One of the interesting equipment stories of the year was that Luke Donald started using a driver that was 43.5 inches in length. What is interesting about this is most of the rack drivers are 45-46 inches in length and some are even 47 inches. The average shaft length of a driver on the PGA Tour is 44.5 inches.
Why are standard drivers longer than the average used on the PGA Tour? Its simple longer drivers will hit the ball longer given a centred strike. Distance is what sells. Here’s the issue, longer drivers are more difficult to hit out of the centre than shorter drivers. Centred hits go further and straighter. So will longer drivers actually hit the ball further?
On TrackMan earlier today I hit 10 drives with my normal 45 inch Titleist 913D3 driver and 10 drives with a 43.5 inch shaft. 43.5 inches is the normal 3 wood length. I used the same ball, Titleist Pro V1x. The head, 913D3 9.5 degrees, stayed the same. I just interchanged the shafts from my normal 45 inch Graphite Design Tour AD Di7 S-flex to a 43.5 inch Project X 8C4 6.0 (S) Flex. The Tour AD is 75 grams and the 8C4 is 80 grams.
For the Tour AD the results were as follows
Attack Angle: ‐0.7 Club Path: ‐1.6 Face to Path: ‐1.2 Club Head Speed: 102.7mph Ball Speed: 149.8mph Launch Angle: 12.4 Spin Rate: 2604 Carry: 243.9y Total: 261.1y
Dispersion was from 7 yards left to 12 yards right, taking out the two worst (27 yards left and 17 yards right)
For the Project X the results were as follows
Attack Angle: ‐1.1 Club Path: ‐1.1 Face to Path: ‐1.2 Club Head Speed: 102.3mph Ball Speed: 149.2mph Launch Angle: 11.2 Spin Rate: 2494 Carry: 244.0y Total: 261.5y
Dispersion was from 8 yards left to 14 yards right, taking out the two worst (15 yards left and 19 yards right)
The results are interesting. The shorter shaft hit the ball slightly longer, a matter of inches (244 to 243.9 carry and 261.5 to 261.1 total), but still longer. In essence there was no loss of distance using a shorter shaft. There was a slight loss of club head speed (0.4 mph less) and ball speed (0.6 mph less); the extra distance came from a slightly lower spin rate (2494 to 2604) probably due to the slightly heavier shaft.
Dispersion was better with the longer shaft 19 yards from left to right as opposed to 22 yards from left to right. Again not a massive difference between the two.
In conclusion going shorter for me won’t lead to a noticeable difference in length or accuracy. My consistency of strike doesn’t vary that much. For others whose strike does vary a little more I would highly recommend going shorter with the driver this will lead to a more consistent strike, meaning more distance and accuracy. 43.5 And 44 inches will work a lot better than 46 and 47 inches. Who wouldn’t want more distance with a club that’s easier to hit?