Posts Tagged ‘dynamic loft’
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…..
For years golfers have asked me how to hit low, spinning wedge shots and I’ve never been able to give them a confident response. After the research I’ve put in over the past few weeks I can give them a certain answer – and perhaps even explain a few other interesting shots we encounter on the course.
In polling better golfers regarding what really good pitch shots look like, the response has almost unanimously been that they tend to be lower with more spin. Edoardo Molinari, the European Ryder Cup golfer and former US Amateur champion was kind enough to help with the research for this article and he stated,
I’ve watched Tiger, Mickelson and Ernie hit hundreds of 50 yds shots, I’ve played with them and they all seem to deloft the club without taking much divot.
Which I agree with by the way – the best pitchers always seem to have a knack for nipping the ball off the turf without much divot and then firing the ball in there low and spinning. The problem with this shot has always been how to hit it low, yet make it spin at the same time….
If you hit down on the ball you’ll be able to hit it lower, but hitting down more only lowers height and does not, as is commonly believed, make the ball spin more. So that option is out. If we take a more lofted club to spin it more then we may get a little extra spin (although that’s not a given), but now the shot will fly too high.
Here is where we need to get a little technical and talk about the forces and angles the club is imparting on the ball at impact. TrackMan uses a term spin loft and it refers to the vertical difference between where the clubhead is travelling at impact (attack angle) and where the clubface is angled at impact (dynamic loft). My research shows that good wedge players have a narrower spin loft (dynamic loft minus attack angle). Let’s get a better understanding of these important factors:
Attack Angle (angle that indicates if the clubhead is travelling up or down, relative to the ground at impact)
In studying hundreds of 50 yard pitch shots on TrackMan over the last few weeks I have found that good pitchers tend to not take very large divots. Yes, they always contact the ground, but the club ‘bruises’ the turf more so than cuts it. This would indicate that the attack angle is shallow – it is down but not hugely so. Now hold on for the following part, because this should not change the way you think about a club striking a ball: my research shows that the attack angle should be shallow enough so that the sole of the club (bounce) actually makes contact with the grass/ground before the ball. And this occurs even on ideal hits…..
Dynamic Loft (the angle of the face/loft at impact)
Really good pitchers have the ability to deloft the club without hitting down more. This means that the hands are in front of the ball at impact and the loft on the clubface is often more than 10 degrees less than the static loft. For example in much of the testing a 54 degree wedge would apply 41-44 degrees of dynamic loft to the ball.
Spin Loft (dynamic loft – attack angle)
This is a very important factor as it contributes to, but does not solely determine, how much spin and loft each shot will have. If you hit a pitch shot with 42 degrees of dynamic loft and you have an attack angle of -3 degrees (the minus indicates a downward hit) your spin loft would be 45 degrees. Common wisdom indicates that a broader spin loft (eg. 50 degrees) would create more spin and height, yet my research indicates that when it comes to chipping and pitching a slightly narrower spin loft (without much downward hit), coupled with clean contact between ball and face increases the golfers ability to hit low spinning wedges. An easy way to narrow your spin loft with pitch shots is to take a lesser lofted club. My students have had tremendous results by using the lob wedge less and getting a little more accustomed to hitting a variety of shots with the pitching wedge.
Friction Launch (the amount of grip between face and ball and how that effects launch conditions)
This type of strike on the ball leads to a scenario where the friction between the face and the ball is far higher than normal. This increased friction leads to a lower launch and trajectory with a substantially higher spin rate. This grip between the ball and face is what I call ‘friction launch’ and just like the term spin loft it addresses the friction and launch of any shot.
As golfers we’ve all hit that pitch shot that comes off the face very low and the moment you strike the ball you know it’s going to grab as soon as it hits the green. Your playing partners are yelling bite and as soon as the ball gets near the hole it comes to a screeching halt! You have just experienced high friction launch.
Please check back in a few days for the follow up post The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part II where I’ll discuss friction launch in detail and show the results of much of the research I’ve done.
To get a much better look at the data be sure to read Part II HERE
There seem to be so many different formulas when it comes to getting out of rough I thought I would share my philosophy in an attempt to simplify your approach. It all really depends on the quality of the lie, because even in very long rough, it’s still possible to get decent access to the back of the ball.
Here are a few examples:
In this situation the clubhead needs to get so far down into the thick grass that most of the velocity created in the swing will be dissipated. The challenge here is not only getting the clubface on the ball, it is getting the ball over/through the grass in front of it. I would always use a very lofted club here (9 iron max) and plan on getting the ball back in play. Hit down more by moving the ball slightly back in your stance and thus steepening the angle of attack and do not be greedy here.
In this scenario the ball is perched on top of the longer grass and we’re smiling. Be careful though as this is a perfect lie for a flyer. A flyer occurs when the grass does not slow the clubhead down through the hit and just enough of it gets caught between the ball and the face. As this grass/matter fills the grooves at impact and gets trapped between the ball and the face, there is very little grip on the ball and as a result the ball launches closer to the dynamic/delivered loft (higher) and spins very little. Ever heard of “high launch, low spin”? That’s what we’re looking for with our driver, but not with an 8 iron from 130 yards and explains why you airmailed the clubhouse from the 9th fairway last week.
With this type of lie also watch for hitting under the ball. When it’s perched on top of the grass like this try to view it as being on a high tee – an easy one to swing under! Make your practice swings where you just brush the very top of grass and duplicate that during the actual shot.
This is a tough one – it doesn’t look bad, yet the hard part is deciding which way it will come out. It could be hot, yet it could also come out very soft and dead like the first example. The best thing you can do here is take a few extra seconds to assess the lie and then commit fully to your decision. Make the call and be committed.
When hitting out of very long grass (ankle/knee high) remember that the long blades of grass will get to the shaft and hosel first. As they wrap around this lead part of the club it will slow down dramatically, causing the face to deloft and the toe of the club to close. Notice how hard Phil Mickelson is working to keep the face from closing in the picture at the top of the page. Having hit out of the fescue more than a few times at Atlantic Golf Club this summer I know this for a fact – take a lofted club, aim a little right, swing hard and don’t ever be greedy.
Should you have had enough trouble getting out of the rough and you’d like to attend a sporting event or concert Click Here