Driver Fitting

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Editor's Note: Bruce Martin is a PGA Master Professional with the San Diego Golf Academy. SDGAs program offers a curriculum of golf instruction and golf business management at all four golf schools, and provides graduates with the education required to get the golf job they desire. You'll soon be teaching others how to improve their game! Click here to learn more about SDGA
 
Certainly the thrill of launching a 300 yard drive that splits the heart of the fairway is one of the most thrilling shots in the game. The tee shot can equal success or failure on any given hole. If there has been one club in the bag that has changed the most in recent years, it has been driver technology. Investing in a properly fit driver with the advances in modern technology will give any golfer an opportunity to maximize his/her true potentials. This article will help the golf channel viewers decide on what route to take in choosing their next driver investment or alter their current driver to a best fit solution.

LAUNCH MONITORS
Launch monitor data combined with studying the golfers ball flight is the best case scenario for driver fitting. Older launch monitors were laser based and difficult to calibrate and maintain, the data often conflicted with the laws of ball flight. Photography based launch monitors emerged ' A line was drawn on the ball and two pictures were taken within the first two feet of ball flight to determine the amount of' revolution, side spin, and launch angle. Ill never forget being blinded at impact by two of these devices with these flash photography systems. Modern launch monitor technology has incorporated the use of Doppler radar. A similar type of Doppler radar is found on our military missile tracking systems. Golf simulators have also incorporated this Doppler radar technology for club fitting.
 
The golfers club head speed, ball speed, angle of approach, path, face angle, and side spin are measured. This launch monitor data will reveal the proper launch angle, angle of decent, spin rate, carry distance, and amount of roll to maximize your overall distance and consistency.
 
Example: A player with 100 mph club head speed (driver) will have an optimal launch angle of 12-13.5 degrees with an angle of decent goal of 14 degrees to maximize his/her roll. The optimal spin rate will be around 3000 rpm. Having the proper ball and driver will both produce optimal numbers.
 

CLUBHEAD DESIGN ' Face Angle and M.W.T.
460 cc size heads have dominated the market ' and yes bigger is better with drivers. Manufacturer trends for these driver club heads is to design the clubfaces closed and offer the consumer a multitude of weighting configurations to optimize ball flight.
 
Example of driver face angle:
460 cc driver with 10.5 degrees loft and a 3 degree closed clubface = a squared or effective loft of 13.5 degrees. In other words, the consumer just purchased an oversized 3 wood and may be confused why he is hitting high hooks all the time. For the slicer, this is certainly a very helpful design, but for the golfer who naturally draws the ball, this may turn into a nasty hook. Several of the leading manufacturers still produce square clubfaces on there 460 cc driver models. Always ask what the face angle is and have it measured to determine the effective loft.
 
Moveable weight technology:
MWT has been around for well over 50 years, but has seen a recent return to the market with the Taylor Made R series drivers. Many other manufacturers have followed this trend adding a variety of weighting systems for the consumers to purchase or configure themselves.
 
MWT can be easily understood with the following fundamentals of club head weighting and center of gravity:
 
Increasing launch angle '
Heavier weighting lower and towards the rear of the club head.
 
Lowering launch angle '
Heavier wts. towards the club face and lighter wts. rearward.
 
Changing direction '
Remember the heaviest weight on either the heal or toe will rotate/ release the slowest through impact. Example: The heaviest weight towards the heal will promote the toe to close faster (lighter) producing draws/hooked shots.
 
Hopefully understanding the factors of launch monitor fitting, driver face angle design, and weighting technology will help you make an informed decision for your next driver investment.