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Tips from the Callaway Tour Performance Trailer: How to Set up your Ai-Smoke Driver to dial in a shot shape.

I notice three main priorities on TOUR when dialing in a driver, and none of them are hitting it further.

  1. Spin Management: Keeping the spin window in a 600-800RPM range, depending on the shot selection.
  2. Start Line/Fall Line: What window does it start at, and where does it finish? This also involves launch FYI.
  3. Matching the look with the above: If the first two are correct, does the driver’s look still satisfy the player? Some are very picky about this issue, and some aren’t.

For example, if you troll around the WRX forums, you might see a few conversations around an “anti-left driver” or a “power fade machine,” but if you look closely, most of the recommendations are incorrect. Sure, if you never want to hit it left, then an open-faced, CG forward Ventus Black Triple Diamond MAY get you just that, but how bad is the miss? And how hard is it for you to hit quality shots time in and time out?

The point is that a small demographic of players can make that combo work. And No, it’s not all speed. It is AOA, path, dynamic loft, and face to the path in COMBO with speed.

As a general rule: If you hit a proper fade YOU WANT THE FACE SQUARE OR POINTING LEFT (+1) and if you want to hit a proper draw YOU WANT THE FACE POINTING RIGHT. Proper fades start left of the line and curve back and proper draws start right of the line and move back. YES there is nuance to all of this (player dependent) but in a broad sense that’s how it works. I think it was 20-25 years ago that the open face thing started in the forums. I can almost pin point who it was…a man from Fuji if memory serves that had a 7 degree driver that sat 4 degrees open. He hit a fade, hated the left ball etc. I would emplore you to go back and watch how he swung it back then…you’ll understand why he liked it that way.

If I look at Sam, Xander or Min, their driver setups are constructed with those three points in play…

Xander needs loft to keep his right to left shot in the air and also compliment his neutral angle of attack and bowed impact conditions. In the past he’s gone 10.5 at N/-1 with a flat cog or 10.5 N/S with a flat cog but these days its 10.5 N/S and he is driving it as good as i’ve seen. The idea with players that draw it is, a face at -1 will help the right start line but spin can be an issue so if you are historically a draw player and usually lean towards 9-degee heads, try a 10.5 at -1. In Xanders case his start line is getting closer to the middle so N/S works really well.

Sam needs a left start line, loft to add spin (hes on the low spin side of the driver spectrum) and the ability to fight off the wipey right miss. Sam is more of a neutral body swinger that has WIDE swing dynamics so with the driver spin can dip down if it’s off. In his case we are always trying to build more into his driver all while making sure he’s getting enough face on it when he does wipe across it. This enables that miss to fight off any side spin and hold its down range integrity. Thats the difference between a ball on the first cut or deep in the hay. If the driver is starting left of the line with Sam we know we are at least in the ball park. Biggest issue with him is he gets emotionally attached to certain heads and it’s a spiritual battle to convince him otherwise…but Dean and the boys always get him in the end LOL.

Min is more of a combo of the two but at VERY high speed (although Xander is creeping up on him). His driver set-up is built for pure control. He likes to tee it down and squeeze it out there more often than not so his driver needs to accomodate that with enough spin outta the top part of the face (you do this with LOFT) and also when he does want to hit up on one the left miss is out of play. Hence the 10.5 at N/-1 set-up.

On TOUR, we don’t sell general prescriptions. We might have ten power-cut players with ten different driver set-ups. That’s why when asked what the best combo is, I typically don’t answer beyond Go GET FIT. Anyone who gives you a definitive answer without seeing a swing isn’t doing you any favors. Trust me. I’ve been that guy asking the questions and taking the info as gospel. It’s a mess.

So, HOW DO YOU SET UP YOUR Ai-Smoke driver using intel from the TOUR?

Three questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is my preferred shot shape/window?
  2. What is my big miss?
  3. Do I want a NUKE machine? Precision tool? Or something in the middle?

I’ll use ME as the test dummy to explain this.

Player: JDub
HDCP: 1
SS: 112
Ball Speed: 164 MPH
Launch: 13-14 Degrees
Spin: 1900-2600RPM
Shot shape: Draw (Straight/Falls left)
Big Miss: BLOCK RIGHT
Face Miss Tendency: Thin/slight heel

Based on what I thought true, the old setup was TD 9 (N/S, 45 EOG, D3, Tipped 1, 10GF, 6GB) w/ Fujikura Ventus Blue 6X. That was my no-arguments setup, and I could always make it work. However, as I understood my swing dynamics more, I noticed something interesting and alarming.

When I’m swinging it well, my delivery with a driver looks something like this:

AOA: +3
Path: +2
Club Head Speed: 113MPH
Ball Speed: 165MPH
Launch: 13
Spin: 2200-2400

When its bad it looks like this:

AOA: +6
Path: +4
Club Head Speed: 108MPH
Ball Speed: 159MPH
Launch: 14
Spin: 1800-2700RPM

As you can see I get STUCK. Speed goes down, center face contact struggles and spin is all over the map. WHY? Because with those numbers, a center punch hit will always knuckle and the off-center ones are glancing blows that lose all sense of integrity. The other thing is the center punch hits dont draw, they go straight and the miss is center heel and goes nowhere.

The TOUR Fix:

  1. Play with Loft and Face Angle to get my start line in a consistent spot. In this case, it’s a 9-degree head at +1, which presents more face to the ball on my bad days, all while combatting that no-spin NUKE. On my good days, this setup allows me to decrease my AOA even more (+1 or +2) and gives me the loft I need to hit that draw I like to see. Remember, my path is OUT, so hitting the ball left is not a fear. If anything, I always want the ball to start straight or slightly left. I don’t hate a slight pull with the driver. Face angle can be a HUGE factor in a good driver set-up. On TOUR, the perception is everyone fears left…they don’t. Most of these kids fear the floaty block. That’s why you see more and more setups for N/+1, D/+1, etc. At a baseline level, it’s easier to control a ball that starts in front of you or slightly left than a ball that starts right, hoping it has enough spin to draw. Modern drivers aren’t designed that way, so you gotta use the cog to your advantage. When it comes to shafts, I say this…find one you time up well and build around that. Good shafts can travel from head to head, so if you find one you like, merry the head to it. There is no need to create new problems when there aren’t any. Eliminate variables at every turn.


Lastly keep in mind that the head dynamics matter. TD heads by design want to start right so don’t be afraid to increase the lie angle to get the ball to start a little further left. You can cheat a bit with that head if you play with the weighting and face angles. At neutral its a low launch, low spin, fade biased machine…but with some COG magic you can make it a VERY fast forgiving driver that can compliment almost anyone. Just gotta dig in and see whats what.

My current set-up addresses the three questions from above

What is my preferred shot shape/window? Straight Draw (CHECK)

What is my big miss? BLOCK, but my new BIG MISS is thin out in front of me. I’m cool with that.

Do I want a NUKE machine? Precision tool? Or something in the middle? I want a driver that I hit out of the middle ALL the time that reacts to my good swings and hides my bad ones. (CHECK)

The new Setup/s

Paradym Ai-Smoke Max: 9@9.7 (N/+1, D3, 45.25 EOG, slightly heel biased) w/ Tensei 1K Red 60TX (Tipped 1) *settings in PIC have been changed

also…

Paradym Ai-Smoke TD: 8.5@9.7 (N/+2, D3, 45.25 EOG, 12GB, 6GF) with Fujikura Ventus Blue (Velo +) 6X (Tipped 1)

Both work almost apples to apples…sometimes I just like the look of one over the other:)

Happy Hunting

JDub

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Andrew Fowler

    March 25, 2024 at 7:01 pm

    Could you elaborate on the difference between the retail Chrome Tour X and the one she plays, Chrome Tour X+?

  2. Stuart Peck

    March 27, 2024 at 11:31 am

    Have to be honest, this article is superb for a gear-head like me. It also helps me understand the direction I need to go in if I want to improve my game, based on my 50yo body that can crank it to 112CHS but would be better finding a stock pattern that keeps it on the short stuff. BRILLIANT!

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