The Most Frequently Asked Question
If you read through the thousands of comments that have been posted on PluggedInGolf.com, you’ll notice a few themes – people thanking us for our informative reviews, people telling us our reviews are crap, and people asking for recommendations – but the most frequently asked question is, “How do I adjust my driver?” With that in mind, I thought I’d write a full length explanation of how adjustable drivers work and how you can get the most out of them.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You have an adjustable driver
You aren’t sure how to adjust it
Hosel Adjustments – Loft, Lie, and Face Angle
Loft and Face Angle
When TaylorMade launched the R9 family of drivers, they talked about hosel adjustments in terms of left and right, i.e. closing or opening the club face. Six years later, the conversation has changed to adjusting loft. Here’s what you need to understand: adjusting the loft means changing the face angle and vice versa.
Here’s the simple version of the loft/face angle relationship:
When you add loft, you are closing the face. When you remove loft, you are opening the face
This is counterintuitive, but if you experiment with your own adjustable driver you’ll see that it’s correct. Set the driver to the highest loft and you’ll see a closed face. Set it to the lowest loft and the face will be open.
For those interested in the “why,” here it is: the driver you bought only has one loft. If it’s a 10 degree driver, it will always be 10 degrees, no matter how you twist it. By twisting it (changing the face angle), however, you are taking what was a 10 degree driver with a square face and making it a 10 degree driver that is, for example, 2 degrees closed. Now, to get that face square at impact, you need to open that 10 degree driver a couple degrees, thus adding loft.
The adjustment that most manufacturers have, but few talk about, is lie angle. Instead of calling it a lie angle adjustment, most manufacturers talk about fade, neutral, or draw settings. This is code for making the lie angle flatter, neutral, or more upright, respectively.
Ping’s G30 adapter is fairly straightforward: there’s a circle which indicates that the club face is square and has the stated loft. Then there are big and small plus and minus signs indicating that you can add or subtract 0.6° or 1.0° of loft. Remember, when you add loft, the face closes; when you subtract loft, the face opens.
True to their “golf should be fun” ethos, Cobra has the simplest, best-labeled adapter on the market. Each loft is clearly labeled, and the one you select shows up in a window on the hosel. The “Draw” settings indicated a more upright lie angle.
Titleist has used the same adapter since they got into the adjustable driver game (yay!), but it requires a reference card to use it (boo!). It’s a two-ring adapter with four positions on each ring – 1,2,3,4 and A,B,C,D – allowing for a total of 16 settings. The loft adjustments range from subtracting 0.75° to adding 1.5°. The lie angle adjustments follow the same pattern.
No one has created more different adapters over the years than TaylorMade. Their current generation of drivers strive for simplicity with their “Higher” and “Lower” labels. This sleeve allows you to add or subtract 2° of loft.
Callaway, like TaylorMade, has run through a number of different adapters over the last few years, but they seem to have settled on the Opti-Fit+. This is a two-ring adapter, much like Titleist’s, but using it is much simpler. You can use the two rings to select a Neutral (N) or Draw (D) lie angle, and subtract 1° of loft or add 1° or 2°.
Nike is second only to Cobra in making hosel adjustments easy to understand. Their STR8-FIT adapter has two rings: one for selecting loft, the other for selecting face angle (left, right, or straight). The loft is adjustable across five degrees.
When it comes to adjustable weights, there are essentially two types of systems: sliding weights and removable weights. Both of these systems are governed by the same rules, so I’ll focus on the types of movements/adjustments you can make and the effects they will have. If you have a good grasp of Gear Effect, all of this will be very simple. Also keep in mind that any of these changes can also affect the way the club feels during the swing.
Moving Weight Towards the Toe or Heel
This is the easiest adjustment to understand: the ball will go towards the weight. If you move the weight toward the toe, the ball will be more inclined to fade or slice. If you move the weight toward the heel, the ball will be more likely to draw or hook.
Also realize that when you move a significant amount of weight toward the toe or heel, you will move the sweet spot. If you consistently hit the heel or toe of the driver, you might adjust the weight to move the sweet spot towards your normal contact point.
Moving Weight Forward or Backward
This is the hot adjustment of 2015 – Cobra’s FlipZone and Nike’s FlexFlight are both good examples of it. According to the manufacturers, when the weight moves back, the driver becomes higher launching and lower spinning, and with the weight forward, the ball flight is lower with more spin. I also think that moving the weight forward and back has the biggest impact on feel. Finally, realize that with the weight further back, there’s more gear effect.
Moving Weight to the Perimeter or Centering It
When you move weight toward the perimeter, the MOI increases and the driver becomes more forgiving. When you center the weight, the MOI shrinks and it becomes less forgiving.
Moving Weight Up and Down
When you move weight up, you make the club lower launching and higher spinning. Conversely, when you move weight down, you make the club higher launching and lower spinning.
Just as when you move the weight toward the toe or heel, you’re also moving the sweet spot. If you tend to hit the ball low on the face, moving weight down might make sense so you can have a more “pure” strike.
Hopefully with this information you’ll feel empowered to take full advantage of your adjustable driver. It is important to keep in mind that while adjustability is a great tool, it’s one that you should use sparingly. Set up your driver to fit your overall tendencies, then practice with it. If every missed fairway has you reaching for your wrench, you’re setting yourself up for trouble.
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