Where to start if you want a longer driver and more distance off the tee.
Finding the correct specs for your long driver is not easy since everbody, and seniors in particular, have very individual swings. But, there are some generalities I noticed in learning to hit the long sticks and watching others. First, I’ll run over the general club specs that seem to work best for me and my senior men or women customers. Of course, they may change a bit depending on a player’s swing, size, strength, ability and budget. Here’s where to start…
Head of 193-195 grams, closed 2°, large and rounded shape seems to work best. Under 190 grams, the head seem to lose some pop. Over 195 grams, the head seems to work better in a 47” club length. Try a head with a 10° loft, a deep-face 450cc or 460cc size and a lie from 55° to 58°. The new, shallower face, high MOI heads don’t work very well at all. Most have lies like 59° to 60° and on a long driver they will sit very toe-up. Trying to make a center hit on a slanted, shallow face with bulge and roll is difficult to say the least. A large rounded head sitting a bit toe-up seems to be easier to hit squarely. With low driver lofts, a toe-up impact won’t noticeably affect direction, either.
Look for a 47” to 50” shaft weighing 50-something grams with a high bend point. A high A-flex or low-R works for most seniors. If you stay with your normal flex, the long driver will feel a bit softer, which often helps you feel the timing you’ll need for a square face at impact. Grip should usually be light, perhaps around 43 grams, like a Winn, to help reduce total weight and keep the club’s total weight at 300 grams or less. Total weight is very important, because a long driver that weighs less than a short one is fast and easy to swing, and just as easy to control. Swingweight at 47” should be about D6-D8, at 48” D9-E2.
These light, long clubs can be very accurate if they can be controlled and timed... you probably will feel the head location in your swing better than with a shorter, stiffer driver. I can work mine in either direction...fading is almost automatic for me, draws are a little harder to control with my slightly outside-in swing plane. You can expect to gain about 8-10 yards an inch, if you keep the total weight lighter than 300 grams.
The principal difficulty in controlling accuracy with a long driver is getting the head around and square. Most senior (men and women) players have much less flexibility in their mid-section and legs than when younger, so tend to power the upper body through the shot...a major mistake with a long driver. Big slices are the result. Then their swings become shorter and faster, because they’re desperately trying to hit the ball harder. Another big mistake. They’ll never get the club around doing that. Another problem is laying the club off at the top...swinging low and from behind the right shoulder. It’s impossible to get back to square from that position, too. Rolling the hands under and opening the face is another mistake that happens when the upper body gets around too fast. You’ll have to flip the head through from that “upper body ahead” position and timing has to be perfect to do that.
So, here’s what needs to happen with a long driver swing, IMO: Backswing tempo must be slower than with a shorter club. Take-away must be straight back from the ball to the point the left arm extension forces the body to turn about 90° and puts most weight on the right leg. Back of left hand has to stay near vertical (almost feels like you’re turning it under in take-away) throughout the backswing and all the way to the top. That ensures the club will be high enough at the top. When your hands are about waist high in backswing, the butt of club should still be aiming in the general direction of your belt buckle. That’s a key point with the long driver. At that point, lift your wrist almost straight up, so club sets on top just in front of your right shoulder and club is pointing toward the target.
That’s not much different than a normal swing should be, but it is even more critical with a long driver that the club be relatively high and hands almost centered on the upper body. If the club is wrapped around the upper body, there’s no way the club will get square. With the hands centered on the body, it’s much easier to get the club head square and follow through the shot. Another difference from the shorter driver is slower tempo on the backswing and a bit smoother weight shift to make a smooth transition from backswing to downswing. Your head and upper body must remain at or behind the ball.
Downswing starts with a solid push left with the hips…same as with any other driver. This starts the swing smoothly and pulls the right elbow in a little closer. The head MUST stay behind the ball and upper body turn behind the arm swing, as hips turn ahead and move forward out of the way. The heavy swingweight will release earlier than a normal swingweight...just let it go, swing the arms across the upper body, and kick in a little extra right hand to help keep the hands ahead of the head and body. Transition to downswing should start smoothly, but before release you can gun it through the shot. Some of my best drives have been ones I really ripped into after a smooth start. After practicing a smooth swing for awhile, you get a feeling how and when to rip into it. Again, the heavier swingweight and long, more flexible shaft helps a senior’s feel for the timing, I think.
Next-Age and the Longdriver >