Well, the search for distance is continuing with a lot of PGA Tour players following the lead of Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson. Phil used a longer driver to win the 2021 PGA Championship. See the details of his driver here..
The maximum USGA driver length is 48 inches, the same as the limit on the Long Drivers of America tour. Each added inch can add 1-2 mph to your swing speed. So, potentially, you could add 6 mph which can translate to 15 – 20 yards going from a 45 inch driver to a 48 inch driver.
Having fit numerous golfers for Long Drive competition, here are some thoughts on how to add distance while adding length to your driver.
You MUST Continue to Hit the Sweet Spot!
It’s all about getting the best smash factor (ball speed divided by clubhead speed), not just ball speed. If your ball speed only goes up 2 mph, you are NOT hitting the sweet spot. Use face tape or Strike Spray to see where you are making contact. If you are hitting towards the heel due to the longer length, it increases spin and reduces effective ball speed. Try moving away from the ball and aligning the ball towards the toe of your driver.
Play a Stiffer Shaft
I am going to get a little push back from the Long Drive guys here since they like to play a softer shaft to get more “whip” or speed through impact. The problem with staying with a softer shaft is that your ability to square the clubface consistently is reduced. Fine for Long Drive competitors and Tour Pro’s that can “gouge” from the rough, but not necessarily good for the average golfer. Play one flex stiffer for every 1.5 inches longer you go in club length. Phil played a Fujikura VENTUS Black 6 TX (Tour Xtra Stiff) shaft to make it play stiffer than his regular driver!
Play a Lighter or Counter Balanced Shaft
As you increase length, the swing weight of the club increases. This is not necessarily an issue if you have a fast tempo and aggressive transition from back swing to forward swing. Try a shaft that is 10 grams lighter than your current driver and is counter balanced. Most shaft companies denote these shafts as CB. This will help you maintain control as you work on hitting the sweet spot and increasing smash factor.
You MUST Have a Positive Attack Angle
Increasing club length to increase ball speed will only work if you are swinging “up” on the ball, i.e. a positive attack angle. The positive attack angle reduces spin and increases both carry and roll. If you currently swing “down” on the ball, you will increase spin with a longer driver and actually could LOSE distance. Get your swing checked on a launch monitor to find you current Angle of Attack (AoA). Simple way to check is if you have a tendency to hit behind the ball, you already have a positive angle of attack. If you tend to hit off the top of the face of your driver, you probably have a negative angle of attack or your shaft is way to soft (flexible).
So, What Shafts Do We Recommend?
If you are planning on going all the way to a 48 inch driver, a standard 46 inch driver shaft will get you there, depending upon the length of the adjustable tip you are using. Ping G-style tips will be about a half inch short or 47.5 inches. The shafts will need to be installed at raw length with no tipping to achieve these lengths.
To keep swing weights from getting way to heavy, we are recommending going with counter balanced shafts. Here are Some Shafts That We Would Recommend.