Posts Tagged ‘hitting up’
Few golfers are aware of what really happens when a clubhead collides with a golf ball at high speed, not to mention how much an off-center collision can effect the flight of the ball. My hope is that this article and the accompanying video footage will give each of you a much better understanding of the importance of solid contact.
I would encourage you to watch the following PGATour.com video a few times…
As you can see a strike away from the center of gravity of the clubhead will lead to twisting of the clubhead. While most of the twisting occurs after impact, a portion of it does occur during the impact interval. It is this twisting during impact that leads to gear effect which can greatly alter the flight of a shot.
An off-center collision will twist the clubface in any direction.
A hit high on the face will tilt the face upward and reduce the amount of spin on the ball, while a low strike point will deloft the face and increase spin rate. A strike towards the toe will open the clubface and increase draw or reduce fade and a strike towards the heel will close the face and increase fade or reduce draw. Interestingly, the clubface will tilt vertically (top/bottom) almost as much as it will horizontally (toe/heel).
There are seven shots in the video and if each of them had a neutral club face and club path during impact, the results of each shot due to gear effect would have been as follows:
Shot 1 – A strike above the “equator” of the clubface and slightly towards the toe. Ideal if you would like to hit high launching, low spinning, draws that go a long way.
Shot 2 – A more pronounced high, toe side strike. This strike point is too far from aligning with the center of gravity of the clubhead to be beneficial. This flight due to gear effect would have been fairly high launching, low spinning and would not have faded as much as it might have appeared.
Shot 3 – Another extreme high, toe side strike along with a heavy descending blow – not good. High and right, but a fairly straight flight.
Shot 4 – A severely off-center hit where the collision is with a very low portion of the face and in the heel. Believe it or not this ball gets airborne and will almost always be an unimpressive high spinning, low fade with very little distance.
Shot 5 – Charley Hoffman: I have seen numerous clips of high speed driver footage like this and I don’t think I have ever seen one where I cannot detect any twisting at all. A slight downward attack angle. Appears to be very close to a perfect center of gravity strike – a truly rare event! Very straight.
Shot 6 – Matt Kuchar: A neutral attack angle along with a high, toe side strike. High launch, lower spin and a slight draw – boom!
Shot 7 – Luke Donald: About as solid as Charley Hoffman’s shot, but the interesting thing about this clip is the attack angle – quite severely down. Solid and straight, but not optimal for maximum distance.
It is interesting to note that today’s larger clubheads will resist twisting due to having a higher moment of inertia. MOI is a measure of a body’s resistance to angular acceleration or twisting. MOI really comes into play when the ball and the clubface meet someplace other than the sweet spot. The MOI of a club is higher for heel/toe mishits than it is for high/low mishits and therefore tends to be more forgiving on heel/toe mishits. However, golfers tend to mishit a shot further towards the heel/toe than they do high/low so the clubheads’ resistance to twisting tends to even out.
Please know that physics is not selective and any golfer, pro or amateur, can hit any shot solidly or severely off-center. Also – no golfer can “stabilize” the clubface during or after impact due to an off-center strike.
This article shows you which part of the clubface is best.
I love this video footage and from here on out it will be required viewing for all my long term and golf school students. Would love to hear your thoughts….
Let’s start at address: In order to move your swing plane to facilitate an in-to-out path drop your back foot and shoulder inside the target line - basically set up with a slightly closed stance.
Tee the ball high and make sure it is not too far back in your stance. You should have a sense that you are behind the ball and are preparing to “swing uphill” as you get set.
In the swing you will need to feel that you are staying behind the ball with your upper body as you aggressively drive the hips and weight over onto the front foot. This is where the “uphill” sense comes from – as the hips drive the head stays back you create the body motion that allows for the clubhead to move up into the hit. I like to refer to this as body curve.
Believe it or not when you hit 5 degrees from the inside, coupled with 5 degrees up on the ball the clubhead is travelling straight at the target at impact (assuming you aligned correctly of course)! A fantastic recipe for long and efficient tee shots.
If you cannot seem to get the sense or feel for hitting up on the ball it could well be that your are working your body incorrectly through impact. It is very common for golfers with tight hips or general flexibility problems to overuse the upper body and try to muscle the hit with their arms. This will always result in a downward, spinny strike on the ball. You may also need to consult with a golf specific fitness trainer to help you become more physically able to get your body into the correct position.
There are important differences that occur at impact when a golfer hits either down or up on the ball (attack angle). I have always espoused that golfers hit down on all clubs, the driver included, but my research with Trackman has convinced me otherwise. The ball should be struck with a subtle downward blow with all shots off the ground (irons, hybrids and fairways), but the driver should ideally be hit with an upward strike for optimal trajectory and spin patterns. I will attempt to explain the differences in the direction the clubhead travels (relative to the target line) as it moves both down, and up, into the ball.
Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between swing plane (also referred to as swing direction) and club path, because too many golfers believe they are one and the same. Let’s view swing plane as the hula hoop in the pictures below - it is the angle upon which the arc of the swing travels. Club path is the direction the clubhead is travelling in, relative to the target line, at the moment of impact.
Hitting down on the Ball:
PGA Tour golfers hit down on a 7 iron with an average attack angle of slightly more than 4 degrees. You should be able to tell to what degree you hit down on the ball simply by analyzing your divots - too much dirt being moved and you’re more than likely 8 degrees down, no divots would mean a flat or neutral attack angle.
When a golfer hits down on the ball with a neutral swing plane (straight at the target) notice how the pencil (used to illustrate club path) points right of the target. The table’s edge indicates the target line.
This means that with a straight plane/swing direction, when the clubhead travels down, it is also travelling from in to out relative to the target line.
In order to neutralize the club path, the swing plane must actually be rotated to the left. Thus, with a descending attack angle, in order to create a straight club path, the swing plane must be rotated to the left of the target line (for right handers).
Hitting up on the Ball:
Better drivers of the ball tend to hit up on the ball – anywhere from 1-5 degrees up. This reduces the amount of spin on the ball and increases the launch angle – thus increasing both carry and roll distance.
When a golfer hits up on the ball with a neutral swing plane (straight at the target) notice how the pencil (club path) points left of the target.
In this example, with a straight plane/swing direction, when the clubhead travels upward, it is also travelling from out to in relative to the target line.
This out to in path can be neutralized by rotating the swing plane/direction to the right (for right handers). Notice how the pencil (club path) is now straight.
So if somebody ever asks you if the swing with the driver and the irons is the same, just smile and say, “No, not really!”
Any thoughts? Questions….