I had a chance to catch up with an old friend who happens to be a very good golfer. He is also extremely long off the tee due to his 110 mph swing speed once he gets warmed up. Even with his high clubhead speed he has always fared better with a 10.5º lofted driver rather than lower lofted one. However, there is a very reasonable explanation for that. He consistently hits the ball with driver with a descending blow by approximately 1-2 degrees, thus de-lofting the driver at impact.
Well, he is not going to change his ball position or tee height as he has the same set up for a long time. Plus you can’t argue with the results as he is a very low handicapped golfer and has a good idea where the ball goes each time – if only I was so lucky! Well, he happened to pick up a driver that was a mere 1” longer in length then what he had been using and proved to be a valuable lesson.
To prove that fitting is never cut and dry, that 1” extra in length changed the way he swung the driver. Don’t get me wrong, I used to call him the human swing robot. I have had the privilege of watching his ball flight over the years. The ball flight with the 1” longer club mirrored what he has done for a very long time – striping the ball long and straight with a tight little draw. What changed was the ball trajectory with the same loft he had been using. He went from hitting consistently down on the ball by 1-2 degrees to hitting the ball on a 1º upward angle. Effectively he was adding 2-3 degrees of loft and caused the ball to go a mile high. Any benefit of the added length was negated (in his case) using the same amount of loft.
The morale of the story is if you are going to change certain specifications from what you have been using, your swing may change slightly or enough that what you think you should use might be wrong. This is why it is helpful to keep an open mind when being fitted and be aware of the cause and effect relationships. Whenever possible experiment by trying various clubs or consult with your local fitter who is willing to work with you in finding what works best.
For instance, if you are considering going to a shorter driver, like the Acer XDS Insider Thriver Edition, you may find the shorter length forces you to make a steeper swing. I truly believe this is the reason why the higher loft (14º) doesn’t yield as high of a ball flight as one would think as the steeper
swing reduces the loft at impact.
If you are deciding to change to a shorter driver you may want to start out with slightly more loft than what you were using. Conversely, by going longer may require you to reduce the amount of loft to obtain your same trajectory. Remember these are generalities and your or your customer’s tendency will need to be addressed on a case by case basis.