If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Case in point: touting a “driver hack” that will help you gain 25 yards without making a single adjustment to your driver specs. We get that you’re probably skeptical, but the above headline has been thoroughly vetted through our partnership with Gene Parente and his Golf Laboratories robot.
In addition to conducting robot testing for 2022 ClubTest, Parente and GOLF.com’s equipment editors, along with Kris McCormack, VP of Tour and Education for True Spec Golf, set out to conduct 12 robot-driven club tests that help debunk common gear myths and provide fresh insights on ways to improve your own game.
For our first RoboTest, we attempted to determine if an optimal tee height location can help you gain a performance advantage with the driver. Using Foresight’s GCQuad launch monitor to capture the data, Parente started in the geometric center of the clubface on a 10.5-degree driver and hit three balls at 95 mph with a minus-two attack angle (a common swing speed and AoA for an average amateur) to establish a carry distance baseline.
From there, three additional balls were hit below and above the geometric center at .3″ and .6″, for a total of five strike locations. With the testing procedures out of the way, here are the results.
Geometric center location: 241 yards
Below .3″ location: 232 yards
Below .6″ location: 219 yards
Above .3″ location: 244 yards
Above .6″ location: 237 yards
Looking at the numbers, golfers who impact the ball on the lower portion of the face could theoretically gain 25 yards by simply changing their tee heights and/or moving the impact location to the upper half of the face.
“We have all this fancy equipment here, but you can actually test this theory on your own at the driving range,” Parente said. “It’s really simple. Take a look at your ball flight — if it goes out and rises, that means the ball has too little launch and too much spin. What we want to see is more of a parabolic flight. What I mean by that is the beginning of the trajectory looks more like the end, it’s an arc. Once you achieve that, you’ve got 25 yards by just raising the tee.”
And before you question why we’re picking on the golfer who impacts the ball low on the face, it’s an extremely common contact location for the average stick — and one that Kris McCormack, True Spec’s vice president of tour and education, sees all the time during fittings.
“When they start getting that tee higher and still come with a negative angle of attack, the tendency is to hit it on the top of the face,” said McCormack. “But they don’t necessarily have the mechanics required to generate that type of ball flight that we’re trying to achieve. So the easy easy fix for them is to tee it lower to catch more of the center of the face, but in doing so, they generate more spin, launch comes out lower.”
It’s important to note that you don’t need to change your angle of attack to gain this distance if you’re teeing it low to catch the center of the face. Simply raise the tee height and start contacting the ball higher on the face.
As McCormack said at the conclusion of the video: instant yardage. No golfer is going to complain about that.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below. For more exclusive robot-testing insights, join InsideGOLF for only $20/year.