Your New Driver has a Larger Sweet Spot Coutesy of Mr. Tom Wishon.
Myth Number 1: Our new “Blah Blah Blah” driver has an "enlarged" sweet spot.
The “sweet spot” is a term that’s commonly found in those golf club ads; but it’s misused by almost everyone. Technically the sweet spot is a point in-side the head called the Center of Gravity that’s about the size of the sharp end of a pin. It can’t get “larger” and it can’t get “smaller.” It just... is.
The true sweet spot on a driver is the size of a pin point and simply CAN'T be made any bigger. There is only one true sweet spot on any driver where you will get maximum ball speed and no twisting of the driver head at impact. Missing this spot by the tiniest amount imparts sidespin on the ball and costs you ball speed and distance.
Actually, there are some drivers which really do have a larger “sweet spot,” but only if you are prepared to re-define that term as a face that doesn’t lose as much of its ability to flex inward built into a clubhead that won’t twist as much when your swing causes you to hit the ball a little off-center. (slight sarcasm Lol!) The problem is, there is no such thing in the golf industry as a “sweet spot-o-meter.” There is no gauge that you can use to determine which clubs do or do not possess what they claim. Currently, the only “measurement devices” that are used to inform you of a club’s “sweet spotted-ness” exist in the ads that attracted your attention in the first place!
In actuality, what golf manufacturers ads are referring to is that their drivers are more forgiving in that when you do miss the sweet spot you will lose LESS ball speed and the club will twist LESS due to a higher Moment of Inertia, or MOI.
IF you have a club that has the right loft for your swing type and swing speed, IF it strikes the ball square, IF it hits the exact center of the golf ball directly in line or slightly above this tiny sweet spot and IF the face is well designed—then the ball will fly the greatest possible distance for your particular swing. Any deviation toward the heel or toe from this perfect contact and the head will start to twist, not only imparting a curving flight to the ball, but causing a loss of distance.
When club companies talk about an “increased sweet spot,” what they’re really saying is one of two things. First, they’ve done things in the clubhead’s design to increase the moment of inertia (MOI) of the clubhead. In other words, they put weight on the sides and/or in the back of the head to make it twist a little less (with the accent on little) when you miss the sweet spot. The second possibility involves what I’ve been talking about, the design of the face itself.
And while you’re at it, why not really do your game a favor and have the driver fitted for the proper loft, face angle, shaft, weight, and grip size at the same time? Then you’ll really discover what the words “game improvement design” mean.
The acronym "MOI" stands for "moment of inertia," and in golf MOI is a measurement of a club's resistance to twisting. The term is usually applied to clubheads, but can also be applied to golf balls and even shafts. In layman's terms, a higher-MOI golf club will be more forgiving than a lower-MOI club. Why? It's that resistance to twisting. Think of a driver impact in which the golf ball is struck off the toe of the driver. That impact creates force that pushes against the toe of the driver, causing the clubhead to twist a little bit (rotating the face open). Likewise, striking the golf ball toward the heel will cause the clubhead to twist back from the heel-side of the face. That twisting of the clubhead in response to off-center strikes leads to distance loss, and no golfer wants to lose distance. But if the moment of inertia can be increased, the club becomes more resistant to twisting. Therefore, a higher-MOI clubhead will twist less on off-center strikes than a lower-MOI one, meaning less loss of distance.
The farther your point of contact is from this tiny sweet spot, the more distance and accuracy you lose. To be more specific, depending how well the designer manipulated the face thickness over its entire area, you will lose at best about 3-4 yards flight distance and at worst, as much as 10 yards, for each half-inch you miss the center of the face.
You probably know that a driver face flexes inward when you hit the ball. The more you can flex the face, the higher your ball speed will be when it comes off the face. By making the outer edges of the face a little thinner than the center, it’s possible to make the face flex a little more when you hit the ball off center so you won’t lose as much distance.
Typically, this takes the form of a face that is a little thicker in the center, but then thinner in the areas all around, something called a “variable thick-ness face.” Something, by the way, that was invented by one of the golf companies you probably haven’t heard of, not by one of the large companies you have. However, let’s subject all this to a reality check.
Since the driver with the larger sweet spot they sold you probably has a longer length than most of the pros use on the PGA Tour, and since the longer the length the more you hit the ball off center; why not simply go get fitted for a driver with its length matched to your swing so you don’t have to worry as much about sweet spots and twisting—large, small or in between?
Myth Number 2: The sweet spot on a driver is in the exact center of the clubface. I really wish this were true, the sweet spot position varies dramatically from model to model and is often not in the exact center in the face. In most modern drivers, the sweet spot is close to the center from heel to toe, but vertically, it has moved to a position above the center of the face. This has happened as club designers have been able to move discretionary weight from the face and crown to places lower and deeper in the head due to the use of lighter and stronger modern materials. This weight moves the Center of Gravity (COG) lower and further back which moves the sweet spot higher on the face. This causes some significant and complicated issues when it comes to optimally fitting you for the perfect driver. To demonstrate this, you will need just the driver head, If you don't pull the driver head off your shaft, you have no way of determining the exact sweet spot of the club. So, you have no way of knowing exactly where your driver needs to be struck to produce the longest, straightest shots. But, if you do pull the head and check the COG, you will likely find that it is higher than the center of the clubface and often will tend to be more toward the heel. Why does this matter? Simple. The max Coefficient of Restitution (COR) on your driver IS in the center of your clubface because the face will flex the most at the intersection of the X and Y axis as this point is the furthest from the edges of the face. In other words, your sweet spot and point of maximum COR often don't line up! If some of you are confused about this, think of it this way. The face will simply flex less closer to the edge of the face because it's supported more by the surrounding metal. It's the same as bouncing on a trampoline in the center vs. near the outer edge. We need the face to flex as much as possible at impact to absorb some of the ball compression to achieve maximum ball speed. That's right, we can actually “over compress” the ball and lose energy transfer, and thus ball speed and distance. Max COR doesn't "spring" the ball forward because the face acts like a trampoline.
In fact, the exact opposite is true. The face needs to deflect so that we can transfer maximum energy to the ball. Think of it as if hitting a marshmallow. It's not going to go very far because all of the energy of the blow of impact will be absorbed by the marshmallow. When the face absorbs some of the energy, more ball speed is a result as there is more efficient energy transfer. So, now back to this little problem of the COG and the spot where we achieve max COR are not inline. In other words, we basically have two sweet spots and neither is perfectly "sweet". We also have the potential problem for many golfers with above average clubhead speed that the COG sweet spot is in a place where there is more loft than needed for optimal launch conditions.
When you start to realize just how complicated things can get, it becomes very clear that the chances of you buying a driver off the shelf and it being a perfect fit for you is about as realistic as you winning the lottery without buying a ticket.
Notice the image of this Titleist 983K driver with 9.5° of loft stated on the sole of the clubhead. Now notice the two dots on the clubface. Can you guess which is which? The red dot represents the place on the clubface where the loft is actually a true 9.5° as measured with a loft gauge. You see, Titleist isn't lying to you that this driver has 9.5° of loft. It's just that where that 9.5° is on the clubface is absolutely useless unless you are trying to hit the ball at a gopher. Now, notice the black dot. The black dot is much higher on the face and off-center toward the heel. This dot is where the exact sweet spot is located on the clubface as measured in video tests. This is the only place on the face where you can get the COG directly in line with the ball at impact. Unfortunately, it is not located in the place where you would also get the maximimum COR. Not only that, but at this point, the club has 11.5° of loft, NOT the 9.5° stated on the face. For the average golfer, that is a good thing because they need more loft. But for someone who needs a true 9.5°, this driver will spin far too much and cost that golfer some serious yardage. It is possible to move the sweetspot of any club with weighting, For now, learn and understand your sweetspot and how it is probably costing you distance!
Checkpoints for Practice
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
A professional golf instructor qualified as the coach of the highest Australian professional golfer association of Triple AAA which is regarded as the highest level at the Australian · Pro · Golf Association (PGA). As with the Australian Coach Council (ACC) level 5 license certificate, I have been told that I am among the top 50 in Australia. He is active in international coaches such as Japan, Malaysia and Singapore as well as in Australia. It has a reputation for the latest golf theory and analysis such as using a computer.Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Tom Fielding is a golf instructor with long experience in Australia and Asia. For those interested in learning more, or those wishing to take a lesson in Japanese or English, please visit the website www.jp.tomfieldinggolf.net or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.