Hitting Up on the Driver

I often conduct this demonstration for my Three Day Golf students where I hit back to back shots and attempt to illustrate the value of hitting up on the driver and what it could mean to their tee shots. For good measure I also throw in a little fade versus draw at the same time. 

My intent is to maintain a similar club speed from one swing to the next and if possible strike the ball in a similar location on the club face. As you'll see this was an occasion where I managed to get pretty close...

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This TrackMan screenshot illustrates the first shot where the idea was to hit down and across the target line, imparting a low launching and fading ball flight...

The First Shot

The First Shot

This TrackMan screenshot illustrates the follow-up shot where the plan was to deliver the club head to the ball with it traveling up and outward, imparting a higher launch and gentle draw to the ball flight...

The Second Shot

The Second Shot

Let's take a deeper look to see what some of the important differences are between these two interesting shots:

  1. Attack Angle - The 9.1º difference is the primary reason why the second shot traveled significantly further than the initial attempt. This was achieved with a change in tee height, address position and intent.
  2. Club Path - The almost 14º difference here will generally lead to a huge change in ball flight curvature. My findings have shown that when it comes to shot shape the club path plays a primary role.
  3. Launch Angle - The old adage of 'hit down to make the ball go up' takes a beating here as the shot hit with an ascending strike launches significantly higher.
  4. Club Speed - Nothing much to see here other than to verify that the club head for each shot is traveling at virtually identical speeds.
  5. Ball Speed - Another interesting nugget here is that while the carry and total distances are significantly different there is very little difference in the ball speed from shot to shot.
  6. Carry - Wow! That's amazing isn't it? While impact location for the second shot was slightly higher on the face (and a hint more toward the toe) which might lend to slightly longer carry distance the direction the club head was traveling (up and out) is the primary difference maker here.
  7. Total - As you might imagine the increase in total distance follows suit along with the increase in carry distance.

I know we could all benefit from a gain in almost 30 yards off the tee. And keep in mind that's at the same speed and with the same club! No need to hit the gym or shop for a new driver. This video gives some insight into what's required to affect the changes you've seen in this demonstration...

Thanks for reading/watching. If you need hands-on help with your game I'd love to host you in Savannah at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort for either a lesson or a Three Day Golf School. Email terri(at)andrewricegolf.com for details.

This Guy is Really Long...

Last week I had my first opportunity to work with a professional long driver.  Having never taught one before I was not sure what to expect, but I knew that with TrackMan I could help him become more efficient and ultimately make him better at his profession. I must admit though -  I was nervous about how to go about things prior to our meeting.

The fine young gentleman I taught was Patrick Hopper - already an accomplished and successful long driver that finished in the top 10 in Remax World Long Drive Championship in 2010.

He arrived with a golf bag full of 48" drivers (all USGA spec) and after chatting for a while he shared that his tendencies were high fades and he sometimes struggled to find the grid. When he started hitting I was in shock - these were the highest and longest golf shots I had ever seen. We even had to get him to aim a little to the right so as to not rain down drives on the golfers warming up on the far side of the range over 350 yards away.  The photo below shows how much the ball actually compresses into the face before departing in a hurry....

After watching him hit about a dozen drives we took a look at his TrackMan numbers for a few of his better shots:

  • His average apex height was just over 200 feet which was massively high
  • His spin rate at 2800 rpm was high
  • While his club path was 5.5 degrees outward he tended to hit too many weaker fades which indicated a heel strike

We set out to lower the trajectory and encourage baby draws with a strike point that was very slightly favoring the toe side of the club. After some work and "chipping" a few drives at around 120-125 mph he started to get the hang of a straighter club path and an improved strike point.

Here is a comparison of his best shot before and his best shot after.....

The shot above indicates a slight toe-sided strike which was not his tendency in the early going. The shot below also indicates a similar strike point, but now with a more appropriate launch angle, better spin rate and 15 extra yards.

Keep in mind that the above shots were hit with newer Titleist NXT Tour golf balls into about a 10-12 mph headwind!

What an amazing talent this young man is - I was amazed at how calm and sincerely pleasant he was to work with. At the end of the day he received the same lesson I give golfers everyday - improved distance via better efficiency and improved accuracy via an understanding of how your swing should cause the ball to respond. Keep an eye on Patrick Hopper.

That really was fun!