Is Lighter Better?
Humans are enamored by numbers. For example, the media gets in a tizzy whenever a new century or decade rolls around. Or we use numbers for benchmarks like they are magical, for instance when the Dow reaches 10,000 or the S&P at 2,000. In golf, players get excited the first time they break 100 or 90, but never a number like 95. So it should come as no surprise the new fascination in golf club marketing is drivers that are under 300g.
Back in the old days when woods were made out of wood and shaft of steel, a driver weighed 13 ounces. Just goes to show you how long 20 years ago seems, heck, we didn’t use grams back then. Well for you metric challenged individuals, 13 ounces is the equivalent of 368.5g. Over the years golfers have moved away from shiny chromed steel shafts for much lighter weight and colorful graphite shafts in attempt to gain more distance off of the tee. It must have worked as you don’t see steel shafted drivers these days.
Chances are in your golf bag right now is some sort of large headed titanium driver with a 60 something gram graphite shaft assembled at 45”. The reason why, that has been the modern men’s standard for the past several years. By now you know heads have been much larger over the years and are capped out at 460cc. Yet the weight of the head has not change from the days of the wooden head. For the most part, the majority of manufacturers make their driver heads 200g +/-4g which is quite a small range when you consider the different philosophies that exist in the golf industry.
The biggest impact on weight reduction has come in the shaft. The modern shaft is nearly half the weight of its steel predecessors. With newer materials, they are becoming lighter and lighter each year.
Standard sized men’s grips have pretty much held the line at 50 grams for some time now, except for just recently with the debut of the new WinnLite grips. Both those are the exceptions rather than the rule. This means the modern driver is approximately 320g, which is nearly 2 oz. lighter than the previous generation of steel-shafted drivers. Don’t forget to factor in @ 5g for items like epoxy, grip tape and the ferrule. So the goal of making a sub-300g driver is not far away.
In fact most ladies driver are almost there anyway because of the smaller and lighter grip (40g) used and the shorter assembly length. They tip the scales closer to 305g. But for men’s driver to get there and not make the head any lighter required the use of very light shaft in the neighborhood of 45g. If you look through the catalogs, shafts this weight are far and few between. Examples are Grafalloy’s ProLaunch Blue 45 and Apollo’s Masterflex HP48.
The easiest way to reduce the weight now is with one of the newer breed of lightweight grips. This is one of the secrets the name brand manufacturers have in combination with a lighter shaft when making their sub-300g drivers. As you can see from the chart, even using a common 65g graphite shaft and one of the WinnLite grips can match this feat.
If you want to make the lightest possible driver you can use a combination of a lightweight grip and shaft and tickle the ivories at a mere 275g or 9.7 oz. for you fossils out there. Now there is nothing magical because the weight of a driver is now 299 verses 304 or even 320g. Good marketing? Perhaps, due to the fact that people are fascinated with numbers. But will the customer see a difference going to these lighter drivers is the most important point. I will tell you this, not everyone will benefit from these sub 300g drivers, just like not all golfers can use X-flex shaft or 46” drivers. This is just another custom fitting option that is available to golfers today. But I wanted to show you how this happens and what components to look at if your goal is a lighter weight driver for potentially more speed and distance.
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