As of yesterday, I had zeroed in on the driver I wanted for Father's Day; the Callaway Diablo Octane. My local store has an indoor driving range with computerized shot analysis. So, I picked the demo driver of that model off the rack, and hit a few shots. After getting my eye in, a pattern emerged where my shots were curving significantly left in what amateurs would call a "draw" but pros would call a "hook". Not a pull hook or snap hook, where it starts left and goes lefter causing people on the cart path to dive for cover, but a straight shot that feels good and starts off looking great, then curves off about 20-40 yards to the left and drops off shot distance (a very disappointing 180-210yd range; just a few days ago I'd hit a TaylorMade SF 2.0 about 250-260 and MUCH straighter, but that was a few days ago).
I unfortunately had my wife and daughter in the store, and the little one was getting irritated by the irregular sounds of titanium drivers pounding tee shots (including one tin can from the next bay over), so I didn't have the opportunity to try another driver. I just know that my shots were actually more consistent than they had been, they were just... left.
I like the idea of this driver; light, lot of face, I feel I'm making solid consistent contact, but the shots simply aren't going where I want. Before I give up on the driver, I want to make sure it's the driver and not me.
- Bringing my trailing hand thumb over more to the left in my grip (I was also experimenting with a Vardon overlap instead of my normal baseball). No change whatsoever.
- Making sure the ball was teed up even with the inside of my left foot, and that I was bottoming my swing just behind the ball to swing "up" and "out" at the ball). No effect.
- Opening the clubface at address. This helped, but they were still curving left even with what I thought was a pretty extremely open clubface, just not as much as when the face was square at address. By contrast, I have to close my irons (typically enough to bring the far leading edge even with the front of the hosel) to correct a natural push.
- Making sure it wasn't a "max game improvement" or "draw" driver which is naturally set up with a few degrees offset inside to counter a natural slice tendency. It wasn't; doesn't mean some other hack hadn't mishit it so badly they'd knocked something off-kilter, but it wasn't factory-set to have any draw offset (any more than normal anyway).
I wanted to try (but didn't have the opportunity):
- A different example of that exact driver. There was only one 10.5* reg-flex Octane driver in the rack, and I was swinging it, so I couldn't see if maybe someone else had damaged it in some non-obvious way.
- The "Tour" version of the Octane. Tour drivers typically direct the shot more outward than a regular "game improvement" driver; depending on the model that's either because they have no offset or a slight outward offset.
- A completely different model of driver. Like I said I'd been hitting the SuperFast 2.0 pretty straight, maybe a SLIGHT push draw (heads out slightly to the right and then comes back), and about 50 yards longer, so if switching back to that driver fixed the problem then I should be adjusting my wishlist accordingly.
I have heard since this episode that I should try:
- Bringing the ball even further forward in my stance.
- Backing away from the ball a smidge. Both of these will help correct an "inside-out" swing, which I've seen with my irons but has never been a problem with my woods (quite the opposite, actually).
- Leading with my hands more. I kind of tried this on the day; the clubfitter told me I should swing "out" at the ball as well as "up", which I interpreted to mean bringing my follow-through out beyond the tee more, which in turn probably got my hands in front of the clubhead. However I wasn't concentrating specifically on that aspect of my mechanics at the time.
Obviously you guys haven't seen my swing, but given that if you tell me to "try everything" I'll probably end up changing too much and becoming more inconsistent, which of these things seem like the most likely cause of the problems I was seeing?
EDIT: Thanks for the comments. I went and dried a few different drivers, and while all of them drew/hooked to some degree, the TaylorMade Burner SF 2.0 looked more like a "draw" than a snap hook, and I was also consistently hitting it 270-290. So, I'm going to say that the behavior I was seeing was a combination of the driver and my swing, and the TaylorMade is now at the top of a very short list.
EDIT 2: As a post-script, I received a late Father's Day gift last weekend; a used TaylorMade Burner SuperFast. Not the 2.0, the previous generation. For the same total price that the SF 2.0 would have been new, my wife also got a 2008 TM Burner 3-wood thrown in, which is a rough match to the SF driver. I took both out to the course on Saturday, and while my score shall not be posted for public scorn, the driver and 3-wood were both excellent performers; my drives averaged around 250 yards, and my 3-wood around 210, which is quite good considering most drives faced a headwind and that I'm simply not a tour pro. The best thing was that most went dead straight; I only had to take one stroke-and-distance penalty for slicing a drive.