Let's Get This Straight!

If you, as most golfers do, struggle with consistency then this article is for you. We all do really! The number one culprit for off target shots is the club face being misaligned at impact. We struggle to control the face through the strike. This simple video will give you some insight as to how you can start to do a better job. Keep in mind we’ll never be perfect, but we can be better. Watch…

Far too often I see golfers consciously trying to swing down the line. This forces the hands out and necessitates a flip through impact. You can hit good shots with a flip, just not enough consecutive good ones to play well for all 18 holes.

Here are a few keys:

  • Work the handle around the lead hip through and post impact. It turns the corner

  • The clubhead should arc back inside the flight of the ball very soon after impact whether you’re hitting draws or fades

  • Don’t be afraid to keep the club face relatively quiet, particularly if you struggle with blocks and hooks

Here is a simple half swing I made with a seven iron using a ClubHub sensor that clearly shows how the handle (light blue line) tracks inwards (and upwards) during the impact interval.

ClubHub 3D Track

Get to the range, start with the small shots I demonstrated and I believe you’ll very quickly gain a sense of how this works to quiet the club face through that all important strike zone.

Thanks for reading.

Should you be interested in getting together for some work on your golf game click HERE.

Swing Pattern vs Strike Point

You may have heard me talk about how common it is to see golfers hit a tee shot with a fade (out-to-in club path) swing pattern, yet strike it off the toe for a baby draw or vice versa. The other day I was giving a lesson and a student hit a shot that was too interesting to not share. Here are the TrackMan details of the driver shot:

trackman heel hit

First a few basics:

  • Club path is primarily responsible for the curve of any shot
  • The direction of the club path relative to the target, out-to-in (fade pattern) or in-to-out (draw pattern), is what I refer to as a players swing pattern
  • Players that swing from in-to-out will tend to hit draws and players that swing from out-to-in will tend to hit fades
  • Where the ball is struck on the face of the driver (strike point) can drastically alter the effect of a players swing pattern on ball flight
  • Shots struck off the heel will tend to fade more or draw less and shots struck off the toe will tend to draw more or fade less

The player who hit the above shot has a fairly strong draw bias to his swing pattern and we are always working to neutralize his strong in-to-out club path as he tends to struggle with blocks and hooks. As you can tell from the above shot the club path (first highlighted yellow box) was strongly from in-to-out - 9.2 degrees to the right of the target. Well then why did the ball fly straight (spin axis 0.2)

The particular shot we're looking at was struck well off the heel (yellow circle) and essentially what happened was the draw bias of the swing pattern was cancelled out by the fade bias of the strike point. Notice how in the second yellow box above there's a closed face to path relationship, which should lead to a hook, but the ball flew straight - always a dead give away for a heel strike.

I've come up with a simple formula to help explain this:

A + B = C 

Where A is the swing pattern, B is the strike point and C is the resultant ball flight. You see it's the combination of A and B that gives us the ball flight - not just A. Here's a video I did with TrackMan that might help to explain some of this more clearly:

When you're practicing driver you should always mark the face with some Dr. Scholl's Odor X foot spray. If you do that you will always get B (strike point) and C (ball flight) from any shot. Should you be practicing without a TrackMan you'll at least have a clear idea as to what your swing pattern is and can make well-informed adjustments if necessary.

All the best and thanks for reading.

 

TrackMan Teaches the Teacher

Five years ago I thought I knew just about all there was to know about ball flight and teaching golf. Then I started using TrackMan and my, how very quickly my eyes were opened. I came to realize that I had a long way to go, not only in truly understanding ball flight, but in understanding golfers and what their tendencies might be.

I think it's important to understand that TrackMan will not teach anything - it is purely a measuring device. A tool that better allows the teacher to perform their job. It allows me to diagnose a golfer's problems more quickly and start making improvements without any doubt as to what is causing a golfer's poor shot pattern. Once the technology has helped me diagnose a problem I then start using it to inform me how my recommended changes are working - if at all. If those numbers are not improving I'll change my approach very quickly.

TrackMan has taught me so much about ball flight, but it has also opened my eyes to patterns that exist for almost all golfers. Here are a few nuggets that myself and fellow TrackMan users Martin Chuck, Jason Sutton, Tom Stickney have noticed over the years:

Strike Point:

  • Where you strike the ball on the face plays a far bigger role in determining the flight of the shot than what was previously believed
  • As a result heel and toe misses can lead people down a road of trying to fix something that isn't broken

Advice - Use Dr. Scholl's Odor X footspray to mark the face and get a better understanding of where you are striking the ball on the clubface.

Swing Appearance:

  • The two dimensional appearance of the swing on video is not what determines the flight of the ball (Swing direction vs 3D club path)
  • The look of a golf swing has very little to do with the message the clubhead relays to the golf ball
  • Better players have to swing way more left than they often feel in order to hit predictable fades
  • You do not have to roll your hands to hit draws

Advice - Don't get too caught up in the look. It's all about the physics at impact, so always go for function over form.

Angle of Attack:

  • The angle of attack is hugely important in determining the shape, distance and trajectory of any shot
  • Most golfers hit down too much while many of the best golfers tend to have a shallower strike on the ball
  • A positive or upward angle of attack has a huge effect on tee shot distance for slower speed golfers

Advice - Almost all golfers should be working towards a shallower more "sweep-like" strike on the ball. With the driver you should learn to hit up as the gains are too great to ignore.

Shot Shape:

  • The clubface is primarily responsible for the launch of any shot
  • The loft of the face at impact (dynamic loft) will largely determine the launch angle of any shot
  • On full swings the launch angle is often lower than you might expect it to be
  • The clubpath is primarily responsible for the curvature of any shot

Advice - to hit draws (and most of us should) we need an in to out clubpath. To improve the launch you either need to change the loft of the club or improve the loft delivered at impact.

The Human Element:

  • It is all too rare to meet a man who hits the ball as far as they think they do
  • Or who swings the driver as fast as they think they do
  • Mention clubspeed to any golfer, male or female, and there's a 95% chance the next swing will be faster
  • While there are patterns, anything and everything is possible

Advice - check your ego at the door. You'll start shooting better scores when you plan to hit the ball the distance you're capable of hitting it.

TrackMan is a fanatstic tool - one that guides the teacher to what the problems are and then vets the quality of their solution. As a player I believe you will find it to be a feel machine. If you've had a first rate lesson you should leave with a clear understanding of what the problem was and the feel required to overcome it.

If you happen to be on Twitter please follow Martin Chuck, Jason Sutton and Tom Stickney - great guys, knowledgeable teachers and you won't regret it.

Thank you for reading and as always your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

TMU-partner-white.jpg



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.....