the original driver to the local golf store and put it on swingweight scale to see where it was before I cut.

This is fine as far as it goes, but I think shortening a shaft changes its flex characteristics, making it a little stiffer than it was. I sold one of my cut downs to my buddy's Son who is 24 years our junior and generates a lot more clubhead speed than we do! He flat kills a 3 wood, but couldn't find a driver he liked. He doesn't like the "canteloupe on a broomstick" look of modern drivers.

The one I sold him was an old Cleveland Launcher Comp which has a 400 or 430cc head, but which appears far smaller than a 460cc. He can smash that thing into the middle of next week!

I think the ideal for anybody looking to get a shorter driver is to find a local clubmaker (hopefully there is someone like 1 bad badger near you), and have them build you a driver with the proper length and shaft flex for your swing speed and tempo.

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Okay after playing with both of my drivers this week-end, I came to the conclusion that the shorter shafted driver really didn't help my performance. As a matte of fact (for me) I hit the 45.5 inch driver further and actually straighter. The shortened driver just did not come off the club face the same. Maybe the new shaft put into that driver (the shorter one) just isn't very good. The club felt "clunky" to me.

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