The Driver of the Future


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The Next Generation of Drivers

Dear Frank,
I purchased an 11-degree Callaway FT-5 driver with an Aldila NVS 65-R 350 shaft, based on a swing monitor analysis at a fitting center in Dallas. I have been playing with a Titleist 983K driver (4560-R shaft, 9.5 degrees), which I hit straight. I am a smooth swinger with a clubhead speed of about 90 mph. My problem is that the FT-5 results in a higher launch with less distance, which I don't want; plus, I hit the Titleist straighter because I'm able to square the face up at impact much easier. Could this be the result of the shafts? Also, I would like to know the specs of the Titleist 4560 graphite shaft. I have an Adams 3- and 5-wood with the Aldila ultralite Speedline G75-R low torque shafts that work well for me.
Thanks for your help.

First, the shaft in your FT-5 driver is good and should not be the problem. The loft is not what I would recommend for a swing speed of 90 mph unless you have an extraordinary swing path, which probably isn't the case since you have had (and continue to have) much success with your Titleist driver of 9.5 degrees. I think that you may have been the victim of a 'Launch Monster.'
If your trajectory was lower than it should have been for your swing speed of 90 mph ' this should be close to 13 degrees with a spin rate of about 2,300 to 2,500 rpm ' then, to get maximum distance, an increase of one degree may have been appropriate with the same model driver. If you change driver type with different design properties, 11 degrees of loft may be too much.
The 4560-R shaft was the standard for the 983K. As far as various shaft specs are concerned, you may want to do some searching on the internet as there are hundreds of shafts now available.
For your information, your Titleist 983K driver has a smaller head ' about 100 cc smaller ' than the FT-5 and has a lower MOI (Moment of Inertia), but that doesnt mean it's not an efficient implement for what you are trying to achieve. With many of the bigger, higher MOI, adjustable drivers ' and whatever else is being offered to get your attention ' readers are telling us that they find it difficult to square the face of these monsters at impact, and are losing their seemingly good shots to the right. I have experienced the same thing.
I have been reviewing some of the present design properties of these drivers and the reports regarding their performance. From this investigation I believe that the next generation of drivers will have the following properties: about 400 cc in volume (460 will always be around for 'real' men), no more than 5,000 grams per centimeter squared in MOI, and a maximum COR (.830) with a length between 44-1/2 and 45 inches long. The loft and shaft flex will be the only essential variables, and if these can be varied independently, then that's all we will ever need.
John, bigger is not always better.
' Frank

A Lofty Subject

Is there an easy way to measure the loft of a wedge if there's no designation, or mark, on the club? Thank you for a great newsletter.

Thanks for your kind comments.
Unfortunately, unless you have a loft-measuring gauge there is no accurate and easy way to do this.
First, you need to know how the loft of a club is defined, and then you can try to develop a system using protractors to make a crude measurement. The loft is the angle between the face plane and the vertical plane the shaft is in when the club is in its normal address position and the grooves are horizontal.
Once you set up the club as described, use a protractor to measure the angle between the face plane (at 90 degrees to the grooves) and the vertical.
The alternative is to take your clubs to your local custom clubmaker, who will have a loft measuring device.
Hope this helps.
' Frank
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Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to helping golfers. Frank is chief technical advisor to He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
Frank Thomas