I was so intrigued by the notion of the new Vertical Groove driver that I ordered one up about a week ago for testing, to see if it was really as revolutionary as I’d heard through the golf industry grapevine. Mine hasn’t arrived yet, so I haven’t had a chance to see for myself, but it certainly worked for John Daly. After the crowd favorite and two-time Majors Champ made the switch, he just won his first title in more than a dozen years, the PGA TOUR Champions’ 2017 Insperity Invitational at The Woodlands Country Club in Houston, Texas.
All golf club faces have groves in them to impart spin on the ball, but until now convention has been to align the grooves horizontally. This makes a lot of sense for wedges and other clubs where generating backspin is important. But off the tee, by far the biggest issues plaguing most golfers are slices and hooks, both caused by sidespin. Boston-based Vertical Groove Golf, LLC is a new original equipment manufacturer that switched gears and brought a driver with vertical grooves to market. It debuted in late 2016 and the company claims in written materials that its concept is “Backed by extensive testing from the leading independent testing facility in golf, the driver is proven to deliver better accuracy and greater distance off the tee.” The Vertical Groove Driver conforms to the Rules of Golf, and is designed to reduce spin at impact, forcing tighter dispersion and leading to, on average, up to 40% straighter ball flight and up to 10 yards further in driving distance.
“I didn’t hit the irons very good these last two days,” said Daly. “I drove the ball tremendously with my Vertical Groove driver.” Daly’s win was the first professional victory for Vertical Groove Golf’s new club, but he is not the only professional who has made the leap. Four others in the field were using the club, including Rocco Mediate, who led the field in driving accuracy at more than 90%.
Vertical Groove Golf, LLC
Using a new driver, John Daly captured his first win in more than a dozen years. Photo: Vertical Groove Golf, LLC
“There is no one better suited to showcase the distance and accuracy attributes of the driver than John, and his performance this weekend certainly validated the features and benefits of our new golf club innovation.” said Rubin Hanan, Managing Partner and COO of Vertical Groove Golf (via release). “To have five players using our product in competition on Tour, just a few months after launch, is amazing. But, this is just the beginning, as we have more than a dozen players testing the driver on the PGA Tour Champions. John’s win will certainly help encourage other players to try this product, as we remain focused on becoming the #1 driver on this tour.”
The 450cc Vertical Groove Driver ($400) is offered in 8, 9.5, 10.5 and 12 degree lofts (right) and 9.5 and 10.5 degree lofts (left), and features a range of premium Aldila NV2K series shafts, usually an aftermarket upgrade, as standard (with Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips). Alternative shaft options include models from Fujikura, Mitsubishi and Aldila. I’ll let you know my own thoughts after I’ve had a chance to test it out, but I look forward to it - like Daly until the past weekend, I haven’t won any tournaments in more than a dozen years.