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Driver Sweet Spot

This is a PREVIEW of a PREMIUM video. To watch the entire video, click here.


In the first two videos in the "Bomb Your Driver" series I discussed the extreme importance of hitting the ball on the sweet spot of the driver and understanding the true loft of your club. In this next installment, prepare to have your eyes opened to the truth about the so-called driver "sweet spot". This term gets loosely thrown around a lot and there is a lot of misinformation out there. So to start, let's dispel some myths about the driver sweet spot that the club manufacturers would like for you to believe.

Video Practice Points
  • The "sweet spot" on any club head is the center of gravity - it is single point, not a whole area
  • Find the center of gravity by balancing the head on a point such as a pen - it's probably not in the center of the face
  • The sweet spot gives maximum ball speed & minimum spin
  • However, when the sweet spot is off center you lose COR, which can reduce ball speed
  • The center of gravity can be changed with rat glue or lead tape

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The Driver Sweetspot and Center of Gravity

For the third video in the bomb your driver series, we're going to talk about something that's very very important and unfortunately very misrepresented by a lot of what you read in magazines and what you see in commercials. That's the sweet spot of the driver head.

                With all the super highly competitive companies out there now that are competing for your big bucks on drivers that are costing from four to $800 anymore, there's a lot of money at stake. These companies are positioning things as best they can to make it seem like you're going to get a lot of benefit from a driver, and there's a lot of hoopla around it that's not exactly true. Today, I'm going to dispel a lot of those myths.

                One of those is the sweet spot. When you look at a driver typically, obviously, there's usually a score line on the top that's showing you where to line up where they want you to hit the ball and some score lines on the face so you know exactly where they're showing you the sweet spot is. But what's misrepresented a lot of times is the actual sweet spot. There's golf ads out these days that say the sweet spot is enlarged, that they have a bigger sweet spot.

                Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is the sweet spot is the tiny size of a pin dot. There's no enlarged sweet spot on any driver, on any club face, whether it's an iron, a driver, what have you. The sweet spot is simply the size of a dot. If you look closely here, you can see I've actually drawn a dot on here where the sweet spot is. Now, the question that you're asking yourself is well how did you know where the sweet spot is?

                I've done it by balancing this driver head on a point here. I've actually got a pen set up vertically to make sure it's level, and it's set up in a vice here. You can actually balance any driver head on the sweet spot of the center of the club face, which is going to help you determine the center of gravity for that club. You can balance it both on the face and on the soul. By doing that, you'll find exactly where the center of gravity is.

                The modern driver, what you found is the center of gravity from the front to the back of the club head has actually moved deeper and deeper and deeper. This is for basically at the end of the day, it's going to launch the ball higher, because it's going to help the shaft actually bend forward more at impact. We'll talk about that again later.

                For now, what we need to really understand is there's a couple things that once you determine where the sweet spot is, it dramatically impacts how that driver's going to play for you. One of the things that we talked about was the actual true loft where you need to strike the ball, the roll on the club face in the last video, and how that affects the loft and where you're going to strike the ball on the face.

                What we're talking about now is once we've actually balanced this driver head on this pen, we mark that spot. What I need to do now is determine what that loft is at the sweet spot. First of all, why is the sweet spot that important? Well it's simple. The sweet spot of the club is the only place you can hit it on the face that's going to give you one, maximum ball speed. That's where the mass is directed directly behind the ball, and for two, it's going to have no twisting. If you strike it off the toe of the club, it'll twist a little bit. If you strike it off the heel, the club will twist a bit. What that does is it lessens the blow, so you don't get as sharp of a blow. You lose ball speed there. Then two, the twisting and part side spin.

                Now when the ball's spinning obviously off line, we're going to lose accuracy and distance as well. Once you know where the sweet spot is, it's very very important to utilize that and set up the driver properly for you.

                I have in my hands here a Ping G5 club marked seven and a half degrees on the sole. You know from the last video that just because it says seven and a half degrees on the soul doesn't really mean anything. Not only are there manufacturing tolerances that allow the driver to have more or less loft than what's stated on the sole of the club, but there's also the roll. When we're looking at the effected loft of the club, it's usually very different.

                Once I've taken the time to mark the sweet spot on the club here, which I have with this black dot, I've gone in using the loft gauge, and I'm actually measured what the loft is on the sweet spot of the club. In this case, this seven and a half degree driver, the loft on the sweet spot, where I need to hit it is nine degrees. If I hit this driver the absolute best that it can possibly perform, hitting it a little bit higher on the face, it's at actually nine degrees. That may or may not work for your swing characteristics. Maybe you need more loft. Maybe you need less loft. But until you get on a launch monitor, you won't know. Until you start to investigate what the clubs that you're using are actually set up for, you won't know.

                I've got another club here to illustrate this. I've got a geekgolf.com. This head, hand picked seven and a half degrees. Then I've balanced it. I've set it up. I've determined where the sweet spot is. I've got it marked here. It's also higher on the face. This loft is actually ten degrees. This has more roll than the Ping. To use this club at its absolute maximum capability to get the best ball speed out of it, to get the center gravity directly behind the ball, no side spin, hit a perfect straight shot, the loft is actually ten degrees on a seven and a half degree head.

                Now I'm running into all kinds of issues where I thought I bought a seven and a half degree head, and I did, but the seven and a half degree of loft is way down here, but the sweet spot is actually way up here. What's going to happen is the vertical gear effect is going to take place, and I'm going to get more spin hitting it lower on the face than I would hitting it on the sweet spot. Now we're running into a lot of complex variables that are very very important in determining how to maximize your driver distance.

                There's another issue that we start to run into, and then I'll illustrate with another head here. I know you can't really see this very well, but I've marked the sweet spot here. It's higher on the face than the center. This one tends to err a little bit towards the toe. This is a [Nakashima H tech 00:05:54] head. What you'll find here is that now we've got another issue coming into play.

                It comes into play with the other drivers I've got here as well, that once the sweet spot is no longer in the exact center of the club face, we're losing COR, that coefficient of restitution, that everybody has heard so much about. What is this COR thing? Why is it .83? What does that mean?

                Long story short, what happens when the ball strikes the face is the face actually deflects. It actually caves in a little bit. What that does it it actually absorbs some of the blow to the bal so that the ball doesn't compress like a marshmallow. A lot of people think the reason the ball compresses or what you want it to do is compress the ball a lot, and that gives you more ball speed because the trampoline effect as the face launches the ball faster.

                It's simply not true. The exact opposite is true actually. The reason that the COR of the face is important is because you actually want the fact to cave in a little bit at impact, a very small amount. What that does is it keeps the ball from compressing so much that it absorbs all the energy of the blow. That may not make sense at first when you think about it. You would think you'd want it to be as hard as you could. But what it does is think about hitting a marshmallow. If you hit a marshmallow with a golf club, it's not going to go anywhere. The simple reason is the marshmallow's soft. It's going to absorb all the energy, and it's just going to smash on the face.

                Well a golf ball, too, because it's relatively soft, is actually going to compress a lot as well. So what you want to do is to actually absorb some of that with the club face giving in, and that allows you to transfer more energy to the ball. That's why that's so important. When we determine the sweet spot's higher or lower on the face, if we look at any of these faces here that are marked with the little dot, where we've marked the loft and the sweet spot on here, well it's no longer in the exact center of the club face.

                Now we've got to actually move higher on the face so technically ... If you find some that tend to err towards the heel a little bit, and this is very common now because a lot of club manufacturers are moving weight to the heel to make it easier to fight a slice because the toe will turn over a little bit faster through impact if there's more weight in the heel. This is going to help the average golfer who tends to slice the ball.

                Now, we've got issues where if the sweet spot's moved over towards the heel even a couple millimeters, we're not going to get maximum COR. Long story short, where the center of gravity of your club face is, is extremely important to get in the maximum launch characteristics for your driver. The trick is you can actually change this position. One of the simple ways to do it is once you determine that you have to pull the head off the shaft to determine this, and you can put it on a pen or anything like this that I have set up here, once you determine where that is, you can actually use lead tape or rack glue or those types of things. It's best to leave this to your club builder, but if you have a very experienced club builder who understands how this stuff works, you can start to maximize it.

                Then you can also start to find that if your sweet spot's a little bit higher on the face, and it has too much loft for you, say if you have ... You're looking for true eight degrees of dynamic loft and impact with the actual club bed. We're not talking about changing the shaft and those types of things at this point. But your driver actually has ten degrees of loft. What you can do is actually put rack glue or lead tape on the head. Most people use the glue on the inside because it's aesthetically more pleasing. But you can start to move the center of gravity higher and lower, left to right, and those types of things. To get the loft that you're looking for at impact through changing the center of gravity.

                Bottom story is that it's a complex subject, but the important thing is for you to start to understand that first of all the sweet spot, not always in the center of the face. You may be hitting it right on the screws where you think it's dead center in the face, and one, you may not be getting the true loft that you think you're getting, and two, you may not be hitting it with the proper amount of spin because if it's lower on the face than where the center of gravity is, you're going to get more spin that you need.

                For the average golfer, it's not such an issue, but for the higher speed, higher [inaudible 00:09:50] speed guys, it's a huge deal. Long story short, understand that don't believe everything you read for starters. Also start to do your own investigation on your club heads. If you understand, if you have a club builder that can pull a head for you and mark the sweet spot for you and you start to get an understanding what the actual loft is on your sweet spot, you're going to have a lot better understanding on how to get maximum distance for your driver swing, for your setup in the future. That's what you're looking for in helping to maximize your driver distance. 

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