Best investment is a good driver

KEVIN HAIME

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

Golf is a great game, but it's not a lot of fun if you can't get off the tee.

Weekend warriors everywhere lose countless strokes because of penalty shots and lost balls off the tee.

They say you drive for show and putt for dough, but there will be nothing to putt for if you can't get your tee ball in play.

Too many golfers use drivers that either don't suit them or are just plain lousy.

If you're going to spend money on one club, it should be your driver. Because it's the hardest club to hit, you really need to find one that brings you confidence.

It has to fit you and your swing and it has to be made with quality components. You'll never get results with a clone or cheap driver.

This week, we'll take a look at the club head and what you should look for in your next driver. As always, I recommend you get fitted by a pro, but here are a few things to look for:

Club Loft -- It's really important to make sure that your driver has enough loft on it. I see far too many average players with 8- to 9.5-degree drivers. When it comes to your tee club, loft is your ally. Most golfers should use a driver with 10 to 13 degrees of loft. If you feel like you're always fighting with your driver, it's more than likely a loft issue, even if you hit the ball fairly high now. Golfers use a lot of compensations to get the ball in the air, so your current ball trajectory won't necessarily tell you how much loft you need on your driver. Only a pro can help you for sure, but here's a great little test you can try. Hit a drive at three-quarter speed and make sure you end up in a balanced finish position. If your ball still sails nice and high then you're okay. If you hit a low ball, you probably need more loft on your club.

Degree of offset -- Until recently, there were no offset drivers. Offset clubs are designed with the clubface pushed slightly back from the neck of the club. Almost all irons built today are offset golf clubs. The idea behind the design is that it gives the golfer a touch longer to square the golf club at impact. Offset clubs lead to a higher flight on the ball, which will travel slightly more to the left (for a right-handed player) and who doesn't want or need that? Today, manufacturers are finally figuring out that an offset driver is a good idea because, after all, most golfers fight a slice. If you're one of those slicers, try an offset driver. I'm sure you'll be amazed at how much easier they are to hit.

Weight configuration-- Manufacturers have also figured out that they can greatly affect ball flight by moving the weight around inside the club head. Today's hollow-headed steel and titanium drivers make the movement of weight anywhere within the head a possibility. The hot trend right now is to push the weight back away from the clubface and down in the base of the head to increase trajectory and to decrease spin a touch. The technology really works, too. Designers today can also help golfers curve the ball by moving weight from the toe to the heel of the club. Move a little weight to the heel of the club and you'll reduce your slice a bit.

Clubhead size -- This one's pretty simple. The ruling bodies in golf allow a driver to be a maximum size of 460 cubic cm. There are plenty of clubs out there that are smaller, but most of the best companies in the game today have a 460cc model. To me, every golfer out there should use one of the 460 models because the increased size means an increased clubface and more forgiveness off the tee. Some players claim to like the older, smaller size, but I guarantee you that if you try a 460cc driver that fits you and your swing, you'll hit it more consistently day in and day out.

One last point: If you can afford it, get a titanium driver because our launch monitor shows that a club with a titanium head will hit the ball at least seven yards further than the same club with a stainless steel head.


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