Understanding Attack Angle

TrackMan defines attack angle as the direction the club head is moving (up or down) at impact. How much the club head is traveling up or down is reported in degrees… 2º up or 6º down. You’re no doubt reading this in an effort to improve your golf and the purpose of this article and video is to share my experience pertaining to attack angle and how you can use this knowledge to upgrade the trajectory, shape and strike of your shots. Watch…

We need to be on the same page with a few important points in order for a better understanding to take place…

Club Delivery

  • a narrow downswing will typically encourage a steeper, more downward angle of attack

  • a wider downswing will typically promote a shallower, less downward angle of attack

Narrow Downswing

Narrow Downswing

Wider Downswing

Wider Downswing

Club Path

  • an overly downward strike will move the club path more from in to out

  • an overly upward strike (driver typically) will move the club path more from out to in

Club Speed

  • a faster club speed allows for the golfer to hit down more and still maintain a functional flight

  • a slower club speed requires for the golfer to hit down less in order to maintain a functional flight

Keep in mind that hitting down does not make the ball go up! For more information on this point please watch this brief explanation.

Compression

  • please keep in mind that hitting down more does not equate to greater compression for ANY shot

  • watch this video to better understand compression

Divots

  • please stop trying to decipher the meaning behind ANY divot

  • the only take away from divots is that if there is dirt flying everywhere when you practice, you MIGHT be hitting down too much - period!

There you have it. I hope that perhaps some of this insight will help you to better understand the details of YOUR golf swing and what you can work towards in order to improve the quality of your shots and your experience out on the golf course.

If you have a friend that might benefit from this article/video then please feel free to share it. Thanks for reading and for your support.

How to Shallow the Attack Angle

I teach far more golfers that hit down on the ball too much more than those that don't hit down enough. If you are one of those golfers that typically takes big divots and hits a low ball flight then stay with me....

I have found this sequence to work nicely with all golfers looking to shallow their attack angle and improve the crispness of the strike. Try the following (with either irons or driver):

  • PHASE 1 - 5 drags over the top of the ball
  • PHASE 2 - 5 low to high pitch style shots, keeping clubhead low in the backswing
  • PHASE 3 - 5 half speed and half size swings sensing an ascending strike (even with irons)

(all shots are struck with the ball on a tee)

Another drill I like to use to help golfers learn to deliver an ascending strike with the driver is what I call the Box Drill pictured below...

Place an empty sleeve box between a teed golf ball and the target as indicated. The box should be approximately a grip length ahead of the ball. On a windy day it might be necessary to use tees to anchor the box in place. This is a costly addition to this drill!

If you can hit shots without running the clubhead into the box then chances are that you're no longer hitting down on the ball and you should see an increase in both distance and the altitude of your tee shots. Keep in mind that as you "upgrade" your attack angle, should you have an adjustable driver, you might need to alter the loft.

Thanks for reading and I hope these ideas are going to help your game. Cheers!

The Truth about Divots

Demonstrating the Impact Drag Drill

Demonstrating the Impact Drag Drill

I think divots are over-rated. They are not integral to great ball striking and they certainly don't give us as much information pertaining to the swing that led to the divot as we have been led to think. And to think that I used to love them, I used to encourage all my students, even ladies, to hit down and take divots...

Times have changed! TrackMan has shown me that far more golfers hit down too much than those who don't hit down enough. The "hit down" mantra has been flogged to death.

This video I filmed in conjunction with Revolution Golf will give you some idea as to what to look for as you work towards an improved and shallower strike on the ball.

As Martin Chuck so aptly said in this very good follow up video, "We're looking for bacon strips, not pork chops!" A shallow strike will improve the crispness of your strike - give it a try.

Thanks for reading along.

What Can Your Driver Tell You?

One of the first things I do when I teach a golfer for the first time is I go through their clubs and take a look for certain tendencies as we're having our introductory chat. I have seen so many drivers that look like the one in this article that I had to write about it and share what your driver is attempting to tell you!

The first place to look for answers as to what might be going on is to check the face....

Driver Face

Driver Face

Notice here how the black paint is being worn off the bottom of the face and there are numerous impact marks on the upper portion of the face where sand is caught between the ball and the face.

Secondly, inspect where the crown of the club meets the face....

Driver Top Edge

Driver Top Edge

Here, the wear pattern indicates numerous pop-ups.  A few balls must have almost been missed to get them that far up on the crown.  Keep in mind that the only way to hit a pop-up is to have a descending blow where the top edge descends below the equator of the ball.

Finally, take a look at the sole of the club....

Sole of the Driver

Sole of the Driver

It is apparent here that the club is making contact with the ground on almost every shot.  The attack angle is very much down - to such a degree that both the paint and lettering are being buffed off the sole of this club.

The golfer who owns this club hit down on the ball with an attack angle of -11 degrees.  Keep in mind that optimally we would like to hit up on the ball for maximum efficiency.  I am pleased to report that he is working hard at his new attack angle and he is fairly comfortable in the -3 degree range - not perfect but better. Oh, and he just might extend this poor clubs lifespan at the same time.

Clearly I have selected an extreme example to show you here, but take a minute and inspect these three key areas on your driver.  I believe you will learn a fair deal about your angle of attack and why your golf ball is doing what it does.  Keep in mind that the only time a driver should ever contact the ground is when you are addressing the ball.  It should never contact the ground after the first foot or so of the swing. The only marks on it should be tee marks running along the sole and perhaps a ball mark or two in the center of the face!

Here are a few resources to help you hit more up on the ball:

Getting More Out of Your Driver

A More Consistent Strike for Better Chipping

I was recently invited by Mark Crossfield to collaborate on a chipping video to help get our shared message across to as many golfers as possible. Being from England, you may not have heard of Mark over here in the US, but I'm sure that at some point you've watched some of his excellent YouTube videos. As you will see his information is almost as good as his manner and personality in front of the camera. Enjoy...

Here are two images I created for this article with the help of my new GoPro camera. The first one shows quite clearly how the hands are working for a steeper attack angle shot...

Steeper Angle of Attack

While this image shows the preferred approach with a shallow angle of attack and the handle elevating nicely through impact...

Shallow Angle of Attack

Notice how much more the hands elevate during the stroke for the shallow version than the steep version. I've believed it worked this way for a long time, but so nice to see clearly illustrated in the images above.

Here are the important things to remember:

  • Set up with the ball in the middle of your already narrow stance
  • Weight should be slightly favoring the front foot
  • As a result the hands are a touch in front of the ball
  • Not too much wrist action required
  • Land the plane on the runway under the ball (No CRASHING!)
  • You can create a shallow and smooth landing by continually rotating your shoulders through the strike

Thanks very much to Mark for the invite on this tip (and for doing the tidy video edits!) and to to you for watching. If you'd like to hear and learn more about my approach to chipping and pitching around the greens check out the Wedge Project.

Happy New Year and thank you all so much for your readership and support! I have so much more to share in 2015...

The Wedge Project and a New Look!

I am very excited to announce the release of The Wedge Project. It has been a long time in the making and I have learned so much more than I ever thought I would when I departed on a simple research project almost four years ago. That idea, to learn more about that low launching, high spin pitch or chip shots that golfers would sometimes hit, has opened my eyes to what I now view as the "missing link" to short game instruction.

wedgeproject

Thank you all so much for your patience as you have waited for me to get this "project" out to you. I am pleased with the product and know that everyone will benefit from the information presented. If you like/enjoy/appreciate what you see could I ask that you please share with your friends how they too might be able to purchase the video - unless of course you don't want them pitching/chipping any better. 

Thank you for your support and readership and I am grateful for anything you could do to help get the word out. Please share your thoughts here and on Twitter using #wedgeproject

)

Also, I hope you enjoy the new look of Andrew Rice Golf. We would love to hear your comments, both positive and constructive. If there is anything wrong or missing please shoot me a note and I'll work to get it taken care of ASAP.

Thanks again for everything - without you this site would not be possible.






Hitting Draws and Smash Factor

Bobby Locke 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:

Hitting Draws

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?

Smash Factor

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:

Smash Factor (Simple)

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.

Swingbyte vs TrackMan

swingbytevstrackman I was recently contacted by Swingbyte and asked to test their device to see how the data it generated held up against data generated by TrackMan. Please remember this is not a contest and I am not saying that TrackMan is perfect (I'm not sure there is such a thing), but I do believe TrackMan is the benchmark when it comes to reporting club and ball data in golf and I was interested to see how a $150 swing aid held up.

Swingbyte is a swing analyzing device that attaches to your club just below the grip and sends data to a mobile phone or tablet via Bluetooth. With a price point of $150 it provides a tremendous amount of data and sifting through the information on the App might be a little confusing at first, but with patience you will eventually find what you're looking for.

Having used TrackMan for a long time one of the notable things I've found with passionate golfers is that the direction the clubhead is travelling through impact (attack angle and club path) is generally quite consistent. When testing/comparing other devices to TrackMan, whenever I see a dramatic change from one swing to the next in either attack angle or club path numbers a red flag goes up. With the Swingbyte I hit pitching wedges, 7 irons and drivers and I primarily keyed in on club speed, attack angle, club path and face angle. Here are my ratings out of a possible 5 stars:

swingbyte

Club Speed:

If you purchased the device to simply know your club speed you are ahead of the game. It is important to enter detailed specs from each club into the App, but once you've got that done the feedback is surprisingly accurate. All the numbers I saw were within 4 mph of where TrackMan reported. (4.5 out of 5)

Attack Angle:

It is important to know that TrackMan and Swingbyte report attack angle from slightly different portions of the swing and thus differences should be expected, however I thought the device did a fairly accurate job most of the time. With the irons I felt the numbers indicated were close enough to "actual" in order to be actionable. It did seem that attack angles with the driver were a little too ascending. Their were also a few crazy numbers reported, but as you use the device more you'll easily be able to recognize any outliers. (3.5 out of 5)

Club Path:

These numbers were a long way from what TrackMan was reporting and I would not put too much into this particular parameter.  For example with the driver TrackMan reported my average club path on multiple shots was 0.2 degrees out to in, while Swingbyte indicated that every swing I made was from in to out with a range of 1.7 degrees to 13.6 degrees from in to out. (1 out of 5)

Face Angle:

Even with TrackMan I seldom give much credence to the reported face angle as it is too easily influenced by off center hits and I most often use the reported number to determine where the ball was struck on the face. The original Swingbyte reports face angle at impact relative to where it was aligned at address. Assuming you have aligned the device on the club correctly, start with a square clubface and no twisting occurs, you might get an actionable reading - otherwise, I'd move on. (1 out of 5)

The problem Swingbyte has faced is that it could not latch onto a target - it only registered where the device was aligned at address. This means that any data regarding club path and face angle is based around where the device was aimed at address. The Swingbyte 2 addresses this issue. Founder and CEO, Alex Pedenko had the following to say:

You can now point your iPad and it will know what your target is and figure out all the numbers based on that. So now you have true, accurate numbers about what you did, not just in general but relative to the target line, relative to where you want it to go.

I am hoping that these upgrades will make this already useful device even better. While the device is not perfect (what is?) and should not replace quality coaching I feel that with a few practice sessions any golfer can start to gain a better understanding of what they need to do in order to make progress.

Collision!

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.

A High Toe Strike
A High Toe Strike

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.

A Low Heel Side Strike
A Low Heel Side Strike

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....

Ball Flight - What You Need to Know

The-Ball-Flight-Laws
The-Ball-Flight-Laws

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?

albert einstein
albert einstein

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.

They are:

Club Speed

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.

Clubface Orientation

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.

Clubhead Direction

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.

impact point
impact point

Read an earlier article on centerdness of contact and a great article on the TrackMan blog illustrating the importance of center contact.

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.....

TrackMan vs Flightscope

My good friends Tim and Simon Cooke from GolfPrep on Hilton Head Island recently brought their new Flightscope X2 out to Berkeley Hall. Our objective was to learn more about the numbers that TrackMan and Flightscope are putting out and we wanted to get a sense of how well one machine performed relative to the other.

I have pondered the best way in which to convey my findings and have finally committed to just simply jotting down my thoughts. My intent is certainly not to create controversy or confrontation - these are simply my own honest impressions from the day. Please also keep in mind that I am a TrackMan owner and supporter and no matter how I attempt to remove my bias I doubt whether I am able to remove all of it...

  • Prior to the test I had been having trouble with my TM unit giving unusual spin numbers every 30-40 shots, something it had never done before. As a result I had contacted TM support and was informed that I more than likely had a bad USB cable. I was also informed that the classic indicator of a bad cable would be a "double" or "half" spin. Sure enough during the test TM gave out three spin numbers from the 60 shots we hit that were right around double what the FS reported. I have since replaced the cable and have yet to see a spin rate that seems odd.
  • As you peruse the following thoughts keep in mind that good players , which all three of the test subjects were,  are very good at controlling the direction the clubhead travels (angle of attack and club path) from shot to shot. The direction may not be ideal, but better players are consistent with clubhead direction. That means that dramatic changes in either of those categories, along with sizable changes from shot to shot in club speed, were going to draw my attention and raise a red flag.
  • Since running the tests I have spoken to many "in the biz" people about radar interference. It was mentioned that the machines, when set up side by side as we had them, will occasionally give corrupted data due to the influence of the outside radar. I have not run enough tests to ascertain if this is or is not the case, but during the testing the FS seemed to give a few numbers that were incorrect and this could be due to the TM being directly alongside the unit. The TM did not do anything different to what it normally does as it seemed to be unaffected by the additional radar.
  • If a shot off turf has a decent size divot TM will only provide ball data and no club data, whereas FS reported both ball and club data for just about every shot hit off the ground. On the occasions that FS reported club data and TM did not the numbers did not look correct - meaning the attack angle and/or club path seemed to be too far from what the subject would normally generate. We hit numerous 50 yard pitch shots and TM did not offer any club data while FS reported for most of these shots. The problem was that the club path was said to be almost 15 degrees from in to out along with a spin rate of 14,000 rpm - just not happening! I actually preferred that TM did not provide club data as I would rather have no information than have to explain away improper information. That being said I would love a radar that provided correct club data on all shots.
  • With both units unplugged and PC's powered down the TM (2:05) was aligned and ready to roll in about half the time of the FS (4:16). I was told that with an iPad the FS can be aligned and operational in far less time.
  • We noticed that both machines reported different Swing Plane numbers when they were moved (flipped positions) relative to the same golfer. I have tested this before and the changes in data are due to the hardware in the TM II. Each machine appeared to provide better data when the golfer is hitting shots aligned with the center of the unit - something that was not possible when running two machines.
  • We tested the ability of each unit to report gear effect, by logging the point of contact on certain drives and then comparing each units Face to Path and Spin Axis numbers. The TM reported gear effect as I would have anticipated and most of the time FS reported along similar lines. However the first shot we examined, a big heel hit, was actually reported by FS as being a slight toe side hit. TM reported a Face to Path of -9.3 and a Spin Axis of -5.4 while FS reported a Face to Path of -2.2 and a Spin Axis of -11.0
  • I was amazed at how closely aligned the Spin Rate numbers were for each machine. Unless there were dramatic differences the spin rates were almost always within 100 rpm's.
  • There seemed to be quite a few instances during the testing where the attack angles were not even in the same ball park. I had nothing to help me determine which machine was correct, other than the aforementioned fact that better players tend to be very consistent, and all too often it was FS reporting wide ranges of variation from the player.

Keep in mind that my intent is merely to report what I observed and not to offend anybody or any entity.  I could tell that Tim and Simon were a little concerned with the results and they went home and performed additional tests. I am happy to report that the FS performed much better without the influence of additional radar and when shots are hit from the center of the unit. Tim's follow up comment to me was:

I believe that side by side testing, although seeming to be a good idea, does not work.  Clearly there was some radar interference at work as the inconsistent numbers were not reproduced in stand alone tests.  Maybe the only way you can really compare the units is with extreme high speed cameras with the units working independently of one another.

I would have to agree with Tim's sentiments and I have started to make plans to have each unit test the same golfer on the same day, but without the potential interference of outside radar.

You know I'll report back on that one....

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part I

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

Optimal Driver Numbers on TrackMan

With so many questions after my two most recent posts I thought it would be enlightening to show you what we see when using TrackMan.  This particular driver was hit by Rick Hartmann - my boss and the Head Professional at Atlantic Golf Club.  Rick played on the European Tour for ten years and is a fantastic driver of the ball.  This is a good drive, but not anything unusual for Rick (it was into a very slight headwind).  These particular numbers are very close to optimal and should be something we should all be working towards regardless of what our club speed might be.  Of course that is if you happen to like high, long draws...

If you want to be efficient with your driver here is an explanation of what I look for:

  • The Attack Angle (0.9 degrees up) is positive - a good sign for maximum efficiency as an upward hit is better than a downward hit (if you want to hit it as far as possible).
  • Notice how (because the Swing Plane is very close to 45 degrees) that the Attack Angle + Club Path = Swing Direction.  Not unusual really, this is a helpful indicator in understanding what factors effect  the club path.
  • The Spin Loft is close to 11 degrees - a solid number that seems to work for most golfers.  Spin Loft = Dynamic Loft - Attack Angle. Think of spin loft as a measure of 'ball compression'.
  • In order to hit good draws the face must be open relative to the target at impact and here you see how the Face Angle is open (2.7 degrees) with the Club Path being further to the right (3.5 degrees). Couple that with a centered hit and you've got lovely push draws.
  • A centered hit is vital and that's why I like to keep Face to Path alongside Spin Axis.  If the hit is in the heel the face angle would be closed ( a negative number) and the spin axis would be tilted to the right (positive) and vice versa for a toe hit.  Here you see how with the face slightly closed to the path, you should get a baby draw, and that's exactly what we got - all from a centered hit.
  • Club Speed and Ball Speed are fairly self explanatory, but if you divide the club speed into the ball speed you will get 1.48 which equals the Smash Factor.  Smash factor is merely a measure of how efficiently you translated club speed into ball speed and is not purely a measure of how well you struck the ball. The maximum smash factor for a driver 1.53. (I have seen 1.54 twice!)
  • The Height of the shot, which is measured from flat and not necessarily the ground, is right where I'd like to see it for this particular club speed.  PGATour average swing speed is 112mph and they hit all their clubs 90 feet in the air. At around 108mph I think 88 feet high works very nicely.
  • Launch Angle and Launch Direction are largely influenced by the club face and I like both here.  I look for draws to launch to the right of the target (positive) and the launch angle to be somewhere between 10 and 16 degrees depending on the players club speed.
  • The Spin Rate for this shot is a touch high, but I would attribute that to a shaft that is softer than what the golfer should be using.  I'd like to see the spin rate at this club speed be somewhere between 2000 and 2200.
  • Side Total indicates that this ball is straight down the center and finished less than 4 feet right of the intended target line - just another ho-hum 280 yard drive down the pipe.

Somewhat advanced I know, but after the response to my last few posts I know there are thousands of golfers out there who are looking for a better understanding of what really happens at impact and what they should be working towards for maximum efficiency.  If you can duplicate these numbers you won't need me for much...at least not for the driver.

TrackMan Exposes Golf Myths

It has been an enlightening experience using TrackMan in almost every lesson for a year now.  There are so many widespread 'philosophies' (see: fallacies) that we, as golfers, have heard so many times we simply accept them to be truth. TrackMan says - hold on a minute!

Here are a few examples that come to mind:

  • You've got to "Release the Club through Impact"
The collision between club and ball lasts less than 1/2000th of a second and it simply is not possible to "release" or consciously alter the face angle during that very narrow time frame.  The face is what it is by the time impact happens.  For example - in 2012, by the time Bubba Watson teed it up in the Masters, his ball had not been on his clubface in competition for even one second! The only element that can alter the face during impact is an off center hit and that's far from conscious.
  • "Draws Must be Hit with a Closed Clubface"
Or vice versa, fades are hit with an open face.  Draws are really good if they start to the right (for righties) - agreed?  TrackMan shows that the clubface is primarily responsible for the launch direction of the ball and thus for a good draw the face should be to the right of the target with the clubpath (which primarily causes curve) being further to the right. When that, along with a centered hit occur, voila - we have a lovely push draw!  This also dispels the myth that the ball launches in the direction of the swing/clubpath.  Clubface (primarily) = launch.
  • "That Drive Had Tons of Sidespin..."
The vast majority of balls that are hit in the air have backspin.  If a golfball has backspin it cannot possibly also have sidespin.  Think about it - two types of spin on one ball at the same time?  So what makes it curve?  TrackMan shows that all shots that curve do so due to backspin on an axis (spin axis) that is tilted either left or right.  Curve is purely caused by backspin that is tilted to one side or another.
  • "My Divots Point Left so I Must Be Over the Top"
Because divots ideally occur after the collision between face and ball, the clubpath has a window of opportunity to start arcing back inside the target line.  I have seen anything from push fades, to hooks, to push draws from leftward pointing divots.  Divots do not tell us as much as we think, because they do not (and should not) occur at the moment of impact.
  • "That Ball Faded - I Must Have Cut Across It"
A very important factor in determining shot shape is not only the clubface relative to the clubpath, but also where the ball is struck on the face relative to the sweetspot.   For regular golfers off center hits occur on the majority of shots hit.  Balls hit off the toe of a club will always have a tendency to draw or fade/slice less and balls hit off the heel will always fade or draw/hook less.  Even one dimple on either side of the sweetspot will make a difference.  This means it is possible to swing for a draw and hit/strike for a fade.
  • "My Instructor Showed Me My Club Path on Video"
Ehhh....no!   Trust me on this one - what you see on video is a  2D version of a 3D event and the only way you can accurately know what your real clubpath is to be aware of your attack angle, which with video this is not possible either.  On video you will see the direction you are swinging in relative to the target, but there is no way to know your clubpath (which is what creates a good portion of ball flight).
  • "Hitting Down Always Leads to More Backspin"
Spin is created by many factors, but a steeply descending blow on its own will not alter spin.  When a golfer hits down aggressively they often also reduce the loft on the clubface, and a lesser lofted face will do nothing to increase backspin.
  • "Draws Are Much Longer and Spin Less Than Fades"
This is a good one!  With everything else kept the same a ball that spins on a left leaning axis has no reason to go further than a ball with a right leaning spin axis.  Now, keep in mind it's very difficult to keep everything the same (thus draws tend to be longer), but in a controlled environment both shots go the same distance.   Just be aware that a properly struck fade will most often go just as far as its draw side counterpart.

And while it's not a myth, even though PGA Tour golfers average out with a downward attack angle on the driver, TrackMan has more than done it's share to prove how maximum efficiency and distance can be achieved by hitting up with the driver.

Feel free to share your thoughts or questions.....

Can You Get Better in 20 Minutes?

I recently ran an interesting promotion where I offered golfers an opportunity to gain 10 yards if they participated in a twenty minute TrackMan session. The cost was $50 and if they didn't gain the yardage their session was free. This meant I had to be on my game and I had to make simple and effective upgrades to get paid...it's not often a golfer can take a lesson and only have to pay for the lesson if they see immediate results!

My reason for running the promotion was primarily to create interest and excitement in the new TrackMan unit and to give the Berkeley Hall membership a peek at what this technology can do for them.

I had eighteen golfers, eleven men and seven ladies sign up and I encouraged each of the participants to focus on the driver. In case a participant wanted to work with an iron I had them each bring their driver and a seven iron along.

When hitting the driver I try to get my students to have an attack angle of somewhere from 1 - 5 degrees up along with a club path of somewhere from 1 - 5 degrees from in to out.  I prefer that most golfers hit out and up on the ball creating a high launch, low spin trajectory with the driver. We all could benefit from a few extra yards, no?

Here is a compilation of points of interest from the day:

  • The average swing speed for the men with the driver was 83.9mph. The top speed achieved was 96.1mph while the slowest was 70.1mph. Keep in mind that this event was promoted as a "distance" event and as a result the golfers who came out tended not be the longest of hitters.
  • The average speed for the ladies with the driver was 65.6mph with the top speed being 73.4mph and the slowest being 60.3mph.
  • Before any changes were made 11 out of the 18 golfers hit down on the ball at an average of 1.6 degrees with the driver.  After the changes had been made the same 11 golfers averaged 0.6 degrees up on the ball. Not bad...
  • Before any changes were made 7 golfers (a surprisingly low number in my opinion!) hit from out to in at an average of 3.3 degrees with the big stick. This means that their club path was travelling 3.3 degrees left (for a right hander) of the target at impact. After adjusting, the same 7 golfers averaged 0.8 degrees from in to out - a very positive change.
  • Prior to any changes 4 golfers hit too much (in my opinion) from in to out at an average of 6.6 degrees. After the changes they averaged 2.2 degrees in to out - a far more respectable number.
  • Not every golfer gained yardage, although the majority did.  A few golfers actually lost some clubhead speed while they were working on the changes which were primarily in the address position.  It was interesting to note how some golfers adapted and changed easily while others had a tough time.
  • The golfers with slower swing speeds tended to be more efficient, something I had already noted from the PGA Tour stat on Total Driving Efficiency and as a result it was quite difficult to get them make the "required" yardage gains. They were quite close to optimal already...
  • Similarly, I found the ladies to generally be more efficient in transferring the energy they created to the ball than the men. I've also noticed that LPGA golfers also tend to be more efficient than their PGA Tour counterparts, particularly with the driver. The mantra seems to be "the more energy you create, the more likely you are to waste it!" It does not have to be that way though.
  • Every golfer who attended the event improved in an important area regarding how they deliver the club to the back of the ball. Quite a few golfers did not gain 10 yards, but they all left feeling like they had the knowledge and feel they needed in order to realize longer tee shots.
  • One lady had a fantastic golf swing with very efficient numbers, but, primarily due to her petite size, she was unable to generate much clubhead speed. She had an older, heavy driver with a 70 gram shaft and so I spent most of our time talking to her about what equipment (lighter = faster) suited her best and what exercises (Momentus woosh) she could do to increase her speed with the driver.  I'll be interested to see how she does with the new club.
  • Almost all the participants commented that while the "numbers overload" from TrackMan was overwhelming at first, once we had isolated a particular problem (attack angle, club path, spin axis etc.) it seemed very simple. They were able to key in on one area and get a feel for how much change was required in order to reach their goal - all without much in the way of complicated, positional swing changes.
  • The twenty minute time format worked well for the students and for me. They did not get overloaded with information and I had be concise and clear (for a change!) in what they needed to upgrade.

So, back to the question, "Can you get better in twenty minutes?" I would have to say an emphatic yes. With the right feedback mechanism, which TrackMan certainly is, and a simple approach, you can make fairly substantial changes in a short period of time. The important thing moving forward is that you practice the changes in order to gain a measure of comfort and confidence in them - and as we know, that takes more than twenty minutes.

Thanks for reading.

Function vs. Form

 When I first got into teaching golf I learned a particular method of swinging the club - I was very much a method teacher.  I believed there was an ideal pattern to be followed and all golfers would have been better if they could learn to swing the club and move their body in this manner.  At one point I even went so far as to say that in a few more years there would never be another "homemade" golf swing on the PGA Tour!  There was only one, ideal way to swing a golf club and I wanted every student I taught to get to this ideal.

That phase of my teaching career came to an abrupt end five years ago when I started a self-education project to study the swings of golf''s all time greats.  As I researched and broke down these championship swings the very first thing I found was that not a single one of them had a swing that was similar to another.  How could this be?  I had spent the first fifteen odd years of my career teaching golfers a certain swing method and in the space of  one month had figured out that no great golfer used the same method as any other great golfer.  What did that say for my, or any other, method?

Think of the foursome you play golf with most often - there could be a multitude of body types, age groups, and personalities in every group on the course.  And I, in all my brainwashed brilliance, had been trying to get every one of them to swing in the same fashion.

Little did I know that my self education project would turn my teaching upside down.  I now know that there are many ways to swing, yet very few ways to hit - and all the greatest golfers employ those same narrow parameters to hit repeatable, quality golf shots.  My research project actually culminated in the book "It's All About Impact".

Early in my career I attempted to achieve function or peak performance by improving the look and form of a golfers swing.  Can you imagine what I'd have done if Lee Trevino, Raymond Floyd, Nancy Lopez, Hubert Green or Jim Furyk had come to me for help early in their careers?  I'm thankful for their sake that they hadn't as you might never had heard their names.

In my teaching now, I work to get golfers to squeeze the most out of what their unique bodies, minds and experiences will allow.  It is all about function and very little about form.  I often say to a student, "If I could get your swing to look worse and have you shoot five strokes lower, we'd both be happy campers."  I will do whatever I need to do to get my student to get the club to do what they want the ball to do...regardless of how it looks.

We are all different physically, mentally, emotionally and experientially - how can we possibly swing a golf club with the same form?  The answer is - it cannot be done! Stop trying to swing like your favorite player and start learning how to hit like your favorite. Understand that you're different and unique and if you can deliver the appropriate set of physics (forces and angles) to the back of the ball with your swing - it will follow the desired trajectory to the desired location.  Isn't that what you're after?

I believe so strongly in providing my students with an understanding of what the "appropriate physics" at impact are that I have purchased a TrackMan unit.  TrackMan is the ultimate in functional teaching as it measures all the factors that lead to ball flight.  The radar unit tracks clubhead speed, swing plane, angle of attack, club path, face angle and dynamic loft all at the most important part of any golf swing - impact.  Now, as golfer, imagine being able to know which of the previously mentioned measurements are stumbling blocks for your golf game. Wouldn't it be great to know that you have to worry about nothing else other than the club path being too far from out to in? Or perhaps your attack angle is too far down and you need to feel like you sweep each iron off the ground?

My goal with any student is to change as little as possible and it often works that way, but sometimes we need to change quite a lot.  The objective is always the same - influence the club at impact in order to make the ball what we would like it to do.

If you come to me for a lesson you will not be taught a method of swinging a golf club, but you will be taught a method of hitting a golf ball.  None of my students will ever have golf swings that look similar, unless by accident, but many of them will hit shots that look and sound alike.  You will leave the lesson knowing what you need to do to hit better shots - and you will also leave hitting better shots.

TrackMan arrives in early October at Berkeley Hall.  Call Andrew at (843)247-4688 to book a lesson.

How Far Do You Hit It?

The PGA Tour has a new stat titled Total Driving Efficiency .  The stat measures how many yards each player is able to squeeze out of their driver clubhead speed- how much are they getting out of what they put in?  We should all be looking to be  as efficient as possible, particularly with the big stick.   The stat is quantified by how many yards per mile per hour of clubhead speed a golfer extracts from their driver and there is a minimum of 25 driver shots required.

The current leader is David Toms who works with noted instructor and Trackman user Brian Manzella.  Together they understand the ins and outs of what it takes to be as efficient as possible with the driver.  Brian says David's path and face are right around zero (which means straight at the target) with his attack angle being about 2-3 degrees up on the ball.  Read more here.  David's YTD averages are:

  • Ball Speed - 159mph
  • Launch Angle 12.6 degrees
  • Spin Rate 2300rpm
  • Carry 260 yards

Keep in mind that the new stat is an average and thus includes balls hit on firm and soft fairways, into and down wind, and of course good ones and less than stellar ones.  The numbers below indicate the best (Toms), middle of the pack (Scott) and bottom (Driscoll).  As you view the distance they would hit the ball at various clubhead speeds keep in mind that some players prefer to not be optimal.  In other words, some players just prefer to hit a higher spin cut shot out there as they know it'll stay in play.  Also keep in mind that most of the golfers who do well in this stat tend to swing the driver at less than 110 mph - they need to be efficient to keep up!  The vast majority of us need to do the same. Read THIS to learn how to be more efficient with your driver.  If you know what your clubhead speed this is where your average tee shot would end up. If you are similar to Toms' number keep it up, if you are in the Driscoll category we need to talk...

David Toms (best)

  • 100 mph - 269 yards
  • 95 mph - 256 yards
  • 90 mph - 242 yards
  • 85 mph - 229 yards
  • 80 mph - 215 yards
  • 75 mph - 202 yards

Adam Scott (average)

  • 100 mph - 258 yards
  • 95 mph - 245 yards
  • 90 mph - 232 yards
  • 85 mph - 219 yards
  • 80 mph - 206 yards
  • 75 mph - 194 yards

James Driscoll (worst)

James Driscoll

  • 100 mph - 244 yards
  • 95 mph - 231 yards
  • 90 mph - 219 yards
  • 85 mph - 207 yards
  • 80 mph - 195 yards
  • 75 mph - 183 yards

Where do you fall?

It would be interesting to see what would happen to James Driscoll's efficiency if he spent an off season working on getting more out of his driver...

Understanding Swing Plane and Club Path

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.

Hitting down...

Down with a neutral plane...

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.

Left swing plane for neutral path...

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....

TrackMan: Definitive Answers at Impact and More

Here are a few very interesting facts that I have learned with the help of TrackMan. TrackMan is a radar unit that measures both club delivery and the full trajectory of any golf shot – essentially it measures almost everything pertaining to a golf club striking a ball. This might shed some light on, or dispel, a few of golf’s oldest myths:

For PGA Tour golfers (please note that these are averages):

  • All clubs, on average are struck with a descending blow from a PW (-5.0 degrees) to a driver (-1.3 degrees).
  • Every club in the bag hits the ball at the same height 30 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with the Driver is 112 mph; ball speed is 165 mph and carry distance is 269 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with an 8-iron is 87 mph; ball speed is 115 mph and carry distance is 160 yards.
  • Clubhead speed increased by 2 mph from club to club.
  • In conditions that eliminated any roll, an average PGA Tour player would hit a driver and a 5-wood 500 yards; a driver and a 7- iron 441 yards; and a driver and a PW 405 yards.
  • The Carry distance difference between each iron is 12 yards (8-iron 160 yards and 7-iron 172 yards).

For LPGA Tour golfers (please note these are averages):

 

  • All clubs are on average struck with a descending blow other than the driver which is 3.0 degrees upward.
  • Every club in the bag hits the ball the same height25 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with the driver is 94 mph; ball speed is 139 mph and carry distance is 220 yards.
  • The average clubhead speed with an 8-iron is 74 mph; ball speed is 100 mph and carry distance is 130 yards.
  • Clubhead speed increased by 2 mph from club to club.
  • In conditions that eliminated any roll, an average LPGA Tour player would hit a driver and a 5-wood 405 yards; a driver and a 7- iron 361 yards; and a driver and a PW 327 yards.
  • The carry distance difference between each iron is 11 yards (8-iron 130 yards and 7-iron 141 yards).

General information:

 

  • Shot accuracy is primarily determined by a combination of face angle, club path and point of contact.
  • The ball launches PRIMARILY in the direction of the club face - approximately 75-85% on full shots.
  • For putting, shot accuracy is determined primarily by the face angle - the softer the hit (as in chipping and putting) the greater the effect of clubface. In putting the face accounts for 95+% of where the ball goes.
  • Face angle (largely) determines the launch direction while shot curvature/shape is mostly determined by the club path relative to the face angle – the opposite of what has been taught for years. Think of it this way: when a ball is struck with a descending blow, i.e. ball first, divot second, the attack angle is down, yet the ball goes up. The ball goes up due to the angle/loft of the face!
  • The initial ball direction falls between the club face angle and club path - remember that it greatly favors the face angle.
  • The further apart the club face and club path diverge from each other (basically - point in different directions) the more the ball's spin axis tilts and the more curvature exists on the shot.
  • By the way - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SIDE SPIN - it is merely back spin on an axis and the more the axis tilts, the more the ball flight curves.
  • The only way to hit the outside of the ball is to have the face closed relative to the target line and to hit the inside of the ball the face must be open relative to the target line. Path plays very little role in what part of the ball we hit.
  • The highest recorded clubhead speed on the PGA Tour in 2009 was Bubba Watson at 128 mph while the World Long Drive Champion, Jamie Sadlowski used a clubhead speed of 145 mph (418 yards!) to win. The average male golfer swings a driver somewhere between 82 and 90 mph.

  • A carry distance of 100 yards for ladies is equivalent to a carry distance of 130 yards for men; 200 yards for ladies is equivalent to 250 yards for men.
  • A par four of 350 yards for ladies is equivalent to a par four of 430 yards for the men.
  • The most important factor in increasing carry distance is clubhead speed. For every 1 mph you can add to your swing speed you stand to gain almost 3 yards.
  • An increase of 1” in the length of a club can increase the clubhead speed by as much as 4 mph.
  • The quality of the hit is very important as it relays clubhead speed into ball speed. Smash factor is calculated by dividing the ball speed by the clubhead speed. The maximum smash factor is just above 1.5 (e.g. 100 mph clubhead speed divided into 152 mph ball speed) and indicates an ideal transfer of energy to the ball. A smash factor of 1.5 is most often only attainable with a driver.
  • The ball spends 1/2000th of a second on the clubface. That means it would take a scratch handicap golfer almost 28 rounds of even par golf to have the ball be on the clubface for one second!

Something to keep in mind is that no golfer should discard accuracy in search of distance as there should always be a balance between the two. It is, however, possible for just about any golfer to significantly increase their distance with only a marginal decrease in accuracy as a result of a sound, long-term plan coupled with commitment and discipline.

Interesting stuff - any thoughts or questions?

To hit it like a Tour player check THIS out!

Hip Slide: Good or Bad?

The hip slide, weight shift, hip drive or whatever you want to call it is one of the most important, yet overlooked elements in the golf swing. Golfers have become so brainwashed against any form of lateral movement that I believe the vast majority of us are trying to stay as quiet and centered as we possibly can. Here are a few interesting points about hip action:

The downswing does not mirror the backswing. There should be no lateral hip motion in the back swing, while the downswing must have a good measure of shift towards the target. The weight shift to the front foot is entirely attributable to the hips gliding towards the target in the downswing. The head and upper body must remain over or slightly behind the ball as the hips shift, thus creating body curve. Hip slide creates the room necessary in the downswing for the arms and club to drop to the inside. Too much spin or rotation from the top and you can only come over the top. Not only does the hip slide create room for the arms to get to the inside, but it also positions the weight so that the ball can be struck with a descending blow. The weight must be on the front foot for any golfer to consistently hit down on the ball. This video from my

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