Posts Tagged ‘ball striking’
There are many ways to swing a golf club, but only one way to hit a golf ball correctly.
The whole idea behind my philosophy is the above statement. When looking at the top players of all time, there are no two golfers that swing the club the same way, however they all manage to impact and strike the ball in a similar fashion. How is it possible that Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd and Nancy Lopez can make the ball get to the target the same way that Ben Hogan, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods do? The only answer can be impact. A position where the weight is well on the front foot, the handle leads the clubhead into the ball while the head remains over or slightly behind the ball.
Today I will identify a few key factors that facilitate a sound impact position. Swing the club any way you want, but obey these few simple points, because the vast majority of the greatest golfers follow them.
Almost every champion golfer has a grip that favors the strong end of the spectrum vs. the weaker side. I can only find one legendary golfer that utilized a weak grip and that would be Ben Hogan – all the others were strong, with a few being neutral. A strong grip encourages the hands to lead the clubhead into the strike – an integral part of a proper strike on the ball.
At address it is important for the head to be centered between the feet. This will leave the spine relatively verticle and the shoulders fairly level. Stance width should favor narrow over wide and the ball should never be too far forward. Keep in mind this set-up is in place to allow the golfer to get into a proper impact position as simply as possible.
There are two important points to note in the pivot motion: the plane upon which the shoulders pivot and whether or not the body stays within the 84 degree line. The plus here is that the better the shoulder pivot, the less likely the body is to move laterally (sway) and get across the 84 degree line.
In the shoulder pivot, the lead shoulder must move down and then across vs. simply turning across and behind the ball.
As the body winds to the top and just before transition begins, the back side of the body should be flush up against the 84 degree line. This loads the energy in the swing efficiently and prepares the body to glide effortlessly into a sound impact position. If you do happen to break the line with your hips or upper body here, you will be challenged to get to the proper impact position.
Notice how all of the above factors are in place to facilitate the body being able to get to impact in an efficient manner. This is the secret to all of golf’s greatest players’ swings: they all had different swings, but everything they did allowed them to get into the proper position to deliver the club onto the ball correctly. You would do well to incorporate a few of these elements into your swing.
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?
Please watch the following – it will change how you attempt to improve….
Any thoughts or ideas? Am I just plain crazy?
Thanks to reader Chuck for this enlightening article posted by Bradley Hughes from www.bradleyhughesgolf.com:
FLAT LIE ANGLES -
The Reason and Logic Of The Greats
I know from personal experience in a question asked directly to Lee Trevino that he used clubs that were at least 3 degrees flat in lie angle from the old standard.
Doug Sanders also informed me in the interview I recently did with him (on page 2) that he had his clubs flattened down so the toe sat down and the heel would never strike the ground first.
If we look at Ben Hogan’s club that is in USGA Golf House Museum it is close to 6 or 7 degrees flat in lie angle when compared to clubs of the same length and loft of today.
- The upright clubs make the player come steeply into the ball on descent.
- The upright clubs tell the body stall and insist that the hands flip through impact to try and square that upright lie angled club with the ground.
- The upright club straightens the right arm away from the body and increases clubface roll throughout the shot making timing a huge problem.
- Upright lie angles deteriorate the swing by not stressing the importance of swinging the golf club behind and around the body and rotating through impact with the correct body effort and sequence.
Too often we now see golfers throwing the club through impact – pushing the club head off to the right of the target or throwing the clubhead left of the target with their hand roll – flipping the club face over by hand action trying to correct the mistake.
Today’s clubs should all come with a warning label:
“Swing Deterioration And Poor Mechanics Possible By Using This Club”
Add the fact that the shafts are too long and the swingweights and overall club weights are too light and it is little wonder we don’t see ball striking mastery on any level any longer. Remember: Feedback of the club and the swing is necessary for improvement to take place. That’s why golfers are not improving. They don’t know the difference between a good strike or a bad strike of the ball because the permieter weighting and large sweet spots don’t allow such reference. The equipment golfers are using is NOT designed to help them adjust their swing to the correct efficient motion.
Very well said Mr. Hughes. I have an inkling as to why manufactureres insist on making clubs lighter and more upright…… Firstly, the clubs are more upright as it causes the faders, who happen to be the majority of golfers, to reduce the amount of curvature of their shots. Notice I never said anything about improving their swings – the upright lies in fact encourage these golfers to continue swinging the way they always have. And secondly, the light weight leads to more speed which creates a Wow! factor when they first hit the clubs. The lighter the club the faster you can swing it. You also, however, relinquish a measure of control over the clubhead and a feel for the club.
So the slicer who tries his buddies new 7-iron and hits a straight bomb over the green is amazed as he has never hit the ball that straight and that far before – he simply must have a set!
As with most things it comes down to $$$$! Don’t get sucked in and allow yourself to be enticed with new gimmicks. Know your numbers (length and lie) and play something you like the look of and can feel.
Here are a few offers that are sure to please either yourself or the avid linkster on your Christmas list.
I received my copy of “It’s all about Impact” yesterday. What a great book! You have verified what I have thought for years but was unable to put into words. This book is well worth the money because not only do you explain the 84 degree “secret”, You also get into basic shot skills needed by most amateurs, myself included.
Thanks for a well put together book that is easy to read & understand, has great photos and again, is a super value.
- The eBook and hardcover version will both be 20% off from today through Christmas
- All hardcover books will be autographed by yours truly – bonus!
- Purchase either version and receive a certificate for a one hour golf lesson from Andrew for $80 (valid for 3 months from date of purchase)
- There is also free shipping for anybody residing in the state of South Carolina
- If you would like to place a bulk (5+) order please contact me at (843)247-4688 or andrew (at) andrewricegolf.com for special pricing
Purchase your copy HERE
This is what BH had to say after reading the book and working with the drills:
What an unbelievable difference! Balls are jumping off the club and my confidence has soared. Thanks for studying these world class golfers and sharing their success with your readers.
While I did not play particularly well this weekend, I am very excited about my ball striking.
I have picked up at least 20 yards on my drive and a good club with my irons. I hit 15 quality iron shots, and drove it very straight most of the time.
Thank you, I now feel like I can play golf again!
From today through Christmas I will be offering the following packages on lessons at Berkeley Hall:
- Purchase six thirty minute lessons for $300 – thats $50 each and the regular price is $75!
- Purchase six one hour lessons for $600 – thats $100 each and the regular price is $150!
- All lessons packages include high speed video analysis and a V1 video lesson emailed to your inbox
- These lesson packages are perfect for the crazed golfer in your family and are all available as Gift Certificates (valid for one year from original date of purchase)
- If you would like to purchase or discuss a package please contact me at (843)247-4688 or andrew (at) andrewricegolf.com
During the spring season I will be offering a limited number of group sessions at Berkeley Hall:
- Group sessions are limited to three golfers (minimum of two required) and will run from 3PM to 5PM on Wednesdays
- The sessions include high speed video analysis and a V1 video lesson emailed to your inbox along with 30 minutes spent on the shortgame
- I will be offering a total of six sessions on the following dates: Feb. 2 and 16, March 9 and 23 and April 6 and 20
- The cost is $120 per session and the session package (all six) is available for $600 – a savings of $120! Also available as a Gift Certificate
- Should you wish to purchase a package or sign up for any lessons please contact me at (843)247-4688 or at andrew (at) andrewricegolf.com
Thank you all so much for your support this year – I could not do what I do without you. Merry Christmas!