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Old 01-17-2010, 03:55 AM
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Bigvivec Bigvivec is offline
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Long or short driver shaft?

Long or short driver shaft?

Which do you think is better and what works for you?

This thread is borne out of a personal experiment where I’m trying a shaft in a driver that is longer than any shaft I’ve played previous to this for the below listed reasons…I normally play a shorter than OEM standard shaft in drivers and have been for a few years (44”-44.5” depending on the face depth of the driver in question)…for a little background in terms of shaft lengths coming as “standard” from the OEM’s over the last 25 years…persimmon headed steel shafted drivers from 25 years ago measured around 43.5”…with the advent of metal woods, lighterweight graphite and composite shafts and the ensuing developments into the current 460cc head size standard for new OEM drivers the shaft lengths have also increased to 45”+, some as long as 46” or so…the PGA tour average is 44.5” and clubmaker Tom Wishon, a well recognized and extensively published leader in the field of both club design and club fitting has stated that in almost all cases golfers would be best served in all respects with a driver shaft length of no longer than 44”…the increased OEM standard length has been argued on both sides with one side touting the longer potential average results made possible for average golfers due to the increased forgivness of the larger headed drivers across the face (larger margins for error due to not hitting the ball on the nailhead; meaning less loss of distance and reduced sidespin for off center hits resulting in straighter and longer average drives for imprecise ball striking over the clubheads of previous years; with increased margins the length of shaft may be lengthened and take advantage of the increases in forgiveness despite the inherent increases of inaccuracy of contact which is measured and termed as “smash factor”)…the other side argues that to actually improve on drives over years past apples to apples, that if an individual swings a larger clubhead with a longer shaft they are effectively negating the advantage that the larger, more forgiving clubhead provides and will at best average a similar average distance with a higher degree of variance in both shot to shot distance as well as shot dispersion accuracy (side to side average distance from the intended target line)…to fully take advantage of the larger, more forgiving head argues this side, the shaft should be of a shorter than now OEM standard length, which will increase the odds of improved smash factor averages over yesterday’s drivers which will in turn improve on distances while also improving on dispersion rates due to the forgiving nature of the clubheads which again minimize sidespin and distance loss penalty of off center strikes over yesterday’s clubheads…

The argument in a nutshell…

Longer shafted drivers have the potential for greater distance via faster clubhead speed with the same swing of a given individual due to increased shaft length…

Shorter shafted drivers have the potential for greater distance via increased accuracy of contact (smash factor) and the fact that a shorter shaft is easier to control / coordinate a swing to…the increased control also offers the additional benefit of probable increased accuracy of ball dispersion…

Longer shafted drivers could make sense IMO if the individual were able to control the longer shaft well enough to maintain a decent smash factor and dispersion rate…the longer shaft will never be as accurate as a shorter one but if it is accurate ENOUGH then it is possible to have a club that would produce longer average distances that still landed in the short grass with a good angle to the green…

For my personal experiment, I drive the ball with good accuracy with my 44-44.5” drivers…I usually am consistent in shot length and I average a high percentage of fairways hit…why mess with success you ask? Wouldn’t it be great if I could have another 10 or more yards, maintain a decent level of distance consistency and continue to hit fairways by doing nothing other than increasing the shaft length? Of course it would…my results after two rounds point otherwise as my averages are down, my length consistency has a higher degree of variance and I’m less accurate in terms of dispersion; everything that I’d imagined as a realistic outcome…I’m going to stick with it as it is early days in the testing, and I improved greatly from the first round to the second and feel that there is a potential for a higher degree of consistency with increased familiarization…it still stands to be proven to myself for my game…I increased the shaft stiffness to offset the increased length and inherent shaft weakening due to the increases in length; haven’t been to the fitter to see the difference in cpm’s between my stiff shafted 44.5” driver and the x-stiff of a different brand in a longer length in my experimental driver but will before ending the experiment…FWIW they feel about the same in terms of flex and I can shape both the same, just with a higher degree of variance with the longer driver…it isn’t a strict control situation anyway with the different shaft makes and different head brands but it is as close as I’m going to care to get…we’ll see…



For those that have put thought into this, have been fitted in terms of shaft length, or experimented with different lengths…which is better for you, what do you consider optimal and why?
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Old 01-17-2010, 02:54 PM
CoachB CoachB is offline
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Re: Long or short driver shaft?

You have sparked some interesting thoughts on my end.
My game is built on control and accuracy. I play to an 8 hcp and feel I am a pretty consistent ball striker. I rarely hit the ball more than 225 yds off the tee so I have learned to stay out of trouble and play position golf.
Thinking back over the past year where I played a 45" driver, there were several times when I would get a "hot one" off the driver and wind up in trouble; thru the fairway, long in a hazard, or long in a cross bunker. Could it be that I "accidently" put the sweetspot on the ball?
For my game a well placed, consistent drive might be a better fit. And, if I really need to "go after it" I have a better chance of actual distance gains AND staying safe.
Thanks for an interesting topic! Hope to hear other opinions.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:23 AM
OnePutt OnePutt is offline
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Re: Long or short driver shaft?

I don't build my drivers to a certain length, I build them and cut the shaft to 45-3/4" and check the swing weight. If it's too high, I cut the shaft down until the swing weight is where I want it. For this reason I have drivers with a length of 45 and others at 45-1/4 or 45-1/2. I see NO difference is accuracy or control with the difference club lengths, so I don't worry about length and only build to my perfered swing weight. This MAY NOT be for everyone, but it works fine for me, and that's what matter to me.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:33 AM
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Re: Long or short driver shaft?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OnePutt View Post
I don't build my drivers to a certain length, I build them and cut the shaft to 45-3/4" and check the swing weight. If it's too high, I cut the shaft down until the swing weight is where I want it. For this reason I have drivers with a length of 45 and others at 45-1/4 or 45-1/2. I see NO difference is accuracy or control with the difference club lengths, so I don't worry about length and only build to my perfered swing weight. This MAY NOT be for everyone, but it works fine for me, and that's what matter to me.
I would say that's unusual...ever consider weighting the head or shaft to compensate instead?
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:33 PM
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Re: Long or short driver shaft?

Shorter is better!

At least in terms of most people. There will be the occasional person who may benefit from a longer shafted driver, but such people are firmly in the minority.

As BigV pointed out, Tom Wishon, as well as many other "Club Guru's" believes that shorter is better and I see no reason to disagree with him. As also pointed out by BigV, the relationship between a higher clubhead speed (with a longer shaft) and a higher smash factor (due to more on-center hits) with a shorter shaft is one of balance. Ideally, one should use the longest shaft possible UNTIL their on-center hits become noticeably less consistent, at which point one should shorten the shaft to get back to a satisfactory level of on-center consistency.

For years, when playing steel-shafted drivers, my driver length was 43.5-inches. When the graphite boom hit, I experimented with lots of different combinations and played shafts as long as almost 46-inches. But after all of my analysis, I've ended up with an ideal driver length of 44.25-inches.

This length affords me the most on-center hits versus distance overall.

Now I'll be the first one to admit that a longer shaft can (and in my case - did) increase distance, but the percentage of drives that landed in the short grass was far lees than with the shorter shaft. So while a longer shaft may allow for more "bragging rights" in term of out-driving everyone else, that was offset by the time spent looking for lost balls or having to hit recovery shots.

One other thing to consider:

For the first seven or eight years of his career, Tiger played a driver which was only 43.5-inches long. When he finally switched to graphite (he was one of the last pro's to do so), he began to use longer shafts too and I believe that it's no coincidence that his driving accuracy began to drop afterward.

Secondly, if longer shafts were the best way to go, why isn't everyone on Tour using 46 or even 47-inch long drivers? Surely the best players in the world have the time and the access to perfect a swing which would take advantage of a longer shaft, right? Yet the Tour average length for drivers is only 44.5-inches and that may get even shorter now that "V" grooves are here because keeping a drive in the short grass is more important than ever.

The manufacturers hit a wall as far as making golf clubs "better" about ten years ago and since then the only "tweaks" they have left as far as distance is concerned is lengthening the driver shaft. They can claim longer distance because a longer shaft CAN increase distance, but only if the ball can be struck squarely and with sufficient clubhead speed. But the average player has enough trouble making square and center contact with a 7-iron, so I don't believe that placing a nearly four-foot-long club in his hands is going to reap any big time rewards.

Just because some golf company says "longer is better" doesn't mean it's true. They just want you to believe that so you'll buy their drivers.


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Old 01-18-2010, 06:27 PM
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Re: Long or short driver shaft?

I've always preferred longer shafts in my driver. I'm pretty accurate off the tee, but short. I think "hitters" may benefit more from a shorter shafts and "swingers" may benefit from longer shafts.
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Old 01-18-2010, 06:54 PM
OnePutt OnePutt is offline
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Re: Long or short driver shaft?

Big; No i haven't gone to adding weight to the head or inside tip of shaft to increase swing weight. Reason is I'm only talking 1/4 or 3/8 inch at most cut off end ot shaft to get the swing weight where I want it. I really can't measure or see any real difference in my driver if the shaft is 1/4 inch longer or not.

I DO want to try some of those extra light 40 gram grips that recently came on the market. I'm sure a 40 gram grip compared to the more normal 50 gram models will have a decent effect of swing weight, and I might try a 45 inch driver just to see if it helps. But I did do a test last year with a 44 inch driver with movable weights. I added heavier weights to the head to bring the swing weight up with the 44 inch shaft, but I honestly didn't see ANY increase in accuracay so I didn't believe it was worth my time.
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:25 PM
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Re: Long or short driver shaft?

I JUST switched to a 48" ZEUS shaft from rt technologies and guess what. 40 YARDS!! massive pop off the face i put an R7 QUAD on it and im at the 150 instead of the 200 yard mark but i do think and agree that it depends on your swing becuase my friend who use to hit it farther than me is longer off the tee with his 45 so it depends on your swing i would say i needed it becuase i have more of a sweepin arc than a short hac. Plus u get the unplayable advantage of 8 feet 96" instead of 88" and i am way more accurate with it becuase the shaft is stiffer I dream of the long ball once again now that im in the big boy category main factor is your swing type
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Old 08-24-2010, 11:27 PM
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Re: Long or short driver shaft?

[quote=Golf since 96';202518]I JUST switched to a 48" ZEUS shaft from rt technologies and guess what. 40 YARDS!! massive pop off the face i put an R7 QUAD on it and im at the 150 instead of the 200 yard mark but i do think and agree that it depends on your swing becuase my friend who use to hit it farther than me is longer off the tee with his 45 so it depends on your swing i would say i needed it becuase i have more of a sweepin arc than a short hac. Plus u get the unplayable advantage of 8 feet 96" instead of 88" and i am way more accurate with it becuase the shaft is stiffer I dream of the long ball once again now that i went from 280 to 320
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