Posts Tagged ‘ball speed’
There has been a fair amount of banter online recently regarding various topics and I thought it would help both of us if I jotted down a few thoughts:
A functional draw is one that finishes at the target – something many of us strive for. In order to hit functional draws you need a clubpath that is traveling outward (in to out) and a clubface that is angled slightly closed relative to the clubpath, yet open to the target (assuming center contact).
It is possible to hit both functional draws, ones that finish at the target, and bad draws, ones that move away from the target, with a clubface that is open, square and closed to the target at impact. You can even hit good and bad draws with the appropriate clubpath, but I believe an outward moving clubpath is integral to hitting functional draws. And here’s why…
I am yet to teach a golfer who fades the ball that consistently swings from in to out!
Clubpath is king and clubface is queen – I might get the desired shot shape with clubface, but I cannot get the desired result without clubpath. It is simply not possible to hit a functional draw with a clubpath that travels from out to in (assuming center contact). It is clearly not the only thing, but in my opinion it is the most important thing.
I am well aware there are many different ways to achieve this and whether as a coach or golfer you upgrade the clubface first or the clubpath first is entirely up to you. After all it’s all about results no?
Many golfers and TrackMan users are under the impression that smash factor indicates how well a ball was hit, or how centered the strike was – this is not necessarily the case. A high smash factor purely indicates high ball speed relative to club speed. Here is the simplified formula:
It is quite possible to have a smash factor with irons that is too high. Golfers who play from a closed face position and who tend to flight the ball low will often have a higher smash factor than golfers who flight the ball appropriately. This does not mean the low ball hitters are striking it better, it just means they are generating too much linear ball speed off of a particular club.
It is important for golfers to understand that ball type and condition, dynamic loft, clubhead mass, attack angle, CoR and of course quality of strike go into determining the smash factor for any given shot.
The objective with the driver should be 1.50 or higher, but with the shorter clubs a higher smash just might not necessarily better. Go for solid hits and ball flight over smash factor any day!
A Note to Golf Coaches:
I have made more than my fair share of mistakes in life. From these mistakes I have learned and improved as a coach and a person. One of the many valuable lessons I have learned from making mistakes is to never deride, belittle or insult another golf coach. It does nothing to enhance your image or reputation and you will never look better while attempting to make someone else look worse. Be wise when addressing other coaches and the methods they employ – you’ll be better off for it.
It’s always nice to get an unbiased opinion from an expert. As a result I recently spent some time with friend and clubfitting guru Ian Fraser from Modern Golf in Toronto Canada, discussing what he deemed to be the top driver and shaft options available for 2013. Ian has no affiliation with any one club or shaft manufacturer so I really value his opinions. Here are his selections for the top shafts available this year:
- higher launch and low spin
- stronger mid-section helps to increase ball speed
- BB – blue bullet
- designed to produce less spin with a lower launch
- designed with feedback from ENSO technology
- lower launching and lower spinning shaft
- excellent price point
I also wanted to hear Ian’s take on the new crop of drivers that have been on the market for a few months now and he had some interesting things to say. Here are his choices:
- improved design and ball speed over the 910 series
- D2 and D3 different in size, yet similar in spin rates
- massive adjustability with very high ball speed
- slightly heavier than the R11S
- highest MOI of any driver available and best paint job!
- slightly less spin and higher ball speed than the G20
I suppose my optimal driver would one that had the looks of the Titleist 913 D3, the stability and matte black finish of the Ping G25 along with the adjustability and ball speed of the TaylorMade R1….one can dream!
Please be aware that going out and simply purchasing and combining one of the above options might not be the best thing for you. I would recommend getting with a professional clubfitter who uses TrackMan technology to find the appropriate head and shaft match for your particular swing. You should be looking for the optimal launch and spin characteristics that match your swing speed.
Read THIS to know where you should be launching and spinning the ball based on your current club speed.
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….
Can playing with a watch on help or hurt your game? Now, other than having quick access to the time to see how late you are getting home the results of this test are a no brainer – leave your watch in the bag!
Our fitness trainer at Berkeley Hall, Derek Lemire, was down hitting a few drivers and I thought he’d make for a good subject. Derek is dangerous off a 6 handicap and has improved dramatically the last few years.
For the test I asked Derek to hit shots without a watch, with a single three ounce watch and just for kicks with two three ounce watches. He hit three shots in each condition, I would delete data for the worst shot of the three and then we repeated. The Trackman results were very interesting:
- Club Speed 94.6mph
- Ball Speed 143.3mph
- Carry distance 227.6yds
- Total distance 259.8yds
One Watch (3 oz.)
- Club Speed 93.5mph
- Ball Speed 142.8mph
- Carry distance 222.5yds
- Total distance 249.7yds
Two Watches (6 oz.)
- Club Speed 92.6mph
- Ball Speed 141.2mph
- Carry distance 218.2yds
- Total distance 244.5yds
As you can tell there was a noticeable difference between each example and while I understand no golfer would wear two watches a Rolex or watch with a heavy steel band can easily weigh up to 6 ounces. A 3oz watch or bracelet on your wrist can rob you of as much as ten yards per tee shot.
Moral of the story: unless you are hitting the ball too far at the moment leave your watch in the bag – it can only slow you down.
Rules question: If a golfer felt like they had too much club on a par three would they be able to put their watch on, hit the shot and then remove it again? I’d love to hear from the rules gurus out there on this one….
My wife encouraged me to clean out the garage the other day and I happened upon an old driver I used in college. I still remember how cool this driver was – it was the latest and greatest and even had a titanium shaft! When was the last time you saw one of those? Just for kicks I placed it up alongside my current Titleist driver and was shocked at the massive difference between the two – the older club looked smaller than my current three wood! How could I have possibly played well with this mini club? This got me thinking about a TrackMan test.
For the record the smaller club was a TaylorMade Burner Plus 9.5 degree with a titanium X flex shaft and my current club is a Titleist D3 8.5 with a Motore F3 70 gram graphite S flex shaft. There is a fairly substantial 1.5 inch difference even though both clubs were standard length in their day. I am not sure about the weight or the true frequency/flex of each club as I did not have the appropriate equipment to check those measurements.
For the TrackMan test I hit 12 shots with each club and deleted the data for the two worst shots. I noted that the attack angle, club path, swing direction and plane were very similar from club to club.
The primary differences seemed to be:
- Club speed 99.7mph vs 101.8mph – I believed that this difference would be greater due to the large difference in length of shafts.
- Ball Speed 145.7mph vs 152.4mph – I put this down to the fact that the smaller head led to more off-center hits and thus a decreased average ball speed and smash factor.
- Point of contact – there was a noticeable tendency for me to strike the bigger club in the heel. This led to more shots missed to the right due to gear effect and an increase in the spin rate 2455rpm vs 2895rpm.
- Height – even though the smaller club launched the ball slightly higher the apex height was lower due to less spin and ball speed.
- Carry and total distance – the smaller club carried the ball almost 17yards shorter, but with less spin and a flatter land angle rolled further to only finish just over 10 yards short of the bigger club.
- Dispersion – the smaller club had more shots finish further from the center line due to a much smaller clubface and substantially lower MOI.
Here are the TrackMan generated dispersion charts (yellow is the smaller club) and averages:
(click to enlarge)
I was amazed at how small the difference between the two drivers, total distance wise, there was. Going in to the test I would have thought that there would be a 15 yard difference at least. I expected the smaller club to spin the ball less and lower the apex which it did, but I was truly amazed at how little distance I lost with it. I did notice a much greater tendency to hit the ball outside the sweet spot with the smaller club and that led to some fairly aggressive gear effect draws and fades.
Driving is not my strong suit and I am always looking to keep the ball in play off the tee. Armed with this new knowledge I am going to try a shorter shaft in my current driver head and see what that does for my fairways hit statistic. I also plan on practicing with the older club – I think it is vital in improving ball striking to practice with smaller headed clubs.
I also think this test might also illustrate that the majority of the distance gains we see on the PGATour today are not equipment based, but primarily due to the ball…..your thoughts?