by Donald Crawley
Contributing Golf Writer and Director of Instruction for The Boulders Club
Voted as a TOP 100 Teacher in Golf Magazine, and Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, AZ.
Boulders, AZ (Sports Network) --
With the full realization that this sounds like advice for the clean-up hitter now experiencing an early season slump, rest assured that the full intention is to improve your golf game.
That being said, there has been a huge leap forward over the past five years concerning the design of the "chairman of the board" of drivers, the #1 wood. The greatest misnomer of all is that they are no longer woods...they are metal. When metal woods - the ultimate use of a malapropism - were first designed, with the appropriate credit for the conversion to the late Gary Adams, creator of the first TaylorMade metal woods, the center of gravity of the club was established low in the face causing the ball to spin upward easily. For those of you trying to envision that, upon impact, you have a mental image, no doubt, of a ball spinning forward, in the direction it is struck, and then continuing to do so upon impact with the fairway. In principle, you are right.
This proved to make the metal woods easier to hit but, contrary to the above conceptualization, that did not necessarily result in a longer drive. If the old persimmon wood made contact correctly, the ball jumped forward with less upward spin, backspin, making the ball roll further when it landed. If you are having trouble imagining a ball that has less upward spin while achieving backspin and then rolling forward for greater distance, be assured that you are not alone. However, lest I be faulted for that explanation it is precisely what is put forth by the manufacturer. So, that has proven to be the case with the drivers designed in the last few years making the latest drivers easier to hit while creating longer distances than the drivers designed in earlier years. Got it? Good.
Obviously, there are those among you who want to know more. Not a problem. Here we go and here is why - the metal heads are hollow, creating a larger sweet spot. Aha! Hollow? Yes, hollow. Further, those heads are also larger than ever so the sweet spot just increased in size creating an even larger sweet spot.
Time out! What is this mysterious ?sweet spot? that everyone has speaking about for years and about which you thought you knew so much?
The sweet spot is suddenly known as being struck when you make contact with the ball and it feels, in the immortal words of Barbara Streisand, like butter - being done in an easy and somewhat effortless fashion with the result being a ball that flies long and true. You know, that feeling you have been searching for together with the solution to the riddles of the Gordian knot and Sphinx.
But, the biggest change in the most recent driver designs is that the manufacturers finally listened to teachers such as myself who were crying out that ?the weekend warrior-golfer needs more loft, and to stop making eight degree drivers while concentrating on 11 or 12, even 14 for ladies.? That, thankfully, is now being done.
What's that I hear you saying, the you will lose distance?
Au contraire, mon ami. That will not occur any longer because the center of gravity has now been raised in the big heads, deep in the face, so that you can achieve height and minimal backspin roll. In short, your longest drives will be a high ?knuckle ball?. Still nor sure nor confident? Watch what the pros do and, to a certain, but minimal, degree, emulate them. You must use the new 3 inch tees and tee the ball at the top of the face with half the ball showing over the top of the face. If you are prone to sky the ball hover your driver at ball height and do not ground the clubhead. This will "shallow out" your approach and drive rather than having you chopping through the ball.
Consequently, if you tend to slice the ball, buy a driver with more loft and the higher center of gravity; if you tend to hook, buy a 10-degree with a stiffer shaft, and check to make sure the head does not sit closed when you address the ball.
Bottom line? Tee it high and let her fly with optimum trajectory and the least amount of backspin so the ball will roll when it lands, giving you maximum distance. Sounds like a plan, correct. Go for it and take advantage of the latest technology...before it changes again tomorrow.
Donald Crawley, Director of Instruction at the Boulders Golf Academy at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door? Spa in Carefree, Ariz. Crawley, a veteran of 29 years of teaching experience, is the newest contributor to The Sports Network with regular features that range from tips on improving your game to etiquette at the course. He has established 40 golf school sites in the United States since 1980,previously as vice president and director of instruction at John Jacobs? Golf Schools, consultant to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, and presently at the Boulders Golf Resort in Arizona.
Crawley is recognized among the "Top 100 Teachers in America" by Golf Magazine and one of the "Best Teachers in Arizona" by Golf Digest. As both a Class A U.S. PGA member and a British PGA member, Crawley has been recognized for his outstanding teaching abilities. In 2002, he won the Southwest Section PGA?s Teacher of the Year Award. He also received the Horton Smith Award for education in 2000. In addition to teaching over 60,000 students, Crawley has co-authored video instruction tapes with John Jacobs and BBC/ABC golf telecaster Peter Alliss.