Does a Driver Lose its POP?

Frank,

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

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.

Frank

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

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