Golf: How to Choose the Perfect Driver

Golf: How to Choose the
Perfect Driver

Michelle Gaus, Contributor

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a golf driver. Here's a discussion of several important attributes of drivers and how they affect your selection for physical education classes.

Swing speed is a critical issue when choosing a golf driver. With balls now designed to have less spin off contact, players tend to need more loft in their driver.

For example, with a 90 mph swing speed, a typical nine-degree loft will launch the ball 206 yards, but a 13-degree driver will launch it 213 yards, for an extra seven yards (see "Drivers: High Lofts Hit Farther").

Since most women swing at about 60 mph, they would benefit most from a 19-degree loft. And since you don't want your beginners - including your macho boys - to swing too hard at the ball, a 13-degree or higher driver will be best for your classes.

Women, juniors, and seniors will benefit from a club with a graphite shaft. Graphite shafts increase the whip action of the swing and drive the ball farther. Such shafts are also lighter than their steel counterparts and tend to transfer less vibration when the ball is struck. This difference in weight can translate into an extra 2-4 mph in swing speed and an extra 6-12 yards of driving distance.

While a number of professionals have switched to graphite shafts (including Tiger Woods), that doesn't necessarily mean that steel shafts are obsolete. If their swing speed is already fast, some players prefer a stiffer steel shaft. Such clubs tend to be heavier and produce a feel and swing rhythm that some players prefer. The clubs tend to be more durable, less expensive and because the club doesn't "whip" as much, some players feel a better sense of control with steel shafts.

In general, however, for beginning players in a PE class, graphite shafts may be the better option, even though they may be a little less durable and more expensive. Your decision will depend on the size of your budget.

Clubhead Size
Clubheads are labelled with a head-size number. The higher the number, the ?bigger the club. A larger clubhead will have a larger sweet spot, allowing students more margin for error in hitting the ball straight and far. This is good for beginner golfers. Some experienced golfers, however, prefer a smaller club head. The belief is that they can work the ball better with the smaller club.

For PE classes, it's best to get the largest club head size that you can afford. While the big heads might look intimidating, new materials make them extremely light.

Test Them Out
Most of the research I have found suggests that you practice with rented or borrowed clubs to find out which clubs styles you like best. For a PE class situation, you could rent a couple of clubs for your classes to see which models produce the most immediate success. However, with the chance of making a bulk sale, your local merchants may even allow you a free tryout of several club types for a few days of classes.

Once you have decided on the type of club, it's a matter of the price range that you can afford. Just remember, cheap clubs can make it more difficult to learn the game and discourage students from pursuing the sport in the future.

If your students do become golf addicts them may eventually want to get measured for a set of clubs that will complement their height and swing--speed.

Contributor: Michelle Gaus is a physical educator at Belle River District High School, in Belle River, Ontario.

Reference: 1. Brent Kelley, "Steel Vs. Graphite,", 2008.
2. "Know About Club Size," Under Par Golf, 2006.

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