Build Your Best Bag Part 3: The Driver

Best Bag Part 3

The Big Dog Eats First

For golfers of every ability level, the driver is the most important scoring club in the bag.  It is also the club that will have the biggest impact on how much fun you have during your round – there’s nothing worse than a day of chasing your ball into trees and neighboring fairways.  With that in mind, you should start assembling your best bag with a high quality driver fitting.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You currently play an “off the rack” driver

You want more distance off the tee

You want to hit more fairways

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What Is The Goal?

The goal of a driver fitting is to find a club that you can hit accurately and far.  How you weight those two components – distance and accuracy – is a matter of personal preference.  As we’ve learned from Dr. Mark Broadie’s book Every Shot Counts, 20 extra yards is worth a lot, but shots hit OB are worth a lot, too.

In a perfect world, you’d get 2.5 yards of carry distance for every MPH of club head speed.  That means if you swing the club 100 MPH, and you carry your drives 250 yards, you’re maxed out on distance.  In reality, not everyone is going to get to this much out of their driver because of angle of attack and spin, something I explained HERE.  While not everyone will get to that 2.5 multiplier, you should aim to get as close as possible.  Distance is a huge advantage and you don’t want to leave yards on the table.

That doesn’t mean accuracy should be ignored, particularly if you are hitting multiple tee shots out of bounds each round.  When you are evaluating accuracy, look not only at how close you are to the center line, but also how each driver handles your big miss and how big the dispersion pattern is.  Do you want a Jekyll and Hyde driver or one that produces consistently acceptable results?

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What Is Involved In Driver Fitting?

There are many factors involved in fitting a driver, so choosing a good fitter is very important.  I would suggest that you call a number of stores and fitters to gather information before you choose one.  Some questions you will want to ask are:

What kind of launch monitors do you use?  Trackman, Flightscope, and Foresight are the best available.

How many different brands of heads and shafts do you carry?  More is obviously better.

Do you have the manufacturer’s fitting carts or just a bag of demo clubs?  Fitting carts are better than demos.  A true mix-and-match system that allows any head to be coupled with any shaft is the best.

What is involved in your driver fitting process?  You shouldn’t go through any fitting that doesn’t make sense to you.

Do you fit indoors or outdoors?  I discuss the pros and cons of each HERE.

Also, as we discussed in the last lesson, you’ll want to know that you can be fit with your golf ball.

Finally, here is the list of factors that you should be considering for your driver fitting:

Club head model

Loft

Adjustments to the club head (if applicable)

Shaft model

Shaft weight

Shaft flex

Shaft length

Grip

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What to Fit First – Head or Shaft?

This is a matter of fierce debate among fitters.  What you’re likely to find is that fitters who are tied to a brand, either through staff agreements or by working at OEM facilities, tend to believe in fitting the head first.  Independent, “brand agnostic” fitters like Club Champion tend to fit the shaft first.

If you’re going for a fitting at a big box, you’re likely going to have to choose your favorite head and then hope they have a manufacturer’s fitting cart with multiple shafts to try.  Big boxes simply don’t have the ability to mix and match shafts and heads from different brands like the best fitters can.

The reason that the best fitters tend to fit the shaft first is that once you find a good fit, you can play it in virtually any head.  A well-fit shaft is one that works with your swing – your tempo, speed, timing, transition – and enhances ball speed, accuracy, and consistency.  More than anything else, a badly-fit shaft robs you of consistency.  You will feel uncomfortable with it, and good shots will require timing and luck.  Even if you think, “I can’t tell the difference between shafts,” I guarantee that your swing can.

Ultimately, my experience tells me that the shaft is more important than the head and should be fit first.  This is not the say that the head isn’t important – it is – but if you want consistent results you need to find a shaft that works for your swing.

Conclusion

There is a lot to chew on in this lesson, but the biggest take away is that if you’re serious about getting the most enjoyment and best scores out of your game, you need to get the best driver fitting you can.

As always, please post any questions below and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Building Your Best Bag

Part 1: The Golden Rule

Part 2: The Golf Ball

Part 3: The Driver

Part 4: The Putter

Part 5: The Irons

Part 6: The Wedges

Part 7: The Long Game

Part 8: Specialty Clubs

Part 9: Maintenance

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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