National Golf News
Get Fit Before You Grip and Rip
By Randy Williams
DIVOT Contributing Writer
The Driver. It is the glamour piece of equipment in golf.
Where else is more R&D, where else is more science and technology continuously devoted to improving one’s game?
Titleist, Nike, Ping, Wilson, Cobra, Callaway… all the sport’s heavy hitters are big players when it comes to producing state-of-the-art drivers.
Why? Because they know no other club provides such immediate gratification as a well-stroked tee shot which correspondingly sets one up for a good score on that given hole.
Grip it and rip it, bomb down the fairway, load and explode, hit for show… the use of the driver has a lot of references but the pure adrenaline of hitting it long (and accurate), is simply one of the great joys of the game (pro or amateur).
For the average recreational golfer, perhaps more accurate than legendary Sam Snead’s maxim of “Drive for show, putt for dough”, is “If you can’t putt, you can’t score. If you can’t drive, you can’t play” for bad driving balloons up one’s score more than any other club in the bag.
On the surface, it would appear that your putter is more important since you use it for 30 to 40 of your shots on the golf course and that you use your driver usually on only 14 shots. But the way par is set-up for each hole, it takes into account the potential of you hitting the green in regulation and having two putts. Clearly, there are other ways to make par, but regardless if the given hole is a Par 3, Par 4, or Par 5, it is based on how many strokes it should take to reach the green, along with two putts. Thus, one cannot say that the 30 to 40 times you use your putter is more than twice as valuable as the 14 drives you hit. The fact is, if you’re inconsistent off the tee, your driver affects your score more than your putter.
In other words, if you compare the best putter averaging say, 1.5 strokes per green, and the worst averaging 3, he is giving up 1.5 strokes per hole, but a single handicapper with his driver more often than not sets himself up well with an accurate tee shot, where as a poor driver, spraying shots off the fairway and sometimes even having to go back to the tee, rarely gets the opportunity to birdie a hole because of his poor accuracy off the tee with shots that land him in the rough or even OB potentially adding up more strokes as a result.
Of course, there is the added mental anxiety where the golfer becomes self- conscious about constantly making the others in his group have to wait while one searches for their tee shot in the woods or bushes, thus he tends to rush with his driver making things worse (or even leaves the big club in the bag).
In addition to more practice, here is where club manufacturers can lend a hand. And, regardless of your handicap, it all starts with making the right choice when you purchase the club.
"The first thing every golfer should do prior to purchasing a driver - or any golf club for that matter - is to get custom fit," said Josh Talge, vice president of golf club marketing for Titleist. “It’s the quickest and easiest way to improve. Spend a half hour or 45 minutes with a good fitter and you will leave, not only with a driver that will provide you more distance, accuracy and consistency, but with confidence in the fact you know you have optimized your launch conditions that will ultimately contribute to better results."
“Fitting is huge,” concurs Callaway’s Jeff Newton who adds, “Look for a driver that can help your big miss. If you’re a slicer, look for a draw model or a driver with a sliding weight. (And) you need to find a shaft that fits your game. Flex standards vary between shaft brands, so look for a weight class that gives you the highest swing speed with control.”
The need for speed with the driver is always in play and the tech-led trend continues to roll along.
Jon Claffey of Tour Edge names some of those trending innovations. “Weight movement for self-custom fitting, hosel adjustability for loft and lie adjustment, face technology that straightens miss-hits and light weight speed all (are part) of the driver technology.”
Golf is such a game of confidence and nowhere is it more important than when you have that driver in your hands staring down at those dimples on the ball sitting on the tee.
So as you get ready to - Grip it and rip it, bomb down the fairway, load and explode, hit for show - let the mad scientists at the club manufacturers help you.