Golf Tips: Driver Shaft Length
CERTAIN BELIEFS ARE PREVALENT IN THE WORLD OF GOLF. LET’S LOOK AT THE BELIEF THAT A LONGER DRIVER SHAFT WILL LET YOU HIT THE BALL FARTHER.
The theory seems sound on the surface, if you use the rock on a string analogy. When you swing a rock on a string in a circle, the farther away from your hand the rock gets the faster it travels. A longer driver shaft is supposed to work the same way when you swing to increase clubhead speed and give you more distance. Golf club manufacturers began making drivers with longer shafts promising more distance because the promise of distance sells golf clubs.
It’s common to find new drivers from the major manufacturers with shafts that measure 45, 46 inches and even longer. The longest allowable driver length is 48 inches. Lighter graphite shafts let manufacturers add shaft length without increasing the overall weight of the club. What the manufacturers don’t tell you is that longer shafts are harder to control, specifically they make it more difficult to accurately make contact with the ball in the center of the clubface.
If a golf pro could hit the ball straight with a club that measures longer than 45 inches, he would. He can’t. So he doesn’t. And he knows if he did use a longer driver, he’d have even more trouble keeping it in play. Tiger Woods uses a 45-inch driver. Golf Digest listed Bubba Watson’s at 44.5 inches. Many tour pros use drivers measuring 43.5 to 44 inches. The average driver length for all the other pros on the PGA Tour today is 44.5 inches.
For everyday golfers a longer shaft isn’t necessarily the answer to more distance off the tee. The promise of more distance is based on the rare occasions you manage to hit your longer-shafted driver in the middle of its sweetest spot, while delivering a square club face at your optimum swing speed and tempo. Do that, and you’re going to hit the ball a mile. But as any pro will tell you, golf is all about consistency.
You may, in fact, produce greater clubhead speed with a longer shaft in your driver. Your off-center contact is sure to increase as well, since the longer shaft is harder control. The best way to find the right shaft length (and flex) for you and your swing is to see a professional club fitter. They can match you with the best shaft options that will help you make consistent center contact to produce your optimum distance and accuracy.