There is currently a considerable amount of advertising regarding modern drivers and how effective they are in improving distance and dispersion, thereby resulting in improved performance. I have therefore conducted a number of tests to determine whether these claims are accurate.
To test the manufacturers claims I have compared an old wooden headed driver and a modern titanium driver. I choose to test the iconic wooden headed Ping Eye 2 driver and Ping's latest titanium driver, the G30.
The tests sought to establish how the two different clubs affect a Professionals club head speed (how fast the club head is moving), ball speed (how quickly the ball in coming off of the face), carry distance (the distance the golf ball travels through the air) and grouping (the distance between the most left and the most right shot).
A total of 24 shots were hit, and with the help of the HMT on my GC2 launch monitor I was able to gather accurate data from three parts of the club face, centre, heel and toe strikes.
The test took place in our indoor facility with the same golf ball, a Titleist Pro V1X, being used for all shots. Below are the average results from each club off of the different locations on the face.
What I learnt
Club head speed:
- The club head speed was quicker with the modern Ping G30 driver (111 MPH and 115 MPH) compared to Ping Eye 2 (108 MPH and 110 MPH). The shaft on the Ping G30 driver is longer (45.25") than the Ping Eye 2 driver (43.25"). The graphite shaft is also lighter in the Ping G30 (75 grams) compared to the steel shaft in the Ping Eye 2 (121 grams). The length and weight of the shaft are both factors that could increase/decrease club head speed
- A toe strike produces more club head speed with both drivers than a shot hit out of the centre or heel of the club. When the pro was aiming to hit the golf ball out of the toe of the club his angle of attack into impact changed, the club head was travelling less down. We do know that to optimise the distance with the same club head speed, angle of attack needs to be upward NOT downward into impact, but can angle of attack change club head speed? A discussion for another time maybe?!
- The ball speed is quicker off the face of the Ping G30 than the Ping Eye 2 driver. We would expect to see more ball speed as club head speed increases (assuming strike on the face is the same), the G30 producing more club head speed should therefore produce more ball speed off of the face
- the number that most surprised me from the whole test was a ball struck off the toe of the G30 produced a quicker ball speed than a ball struck out of the centre of the club. The club head speed was quicker when the ball was struck out of the toe, but I was really surprised that a ball struck that far out of the toe could still produce that much ball speed. When the Ping Eye 2 was struck off of the toe, even though the club head speed increases the ball speed drops. Modern driver technology is more forgiving on off centre hits
- the ball speed drops when the ball is struck off of the heel of the club head with both of the drivers. A toe strike produces more ball speed than a heel strike
- the Ping G30 carried the golf ball further on all parts of the club face than the Ping Eye 2
- the distance gain by the Ping G30 on a centred strike was on average was 22 yards carry. A 20 yard gain in driver distance will lower the score of a 18 handicapper on average by 1.6 strokes per round (Every Shot Counts, Mark Broadie 2014)
- The distance the golf ball carries drops when the ball is struck off centre (heel or toe) with the Ping Eye 2. Although the carry distance does drop with the Ping G30 when it is struck off of the heel we actually see a gain in carry distance when the ball is struck off of the toe. Modern driver technology is more forgiving on off centre hits
- I was surprised by the difference in flight between a toe strike with the Ping Eye 2 and the PingG30. They produced two dramatically different ball flights. The Ping Eye 2 finished right of the target and the Ping G30 finished left. Modern drivers are designed to counteract the off centre hit through gear effect. A feature on modern drivers meaning the ball curves back to target (left when struck off of the toe and right when struck on the heel ((for a right handed player)) due to the roll and bulge or curving of the face. This is clearly not as effective on the Ping Eye 2 driver as the ball finishes to the right of target when struck off of the toe
It was my aim to find out if modern technology is helping us to improve performance. Based on my findings and coaching experience I would conclude that, the modern driver produced more club head speed, ball speed, hit the ball further and was overall more accurate. Modern technology in a driver is therefore definitely helping us to improve performance. However, it is very important for a driver to be correctly fitted to an individuals swing tendencies to benefit the modern technology. A modern driver with the incorrect set up/specification for a players swing speed, technique and tenancies could lead to negative performance. To maximise your full driving potential there are also many other factors such as shot selection, pre shot routine, tee position and angle of attack, to name a few, that need to be addressed and understood. Are golfers that use modern driver technology maximising the performance gains that they offer?
If you would like to learn more about how to increase your efficiency, club head speed, accuracy and course strategy with your driver or have any further questions you would like to discuss, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01732 700771