I get it. It’s a trend on TOUR, Phil wins the PGA at 50 with a 48-inch thunder stick and some kid in your Saturday game is hitting it 20 by you. I’m with you.
I’d compare this undertaking to wearing skinny jeans in your early 40’s…it CAN be done but like any brave and ambitious undertaking, we must take a deep breath and think this through.
Let’s first establish what a long driver is. In my opinion, anything north of 46 inches is long. Versus industry standard that would put you anywhere from an inch to a quarter of an inch over the industry standard. We at Callaway have a standard length of 45.75 which is flirting with “long” but not quite there. Truth be told for the average golfer a longer driver will help dispersion before distance. Why? Just by sheer human reaction the longer the club, the shallower the plain. Have you ever taken a broom handle or a long stick and swung it for fun? Do you notice how shallow the plane is? The same rule applies here. That shallow-er plane will help face control (a little) and aid in hitting it a bit straighter, and higher! Two for One!!
On TOUR the Driver length standard is slowly rising. On the Callaway staff we have Phil at just south of 48, Dylan Frittelli 46, Xander 45.5, Rahm 45.25, and Jim Furyk was at 46.5 for a good spell. In Furyk’s case, it wasn’t just the distance he was looking for, it was dispersion and the fact that he could swing easier and still smack it out there. As you can see Rahmbo is closer to TOUR Standard (which is 45) but the others add a bit extra. For that group of names, it’s the combination of not only distance and accuracy but also each player has the desired flight window they require. The X factor in this whole thing is when they all got properly fit. I know it’s mind-numbing to hear that over and over but it’s the truth. Take Phil for example, when he decided to go into a long driver it was a plan that entailed what he needed to do physically to make it work and a ridiculous amount of trial and error with Master Tech Gerritt Pon. He not only had a plan but changed his body and swing to take actually take advantage of the extra 3 inches.
“There are some interesting things to look at when going into the long drivers. With the players we have worked with there seems to be a point (length) of diminishing returns that takes place. At a certain point, players will plateau in speed and that’s when you need to stop.
Not all players respond exactly the same way, some players will actually LOSE speed with a long driver, the length can be awkward for some which inhibit speed. For example, a lot of players we fit won’t swing their 4-iron any faster than a 5-iron, it’s that point of diminishing speed that we need to pay attention to.
If you don’t have access to a fitter and want to give it a test, try choking down on a longer driver and start working your way up the shaft as you go. It’s not apples to apples but it’ll give you an idea. “
-Gerritt Pon Callaway Golf Master Tech
Read the full Story on Phil’s Driver:
Without going into a long exhaustive study on club fitting and physics I’ll do us the favor of keeping this REALLY simple.
Here are 5 tips to help create your Hellacious Seed Machine
- Talk to a trusted fitter first: Make the call, send the DM in Instagram whatever it takes. DO YOUR RESEARCH!! There is enough honest info on the Golf web via myself, WRX, MGS, or THP that you should be able to have a small grasp on the good the bad, and the absolute ugly. Trust me from personal experience, when it goes bad it can go very bad. Once the decision is made, find a fitter and leave it to the experts. The long driver is a completely different animal. The length goes up, launch goes up, loft needs to come down, the swing weight will potentially go up and a low head weight helps to offset overall length. I don’t have enough bandwidth to get into shafts, that’s a rabbit hole. I’ll leave that to the fitter. All of that adds up to a ton of things to pay attention to.
- Throw your expectations out the door: There is no telling what benefits will be gained by going into a long stick. YES, you may hit it a mile, but at what cost? Get honest.
- Start Slow: Don’t go from your 45-inch gamer into a 47-inch hammer. Try 45.5 to start and work up only as you see success. Remember this has to actually help your scores to make sense.
- Swing at your normal speed: “Let the club do the work” Have you heard that one? In this case, it’s quite true, the longer length will naturally add MPH’s to your swing speed so don’t go all Sadlowski right out of the gate. As you start hitting the center of the face on a consistent basis you can then slowly try to ramp up the speed.
- Learn how to hit UP on it: Upward angle of attack is essential to REALLY make this work. Phil has an angle of attack north of 5-degrees. He needed to work that number up (from 1 to 2) to hit those high bombs he so affectionately talks about. This is where the lower loft setting comes into play. Hitting up with the longer length increases your dynamic loft at impact. This is why Phil had to go all the way down to 5.5 loft. Yes, it sounds like a VERY low setting but at impact, it doesn’t play at that loft, probably closer to 7.5 or 8. If his AOA was to be lower (1 or 2) he would hit knee-high fastballs at 180MPH. Sounds fun for Instagram but not at Torrey Pines!!
My journey with the long driver took place over the last month. It was a blast! My swing speed crept up to 115 MPH for the first time in 3 or 4 years and I hit a few scud missiles. It was awesome. HOWEVER, my dispersion was hit or miss, and compared to my gamer the distance wasn’t enough to commit. I’ll keep messing around with it but thus far it’s just a fun test:)
The Driver in question is a 46.5-inch Epic Speed 💎💎💎 LS (firstname.lastname@example.org, Strong Cog) with a Mitsubishi Tensei 1k 50TX (Tipped .5, D5). Of every combo, this one was the most balanced. Center strikes were consistent, the good shots were unbelievable and the bad ones were mildly manageable.
Here is a list of the shafts I tried:
Fujikura Ventus Black 6X (Really good but didn’t spin quite enough)
Graphite Design AD HD 6X (Solid but launched a little low in this set-up)
Project X Hzurdus Smoke RDX Black 60G 6.5 (Very stout, numbers were good but the feel was a bit harsh for me)
Happy Bazooka Hunting 😏