Will Zalatoris wasn’t exactly a short hitter before. With a lanky 6-foot-2 frame, combined with a big arm swing on the backswing and wickedly fast hip rotation on the downswing, he averaged more than 307 yards per drive off the tee last season, and ranked 23rd in driving distance.
But the nature of golf nowadays is that we’re all looking for more distance, no matter who — or how good — you are. And this offseason, Zalatoris found 12 yards more of it without changing his swing but, rather, tweaking his driver specs.
It comes courtesy of the PGA Tour’s Sean Martin, who reports that Zalatoris lengthened the length of his driver from 44.5 inches to almost 46 inches.
“What I saw at home was another 12 yards of carry without doing anything, not trying to smash it. Just being normal,” Zalatoris said after his sixth-place finish at PGA West. “That’s something that is going to be huge out here. There’s multiple courses where that extra 12 yards of carry will allow me to hit it over bunkers I was hitting into last year…it’s a no-brainer.”
Martin went on to report that Zalatoris swapped out his driver shaft along the way, and during testing, reached ball speeds of 182 mph without sacrificing accuracy (you can read the full article right here).
So far, the stats seem to show it’s paying off. He didn’t just shoot 61 in his last start, his driving distance has already jumped from 307 to north of 312 yards, bring his SG: Off The Tee ranking from 31st to 23rd.
But before you start whacking-on extra length onto your driver use caution. The reason why Zalatoris says this move was a “no-brainer” for him was because he didn’t sacrifice much accuracy, and even still., he still plans on using a shorter driver on certain setups. When we had a couple of avid, average golfers test added-length drivers (which you can ready about here), we encountered some trouble.
“Each pounded tee shot was followed by a penalizing slice or another screaming liner. The lack of consistency was a glaring issue,” writes GOLF.com’s Jonathan Wall.
There’s no harm in going through a good driver fitting with a reputable clubfitter and seeing if a longer driver works for you, but tread carefully before you dive straight in. Unless, of course, you hit the ball as well as Will Zalartoris.