On almost every golf course there are at least three or four holes where it is a distinct advantage to get the ball out a good, long distance from the tee. I am now 59 years old, and in recent years I have found that I can no longer get that old yardage with standard-length drivers. Like any player who once was a fairly long hitter, I hated to give up that distance and play an old man's game, so two years ago I began experimenting with longer-shafted drivers. Of course, the idea was not original. Through the years many fine amateurs and pros—Bobby Cruickshank and Chick Evans among them—have used such clubs successfully.

Based on my own experiences, I have come to the following conclusions about longer-shafted drivers: 1) They do indeed facilitate greater distance, especially for men over 50. 2) The swing is easier to control. 3) Your swing pattern need not be altered. 4) After running the scale from 46-inch shafts to 51-inch shafts, I find that 48 inches is best for me. I understand that Bing Crosby is using 46 inches. (The standard length is 43 inches.)

Skipping the involved language of physics, it all boils down to this: the two ways you can gain greater distance are a) by increasing the speed of your club head by speeding up your swing, or b) by increasing the arc of your swing. The former is risky. It multiplies the chances for error. Go with the latter. Keep your normal speed and increase your arc with a longer-shafted club.

from AL COLLINS, Bahamas Country Club, Nassau and Sleepy Hollow Country Club, Scarborough-on-Hudson, N.Y.

TWO PHOTOS TWO ILLUSTRATIONSAl Collins demonstrates the standard-length and the longer-length drivers

NEXT WEEK: SHELLEY MAYFIELD ON THE LEFT HEEL

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)