Adjustable Drivers: If your current driver did not come with a wrench and a manual, you’re already behind the times. In an ultra-competitive market where clubmakers are looking for any way to gain an edge, the adjustable drivers have become a hot trend over the last few years; it has even trickled down to fairway woods and hybrids. As an owner of an adjustable driver, 3 wood, and hybrid, I would like to lob a few thoughts out there on the topic.
First things first - I see two different ways that an adjustable club can be of use: 1) you like to tinker with the loft and face angle for different rounds, maybe depending on course setup, daily conditions, etc., or 2) you think you might be permanently better off with a slightly closed clubface or slightly higher loft than 9.5 degrees or whatever. I would like to address both golfers below:
Golfer #1: Hey PhillyMick, settle down. Hit the ball the way you hit the ball, the course has plenty of room for that shot. Actually, the truth is, I’m not sure many people actually go this route. It seems too high-maintenance for most golfers, and to effectively pull it off would require an insane amount of range time to even know what you get out of each configuration. And I would hope that most folks understand that by tinkering with loft and/or face angle, you’re not simply dialing in a pre-programmed ball flight – you are also affecting your quality of contact, smash factor, etc., so you’d most often be better off just dancing with the one that brought ya.
Golfer #2: This guy’s a little less insane. It could be that during your clubfitting process, the pro determined that a 9.75 degree loft works a bit better for you than a 9.5 degree loft. Depending on where you stand with launch monitors, squeezing an extra 4 yards out of a club, etc., this could either be really cool or really annoying. As someone who is susceptible to being seduced by launch monitor stats, I can’t hold it against anyone for believing that a .25 degree loft difference could be worthwhile; and of course, you can only achieve and test these funky lofts with an adjustable driver.
When it comes to face angle, the adjustable club kind of loses me again. I’ve watched a video where Geoff Ogilvy describes why a slightly closed clubface works for him, and it makes total sense . .. shoot, even if I didn’t think it made sense, I would never question what a rockstar pro is up to when it comes to equipment. But for an everyday golfer, I just can’t get over the idea that tweaking the face angle of a club is also a way to perpetuate an inherent swing flaw. Since your irons are not yet adjustable, any idiosyncracy that is ironed over in the driver swing by an altered face angle would surely pop its head up with the irons, right? And an even more purist take would be to say that most golfers are striving to have a fundamentally sound swing, so let’s stay in neutral and work the kinks out on our own.
For argument’s sake, let’s say you just shouted “bollocks” to that last sentence and that you see nothing wrong with utilizing a slightly closed clubface to fight that slice. I actually have nothing wrong with that, honestly, but my experience with my adjustable clubs is that, over time, the doubts eventually start to creep in. Like most amateurs, I am not settled in to a swing that I am 100% happy with and will stick with for the rest of my life (hopefully, jeesh). Also, my swing can be squirrely enough that a consistent factor like face angle will not yield consistent results – I’m still going to hit bad shots. And as time goes on and the bad shots accumulate, I inevitably start to wonder if this tweaked clubface is doing me more harm than good. Geoff Ogilvy knows his swing . . . we amateurs do not. Ultimately, we should be more concerned with a quality swing over the long-term than we are with short-term results, because like anything in life, the quick payoff is never the best solution.
I’ll wrap this up. Adjustable drivers are obviously no worse than any other driver, and perhaps for a handful of ADHD cases, they are a superior weapon of choice. If you like the way an adjustable club hits the ball best, by all means pull the trigger on a purchase . . . it’s a harmless option if, like me after month 1, you keep that wrench in it’s little dopp kit and go about your business. But if you happen to start digging a club that doesn’t have 14 different configurations, don’t beat yourself up over it – you’re not missing a thing.