When's the last time you upgraded your driver? If you say 5 years ago, you're not alone. In fact, the average golfer upgrades their driver about every 4.5 years, according to data collected by Titleist.
But just how much does the technology change over that period of time? Does it affect the setup and specs you'd want on a newer driver? The short answer: It very well may.
Since the 1990's, the center of gravity of drivers has progressively gotten lower and lower, which as a result has reduced spin off the tee. According to Titleist Supervisor of Player Research Karen Gray, older drivers had a higher center of gravity and produced more spin, which is why it was better to have less loft back in the day. "We used to fit players into lofts as low as 5.5 degrees and 6.5 degrees at one point way back when," Gray said.
Now, as Titleist's R&D Team is able to move discretionary weight around the club, thin the crown and face, and also lower the center of gravity, we are getting drivers that produce a lower rate of back spin. "We've seen players go up in loft to get the best combination of launch angle and spin rate to optimize carry and roll out," Gray said.
On the PGA TOUR, many players are beginning to experiment with new equipment as they enter the 2019-2020 season. Last week, Adam Scott made a pre-tournament driver switch after playing a practice round with Nick Watney.
According to Titleist Tour Rep J.J. VanWezenbeeck, Adam saw Watney's Titleist TS3 driver with 11.5 degrees of loft during a practice round and liked the look and performance of it so much that he asked to have one made up exactly like Nick's, right down to its B1 Titleist SureFit setting.
"Adam is also a player who likes having a little extra spin as he is very good at flighting and shaping the ball," VanWezenbeeck said. "Moving to an 11.5 degree TS3 in a draw weight setting allowed him to achieve all of the above and better control his ball off the tee."
Scott, who gamed a TS3 with 9.5 degrees of loft at the TOUR Championship, the last time he played competitively, put the new TS3 11.5* driver — with the same Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8 shaft that he had in his previous driver — right into play to start the Safeway Open last Thursday and co-led with a 7-under 65. Scott posted a first round Driving Distance average of 323.4 yards.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, Charles Howell III had been playing a 10.5 degree TS3 in D1 setting, but was struggling a little with excess spin. According to VanWezenbeeck, "when Howell hit a 9.5 degree TS3 in A1, he occasionally would have swing issues reacting to the face, so we moved to D4 setting with draw weight, which allowed Charles to swing in the direction he wanted, dropped spin to 2200-2300 RPM, and produced launch angles around 11-12 degrees with a slight right to left shot shape."
The Bottom-Line: Get Fit
According to Karen Gray, "the player's presentation of the club at impact will have the greatest effect on what loft they choose." So if you plan on upgrading your driver in the not too distant future, make sure you get fit for the proper setup.
In the end, fitting frees you up to attack the course with every shot and gives you the confidence needed to lower your scores.
If you haven't been fit, you aren't playing your best golf. It's that simple.
Click here to find a fitting location.
"You have to get with someone who knows what they're doing, who knows what you're looking for, and can actually see your numbers." — Justin Thomas, Titleist Brand Ambassador