From the Shop – Views of a Driving Range Pro

Good evening everyone. We’re pleased to welcome a new contributor to Brannon Watson is the Head Golf Professional and Owner of the Arkansas Golf Center in Conway, Arkansas. We were really interested in having more content from those folks working in the trenches… golf shops, driving ranges and golf courses. These people add a unique point of view and quality information. Have a question for Brannon? Leave it in the comments section and we’ll make sure he gets it.

So I’m asked all the time, “Pro…What’s really the best driver out…really?”. And, to the disappointment of some poor soul that thinks I’m going to give him a rye smile and finally take him back to some locked room where we keep the really good stuff, my answer is always the same, “the one that fits you best.” While I know the question was really a back door way of asking “What’s the Best Brand”, I try my best to show my patrons that reputable pro line brands are all good, but just different, like colors. What’s better, red or blue? They’re both equally appealing and loved. I know a blue silk brings out my eyes and a red mock neck makes your opponent fear you but if we bought the shirts without trying them on and they are 2 sizes too small then we’re both just a couple of idiots exposing our beer guts. No wonder the cart girl never comes to your group. The same is true if you buy a TaylorMade SuperTri with and X-Flex Fubuki shaft because Sean O’Hair hit it 345 last week and made an extra $100,000 for telling the cameras “It’s the best driver I’ve ever hit”. You’ll also feel like a fool whenever you hit it 20 yards shorter than your old driver you just gave to your daughter’s boyfriend in hopes he will get hooked on golf so she’ll break up with him.

Demo DaysI redeem myself from the hole of sarcasm I just dug by telling my now confused meal ticket that there is a way to find the right color, eh , brand, errr, driver for him. As golfers we’re bombarded with information on equipment. Some of the information is solicited by well knowing individuals with credible backgrounds but the problem is still the same. Those people have never seen you hit a golf ball. The only way to ensure you’re not just throwing money down the drain and constantly upgrading your daughter’s boyfriends bag is to do a driver fitting. No not one of those aimless banging of drivers all indoors into screens with pictures of golf holes and inflated launch monitor distances that make every ball you hit look like it’s going into orbit, but a real scientific process of eliminating the wrong drivers and finding one (or ones) that can make some realistic positive affects on tee shots. This can only be done with a proper calibrated golf ball monitor, a slew of clubs from the top brands in golf, and then watching results outdoors on an actual range or golf hole with a pro or fitting expert that is monitoring your swing changes and tendancies.

Once I coax my prey to my fitting room, ignoring the fact that he’s suppose to be picking up mulch, I then go back into my spill that what brand we’re going with doesn’t matter near as much as all the other aspects of a club that actually are going to be doing the work. The shaft, loft, club head shape, and shaft specs are what matter most when picking a club. It is at this point my still skeptical pupil asks “Well what brand do you play”. But I am ready, and I reply, whichever one gives me the most money. I am a golf pro after all, remember? Now that my new friend is about ready to leave my store all together I do offer some slack in my brands are colors rule. While the other aspects are far more important there usually will be a particular brand that does indeed work better for each individual. The specific technology a certain company uses will aid in the fitting process and confidence is the trump card in any fitting. If one brand gives you more confidence than all the others then lets find the right mix in that brand for you.

But keeping an open mind allows a fitter who’s knowledgeable about each brands different concepts on golf equipment technology to find a driver mix that’s even better than if you restrict the fitting to one brand. There is no such thing as the best driver for everyone but the fact that all the golf companies are so competitive is something we should all be taking advantage of. After finding which shafts work in the proper lofted and shaped head then put all the brands you can through a personal club test. So after finding out all the important information I can finally tell my now much happier compadre may the best brand win!

Brannon Watson is the Head Golf Professional and Owner of the Arkansas Golf Center in Conway, Arkansas.

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