PGA Professional Mark Pearson explains the benefits of having the right driver for you and your game.

The first thing to understand is that everyone swings it differently and that, because your playing partner in your Saturday fourball hits his driver great, then that won't necessarily translate to your game. The looks and promises of 10 extra yards will catch your eye but you really won't know what genuinely works best for you until you have been custom fitted for a driver.

And that doesn't necessarily mean that you will have to shell out for a new driver as, quite often, your old driver will be maximising everything perfectly well enough without the need for anything new. 

Everyone's optimum launch angle and spin rate will vary considerably as we all deliver the clubhead differently. So a fitting will find your optimum launch and spin for your particular swing speed and how you swing it and then trying out different combinations of clubhead and shaft. 

The fitting will look at the shaft weight, the bend (where the shaft is softest and stiffest so two shafts of the same flex and weight can differ), flex and swing weight to determine how you can maximise the optimum distance off the tee.

A good driver fitting is crucial to get right to help build your confidence off the tee and transform how you tackle a golf course.

We spoke to PGA Professional Mark Pearson on what to consider at your next driver fitting.

What should the first part of a fitting involve?

The first thing that should happen is to have a conversation with the player to understand what their perceptions are of their driver and how it could improve. Whether that's hitting it longer, their ball flight, hitting less destructive shots or their patterns and dispersions, we should try and establish what they want and then get them to hit some shots and try and match whether what they’ve told you looks correct or not.

It can be a fine line. A poor custom fitting goes for the golfer who just wants to hit it further and stop slicing it whereas a good fitter will look at the whole thing like you would in a golf lesson and explain what could be better.

What data is measured?

We would measure ball speed relative to clubhead speed if this is a distance-oriented exercise try and maximise the ball speed first. So the shaft and clubhead have an effect on that and the great thing is that there's no hiding if you have the data. Once you have the ball speed maximised to the clubhead speed – this could involve partly maximising off-centre hits as well or where the sweet spot is relative to that player – then you need to maximise the launch characteristics.

So the ball speed comes first and then we will try to get the launch and the spin rate matched to optimise that. In simple terms that means high launch, low spin. 

What if the problem is dispersion?

If it is poor dispersion because of off-centre hits, then we will try and fix the shaft and head to where the off-centre hits get better. If they hit it right or left that makes it a lot easier as we can adjust things to help a draw or fade these days and some clubs have those natural biases in without even telling you. A skilful fitter will know what a new product does and what the shaft is doing and they will then use those tools to get a better fit in those parameters.

Which shots should you pay attention to?

The tough part is that you need to hit quite a few shots. If you are going to try a dozen drivers and you want to hit maybe 10 shots with each of them, then you will be hitting 120 shots. It's a good idea to look at the first few shots as that will be a good indication of how a club is suited to someone. Some players will be able to get a feeling for the club and make some adjustments after the first few shots and make the club work better for them.

Do looks matter?

They shouldn't affect anything but, if you don’t like the look of it, the chances are that you won’t exercise the skill very well. But the data is all there for you and, if you’re hitting it great, then there is a decision to make. Launch monitors have taught us what we need to know. It will be a quick diagnosis to find something that’s better but then to find the one takes a lot longer. A fitting should be as comprehensive as possible so you get the chance to test it and then play with it and then revisit things

How common is a driver fitting?

Still not enough. Of the club golfers who we coach I would say that it is somewhere between a third and a half who have had a driver fitting which means a lot of golfers are missing out on a lot of yards and fairways. 

About Mark Pearson

Mark manages seven PMG (Performance Managed Golf) academies including Rockliffe Hall and Headingley Golf Club. He has presented at PGA coaching conferences and has coached players at all levels of the game.