Posts Tagged ‘clubface’
There is so much complex information out there regarding the Ball Flight Laws – a ten second Google search yields enough confusion to get my head spinning for a month. The “old” or “new” ball flight laws, Dr. Wiren, TrackMan…..who or what should you believe?
In light of Dr. Einstein‘s insightful quote I am going to give this touchy topic my best shot and try to keep it as simple as possible. Please don’t check out! This is important information for any golfer to comprehend, so bear with me and you’ll gain a far better understanding of why your golf ball reacts the way it does.
There are only four factors that influence ball flight when clean (not necessarily solid) contact is made between a golfball and a clubface.
The faster the clubhead travels the further and higher the ball will travel – generally with more spin. Compare a chip (slow speed) with a pitching wedge vs. a full swing (faster speed) with a pitching wedge…simple enough.
Orientation is a fancy term that refers to where the clubface is angled. Keep in mind that the face angles both left or right or up or down – left or right being an open or closed face and the up/down variable (although hopefully never down) referring to the loft imparted at impact (dynamic loft). The face angle largely determines where the ball launches – left or right of the target and at what angle relative to the ground. A good general point to remember is clubface (for the most part) = launch.
Once again the direction the clubhead travels relative to the target line at impact – left or right (clubpath) and up or down (attack angle) – plays a role in determining ball flight. A lesser role than the clubface, but a role nonetheless. A good general point to remember is clubpath (for the most part) = curve.
Centerdness of Contact
This is a big one and something the vast majority of teachers and golfers tend to underestimate. Most golfers strike the ball on the sweet spot far less frequently than they think . I often see golfers that swing for a draw, yet strike for a fade – in other words they have a clubpath that is in to out, yet hit the ball slightly out the heel which leads to a fade. An off center point of contact on the face leads to gear effect, which overrides or reduces the effect the face orientation and clubhead direction have on ball flight. This factor plays a bigger role than most realize – watch out for it. And the best way to do that – a spray of Dr. Scholl’s foot powder.
Here are a few simple factors to understand and remember:
- The ball launches primarily in the direction of the face – varying degrees of up and either left or right.
- Given a centered hit, clubpath leads to curve. With the curve being away from the clubpath.
- Hitting down does not increase spin, and conversely, hitting up does not necessarily reduce spin.
- Heel hits encourage fades or reduce hooks and toe hits encourage draws or reduce slices.
- The more you hit down on the ball, the more you will swing in to out and the more you hit up on the ball the more you will swing out to in.
Now that you’re finished reading shoot back up to the top and read again. This is vital information to assist with your understanding of of how your golf club “communicates” to your golf ball.
If you’d like to try out your new understanding of the Ball Flight Laws in southwest Florida check out this Fort Myers Golf Guide for a great course to play.
Thanks for reading and feel free to fire away with any questions you may have…..
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….
We’ve all heard the saying ‘high launch and low spin‘. With the help of TrackMan I have been able to learn which part of the clubface to strike the ball with in order the get the ball to launch higher, spin less and ultimately travel further.
Watch the following video…
Here are the factors that make a slightly high and toe sided hit optimal:
- Due to the roll/curvature of the face there is more loft above the center line than below. The static loft of the club is measured in the center of the face, so if a club has 9.5 degrees of loft that is only in the one central location. Half an inch above the center line the loft increases by around 2 degrees and vice versa for below the center line.
- A strike above the center line will always lead to a higher launch angle and can often be achieved quite easily by teeing the ball higher.
- Due to vertical gear effect a strike that occurs below the center line will have a substantially higher spin rate than one higher on the face.
- I have seen increases of almost 1400 rpm with low strike points – in addition to distance sapping lower launch angles.
- Most of the golfers that I teach need to hit draws. A golf ball that is struck on the toe side of the clubface will tend to have a greater inclination to draw than one struck towards the heel of the club.
- If a shot is hit out of the center of the face with a swing speed of 100mph a spot on the face 3/4″ out side of that will be travelling at almost 103mph and a spot the same distance inside that will only be travelling at 97mph.
- The ball will travel faster and most often further with higher club speed.
If you’d like to get a feel for where you are striking the ball on the face try dry erase marker or Dr. Scholl’s Odor X – they both work like a charm and give instant feedback.
We are all capable of hitting amazing golf shots, yet it is those mind-numbingly bad shots that ruin our day and erode any measure of confidence that we may have been hanging on to. The question we all would like to know the answer to is – why? Why was that shot so far offline when I’ve been hitting the ball straight just about all day? What is the primary cause of my inaccuracy?
My experience is that most golfers tend to look in the same place to find answers to their problems. Just like husbands tell their wives on every bad shot she might hit – “You lifted up!” Well, so to do we tend look towards the same area as a cause for our bad shots. Talking with my students it appears that far too many golfers are of the belief that bad shots are caused by a swing that was suddenly over the top or under plane – in other words the clubpath was different and thats what led to the offline shot. This is even a favorite for the golf commentators on Sunday afternoons – if a golfer hits a shot left coming down the stretch you are very likely to hear Nick or Johnny chime in with, “Well, he came over that one…”
Teaching with TrackMan has taught me that most golfers’ inaccurate shots are caused by one of two factors:
- An open or closed face at impact
- Or an off center strike (heel or toe)
Golfers tend to be fairly consistent with their clubpath. Keep in mind that this is a general statement and not all golfers are consistent, but my experience has shown that golfers that work at their game tend to have a good measure of consistency when it comes to the direction their clubhead is travelling at impact – clubpath. It may not be an ideal path or what they are looking for, but consistent it is!
Consistency to your shot pattern comes from quiet/passive hands through impact and a predictable point of contact on the face (even if it’s not in the center!)
If you would like to find out what’s causing your shots to veer offline contact me at andrew(at)andrewricegolf.com to set up a TrackMan lesson or to discuss an online lesson.
As you may have heard, it’s all about impact! And it really is. The most important part of the golf swing is the point at which the golf club communicates to the golf ball - impact. The ball spends 1/2000 of a second on the face and it’s during this sliver of time that the outcome of every shot is determined.