Does a Driver Lose its POP?


Two of my golfing buddies think drivers lose their pop after a certain amount of time. They’ve come up with some possible causes but aren’t really sure (loss of trampoline effect due to metal fatigue, or the shaft loses flexibility). Would you expect a driver to lose distance over the span of about a year (assuming the golfer’s swing doesn’t change)?

Thanks, – Iver

If we are talking about one of the latest large headed drivers or even one of the standard versions that have been around for a few years, all of which are designed to the limit of COR (trampoline effect), and your swing speed is in the normal to high range (85mph to 105 mph), then you should not be concerned about it losing its POP.

I’m assuming that the club head and shaft are not production anomalies that should have been rejected on their way through the quality control department, and that the club is otherwise designed to specifications. If it is from a reputable manufacturer, then it should last for at least five years under reasonably heavy use. This means playing 30 to 40 rounds of golf a year and going to the driving
range about once a week.

The face will not lose its “pop” — i.e., resilience or ability to spring back during impact. The shaft will not lose flexibility in any gradual manner. When a graphite shaft fails, it is a catastrophic failure that ends up with the grip still in your hands but the head somewhere in the bushes or down the fairway. The fatigue properties of shafts are very good. Even steel shafts made of high strength steel will not lose their “oomph.”

You can test to see if a driver face has started to collapse. Place the straight edge of a credit or business card against the face. The face should have a noticeable bulge and roll (i.e., be convex).
If the face is flat and a little concave, then you do have a potential problem. Nowadays this is very much the exception, though that was not the case in the very early days of titanium drivers.

Iver, I think your buddies need to do a little deeper self-examination of their swings if they believe their clubs are not working as well even though their own efforts haven’t changed. There is no sound technical evidence that will let them off the hook. It is amazing how well a driver works for the first several weeks (or even months, depending on how much you paid for it). I find a new club improves my game right up until the point when my mind, which has lulled into the belief that all is right in the world of golf, reawakens and starts to interfere with my swing. This is a real phenomenon known as the “Placebo Effect,” experienced by even the very best players.

I do not believe it is the club or shaft that has lost its “pop,” but rather the depletion of the magical powers most new drivers have designed into them.


Share your experiences regarding the latest driver technology… have you ever had a driver that lost  its pop? Reply below.

This week’s Q&A is an excerpt from Dear Frank….Answers to 100 of Your Golf Equipment Questions

13 thoughts on “Does a Driver Lose its POP?

  1. in my case, i had a tp driver and the face dented. fortunately the manufacturer
    was good enough to replace it with a newer model, hit less than 20 range balls
    with the new one, now the crown has bulged top center of the clubface. my other brand drivers though are still holding up.

  2. If you need more than one hand to show your handicap to someone, you are more likely to win the lottery then suffer driver fatigue. You are simply not consistent enough to impact the club in the same spot repeatedly.

  3. My experience is that a new club retains its magical qualities until the credit card payment is processed and completed – then the club becomes just another golf club in your collection.

    • Actually, most of us hit the club best when we’re trying it out before buying it. Trying it out means we swing the club with the least pressure (psychological, of course) and we get good results. Once we’ve bought the thing, we want it to be worth the money, and we try a little harder – or a lot – and the fairways get narrower, and the wind is in our face. The problem is our desire.
      Here endeth the lesson.

  4. Great question and answer … something I have wondered about as well. I would imagine if the golfer is constantly burying his driver in the turf the point at where the shaft meets the hozzle could develop cracks.

  5. You bet I had a Driver lose it’s pop! Somewhere between it’s last use and it’s first use after a motorcycle accident. I lost 30 yards from 3 weeks spent in the hospital and subsequent months in the healing process. I am fairly sure it must be structural failure of the golf club, not structural failure of the golfer! Gimme back those 30 yards Mr. Technology!

  6. My driver has definately lost its “Pop”, as have all my other clubs.. Somehow my shots do not go as long as they used to go. Do you think that just because I am now 77 years old and swing about 70 mph, that might have something tot do with lmy driver losing its “Pop”?

  7. The definition of heavy use is light use for some of us who are lucky enough to play more. What about the 100 plus round per year player or the professionals who play for a living. Do these type of players, especially if they have 100+ MPH swing speeds have to be concerned about driver fatigue over time?

  8. I’ve had a fairway metal and a driver that developed a crack between the face and the sole after 3-5 years of use. You would think that maybe the COR would change before the crack became visible. However, it could be a sudden failure of the weld between face and sole.

  9. Frank, I read the driver loss of “pop” comments and see where you think a new driver should last about five years, with a 30 to 40 a year use, plus some range time. What if a player plays over 200 times a year and spends at least five days a week on the range? Should that player consider getting a new driver more frequently, like every year?
    Cranky Yankee

    • Hi Cranky,
      First of all you are playing too much golf 🙂
      Second, keep an eye on your driver in the manner I describe and if you see any changes in face shape, then it’s time to consider getting a new driver.
      Hope this helps.

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