Update: Jimmy Walker’s driver and 3-wood specs added.

Driver: Titleist 917D2 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver Limited Edition 80X (42 inches, tipped 1.5 inches), D1 
Swing Weight

3 Wood: Titleist 917F2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver Limited Edition 80X (41.5 inches)

Jimmy Walker had Titleist make him the 42-inch driver that’s in his bag this week at the SBS Tournament of Champions. But before there was that one, there was, well, the “fun” one, as Walker explained at his post-round press conference on Thursday.

“I took it over to my buddy’s house and he wrapped duct tape around it and he hand-sawed it off with a hacksaw,” Walker told the press. “And then we stripped all the tape off it. We didn’t have a shaft cutter. So you’ve got to — with the grip still on — we did it with the grip on, so it doesn’t splinter the shaft. I mean, it was a process. It was actually pretty fun, we just started sawing away on it.

“He goes, ‘How long do you want it?’”

“I said, ‘I want you to cut right here.’ I didn’t know how long it was. I just said, ‘Let’s try this,’ and we went from there. And it was hard to get the weight up. I had to put a lot of lead tape on it to get the weight back up.

“And I built up the grip just a little bit, because you’re a little further down on the shaft. And I have a swing weight machine at home. I lead taped it up and went out and started hitting it.”

Crunching Numbers and Feeling “On”

Walker — who’s leading the tournament after a first-round, bogey-free 65 — shed some interesting light on the way good old-fashioned “feel” and new-fangled number-crunching can shape a pro golfer’s performance these days.

Walker began by talking about his switch to a cut-down, 42-inch driver.

“More fairways is what I’m looking for,” he explained. “And I just feel like I’ve got more control. I feel like the golf swing is better at that length for me, and that’s where I’ve always struggled, the longer the club got.”

Walker’s quest for “more fairways” grew out of a productive consultation he had with Tour stats-guru Mark Broadie.

“You don’t know anything is happening until you get a set of data to look at,” Walker said. “Broadie broke down the year and what he thought, where the anomalies were in the year compared to the first two, three years.”

Walker hadn’t previously worked with Broadie, and his takeway from the “good hour talk” was two-fold: be more aggressive with the flat stick, and get it in the fairway just a little more often.

“If you can hit one more fairway every other round, it’s going to help you out immensely through the course of the year on the strokes gained deal.”

Then Walker turned from hard-headed stat analysis to the crucial intangible of “being on.”

“When you play good, golf feels real easy. I mean, it just does. ‘God, why can’t I do that all the time?’ But you don’t and you can’t. It’s hard.

“But when you’re on and you’re playing well, and your body feels good, you’re in a good frame of mind; you’re there for a reason. It’s because you’re on, and I think you really need to relish that when you’re in that situation and enjoy it. It doesn’t happen a whole lot. I’ve always tried to embrace that and enjoy it. That’s what you’re out here trying to do, is have those chances, and you’ve really got to enjoy it.

“It’s rare you go out and hack it and win a golf tournament. Everybody is too good. You have to be on. I don’t care what anybody says. When you win out here, you’re on.”

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34 COMMENTS

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  1. I used to his my 3-wood/Mini Driver off the tee for years, never felt 100% confident with the driver..2-years ago, i had a shop cut 2 inches off my driver shaft (JETSPEED) from 44.5 to 42.50″…completely changed my control with no distance loss at all. feel 100% confident with driver at 42.50 length. Told a few of my buddies about it and they did it as well and had the same positive results..I would recommend this to anyone who has issues controlling their driver off the tee…

  2. I play my driver at 43″ d7. there is no distance loss for me a 8 capper. I can still get it past 260 no worries and my miss hits are defiantly closer to the fairway. I don’t notice the lighter weight after a round or two either

  3. I played a cobra bio cell at 43.5 with a diamana white 70+ gram, I wish I still had it. I’m 6’1″ so it looked goofy as hell, but I was much more accurate, 260-270 yds, which was longer. Contact improved dramatically. I just order a Cobra King f6 with a additional weight, going to play weights in both ports and cut it down to 43″.

  4. Also, if you keep your 44.5 or 45 inch shaft, build up the lower part of your grip to reduce the taper, then grip down for 1/2 of your drives, (7) grip all the way down for maximum control (41 inches) and if you want to let the shaft out, you have 2+ inches to grip up with, (4 par 5’s).

  5. 3 inches is about 5 swing weight points, add counter weight for 4 layers of buildup tape, now the club swing weights 9 points light. Keep in mind the head weight is the same to flex the shaft, it will react as a stiffer flex. Most Tour Pro drivers are D3 – D4, he reweighed the head to D1 with lead tape, about 5 swing weights at 42 inches, about 4 – 2 inch lengths of lead tape, unless he used ‘high density’ lead tape, then 3 lengths. More control, higher launch, spin depends on where the weight was added. My self, I prefer to place it on the top of the head, as close to the face as possible, to reduce spin with a higher, more forward CG.

  6. good info here, however, one fact to be discussed, most golfers, non-professionals are playing white and blue tees. 250-260 drive in the fairway is all you need to score, really well. Trust me, i use my 3 wood more than my driver. I have cut my driver down to 43 inches added a bunch of lead tape and hit it well maybe 280. but lead tape falls off all the time. thoughts?

    • Lead tape then duct tape. Jimmys one of the smartest guys out there, I’m sure he’s capable of understanding the physics and science of it. So if he’s doing it, it must be beneficial. I cut two inches off a driver once, just needs a real stiff shaft not to be whippy as all heck, but it’s nice to hit it straight.

  7. I’ve tried different lengths..44, 45, 46 and 48. Found that there is no appreciable accuracy difference between 44-46, so I use the 46 since it seems to get me about 5-7 more yards than the 44. The 48 did not help in distance or accuracy. I actually found myself slowing down to make sure I hit the ball. May also be because the head was so light that I lost some “feel” for it during the swing.

  8. I think having a shorter driver is a great idea, but it should only be in play at events where accuracy is a premium. Kapalua is a course where accuracy off the tee isn’t as important, and right now he’s actually losing strokes in the “Strokes Gained: Off The Tee” category.

  9. Walker averaging a little over 10
    Yards shorter off the tee this week at 290 compared to his average of 301 off the tee last year, and that’s at kapalua where the fairways are wide and ball goes miles. Think he will find the 10 yard loss off the tee will negate any accuracy advantage re: strokes gained driving and we’ll see him back to a 44-45″ driver shortly. Good event to experiment though.

  10. I have tried this several times. I’m a 53 year old 3 hdcp, and love shorter drivers….until I see how much distance I lose. At 45″ compared to 46 I lose 3-4 mph swing speed, at least 10 yards, and I may hit one more solidly with the shorter driver. Off center hits go farther with the 46″, and accuracy is about the same. It is not the typical response, and it is true only with my driver, an Adams F11 that has a lighter head – 196gm. With an M2 46″ for example I hit it all over the map and shorter than I do with an M1 at 45.5″

  11. GolfWRX readers have been hearing the same thing — a moderated version — from Tom Wishon for years. People who want to hit fairways should be playing 43.5 inch drivers. At least recreational players should be. On Tom’s suggestion, I did just that; built a 43.5 inch TM Jetspeed with a DGLite X100. In fact, for the last ten years, my 3-wood has been a TM 200 Tour “Smoothie” with a DGLite X100. I adore the 3 wood. The driver is a work in progress. Thanks to interchangeable hosel sleeves and lead tape, nothing needs to be permanent. (And there are a lot of quality older-model heads for $25-50.)
    If you told me that this year, I would not hit a drive more than 245 yards, but I would hit 90% of fairways, I’d accept it, just to see what my handicap was after a season.

  12. When I started playing golf all the way back in 1993 the standard length graphite shaft driver was 44 inches. I’ve experimented with 45″ a few times but keep going back to 44″. I feel like I’m not only more accurate but even a little longer at 44.

  13. Have always contended that drivers were too long and thus hard to control. Yes there was added distance with the length but at what cost to the avg. golfer–the pro’s not so much as they can usually gouge it out and come out ok, the avg. golfer on the other hand is hurt bigtime when in a rough(a real rough, not some of this 1/4″ longer stuff a lot of courses call rough) and has to get out—try some 3″ Bermuda for rough. Anyway, I think around 44 or 43 1/2 is a good length for the avg. player and will continue to build all sets at this length.

  14. I was on my way to work listing to sirius & Hank Haney today. He went off on JW. saying was a huge mistake on JW cutting shaft length to 42″ he said JW was 26th in field with this setup Hawaii had a lot of wind on 1/5/16.I think Hank was drunk he would not let it go on why thought this was a mistake. Hank is obsessed with length comparing him to Jason day & Dustin Johnson. Jimmy is not short but JD & DJ are different animals Hank is loosing it. He said Short hitter can’t win majors or win on tour? well Jason Duffer is T4th & Fabian Gomez or Jim Herman are not winning long drive competitions.

  15. I was on my way to work listing to sirius & Hank Haney today. He went off on JW. saying was a huge mistake on JW cutting shaft length to 42″ he said JW was 26th in field with this setup Hawaii had a lot of wind on 1/5/16.I think Hank was drunk he would not let it go on why thought this was a mistake. Hank is obsessed with length comparing him to Jason day & Dustin Johnson. Jimmy is not short but JD & DJ are different animals Hank is loosing it.

  16. I liked the read but wanted more information. Cut 4″ off and you lose 24 swing weights (I may be wrong but it’s allot). Now if Titleist made his new driver at 42″ with a standard head, how did they get the weight back. Rat glue, tip weights, or a heavier head; it would be interesting to know. Part of enjoying the game is enjoying tinkering with the tools!

  17. Not sure what’s the narrative here.

    Could be guy goes w very short driver to gain consistency after reviewing stats. Interesting and potentially good.

    Could also be guy wins his first major and makes a big equipment change. How many major winners have fallen down that rabbit hole?

  18. Last time I checked the game was all about fairways and greens. Zak….why don’t you do a comparison with yourself, and a 5 and 10H player using progressively shorter drivers….start at 46 then down by 1″ to 43″….. the data would be interesting…….just like a short hockey stick (for those of you who play or have played hockey) ….lots more control with the shorter stick.

    • That is a great idea!

      I found, that I gain no additional distance beyond 45″ lenght.
      The first time I experienced how important the suited shaft is,
      was when I putted a 3 wood shaft (out of curiosity) into my driver, and
      made my longest drive (at that time)…

      …however, meanwhile I found, that it is very much depending on your swing and technique, what type and lenght of shaft is optimal.

      Thus, a comparison would mainly help to get aware of the issue, but (as always) would not replace a individual fitting.

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