Archive for the ‘Short Game’ Category
Ben Hogan once said that he despised any ball flight that curved from right to left (a draw!). Having been a chronic hooker of the ball in the early part of his career he knew what it was like to lose shots to the left. It wasn’t until he found a way to overcome the dreaded flip through impact that the legend that is now Ben Hogan was created.
If you too struggle with untimely hooks and occasional blocks, you fully comprehend what Mr. Hogan had to overcome. Flippers have to rely on timing to make their shots go straight – the timing of the hand action through impact determines the outcome of each shot. And when impact between ball and face lasts for approximately 1/2000 of a second it’s not that easy to be consistent – especially under pressure! The better you play, the greater your anxiety level, the less you control the timing of the flip – not a good recipe for low scores when it counts.
Having studied the swings of Hogan and Snead I found that when viewed from down the line it appears that the clubhead and ball seem to disperse aggressively post-impact. The clubhead moves quickly back inside the target line, while the ball launches straight. It almost appears as if they are trying to hit slices, yet the ball flight is very straight.
Watch the following video to get a sense of what to feel while doing the Anti-Flip Drill:
To practice the drill you will need the following:
- Two alignment rods – one on the ground just outside the ball and another in the ground just inside the target line and 18-24 inches forward of the ball. Be sure that the one in the ground is leaning away from you (towards the target).
- A 7 iron with the ball teed up so you can make sure it is in the same location relative to the rod in the ground each time.
- Start small and slow, making sure you swing inside the rod with the clubhead and keep the face square to open thus launching the ball to the right of the rod.
- Patience! Give it a few goes and you’ll start to get the feel. Feel the clubhead and ball dispersing – one goes left and the other goes right. Remember that you have not been doing this “naturally” and that’s why it feels so strange and “incorrect”.
Here is the drill demonstrated in slow motion:
Here’s another good drill to help you overcome the flips:
How to Stop Flipping – Bucket Drill » John Graham Golf
I recently stumbled onto an interesting tidbit whilst working with a young professional on his wedge game. It was early in the morning and we had been hitting beautiful 50 yard pitches the afternoon before and suddenly he could not get the ball to launch low enough with the spin rate he had been generating the day before. Now as you may know I’ve tested almost all there is to test in regards to a 50 yard wedge shot and of course I had looked into the effect of water interfering with the friction between the face and the ball. One problem – I had tested a wet club striking a dry ball. My results from the earlier test showed very little difference in launch and spin when there was water involved and I had since adopted that belief.
As I watched the young pro struggle to lower his launch in the morning dew it came to me – there was a difference between a wet club striking a dry ball and a dry club striking a wet ball! I had to run the test again.
I had to be very careful with the test in that I needed to use the same club, my 54 degree sand wedge, in very controlled conditions, with golf balls that were consistent. I used brand new Titleist NXT Tour golf balls and made sure that I cleaned the grooves and clubface off between each shot. I attempted to hit each shot to carry 50 yards flat and hit eight shots for each portion of the test. I removed the two shots that had the lowest spin from each portion. With the help of my TrackMan here are the results:
Wet club and dry ball:
- Launch angle was 27.8 degrees
- Spin rate was 5463 rpm
- Height was 26.5 feet
Dry club and wet ball:
- Launch angle was 30.1 degrees
- Spin rate was 5291 rpm
- Height was 28.4 feet
Dry club and dry ball:
- Launch angle was 25.4 degrees
- Spin rate was 6603 rpm
- Height was 21.2 feet
The interesting thing in looking at the trajectory chart is how much lower the dry club and dry ball (purple) shots flew. Clearly there was more friction between the face and ball which led to a lower launch with substantially more spin. The dry club and wet ball (yellow) sample flew the highest as the water on the ball greatly decreased friction which led to higher launch, due to slippage and thus decreased spin – certainly not the optimal shot.
The interesting thing when comparing the wet club/dry ball versus the dry club/wet ball results was that the spin and launch were better when the BALL was dry. This was due to the water being forced off the clubhead and into the groove channels during the motion of the swing. Not to mention that the air dried the face during the swing too.
Moral of the story – always clean the clubface (unless it has sand on it) and dry the club and ball when possible. If you happen to have an early morning tee time and you’re a dew sweeper, don’t plan on hitting any low spinners! The drier the ball and club, the better the friction and the better the quality of shots you will hit.
Please read my first two articles on wedges and pitching:
One of the most important aspects of great ball striking is compressing the golf ball. Now, we’ve all heard that statement and we know the feel of a purely struck shot, but what really is compression and how can we do a better job with it? Let’s start by understanding the photograph below. This is a simulated shot where the clubface is just about to reach the back of the golf ball. The red line indicates where the loft or upward face angle is at impact and the blue line indicates the direction the clubhead is travelling during impact. The white line connecting the two represents the amount of compression “experienced” by the golf ball.
The narrower the gap or closer the two lines are the more compression will be exerted onto the golf ball and assuming a decent strike and appropriate launch, the ball will travel further. TrackMan refers to this gap as spin loft and without being too detailed it is the difference between where the face points at impact and where the clubhead travels at impact.
Fredrik Tuxen – one of the founders of TrackMan refers to spin loft as compression itself. To get a better understanding of how the numbers work let me give you a few examples: Jack hits a 5 iron with the face pointing at 16 degrees and the clubhead moving 2 degrees down. Bob swings at the same speed as Jack with his 5 iron and he gets the face pointing 15 degrees up and the clubhead moving 6 degrees down. Jack has a spin loft of 18 and Bob has a spin loft of 21. Both shots are hit well, so which goes further? Jack’s does because he has a narrower spin loft gap and thus compresses the ball more than Bob. What spin loft would create the maximum compression? Zero! However, as we will learn spin loft is in large part responsible for the amount of spin imparted on any shot and a golf ball needs some spin to keep it flying in the air. I have found that a spin loft of 11 is very good for a driver.
Some interesting points about compression or spin loft:
- Hitting down will not increase your compression of the golf ball or the spin on the shot. Invariably this only leads to a shot where the face angle and the clubhead direction both move downward – there is no change in spin or increase in distance.
- A higher spin loft increases spin and generally slows down ball speed.
- If you have similar swing speed, but hit your shots far shorter than your playing partners – this is due to a lack of compression on your shots.
- Shots with a lower spin loft will curve in the air more easily than shots with less compression. That’s why it’s easier to keep a 7 iron straighter than a driver.
- Custom club fitting can help to improve your spin loft simply by delofting either your irons or driver.
Now that we really understand what true compression is we can start to look at methods to help us improve our own ball striking. There are two ways we can compress the ball better – deloft the face angle more at impact without hitting down any more or hit down less without increasing the the loft of the face during impact. Ideally we need to deloft the face without hitting down any more. Notice how in the Jack and Bob example I used above – Bob’s face was delofted more than Jack’s, yet he hit down more and this limited his ability to compress the ball.
To get a good sense of what is required:
- Get in front of a mirror with a 7 iron.
- Grip the club and facing the mirror get the clubhead about 3″ off the ground two feet back from where the ball would be.
- Now slowly glide the clubhead through impact while maintaining the 3″ space between the clubhead and the ground noticing that as you go beyond impact how much your hands need to stay in front.
- When you start hitting balls – start small and hit soft shots off of a tee.
- There should be no ground contact, try to leave the tee in the ground and see how low you can hit these little 7 iron shots.
This is the feel you want! Delofting the face without slamming the club into the ground. And believe it or not this applies to the driver as well. I know it may sound strange and it took me a while to wrap my brain around this, but it is entirely possible to hit up on the ball with the handle/hands in front of the clubhead.
If you have gained something from this article please share it with a friend. Let’s be honest, they could most probably do with the help….
I’m sure the primary objective of the two governing bodies was to eliminate anchoring from the major tours and I emphatically agree. I think the best golfers should be capable of freely swinging the club with their hands and arms.
Bifurcation and Growing the Game
Bifurcation means the splitting of a main body into two parts – and that’s exactly what needs to be done with the rules of golf. There may be another sport, but I cannot think of one where the ‘amateur’ body governs the ‘professional’ body. From college football to baseball, there are different rules for the pros than the amateurs and that’s the way it should be. The governing bodies should be growing the game and this ruling is going to eliminate so many ailing golfers from competing at any level or even playing the game. In 2016 there are going to be thousands of golfers who will turn down an invitation to their Member-Guest event due to the fact that they are simply incapable of putting the ball. I’ve seen golfers who twitch anchored putters - never mind a putter that’s not attached – in 2016 they’re out of golf! Come up with a ruling for professional golf and USGA/R&A events and let the rest of us just enjoy the game.
If you thought you had seen some strange putters and putting styles, you ain’t seen nothing yet! As with anything, golfers who simply cannot putt will find ways to the job done in unique and quirky ways by the time 2016 rolls around. Ever seen anyone putt with both arms wrapped around the putter twice?
I like the idea of changing the ruling for the big guys, but don’t punish everybody in order to achieve your goal…
This shot is an invaluable tool for all golfers. We all need the high, spinner out of a bunker every now and then don’t we…? This one really works and is so simple to execute you simply must give it a try.
Here are the keys to remember:
- Set up with the weight favoring the front foot about 70/30
- The ball should also be well forward in your stance
- The most important part is to keep your shoulders parallel to the sand – this will most often feel like your lead shoulder is lower than it has been in the past. Keeping the shoulders LEVEL is huge
- With the shoulders being level the hands will actually be slightly behind the ball and the face set to open
- Pick out a spot 2-3 inches behind the ball and stay aggressive - remember this ball’s going up!
Now get out there and practice….and that’s it really. Could it get any more simple?
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