The Art of Being Skillful

As many of you know I enjoy deciphering which elements contribute to being a great wedge player. Ever since I started with my 'Wedge Project' research in 2010 chipping and pitching have really piqued my interest.

My recent testing, and philosophy, has been aligned alongside golfers using one club and applying their skills to control the trajectory and outcome of their shots in close proximity to the green. For ease of illustration and testing I selected a 58º wedge and a 15 yard carry requirement. I then played three different trajectory shots - a high, mid and low shot. I recorded each version in slo-motion and at regular speed along with running TrackMan in the background to capture data on a handful of each type of shot.

As you can tell there is a dramatic difference in the pace required to execute each intended trajectory. The technical changes for each shot changed as follows:

High: ball positioned off front big toe, face square at address and a sense that the handle slows dramatically approaching impact as the clubhead passes the handle prior to impact. Freddie Couples is a good image here.

Mid: ball positioned centrally, face square at address, medium pace and a sense that the shaft will be vertical at impact.

Low: ball positioned off the back big toe, face square with hands forward as a result of the ball position and an upbeat pace that encourages the handle to 'beat' the clubhead to the ball at impact. Zach Johnson's brisk pace comes to mind with this type of shot

At Impact

At Impact

The TrackMan data provides some interesting differences:

Club Speed: Low 23mph; Mid 30mph; High 37mph

Ball Speed: Low 27.8mph; Mid 28.5mph; High 28.0mph

Smash Factor: Low 1.2; Mid 1.0; High 0.8

Launch Angle: Low 29.6º; Mid 40.6º; High 51.6º

Spin Rate: Low 2230rpm; Mid 1630rpm; High 1250rpm

One thing that struck me was that the average ball speed was the same for each type of shot, yet the club speed was very different. The attack angle was steepest with the lower shot primarily due to the ball position and the shaft lean. I also found it interesting that there was roughly 10º difference in the launch angle of each version.

The numbers might be important for coaches to understand, but what can you, the player looking to save strokes take away?

  • Stick with one club around the greens - you'll become a skilled artisan with it in your hands.
  • Alter the trajectory with subtle changes at address and less subtle changes in the pace.
  • The manner in which you release the clubhead through impact will make a big difference
  • Now get to work!

Thanks for reading and please share with a friend. Happy New Year and all the best for a fabulous 2018. #birdies

No More Weak Iron Shots

We've all heard the sound. And we've all felt it too. That sense when you literally melt a ball off the clubface and you know instantaneously that you've hit the shot you've been waiting for all day. That feeling is compression! To learn more watch this....

Here is an example lesson where I felt it appropriate to use this drill with a student who was struggling with the quality of his strike and high, weak ball flight in particular. Here is his initial TrackMan data for a typical 7 iron shot...

It's important to be aware that the height of this particular shot was 103 feet! This player's club speed is only a few mph short of PGATour average, yet he is only carrying a 7 iron 145 yards. After working on his compression (spin loft) via the drill illustrated in the video this is what a typical shot looked like in drill mode (note the slower club speed)...

The exact same ball speed with more than 7 mph less club speed! The spin loft, which is not an easy change to make, has gone from 31.1º to a slightly low 24.8º and the height has come down to a more manageable 76 feet. I anticipate that as this golfer works to get comfortable with their new feel they would increase their compression to a more appropriate 26º or 27º.

Before on the left and while doing the Compression Drill on the right

Before on the left and while doing the Compression Drill on the right

Thanks for reading and for greater understanding on what compression really is please read:

 Compress the Golf Ball — Andrew Rice Golf

Spinning the Wedges - Smash Factor

Smash factor is a measurement of the ball speed relative to the club speed. I have learned that with wedges, when smash factor is 1.0 spin rates have the potential to be maximized. This video discusses the value in having the ball and the clubhead travel at the same speed and gives you a few ideas on how to make that happen...

Things to remember:

  • Avoid too much shaft lean and feel the hands and the shaft lining up at impact
  • This should give you a sense of using the bounce or sole of the club more through impact
  • Don't be afraid to allow the lead wrist to unhinge/extend as soon as possible through impact

Keep in mind that while very high spin rates are sexy, your final objective should be control. Better control and predictability means better results. Don't allow a quest for more spin erode your ability to get the ball close to the hole!

Thanks for watching and check in soon for my next in the Spinning the Wedges series on Spin Loft.

Wedge Project Color.jpg

Titleist's New 915's vs the Old 913 Driver

We recently received the 915 stock for our fitting cart here at Berkeley Hall and I thought it would be a good opportunity to test both the new 915 series drivers - the D2 and D3 against the older 913 series D3 driver I've used for the past few years. I was excited to see if there are any positive changes with the new line. 

The test I conducted involved the same shaft in each club (44.5' Motore Speeder VC 6.0 S) along with the same setting (B1) and the same loft (9.5). I hit seven shots (kept all shots) with each club on TrackMan. Here is the data:

Old Titleist 913 D3 9.5 with 44.5' Motore Speeder VC 6.0 S (B1)

Speed 99.8 - Smash Factor 1.48 - Launch 11.9 - Spin 2523 - Carry 226.7 - Total 248.6

New Titleist 915 D3 9.5 with 44.5' Motore Speeder VC 6.0 S (B1)

Speed 98.9 - Smash Factor 1.48 - Launch 13.1 - Spin 2341 - Carry 226.8 - Total 247.5

New Titleist 915 D2 9.5 44.5' Motore Speeder VC 6.0 S (B1)

Speed 100.5 - Smash Factor 1.47 - Launch 12.8 - Spin 2478 - Carry 232.9 - Total 254.3

My thoughts and observations:

  • The first thing I noticed was the appearance of the newer club - from the golfer's perspective the clubhead has quite a different look than Titleist drivers of the past. The toe seems a little more pronounced and the head didn't seem quite as sleek as previous models. It didn't look bad, just different.
  • The next thing that caught my attention was the sound. Definitely louder than the 913 model, but not to the point where it was offensive. 
  • As you can tell the spin rates fell right where I anticipated them to fall. Word on the street is that the 915's spin the ball less and the results illustrated that.
  • I did notice that mishits with the 915's seemed to do marginally better than commensurate mishits with the 913 model and there were a few mishits in each set.
  • I was surprised to see the difference in launch angle as I had anticipated that the 915's would launch the ball lower - not so in this case! 
  • Ball speed and smash were very similar for the three clubs.

As I looked over these numbers I noticed a few factors that are vital for longer tee shots - higher launch, lower spin and better performance on mishits. I liked the new club and also liked the fact that Titleist did not change the sleeve on the new model so older shafts can easily cross over into the 915 clubheads.

It does appear that Titleist has finally stepped up to the plate and joined Callaway, Ping and TaylorMade in the driver game.

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.

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.

The Driver and Distance (Part 1)

We all want to hit the ball straight and far of the tee don't we?  In more technical terms our goals with the driver are to achieve the highest ball speed possible (distance), along with the desired flight pattern (accuracy).  We want cake and we want to eat it too!  There are numerous elements built into most drivers that often assist us in achieving these goals, yet so many of these small factors almost go unnoticed.  Almost...

Factors in driver technology that influence distance are: length of club; shaft weight; head weight; loft; face material and thickness (CoR) and roll (vertical gear effect).  Distance comes from our ability to convert clubhead speed into ball speed - often referred to as smash factor.  Smash factor is an indicator of our efficiency at impact - are we getting out what we (our driver included!) are putting in?

  • It seems to be fashionable these days for club companies to stretch the length of their drivers to 46 inches and claim that they are "superfast".  The laws of physics indicate they are faster, but in my hands any speed gains are sacrificed with a loss of control.  Ben Hogan used a driver that was 42.5 inches long and nowhere have I ever read that he was a short hitter.  Personally I am not a fan of anything over 45 inches as this seems to be my threshold where distance decreases and control and centerdness of hit diminishes. I believe beginning golfers could use a 43 inch driver with far better results.
  • Over the last decade shaft technology has come a long way and the most notable upgrade has been shaft weight.  Miyazaki makes an incredible 39 Series driver shaft that can be as light as 44 grams - if you you cannot swing that faster then we have a problem.  Barring feel and control issues I am a big fan of lightweight shaft technology and know it is something we should all take advantage of - even Keegan Bradley did.
  • In pursuit of the "lighter is faster" formula a few companies have sought to reduce the weight of the clubhead.  Cleveland Golf has their Ultralight line of drivers that are the lightest on the market today.  A little known fact is that we could actually hit the ball further with a heavier clubhead (with speed being equal).  By increasing the mass ratio of clubhead to ball you can increase ball speed, however the problem here is that as you increase weight you decrease speed, so once again there is a threshold to consider.  The good news is the club companies have done all the research for us and most driver heads fall somewhere between 197 and 212 grams - something we can all manage.
  • The loft of your driver is something that should be determined by an expert (someone who does this for a living!) fitter.  A nice option with the new adjustable heads is that you can now alter the loft of your club without buying a whole new club. The more loft you introduce to the ball at impact the more spin and less ball speed you will create.  The lower the loft, the more ball speed. One problem however - we would like to get the ball in the air and so, once again, there is a trade off.  When it comes to loft, where possible, I encourage a golfer to go with less loft and show them how to overcome the reduction in launch angle by learning how to hit up on the ball.  The golfer does most of the work here, but a reduction in loft can help with distance.
  • The coefficient of restitution (CoR) is the spring like effect the face has when it collides with the golf ball.  As you  might expect the highest CoR on the face is in the center with lower numbers working out from the there.  Golf's governing bodies have made it a rule that this spring like effect cannot be higher than 0.83 and as a result all club companies have made sure that their equipment is right up against the limit.
  • The final, and perhaps most interesting, factor that increases the distance your driver makes the ball go is due to roll - no not roll on the ground, but roll on the face.  Roll is the curvature of the face from top to bottom or crown to sole. Manufacturers include roll into the face design in order to create vertical gear effect on hits that are below or above center.  A ball that is struck above center will actually spin less due to gear effect and as a result launch high with low spin - a winning formula for the long ball.  Of course balls hit low on the face will spin more, but they more than likely need a little more air time. Please see Part 2 of this article for a full explanation of gear effect.
  • I know of no face design or treatment that increases distance - unless you're working the Chapstick for more than just your lips!

The most efficient a golfer could be with the big stick would be to have a clubhead and shaft that fits them in every way, hit the ball from the inside with an ascending blow and strike the ball slightly above the center of the face and a touch towards the toe.  The reason to favor the toe -  the toe of a driver travels about 14% faster than the heel of the club!

I love this PGATour stat that measures how efficient each player on tour is with the driver.  It quantifies  a player's average distance divided by their average swing speed. It also shows each players average swing speed - an interesting read.

Check back soon to learn about what the driver can do for your accuracy....

Evolution of a Golf Ball

Four Generations of Titleist
Four Generations of Titleist

I was recently handed a pristine collection of older model  golf balls. It included a dozen Tour Balata 100's, a dozen Professional 90's and a dozen early model Pro V1's.  There is no arguing that Titleist has held the upper hand in golf balls for almost 30 years and if you have played golf long enough you have no doubt had the pleasure of maneuvering one or all of these models around the course at some point.  After a second of thought, the golf geek in me wanted to take them out for a test drive - see how far they go and what they might feel like.  After all, it's been a long time since I had dented a Tour Balata.

Thankfully, wisdom prevailed and I decided to get some real numbers on the balls with the help of TrackMan.  I realized that, including the most recent model of the Pro V1, I had access to four generations of Titleist golf balls.  I had balls from the '80's, '90's, 2000's and today and  I wanted to experience first hand what the differences might be.

I needed a very consistent driver of the golf ball and the best man at hand was Zack Brady from Atlantic Golf Club.  Zack is an exceptional golf professional who can really play.  He also happens to be one of the better drivers I've seen.  I sacrificed six balls from each generation and had him hit them on a rotating basis going Balata, Professional, Pro V1 and new Pro V1.  I did this to negate the effect of any changes in swing or weather.  Zack hit twenty four shots on the Trackman and the average from the six shots with each model was calculated.  Here are the results with each set of balls:

titleist golf balls
titleist golf balls

Tour Balata 100

titleist tour balata
titleist tour balata
  • Total Distance 261.6 yds
  • Carry 224.7 yds
  • Clubhead Speed 110.1 mph
  • Ball Speed 160.7 mph
  • Smash Factor 1.46
  • Attack Angle -0.4 degrees
  • Spin Loft 9.0 degrees
  • Launch Angle 6.5 degrees
  • Spin 2789 rpm

Professional 90

titleist professional 90
titleist professional 90
  • Total Distance 262.1 yds
  • Carry 231.9 yds
  • Clubhead Speed 110.6 mph
  • Ball Speed 161.4 mph
  • Smash Factor 1.45
  • Attack Angle -1.1 degrees
  • Spin Loft 6.9 degrees
  • Launch Angle 6.5 degrees
  • Spin 2915 rpm

Pro V1 - 392

early titleist pro V1 392
early titleist pro V1 392
  • Total Distance 286.4 yds
  • Carry 251.9 yds
  • Clubhead Speed 110.1 mph
  • Ball Speed 164.7 mph
  • Smash Factor 1.50
  • Attack Angle -3.0 degrees
  • Spin Loft 10.8 degrees
  • Launch Angle 6.5 degrees
  • Spin 2739 rpm

Pro V1 New

titleist pro V1
titleist pro V1
  • Total Distance 298.4 yds
  • Carry 271.1 yds
  • Clubhead Speed 110.8 mph
  • Ball Speed 167.2 mph
  • Smash Factor 1.51
  • Attack Angle -3.1 degrees
  • Spin Loft 11.7 degrees
  • Launch Angle 7 degrees
  • Spin 2850 rpm

Things you should be aware of:  The numbers listed above are an average of the six shots struck with each ball.  Each ball was only hit once.  The golf balls, while all pristine and "new" are very different age wise.  The balata balls have been waiting in their sleeve for more than twenty years for someone to play with.  The balls had all been stored in an air-conditioned space and were stored together.  The weather was a crisp 74 degrees with a slight left to right breeze blowing - lovely for August!  Zack used a Titleist D3 9.5 driver with a Diamana 'ahina X shaft by Titleist.

Points of Interest:

  • Obviously the distance gaps were what interested me most and there were no real surprises there, other than the "upgrade" from the early Pro V1 to the newer model - almost a 5% increase!
  • The huge leap in distance off the tee on the PGATour in 2000 is due to only one thing - the introduction of the Pro V1.  An increase in distance of almost 10% over the scuff resistant Professional.
  • I thought the spin rate on the wound balls (Balata and Professional) would be through the roof.  Not so!  The balls sounded very soft off the face and seemed to struggle to get into the air - almost as if they were unhappy to be put into play this late in the game!  Zack said it felt like he was hitting ping pong balls.
  • I was very interested in the fact that the smash factor was lower with the two softer balls.  It almost seemed as if it was more difficult to get the smash factor up due to the softness/compression of the ball.  BTW, smash factor (generally speaking) is the ball speed divided by the clubhead speed and it measures the efficiency/quality of the strike.
  • The older/softer balls definitely curved more than the more modern models.  This was noticeable even to the untrained eye.
  • Since the study I have gone back and weighed each model of golf ball measured.  I have long been under the impression that all golf balls weighed 46 grams.  The Tour Balata (43gr) and the Professional (42gr) were much lighter than the others (46gr).  Not sure if a ball can "lose weight" or were they made at that weight?

On a side note: I also had Zack hit six older model Pro V1X - 332 balls. I kept this data out of the study as I wanted to key in on four separate generations of Titleist balls and this model was a relative of the early model Pro V1 we studied.  Interestingly enough this was the ball that traveled the furthest - a whopping 307.3 yds!  (All the additional clubhead numbers were similar to the other models). I took from this that it is important to play a golf ball that fits your clubhead speed/game. With a driver speed in the vicinity of PGATour average (112mph), Zack currently plays the new Pro V1X and this study confirmed that the X is the right ball for him.

The moral of the story is that when it comes to golf balls, new technology fitted to the appropriate golfer makes a real difference. Take the time to chat with a teacher or professional you respect and get some sound advice as to which ball might make a difference for you.  Oh, and that pristine logo-ed dozen you've been saving for that special course, remember the one your buddy bought back from Augusta for you in '78 - eh...not so good.

How to Hit it Longer Than Ever

Here are a few clues - do not swing harder or get a new driver or change your shafts!  Although all of those ideas might help, the best, and simplest, way to hit longer shots is to strike the ball better.  Plain and simple!

Here is the heads up from Trackman, the premier radar technology for swing and ball flight analysis:
Generally speaking, to maximize ball speed (which translates directly into distance) it is more important to improve centerdness of impact than to increase club speed.  An off-center impact is less efficient in transferring energy from the club to the ball, thus some of the power of the club speed is lost, resulting in a lower initial ball speed and consequently less carry distance.
While increasing the velocity of the clubhead would increase distance, I'm sure we are all well aware what happens when we swing harder - perhaps increased speed, but far less control and very often a less centered hit.  This is where smash factor comes in.  Smash factor is a measurement where the ball speed is divided by the clubhead speed and essentially is the efficiency of the hit - how well was the energy of the swing transferred into the golf ball to make it go.  The more centered, or solid, the hit, the further it will go.  And, being aware that most of us do not have the ability to measure the smash factor of our shots it is important to be aware that if you want to hit it longer (and I've only ever met one person who didn't!) the direction one should take should be in search of a better hit and not necessarily a faster clubhead.
A few good drills and articles to improve the quality of your ball striking:

Impact Drill: How to Stop Scooping | Andrew Rice Golf

Hip SlideGood or Bad? | Andrew Rice Golf

Hands Forward at Impact | Andrew Rice Golf

The moral of the story - focus on hitting it better and you'll hit it longer.  Now get to work.......

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?

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