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The Big Stick = The Biggest Question

It's okay - you can admit it. You get that little knot in your stomach every time you step on to the tee box of a long par-5 or, even better, a drivable par-4.

It's not the length of the hole that gives you the rumbly tummy; you know you're going to be taking two bus rides and a short subway hop to get to the green anyway. No, it's that decision lingering in the back of your mind -- do I pull my driver for this?

For the amount of money we spend on the biggest club in the bag, it seems to bring with it the biggest amount of pre-swing anxiety. I know I frequently wonder whether I'm going to block it left or tug it just a little too far right. There are those times when I'm swinging it well that I actually start thinking about placement ... well, intentional placement, that is.

But to get better and build your driving confidence, it helps when you make the right selection in the first place.

Build a Better Bag, Part 2: The Driver.

I've been all over the place (yes, a little Army golf reference there) with my drivers. I've gone big names and no-names, draw biased and neutral. My latest kick is shaft selection, but we'll get into that more in the future. For now, let's talk about my latest switch.

For the last few years, I've been keeping a Titleist 917 D3 in the bag. I tend not to mess with the positioning of the hosel too much, as I prefer it in the neutral setting. My current shaft is a UST Mamiya PROFORCE V2 black model, and I love it. But one of the biggest things I've wanted out of a driver has been simplicity and while Titleist is good at it, I've found someone better.

After a little online surfing, I discovered someone had a driver I'd wanted but couldn't afford when it was new to the market. With the price now comfortably in my wheelhouse, I pulled the trigger on a PING G400 LST. The biggest reason I made this change was to keep things simple: the D3 had a sole weight that could adjust the SureFit CG core on the sole, I never really toyed with it much after trying both and settling on one setting. The same goes for the hosel - I dabbled with thee draw setting and the fade, but neutral always worked out better for what I was trying to do.

Enter the G400 LST. The tungsten weight at the back of the sole plate is there and it's not something you really need to think about tinkering with. The hosel is simple, and I haven't felt the need to make any radical changes there, either. I swapped out the Project X HZRDUS for my PROFORCE V2, but rest assured that Project X will be making a return appearance in my writings in the future.

This club just promotes a feeling of confidence in me. There are bells and whistles, sure, but they're not a visual distraction for me. I feel in control on my take-away and transition to my downswing, and I'm keeping the ball in play more as I learn what the club can do when I really let it out.

I checked out a few of the newer, fancier options. Callaway's Jailbreak tech is very tempting, given how stable the club feels at impact. I have always loved the feel of Callaway drivers, and it doesn't hurt that they often give lefties more choices you just can't find with other manufacturers (thanks for that, Phil Mickelson). But not all things are equal, and the PING won out handily in three important facets of this decision: simplicity, feel and price.

Bring on the par-5s. I'm ready for whatever they have in store.

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