The holy grail for most golfers is increased distance off the tee, but what driver length should you play to optimize distance? With the USGA governing the rebound effect off the face of the driver (CT), it seems logical that adding length to the driver creates a longer swing arc and therefore more club head speed. In our experience over the last twenty years, we have seen off-the-shelf driver lengths go from 43 inches to 48 inches, the maximum allowable by the USGA, and back to somewhere around 45 inches. But, if you do not hit the sweet spot on the face of the driver, you will actually LOSE distance because the efficiency (smash factor) will drop and you will generate less ball speed. In fact, the winner of the 2018 Masters used a driver that was 44.5 inches long and the 2nd place finishers driver length was 44.5 inches as well. Check out our list of 2019 stock drivers at the end of this blog and their respective stock lengths.
So, how do you determine YOUR optimum driver length? There are several factors that you should consider:
Arm length and Posture.
In both our BGF Fitting System and the TrueFitClubs Fitting Wizard, we use wrist-crease-to-floor measurement to determine a good length. Our system is designed to give the “average” length for a driver of 44.5 inches. We have found in thousands of fittings that a driver that is too long will result in more hits off the heel of the club causing higher spin and loss of distance. Another factor is posture at address. If you stand very tall and have a steep swing plane, you could use a slightly longer driver.
Impact of Length on Shaft Weight
If you are playing a shorter driver, say 44 inches instead of the “standard” 45 inches, you should consider a slightly heavier shaft, say 10 grams heavier. This will help create a more balanced feel and gain back some of the swing weight lost when cutting down the length of the club. Since we can get additional weights for these modern driver heads, we add head weight to bring the swing weight back up to a more comfortable feel for more consistency.
Impact of Length on Shaft Flex
As you go shorter in length, you should consider a slightly softer flex. Also, if you go longer in length you should consider a slightly stiffer flex. Our BGF Fitting System and TrueFitClubs Fitting Wizard take this into account when making our initial recommendations.
So What is the Right Driver Length?
To determine your optimum driver length, look at where you hit the ball on the face of your driver. If your hits are mostly towards the heel, your driver is too long. Another possibility is that the shaft is too light. Try choking down on the shaft and see if your contact improves. If you have difficulty seeing where your ball makes contact on the face, you can use Dr. Scholl’s Foot Powder or some face tape. If your hits are mostly on the toe, your driver could actually be too short. The optimum spot on the face to hit your driver is slightly towards the toe and slightly above the centerline. This optimizes both club speed and spin.
The Short Answer is Shorter is Better
For most golfers we fit, a shorter driver creates more consistent contact on the face and actually helps not only gain distance but accuracy and consistency. In our opinion, driving for show is fine if you can hit great shots out of the rough or from behind a tree. If your fairways hit are less than 50% and you have an OB or two off the tee during a round, it is time to get your driver fixed!
Driver Lengths for Popular Stock Clubs