Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped Mailbag, sponsored by Cleveland / Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series in which we field your hard-hitting gear questions.
What’s the fastest and easiest way to add distance with my driver? – Ty W., Nevada
The most obvious way to tack on a few more yards with the driver is swing harder to increase your swingspeed. Also, it helps to hit the ball more solidly – maximum distance for most golfers occurs on the face where maximum energy transfer takes place. Hit the sweet spot more often and you’ll hit longer bombs.
But there’s got to be another way, right?
Truth is, there are several things you can do to add a few extra yards off the tee that don’t require time in the gym and / or a swing overhaul. Let’s look at a few.
Tip 1: Check your loft
Contrary to what you might think, the answer to more distance isn’t always to add more loft. However, if you’ve noticed you don’t swing with as much zest as you once did (we’ll all get there at some point), adding loft is an easy way to increase your launch angle and promote more carry and roll. Fortunately, many of today’s drivers come with adjustable hosels, so tweaking your driver loft up a degree or two isn’t hard to do. As you add loft you’ll also close the clubface angle, which can counteract distance-killing slicespin and help you hit it farther.
For some of you faster swingers, it’s possible you have too much loft and you’re hitting the ball too high and / or with excessive spin causing the ball to balloon up and land soft instead of with forward roll. Reducing loft might help flatten your trajectory, helping you to hit more penetrating tee shots. Just remember, the less backspin you have in your tee shots the easier it is to hit the ball offline. Also, when you reduce loft via the adjustable hosel, you open the clubface angle a bit. Which if you’re not ready for it, could lead to more fades and slices.
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Cleveland Launcher XL Lite driver
The lighter the club the faster the swing. That’s why Cleveland took the ultra-forgiving Launcher XL Driver and stripped it down to the essentials creating the Launcher XL Lite Driver. It boosts your swing speed for more distance off the tee.
Tip 2: Swap your shaft
Changing your shaft isn’t as easy as adjusting your loft, but sometimes it can lead to some huge gains in the distance if you go with the right one. Generally speaking, golfers with slower swings benefit more from playing lighter shafts because they are easier to swing. Go lighter and you’ll likely swing it faster and hit it farther, as every mph gained in swingspeed is 2-3 more yards off the tee.
Where things get tricky is with flex. Typically, if you have a fast swingspeed, a stiffer shaft is probably better for you. If you have a slower swing, more flex can help. But sometimes, your tempo matters just as much as your swingspeed. For example, if you have a fast tempo, a stiffer shaft is probably better for you regardless of your swingspeed. Meaning, how you load that shaft on the backswing / downswing transition is just as important as how fast your swing is at impact.
Whatever flex you determine is right for your swing, pay attention to not just how much it bends, but where it bends. If you want more ballspeed without adding too much trajectory, look for shafts with higher bend points. If you want a boost in trajectory, look for shafts with lower bend points.
Tip 3: Go lighter all the way
Choosing a lightweight shaft can help, but sometimes going all-in on a lightweight shaft and clubhead is the answer. Cleveland’s Launcher XL Lite is a prime example of this. The clubhead is 12 grams lighter than the standard Launcher XL, the shaft is longer and it has more loft and built in slice correction (one reason people don’t hit it far is because they slice it). Also, there’s an 8-gram weight under the grip which makes the clubhead feel even lighter, helping to increase swingspeed and make the driver easier to swing.
Tip 4: Change your grips
You read that correctly. A fresh set of grips can relax the hands, reducing tension for a faster release. But wait, there’s more. Your grip diameters can affect how fast your hands release as well. Typically, grips with smaller diameters are faster to swing than grips with thicker diameters, which can slow the release of the hands.
Type 5: Tee it higher
Teeing the ball higher can help make it easier to ascend into the ball, increasing your launch angle and in some cases, lessening spin for a higher, flatter and more penetrating launch. Also, for golfers who have swingspeeds above 105 mph, hitting the above the sweetspot on some drivers can actually help knock down spin while increasing launch. Even with a slight loss in ballspeed due to higher face contact, the net effect of a higher launch and lower spin rate could be what it takes to add more distance to your tee shots.
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