Bryan Pate has been a student of the game for many years and has assisted with many Tour Striker Golf Schools. He is the Director of Instruction at Martis Camp, an ultra premium golf club in Truckee, California. His progress as a Coach and communicator has progressed exponentially over the past seven years working with Bryan. Long game to the shortest putts, he'll help you understand and improve your technique.
In a previous post about Spin Loft we discussed how it helps reduce or increase spin. In this post lets take a look at a real world scenario from a player during a lesson as we were working on the flighted wedge shot. Lets take a look at 2 different Spin Lofts (Dynamic Loft + Attack Angle) with clubs traveling the same speed into contact.
Had the player hit a few shots with both their 55* and 60* wedge. Below images are from the Foresight Quad. The Attack Angle from both clubs are descending about the same amount. Next number would be the clubs dynamic Loft angle for each club. Here is where it differs due to just changing the tool. Both clubs had a reduction of loft from the static loft of just over 8* due to shaft lean.
There is a sweet spot for spin creation. Some coaches and myself call this “Spin Mountain”. The above shots were hit off a tightly mown dry patch of grass to help reduce the interference. At 53.2* in Spin Loft the 56* was on the verge of losing friction and was at the top of the mountain. At 57* in Spin Loft the 60* fell off the other side of the mountain and lost all friction. Notice how the launch angle went up and spin reduced with the 60* wedge. Good distance wedge players launch their ball between 25* and 30*. Above 30* the ball starts to launch higher, lose friction, and become more deflected like in a flop shot causing the ball speed to drop.
Poor wedge players are usually launching their wedges too high. As the ball launches higher it comes off the club with less spin as well as ball speed. Players start to see the ball come up shorter and shorter then typically try swing harder and hard to make up the distance loss. The result is poor contact and the ability to control the launch window. The lesson here is to find a wedge you can control the strike in order to gain control over the launch window, carry distance, and get a ball into the spin window. Not everyone can do this with their 60* and I am one of them. My flight and distance control is better with a 56* wedge. Some players may need to drop down to their gap wedge.
Lesson is to go see your local teaching pro and get on a launch monitor. Play with some different clubs and see what allows you to produce the desired flight your looking for. They will also be able to help adjust any technique issue that you may have that is hindering you from flighting your wedges.
One of the more popular questions when it working with students on their distance wedges or scoring wedges is “How do you spin it like the pro’s?”. This zone is from about 30 yards to around 100-125 yards depending on club head speed. In a previous blog “Spin Generation“ I discussed a few factors that help create friction. In this article lets look at strike location.
The most important factor when talking about spin creation is FRICTION. This is created from how well the strike was between the ball and club face. If you look at a good flighted wedge players wedge you will notice the wear spot is low on the face. The reason for this is to help reduce the chance of getting any interference between the club and ball. IF the club is coming in too low or shallow there is chance of the club face running into the grass and standing it up. Grass is like little water packets waiting to explode between the ball and club. In the photo on the right you can notice the contact point was lower on the club face.
If you were to hit a ball off of a tee the impact point does not matter as much. The tee raises the ball above the grass so if the ball was struck a few grooves higher there will still be a clean strike.
In summary keep an eye on the lie. The tighter and dryer the lie the more potential of a clean strike resulting in more friction. Make sure you are using a premium golf ball that has a softer skin for the club to grip. Last point is to make sure your wedges are newer, clean of debris, and dry. As a wedge ages with use the less spin it will produce.
You can disregard the 5.5* toe down in the above picture. Being 6.6 I tend to deliver all my clubs more toe down.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Share it with those that would benefit from this information.
Chris Como and Andrew Rice had an Instagram Live chat on May 2nd 2020 during his Lockdown Learning series where they were discussing a hypothetical hypothesis of a 3D flat Spot. The idea behind this thought is having more consistency or repeatability around the impact zone. Their conversation can be found here: https://youtu.be/un29EVrjDpE
I posted a few videos on Instagram with some thoughts. In the wedge game if the wedge is going to skim the ground instead of crash into the ground there will be more room for error on the skimming club. The one crashing into the ground has one chance before it is stopped or changed due to the collision.
I recorded a chip shot with my iPhone camera and traced the top of the club head blur. The video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/KM-6tj_Ihm4. Below is 3 frames through the impact interval.
What we need to take into account is the video is taken in 2D and the wedge also collided with the turf. As the wedge comes in contact with a firm surface like my carpet or firm conditions outdoors the wedge will slide or bounce off of it. Notice how the red line was coming down on the top image then flattened out with the ground as contact occurred.
You can see the hands and club head work in an arc. The handle is starting to travel slightly up as the club travels slightly down. If the club did not run into the ball and get deflected down or touch the ground and get deflected as well what would the club actually do? The high speed video I posted above had all of that going.
You might say the club would keep swinging in a smooth arc, as the handle is slightly going up and the head slightly down it could add a little flatter spot at the bottom of the arc, no true flat spot but it could get flattish or smoother, and due to the ball contact then the ground contact can appear to be flattish in video.
From the wide view the curve looks smooth. In the zoomed in image above you can see the white line dips down slightly at the ball to after it. With the loft running into the ball the club gets deflected down slightly, ball gets launched up, the club brushes the turf (slides or takes a small divot depending on turf firmness), then gets back on its way.
There might be some merit to this hypothesis as the grip is working up on its inner little circle as the club head is working down on its larger outer circle. If the club head did not run into the ball or ground the bottom of the curve could flatten out some. Some food for thought as you watch good players perform in short game and full swing.
Not a lot of golfers think when they are playing golf. They get use to hitting balls on the range where it is flat and mown tight. In playing lessons I see it often when putting students in a situation to see what they do and that is sometimes nothing different. They grab their normal club they would hit on the range and do not think about this. Let’s take a look at the results of the above lies using TrackMan where all the balls came out of the center of the club face. This writeup is covering the YouTube Video: Perfect Lie vs. Different Rough Lies
The above numbers were from the flat lie. There was no grass between the club face strike and the ball. The club was an 8i and first ball of the day after setting up all the filming equipment and TrackMan.
The above image is a comparison of the first ball with the clean strike and one of the middle two balls. Not going to put up both of the middle ball numbers because they were similar. If you take a look at the first image above with the lies although the balls look different there is minimal grass/debris between club face and ball strike. The grass is an overseeded rye in Arizona where the blades are thin and easy to get though but still get in the way of contact. Club speed was a mile an hour slower but with the grass interference the ball speed dropped 9mph (2-3 of those due to swing speed) but the carry was 6 yards longer. Why is the question? If you look at the launch angle it was almost 2* higher but the spin was 2469. This is like launching a driver off a tee. For optimal driver launch at that club speed and spin rate it would be around 17* and carry 197 yards or so. This is known as a flyer lie where the ball travels longer than expected.
Now let’s look at the bottom ball where it was sitting 1/2 way down in the rough. Did not have a thick piece of grass to drop the ball in but the deeper down in the grass the more the numbers will change for the worse. Think of grass like having pillows stacked out in front of your stomach and someone was about to deliver a blow. The more you have the less you would feel the strike. Same thing happens between the club and ball delivery which is known as the smash factor. That is the ball speed decided by club speed. The swing speeds were the same but the energy transfer dropped by .14 smash lowering the ball speed from 115.7 to 103.7. Now the ball speed is starting to come out slower with more cushion between the strike and the carry distance is starting to go down. Launch angle went up higher but at some point there will be too much grass to get through if the lie was thicker and deeper where the ball might not get airborne.
There is just a few examples of how grass starts to interfere with the flight. The more junk in the way the more unpredictable the ball flight and outcome can become. When it starts to get extreme the goal is to get the ball back to play where you can control the golf ball. Do not move it to another bad lie but take your lump and keep going forward. Start paying attention to your lies when you are out playing. The more you play and start recalling what lies looked like while recalling past memories of what happened in similar situations the more you will understand what the ball might do. This gives you either a green proceed like normal light, yellow cautious light, or red stop get back to play sign.
Accelerate, push the ball to the hole, or not? That has been a question in golf for quite some time. There are even steel training golf balls which requite a lot of force to move the ball. Let’s take a look at this concept closer.
Acceleration example: Now let’s say your goal was to hit 7.5mph (Green Circle) but your concept is to accelerate through the ball. Your putter would be speeding up to and through impact to an unknown speed. You could catch the ball anywhere around that speed that the blue arrows point to. This makes it more difficult to have the same speed at impact.
Using Capto to measure a stroke that is speeding up through impact looks like the below graph. The right side of the graph where the orange line is impact. In this example the putter was accelerating 8.3 ft/s^2 on the way to the top of the curve where it is accelerating 0. The orange line to the right side of the Capto graph is impact.
As the putter collides with the ball it takes energy and speed away form the putter. I went ahead and drew the top of the curve in the below graph. You can see the putter ran into the ball on the way up the curve as it was still gathering speed like the illustration 2 images above. On the bottom of the image it also shows you the length of the backstroke vs follow through. This one was short to long due to needing more speed to get the ball to the hole.
Now a 0 Acceleration Example: Let’s say your goal was to create 10 mph of speed with the putter at impact (Green Circle). If your stroke is setup to catch the ball around the 0 acceleration point your chances will be closer to that mark. You can catch it at any of the blue arrows and it will be between 9 and 10 mph.
In this example below using Capto the acceleration was near 0 (actually slowing down slightly). That means the speed was just after max speed for the given stroke. You would have 1 time the putter hit 10mph, 2 chances to hit 9.9mph, 2 chances to hit 9.8, etc..
In the below speed graph from Capto you can see the putter was not accelerating but starting to slow down slightly at -0.1mph. The result the putter collided with the ball at the top of the curve when the putter was traveling 3.7mph.
I will leave you with this last through. If you were asked to run your car into a wall at exactly 10 miles per hour would you get close to the wall and smash the gas or would you start further back, speed up to 5mph just before the wall, then coast into the wall? Your call.
The question was asked by Andrew Rice on social media and I put it up as a pole. What plays the bigger role in generating spin between the grooves and flat spot between the grooves?
When looking at spin the biggest factor is friction. That means how clean of contact there is between the wedge face and golf ball. Although spinloft matters we are just talking about what effects the spin more: face or grooves.
Chatting with PING engineers they created a wedge with no grooves on it. Their conclusion is that a flat wedge spins just as much as a new wedge with grooves in a dry controlled environment. Andrew Rice had access to the wedge and hit a few shots and put the findings HERE.
Let’s take a look in a different area: Racing. When the track is dry they use race slicks in order to get the most grip on the road. When it starts to rain they switch tires to the tread in order to channel the moisture and get better tire to track grip. That is where the grooves come into play on the wedge. They help channel the debris (moisture, grass, etc) away from the surface so there can be better ball to club face interaction.
When reading through USGA Equipment Rules there are parameters on area roughness and grooves for a wedge. My Golf Spy Article summed it up nicely with this quote “In simple terms, square grooves would have to be further apart than ‘v’ grooves because they can channel away more grass and moisture.” The roughness also helps channel some moisture so there is a limit on the face milling. The last area of grooves that are regulated is the sharpness of the edges. There needs to be a minimum of a 0.010″ radius. This rule is due to the sharpness of the top edge in the role of generating spin.
Conclusion is that in a lab where you can guarantee there will be no debris/moisture getting between the face and the ball then the flat surface between creates the most friction. As golfers we all play on a golf course where the situations are always changing from morning dew to grass heights. Even on a tight lie there still is a little grass that gets trapped between the face and the ball. The grooves are there in order to help move the debris away form the contact spot. The sharpness of the upper groove edge will help reduce the slippage as the ball works up the face resulting in a little more spin.
SO if you are looking to create maximum spin make sure your lie is dry, tight, and you are using a new wedge and premium golf ball. Take a look at a warn wedge compared to a new wedge below. You can see how smooth the surface is which would result in more friction and also how sharp the grooves are in order for the upper edge to add a little additional grip.
One last note is that companies are starting to come out with new finishes and coatings. This helps the moisture move off the face faster like a fresh wax on your cars paint. PING released their Glide 3.0 wedge with Hydropearl and tests are coming out with significant results. See image below from TXG’s Moisture Test Video
Do yourself a favor and go test your current wedge. See your local PGA pro and do a spin test. Check your wedges compared to a new wedge. First hit 3-4 balls off a small tee with your current wedge and the new wedge to guarantee a clean strike between face and ball. Next repeat the same process and add a little moisture to the ball and the club face. Finally hit a few off the turf. The numbers should speak for themselves. I like to replace my most used wedge once a year due to practice and play with the other wedges being replaced every 2-3 years. Depending on your playing and practice habits that might change for you.
Mid range wedge finish has the body turned and a little space between your hands and the band. If you do not sequence the body or add too much arm/wrist speed the band will run into the hands. Notice how the chest, arms, and hands are not down the target line (stick on the ground).
For full swings the band will intersect the middle of your trail arm. Notice how the body position looks similar to the above smaller shot but the arms and club have traveled further due to the speed. I call this the Tommy Fleetwood finish or flighted finish. Notice how the hands are about shoulder height with the club head higher. Do not try to lift the ball into the air.
If you get out of sequence, body stalls, and hands throw the band will go under your hands and you will get wrapped up like below. If this happens back down the speed until you can get the body and club in sync.
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Here is part 2 with the TourStriker PlaneMateAs you are moving from the smaller Pizza to French Fries move to bigger swings here are some areas to keep an eye on.
1. We want to go through the same spot we were stopping at in the other drill.
2. Resist the band wanting to pull the club back. Keep the band tension and keep it closer to your trail forearm.
3. Keep the hands were they are and relax the tension on the band. The band will still be long but without tension. Don’t just let it flop back.
4. From that position rotate to the finish by using the body to move the club. Notice how my hands finished lower than the club head. I was not trying to lift the club but the club did re-hinge due to the longer speed and the club having more energy than the smaller pizza finish on the last blog.
Again like last time start slow. Make the motions without a ball at a speed you can accomplish the movements. When you can do it without a ball then progress to a ball. Put a ball on a tee, make the same motions, and see if you can move to the same positions. The goal is the motions not hitting the ball. Be ok if you miss the ball completely or miss hit it.
Keep an eye on when the tension is released that the hands stay in roughly the same spot (middle image) and the hands do not move back like the right image. If the right one happens it will be harder to make contact and require a lot more to get the club on the ball.
Martin Chuck and David Woods came up with a great product. This is the first of a few blogs using their training aid. To begin training your swing follow these steps:
1. Setup with some tension on the band. Here I am using the red band for video purpose. Would recommend starting with the smaller green pitch shot band.
2. Move the club back with your turn and keep the tension. The band and shaft will be in line (left image) like two french fries lined up on a plate.
3. Relax some of the tension but not all of the tension. This will allow the band to pull the club head a little behind your hands. This makes a wedge between the shaft and band which I call the pizza. Make sure to keep the club face tipped slightly over matching your spine. This will allow the ball to launch straight instead of to the right for a right handed golfer due to an open face.
4. Learn how to move your body and the band to the finish like the below image. These balls would only carry 30 yards or less with an 8 iron. Not adding power with the arms and wrists. Once you can move from the pizza to the finish add a ball and make the same motion. Do it at a rate you can control the motions before adding a little more speed from the backswing to the finish.
Finish checkpoints: The first image is the correct image. Notice now the pizza slice has maintained to the finish which means my body was in sync with the club. The middle image shows a club that had some energy added or the body motion was out of sync allowing the pizza to turn back into french fries. That right photo shows that too much energy was added with the arms/wrists and the club head had too much speed. As the club head increased in speed the body did not pace the club and the band went under the hands. If the right two images come out slow it down, go through the motions without the ball until the left image appears, then add back the ball. Keep reducing the speed until the left image appears then you can slowly speed up the motion. When it breaks down slow it down and start again.
Wanted to share one of my favorite drills. By using a PVC pipe you can train the wrists and body for a new motion. Below in the side by side photo you can see the PVC started at a 45* angle then went flatter to the ground. The left wrist twisted adding more bend, the trail wrist bent back, and the trail arm went external.
That is a little different than taking the top end and throwing it out the the ball. With the long PVC you would impale yourself trying to do this move. This more is needed in some swings to help square a face that is too open. By adding the twist it helps train the transition moves needed to help square up the face sooner so it can start trailing the grip.
Here is with a driver in hand. Just so you know the lead wrist in the left photo would not to be so bent if the grip was a little stronger. The goal is to train the lead wrist going into flexion and the trail wrist going towards extension from the top to roughly shaft parallel. By splitting the grip it is harder to make the right move and take the club head to the ball.