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Optimize Your Driver Distance with this Simple Little Test

So how do you know how high to tee the ball? While the rule of thumb has been to tee the ball so the equator is even with the top of the face that is a generalization as some golfers are not comfortable or even capable hitting a shot from that position.

Marking Your Tee Height
About a week ago I was out testing products at my local range. After I was done I headed to the building to drop off the empty bucket. The owner of the range was fitting a very good local player who happened to be on a college golf team. He waved me over and asked to watch and advise which I was happy to oblige.   The circumstance was the player was extremely straight but was short compared to his competition even though he has a very powerful swing. I would have jumped up and down for joy if I were able to hit the ball as far and as straight as he was, but it goes to show you how high the stakes are at this level of golf.

Download the 2015 Hireko Golf Equipment CatalogOn the golf launch monitor, his angle of attack was negative ranging between 2 and 4 degrees downward. The first thing I noticed was the golf tee height was very low but that is how he preferred to tee it up. I suggested hitting the same club but putting in the longer rubber tee to see if that would help. While he did comment it looked odd to him, it did not take long for him to adjust. After checking the distances on the launch monitor, the ball was traveling another 15-20 yards further because it encouraged him to level out his swing. It is not saying he still did not hit down on occasion, but the angle was closer to level.

That got me thinking, here is a high caliber golfer that was giving up a good chunk of distance because his golf tee height was perhaps ½” shorter than ideal because of a visual preference or over the course of time found this tee height more beneficial. What about the rest of us? When I go to 3 Golf Teesthe range to hit drivers, I always look for the mat that has the Goldilocks height tee – not too high, not too low, but just right. Most golfers that bang drive after drive at the range may not be aware there may be different height golf tees available and end up wasting their valuable practice time using the wrong height tee.

So how do you know how high to tee the ball? While the rule of thumb has been to tee the ball so the equator is even with the top of the face that is a generalization as some golfers are not comfortable or even capable hitting a shot from that position. No, the best advice I can give is to take some 3 ¼” golf tees and carefully mark them with a Sharpie pen every ¼” starting ¾” from the bottom as that is the minimum amount needed to insert the tee into the ground so the ball won’t fall off.

Voice CaddieThen carefully set each tee into the ground at the varying marked lengths and place balls on top of each of them. You can gauge distance by eye or better yet have some sort of recording devise like the Voice Caddie I have shown. Repeat this exercise a few times and look not only at your average distances but the direction as well. Believe me you won’t need a launch monitor to tell you which of the tee heights caused you to launch the golf ball higher or lower as it will become obvious. For me, each time I hit from the higher to the next lower position I lose distance.

From this simple little test you can quickly identify which tee height suits the driver you are presently using. In the future you can mark all your golf tees to that length so you have them on hand. This will not only optimize your distance off the tee box, but also give you consistency teeing the ball up instead of the small human error we all have just trying to eyeball it while putting the peg into the ground.


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Center of Gravity Showdown: Hireko vs OEM Drivers

Hireko Golf’s Technical Director Jeff Summitt Looks at the Differences in Center of Gravity Between Hireko and OEM Drivers and How It Relates To Improving Your Game

If you don’t make the rounds around the Internet looking to increase your equipment knowledge, our friends at MyGolfSpy wrote one of the best technical journalist articles I have seen in a long, long time. It was titled “The Most Popular Drivers of 2015 Secret CG Locations” and helped to dispel a few marketing claims as well as educate readers on some basic laws of physics. Here is that link and you might want to read it first before following below.

Download the 2015 Hireko Golf Equipment CatalogThat got me thinking, what if customers asked us about our products – how would they relate to the name brand drivers and what is our philosophy on driver design. To help set the stage, below is an overlay of where the center of gravities will be on our current titanium drivers using one basic driver profile as reference so you can visualize the difference. As you can see, the CGs of each model falls within a small box (like the article mentions) where the differences both vertically and horizontally are two-tenths of an inch (5 millimeters) apart.

Hireko driver sizing and CG_2
Let’s help explain these subtle differences between our models. In our catalog we list a few key dimensions; face height and breadth. You may not be familiar with breadth, but it is the distance from the front to the back of the head. Some may say it is the width. While face height can be good indicator of relative height, I personally like to use the actual crown height or the distance from the sole to the uppermost portion of the crown. The following table will summarize our non-offset (draw) models.

Model Face Height Crown Height Breadth Launch Spin
(mm) (mm) (mm)
Acer XV 55 63 114 High Low-Mid
Acer XS 55 62 115 Mid-High Mid
Acer XF 55 62 114 Mid Mid
Power Play Juggernaut 57.5 66 119 Mid-Low Mid
iBella Obsession 54 64 111 High High
Synchron Vespa 57 62.5 117 Mid Mid

Generally the center of gravity of a head will follow the geometry as we explain in our upcoming Modern Guide to Golf Clubfitting book. For instance, if you make the club taller or deeper (like the Modern Guide to Clubfitting 2015 EditionPower Play Juggernaut) the center of gravity should move up along with it. It is not surprising it has the highest center of gravity among our current models. Another generality is if you make the head broader or wider, the CG should follow. However, that is not always the case though as the face area is important too. The face has to be the thickest portion of the club to withstand the impact with the ball so it is approximately 3 times as thick as the crown and 2.5 times the thickness of the sole. This was the reason why the Synchron Vespa did not have as rearward CG as the breadth would indicate because the face is deep and also wide.

Driver sizing and CG Thriver MiniNow if you are wondering why we don’t have more variety in sizing that actually comes back to what our customers will buy. The majority of you want a 460 cc driver (or at most nominally smaller) that has a traditional shape. Plus you do not want one that is too shallow to hit from a tee nor too deep that will require you to use the super long tees. Basically there is a sweet spot in size and shape we along with the rest of the golf industry follow. The exception would be the new category of mini drivers (small drivers or very large 3 woods) like our Acer XF Titanium Thriver Mini. Here is its’ CG location along with the outline of it compared to the matching driver. The CG in this case is a whopping 12mm or nearly 0.5” lower than the driver partially due to the crown height and our next topic.

Discretionary weight
One term you may see written in the description of a clubhead is discretionary weight or weight that was saved somewhere and used judiciously in another area. Since most heads are 460cc and weigh @ 200 grams, it is the goal of a club designer to make the walls in certain areas as thin as possible to save weight and yet still have the head hold up to the rigors after repeated impacts. Sometimes that is a fine line.

Some of Hireko’s drivers tout our variable crown technology. This is a fancy way of saying we freed up weight in the crown that we can shift it south and lower the center of gravity. This includes our Acer XV and Acer XS lines. Another example of discretionary weight is the addition of the screw weight (Gravity Port) in the Acer XV series. It is positioned in the aft portion of the sole to both lower and move weight away from the face. It comes at a cost though. To add this as well as the variable crown thickness feature, it makes the head a little more expensive to manufacturer. But in the end you are getting our most forgiving as well as our lowest center of gravity driver.

You might wonder why we didn’t use the variable crown to lower the center of gravity of the ladies iBella Obsession. Well, lowering the CG can also reduce spin due to the vertical gear effect which is exactly the opposite of what a slower swinging player needs. Here we have moved the CG rearward and increased loft to help increase trajectory and spin to sustain increased carry distance for the golfers who are swing speed challenged.

What’s up with the forward CG trend?
Even though the Acer XF has the most forward CG of our group, it is still nowhere considered forward like the recent trend by a few OEMs to help reduce spin. If compared against the name brand drivers in the MyGolfSpy article, it would be in the middle range. So far we have been reluctant to offer any driver with a true forward center of gravity since the majority of our customer base needs as much forgiveness as possible and that is why our design philosophy has been to offer clubs in the low and rearward CG camp. For each millimeter the CG moves forward in a modern 460cc driver, this reduces the Moment of Inertia (MOI) by @ 88 g-cm^2. When the average 460cc driver has a MOI of 4350 g-cm^2, a 4mm forward shift in the CG can reduce the level of forgiveness nearly 10%.

So there you have it. Function follows form or something along those lines unless one can utilize new construction methods or the usage of less dense materials in order to shed a considerable amount of unwanted weight and move it to a specific area of the head to influence ball flight. Remember, those two things usually come in the form of a higher cost. Now I hope you have a better understanding of what to “look” for when you are in the market for a new driver and escape the marketing jargon which will ultimately help you excel on the course.


Apollo Chroma Colorful Steel Iron Shafts – More Than Meets the Eye

Apollo Chroma Steel ShaftsSay “Bye-Bye” to the same old boring chrome-plated steel shafts and add a touch of color to your game with the New Apollo Chroma Steel Shafts from Hireko Golf.

The Apollo Chroma features a two-tone fade finish in three of the most color-coordinated paint schemes. This ultra-lightweight golf shaft design (20 grams less than a standard weight shaft) will help reduce overall weight and give those golfers with a relatively smooth swing added distance, yet the accuracy they associate with steel shafts. However, there is more than meets the eye than the colorful yet economical steel iron shafts with tight weight tolerances.

In the upcoming Modern Guide to Golf Clubfitting book, we talk about creating alternative flexes. Even though this shaft was originally created as an R&S combination flex shaft, we can follow the rules of soft and hard-stepping and create basically 6 flexes out of one shafts. Here is a chart showing what the manufacturer recommends for R-flex in black and S-flex in red.

Apollo Chroma Shafts







Apollo Chroma Steel ShaftsYou will notice that there is a 2” difference in the tip trimming between these two flexes. If we cut the shafts to each of the two flexes in identical heads, lengths and swingweights we would see a 10 cpm difference. However, let’s say we wanted to make the shaft between R and S flex or what some may call firm. We can tip trim 1” more than chart for the R-flex or 1” less than S-flex chart. We would have confidence that a 1” difference in tip trimming would result into a 5 cpm change. The shaft has nearly 11” of parallel tip section and 42” in raw length so we have plenty of room to trim more if we wanted to create a stiffer flex or hit a target frequency. And since fewer and fewer customers are carrying 3 and 4 irons, you can create softer flexes by trimming less. You can see the approximate frequencies you can expect based on the various trimming options.

Apollo Chroma Steel ShaftsIt should be noted that there are listings for Soft R, Tour S and X in addition to Firm. These are simply labels to assign the flex relative to the normal R or S flex designed into the shaft. The frequency of the Apollo Chroma will be softer in the same flex designations as shafts that will be much heavier. That is, don’t expect the Chroma X to be as stiff as a Dynamic Gold X100 as there are no industry standards for flex.

What does it play like?

In terms of weight, frequency and stiffness distribution along the length of the shaft, the Apollo Chroma matches up well to the KBS Tour 90 parallel tip shafts using the trimming options listed below. Note the X-flex was created by tip trimming to length.

Chroma R                =              KBS Tour 90 Parallel Tip R-flex trimming to the 4.0 option

Chroma S                =              KBS Tour 90 Parallel Tip S-flex trimming to the 4.5 option

Chroma X*              =             KBS Tour 90 Parallel Tip S-flex trimming to the 5.0 option

For those that use the Dynamic Shaft Fitting Index (DSFI), here is the information to match up to the annual Shaft Fitting Addendum.