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Should you play an adjustable or non-adjustable driver?


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http://www.golf.com/golf/equipment/article/0,28136,2092421,00.html

 

Today's drivers are more specialized than ever. Retail shops are flush with superlight sticks for golfers with moderate swing speeds, offset clubs for players who need help squaring the face, low-spin bombers for guys who generate serious spin, and many more. But in this age of specialization, the No. 1 question you face is: “Should I play an adjustable driver?”

 

With a few twists of a wrench, Average Joes are now able to adjust face angle, loft and lie angle without having to schedule an appointment with their local clubfitter—or having to buy a new club altogether. (We recommend that you work with a trained fitter whenever possible.) Golfers can alter the club dynamics to suit their desired ball flight or to pick up a few additional yards of carry.

 

34% of golfers polled own an adjustable driver.*

(*Percentages shown in red based on 2,337 respondents on golf.com)

 

In 2011, Adams (Speedline 9064LS DFS), Srixon (Z-Star) and Titleist (910 D2/910 D3) each debuted their first adjustable driver, joining a growing list of converts, including Cobra, Nike and TaylorMade. What's more, Golf Datatech reports that the metalwood category is up for the first time in five years, spearheaded in part by sales of the adjustable R11 driver. Through June, two of the top three best-selling drivers (among new for 2011 clubs) offer adjustability.

Regardless of where you fall in the debate, understanding the pros and cons of adjustable and nonadjustable drivers will help with your next purchase decision. “There are many advantages to adjustability/interchangeability,” says Chris McGinley, Titleist's Vice President of Golf Club Marketing. “You can adjust loft, lie and weight, and try different shafts at a fitting, which produces a more precise fit. If so desired, the settings can be adjusted later to improve the fit or ball flight. There really are no disadvantages [to our adjustable technology].”

The Titleist 910 series features an adjustable hosel that allows users to change loft and lie independently of each other (for up to 16 settings), while TaylorMade's R11 allows the independent alteration of loft, face angle and flight path to create a total of 48 different settings. TaylorMade claims it can affect left/right trajectory up to 100 yards, which is a huge selling point for slicers, who make up 85 to 90 percent of all golfers.

Cobra's adjustable models, which include the S3 and ZL drivers, let you tweak the face angle into the open, closed or neutral position, depending on which direction you want the ball to fly. The face angle is moved to the closed position to help a player who normally struggles with a slice. “It's one more variable that allows you to optimize the driver for your swing,” says Tom Preece, Vice President of R&D for Cobra.

 

54% see "noticeable" performance improvement with the adjustable driver.

 

According to Tom Stites, Nike's Director of Club Creation, “You're at a disadvantage if you're not playing with [Nike's] STR8-FIT

adjustable technology. One simple adjustment (up to 32 settings) can make an incredible impact.”

 

Not every manufacturer is sold on the merits of adjustability, however. Callaway, Cleveland and Ping are a few of the companies that haven't jumped on the adjustability express. They cite the cost of adjustable drivers (typically $100 more than non-adjustable models), the additional weighting in less than ideal locations, and the confusion factor created by all those different settings as reasons that a golfer would stay with traditional nonadjustable technology.

 

“The adjustable offerings in the marketplace put too much weight in the wrong places,” says Dr. Alan Hocknell, Senior VP of R&D for Callaway. “Many of the adjustable mechanisms in the hosel and elsewhere on the head weigh in excess of 20 grams, and they compromise performance more than they help golfers find performance.”

 

“The additional weighting required for adjustable drivers makes it difficult to maximize swing speed and distance,” says Nate Radcliffe, Metalwoods Development Manager for Cleveland. (In robotic and player testing, Cleveland found that a 10-gram reduction in weight led to an average increase of 1 mph of swing speed.) Its Launcher Ultralite XL270 driver, part of the Launcher Ultralite series, is 40 to 60 grams lighter than most adjustable drivers.

 

GALLERY: Golf Magazine asked eight readers to get custom-fit for new drivers—four with adjustable drivers and four with non-adjustable drivers. See how everyone got longer and straighter off the tee.

 

“Speed is the most critical factor in creating distance potential, and club weight is the most influential factor that's unrestricted by the Rules of Golf,” adds Radcliffe. “Tour shafts are in the 45- to 60-gram range, and grips are half the weight of what was available only two years ago. This allows for weight reductions of 30 to 50 grams in drivers.”

 

“We do see the value of adjustability for fine-tuning ball flight,” says Marty Jertson, Senior Design Engineer for Ping.

 

“Currently, though, you have to sacrifice a lot by adding weight to the hosel, and we don't want to take a step back in performance gains. With our technology and fitting system, we believe we can maximize driver performance.” Change can be intimidating, and this can deter consumers who've been playing a non-adjustable driver all their lives. The perceived complexity (How do I adjust the driver? What do all the settings mean?) of adjustable drivers prevents many traditional golfers from taking the plunge into the world of adjustability.

 

“We've gone to great lengths to simplify the fitting process,” says Tom Olsavsky, Senior Director of Product Creation for TaylorMade. “We simplified the FCT sleeve to read higher or lower [versus closed or open in the R9]. While many golfers understand that if you close the face the ball flight will be higher, or that you open the face for a lower flight, we wanted R11 to be simpler to understand.”

 

Critics of adjustable drivers point out that consumers make few, if any, alterations once they purchase the club. In some cases, the adjustments are comparable to pre-configured settings in traditional drivers. “The adjustable club is then burdened with the weight of the adjustability mechanism for the rest of its life, which can negatively affect performance,” adds Callaway's Hocknell.

 

70% adjusted the driver at least once.

 

According to TaylorMade's Olsavsky, “At least 80 percent of TaylorMade buyers adjust the drivers at least once. After the initial change, 10 to 15 percent adjust settings regularly.” Cobra claims that 75 percent of its consumers who play adjustable drivers use the adjustable features. Most find a setting that works and rarely adjust again.

 

47% would not consider buying an adjustable driver.

 

“The bottom line is that adjustability offers a customized option to every golfer on demand,” says Nike's Stites. “That's the way of the world. You see it in all industries: People want to have it their way right now. Those who've adopted the technology find it empowering.”

 

Non-adjustable or adjustable. The choice is yours. Whatever your decision, make sure to get custom fit for a new driver. The improvements to your game might shock you. We fit eight Average Joes—four with adjustable drivers and four with non-adjustable. Each guy now hits it longer, with an improved ball flight and greater confidence than before.

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I just got an R11 but havent tinkered really.. only have it half a degree more loft and switched the weights to draw(but I'm going to change them back to 10 in the toe and 1 in the heel to try get a slight draw). Other than that I don't see how it could make a difference tbh.

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Ping and Callaway are citing cost, yet their new models are right up there with the adjustable models, especially if you don't fit their stock shaft (1-2 options) and have to change it for an upcharge, and they don't drop their prices until the next generation is slated for release. The problem with the other logic on display that both of them cite are that it causes confusion. No, not really. I don't know of too many golfers that ever tinker with their settings after their fitting and getting it optimized. If they do, they're also tinkering with non-adjustable models, or scrapping them all together. The benefits of the adjustability is that you are fitted with the exact club you're purchasing. The fitting cart clubs, try as they might, aren't going to be the same club as hitting the one you're buying and optimizing and fitting it. As for weight being placed in the wrong place, really? So your touring pros that slather lead tape on your non-adjustable models aren't putting weight in the wrong place either? Oh, and in case the R&D guy at Callaway forgot, they had a patent with a prototype that included a nearly identical version of TMag's ASP on it(MGS covered it too, if I'm not mistaken).

 

So Mr. Ping, explain this to me, how can you justify an upcharge of $150 or so to go from your TFC or Tour shaft (which you'll never disclose the manufacturer of because they come from several different factories and are painted the same, essentially selling more than one Tour or TFC shaft) and then still not guaranteeing it to be optimized completely, nor perform like your fitting cart club at times? Then you're in the $450 price range for a non-adjustable club that I can't fine tune. To top that off, you offer digital lofting and still don't get it exact (I can post a verbatim post from another site where a gentleman specifically paid the extra for digital lofting to get a 7.8 degree head and it spec'd out at 8.3 degrees). Isn't digital lofting supposed to guarantee the exact loft? It's also a paid service, and there is still a tolerance? That's poor to me.

 

Mr. Callaway guy, why do you say that you don't support adjustable drivers when you recently killed your i-Mix system, and now are releasing a Razr line that has an adjustable hosel, nearly identical to Titleist's sure-fit I might add. Yet it positions weight wrong? So your new clubs that are about to be released have weight in the wrong place and they're not going to be optimal? Great marketing strategy there.

 

In conclusion, Callaway does support it, they're just now able to offer it to customers because either they were too cheap to fully invest, or they've seen the sales increases and benefits of it. Ping is still refusing to offer adjustability because that's not Karsten's vision from back in the day, and they're trying to stay true to his old business model instead of keeping up, that or they're too cheap to invest in the R&D. Both make fantastic clubs, but for them to jump on other manufacturers for offering something they don't have, and one now joining the party late, and the other refusing to RSVP, it turns me off on the brands, even if they have made some of my favorite clubs of all time.

In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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i have a nike machspeed black and ping g15 both fitted to my swing.

but is pretty much standard except the nike is set to 2 degs open (which is actually neutral) because the club itself is closed.

 

the only upside i see from goin with an adjustable driver is in the event ur swing changes u can adjust the club to suit the flight characteristics ur after as much as u can.otherwise ud probably not touch the adjustments for a while

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Adams Dhy 18*

Mizuno Mp59 4-p KBS Tour S

Vokey 50* 55* 60*

Scotty Cameron Select Newport 1.5

Ball - Z star XV

Oakley Stand Bag

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I just got an R11 but havent tinkered really.. only have it half a degree more loft and switched the weights to draw(but I'm going to change them back to 10 in the toe and 1 in the heel to try get a slight draw). Other than that I don't see how it could make a difference tbh.

 

Wait... what? I thought more weight on the heel, less on the toe was the draw setting. Aren't you doing it the other way around?

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Wait... what? I thought more weight on the heel, less on the toe was the draw setting. Aren't you doing it the other way around?

It is that way, more in the heel is the draw setting.

In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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I'm inclined to believe that the adjustability-related mechanisms do put weight in non-desirable locations and that it has a negative impact on performance. Companies that make adjustable drivers want us to believe that moving 7 grams will change our ballflight, but how much to the adjustability components weigh?

Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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Matt, the adjustability components, aside from weights are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Why? Because their weight is still fixed at a certain location (adjustment sleeve weighs the same regardless of it's face's adjusted position, on TMag's ASP, it's still in the same place and still weighs the same). The only differential in there when adjusting anything is the weights. Can a few grams here or there change things dynamically? Go cut 2 inches of lead tape and put it on the toe of your driver and see what happens to the flight. I guarantee you that the flight will change, and that's right at a swingweight point (depending on what tape you use). Why? Because you're changing the polar MOI, or resistance to twisting. That's why weights can play such a big factor in the adjustability. You're also changing the swingweight when you completely remove one weight and replace it with another. There are a ton of factors involved when changing weights, not just changing the actual weight and where it's at.

In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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You're missing the point. I understand that the components don't move, be they sleeves, ASP, ports for weights, etc. The point is that they are putting weight in potentially "undesirable" locations. If this weight could be "saved" for more premium, performance-enhancing locations, that would be better.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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You think 3-8 grams of weight would really be that big of a deal? You're overthinking it. The manufacturing processes aren't that exact. There's more misplaced weight than these components add from overly thick welds, thicker areas of the clubhead, etc. Manufacturing tolerances play a larger factor than these components do. The only thing I've ever seen be somewhat consistent are tour issued heads (which also inclued spec stickers and ive never seen 2 weigh identical)and then they hotmelt them and add weight at times in other areas. Weighting doesn't play nearly as large of a factor as aerodynamics and face thickness, the two primary components in how well a driver works. These adjustability options are more fitting tools than anything. The weight added in minute amounts to certain areas from adjustability components don't adversely effect the clubs to a point that's noticeable. It takes a lot to change MOI (you can change the moi with lead tape if you add enough). These pieces don't add that much. The ASP on my driver weighs 4.3 grams, promise you if you moved that 4.3 grams anywhere not on the toe or heel, the performance wouldn't change. Only when you change the polar weighting is the weighting going to play a part.

In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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Based on reading your last two posts it seems that you're talking out of both sides of your mouth on the weighting thing. 2 pieces of lead tape will definitely effect ball flight but a 4 gram ASP is unimportant?

 

My only point is that I ask the manufacturers/advertisers to be consistent. They offer me movable weights and tell me that moving a few grams from the heel to the toe will change ball flight. Fine, I will accept this premise, but it leads me to ask how much the weights, weight ports, ASP, ASP port, FCT sleeve, and FCT port weigh and how that impacts performance. Given that I'm not a physicist, I don't work in R&D, and I have never done extensive scientific testing on these heads, I don't have answers to these questions, but I think they're fair to ask. The only unfortunate thing is that the people who are on the inside of this will never give a straight answer.

 

I am certainly not a hater of adjustability. I've played an R9 460 for 2 years now and have enjoyed it. I used to open and close the face a lot, but after working on my swing, I found that the adjustability was a feature that I did not use.Going forward, I am switching to a non-adjustable driver, but I may very well go back at some point. As ever, YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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Reread both posts please.

 

I'll quote them actually, so you can see where you misread them.

 

 

My first post:

 

The only differential in there when adjusting anything is the weights. Can a few grams here or there change things dynamically? Go cut 2 inches of lead tape and put it on the toe of your driver and see what happens to the flight. I guarantee you that the flight will change, and that's right at a swingweight point (depending on what tape you use). Why? Because you're changing the polar MOI, or resistance to twisting.

 

From my second post regarding the ASP:

The ASP on my driver weighs 4.3 grams, promise you if you moved that 4.3 grams anywhere not on the toe or heel, the performance wouldn't change. Only when you change the polar weighting is the weighting going to play a part.

 

How does either of those statements contradict each other?

 

The first one is talking about polar MOI, meaning the heel and toe of the club having weight added to one or the other. The second post then talks about the weight of the ASP (which is along the centerline of the clubhead if you've never seen one) being inconsequential if you move it, and I quote, "anywhere not on the toe or heel". Unless you're moving it from it's current location to the toe or the heel, you're not changing the polar MOI. That's also why I said in the first post, which you think contradicts the second one but hopefully this helps you understand a little, that if you add 2 inches of lead tape to the toe, the flight would change. Moving weight to the poles(that's the toe and the heel) of the club are the only ways that you're changing it's polar MOI. Adjusting something along the centerline of the clubhead, and not changing where it is located on the club physically, you're not going to change the location of the weight.

 

The sleeve for the shaft is centrally located, so no matter how you adjust it, that's also in a fixed point. So there's no confusion, unless you take a right handed driver and plug the hole where the sleeve goes and make it a left handed driver by moving the location of the shaft and sleeve, that sleeve also has no effect on flight, by it's weight, because it's not physically moving it's location when you adjust it.

In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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I could continue this because I think that, at best, we're talking past each other. I'm not going to because I don't have a dog in this fight as I don't design/produce/market/profit from adjustable or non-adjustable drivers. I stated that the concerns raised by PING and Callaway seemed valid to me. Unfortunately, I'll never know whether they are or not because anything that either side puts forward is highly suspect because it is agenda driven.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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I have always been somewhat resistant to adjustable clubs, my thinking being that the adjustable technology itself must be designed around, hence taking away optimal club performance in some other way. I still feel that being well fit to a non-adjustable club is probably preferable.

 

That being said, I just started playing an R9 SD and the adjustable options have allowed me to dial that club in to my swing much better than I probably would have bothered with had it not been adjustable. I have tried several different shafts and found one that works quite well for me. If I had had to take the club in and get shafts changed, I know I never would have bothered and it would have been very frustrating.

 

So I guess I'm coming around to seeing the point and liking the adjustable options because it allows a player to more easily and cheaply tinker around with their setup and find what works best for them.

Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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Tyk: I agree with you 100% on the convenience of swapping shafts, and it might be worth whatever performance tradeoff there may or may not be. If you're the type who likes to mess around with different shafts, it's tough to beat the convenience of the FCT tip. For me, shaft testing would be impossible without it.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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I have to admit I don't even understand why would 3-4g of weight change the performance of a club.

 

I'm not saying I don't believe it, I'm just saying I don't understand why, so, if someone wants to give me a mechanical physics class on why it happens I would be more than happy...

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I don't understand the difference between setting an adjustable driver to 2 degrees open versus opening the face of a non adjustable driver using my hands, is there any difference?

 

I think the ability to change loft is great, so is changing weights, but I can't understand opening and closing the face.

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I don't understand the difference between setting an adjustable driver to 2 degrees open versus opening the face of a non adjustable driver using my hands, is there any difference?

 

I think the ability to change loft is great, so is changing weights, but I can't understand opening and closing the face.

 

I hear this often and my response is always the same: it's about consistency. Yes, you can use your hands to turn the club open or closed, but can you open/close it exactly the same amount every time?

 

Also, the "loft" change is a function of changing the face angle. You change the effective loft, not the actual loft that the club is cast to.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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Opening the face lowers the effective loft because of what the body has to do to the club at impact to square theface. It's effectively delofting theface to square it. Adjusting it this way is also more consistent. There's no way you can consistently set it open the exact same way every time.

In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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But in saying that, you are saying that you can't set it square every time either aren't you? Why could one set it square the same way and not open the same way?

Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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