The Driver: Hit Up or Hit Down?

henrik-stenson-getty1For many years I have believed that the irons are struck with a descending blow, the fairway woods and hybrids are swept off the ground and the driver is hit with a slightly upward hitTee it high and let it fly! In recent months it has come to my attention that that is not necessarily the case; certainly amongst the top golfers in the world. Trackman is a company that collects a tremendous amount of data on the tour golfers and their shots. Essentially everything you did not need to know about your club and ball in the swing, but importantly, a few things that are very important.  Trackman, in their January newsletter, stated that the PGA Tour average for attack angle with the driver  (up or down at the moment of impact) is -1.3 degrees.  That means that a collection of the greatest drivers on the planet actually average out with a downward hit on the big stick! Pay attention to how high tour golfers do not tee their ball.  It is almost always medium to low height.  As I researched further I found that long drive champions tended to have an attack angle of anywhere from +7 to +12 degrees.  Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes, two of the tours longest, regularly measure out at around +6 degrees.

The primary reason why all these top golfers hit down is because they hit the ball so far already that they have no need to learn how to hit up.  If you drive the ball less than 250 yards on average then you need to learn how to hit up on the ball. If any of you watched Henrik Stenson's magnificent round yesterday at the very major-like TPC Sawgrass you will have noticed how often he took a divot while hitting three wood off just about every tee.  There is only way way to take a divot after impact and that is to hit down.

There is nothing in physics that indicates a downward hit is more accurate than an ascending hit other than that the generally lower trajectory will get on the ground sooner and thus stay more on line.....

Make sense?

Things to Ponder:

  • In my book Henrik Stenson played the round of the year yesterday. Congratulations!
  • I like Ian Poulter a lot and I find myself rooting for him to break through more and more.  Great outfits too!ian-poulter
  • How about my two picks for the week; Boo Weekley WD and Brian Gay WD. Sensational selecting there....
  • Jim Hardy, of One-Plane fame, believes that most of the great putters of all time were hookers of the ball; Crenshaw, Ballesteros, Watson (in his day), Locke, Archer.  The one exception is Nicklaus.  Release the face of the putter.....
  • I thought that TPC Sawgrass showed some much needed teeth, but it was a little tricked up in places.  I thought the 13th was a joke!  You had to land it front right to have chance to get close, well Goosen did that and his ball rolled into the water?!
  • Did anyone notice that four out of the top five finishers at the Players played in sunglasses?  Stenson, Poulter, Na and Davis!
  • I remember when Strange and Kite had a Monday playoff for the Tour Championship many years ago and the winner would be the first player to break the $1million mark for the season.  Ian Poulter did that yesterday, by finishing second!