The long and short of it
July 16, 2010
Now that it’s mid-summer, I’m thinking of buying some hope.
Taylormade, Titleist, Callaway, and the other club makers don’t really sell golf clubs. They simply cater to the dreams and desire of millions of duffers, convinced that the latest innovation is just what they need to drop a quick five to ten strokes off their handicaps.
My home club and others here in the Cape Region sponsor demo days at the beginning of the golf season. Nonetheless, I know enough about my own game to understand that early April is no time for me to think about a new driver.
In the spring, my golfing skills (if you can call them that) are pretty rusty by comparison to how I usually play in late summer and fall.
One of the challenges I also have to face is dealing with too much information, not too little. After more than ten years of writing golf book reviews and this column, I’ve been exposed to so much contradictory advice and opinions that I tend to delay any decisions about what equipment upgrades I should make.
I believe that’s called paralysis by analysis.
Plus, I’m a bit cheap.
These combined elements are my best explanation for why I still use a five-year-old Ben Hogan driver, which I bought after using the prior one for about the same amount of time.
In golf equipment terms, that’s an eternity. So when I approached Shawnee’s golf professional, Devon Peterson, and asked if he thought I should replace my driver, he gave me one of his patented arched eyebrows, and a short sharp laugh.
I took that as a yes.
We went out to the practice range, and he had me try three clubs–a Taylormade Superfast, a Ping G15 driver, and a Callaway Big Bertha Diablo. The Taylormade features a 46.5-inch long shaft, as well as a 460cc head. The other two club heads are also sized at 460cc, the maximum permitted by the USGA. They all dwarf the Hogan.
These clubs might just fix a nagging problem that’s developed with my current driver. My tee shots now tend to go very, very high, and often very, very left. I can make a tee shot back up on a Shawnee fairway after a 210-yard carry. Jim Hutchins has had me try his “old” Taylormade R7, fitted with extra weights in the toe to fight the hooks, and that’s helped a bit.
Among the three drivers Peterson had me try, the Superfast worked best on the range. He said the good shots were the best among the three, and that the mishits were also the most acceptable.
He taped up the Superfast’s clubface, and I tried it out on the course. Some tee shots were just fine. Others were as squirrelly as what I’ve been doing with the Hogan, but this time in all directions.
I think I was trying too hard to kill the ball under playing conditions, compared to the range results.
The other possibility, and one that I think makes a lot of sense, is that the Superfast’s driver shaft is just too long. With my swing speed (pretty fast) and talent level (pretty modest), I think it’s just too hard for me to bring the center of the clubface to the back of the ball on a consistent basis.
Before I buy anything, therefore, I’m going to try an experiment. Tom Wishon, who wrote The Search for the Perfect Driver, says most golfers would improve their swings by shortening their drivers. Based on a wrist-to-floor measurement, I should probably limit my driver length to 43.5 inches, three fewer than the Superfast’s normal offering.
Bruce Goldsborough, of Tee II Green Golf on Rehoboth Avenue, shortened the Hogan driver to this length, removing an inch and a quarter. With impact tape and time on the range, I will see if I can hit more centered shots. If I do, then the new driver will also be cut down to my best size.
Hope springs eternal.