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Alan Comeau Alan Comeau
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Swinging the big sticks

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Testing 2015 drivers fun, informative

Every year, most major golf club companies launch their latest and greatest equipment offerings, and the drivers are the most anticipated of the bunch. 2015 is no exception, with many fine clubs boasting technological advancements promising to help golfers like us hit the ball straighter and farther.

For the past two winters I've spent time on YouTube watching people with golf channels test the new drivers, and I'll be honest, I was pretty envious. I mean, what avid golfer wouldn't want to have a chance at swinging the new sticks like that?

Well, this year I vowed to do something about it, so I came up with the idea of a Chip Shots Driver Testing and contacted my friends Joe Perdue at Hidden Meadows and Michael Clendenning at Barnes Brook. They agreed to provide 2015 demo clubs. Michael offered me the use of his Full Swing Simulator, and the first-ever Chip Shots Driver Testing became a reality.

Pretty much every other driver evaluation I've found online features pros or near-scratch golfers hitting the new clubs and sharing results. The only problem with this, in my mind, is that most of us are not as good as they are, and the results they share may not translate to the recreational or mid-handicap golfer.

I recruited four other golfers, ranging in age from mid-40s to mid-60s and handicaps from high single digit to high double digit (I'd like to thank my testers Colby, Dana, Dee and Kevin for taking a Saturday morning to swing the big sticks). The evaluation included each person hitting each driver five times and then taking a screenshot of the data recorded by the Full Swing Simulator (including launch angle, ball speed, carry distance and total distance). I also had each tester grade the clubs on a scale of 1-10 for look/style, look at address, feel, sound and total score. They were also encouraged to write comments.

The clubs we had to test were Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815, Callaway XR, Mizuno JPX 850, Nike Covert (2014 model), TaylorMade Aeroburner, TaylorMade R15, Titleist 915 D3 and Wilson D100 (2014 model).

After all the swings were swung and every tester scored each driver, two drivers came out on top. The highest rated driver was the Titleist 915 D3, followed closely by the Taylormade R15.

My favorite driver was the Titleist 915 D3, by far, which is the smaller version with the 440cc head. It looked great at address, felt solid, and all five of my hits with it resulted in drives that stayed in the fairway and were long, for me. I averaged 264 yards, with one drive topping out at 272 yards. (I later went back to Barnes Brook and spent an hour testing my current gamer, the Adams Speedline Fast 12 LS, against the Titleist 915 D3. The 915 D3 was 5-7 yards longer, on average, but I came away happy with my driver, as it averaged nearly 260 yards and was very accurate. If someone was to give me a 915 D3, I would use it, but I can't justify the $450 expense for a few extra yards at this point in time).

Here are a few takeaways:

  1. 1. Different drivers are better for different people. That's why it is so important get fit for your clubs by a PGA professional. There are a lot of variables to take into consideration, and if you are going to spend hundreds of dollars, don't you want to get the best clubs for your skill level and swing type?
  2. 2. Of all things, don't neglect the importance of the shaft. I've heard it referred to as the 'engine' of the driver, and I believe this to be true. Part of your fitting should include putting different shafts into the various driver club heads to see which works best for you.

Many local courses have professional club fitting services. As mentioned previously, Barnes Brook in Enfield and Hidden Meadows in Old Town can assist you. Other Bangor area courses that have Pro Shops and club fitting services include Bangor Municipal Golf Course, Hermon Meadow Golf Club, Penobscot Valley Country Club and Traditions Golf Club and Learning Center. This is only a partial list, so I recommend you call your local course to see what they have to offer. It will be worth your time, trust me.

Alan Comeau is host of 'Chip Shots,' which airs on 92.9 FM, The Ticket.

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