We all sometimes struggle to find the short stuff off the tee but, as our club golf editor explains, there’s a new arrival that might help him find some consistency

Some people are afraid of spiders. Others tight, enclosed, spaces. My biggest fear? Put a driver in my hands and watch me shake. 

We’re meant to love tee-time. It’s a chance to open the shoulders and send one soaring. But I shrink at the prospect. The only thing that seems to ascend is my handicap. 

And, wow, how that number has elevated over the past 18 months. Once a solid single figure handicapper, I’m now on the verge of sliding well into double figures. This is never how I envisaged revisiting my teens. 

What is to blame? The big stick. My home course is tight and it’s unforgiving in places. I can hit the duck hook and I can smash the wide block. What I can’t do, so the last year has taught me, is find the short stuff. It’s been sending me into despair. 

Now I’m not naïve enough to think, or suggest to you, that the solution can be discovered solely in a new club. I’ve spent the last five months having lessons, and working on my technique, and we are making progress. 

But could a well-fitted driver also help me along the road? I went to Mark Rogers, PGA Specialist Professional at York Golf Club and a TaylorMade ambassador, to hit the new Stealth 2.  

Mark asked me to hit a few shots with my current driver to get some baseline figures and then looked at various clubface, loft, and shaft options to see what worked best for me. 

Companies will often sell a driver on distance and forgiveness, and who’s going to turn down the carrot of extra yardage? 

That, though, was not the priority. What I was really focused on was dispersion. I wanted a club that will get me into play more often than I’m currently managing. 

I was hitting my own driver (10.5 deg) with a carry of 197.7 yards (223.2 in total), with a ball speed of 125.7mph, spin of 2,553rpm, a launch angle of 15.6 degrees and a smash factor of 1.41. 

Mark fitted me into the main Stealth 2 clubhead, increased the loft from 10.5 to 12 degrees and installed the Even Flow Riptide shaft, which is half an inch shorter than standard.  

That increased my carry to 200 yards dead (227.5 total), increased ball speed to 129.7mph, lowered the spin fractionally to 2,479rpm, while making my launch angle 12.9 degrees and raising my smash factor to 1.43. 

TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver

I’ll absolutely take an extra five yards but it was where the ball was finishing that was the most exciting part. I averaged just under 23 feet right of target. SEVEN yards! Hello, fairways.

I found a consistent shape – it was pretty straight too – and even the slightly mishit shots were still landing in a comfortably tight area. 

They weren’t losing too much distance, either. If I’ve got a predominant miss, it’s a strike towards the heel of the clubface. I’m used to watching the ball swan dive out of the air when I’ve missed anywhere close to the middle. But my worst hit with the Stealth was 218.1 total yards, compared with 210 with my usual model.  

The big block has gone and I’ll feel far more confident on some of my course’s more difficult tee shots that I’ll have a chance of playing my next from the fairway. 

There is more work to do, both on the practice ground and in lessons. But with this driver in hand, I’m optimistic 2023 could be a profitable season.  

“There are a family of three Stealth 2 drivers and we’ve ended up with the standard version,” said Rogers, summing up the fitting. “Your club path is very consistently delivered and what we needed was a little bit more consistency in the face and getting that back on the ball. 

“We’ve lifted the 10.5 degree driver up – just to get a tiny bit of face closure – and we’re getting a great launch. We’re able to get the ball just peeling over because TrackMan showed that a bit of a push fade, into a block, was the miss.  

“So we wanted that little bit of help closing the face but we didn’t want as much as we’d get in the Stealth 2 High Draw model. A shorter shaft, down half an inch, has made a big difference in the quality of your strike.  

“The carbon face has got a bigger sweet spot, which has been stretched a bit more in this model, and it’s helped your slight heel miss. 

“You’ve probably been a bit reserved when hitting driver and here we’ve got a club that you can actually swing quite freely, is more forgiving for you, and should help you find some more fairways. 

“But we’ll follow that up as part of the fitting process. We’ll look at you after a few games and see how you’ve done on the course. And, with that feedback, we might look at a little tweak that might find a bit more!” 

Club specs: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 10.5 degree head lofted up to 12 degree, Even Flow Riptide CB 5.5reg 50g shaft, standard size Golf Pride grip  

Have you tried the TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver? Did it help your game? Why not tell me all about it with a tweet.

Now listen to the From the Clubhouse podcast, in association with TaylorMade Golf

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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