Driver Distance and Your Credit Card


Frank, A friend of mine consistently hits his driver right in the center (a problem I would like to have). As a result, there is a worn spot on the face of the driver. While he drives the ball straight, I suspect he is losing yardage because of the wear on the face of the driver. Am I correct in this? Since he hits that driver so well, and because it is a fairly recent model, I suggested he replace it with the exact same model and specifications. Would this be worth doing? Thanks for your advice. I enjoy reading your weekly questions and answers.

– Ira


This is true friendship I must admit.

If he – your very close friend – is driving the ball well with his recent model driver then there is really no need to be concerned about wearing out the face in the near future unless he hits it at speeds of approximately 100 mph + and plays a lot.

On the other hand, when you find a good friend that works well, then don’t change, or in your friend’s case (and YES to your question), get a spare model if he can find an exact replica, just in case.

A Driver Test…

Here’s the way to tell whether your driver is starting to lose its OOMPH (sometimes known as Coefficient of Restitution). Take a credit card and place the straight edge across the center of the face, in the vertical (top to bottom) and then in the horizontal (toe to heel) planes. If it rocks slightly, indicating it still has some convexity –“roll” in the vertical plane and “bulge” in the horizontal plane – then you should be good to go. If the face is flat or indented (concave) then you do need to look for a replacement. At head speeds of about 100 mph or less the face should be able to withstand about 10,000 impacts before losing COR.

 Ira, I suggest this credit card test (Visa, AmEx or Mastercard will do) rather than the one most golfers use i.e. estimating the distance and claiming “I am losing distance”.

Most of us may lose distance, as the new driver starts misbehaving like the rest of its Bagmates. Some clubs are just not as well-disciplined as others so you can expect this to happen from time to time. The reason for the loss in distance is probably a leak in the magic valve.

We should all remember that driver distance is not everything. Putting is approximately 45% of our golf score, and good putting can help us maintain our scoring and handicap, even if we are losing a little distance. So, to improve your putting, be sure you understand and are practicing the fundamentals.

Tell your friend he has a good friend, both in the driver and in you so he should look after both.


Frank Thomas was Technical Director of the USGA and Chief Equipment Advisor to Golf Digest and Golf Channel.

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