Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped Mailbag, curated by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive series from GOLF.com in which we answer challenging gear questions.
Are shorter driver shafts still popular with better players? – Daniel D. , California
Great question, Daniel. And yes, shorter-than-usual driver shafts are definitely still a thing among the top guys, and we think they should be a thing for a lot of hobbyists too. (By “shorter,” we mean a driver that is at least an inch shorter than the typical 45.5-inch or 45.75-inch driver sold off the shelf.) Below, we’ve rounded up some reasons why shorter driver shafts make sense. And because our job is to see things from both sides, we’ve added some reasons why some players might like it to avoid shorter shaft.
Shorter shafts make it easier to hit hard hits
Usually, the closer you are to the ball, the easier it is to hit the ball hard from the center of the front of the club. I know what you’re thinking—for some of you, Fairway woods are harder to hit than drivers, and the loft plays a big part in how easy it is to hit the club. But for all intents and purposes here, it’s easy to swing between shorter clubs and produce better shots. We’re not going to be very scientific here, but part of that has to do with how far the eyes are from the ball. The closer the eyes are to the ball, the easier it is to make a powerful shot.
However, there is a big caveat to using shorter shafts. Using a shorter racket means you can’t swing as fast. With a shorter radius, the putter head swings on a smaller arc and doesn’t have much room to generate speed before contacting the golf ball. However, decreasing the paddle speed in favor of a more robust connection usually works on generally straighter and longer motors.
Solid shots fly farther and straighter
Obviously the perfect combo is a fast swing Asecond abbreviation A big hit, but for many of us, it happens less than we want it to. For example, if you consistently miss a candy pot by several centimeters with a longer pole, you will likely miss the 10-20 yards (and varying amounts of accuracy) you would have if you hit the ball directly on the candy pot. Cleveland Golf is one of the few companies that knows the benefits of shorter shafts and offers Launcher XL drivers in one-inch shorter iterations for golfers who want extra control without having to modify or change the way the club head feels.
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Cleveland Launcher XL Driver
With the most MOI ever in a Cleveland Golf Driver, Launcher XL will make you think less about the club in your hands and more about holding bunkers, removing hazards, and finding the right course.
An inch might not be worth it
Let’s say you have a 44.5-inch driver and are curious to try out a 45.5-inch driver. I’ve also done your research and for the average player, adding an inch would mean adding somewhere in a neighborhood another 10 yards from the tee. But if that extra inch means you’ll miss your candy bowl a lot, the extra yardage and loss of precision may not be worth it. Robot tests certainly prove that longer bars equal the speed of a racquet head, but that doesn’t mean things will count the same way in a computer between your ears. Longer shafts also require an entirely new assessment of ideal shaft flex and swing weight as well. Simply swap out your same shaft model for an inch longer model which means your driver will produce a dramatically different feel and ball trajectory. You have every right to disagree, but we would argue that a straighter drive that lands a few yards shorter in fairway is always better than another 10 yards in the rough.
Your height plays a big role in the height you should have
I hope we’re not offending anyone here, but if you’re a golfer less than 5’5 inches tall and the length between your fingertips and the ground is 29 or 30 inches when you’re at your side, a 45.75-inch driver’s shaft is probably too long for you in the first place. Placing your hands that low with a long running shaft will put the toe of the racquet head in the air in the title which will increase the possibility of a heel injury. Regardless of the type of driver you use, heel bumps usually produce much worse results than a toe bump.
How you swing is also important
If you’re swinging over the top (hey, no one’s perfect and some of the best players in the world have a little higher movement), a shorter shaft will make it easier for you to square the club face through the blow and can help flatten a swing lane outside and inside. Rotating the hands can also make it easier, helping to turn a weak fade/slide into a more powerful pull.
Distance is not everything for everyone
For some players, reducing the distance in favor of accessing more lanes is a welcome recipe for lower scores. A shorter shaft may result in fewer, piercing drives that fly more straight than do drives that hit taller shafts that fly higher and sometimes further away from the target. To get the most out of a shorter drive shaft, most mechanics say you should choose a softer flex rating and a heavier profile. This will keep the club feeling balanced and easier to control.
on the other side…
Some players may have better success with longer shafts
For now, you should know that not everyone follows convention testing, bot testing, and/or controlled testing doesn’t mean that the results will be the same for everyone. Some golfers may actually increase distance and accuracy with a longer shaft (such as a tall player or someone who needs a flatter pause/swing). Or maybe you’re a skilled enough player and misses are not your problem. Either way, a longer shaft may be better, rather than worse, for driver performance. A great way to see if it’s longer for you is to show off some clubs with an effect tape/spray and check your results.
You may prefer a lighter column
When you use a shorter shaft, it usually corresponds to using a slightly heavier shaft to prevent the racket from being too light. But maybe the lighter shaft was a saving grace and the idea of using a heavier shaft isn’t something you want to do. Lighter shafts usually help golfers hit the ball higher, so if height is an issue, it probably isn’t worth the trade-off for trying a shorter/heavier shaft.
In any case, whether you choose a shorter or longer pole, it is best to visit a reputable clubber and do some trial and error to see which one is best for you. We suspect many of you will find better results with a shorter shaft, but some of you may not.
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