Tag Archives: club fitting

Driving The Golf Ball – Length Vs Accuracy

Long DriveWhat’s more important, length or accuracy?  Been having a couple interesting dialogs with Jim at The Grateful Golfer and Jimmy at Tiger Golf Traveler on the challenges of driving and figured it was time to take a closer look at the dichotomy.  Let’s approach from the two perspectives of the tour professional and amateur player, which are very different, and often get munged together to create great confusion.  First the pro.  The current PGA Tour driving distance average is 290.8 yards.  This has steadily increased from slightly over 260 yards in 1993 to 287 yards in 2003 and leveled off since.  The reason was three-fold:  first was the introduction of the trampoline effect on the driver face (new technology), second was the introduction of the three-piece golf ball, and finally was the muscling up and year round conditioning of today’s tour players pioneered by Tiger Woods.  As a result, the PGA Tour has steadily lengthened its venues to maintain the competitive integrity of the game.  No doubt, length has won out over accuracy on tour as the world’s best are more deadly accurate with their approaches using wedges out of the rough than short to middle irons from the fairway.

What’s fascinating is that the playing public has access to the same equipment that the best in the world have, but for some reason they expect to boom drives in the same fashion that their heroes on TV do.  How often have you seen the guy at the driving range banging bucket after bucket over the 300 yard sign with sweat dripping from his brow and a great look of satisfaction on his face?  Or maybe that person is you???  Here’s where perception and reality are out of whack because the tour pro’s misses are far less off-line than the amateur’s and what the pro can do with his game at the other end of the drive differs considerably from the amateur.   To put it differently, given a 36oz. wooden bat and a softly tossed baseball, would you be able to stand at the plate and swat home runs like Chris Davis or Jose Bautista?  Of course not.Crush

As a young amateur, I had a laminated Top Flite driver that would almost never miss the fairway.  I couldn’t drive it over 220 yards but was incredibly straight.  In my 20s I took a couple lessons with a pro who firmed up my left side during the downswing.  Part of that instruction included strengthening my left hand grip which allowed me to generate more power through better leverage.  Well that worked and the ball started flying farther but far more crooked and I have never regained the accuracy with the big stick.  Oddly enough, in last two years, I have started driving it better just focusing on making a good shoulder turn going back.  But the bottom line for this amateur: the game is far more enjoyable if you stay out of trouble off the tee, even if that means sacrificing some distance.

So my final recommendation:  Let the equipment companies continue to try and sell you a new $400 driver every year with the promise of a few more magical yards but don’t buy it.  Invest half that much and get a professional driver fitting with a reputable club maker.  He’ll make sure the driver you are playing has the correct shaft flexibility, is not too long, and lets you keep it in the short grass.

Where do you fall in the length vs accuracy spectrum?  Play well!

Game improvement. Next step: Big Step.

Earlier this week I finally addressed an issue that has been bothering me for quite some time; my equipment.  Since moving to Titleist DCI 822 OS irons around 10 years ago, my ball striking and GIR stats have been a continual source of frustration.  Everyone has bad ball striking days, but experienced players can feel a good swing born of balance, power, speed, and agility, and on too many occasions, I’ve felt the good swing and dealt with a substandard result.

On Tuesday, I laid down on the proverbial swing couch of master club builder Wade Heintzelman, of the Golf Care Center, and presented all my issues.  Wade has been building clubs for 28 years and has many excellent players as customers including several from the PGA Tour.  I figured I’d go to the best to finally get my issues addressed.  Over the course of my nearly two hour fitting, I learned that the 822s are designed for a lower caliber player that has an outside to in swing.  The clubs were one inch too long, had shafts that were too light, and the heads had too much offset and bounce.  Wade informed that often players adapt their swings to their equipment, and after receiving this information the pieces of my swing puzzle fell into place.  I had been coming up and out of my spine angle to account for the misfitted length, and the poor swings coupled with the added bounce on the iron heads were causing all the thin pushes that have plagued me inside 130 yards, as well as the thinned chips around the green.

During the fitting, Wade identified my proper loft, lie, length, total weight, shaft flexibility, grip size, and swing weight.  We discussed my set make up, what ball I played, and how I liked to approach the game and what shots I relied upon under pressure.  Then we discussed my wedge game and developed a plan to cover the yardage umbrella between 80 and 100 that I was previously covering with swing modifications.  I did not have any preconceived notions about manufactures or options and told Wade to make a recommendation solely based on his experience and what would be best for me.

I left the shop feeling very positive and taken care of and I realize I’m going to need to hit the delete button on all the frustrations of playing with misfit equipment over the last 10 years.  You’re probably thinking, “the carpenter is blaming his hammer for the bad house he just constructed,” and you may be right because I’m a big advocate of spending scarce resources on swing instruction over equipment changes, but this one feels like the right thing to do.

My new set should arrive within a week and I’m eager to game test it.  After making such a significant change, I’ll need to adjust to the new feel, change in distances, and hopefully regain some confidence in my natural ability.  I think a good read will require about 10 rounds, and I plan to have these played, as well as plenty of range sessions logged, before the 2013 trip to Myrtle Beach in May.  What do you think of this approach?

The old vs. new set makeup and specs:


  • Irons: 3 – PW, Titleist DCI 822 OS, Titleist NS Pro 650 (stiff)
  • Gap Wedge: Cleveland Tour Action 533, 49 degrees, Dynamic Gold S-300
  • Sand Wedge: Cleveland Tour Action 533, 56 degrees, Dynamic Gold S-300
  • Lob Wedge:  Taylormade Rac Tumble, 60 degrees, Uniflex shaft


  • Hybrid Irons: 3, 4.  Mizuno H4, Dynamic Gold S-300 shafts, Tourwrap 580 grips, swing weight D2
  • Irons: 5 – PW, Mizuno JPX 825 Pro, Dynamic Gold S-300 shafts, Tourwrap 580, swing weight D2.
  • Wedges:  Cleveland CG 16, lofts 50, 54, 58 with specs commensurate to the irons.