Of drivers and major winners

March 26, 2009

BOMB: Interesting debate at my club the other day. Two guys were debating the merits of the TaylorMade R9 and Nike SQ Dymo STR8-FIT drivers. By the way each was entrenched in their respective positions you would have thought they were sales reps for the companies. Although the conversation seemed more like two guys trying to show each other how much they knew about equipment, the guy favoring Nike said one thing that caught my ear.

"OK, so what was the last major won with a TaylorMade driver?"


With the Masters coming up and with all the hype surrounding the Golfsmith/Sergio Garcia driver promotion, it seemed like a question worth answering. So after stretching the memory banks I came up with Vijay Singh in the PGA. In 2004. That said, 2004 was a very good year for TaylorMade as it had driver wins in three of the four majors.

Over the last five years the driver-wins-in-majors scorecard reveals a fairly spread-out field. Nike leads the way with seven (thank you, Mr. Woods for six of them), followed by Callaway, TaylorMade and … wait for it … Wilson (thank you, Mr., Harrington). Titleist grabbed a pair, and Cobra and Ping each had one.

Now, should Paddy win the Masters, Wilson would jump into the No. 2 spot all by themselves. Which really just proves that using major wins to determine the quality of a driver is an almost useless conversation. Those two guys would have been better off jumping on a launch monitor than on each other.

GOUGE: I know your club. I doubt a launch monitor would have solved the debate over R9 vs. Dymo STR8-FIT. Just take them both out to No. 7 and let them have a wrench-off to see which driver lets them hit the high hook around the corner of the dogleg. I bet it's a good bar challenge, too.

Determining the best driver based on tour use is relatively ludicrous, of course. And major wins is somewhat laughable, too. But it all begs the question, of course. How does one determine the best driver?

Here's a three-step process: 1. Find three heads you love to look at from address. 2. Take all three and after a general fitting for loft and shaft flex by a qualified expert, make 4-6 swings with each on a launch monitor, rotating to a different driver after every two hits. 3. If you see a difference on AVERAGE hits (not just your best hits), take a demo model out to the course to how it works in someplace other than Fantasyland.

Don't have that kind of time, you say? Would rather just order something online? Don't know where to get fit? Please. Here are ten websites to get you started on the fitting process for your new driver.

Go. Now. Don't come back until you've finished your assignment.