The glue that holds together the modern premium driver market is...well, the lack of glue.
And no one misses it. Yes, driver heads are still glued to shafts. It’s the most reliable way to make the machine stand up to the repeated punishment it must take. But fitting...ah, that’s a different story altogether.
On the range at Hilton Head, I stood by while Webb Simpson, a rising young PGA Tour pro, tried a half dozen different drivers in about 30 minutes.
In days not so long gone by, that process would have taken all day, and maybe oozed into a second. The difference: No glue. Simpson was able to try all those drivers because when he wanted a new one, Titleist technician Chris Tuten simply unscrewed the shaft with a wrench inserted in the heel of the head, then replaced it with a new shaft from a bag of about 70 different models and specifications. All the shafts had special fittings on their tips that allowed them to fit perfectly into the head Simpson favors. Twist twist, ratchet ratchet, hit hit. And hit and hit and hit.
You could argue that Simpson really wasn’t trying new drivers. He was just working different shafts in and out. The head, a Titleist 909 model, never changed. But whip six or seven different engines in and out of a GTO or a Porsche, and you don’t have the same car every time, the constant body and suspension notwithstanding. So it was with Webb.
This is the victory of the adjustable equipment movement, which arose a few years back out of a U.S. Golf Association regulatory gift of sorts. The USGA, having just finished curbing clubhead size and length at the limits they bump up against today, offered adjustability as a compensator. Manufacturers would have room to innovate, even though size and length were off the drawing board.
And while no one really expected us to end up with clubs with dials and knobs for changes during
a round (a golf rules and morality no-no), we knew fitting would get a whole lot easier. Less waiting, better evaluation.
And the technology has washed down, not trickled. Adjustable flight controls and settings are available to all of us, and there’s no excuse for off-the-rack purchases anymore, either of drivers or fairway woods. There’s even some iron brands that have adjustable fitting setups (Henry-Griffitts has been doing it for years.)
The important takeaway about your takeaway is that with so many well-crafted shafts o
n the market, and a way to work them quickly in and out of your clubs, we should all be pretty much optimized on our next purchase. A little research about torque and shaft flex, coupled with the advice of a clubfitter who’s a good listener (about your game and your goals), could revolutionize your approach to the sport.
Dare I say it could...glue it all together?Adam Barr, an industry expert is the publisher of Adam Barr Golf Gear Guide found at www.AdamBarrGolf.com. Previously Adam Barr was a part of the prestigious Golf Channel since 1997 and best known for hosting “What’s In The Bag?”, a weekly show on the network which featured him analyzing golf’s best gear and equipment. Barr also served as correspondent on the PGA TOUR and senior correspondent for business and legal issues for Golf Channel.