What the manufacturers fail to tell the customer
Nowadays, virtually all major brand drivers incorporate shaft connector technology. The designs vary but in general the intention is that the user can set various positions on the shaft connector to adjust driver loft and face angle. A change in loft theoretically affects launch angle and spin rate whilst a change in face angle theoretically affects shot direction and/or shot shape. The impression often given by the manufacturers is that these two adjustments are independent of each other. However in most instances this is not the case and, as a result, the change in ball flight is often not as expected. The aim of this article is to explain the key limitation of these connectors and to show how a loft change can actually be achieved.
In spite of what you might read in the OEM marketing material, adjustment of driver loft using shaft connectors is generally not independent of face angle. To test this, place the driver down on the ground in the normal playing position. Let’s assume the face looks square to your target line. Now add 1 or 2 deg. of loft to the driver by adjusting the shaft connector. When you lay the club back down in the playing position it will likely appear closed to the target line (pointing left). Conversely if you subtract 2 deg. of loft the driver face will appear open to the target line (pointing right) in the playing position. This applies to a right-handed player. For a left-handed player the opposite applies. If you then grip the club, leaving the clubhead looking open or closed at address and swing the club as normal, you will likely hit the ball right or left of your target line depending on face angle and the effective driver loft at impact will remain unchanged!
What the manufacturers fail to tell you is that the loft change only becomes effective if the ball is hit with the clubhead face angle in its original position in relation to the target line. So if your driver face angle was originally square to the target line in the playing position prior to changing the loft on the connector, it needs to get back square to the target at impact. This either requires a swing change or a grip change.
A grip change is much simpler to implement than a swing change, so here’s how it is done. Let’s say you have adjusted the driver for more loft as described above and when you place it in the playing position the face looks closed. Rotate the driver head in the playing position so that the face angle looks square to the target line again. Note the clubhead may not be lying in its natural playing position in order to achieve this but that doesn’t matter. Re-grip the club with the clubhead in this orientation and swing the club as you always do. This time the clubface should impact the ball with a square face angle and the loft change you have made will become effective. Taylor Made’s adjustable sole plate (ASP) technology was a novel way of achieving the same thing whilst allowing the clubhead to rest in its natural position on the ground.
Driver loft adjustment using a shaft connector is only achieved when the clubhead face angle in relation to the target line remains unchanged. This generally requires a swing change or a grip change. The grip change is the easier option as discussed above.