The driver is arguably the most exciting club in our golf bag. Hit well it can make a massive difference to your scores, helping you find more fairways and achieve distance.
By: Carly Frost
The driver is arguably the most exciting club in our golf bag. Hit well it can make a massive difference to your scores, helping you find more fairways, achieve greater distance and thus shorten your approach shots for more par and birdie chances.
When it comes to choosing the right driver there’s definitely no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ ladies club. Given the wide variety of heads (numerous lofts and centre of gravity options), adjustable weighting and other gadgets, not to mention the all-important shaft, it makes sense to find one that is right for you. But the driver selection process can be very confusing and hard to decipher for the average lady player - from loft to launch and CG, there’s much to understand about the ‘big dog’!
The ideal solution is to be custom-fit for your driver and with the majority of club manufacturers either offering this solution via their own fitting centre, at a demo day or through your golf club professional, there really is no excuse not to get the right driver. To help you go armed with all the information you need, here are the main factors that will influence your driver selection...
Driver loft refers to the angle of the face and typically ranges from 8 to 14 degrees, although some ladies’ drivers are even more lofted.
Generally speaking lower lofted drivers (10 degrees or less) are suited to players who can generate greater clubhead speeds (over 100mph) or are trying to keep their ball flight down, (for example if you play on windy links courses) as they reduce the backspin on the ball.
Higher-lofted clubs (12 degrees or more) are better for players with slower swing speeds (90mph and lower) or need help to get the ball airborne, as they increase backspin which helps the ball up into the air. The nice thing is that many of the latest ladies’ drivers are adjustable (e.g. new Cobra King F9 Speedback) allowing you to experiment with the loft of the driver, but remember the Rules of Golf forbid you from making any changes during your round.
You’ll have no doubt read about the benefits of moving the position of the centre of gravity (CG) within the driver by using weights. A low, deep CG improves the club’s MOI (resistance to twisting and forgiveness) and can have a significant impact on improving your ball flight. Many drivers use sliding weights or weight plugs (e.g. new TaylorMade M5) to boost performance. The benefit of using more weight in the heel of the driver is that it will create a distance-enhancing draw bias, or alternatively moving it to the heel will encourage a fade. To hit the ball higher, move the weight towards the back of the clubhead and forward for a lower flight.
The total weight of your driver has to be matched to your physical strength, your swing tempo and your athletic ability. Put simply, if the swing weight of your driver is too light for you then your off-centre mishits will increase, too heavy and you’ll lack power and struggle to get the ball airborne.
The shaft in your driver is like the engine in a car. Put the wrong shaft in and it won’t matter how great the head is, the performance will suffer. The right shaft can help you hit the ball further, straighter and more consistently.
Most women golfers with slower swing speeds will suit a lighter, less stiff shaft to achieve the best results e.g. a Ladies (L flex) or a Senior (A flex) for an effortless high ball flight that carries further and encourages a fairway-finding draw shape. Opt for a Regular, Stiff or Extra Stiff shaft if you’re stronger with a faster swing speed, but remember with a shaft that’s too heavy you’ll struggle to get the ball airborne, lose distance and fight a fade.
The length of the shaft is also a factor, the legal limit is 48 inches, but most drivers are fitted with a shaft around 45 inches long to ensure the best balance of distance and control. A longer shaft can increase your speed and help you hit the ball further but at the sacrifice of control and accuracy.
Just a few other things to think of:
- Clubhead size - 460cc is the limit but you can get a smaller head that’s more like a 3-wood.
- Looks - shiny/matt, bright or dull - it’s up to you.
- Grip - get the right size for your hands, the right feel and tackiness to ensure the ideal hold.