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MGS Labs – Is Longer Really Longer?

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Getting more distance of the tee is easy right?

Getting more distance off the tee is easy right?  Well, golf companies sure would like you to believe that…they have us feeling as if the equation is as simple as…longer drivers = longer drives.   Not so fast cowboy! As recently as the early-90s, most standard off-the-rack drivers were 43″ – 43.5″.  That number has since jumped up to around 46″.  But, remember humans don’t evolve that quickly…we aren’t getting taller but clubs sure are getting longer.  So the question we wanted to answer for everyone …”Is Longer Really Longer?”

A Sanity Check

(Written By: GolfSpy T) If you’ve ever read anything Tom Wishon has written about driver length, or spoken to your local fitter about the topic, there’s a curious statistic that you’ve probably encountered.

Since the mid 2000′s, the average driver length on the PGA Tour has held steady at 44½”.

Think about that for a second. The very best players in the world, guys who hit the sweet spot on their driver as easily as most of us would hit water after falling from a cruise ship, guys who routinely drive the ball to distances that some reading this would need two swings to achieve are playing drivers upwards of 1.5″ shorter than what most of the rest of us have in our bags right now.

Last season (2010) the majority of drivers we received for testing were outfitted stock with 46″ shafts. While there were exceptions, only one driver we’ve ever received for testing was shorter than 45.5″ (Titleist), and that was more than countered by another that actually measured in at 46.5″!

Somewhat surprising considering the distance race the big OEMs are engaged in; for 2011 – and from what we’ve seen from the 2012 lineups – many OEMs have backed off driver length every so slightly (we’re seeing more 45.75″ than 46″ shafts), but I think most would agree overall shaft lengths are at historic highs. As you’ll see below, many golfers custom order clubs well above stock lengths. What they probably haven’t considered is that in all likelihood, their games are suffering for it.

All of this begs the question; Are the Pros shorting themselves distance by playing shorter drivers, or have the rest of us, driven by the compulsive need to gain the fabled 10-15 More Yards, completely lost our minds?

How Did We Get Here…and Who Can We Blame

While it would be easy to blame the OEMs for the never-ending demand for more distance, the reality is, while the golf companies perhaps give us tools we don’t need, they do so only because we asked for them. It’s our prevailing willingness to accept the flawed equation that shaft length = clubhead speed = ball speed = distanceALWAYS that has most of us hitting out of the rough much more often than we should be.

To get a better idea of how pervasive the “longer than the Pros play” driver phenomenon actually is, we asked TaylorMade to provide us with some details about their custom orders from the last several years. While it’s not surprising that the most popular order, even among custom orders, is for standard length (45.75″-46″) drivers, what I found most shocking is that TaylorMade receives orders for drivers 2″ longer than standard at a rate of 2 to 1 over drivers 2″ shorter than standard.

And while their most popular non-standard order is for drivers cut 1″ below standard length, TaylorMade still ships 2 drivers at 1″ above spec for ever 3 1″ below. In fact, over the last 3-4 years, TaylorMade has received nearly as many orders for drivers longer than standard length as they have for drivers shorter than standard.

When you examine these orders, what you find isn’t a case of the OEMs pushing longer drivers on consumers; you can make the argument that it’s the consumer demanding longer shafts from the golf companies.

To get some perspective on the madness, we asked seasoned club-fitter and Director of the New York Golf Center’s Custom Shop, Josh Chervokas what he generally recommends to his customers. Here’s what he had to say:

“I rarely fit anyone into a driver over 45″ and often I build them shorter, I just did a 43″ build. People want to hit it farther but what we see in fittings is that clubspeed is useless if it cannot be turned into ballspeed. People have a harder time centering the ball in the middle of the club and so they get lower and lower smashfactors as the club gets longer”.

The suggestion is that the average golfer would actually benefit more from playing a shorter driver. We’ve heard this same sentiment echoed time and time again from basically every fitter we’ve ever come in contact with. And yet despite a chorus of respected professionals telling us otherwise, the overwhelming majority of golfers are still bagging drivers longer than most club fitters would recommend.

While golfers should probably shoulder the bulk of the responsibility, the OEM’s aren’t completely without blame. When you look at current product lineups, it’s actually the high-MOI, ultra-forgiving clubs…the ones designed for high handicap golfers (guys who struggle to produce consistent swings) that come stock with the longer (46″ shafts). High handicap golfers have basically been conditioned to believe that longer drivers provide more distance, and ultimately fit them better. Clubs designed for better players often come stock with slightly to significantly shorter shafts. What’s up with that?

On the off chance that Tom Wishon, Josh Chervokas, and basically everyone else who earns a living fitting golfers for their clubs might be wrong, we decided to put together our own little test to determine how much is gained (accuracy), and how much is lost (distance) when golfers are willing to trim a couple of inches off the big dog.

The Test Equipment

Shafts

To provide the shafts for our tests we contacted UST-Mamiya. They agreed to provided us with 4 of their new Proforce VTS Shafts (2 – 65 regular flex, 2 – 75 Stiff flex). Though we didn’t undergo a full shaft fitting for this test, we were very interested to get our hands on the new VTS, which introduces what UST-Mamiya calls 3D Fitting.

While shaft torque has largely been an after-thought the Proforce VTS lineup includes torque as a key part of the fitting equation. Every weight/flex combination in the VTS lineup is offered with 3 distinct torque options. No longer does heavier and stiffer necessarily mean lower torque.

As it turns out, the pearly white color scheme of the VTS also looks positively sick with the head we chose for this test.

UST VTS SHAFT

HEADS

To provide the heads for our testing we reached out to TaylorMade to see if they’d be interested in participating. Since our test involves multiple shafts (multiple flexes, multiple lengths) it was important for the sake of consistency, simplicity, and expedience that we were able to quickly swap out shafts while using the same head for every shaft. TaylorMade’s R11 heads coupled with their Flight Control Tips matched that need perfectly.

While we sometimes find the marketing a bit over the top, TaylorMade’s implementation of adjustability is almost without argument the most complete and user friendly on the market today. The simple fact that TaylorMade makes its FCT tips available for purchase by the consumer was a substantial factor in why we chose to approach TaylorMade first. Quite frankly we think every OEM should make their adapters available to the consumer. As it stands right now, TaylorMade is the only big OEM that actually does.

We had planned to have our resident club builder help us out with shaft assembly, but when the team at TaylorMade volunteered their Tour Department to handle the assembly, we were happy to take them up on the offer.

At our requests, shafts in each flex were cut to 43.75″ and 45.75″ inches. We asked that each pair be frequency matched, and that the neutral bend point of each shaft be aligned to the standard/neutral position of the Flight Control tip.

The Testing Process

To test distance and accuracy, each of 6 testers was asked to hit a series of 12 shots with both the 43.75″ and 45.75″ drivers. In a perfect world testing would have been blind to eliminate any possibility of the placebo effect, however; let’s be honest…you’d have to be some special kind of oblivious not to notice a 2″ difference in driver length.

To balance things out as much as we possibly could, half of testers hit the longer driver first, the other half hit the shorter first.

After the 12 shot sequence was completed, impact tape was placed on the driver face, and testers were asked to hit an additional 5 shots with each shaft so we could observe quality of impact.

Calculating Averages

To calculate our averages and develop other conclusions we selected the best 10 of 12 shots from each tester at both driver lengths. Best was determined by calculating a total point value based on a simple formula of total distance minus yardage from the center line. This is the same equation we use to determine driver performance within our standard review process.

The Data

As we do with all of our reviews, we’ve provided all the pertinent details of our tests. The “Group Performance” tab contains the Virtual Driving Range which shows the details for each of the 10 shots we recorded for each tester at each length.

  • Solid circles represent shots taken with the 45.75″ driver.
  • Hollow circles represent shots taken with the 43.75″ driver.
  • Each shot is color coded by golfer.
  • We have provided the capability for you to filter shots by both driver length and golfer.
  • Hovering over any point on the Virtual Range reveals every detail about that shot.
  • The Group Performance tab also shows group averages for Distance and Accuracy, Clubhead* and Ball speed, Spin, and Launch Conditions.
  • Clicking on the Individual Performance Tab reveals similar information similar to the graphs on the Performance tab. Sortable by golfer and shaft length, this tab provides a head to head comparison of key shot data at the individual tester level.
*The version of aboutGolf technology used for this test does not directly measure, but rather calculates swing speed. While ball speed and overall distance is accurate, in our experience, actual clubhead speeds are generally slower than what is reported by the software.

Interpreting the Data

>> Carry Distance

With the 45.75″ shaft, our testers averaged 233.75 yards of carry compared to 232.35 yards with the 43.75″ shaft. That’s a difference of only 1.4 yards.

Examining the data on an individual level shows that 5 of 6 testers, as one might expect, produced more carry with the longer driver. However, of those 5, only 2 were more than 4 yards longer with the 45.75″ driver. Each of the remaining 3 produced less than 2 yards more carry on average. Our senior tester carried the ball an average of 4.9 yards farther with the shorter club.

>> Total Distance

With the 45.75″ shaft our testers averaged 247.65 yards compared to 247.15 yards with the 43.75″ shaft, leaving a total distance gap of only ½ yard.

Looking at the data on an individual level reveals some interesting details. Two of our testers proved to be longer with the 45.75″ driver (3.9 and 5.7 yards). One tester achieved an identical average with both clubs. The remaining 3 testers actually produced greater average total distances with the shorter (43.75″) shaft.

Our senior tester showed the greatest discrepancy; his distance actually increased by 5.7 yards with the shorter driver. The other 2 testers posted more modest gains of .1 and .8 yards.

To better understand how distance numbers can remain relatively consistent despite a 2″ discrepency in shaft length we need to examine the key factor in determining distance; ball speed.

As it turns out, some testers produced better ball speeds with the shorter driver, while others maintained higher numbers with the longer driver. Looking at the averages, our testers as a whole produced a relatively insignificant .55 MPH more ball speed with the longer driver.

Those 2 testers that showed higher ball speed with the longer driver produced greater clubhead speed. Most importantly, they were able to be efficient enough in doing so. Individually their ball speed with the 45.75″ driver was 2.8 and 3.0 MPH faster than what they produced with the shorter driver.

For each of our other 4 golfers, however; the greatest average ball speeds were achieved using the shorter driver. In each case the speed gains were more modest (1.8 MPH, 1.1 MPH, .5 MPH, and .1 MPH), but they are increases none the less.

“People who do not have the benefit of launch monitor data usually assume that more clubspeed equals more ballspeed. Additionally, with people who swing under 100 we often see a longer club actually slows their ss down instead of increasing it”. – Josh Chervokas, Director New York Golf Center Custom Shop

The argument for playing a shorter driver has never been about distance. The suggestion as I’ve always interpreted it is that a shorter driver will be more accurate, and because you’re better able to control the club, and find the sweet spot, more often, average total distance could actually increase. For us, the argument for a shorter driver is really an argument for accuracy, and that’s information we were most interested in obtaining.

>> ACCURACY

As a group our testers were 4.63 yards (28% closer) to the target line with the 43.75″ driver. With the longer shaft, our testers averaged 16.6 yards offline, compared to only 11.97 yards offline with the 43.75″ driver. Looking at testers individually reveals more detail. Our senior tester actually showed the smallest accuracy gain (.1 yards). This isn’t altogether surprising considering that his total yardage was significantly shorter than any other tester.

While a 2nd tester showed a relatively most improvement of 1.5 yards, the remaining testers showed accuracy improvements of between 4.9 and 10.4 yards or (63% more accurate)!

As expected, the 43.75″ driver proved to be substantially more accurate. And while I wouldn’t expect that most golfers would see a 63% improvement, moving the ball an average of nearly 5 yards closer to the center line is almost certainly going to save a couple of strokes over the course of an average round.

So…Should You Cut 2″ Off Your Driver?

Well, our data (and the years of experience from reputable club fitters all over the globe) suggest that the majority of golfers (yes you too) would absolutely benefit from playing a shorter-shafted driver. Not only will accuracy increase (our tests show by a whopping 28%), our numbers also suggest that any distance loss would be very minimal, and there’s a chance you could actually increase your total distance as well.

Whether cutting 2″ is the optimal number for you is impossible to say. Maybe for you it’s .5″, maybe it’s 2.5″. Maybe stock is perfect. These are questions that a knowledgeable club fitter can help you answer and is yet another example of why it’s absolutely imperative that every golfer serious about improving his game be custom fit for his equipment.

Now, before you decide, make sure you’re fully aware of the effect the change will have on your driver’s swing weight. Cutting 2″ off the shaft will dramatically lower the swing weight of your driver (with our sample head, the difference was about 7 swing weight points). Some golfers will actually find they prefer the lighter feel, some may find the club harder to control, and many probably won’t care one way or the other(especially if you become 28% more accurate). If you have a head like the TaylorMade R11 you can easily change the moveable weights to bring your driver back up to a comfortable level. Clubs like Titleist’s 910 have weight ports that can also be adjusted (by the factory). And of course, there’s always good old fashioned lead tape. Be advised, adding additional weight to the head will soften the flex (~1 CPM per gram of weight added).

Swing Weight issues aside, the raw data says you probably should cut some length of your driver, but few things in this game are absolute, and there are certainly some mitigating factors. Not surprisingly, it was largely our mid-to-high handicap golfers who showed the most improvement with the shorter shaft. Though not true of our lowest handicap golfer, 2 of our single (or near single) digit handicappers actually lost upwards of 5 yards with the shorter shaft. We also observed that golfers with a flatter swing plane also showed less benefit from the shorter shaft.

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{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim January 12, 2012 at 10:48 am

so…. what you’re saying is – I should maybe step up my game and get a 50″ shaft?

great article and study!!!!

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Steve P. January 12, 2012 at 11:01 am

This is pretty good proof that Adams is again on the cutting edge designing drivers that, like many, can be opened, closed, or made upright, but are also adjustable for length. I can’t wait to try the new Fast12 LS when it comes out. It’s gonna have a hard time topping my 9064ls though.

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Justin January 22, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Their last offering I paid attention to was 45.5 and 46.5 inches… still too long for the average golfer. If they did 43-44, 43.5-44.5, or 44-45, THEN it’d be more viable.

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RP Jacobs II January 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I too played the 9064LS & also played the DFS, though I preferred the non-adjustable model…I know it’s a mental thing(isn’t it always?), yet the non-adjustable LS sounded & felt “better” to me…& I really wanted the DFS model to be the “one”…I’m definitely going to hit the F12 because I really like the lower profile, though I’m going to stick with the one piece version…I was a little surprised that the 9064LS DFS had 1/2″ either way (45″-45.5″-46″) & the F12LS only has a 1/2″ adjustment(45′-45.5″)…Fairways & Greens 4ever…

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Acoomz January 12, 2012 at 11:06 am

Another well thought through, well implemented and nicely summarized article and test.
I wonder when OEMs will start being genuinely honest with club golfers and stop overhyping and overselling ideas and claims and just really work together to make us all better golfers? How about a free lesson with a driver purchase? It’s lessons we all need. Lessons and practice, not an extra two inches on our shafts! ;0) (my wife might argue against that however)

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JBones January 12, 2012 at 11:08 am

Great article. The impact tape sequence was great and amazingly better for Dan and Mark with the shorter driver.

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Garry January 12, 2012 at 11:08 am

Nice article.. From what I see from the specs above.. the spin rates seem rather on the high side which can kill distance. I haven’t had a chance to try the new VTS shaft. I do know the AVIXCore Black 69 series is one heck of a great shaft. Lot of other variable about getting distance. I cut my drivers to 44.5 and don’t notice any distance loss.. I do notice being in the fairway more at 1.5 to 2″ shorter.

One has to ask themselves.. length OR accuracy.. very few get both

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Jerry Foley January 12, 2012 at 11:19 am

I did an A/B test 2 years ago with an Adams (longer shaft) and a TM and had the same results as you which really surprised me. I even had a swing speedometer behind me and even when swinging more MPH with the Adams I couldn’t hit it past the TM. That threw me but I should have had some tape on the face to see where I was actually hitting the ball on the face because as you say if you don’t hit the sweet spot you are losing distance. I’ve said this before, a lot of your club selection depends on “where” you hit your shots, i.e. do you have better success hitting a 3/4 6-iron from 150 or a full 7-iron? After all, getting closer to the pin is the goal, right? Same for hitting fairways. And especially if you need to come into a hole with a tough pin placement. The point is, is it easier to hit a 9-iron over a sand trap or a 7 or 8-iron from a direct line of sight into the back right of a green? If you play enough you know what I mean. What do you gain if your drive is 10 yards longer but out of position or worse, in the rough? Good article guys!

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mitch January 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Great article! A similar analysis isolating driver LOFT as the only variable might also be interesting for the average mid-high HC player. (8* – 12* – 14*) Ditto spined vs random (not spined)

As a player, and as a club builder, I am thinking a 44.5″ length for all but the most remarkably orangutan-armed or tallest or shortest male players might be a good general prescription – allowing players to grip down to 43.75 or lower, if they want. I also think my wife’s driver and FW woods are in for some immediate surgery.

Thanks for this study.

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Justin January 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm

The slower you swing, the more you need loft. The backspin it produces helps keep the ball in the air, so you max your carry distance as much as possible. The other variable is angle of attack: a downward AoA needs more loft than an upward AoA.

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Ken K. January 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm

If I cut an 1″ off my driver what effect will this have on the balance of my clubs. Will I have to cut 1″ off my 3 wood, what about my 3 hybrid and my irons. I found the article to be very informative but these questions that I have asked have me pondering on what to do

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canmar November 13, 2012 at 11:51 am

you add weight to the head, to maintain the ‘swing-weight’. Some say so, that’s not even needed. Anyway, I did on my.

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Rick S. January 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I would like to see Taylor and others offer a true custom fitting option with a purchase of their clubs. Maybe to a local fitter in your area. The next set I buy will most definitely be done by a custom fitter. It might cost a little more but It’s worth it to me.
Too many times, even when we order some available custom specs from the mfg. they come different than what we might have ordered. With the new Taylor R11S, you can change it by as much as 3 degrees. In my book changing a face angle from 9 degrees to 12, and closing or opening by a couple of degrees is really a lot. Without a knowledgeable fitter present and up to date launch monitor equipment available, how do you know what’s best for you. And, that’s only a driver. Any golfer that wants to get the best out of his or her equipment, needs to have each club individually. I’m convinced of that.

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GolfSpy T January 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm

TaylorMade does have fitting centers across the country. Fitters like Josh Chervokas, Frank Viola, and the guys at Club Champion all do an excellent job of independently fitting for TaylorMade and other big OEM gear. It may take some digging, but chances are there’s a reputable fitter near you.

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Dick Lee January 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I am a club tech at Dick’s sporting goods. We do a fitting for every iron set or wedge sold. We also have anyone looking for a hybrid, FW, or driver hit them on the monitor.

On a personal note, I did my own study with my driver. I started with a standard 913D2. I hit about a 100 balls over a couple of days with the standard length, and then did the same after cutting the shaft 1/2″. I did this all the way down to 43″. I found that 43 3/4″ was the best for me. Yes, I put some lead tape on the bottom of the head to get a better feel. I ain’t too proud to have some lead tape on my big stick.

What ever works, works
Dick

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Rod_CCCGOLFUSA January 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Mu launch monitor fitting of senior golfers shows the same result: 44.5″ is generally best for length and accuracy. I also found that they get better results with a mid- weight shaft instead if a super-light. Thanks for your detailed discussion of your results. What did the swing video show about the release points with long vs. short?

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GolfSpy T January 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Rod…I wish we had thought to grab swing videos. That’s something we may have to look at for future labs articles.

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David W. January 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm

If I wanted to try this could I just cut 1″ off the grip end of my driver shaft now or would I need to order a new shaft made 1″ shorter?

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GolfSpy T January 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm

David – You could cut an inch of the shaft, but it will reduce the swing weight, and the club will probably feel lighter. Some actually like the lighter feel, others want to maintain the original swing weight, which requires adding weight to the head, which in turn alters the flex of the shaft. It can get a bit complicated.

That said, one of our testers (Mark) after seeing the results had 2″ cut off his driver. The swing weight dropped down to C5, but I don’t think it will be a concern for him.

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Joe Golfer July 17, 2014 at 10:33 pm

David W.: Cutting an inch off the butt end, then re-gripping, will not significantly change the flex of the shaft. It will change your swingweight a bit though, but you can alter that with a slight amount of lead tape available at any golf store, if you wish.
Keep this rule of thumb in mind: Cutting an inch off of the TIP of a shaft usually changes the flex of a club approximately a half flex, depending on the shaft brand and model. Thus, an R flex would then be half way between an R and an S flex. But trimming from the BUTT end has only about 1/4th the effect that tip trimming does. So trimming an inch off the butt is like trimming a 1/4th inch off the tip. In other words, trimming an inch off the butt of the shaft would change the flex only about 1/8th of a flex, making it just barely stiffer, such a smidgeon that most players would never notice the difference.
If my memory serves me correctly, this info was gleaned many years ago from an old newsletter from Ralph Maltby, owner of Golfworks, which not only sells components but also has taught club repair and even done repairs for such luminaries as Jack Nicklaus in the past.

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Joe Golfer July 17, 2014 at 10:36 pm

P.S. to David W. All new shafts come at a pre-set length. Ordering a new shaft would make no difference, since the way a shaft’s final length is determined is simply by trimming the shaft. Thus, if you ordered a new shaft, they would simply trim it from the butt end to the desired length, which is the same as trimming your current shaft from the butt and re-gripping it.

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Buddy Evans April 25, 2012 at 6:13 am

Dave-No need to concern yourself with the swing weight. I cut 5″ from my driver and I still bomb the ball. Unless your a pro the cutting from the grip end will not effect the performance. People think i’m crazy the way I cut my clubs, but anyone who has experimented with an open mind follows with comments about how the change shaved strokes from there game. Good Luck

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mP January 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

That is a fantastic article. Well done, the site continues to evolve and get better. I can attest that my 44″ driver vs a 45.75″ on back to back simulator testing mirrors what you have shown here. But my F.I.R are up by 1.8 a round with the shorter stick.
Loved the face impact labels – that really brings it home.

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mygolfspy January 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Thanks mP…appreciate the feedback on the article and the site. I’m bias but I have to say I agree…I think the site is evolving in the right direction on a consistent basis.

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David W. January 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Also, I was fit for a tour shaft (Ping G20) instead of a standard shaft because of my high launch angle. Any data on the difference between shafts with different flex points?

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Michael January 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Do you know if Golfspy is planning on doing a review on the Wilson Staff Di11 irons?

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GolfSpy T January 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm

We probably won’t be doing the Di11s, but we do have tentative plans to review the Ci11s.

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RP Jacobs II January 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Great article..Though the vast, vast majority of MGS readers could benefit from a shorter driver shaft, most will read this article, say or write “great article”, then continue to play a 45.0-46.5″ driver..Too bad, cuz most would really notice a positive difference…Anyway, well done..Fairways & Greens 4ever…

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mygolfspy January 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I would tend to agree with you…but this is one of the reasons we are here…we want to help convince golfers to look at their bags in a logical way. No different than they would any other decision they make in their lives that revolve around improving performance or obtaining better results. And I think labs type articles like this are a better way of getting that across vs. simply a teacher or golf partner telling you should make a change. Data and results talk in our minds the rest…is well…..you can fill in the ____.

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GolfSpy T January 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Richard – You’re probably right. Kent Tarkleson from Tark’s Indoor Golf has basically been telling me since they day that I met him that if I took an inch or two of my driver I’d hit it longer and straighter than every before. Tom Wishon says the same thing. Hell, basically every fitter I’ve ever talked with says the same thing, and yet most of us fear losing 5 yards of distance, even if it puts us 5 yards closer to our target line. Now that I’ve seen it for myself, I’m solidly on board. When I re-shafted my Adams (ATTAS T2 75g, playing length 45.75″) the swing weight went up dramatically (D8), so cutting that down to 43.75″ or 44″ should actually improve things. Of course, I’ve also got this R11 with the 43.75″ shaft that I like quite a bit (although Chow Chow is right, it does spin a bit too much for me). Point is, unless somebody can prove to me I’d benefit from a longer shaft, 44″ might be my upper limit.

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Jon January 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Callaway’s new Razr FIT drivers are going to be 45.5 inches in stock length. Thats 1/2 inch shorter than in previous years. Maybe they are on the right track too. As a club fitter I am constantly fitting customers to 44-44.5 inch driver. I love this article! This should be in the next golf magazine for all those players who buy off the rack and who do not listen to the professionals who are trying to help them. That way maybe they can see the error in their ways.

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BlkNGld July 3, 2012 at 10:51 am

IIRC, before the RazrHawk, Callaway bucked the trend and stayed at 45.

When I demoed the Fit, I hit it much better choking down 1/2 inch.

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Frank January 12, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Had a titleist on site fitting way back when with the 985K model. wasn’t as high tech as the current fitting groups but basically it was a pro day where assistants and club pro alike went to learn about the titleist fitting system cart and everything. we basically had nine hudnred drivers and were gviing each other something that was relative to their current driver then adding a few tweaks shaft length degree until we had the flight boaring through the air with no wall effect. (ball goes into the air and drops dead tothe ground) the driver I was fitted with was 43 inches 8.5 degrees with a YS6 stiff shaft thing was going out of the range by far the farthest I ever caried hit a driver…EVER!!!! to my dismay I have been fitted since and don’t hit it quite as accurate or deep going again this weekend will post on what My boy george Izett does for me.

great article everyone I see taylormade and MGS hae sown up the wounds???

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Frank January 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Izett Report.

so we go through a full driver fitting which by Izett standards uses the nakashima fitting studio. attack angle, plus path/face angle at impact equals launch angle. These guys have a plethera of shafts on the wall next tothe hitting bay and everything is tied to this fitting machine. other than just letting the numbers do the talking the guys at Izett tweak the drivers using the adjustablility of the nakashima heads into different shafts whole process takes about 1 and 1/2 hours. We hit over 15 diffrent shafts witht he nakashima 8.5 and 9.5 heads. questions suchs as feel boardy, whippy etc came about but when we narrowed it downt to four shafts inthe “FINAL FOUR”…just happened to be that way….we came to a staggering number differntial when it came to spin and Club head speed. never before have I reached the >102 MPH club head speed consistenty but when i had the correct shaft it was every time i swung the club on top of that I could unleasha nd not worry about control and what not. from current driver (adams 8.5 9064 LS DFS stock RIP Stiff shaft) to the new driver nakalshima 9.5 with matrix ozik x con 7 70 gram shaft my average 94 MPH went to 102 and topped out at 103.9. can’t say more about the knowledge these guys have about the systems they use and how they back their equipment. just ahd my irons done there and the difference is amazing they base irons on load instead of the none too familiar “what’s your club head speed with a six iron” wuite an experience.

side note: the nakashima with x con was 725 though?? I am having the x con put in my adams (still a hefty price but worth it) and with the MGS review last year we may even see better numbers. will be able to put my driver once changed itnot he fitting room to see ifhte same numbers are generated. concensus was that the head works pretty good witht he current shaft which is pretty unresponsive to my swing if anything they will definitely get better with the new shaft. can’t wait.

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Frank January 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

44.5 inch shaft as well that was mentioned upon arrival that they do not fit anyone over 45 inches.

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Reed January 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Fantastic article! Really enjoyed it and I will consider shaft length when I upgrade my driver when previously it was a factor that I never thought about.

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MikeG January 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Good to see you folks and Taylormade kissed and made up, now a question: Can I choke up a little instead of cutting off shaft?

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GolfSpy T January 12, 2012 at 4:41 pm

@Frank @MikeG – Earlier today I told GolfSpy X that I was surprised nobody had mentioned MGS working with TaylorMade on this. I can’t say with any degree of certainty how things look for the rest of 2012. I think the relationship is improving, and it’s definitely evolving. I’m fairly certain I’ll know more by the middle of next week.

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Frank January 16, 2012 at 11:45 am

GST-that is until you go “BALLZ DEEP” on the rocket ballz review AHAHAHHAHA granted your numbers show that the club isn’t what it’s made out to be;) we are a biased group so we let the numbers speak for themselves.

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JGolf January 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Great study guys! I’ll keep this in mind for my next driver.

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Pete January 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I actually just went to a 48″ X-Stiff shaft from std 45.5, and I hit it much more straight with both PING G5 7.5 and TaylorMade SuperTri 8.5 – better tempo with longer shaft, plus accuracy and distance

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MikeG January 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I thought I was the only one in the world still using G5! Re-shafted with Graphite Design YSQ-65 stiff, soft stepped 1 inch. Being between flexes is a pain in the a@@!

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RoverRick January 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Anthony Kim chokes down on his drive over an inch. He is not exactly the shortest driver of the golf ball.

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tom January 13, 2012 at 5:07 am

Does choking down on the grip 2″ give the same result as cutting the shaft down 2″?? Great article and thanks for all the useful info you give us readers….tom

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GolfSpy T January 13, 2012 at 7:30 am

Theoretically, choking down could produce the same result. It’s all about shortening the radius of the swing arc to provide more control.

I’ve tried choking down for control, but I’ve never been comfortable doing it (it’s a mental thing). It’s probably something I should spend more time working on. One consideration with choking down is that you’ll effectively shrink your grip (it will be narrower). Again, whether or not that causes its own set of issues will depend on the individual.

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Phana24JG January 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I have experimented with this idea with limited success. As T points out, in order to have a substantial change in the effective length, you need to choke down at least an inch and a half which changes the grip. My experience has been that this only tends to work when I am swinging the driver very well to begin with, which is sort of useless. The other issue that tends to cause problems is that I tend to slow the tempo when I choke down on the club. While this is generally not a problem, per se, it does lend itself to the occasional lazy swing when I deliver the head late and in a desperate attempt to catch up, roll the head closed and snap hook the ball.

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Chucky120 January 13, 2012 at 5:51 am

I’m 57 years old, and just started golfing last June after a 30 year layoff. Probably the smartest thing I’ve done, is join your website, and take 2 lessons, in that order. I would say, my fairways in regulation average, is 60% with driver. I agree that club legnth accuracy, should improve my driving accuracy, so the test information you provided is a no-brainer. Really looking forward to getting refitted and for Spring to get here!
Thanks again, mygolfspy labs…Fantastic info!!

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RP Jacobs II January 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Between a quality teacher & MGS, you’re in good hands..The best to ya on your return to the odyssey called golf….Fairways & Greens 4ever….

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JBones January 13, 2012 at 7:32 am

I cut 1.25″ off my driver this morning, making it about 43 7/8″. I tried gaming a 43.5″ driver last year and didn’t notice much difference, but that was also before I had a few lessons and worked out my swing issues. I’ve only hit 5 fairways (with the driver) in my last 4 rounds, so it’s time for a change.

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Oneputtforpar January 13, 2012 at 8:24 am

Great article! Have you guys ever done a similar study comparing shaft flex? I’d be interested to see the results of flex across some different swing speeds.

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john wong January 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

I believe what was said in this article.Every time i tried to get distance by using longer driver ,i invariably got into trouble .Now i have settled down using a 44+ ” driver.

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UgoDerosa January 13, 2012 at 9:16 am

This article is yet another example of the fact that MGS is without equal when it comes to golf sites, especially when it comes to evaluating gear and issues related thereto. That is not intended as a suck up comment. Just stating the facts. No other site comes close to getting this type of objective, unbiased info into the hands of golfing public.

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Craigar January 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

I had never really gave it much thought until I just read this article, but a few years ago when I bought my current 3 wood, King Cobra SZ, I whacked an inch off of the top because I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. I just pulled out a Wilson Billy Casper 4275 3 wood and they just happen to be the same length. Coincidence? Maybe. But the consistency and accuracy I have gained equates to more distance because I am not hitting 3 off of the tee (my foursome’s nickname for me by the way).

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Lee H. January 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

For the last 10 months, I have been playing with a Taylormade Superfast Burner 2.0 at standard length (46.5″). Recently, I had the driver replaced due to a cosmetic issue. I ended switching from a stiff shaft to a regular shaft. I also decided to have them cut pprox 1/3″ off, with the idea that it would make the club a little stiffer and since I already choked down a little, the shorter shaft would allow me to feel like I had the whole club in my hand. So far, the control aspect of it has been good. I probably should’ve taken a half inch off, but I didn’t want to mess with the club too much.

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KFlare January 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

1. Great research and article with useful results!
2. If cut down into the 43-44″ range, is the only difference between a driver and FW the forgiveness, COR, and loft?
3. A couple technical notes:
-Adding a few grams to the head does soften flex, but cutting the shaft 2″ stiffens flex to an even greater degree
-Choking up mostly has the same effect, but the swingweight will be even lighter than if the club were butt-trimmed and regripped. I’m guessing 1-3 points???

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Joe Golfer March 4, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Regarding trimming the butt by 2″, the statement that it will stiffen the flex is true. But not really that much. I’ve read that there is a four to one ratio between butt trim and tip trim.
In other words, trimming the butt 2″ is akin to trimming the tip by 1/2″ as far as shaft frequency is concerned.
As for Swingweight, the article mentioned that it decreased by seven points when cutting off 2″. I suppose it depends on the club, but when I first started building clubs as a hobby 20 years ago, I had a course book from Ralph Maltby (Golfworks component company), and it mentioned that for each half inch difference in irons, the swingweight would change by around 2.5 points. Using one of the newer lightweight grips will help keep the swingweight closer to what it was, as a lighter grip means higher swingweight, and a heavier grip means a lighter swingweight.

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David January 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm

This article summarized what happen to me last summer when I decided to make the “step” to a shorter driver. I got a TM R9 superdeep x-stiff (RIP 70). set it in neutral, got it cut at 43,75″ long, im mostly straight hitter but with long driver, i had tendancy to push shot on the right because on a too late release. Put a new decade grip on it. try it with standard weight, it suck, feel too light and not really long. Replace the 1 gram standard weight with a 14 grams weight. WOW ! SW was backed at D4 and this thing was awesome. Didn’t get it on monitor but i had the feeling that heavier head increase smash factor, so i didn’t lost any significant lenght, and i feel so much more confident over it and im more accurate and my release is easier. I feel i can it center face and it’s easier on plane. I was a 260-280yds guy and i still is.

now, i want to get 3 wood at 41,75″. I don’t need extra distance, i need to release club square and keep ball in play to got hd into single digit zone…

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David January 14, 2012 at 8:14 pm

i really honestly hate to push product but i need to say that TM driver are awesome when it comes to cut the shaft…

my big question for this summer is really simple, i was that rockatballz FW has a screw weight, it is possible to change it ? good way to adjust sw with shorter club.

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Justin January 23, 2012 at 12:16 am

Maltby’s been pushing the weight to adjust swing weight for years… figures it takes someone like TMaG to get people to think “Hey, that’s a good idea”.

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froneputt January 15, 2012 at 6:58 am

Great article.

A couple of months ago, I had a fitting – my driver was a TM Superfast 2.0 45g shaft at 46.5 inches and approx. D8. On the course, I would grip down an inch and hit it well because I found that with the standard length, the shots were less accurate. My club maker placed an Adams 9088UL in my hands that he had reshafted with a 55g shaft at 45 inches and D2.

I gained 7 mph in swing speed and more ball speed (and yardage) with the Adams (do not recall the other numbers).

While shorter and slightly heavier (55g versus 45g) is better for me, I would also ask golfers to consider demoing other driver heads. Some designs produce more speed, ball speed, and overall yardage.

Another aspect to consider — is is easier to close the face of a D2 driver over a D8 driver? If so, whether you like heavy or light depends on you as a golfer.

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Brian Cass January 16, 2012 at 7:16 am

Great job on the article, loved seeing the face tape for all hitters.
I have been telling a buddy of mine this for 3-4 years as he buys Ping off the shelf with a Stiff shaft, then misses left about 4 times a round which cost him his score…it’s literally his driver’s length that is killing his scorecard but his ego or laziness won’t allow him to change. Dumb.

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JBones January 16, 2012 at 8:27 am

Wow, what a change it has made, cutting my driver down to 43 7/8″. I have went from hitting a good percentage of my drives low off the toe, to flushing everything. I haven’t noticed any distance lost or gained, but I definitely have a more consistent distance, due to hitting it in the center of the face every time. As far as accuracy, it hasn’t really improved as far as hitting more fairways (still in the 45%range in FIR) , but now my misses are pushes and pulls, instead of push fades or pull hooks.

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David January 17, 2012 at 6:21 am

So, you keep ball in play, closer to your centerline… Good for you !

As we should say to everyone… do it !

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Anon January 16, 2012 at 10:17 am

What a nice experiment and write up. I particularly enjoyed the shots of the impact tape. Well done.

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Anon January 16, 2012 at 10:50 am

One other thing: after reading this, I can’t help but wonder what the hell Cobra is thinking with the Long Tom. I mean, 48” is a bit absurd. I wonder what impact tape would look like with that driver in the tester’s hands. I typically like to read things on golf related websites and forums to help educate me in my equipment purchases but this article has me seriously thinking about what length I should play my driver at. Anyway, thanks for putting that together. I now have something I want to test on my own.

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Justin January 23, 2012 at 12:18 am

Oh and don’t forget- they have textured paint on the shaft to make it swing faster!!!

It’s a lesson in “How dumb/ignorant we think our consumers are”.

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RP Jacobs II January 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

Anon & Justin, let me preface my comment with the fact that I play my driver(s) @ 44.5″…That said, I recently won a Cobra Long Tom(black model, 9′ stiff) in a long drive contest…BTW, it’s the 1st one I’ve ever participated in where not only was it for distance, it also included accuracy as measured from the center of the fairway..Anyway, I had/have no plans on playing the Long Tom, though I did take it to the practice tee to hit..It definitely took me about 1/2 small bucket to get my swing dialed in & it forced me to swing flatter than is my preference…That said, center hits felt great & the sound was fine, nothing like the old Cobras…And the balance was excellent…What surprised me was that my misses were not wild tree/OB shots…Let me say that that is normally not an issue, though I figured the misses would be “uglier”…Not so…They really were no different than my current driver…Also, there must be something to that E9 technology, because I hit a few towards the heel/low & I got probably 10-15 more yds than my currrent driver..On center strikes, I was getiing probably 8-10 more yds…Bottom line, it’s a very nice, well designed driver…I happen to like & will continue to play my drivers @ 44.5″, though if you play a longer shaft, say 45.5-46.5″, you should definitely look @ this driver…There is alot of technology & fire power in it….If you can’t hit your current driver, you won’t hit this one any better, though probably no worse…This stick’s not for everyone, nor was it designed for everyone…If you play a longer shaft & have a consistent swing, you can definitely hit bombs!…Fairways & Greens 4ever…

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RP Jacobs II January 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I gotta say that although I won with a drive of 292.4 yds. and I was 4.2 yds. offline, five guys put it by me and were still in the fairway, with the furthest being 312 yds., so I’m by no means close to being the biggest hitter in our SWAT…While my drive was my longest of the day, the other five guys hit “routine” drives & the 312 yarder was actually his 3rd or 4th longest of the day…Though it was sweet to “beat” them, even if it’s with an asteric..lol…Fairways & Greens 4ever….

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Pete January 17, 2012 at 3:49 am

Great review. I know I saw an increase in swing speed and a decrease in distance and accuracy with the Cleveland XL270. My ball speed with a 45″ shaft is 10mph higher than anything over 46″. Lesson learned. I am dying to try out the new Cleveland Classic but would definitely not want to deal with another 46″ shaft.

My gamer is a now a Rapture V2 at 45.75 and I am temped to cut it down by .75, although I am hitting it pretty well. I am more worried about the weight than the shaft length and I really don’t want to use lead tape.

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Justin January 23, 2012 at 12:32 am

Have it hot-melted, or bump up to a heavier shaft and/or a tip weight. If you have a 65g shaft now, a cut-down 75g won’t hurt you… it’s only 10g. So, let’s say you cut that .75″ off… that’s a SW change of about 4.5 points. To get the head heft back, you would need about 8g added back (2g to 1 SWP) to the head. It takes about 9g in the shaft to make 1 SWP change… so, you could easily swap out the shaft for a 10g heavier model and add a 6g tip pin (or have the weight hot-melted inside). You lost 4.5 points, so 1 SWP (shaft) + 3 SWP (tip pin) = 4 swing weight points. Not perfect, but I doubt you’d miss that .5 point… not even Tour pros notice it.

You could go a step further and lighten the grip weight to hit your target swing weight if you wanted to. It takes 4-5g to make 1 point of difference. If anything, it’d be less weight in the hosel. If your current grip is around 50g (the “norm”) and you switched to a WinnLite (25g), that’d put you right back to the swing weight you were at before.

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David January 17, 2012 at 6:26 am

Spearking of really long club, on this pace, we’ll probably see 45″ fairway wood #3 in 2-3 years. 43,5″ FW, that’s stupid ! I had a chance in the past to hit 44″ Ping I15 FW. This thing was crazy long, I was able to hit it as far as 250-260yds (really long for me with FW) but it was not the easier head to hit flush as it was on a really really long shaft.

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Tooler January 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Already cut my Cobra S2 down to 43.75″. My distance consistency is noticeably better, with longer drives; I’m starting to carry 250 yards more often, and hitting more fairways. The R11 is an awesome Driver, I’ll bag 1 by summer w/43.75″ shaft. Thank you Taylor Made :) this was a very informative test session.

Anon: The Long Tom was Brutally hard to hit straight, but then again I’m only 5′:4″ tall

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RP Jacobs II January 26, 2012 at 11:42 am

Tooler, you’re not alone regardless of height..I’m 6′-2″ tall & it still took me about 20-25 balls to adjust to the 48″ shaft..I normally play mine @ 44.5″….Fairways & Greens 4ever…

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Drew January 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm

This site continues to impress with interesting and timely articles. Well done!

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Baffler March 9, 2012 at 4:09 am

Would be interesting to know the tester’s heights. I can’t imagine myself (6’5″) playing with similar lenght driver shaft as my friend (5’7″).

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Phana24JG April 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Baffler, height is not the only issue. Arm length, torso size, and lenght of the leags also come into play. You can easily have (and I have personally seen) a guy 5’10″ need a club a half inch longer than a man 6′ 4″.

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Chris April 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Does cutting 4″ off of the buttof a shaft make the shaft stiffer? I currently have a 47.75″ club and a 48.5″ club and am looking at cutting them down to around 44″. The longer of the 2 is a stff flex Throttle so a little more stiffness is not a problem. The other is a V2 86g x-flex. If it gets any stiffer it will be like swinging a steel rod. Thought I would maybe leave the V2 at 45″ if the cutting makes any stiffness changes? Any thoughts? Thanks,

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GolfSpy T April 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Butt trimming will have negligible impact on stiffness. Tip-trimming will have a greater impact on flex. What will change as a result is the swing weight. Swing weight will drop by roughly 3 points per 1/2″ of shaft you trim.

After this test one of our testers cut his driver down from 46″ to 43.75″. As a result, swing weight dropped from D5 (stated spec…not sure if his was exactly that) down to C7, which results in a considerably lighter feel.

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Chris April 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

Thanks. I think I am going to try and chop the V2 down to 43.5″ and the Throttle down to 44.5″. I have a G10 3 wood that measures 42.5″ with a similar V2 x-flex shaft and that thing is a monster. As my swing has gottne better I really like that club. Thanks again for the information and as always great reviews on all that is golf.

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Joe Golfer March 5, 2013 at 12:00 am

The article states that trimming 2″ off the shaft ended up lessening the swingweight by 7 points in this test.
In the past, I’ve read that for every half inch, the swingweight changes by 2.5 to 3 points.
Hard to know what’s the truth if you don’t have a swingweight scale.
Based on this test, along with the statement above to which I’m responding, it seems like the swingweight changes LESS than that old rule of thumb.
Ralph Maltby (Golfworks) manual that I once read (20 years ago) stated that trimming 2″ off the butt is like trimming 1/2″ off the tip with regard to frequency changes. A four to one ratio as far as the effect it has on shaft frequency.

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Buddy Evans April 25, 2012 at 6:03 am

I have been playing a 40 in Driver for the past year. I am a 7 handicap and lobby anyone who will listen that shorter is better for those of us who are above scratch. I talked a friend of mine into doing the same. His game has changed for the best. All of my irons are the same length (34 1/4). I have not lost any performance. The accuracy i gained along with the ability to work the club along multiple paths for a variety of shot making has been exceptional to say the least. Please think outside the box. You will thank yourself for doing so. Worst case you will gain knowledge that you would never have had otherwise.

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Lee July 3, 2012 at 10:44 am

Buddy,
Didn’t Tiger Shark do something similar many years ago with irons, every club was 7 iron length. I seem to remember they were a piece of cake to hit and went like stink although at the time they looked a bit weird. Really can’t remember what happened to them.

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Tom P July 3, 2012 at 9:10 am

I am glad to see that some people are actually doing these sorts of test. The difference in the head size of a driver and a three wood are just amazing. Why do we need a driver head so big that it looks like a childs toy?

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TheGreekGrind July 3, 2012 at 9:22 am

Cool article. I decided two months ago to go 43.5″ in my RAZR Fit this year; also went 1″ shorter in fairways and matched hybrids closer to iron shaft lengths. All about accuracy.

Sometimes the simplest things and common sense gets overlooked (or purposefully muddied) in the marketing jungle. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the pendulum swing back and shafts return to 44″ and then “introduced” as something like A.R.T Advanced Reduction Technology.

Trust your own common sense.

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dick July 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

Hats off to the team at MyGolfSpy, excellent study and presentation of the data. This serves to confirm something I stumbled onto several years ago. I re-shafted an SMT driver with a bore through hosel, didn’t realize the plug fell out the bottom and shoved the shaft all the way in. I ended up with a 43″ driver, still the most accurate in my collection. In the pursuit of more distance off the tee, I stretched out my current Callaway to 44 1/2″. When teeing off on hole one and the subsequent tight driving holes, I choke up an 1″ or more for more control.

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Lee July 3, 2012 at 10:39 am

Great study guys really interesting information. Personally I’ve had a high launch problem which my local fitting specialist fixed by cutting my 9 degree RBZ Tour down to 44.5 (which as stated is pretty much tour standard) the result being my launch is now consistent at 13 degrees, I’ve increased my club head and ball speed plus really pushed up my smash factor – result longer, more controlled drives!!! Sure we’re all different but I’m really not sure what the conclusion is for the manufacturers – as the review confirms a longer driver does not equal longer and most importantly accurate drives.

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Rob July 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Let’s not forget about the psychological factor-although I might be in the minority here, I will explain my reasoning. I play a 48 inch Cobra Long Tom driver and my driving distance and accuracy has improved enough now for me to solely use the Long Tom. Here’s why: When using my standard length Taylor made R7 (nice driver all around by the way) I have a tendency to over swing. If my tempo is off, the results are not good. As a former baseball player, the mental switch to swing smoothly with my driver is often difficult to temper. With my remaining clubs-including my fairway wood, I do not have that difficulty and remain smooth. My rational is that when I use such a long driver, it forces me to stay back, pause up top and come down with a nice tempo. I have been at this experiment for now many rounds and all i can say is I am loving the set-up. I play to a 14 handicap and have shaved 4 strokes off this season so far. I play from the white tees, am almost 50 years old and have no reason to fabricate. I am about 15 yards longer, in more fairways and to an average driving distance of 240-245. My whole point in all of this is I think there are psychological factors such as mine that I bet a lot of other golfers deal with, which are strong influences to their swings whether they like it or not..

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Terry G July 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I have an R11 driver exactly like the one shown in the beginning of this article. When I measure from the top of the club to the bottom of the black ring with the vertical white marker lines on it, it’s only 43 1/4″. I thought I’d bought a standard off-the-rack club, which would seem to be 44 1/2″ according to everything I’m reading here. Am I measuring it wrong? Where is the end of the shaft and the beginning of the head defined?

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Phil Wilson July 3, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I recently bought a cobra S3 Put against my Nickent 9* evolver and the Nickent won every time.(sold the S3 on Trade me similar to e-bay) So in my wisdom I bought a Cobra “long tom” at 48 inches just to see if distance meant distance.
As it turns out I have since stuck a 48 inch shaft (x calibre) into the Nickent with magnificent results I guess hand eye bizzo helps I am 49 old and I get it out there…still I try.
Heres my opinion anyway give it a crack. I don’t do namby pamby. Whack the sh%$t out of it right?

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Arjun July 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Just went for my first driver fitting a week ago and was pretty amazed with the results. Bought an R11S. My swing speed and distance remained virtually constant irrespective of shaft or loft combination (110 swing speed with a 160 ball speed) with an verge distance of 275 (bombed a couple to 295!). Ultimately, what I was really looking for is accuracy (295 in the trees isn’t any good). Ultimately, 3 things improved my accuracy…the loft was increased to 12 degrees, the shaft I ended up with was the stock AD RIP in R flex (all the other shafts I tried were S’s given the swing speed, but the the fitter basically said, the R flex would help me turn the club/square the face better..this shocked me the most considering I’ve always played an S flex)…and finally, I choked down an inch (actually the fitter noted my hands were about half an inch higher than normal, so effectively I cut half an inch off my usual length, but one inch in total). The result…10 drives at an average of 274 yards within 10 feet of each other! Couldn’t be happier!

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ron middleton July 4, 2012 at 3:24 am

Very interesting article. I read an article by Dr. Otto the R&A head Boffin. He said the easiest way to increase a drivers COR was to increase the head weight. So if you cut down the shaft and add weight to the head your driver should become a little more forgiving. I have a VTS red shaft at 44.5 for my R11s and I have 20 grams of weight, 16 + 4, in the head.

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Brian August 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I have an R9 SuperTri 9* with a stiff Fubuki Tour 73. I’m going to take it down to 44.5″ and re-weight it back to D4 (I have a weight kit and a swingweight scale). I am hoping this will add control due and, if the COR goes up, I may actually hold or add distance.

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Chris July 9, 2012 at 8:30 am

I posted earlier that I was going to cut one of my drivers down to 45″ and one down to 43.5″. I now have one at 43.5″ and one at 42″ and I cannot tell which is better. I have not seen any loss of distance. My swing speed has only decreased by about 5 mph but the control I have gained is awesome. The 43.5″ shaft is a Phenom 80 Tour X with a Geek FS3 7.5 deg head and the 42″ shaft is a V2 86 X that was tipped 1.5″ with a Geek DCT 9 deg head.

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joro3743 October 29, 2012 at 8:55 am

I have been playing with that issue of length for a long time as a player, club maker, and now old guy with a club shop. What I have found is that is appears to be the quality of player that means a lot. It seems the better player can adjust to the length more than the higher less talented player. In other words short is better for most players.

I have found personally that my old Callaway VFT Driver at 44″ is as good today for me as the newer 46″. I find as I get older and the balance is not as good that I contact the 44″ Driver a bit better and accuracy is very good and length about the same. It is very easy to hit today, where a few years ago the longer was better. So again, I say skill is important.

One thing that bother me is the weight, no so much overall, but the swing weight, or balance, feel, whatever you want to call it. You lose 6 pts per inch so with cutting down a 46″ to 44″ you will go from a D-2 for example, to a C-0 which will feel much lighter. Now I know that swing weight is only a balance, but to a player such as myself who is a swing the head player that feel is important, so with a shorter shaft a heavier head is needed to maintain feel. Now this is not a problem to many and to most I cut down shafts for is a nonexistent issue, they just don’t feel it. A minor problem to many, but to some an issue.

Bottom line is shorter is probably better for most, but if you can handle a longer shaft with solid impact and good control, you will gain from it.

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Joe Perez October 29, 2012 at 10:47 am

EXCELLENT study!!! I’m 5′ 8″ (OK, 5′ 7 3/4), and I’ve been using 44″ drivers for years, going back to the days of the Taylormade r7 Superquad the TOUR van made for me when they came to town (NYC).

I also find no loss of distance with the shorter driver, and believe that I’m actually longer with it, since more of my drivers go straighter, which certainly translates to being farther up the fairway.

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tiger168 October 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Great Article. I am sure this won’t be the first and last visit to the topic as new insight/tools were/will be found as golf industry seems to be on a cycle going back and forth, as amateur like us, that does not make golf our living like the pros. Therefore, the distinction: we have different goals.

Golfers use perceptions before theories were proven, data collected and trial/error results proofs otherwise. We still do, thus, longer shaft does increase head speed, but, as this article has pointed out it also does not translated all to ball speed; but, does affect launch conditions.

I must applaud to the efforts as this is not easy to do, it is monumental, kudos, T!

While we are not rushing to cut or shorten our beloved shafts properly, which as the article pointed out, it is not because we don’t want to change, it is because we don’t have the luxury to have two or three identical drivers to experiment while keep one in play regularly. While seeking the truth of the theory raised from this article, I have to disagree somewhat with the assumption, sorry to say.

You see, one of the major flaws in the exercise, and maybe flaw is too serious of a judgmental word, to a point of accusation, but, that is not my intend. As you can see I am trying to make this to sound as soft as I can while presenting an argument here since I actually have gone through the experience.

That is, this article, at the least I read a few times and, did not disclose whether, all the testers were actually hitting the shorter shaft as their regular shaft and for the testing purpose of this article, take a few swing with the longer one just to see if they answer the question asked in this article. I beg the flaws in the above assumption, since it actually did not include (And I might be wrong here, but, I am going out on a limp to say this), those golfers who play longer shaft regularly and take a few swing with the shorter shaft for the sake of this article. And I am almost sure the result might be different. Because, well, I did that experiment with Golf Lab with data to show it.

My point is that if a golfer is tuned and optimized to play a longer shaft to begin with, given that, it might take some time to master the longer shaft and the proper head combination, you can actually said that longer shaft does give you the advantage over the shorter shaft. It took me a bit more than two season of commitment to do it, but, I have proven correct in that, since I have been playing the longer shaft for now almost 3 years. And from time to time, I still go back to Golf Lab and they will put a shorter shaft club in my hand to see if I can get better accuracy and not loosing much distance, and time and time again, my current long shaft driver out perform the shorter version. See, this is the other way around.

I have also discover, not every shaft performs the same at longer length. Some shaft were designed to perform at around 46, like the C Kua, the MATRIX, the Fujikura FIT-On, etc.; but the premium shaft like Tour AD DI/BB, Attas, VTS, OBAN, R.I.P., etc., are extremely at around 44, isn’t ideal at 46, as “feel” is hard to describe in words, but, data reflect the facts. Feel is such a personal and subjective topic, I better not trying to discuss it in this manner.

I would encourage you to incorporate an additional perspective into this as you will find the result interesting. You don’t have to find a golfer swinging at 46″, you can have the current set of golfers swinging at 43.5-44.5 to try their driver at a shorter shorter length, more like a Thriver spec, because if your article is reflecting the proper trend, then your driver at 42, hell, 41 should also perform in the same scoop of stats in this article. But, as you will see the true outcome of “this” test, isn’t what it perceives. Regardless, an interesting concept to verify.

BTW, I play drivers (Titleist D3/C Kua S39@46″; Adams F12LS/FUBUKI [email protected]″ with tip extended) at 46″, 3 wood at 44″, and 5 wood at 43″. I am 5’6″, 150lb 52 year old, I need all the length and leverage possible, LOL.

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SteveT October 30, 2012 at 11:14 am

It’s the “Penis Complex” that applies here. A lousy golfer will be equally poor with whatever length driver shaft, so they might as well buy the longest shaft driver and delude over hope.

The marketing is for those who delude with “my penis driver is longer than your penis driver”… even though I slice 30 yards off target with a stiff shaft too.

(Didn’t Cleveland market the “Trajectory Dysfunction” concept for their drivers and even used the same imagery as in the Cialis commercials?)

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kris October 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I read this yesterday and hit every drive yesterday choking up about 2 finger widths. Hard to say with regard to distance b/c it was windy, but dispersion-wise I hit every fairway. I had two low pull fades that ended up dead centre, but every other shot went dead straight (as opposed to my normal strong draw). Amazing. Will be curious to see if this continues. If so, will have to get it cut down when get a new grip this winter.

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Theoo October 31, 2012 at 7:34 am

So if someone was ordering a custom driver and ordered it shorter wouldnt the OEM adjust the swing weight to be the same as the stock length?

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Kevin Godbey December 25, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Totally agree with complete article. Have been playing a 44 1/2″ shaft in both my drivers for a few years now and very happy with results !

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Alberto January 3, 2013 at 4:05 am

This article should be obligatory reading for every golfer out there!! Kudos to you guys for writing this, it totally blows the myth out of the water. Yet we still have manufacturers coming out with even longer shafts e.g. Cobra’s Long Tom at 48″ – it’s just ridiculous.

Also what I observe from the data above is that not only is the impact more centred but also as a resutl the chances of the ball being impacted by the sweet spot – or better still slightly above it – will generate slightly lower backspin and therefore more roll out. And there is the very positive effect of reduced sidespin. So less trips to the thick stuff to find the ball !!!

This summer I have taken thrown out my old driver and completely changed everything. Bought a second hand R7 Superquad and installed a second hand Proforce v2 shaft and cut it down to an overall club length of 44.75 inches. Total cost less than USD 100. It is tuly unbelievable just how much my FIR stats have improved. I now have a lower and more penetrating flight with a slight draw, with my worst shot being a push but nothing dramatic. Before it used to be a push-slice, which was wrecking my scorecard and the ovearall club lenght on the old driver was 45.75″. What a dramtic diffference an inch LESS can make and this time for the better.

A friend of mine is still struggling with his TM Burner Superfast TP at 46″ and he still hasn’t found the courage to cut his club length down. Recently I blew him away on the course and I’m not exactly a long hitter, simply far more consistent. I told him about reducing the club length but he just cannot bring himslef to do it. However, I asked him to put his big dog away on the last two holes and use mine. He took two practice swings and then proceeded to hit two beautiful draws straight down the middle of the fairways. He was shocked but the next week he offered to buy my driver!! I offered to tweak his but he still cannot muster up the courage to – as he says – “amputate” his pride and joy. Maybe one day he will wake up and face reality!!

Also what I have found is that psychologically having your drive in the fairway, where you want it, has a great positive feeling which transaltes into a good mental attitude for your approach shots. In other words it completely tranforms your attitude on the course. If it were the other way around and found yourself inthe thick stuff, it would be teh other way around. “How do I get out of this thick stuff and still make my par?”

So once again kudos to you all for debunking one of the biggest marketing hypes of the last 5 years. I wonder if this is also true about the “super aerodynamic driver heads”? Maybe for another analysis some other time.

Best regards and happy New Year to you all.

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Sam Davis February 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I am between 5 – 8 handy and have recently cut down a Taylor made driver to 44.5…love the shorter club…however I don’t have an understanding of club/head weight and how this impacts distance and accuracy. I would like to find a fitter that will make me a 44 inch or so driver using the proper club fitting process. Is there a club shaft manufactor who makes this length etc…i know that I can go to Edwin Watts or others for fitting but never know if it is really proper so to speak. Can you give me some suggestions around shaft manufactors and drivers…would want around 11 degrees of loft/stiff shaft/44 inches/high launch and forgiving…any recommendations and thanks!

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Gary May 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

The article mentions that adding weight to bring the swingweight back up after trimming softens the flex slightly.

But I don’t think you mentioned that trimming the length of the shaft makes the shaft quite a bit stiffer, especially when you are looking at 2″ or so of trim.

The end result (trimming length then adding weight) may not result in a good flex for the user, especially since some shafts are butt stiff and others are tip stiff.

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Joe Golfer July 3, 2013 at 1:14 am

There are already a couple of replies to this same query on the forum posts.
Cutting 2″ off the butt is essentially akin to cutting 1/2″ off the tip.
In other words, it had a far far less effect than tip trimming. It will make it a tad stiffer, not “quite a bit stiffer”
Also a butt stiff shaft is still going to be butt stiff, and a tip stiff shaft is still going to be tip stiff when you trim the butt end.

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Soupcan July 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm

what is the reasoning that a golf tee can not be more than 4″ in length? I have a friend who is 6’8″ tall, makes his own tees that are about 6″ in height but are deemed illegal by the USGS? I don’t understand since the length of a driver can not exceed 46″ ( I think), he has to use equipment that normal size golfer (>6′ 1″ ) use yet is at a disadvantage due to his size. I cant imagine what a taller tee actually would provide as an advantage over a normal and legal 4″ tee.

Anyone?

Soupcan

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Brian July 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

The Rules of Golf limit clubs to a maximum of 48″, as measured according to the standard. See http://www.randa.org/Equipment/Protocols-and-Procedures/Clubs/Club-Length.aspx

OTOH, as previously noted in this thread, most golfers are better off with drivers that are shorter, not longer. As to your friend’s “problem”, taller humans tend to have longer arms, so the issue is less about their height than Wrist To Floor Measurement. An excellent article on this topic can be found at http://wishongolf.com/do-tall-people-always-need-longer-clubs-or-short-people-shorter-clubs/

BTW, Tom Wishon is one of the most respected subject matter experts when it comes to golf club design, performance and clubfitting technology – so my inclination is to take his guidance on this subject. IOW, break out the tape measure and check your friend’s Wrist To Floor Measurement. Better yet, send him to a professional clubfitter.

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Kevin George August 8, 2013 at 5:13 am

Absolutely fantastic article thank you
It makes a lot if sense
As a 60 year old with a SS of 90 mph I am visiting my golf pro shop tomorrow

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Fred Hill September 1, 2013 at 12:45 am

One issue that was not mentioned is how much stiffer the shaft will be.
By shortening the shaft 2 inches you are essentially changing the flex by one.
Regular becomes stiff, stiff becomes extra stiff. That combined with a lighter swing weight
will have in many cases an adverse effect on performance.

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Tony Covey September 2, 2013 at 8:30 am

Actually Fred, while tip trimming has an impact on stiffness, butt trimming does not.

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Joe Golfer July 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Fred: If you were shortening the shaft by 2 inches from the tip end of the shaft, then you would be changing the flex by one, turning a R flex to a S flex.
But that simply isn’t the case here.
This is about BUTT trimming the shaft. The effect of trimming from the butt end is 1/4th that of trimming from the tip end.
So a 2 inch trim from the butt end is like trimming a half inch from the tip end.
Thus, a 2 inch butt trim will essentially affect the flex by about a quarter of a flex, making an R flex into a flex that is only one quarter stiffer, not a whole flex stiffer as you have been led to believe.

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John Muir February 26, 2014 at 11:11 am

Hitting a long driver straight and long requires the right equipment, a few swing changes, and practice. The first time you tried to putt with a 48″ long putter, my guess is that without a good deal of practice and change in your stroke, distance and control was out of whack.
As in your test, I’ve found that seniors and some lady golfers do really well with longer drivers with a little practice. In many cases up to 48″ long. I’ve got specialty club heads that are weighted properly, 45 gram super flexible shafts with the flex adjusted to make up for the light club head weight (a new 54 gram @ 48″ shaft is showing real promise). You may be interested in an article at http://clubmaker-online.com/senior.ld.html, written by Bernie Baymiller, that details the steps to success with a lightweight, extra long club. The senior long drivers aren’t for everybody (just like a 43.75″ isn’t), but for some golfers they add considerable distance without losing control. They are fun for scramble outings, too.
John

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Jay T. Jones February 27, 2014 at 4:51 am

Just a note about the length issues. Chrysler long drive limits for shaft length was 60″ back in early 90′s
now remax long drive tournaments restrict to 50″ long
just had to remember that control dictates distance

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Chad July 17, 2014 at 10:12 pm

How are you measuring? Shaft length? To middle of club face? To toe of club? to the center of the club face, my driver is 45.5 inches.

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Braden July 21, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I guess I am the opposite.

I played a 44.5″ driver for years. I then reshafted my Cobra Amp Cell Pro with a Limey that is tipped 1/2″ but the finished installed length at 47″. I was going to trim it down to 44.5, but my chop saw that I use is not working correctly. So I said screw it and took it out. It could be just the shaft, but I gained a lot of yardage, but I was more accurate. Maybe with the long shaft I had to swing smooth or the shaft just works for me…No clue but it works for me.

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Joe Perez July 22, 2014 at 3:31 am

Nothing new to me. I’m 55 yrs old, 5’8″ and have been cutting my drivers down to 44″ for years, regardless of make or model.

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James August 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Soooo….is choking up the same as trimming the shaft? I typically choke up about 2 inches on my driver just because standard length is a little intimidating.

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Braden August 5, 2014 at 2:58 pm

It isn’t. You would be changing the swingweight of the shaft if you trimmed it. 1/2″ = 3 swing weight points

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Joe Perez August 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm

James, I started by choking up an inch or two, which certainly helped. But I found that the act of choking up on a golf club had the same psychological effect that choking up on a baseball bat had. I’d try to “steer” the swing more, and invariably “hold off” on the shot.

Nobody in baseball chokes up in order to hit a home run, and I couldn’t get past the brain-freeze to just let the club go.

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