I’ve had a number of comments and requests for info about the golf club equipment I used to win the 2012 World Long Drive Championship. Here’s the skinny: My basic configuration was the six degree Geek Golf “No Brainer” driver head, with a Claymore Shaft from Aerotech. All my clubs were custom assembled by Northern California-based clubfitter John Greenwood.
Here’s a bit more detail on the clubs and configuration.
First, the LDA (Long Drivers of America) is very strict about using conforming clubs. The club heads must pass the USGA-specified COR (Coefficient of Resistance) test to ensure that the heads are not “hot” and don’t produce an extra trampoline effect. The shafts, too, have a length restriction based on the USGA maximum length requirement.
The reason is simple: the LDA wants to showcase the talent of the athletes, not the clubs. Rightly so.
It’s not unusual for a club face to deform after pounding lots of range balls. We call it “migration”, and sometimes it can result in a club becoming hot. Last year one of my clubs failed the COR/CT test, and it was pulled from competition. That’s one of the reasons I take back-up clubs with me to the competition, and why I usually designate one club as my practice club, and leave my “gamers” relatively untouched until the tournament. Migration is the reason stock drivers can become “tired” and under perform, and one reason to upgrade drivers every few years, especially for golfers who practice a lot. This year my No Brainer clubs passed without a hitch.
All my No Brainer heads are marked at 6 degrees loft, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – they weren’t.
John Greenwood measured the true loft of each club head, and I wound up with a 5 degree club, several 6 degree clubs (including my gamer), and a 7 degree. The winds in Mesquite are unpredictable, and the different lofts give me different options without having to change my swing.
In the morning it was cooler and we were hitting into the breeze. I started off with my 6 degree gamer, switched to my 5 degree for the last couple of balls, and hit my longest ball of that set.
But in the afternoon rounds the wind shifted to slightly behind us. I started with my gamer 6, but switched after a couple of balls to the 7 degree, and hit the two longest drives of the day. In the finals I stuck with the 7, even though the wind switched again and was swirling into us. Even into the wind the extra one or two degrees of launch angle gave me a better carry distance, and I’m glad I stuck with it. I advise most of my students to try to get a higher launch angle (14 to 16 degrees) because the extra carry will get them more distance, provided they can keep the trajectory flat. That’s one of the reasons I liked the No Brainer as soon as I hit it: the flat trajectory.
Steve Almo, who owns Geek Golf, wanted to create a “muscle” head driver to give golfers a better MOI (Moment of Inertia), lowering spin and increasing distance. Steve’s a cool guy, and he takes his design inspiration from classics of the past. It took him two years of design and testing to create the unique heel-to-toe sole weighting system he wanted, which puts more weight behind the club face. Not only did I get more distance, but the way he distributed the weight tightened up my dispersal pattern and improved my accuracy. In the finals I hit 5 of 6 balls in the grid. It’s also a cool orange color with white stripes, which Steve says was inspired by another “muscle” classic – the 1967 Camaro. I liked his club so much I gave him a smooch at the Worlds (he was suitably embarrassed).
If the club head is the muscle, the shaft is the engine.
John Greenwood loves to tinker with different shaft configurations, and we tested all sorts of shaft combinations. We trimmed anywhere from 1/2 inch to 1-1/2 inches off the shaft tip to make the shaft stiffer. We tried counter-weights in the butt-end of the shaft to change the kick-point (which affects trajectory and spin), and lead tape on the club head to change swing weight. John has a proprietary butt-insert he uses for my clubs to stiffen up the grip end of the shaft, and that’s what turned out to be the winner.
Chris Hilleary, owner of Aerotech, was great about helping us with equipment. They’ve got some interesting technology in place that helps them build lighter shafts (which helps with club head speed), with lower torque (which means less twist). That means the club face is more likely to be square at impact, more often. The new micro-thin carbon fiber they use is apparently more stable than graphite composites. I used the 60-gram shaft, which is 15 to 25 grams lighter than other long drive shafts, but I got more distance and better accuracy.
Let me add one more thing – I have no equipment sponsors, endorsement deals, or contracts.
I’m not beholden to any company, which leaves me free to choose the equipment that I think is best. I’m writing about John and Steve and Chris because they helped me, and I in turn was able to help them by providing feedback from all our testing. It’s a win-win-win for all of us, because they are the guys who are innovating and pushing the envelope. It you’d like to try their equipment, I’d appreciate it. Give John Greenwood a call. Simple as that.
If you have more equipment questions just leave a comment below.