One of the best features of today's drivers isn't necessarily the aerodynamic crown or trampoline face. It's that T-shape tool you tend to forget about after taking your new driver out of the box.
The science of adjustability is about minimizing your swing flaws, and it's designed to benefit average golfers most of all. Adjustable hosels and movable weights aren't affectations. They can consistently alter your ball flight, and if you haven't explored their settings, you might as well be using a driver from 1997.
The research firm Golf Datatech conducted a survey of "serious" golfers and found that more than 75 percent are interested in purchasing an adjustable driver. But of those who own one, roughly two thirds never or rarely use the adjustability features. This means many golfers are missing out on significant improvement.
To prove just how much an adjustable driver can change your game, we collected new drivers from Callaway, Cobra, Nike, Ping and TaylorMade. Using the swing robot from Golf Laboratories Inc., we mimicked five common swing flaws: slice, hook, launching it too low, launching it too high and generating too much spin. Then, without doing anything to the robot's swing, we changed the settings on the driver to solve the problem. Our results were consistently game-changing: Each flaw could be fixed with an adjustment of the loft or face angle, or a repositioning of movable weight.
Our conclusion: If you have a consistent miss, the quickest way to fix it isn't with a lesson. It's with a wrench. Let our testing results be your guide:
It's not too often that a golfer launches the ball too high off the tee, but certain swings have a natural but excessively upward angle of attack coming into the ball. That adds loft and spin, usually resulting in shots that don't carry as far as they could and don't roll much after they land.
The fix: Most adjustable drivers allow you to rotate the hosel to decrease loft. In this case, we reduced the loft from 11.5 to 8.5 degrees.
The result: We saw a slightly lower launch angle with more efficient carry and a flatter trajectory for a more energetic landing angle that produced more roll. Changing the hosel led to eight more yards of roll and nearly six more yards in total distance.
A low liner is usually the result of hitting down on the ball and using a driver without enough loft. The best way to get to a more ideal launch angle of 12 degrees or even higher is increasing the loft. Because today's drivers launch with much less spin, even players who swing fast use more loft. (Jason Day, who has a swing speed of 120 miles per hour, uses a 10.5-degree driver.) Yes, launching the ball low will produce more roll when it lands, but not when it can't carry the water, high grass or a canyon.
The fix: We adjusted the hosel to add 2 degrees of loft, from 9.5 to 11.5 degrees. The result: The change produced an average of 12 more yards of carry and five yards in total distance.
Typically a better player's problem, a hook happens when the face is closed to the path of the swing.
The fix: Most adjustable drivers allow you to open the clubface or position more of the adjustable weight to the toe side of the club—or even both. Reducing loft also opens the face slightly.
The result: The hooks were ending up 15 yards left of center. But by changing the face angle and moving weight to the toe, our draws turned into an eight-yard push right of the center line. That's a 23-yard reversal in direction without making a single swing change. The total distance in both settings was similar, but the advantage for the corrected shots would be even greater on a golf course with heavy rough. The corrected shots would have bounded forward after landing in the fairway instead of being slowed by the rough.
On a slice, the clubface is open to the path of the swing. Shots can start to the right, launch overly high and end up flying even farther right.
The fix: For typical adjustable drivers, you can close the clubface, alter the hosel to a more upright position and/or shift the movable weighting toward the heel. Obviously, a closed face will counteract the open face so shots will naturally launch straighter. In addition, stacking more weight in the heel can make the face close even more readily, and it can provide more draw spin. The more upright setting tilts the face left of the target slightly. Also, when you increase loft on an adjustable driver, it often will close the face somewhat.
The result: In our robot test, our slicing tee shots curved more than 27 yards right of center. But with the change, our slice became a manageable fade, with shots landing eight yards right of center. That's the difference between playing the hole and picking your ball out of a nearby garden. As a bonus, the total distance was four yards longer with the slice-correcting setup.