3D Flat Spot?

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.

Let’s take a look at a parallel parallel stock short game wedge shot using @gears.sports in the @tourstrikergolf studio. The video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/HQ4Fsf9l1qM.

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.

Thank you for reading.

Attack Angle

This article is mostly going to cover attack angle on a stock mid range wedge.  For the YouTube clip Click Here.  In the wedge game you can get away with a low point in front of the ball, at the ball, or slightly behind which would be a club landing slightly behind the ball.  That is as long as the club is coming down like an airplane that is going to do a touch and go instead of one that is too steep and would crash.  For a stock shot it is good to have an attack angle from 4-10*.  The reason for this is to reduce the amount of interference between ball and club.  Also when you are in the rough the steeper attack angle will not have to go through as much grass as a shallower club.  Less interference will help create more friction, launch the ball lower, and increase the spin on a stock shot.

Now let’s take a look at a drill that will give you instant feedback.  Place a golf ball 1 grip behind the ball you are going to strike.  The goal is to land the club in a manner that the club will miss the back ball and not dig into the ground.  Sounds easier than it is if you are someone that has a tendency to want to try to help the ball in the air.

Below on the left is a successful attempt and the one on the right was not.  At shaft parallel to the ground you will notice that the butt of the club is closer to being over the ball on the left.  That is setting up the steepness needed.  When doing this drill or hitting my stock shot I feel as if I am going to miss the ball 2-3″ in front of the ball.

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As the club starts to release to be shallow through the turf strike the handle is now in front of the ball.

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Drawing a circle around that point you will see that the low point, where the yellow line is, varies.  On the left it is in front of the ball and on the right it is slightly behind.  If the back ball was not there I might have gotten away with the right shot.  The more grass behind the ball would have shown the club down more and more as well as reducing the amount of speed transferred to the ball.

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On the left the club is slightly pass the yellow line, or low point, and starting to travel slightly up.  The orange arrow is from where the ball started and where it is going.  You can see that on the left side of the circle the club was still traveling down and through.  A lot of golfers do not understand this and they want to try and help the ball in the air not trusting the club to do the work.

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Outside of shorter wedge shots we are looking for the left image more consistently.  The reason is that on the right the ball will be deflected too high and not out enough.  The right photo with the club arriving more vertical at the ball gets into high technique where the club actually lands behind the ball, projects it more upwards, and uses the landing angle to stop the ball instead of spin.

Also remember to change your wedges when needed, play a premium ball, and keep the grooves clean, and club face dry in order to create as much friction as possible.  I tell a lot of students that play Vokey wedges to replace their main wedge when each new model comes out which is roughly 2 years.  Their other wedges could be done every 2 cycles or 4 years or sooner if needed.

For the YouTube clip Click Here.

Swing Direction Plus Launch Angle with Driver

Want to cover two topics here.  The first topic is Swing Direction.  Here is the YouTube Video.  In the above video I placed an alignment on the ball line a driver distance behind and in front matching the shaft plane.  The goal is to give you the ability to get the club to travel from under the one behind and over the one in front, over the one behind and under in front, or under and under.  With this you can get feedback where the club is coming from and going to.  Below I am showing a swing direction that could go under and over.

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Now let’s chat about swing direction and attack angle.  As a golfer it is hard to have a swing that is going out to in to and an upward attack angle so as we get the swing more from under to over there is a better chance.  Here is another drill to keep the swing coming from the inside and now get the attack angle under control.  I placed an alignment rod on the target line at an angle that put it a grip above the ball and rolled up a towel and placed that a foot in front off the ball.

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This will set up a path that the club can come from inside low and go above the ball.  See the below images showing this movement.  I hit some balls with this setup and it got the path right 6-8* and attack up 3-5*.  Great way to maximize your driver for the most distance.  With solid strikes it will produce a high launching low spinning ball.  Click Here for the YouTube video.

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Use these videos and drills to help get your swing shape where you want it and get that driver maximized.

Over Under Video Video: https://youtu.be/f5sIiQz5Eiw

Driver Attack Angle Video: https://youtu.be/0v_oHpB_i2c

Elbow Plane Line

Let’s talk about the Elbow Plane Line (Click for YouTube Video).  This line is not the fix all line but is a good reference point.  If you are looking for exact you will need to line up your camera in the correct spot where the camera is hand height and perpendicular to the target line.  I use it as a good enough line because my preference is to film at chest high just in front of the toe line.

Let’s take a look how I add the line.  You can see in the above photo how I take the swing to impact then draw a line up form the hosel and out the back of the shaft.  The reason for impact shaft line is the shaft rises from setup and the dynamic movements of the swing.  When taken back to setup the line roughly goes through the right elbow (7iron pictured).  I tend to have low hands at setup and always working on getting them higher and when focusing on it feel like they are on this line.  Looks like I need to work on some setup pieces.

Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 6.48.27 PM.pngThis is a general reference line that we can use to see if the club from the top is working towards the line or away form the line.  Below photo I added a dot to where the club head was at the top of the swing then where it went to in transition.  The left photo moved towards the line and down where the right moved away and across the ball. screen shot 2019-01-15 at 6.29.22 pm

Here they are at at P6 or shaft parallel.  Left going down the line and right staying above.Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 6.44.30 PM.png

Here is just after impact you can see the club stay on the line on the left and the right where it came from above it went left and under the line.Screen Shot 2019-01-15 at 6.46.08 PM.png

A club that is traveling more along the line will usually have a stronger impact than one that is working too much form under or above.  Those clubs will be producing more of a glancing blow.

For the direct link to the YouTube channel click below:

Rotate to Balance

Balance is key in golf.  Turn on the tv and you will not see players moving all over the place, falling forward, back, and around at the finish.  The reason for this is it keeps the swing direction and impact more predictable.  If you are falling back that can move the swing direction more left and land the club too far behind the ball.  Click Here for the YouTube clip on this blog.

Here is a good drill I learned from Martin Chuck at the TourStriker Academy located at the Raven in Phoenix, AZ.  Place your club across your thigh and put some pressure into both legs.  Keep this pressure constant into the finish.  See the above photo for the start and finish.

In the below are to finishes for comparison.  The left photo we see often with the golfer finishing with too much pressure on their trail foot.  This keeps the center over the ball and the low point back too far.  What we want to see if on the right.  The golfer is standing on their left foot, 95% of their pressure is on the target side of the ball line, and there is just enough pressure on the back foot so they don’t fall over.  Can also see that the back of the rear is on the ball line.  This is a good check point to hold and assess where you are, how it feels, and how it looks.

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Start small and grow your swing.  For the YouTube video direct link click below:

Pre-Round Body Warmup

How often do you see players arrive to the course, check in, and head straight to the driving range to begin taking full swings with their mid iron or driver?  Maybe you are one of those individuals.  Players that play for a living warm up their body before warming up their swing for the round.  This could be anywhere form a few minutes in the hotel or at the course all the way to a full hour workout.  In 2018 Brooks Koepka warmed up for his final round at the PGA Championship with a full length 1 hour consisting of cardio and back & triceps and treated it like any other day.  That is not for everyone but a lot of high level golfers will use bands, light weights, and some cardio to get their body ready to preform for the day.

Now let’s get real, we do not have time to spend that long to warm up before we start to hit balls before our round.  Due to life, kids, and obligations some days it is lucky we are at the course at all and have 30-60 minutes to warm up.  For most the week consisted of sitting in a car driving 5-60+ minutes to work, doing the 9-5+ behind a computer at a desk, driving back home, sitting down for dinner, then some tv, and finally call it a day.  That is a lot of siting and stationary positions throughout the day let alone the week.  Now were are asking our bodies to move in different directions, do it quick, and at the expense of not losing our balance so we can find the middle of the club and preform to our high expectations.

What can we do to play better in that limited time without trying to carve out more time in a busy life?  Go to the course with a game plan.  When you get there have a routine you can do to get everything done in the amount of time you have.  Heck, have a few options for when you only have 15 minutes, 30-45 minutes, and a full hour or more.  Now let’s look at the body prep or warmup for the day and the areas that should be targeted.  Starting from the head down the joints that need to be loosened up are the neck, wrists, shoulders, t-spine or upper back, hips, and ankles.  When starting out begin with single plane movements before they become complex.  An example would be warming up the hips and before going into full swing motions start with reaching down towards your toes then up to the sky.  This will get the hips moving, back moving, neck moving, and you’r balance going.

Before coming up with what you need, since everyone is different and have their own limitations, take a look at my latest YouTube video going through some movements CLICK HERE. Come up with a little routine you like, hits all the areas, and can spend a little extra time here or there where you feel the tightest.  Time yourself and see if it is in-between 5-10 minutes so you know how long it will take.  Once you get a little routine that takes a few minutes do it once a day so your body get moving not only on game day but every day.  This way you will not be shocking the system by only doing it just before the round.

As you start to feel better do that 5-10 minute routine in the morning and afternoon.  Not asking you to become a Yoga freak but a little time here and there will add up over time.  10 minutes a day adds up to 70 minutes a week.  If you have the time I would highly recommend doing a Yoga class once or twice a week.  They can walk you through different positions, teach you about breathing, and find stretches to add into your routine.  This is not a fix over night for a body that has been stationary for so long but it is a start to moving better.  Do 5-10 minutes a day or every other day for a few months and see how you feel.  Your body will thank you and don’t stop there… keep going.

YouTube link for the full length video: https://youtu.be/UceXiLO7sHo or  CLICK HERE

YouTube link to the 5 minute follow along clip: https://youtu.be/6UUT4XmcXwM or CLICK HERE

YouTube link to an extended 9 minute follow along video clip: https://youtu.be/-UZskYBa0-U or CLICK HERE

Ball Speed NOT Just Swing Speed

We are all looking for more distance off the tee and for our irons to travel further.  Without putting in the time in the gym to get stronger and work on movement patterns, doing yoga for flexibility, and training for speed what are some areas that will help maximize our potential?  For the YouTube clip that ties in with this blog CLICK HERE

In a previous article about maximizing the driver, HERE, I discussed spin axis and club delivery. If we are delivering a glancing blow to the ball the club speed is not projecting its full potential onto the ball. Also any balls that are not hit out of or near the center of the club head will deliver less speed.

Let’s take a look at a 7 iron example.  In the below image the club head was traveling 77 miles an hour, the face to path was slightly closed at -1.5* for a slight draw delivery, the spin loft was 27.5 which is good for a 7 iron,  and the ball speed was 107.1 mph.  107.1 ball speed decided by 77 club speed gives us 1.39 which is the Smash Factor.  The golf ball left the face at 1.39 times that of the swing speed.  In this scenario the ball launched at 18*.

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Now let’s take a look at another 7 iron scenario.  Here is the same club speed but the ball was slightly miss hit, face was more closed to the path, and spin loft was higher.  These little variances had a club traveling more across the ball resulting in a ball speed of 94mph.  Even though the ball launched higher at 20* with the potential to carry further the smash factor was down from 1.39 above to 1.23 here resulting in a ball speed of 12.8mph and 28.8 yards of carry.  Could say roughly every MPH of ball speed is 2.25 yards.IMG_10C11E0A2E37-1.jpeg

Here is a LPGA driver example off TrackMan’s data base showing an efficient strike with a smash factor of 1.49 which is right at the 1.50 USGA limit where a ball can leave the club face.  The swing direction and club face difference was minimal at 0.8 open and attack angle to loft small at 12.2 degrees.  This swing speed it a typical male club player swinging their driver 90mph.IMG_8781B9F0B177-1.jpeg

What creates spin? : Spin Loft

Wanted to write a quick article on spin and increasing or decreasing spin.    If you are looking to make a change where should you start?  Let’s start with Spin Loft and what that is.  Below is an image from GolfTec showing what creates Spin Loft is the difference in Attack Angle and Dynamic Loft.

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Let’s take a look at reducing spin on a driver.  The image below was a well struck shot.  As a reminder due to the drivers bulge and roll it will change the spin quite a bit on a miss hit.  You can see that the driver presented 13.3* of loft at impact but because it was traveling up 2.2* that resulted in a spin loft of 11.1* and a low spinning driver. To reduce spin on a driver first is having a solid strike, low face impact spins more, and second is to reduce the Attack Angle and Dynamic Loft in order to narrow the two vectors.

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Now let’s take a look at a wedge shot.  Here the goal is to create the opposite condition in order to create spin.  There is a point that the Spin Loft becomes too great, usually around 55*, where the spin starts to go down.  Also any debris between the ball and wedge will drastically reduce the spin.  This shot launched at 35* and if I if we wanted to launch it lower without crossing the spin thresh hold on Spin Loft we could tilt the vectors down.  Option would be to move the ball slightly back to increase the attack angle and add more rotation in order to get more shaft lean at impact.  That will move both Attack and Dynamic Loft keeping the Spin Loft the same.

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Now lest talk about hitting a flighted shot into the wind.  The goal on this shot is to have a low launching shot that is not spinning too much.  Option one would be to go up a club, say form a 7 iron to a 6 iron, to reduce the Dynamic Loft part of the equation.  Next option would be creating more shaft lean without increasing the attack angle.  This is done by adding more body turn in order to keep the handle moving before the club head passes at the bottom.

For the YouTube video that corresponds to this article CLICK HERE.  This video covers a spinning shot and a flighted 7 iron.

Another video on flighted iron shots: CLICK HERE.

For a great drill to help reduce the spin loft on the drive by moving the attack angle from down to up and help with the moving the swing direction out to the right CLICK HERE. Players who swing under 100mph will benefit from a slightly upward attack. Those swinging over 100mph and higher may choose to give up some carry distance to get the ball on the ground sooner for control.