Luke Donald’s search for driver accuracy

News & Tour

In a quest for control, Luke Donald has cut over an inch off his driver…

Many people refer to Luke Donald as a plodder or a short-knocker – someone who is so far behind his peers off the tee that he can never challenge for a Major.

The truth is that Donald is not short off the tee. Granted, against the likes of Bubba Watson and JB Holmes, who go all-guns-blazing off the tee, he pales in comparison.

But look at the Tour as a whole and he’s realistically not missing out on much. In 2011 he averaged 284 yards off the tee. That’s only 15 yards behind Phil Mickelson, who is considered one of the longest.

Given his skills with an iron in hand, it’s not something that will make him lose any sleep.

Look at the accuracy stats, though, and that’s where Donald was lacking. He hit only 64 per cent of fairways in 2011, which was good enough for 57th place on the PGA Tour.

Better than average, but when you’re coming in with a longer iron than the bigger hitters, getting it on the short stuff is paramount.
In 2011 he averaged 284 yards off the tee. That’s only 15 yards behind Phil Mickelson, who is considered one of the longest. To help get him more control, Luke has cut down his driver. In 2011 he used a 45″ shaft, but this year his driver – a 9.5˚ TaylorMade RocketBallz – is only 43.5″ long.

That’s a 1.5″ shorter than before and a whopping 2.5″ below standard.

The reason? “I can control it a little bit easier.”

It has certainly worked – the Englishman is up to 15th in the accuracy stats,and although his distance has dropped slightly, it is not significant.

The outcome would be dramatically different for the average amateur. Cutting down the shaft would not only improve control, but would also, generally speaking, increase distance. This is because it means you will hit the ball out of the middle of the club more often.

There’s a lesson to be learned here – forget trying to bomb it and hit more fairways.

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