Longer Driver Shafts: Can a 47″ or 48″ Shaft Assist Your Recreation? [Expert Guide]


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longer driver shaft experiment

Anybody who pays consideration to skilled golf is conscious of the explosion in distance. With fashionable analytics, we all know greater than ever that rising distance off the tee offers golfers a greater likelihood at reducing their scores. Retaining your card on the PGA Tour typically comes all the way down to a razor-thin margin. Gamers including 10-20 yards with their drivers might imply the distinction of creating it or not.

However this web site shouldn’t be about skilled golf. Sensible Golf is solely targeted on serving to on a regular basis golfers like your self discover actual methods to decrease their scores.

On the leisure stage, there was no distance explosion. Most golfers nonetheless common 220-230 yards with their drivers. As such, including distance is much more necessary for “regular” golfers. In case you gave an additional 10 or 20 yards to a 15 handicap, it could have extra affect on their scores than knowledgeable golfer. We want all the assistance we are able to get!

To that finish, I launched into an experiment of my very own.

Previously, I’ve valued the precision of utilizing a shorter driver shaft. However I maintain monitor of developments in tools, and I used to be enticed by the prospect of attempting an extended than regular driver shaft – which might be 47″ or 48.” My purpose was to see if I might add sufficient distance with out sacrificing an excessive amount of accuracy. Moreover, I needed to coach myself on the subject sufficient to see if it was an tools change that different golfers ought to pursue.

That is maybe probably the most bold tasks I’ve taken on since I began the location. I spent a variety of time testing and talking to numerous consultants. There’s a ton of knowledge to type via (even Physics, yikes).

As at all times, I’ll strive my greatest to offer you a well-rounded rationalization that doesn’t confuse you an excessive amount of.

I additionally wish to give a fast due to all of the individuals who took their time to share their experience and get the precise merchandise into my fingers – my expensive pal Woody Lashen from Pete’s Golf, Dave Neville and Gerrit Pon from Callaway Golf, and Gawain Robertson from ACCRA Shafts.

The Lengthy and In need of It

From the entire conversations with consultants and my very own testing, I’ve discovered that going with an extended driver shaft has many variables concerned. If you wish to pursue this, it isn’t so simple as shopping for a 47″ or 48″ shaft and slapping it in your driver’s head.

That is extra difficult than most tools selections, and as such, it’s best to work with a clubfitter who is aware of what they’re doing.

As a result of there’s a lot info on this article, here’s a fast abstract of my findings:

  • Weight is the most important situation. This pertains to each the driving force’s head and the shaft. Including shaft size provides extra general weight. To counteract that, weight must be eliminated within the shaft, and probably the driving force head too. In case you don’t get this proper, you won’t achieve any clubhead pace or probably lose pace as a result of the membership is just too heavy to swing.
  • You’ll need to alter the loft of the driving force correctly. Most golfers want to scale back loft with an extended shaft.
  • An extended shaft may help sure golfers ship the clubhead extra effectively, and for others, it might make their present issues worse. No rule of thumb suits all!
  • In mixture, most gamers see a few 10-15 yard achieve in distance. This might differ tremendously primarily based on the golfer, although.
  • In response to some mathematical modeling, a participant might achieve as a lot at 2 mph in swing pace per added inch of shaft size. Nonetheless, it’s much less in real-world testing: often within the vary of .8 mph – 1.6 mph per inch.
  • In my testing, I gained about 3 – 5 mph in clubhead pace, added 10-15 yards of distance with 3″ of added shaft size. And my accuracy didn’t endure as a lot as I believed it could. I’m serious about utilizing a 44″ and 47″ driver on the course and dropping my 3-wood. Sure, that sounds loopy. However I’ll clarify why afterward.

The Total Objective of a Longer Shaft

All issues being equal, an extended driver shaft ought to generate extra clubhead pace and provide extra distance off the tee. As I’ve mentioned earlier than, including distance is a crucial a part of rising your odds of reducing your rating. That’s the principal purpose any golfer would pursue an extended shaft.

However it’s not that easy.

As you’ll see, some variables should be managed within the shaft and driver head.

Additionally, I’ve discovered that the longer shaft’s theoretical features typically don’t match up with the actual world. That’s to not say it’s an idea that golfers shouldn’t pursue, however you do have to check correctly and weigh your features in distance versus any potential loss in accuracy and the way you ship the golf membership at affect.

I Am Conscious of What the USGA Stated

After most of my testing was executed and all of my notes from conversations gathered, I awakened one morning to the USGA’s announcement that they’re strongly contemplating limiting driver shafts to 46″. Bummer!

Many consider that is in response to Bryson DeChambeau indicating that he would put a 48″ driver into play within the 2021 season. Different execs have been testing longer shafts as effectively.

So my experiment is perhaps a very moot level. However we nonetheless don’t know precisely when the ban will happen. It might be this 12 months or additional down the road. Additionally, it is perhaps within the type of a Modified Native Rule, which might solely apply to elite amateurs and professionals:

It’s at present being contemplated that this Modified Native Rule, like different tools associated native guidelines can be advisable to be used solely in competitions restricted to extremely expert gamers (that’s, skilled and elite beginner competitions).

Both manner, you’ll be able to take a few of this info with a grain of salt. For probably the most half, I feel it’s an fascinating train to make educated selections along with your tools. I at all times need golfers to know that it’s not so simple as listening to an organization’s advertising and marketing claims and simply buying a membership off the rack.

Weight Is Essential

In my preliminary conversations with Woody Lashen, co-owner of Pete’s Golf (my private fitter and go-to for all tools information), the most important drawback he was attempting to unravel was getting the general weight of the membership arrange correctly for my testing.

We needed to make use of the identical driver head and shaft mannequin, so it was as near an “apple to apples” take a look at as we might get. However the primary problem was ensuring we might add or take away weight when obligatory as I went backwards and forwards between the 2 shaft lengths.

longer driver shaft accra
We used the identical shaft from ACCRA – one reduce all the way down to 44″ and the opposite at 47″

ACCRA despatched me two of their newest prototype driver shafts in each 44″ and 47″. Moreover, we used Callaway’s latest head, the Epic Max. I’ve been enjoying the Epic Flash the previous few seasons, and this specific mannequin fits my swing and has the power for us so as to add and take away weight with its sliding monitor.

longer driver shaft

My regular driver shaft size is 44″, which is shorter than normal (often round 45.5″). If you go together with a shorter driver shaft, you usually have so as to add weight to the pinnacle so the membership’s general weight isn’t too mild. So we added two weights on the tracks of the Epic MAX once I used the shorter shaft. This was extra simple since we knew this setup has been working effectively for me for years.

longer driver shaft distance
A view of the 2 weights that have been added when utilizing the 44″ shaft

The difficulty arose with how a lot weight to take away once I examined the 47″ shaft. If the pinnacle have been too heavy, it could really feel like I used to be attempting to swing a sledgehammer!

Initially, Woody thought it greatest to take away solely one of many weights and slide it in the direction of the pinnacle’s heart. Nonetheless, after testing fairly a bit, I discovered that the membership nonetheless felt too heavy. I achieved my greatest outcomes when eradicating each weights.

long driver shaft 47" or 48"
I discovered that eradicating each weights at 47″ gave me the perfect outcomes

Going via this course of myself, and talking to numerous consultants, confirmed me that getting the burden right for an extended driver shaft is an important aspect.

Shaft Issues

To be taught extra about longer driver shafts, I had a protracted dialog with Gawain Robertson from ACCRA. They’re a Canadian producer of premium shafts, and I’ve been utilizing their merchandise for nearly six years now. My purpose was to grasp the variables concerned and see longer shafts becoming in amongst leisure golfers.

Gawain’s principal concern was about weight. If a golfer used an extended shaft and did nothing to take away weight, all potential advantages would disappear. He informed me that almost all shafts weigh round 65 grams at 46 inches. However with a 47″ or 48″ shaft, he believed that taking place to 50-55 grams was obligatory.

Moreover, Gawain felt that counterbalancing the shaft would give fitters extra choices.

In case you have been to steadiness a regular 46″ shaft in your finger, it could be about 24 inches from the tip. Nonetheless, by including extra weight to the “butt” of the shaft, you’ll be able to additional shift the steadiness in that course. In his opinion, counterbalancing longer shafts supplies two principal advantages:

  1. It should permit the clubfitter to realize a extra playable, completed driver.
  2. The golfer will generate extra pace with out the membership feeling too heavy, which is all the purpose within the first place.

ACCRA is within the course of (on the time of our dialog) of producing a lower-cost, counterbalanced shaft for golfers who wish to experiment going longer. He nonetheless felt longer driver shafts, usually, might be a distinct segment product within the business. He likened it to an idea of single-length irons.

I informed him about my concept of getting two drivers in my bag, and even he was contemplating an analogous transfer. I view this because the seemingly state of affairs (although uncommon general) for individuals who strive including size to their driver shaft.

Becoming Issues

Anybody who understands golf tools and clubfitting is aware of that the shaft is only one a part of the equation. Every part has to work collectively to have a playable membership on the course.

To that finish, I spoke with Gerrit Pon from Callaway Golf. Gerrit works at Callaway’s Efficiency Middle in Carlsbad and is accountable for testing and constructing golf equipment for his or her skilled employees. Gamers like Phil Mickelson, Xander Schauffele, and John Rahm depend on him to get their golf equipment dialed in. Moreover, loads of common golfers make their manner via the power, and they’re at all times testing new tools ideas to see how we mortals react.

Gerrit informed me that Callaway has been testing longer shafts for about 5 years now, and their outcomes have challenged a number of the typical knowledge. However after all, he famous that it’s powerful to create a rule of thumb as a result of every participant can react fairly in a different way.

Listed here are a number of the main developments he has seen with longer driver shafts:

  • Many golfers (particularly the professionals) find yourself being extra correct than they first assumed. Most would suppose {that a} longer shaft would make you wild off the tee, however they haven’t discovered that to be the case throughout the board.
  • Most gamers add about 10-15 yards of distance.
  • Golfers who battle with a slice typically see an enchancment of their membership path, and the longer shaft may help cut back extreme ball curvature. Nonetheless, the other could be true for gamers who draw the ball. He’s seen golfers with in-to-out swing paths actually wrestle.
  • Sometimes they use a lighter shaft and take away about 5-8 grams from the burden of the pinnacle. Additionally, most gamers want to scale back the loft on the driving force’s head for the perfect outcomes.
  • Every participant reaches a degree of diminishing returns. Some golfers can’t generate extra clubhead pace at 47″ and past.

Additional Caveats

If I haven’t supplied you with sufficient info to make your head spin, there’s much more.

Dr. Sasho Mackenzie, a number one useful resource on clubhead pace within the golf business, posted this nice video which provides a really “laymen” rationalization of the physics behind longer driver shafts. If you need additional credit score, I counsel you watch it. I promise there received’t be a take a look at on the finish of the article, although!

In principle, including 1″ of shaft size ought to add upwards of two mph of swing pace. However in actuality, most gamers will see a few .8 to 1.6 mph enhance for every inch. It will differ by the golfer.

For instance, in my testing, once I went from a 44″ shaft to a 47″ shaft, I seen a few 3 – 5 mph soar in clubhead pace in nearly all of my periods, which is in step with that vary.

Nonetheless, there’s much more to contemplate…

If you take away weight from the driving force head, which is nearly at all times obligatory with an extended driver shaft, a couple of issues occur:

  • The motive force will switch much less vitality. In different phrases, the quantity of ball pace you generate out of your swing pace will drop a bit of bit. Consider this as a lack of effectivity, and your smash issue will endure a bit. So when you are swinging quicker, the drop in driver head weight will cut back a few of your potential distance features (golf ball pace performs an important in driver distance).
  • The Second of Inertia (MOI) will drop. MOI is a measure of forgiveness, or how a lot the clubhead resists twisting on off-center strikes. Put merely, your mishits might be extra offline with the lighter driver’s head, and accuracy will endure. Putting the middle of the face turns into extra necessary.

I’m going to point out you a few of my “house run swings” from the longer driver shaft. To be sincere, they have been intoxicating. However the tradeoffs that Sasho MacKenzie mentions are very actual. With the longer shaft, you’ll sacrifice a couple of issues, which is able to diminish the potential features in distance, and probably make your errant photographs a bit extra penal.

My Testing

Every time I take into account an tools change, I attempt to do my due diligence. I’ve discovered lots about clubfitting through the years from Woody Lashen, so I can conceptually perceive how making a change might or might not profit me on the course. However most significantly, I wish to take a look at issues totally earlier than I put one thing new into play.

For the previous few seasons, I’ve used my fairway wooden sparingly. I not often hit it off the tee anymore once I proved that it wasn’t any extra correct than my driver. Moreover, resulting from my tendencies, I typically wrestle to get the ball excessive sufficient within the air to make use of it sufficient on longer strategy photographs (often a par 5). So, for probably the most half, I’ve an open spot in my bag.

I don’t wish to ditch my 44″ driver as a result of it’s so invaluable to me. However what if I might use an extended driver on holes that have been extra huge open off the tee? If I might show that it added distance with out being too inaccurate, it could certainly stack the scoring odds in my favor a bit of extra. Golf is a sport of proximity, so if I can have a shorter membership on strategy photographs, it’ll give me a greater alternative to attain.

So whereas I first thought Phil Mickelson was a lunatic for placing two drivers in his bag a couple of years in the past, the thought was rising on me since I technically don’t have anything to lose in my bag.

I Nonetheless Had My Doubts

I had biases in regards to the longer driver shaft coming into this experiment, to be utterly sincere with you. I performed a shorter driver shaft for nearly 5 years and felt it was among the best tools modifications I’ve ever made. I’ve been capable of tighten my dispersion, which was an actual drawback for me prior to now off the tee. I consider it’s one of many principal causes I’ve been capable of grow to be a scratch golfer.

I’ve some older drivers that I’ve held on to from about 10-15 years in the past with 46″ shafts. When I’ve used them sparingly, they felt odd to me since I used to be so used to a shorter shaft.

However on the similar time, I really feel I’ve improved my approach, particularly how I management my clubface at affect. So if there was ever a time to strive one thing like this, it’s now.

After coordinating with Woody Lashen, ACCRA, and Callaway, I had two shafts to check out and a brand new driver head. As I discussed earlier, when utilizing the 44″ shaft, I added weight again into the Callaway Epic MAX. When utilizing the 47″, I eliminated it.

For the previous six weeks, I’ve most likely hit greater than a thousand drives with each shafts. I used my SkyTrak launch monitor to judge my ball flight (significantly spin charges, launch angle, distance, and dispersion).

skytrak launch monitor

Moreover, I used the PRGR launch monitor to raised learn my swing speeds (SkyTrak doesn’t measure swing pace instantly).

longer driver shaft

On the entire, I used to be shocked, even from the primary few photographs with the 47-inch shaft. The added distance was vital on my greatest swings, however extra surprisingly, I didn’t wrestle as a lot as I believed I might, placing the middle of the clubface and controlling the place the clubface was pointed at affect. I consider a variety of that needed to do with getting every little thing dialed in correctly.

After my preliminary testing, I discovered that setting the Epic MAX head to 10.5 levels with the 47″ shaft and 12.5 levels with the 44″ shaft gave me the optimum launch situations I used to be in search of. The remaining components I needed to determine have been the next:

  • How a lot additional clubhead pace did the 47-inch shaft generate?
  • If there was extra clubhead pace, was it translating to a big enhance in ball pace (an important measurement) and whole distance?
  • Was my dispersion a lot wider with the longer shaft? Does it value me vital accuracy?

What I’m Trying For

OK, you’re most likely on the “present me the rattling outcomes already” stage of this text. However please understand that my knowledge is just for anecdotal functions. Your outcomes will seemingly be completely different than mine, as is true with any experiment I do on Sensible Golf. I’m merely attempting to give you some context to coach you extra on the subject.

I’m not constructed for pace and distance. I’m 5’8″, 153 lbs, and have quick legs and arms. Nonetheless, I do get it on the market farther than most individuals would assume. I’ve been engaged on clubhead pace increasingly more these days with SuperSpeed Golf. A great drive for me is often within the neighborhood of 275-280 yards. I’ve been capable of get my pace again up round 105 mph or so with the shorter shaft and plan to maintain engaged on it.

However I’ve largely maxed out my driving effectivity. So the solely manner I’m including extra distance at this level is with extra clubhead pace.

Let me begin with the shot that I used to be texting all of my buddies and posting on Twitter instantly.

longer driver shaft

This was a “holy crap” second for me. Going from flying the ball from about 255-260 yards all the best way to 290 yards was extra distance than I ever anticipated. And to be honest, that is the best possible I can do, not a traditional swing.

After I first acquired the 47″ shaft, I instantly hit photographs farther than I ever had on my SkyTrak and generated extra clubhead pace. However as I labored with the longer shaft increasingly more, I continued to see extra features. There was a interval of adjustment the place I needed to get my “feels.”

I had loads of periods the place I went backwards and forwards between the shafts. I used to be retaining monitor of the entire parameters so I might gauge what the features have been. I really feel as if I’ve a very good baseline.

Comparability

Listed here are some mixture knowledge from two periods with every shaft that I feel represents my general outcomes pretty effectively.

Shaft Size Swing Pace Ball Pace Carry Distance Whole Distance Launch Angle Spin Price Dispersion
44 Inches 105 mph 155 mph 258 yards 283 yards 13.4 levels 2580 rpm 54 yards
47 Inches 109 mph 160 mph 268 yards 294 yards 13.6 levels 2192 rpm 69 yards

In some periods, the space disparity between the 2 was bigger, typically as a lot as 20-30 yards. However I feel on the entire, once I think about my mishits, I’m snug saying that the longer shaft is including 10-15 yards to my drives on common. I consider I can widen that vary over time, although.

Often, I’ll hit some huge drives the place my swing pace can high 112-114 mph and drive it effectively over 300 yards. As I work in the direction of rising my swing pace, I feel these are attainable speeds and distances I can attain extra typically.

The Dispersion Shocked Me

The rise in distance was the least stunning half. I knew I might hit the 47-inch driver farther. What was fascinating was that I used to be extra correct with the longer shaft than I initially had assumed.

I arrange a comparatively forgiving fairway (35 yards huge) in two assessments and hit 25 photographs every with every driver. With the shorter shaft, I used to be capable of hit 76% of the fairways.

longer driver shaft experiment
Right here’s a view of photographs with the 44″ driver

Surprisingly, I used to be nonetheless capable of hit 64% of the fairways with the 47″ shaft. However as I’ve stated earlier than, fairways hit shouldn’t be the perfect measuring stick for achievement. You additionally need to keep in mind your whole distance and dispersion. In case you are including distance, is it getting you into bother? Or are you giving your self a playable strategy shot more often than not?

longer driver shaft testing
A view of photographs with the 47″ shaft

That’s to not say I didn’t have some large misses with the 47″ shaft. These occurred once I missed the middle of the face and/or couldn’t management the place the clubface was pointing at affect.

However on the entire, my dispersion patterns, they weren’t all that completely different than what I’m used to. Every time I do longer periods on my SkyTrak with my 44″ driver, they’re usually 60-70 yards.

Outdoors of some outliers, which is typical for my driver, the majority of the photographs with the 47″ shaft have been in a really playable spot. I see just below a 70-yard huge whole dispersion window, which is unquestionably playable on the course.

longer driver shaft experiment
A comparability of my dispersion patterns from one session

I’ll be aware that the dispersion with my 44″ driver was tighter than it’s ever been. I don’t suppose I’ve ever registered a session at underneath 60 yards huge, and on this one, I used to be at 54 yards. I don’t know for positive why that is, however I’ve two theories:

  1. The tools improve: The mixture of the newer shaft from ACCRA and Callaway’s head offers me extra management over the membership.
  2. After going backwards and forwards between each shaft lengths, the 44″ shaft feels even shorter. Working with the longer driver nearly felt like a coaching assist. It required much more ability to manage strike location and face angle, and I consider that’s serving to me have extra confidence with the shorter driver shaft.

The Massive Takeaways

I’m inspired by the outcomes of the testing I’ve executed over the previous 6 weeks. Granted, this was executed in a consequence-free setting, however that’s the place all tools selections ought to begin. I’ve confirmed to myself that I can hit the 47″ driver farther and with sufficient management the place it mustn’t value me extra strokes than it’s gaining me.

So I’ll begin the season pursuing the two-driver experiment. Utilizing my house course for instance, I consider there are eight holes the place I might use the longer driver and provides me a bonus. However our course is extra forgiving than most off the tee. So there are different layouts the place I might use it a lot much less (if in any respect). You may be taught extra about how I plan my tee photographs from this text.

I’m additionally excited to strive them out in tournaments. I play anyplace from 8-10 occasions a 12 months, and hopefully, a small benefit like this will get me into the U.S. Mid-Newbie that I’ve missed out on by a small-ish margin earlier than.

As I acknowledged earlier, this resolution is simpler for me as a result of I don’t use my fairway wooden typically.

Nonetheless, if for some purpose I see outcomes on the course over the long term which are too expensive, then I’m reserved to going again strictly to the 44″ driver solely.

My Advice For Different Golfers

Primarily based on all my testing and my conversations with consultants, I consider this can be a area of interest tools change.

Buying a 47″ or 48″ driver shaft shouldn’t be essentially going to be an off-the-shelf answer. Many golfers are educated sufficient about membership becoming to tinker and experiment with the weighting and measure on launch displays. However on the entire, I’d say anybody who desires to pursue this should work with a clubfitter. As a result of in the event you get it fallacious, you seemingly won’t see any features.

There’s no likelihood I might have executed this experiment with out the assistance I acquired.

Within the close to time period, you may see the tools business embrace this idea. As I discussed, ACCRA was at present growing longer shafts that have been counterbalanced. Moreover, Callaway simply introduced longer driver becoming packs. Right here’s an instance of 1 for the Epic MAX that I used for my testing. The package will permit golfers to lighten the burden of the pinnacle, cut back loft, and buy a lighter shaft.

The opposite drawback is that the USGA might ban drivers which are longer than 46″. I don’t know when it’s coming; it won’t be till 2022 and even past. Additionally, they might permit golfers not competing in elite match occasions to make use of them.

However I’ll admit, it was actually enjoyable to do that out. Like lots of you, I really like seeing how far I can hit a golf ball. And I can’t wait to see a number of the bombs on the golf course!

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