For the past five years I have been using a 350 cc driver (Titleist 983E). As a high ball hitter, I still like its flight, look and sound. My question is, what am I losing in yards and accuracy by not going to a maximum COR or MOI driver, even though they look like toasters and sound lilke tin cans?– Jon, Washington
As much as these new clubs, as you put it, look like “toasters,” sound like “tin cans” and are too big for most headcovers – other than the one which came as part of the original package – they are good clubs. The size is at the max of 460 cc, with a high MOI (approximately 6,000 gm cm²) and the max COR (.830); however, compared to your 983E this new driver will not give you measurably improved accuracy or an increase in distance if both are hit near the sweet spot.
Both the new driver and your 983E have the same COR. Your 983E has a lower MOI but not enough to significantly affect your accuracy even on slightly off-center hits. If your driver was 10 or more years old, then maybe you should get in line for an upgrade, as you will notice a difference.
We are continually looking for new equipment to improve our game – and there is some charm in this exploration – but we don’t give enough credit to one of the most important factors contributing to good performance, “confidence in your equipment.' There is nothing more important than having confidence in your clubs and especially your driver and putter. This confidence will lead to making a better stroke, resulting in greater consistency, and in many cases allow you to achieve the maximum distance with a driver and fewer putts with your putter.
This does not mean that you should not shop around for a new driver, but don’t let your old driver know that you are doing this – just in case you don’t find a good new one and your old friend decides to sulk. Driver technology has changed enough over the last 10 years that you will notice a difference when comparing today’s models with a 10-year-old version, but you will not realize a significant difference in performance in drivers introduced during the last four or five years.
If you are launching the ball to your liking and this is close to the optimum conditions for your swing speed (see optimum driver launch conditions), you will not gain any distance if you change to a new driver. Building confidence in a new club is not always a sure thing, so hang on to your old friends if they are working well.
With the money you are about to save, I suggest that you consider a tune-up lesson (not a makeover), stretch, and don’t let your range of motion deteriorate. You may also want to consider a new putter if yours is not helping your confidence on the greens. A putting lesson from a good teacher might also help. I know someone who can help you find a good putter and lesson!
Jon, I hope that I have been able to help you with your question and look forward to meeting you when you have the time to come and visit us in our Putting Studio in Orlando.
FrankFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email firstname.lastname@example.org