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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.

I tried:

  • 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.

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If your actual driver make you feel confortable, maybe it was a problem with the fitting??? I would try another fitting before changing anything... maybe you had a bad day ;) –  gbianchi Jun 11 '12 at 18:22
    
Well this was less formal; I'd had a basic fitting which suggested the loft and shaft flex I should be looking for, which was consistent with what I'd been seeing at the range. This was a test of a particular driver that I'd been considering which met those basic criteria. As for the driver I own making me feel "comfortable", I wasn't using that driver, and if I am comfortable with that particular driver it means I've adapted some bad habits to control the club (it's a $30 club with a "junior" flex, and I have a 94mph average swing speed). –  KeithS Jun 11 '12 at 18:27
    
I would just try the fitting in a real driving, not in a simulator. Also would try it not only with the driver you have, also maybe another similar one. I have a burner Superfast with 10.5 and flex, but my fitting was on an actual driver (no computer involved :) ). Remenber that the club helps, but sometimes is not the club, is how you feel with it. –  gbianchi Jun 11 '12 at 19:35
    
Unfortunately trying out a variety of clubs on an actual driving range is not an option; such an outing would be expensive (at the price range I'm considering we could be talking about doubling the cost of the club I buy), and we've already determined that the results of a fitting can change from day to day. The fitting I got simply nailed down the "basic" parameters for a driver that would suit me. –  KeithS Jun 11 '12 at 19:52
    
I'll go back and try a few more drivers in the same session, and we can see if the results are consistent or differ between drivers. I do know that my swing has a lot of variables, club selection being just one of them, and I feel that just having a quality driver to practice with will help me to nail down the other particulars and build a consistent, correct swing. THEN we can talk about an advanced, in-person fitting to determine the nitpicky details about this club or that, this shaft or that. –  KeithS Jun 11 '12 at 19:56
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3 Answers 3

Based on the original question and the following comments, here are some suggestions:

  • As mentioned by gbianchi, try clubs at an actual golf range. Simulators can be poorly calibrated for one, but also users may feel pressured to swing harder because the distance is displayed for all observers to see. Search for free 'demo days' hosted at your local driving range or golf course.

http://taylormadegolf.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-TMaG-Site/default/Stores-FindFittingCentersDemoDays

http://www.callawaygolf.com/global/en-us/custom-fitting/demo-days.html

Don't forget to bring your current driver to test them side-by-side. You need a reference!

  • Ball flight "D" in the image from Michael Myers would typically result from a proper swing path (not inside out) and a closed face. First thing I would recommend is to check your stance and setup. Have someone take a picture of your setup from behind and in front and compare it to any pro. Check the direction your feet are aimed, your shoulders, your back, your arms, etc.

If that doesn't change anything or you want a quick fix, try weakening your grip by either changing to an overlap or interlocking grip like you tried (generally, from weakest to strongest: overlapping, interlocking, baseball grip). You can also try to roll your left hand out so that the velcro on your glove faces more toward your target and less upward.

Take these tips with a grain of salt. There's not much we can do without seeing your swing. Which leads me to my final suggestion...

  • Get a lesson. This should really be 1. Surely, you should probably upgrade from the 30 dollar kiddie club, but maybe buy a used driver, and use the money you saved for a set of lessons (and range balls to practice what you learn). In my experience, it is typically the swing and not the club that is the problem. Newer clubs might be more forgiving if you miss the sweet spot, or may go 5-10 yards further, but they won't fix your swing.

Good luck!

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Great advice, all of it. I went back and found the rack of "pre-owned" clubs, and OMG there are some really good clubs available. I tested a used original Burner driver and matching 3-wood, both of which were in the $60 range (so I could have gotten both for less then the price of the SF 2.0). The original Burner head is much heavier than the new SF 2.0, though, which is slowing clubhead speed (I A/Bed em) and so I'm not getting quite as much distance as I'd been seeing with the SF. –  KeithS Jun 21 '12 at 14:11
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Physically: My natural shot shape is a pop-up fade. When I hit a draw, I easily hit it 70-80 yards further than my natural shot shape. Can I do that by command? Not at all ;) At one time, I was regularly lifting weights. During this time, I was hitting a draw with every club in the bag, and I lost the ability to hit a fade. When I stopped lifting regularly, my ability to hit a fade came back. I suspect that biomechanics have something to do with it.

Feel: This thread notes that "the results of a fitting can change from day to day." One day, I can be hitting slight draws, slight fades, straight or I can be hitting duck hooks, slices, and everywhere else in between. Some days, I tee the ball high. Some days, I tee the ball low. My golf game can change from day to day, and it's a matter of feel and working with what you got that day.

Mentally: I got to the point of overanalyzing and mechanisizing my game to the point where I wasn't enjoying golf anymore. Now, I just strategize my shot, step up, and fire away.

Clubs: Adjustable drivers such as a STR8-FIT or R11 driver answer the question of adjusting on-the-fly to accomodate for your game. Also, normal flex for a 94 mph swing speed sounds right. This is your choice, and it seems like you've made a clear-cut one.

In summary, you've done anything any enthusiast golfer would do (been there, done that).

if you tell me to "try everything" I'll probably end up changing too much and becoming more inconsistent

Exactly. This is why my suggestion is to go out there and just bomb a few at the driving range. If you hit a great shot, great. If not, great. Go out there and have fun!

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Try LazerDrive. I just bought one at LazerDrive.com and it pretty much eliminated my hook. I also used it to figure out my stance. If you put it on thick it allows allows you to see where the ball hit the club. Pretty cool stuff for $8. WWW.LazerDrive.com

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Unfortunately any substance or layer applied to the face of the club is illegal according to the Rules of Golf. –  KeithS Apr 30 at 21:18
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