Longer Off The Tee
Brand new drivers aren’t always the answer to your long-distance prayers. So why not think about ‘buying’ by the yard, direct from your Golf Professional? Although I don’t normally have ‘guest speakers’ appearing in my website, in this article Golf industry specialist, Ian James, offers a salutary tale...
"Extra yardage. Everyone wants it. It’s how they go about getting it that counts. Club face, head size, shaft length, ball technology, even the size of the tee, they’re all important factors. But there is no substitute for instructive and educational time spent with a Golf Professional - and I’m not just talking drills and exercises to increase hitting power and muscle flexibility in your drives.
In this 24/7 era of sensationalism and hyperbole, media coverage of golf and sports in general has reached saturation point. And so often it’s the quick fix that counts: the brand new shiny titanium faced driver, for instance, that promises ‘15 yards longer every time’; and a centre of gravity so low and so deep that by now we must be somewhere near the earth’s core! Boys and their toys stuff.
As much as anything, though, golf is a game played in the space between the ears. So don’t just reach for the latest driver and dash off to the tee to see how close you can get to the first green in one - at least not without considering what the Golf Professional behind the counter could do for your yardage if you’d only let him. A while back I was too gripped with the urge to hit further. I’d taken a few bob off the Golf Professional the previous week, courtesy of the 16 shots my handicap offered me. With a new enthusiasm to reach single figures I presented myself at his shop counter with three Golf Drivers I’d selected from the racks, and ask him to tape them up for me. Off I marched to the ranger to test my choices after banter about a re-match for even bigger stacks.
I returned an hour later with a clear winner - one that I felt comfortable and confident with, that delivered the extra 15 yards that would impress my regular four-ball partners. But rather than take my money, the Golf Professional ask me why I was taking a new Driver. He suggested that I should invest in a short-game lesson package or practice my distance putting. After extracting the confession that I was after ‘extra yardage’, he offered to sell me extra yards over and above the 15 I’d already gained from my choice of new driver.
This was the deal. The Golf Professional would spend 45 minutes of the range with me and then take 72 hours to find my dream driver. We’d meet again and I’d hit my own choice of driver three times, take the longest hit and measure it against the longest of three similar hits with his choice of driver.
The only catch was that he would have 10 minutes between the two tests to tweak my setup and swing. Then we’d measure the distance between the longest hit with my driver and the extra distance I’d get with his – I’d pay him £10 per extra yard.
When the results were in, I coughed up £300. The Golf Professional had added 30 yards over and above the 15 yards I’d gained from my choice of new technology. Staggering, but then he changed the loft (higher), the shaft length (shorter), the shaft strength (more flexible) and the grip (slightly smaller). Then he spent those ten minutes ‘tweaking’ to get me to alter my swing path slightly (to attack the ball from the inside) and to release my hands a little earlier (I was obsessed with late release). He even tried to change my choice in golf ball, but I claimed that was outside the rules.
Seven years on, I can still hit that driver further than anything brand new that I grab off the shelf. And that’s the point. Off the shelf that driver – or any other club – is just not made for me. But add a fitting and some good advice from the Golf Professional, and every ounce of the new technology – whatever it happens to be – will be working to the maximum.
It needn’t have added up to £300, over and above the actual cost of the driver, back then. All I had to do at the time was walk into the friendly neighbourhood Golf Professional’s shop and ask him to ‘fit me up with a new driver’. Without any questions he would have done the job for free.
Thinking about it. That driver has been my faithful companion on the tee box ever since – that’s nearly 140 rounds of golf on at least 1,400 holes.
I’ve landed on more fairways and enjoyed the pleasure of approach shots from the shot grass more often. I’ve also consistently enjoyed 20 to 30 yards extra distance (there has been the odd slice or topped or skied shot). By my calculations, I can lay claim to an average 20 yards extra on each of 1,400 drives. That’s 28,000 extra yards. Or, put it another way, about a penny an extra yard. (and I have lost less golf balls)
So there it is. Driver loft, sweet spot, grip adjustment, shaft flex, swing path and angle of attack. All issues best addressed in the company of your Golf Professional, with a view to gaining you those elusive extra yards that you crave."