I promised I would give you my take on these, if you really wanted to hear it. Well, the number of emails I received gave me the answer, so here goes.
In theory, this is a concept that makes a lot of sense. The ability to tweak your driver to favor a fade or draw, or a slightly lower or higher ball flight certainly would seem to be a great thing, especially if it really worked. We see most of the major brands now offering pretty-much-the-same approach to the opportunity created when the USGA ruled that such an adjustability of a golf club would conform to the Rules of Golf. By rotating the clubhead around the shaft to different set locations, you can slight alter the face angle and/or loft.
Sounds reasonable enough, right? But here’s where the theory falls well short of actual beneficial performance:
Golf shafts are not symmetrical.
Except for the most high-grade graphite shafts that cost hundreds of dollars, graphite shafts have shaft-to-shaft inconsistencies that make each shaft perform differently depending on its orientation into the clubhead. A while back I wrote about the similarity of heads and shafts to tires and wheels on your car. No matter what quality of component you have, optimum performance can only be achieved when a single shaft is matched and aligned with a single head. Just like the tire shop has to balance that high grade tire to the exact wheel it is going to be installed on.
I’m mostly referring to the shaft’s spine and how the position of that spine can cause a shaft to “jump” . . . even just a bit . . . as it loads and unloads. This is totally a function of the manufacturing structure of that particular shaft, and it has nothing to do with the graphics on the shaft. Only a properly-equipped clubmaker can show you this.
So, if you rotate the shaft around in the head, not only are you changing the orientation of loft and face angle, you are changing the way that shaft will perform in the fraction of a second from top of backswing to impact, when the club accelerates from 0 to 100+ mph, wherein the shaft loads and unloads under terrific G-forces and in a rotation around its axis. The chances of you actually getting the performance that the owner’s manual says you will are pretty darn remote in my observation, experience and opinion.
With regard to the adjustable sole plate to change lie or face angle, that’s baloney. You better not be making contact with the turf with your driver, so how can the sole plate affect anything? And those adjustable weights? I’m skeptical of how much effect on ball flight you can have by moving just a few grams around . . . . but it does make for good marketing buzz, huh?
Let me end by saying that I don’t think there is a “bad” clubhead out there. The driver you are going to bench for one of these new adjustable ones has a head that is probably as good as it’s going to get for you. What makes one driver perform better than another is all about the shaft, and if you have a driver that looks good to you, spend your time and money having it re-shafted by a skilled clubmaker who can determine the best shaft for your swing, and put the club together so that it is oriented correctly in the golf club.
You asked me to sound off, so there it is. Comments?