True or False: Golf radar systems are ruining golf?

by   |   August 31, 2013
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Last week, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee went on the offensive against radar launch monitors, claiming that they were “ruining golf.”

Chamblee said that radar systems (like Trackman and Flightscope) were promoting two different swings, one for the driver and one for the irons. He also said that they focused too much on optimizing distance at the expense of accuracy off the tee — according to Chamblee, all things that are bad for ball striking. Fortunately for golfers, there are recorded performance metrics that can determine the accuracy of Chamblee’s claims.

Golf radar systems hit the scene about a decade ago, but most PGA Tour players didn’t start using them for their practice and instruction sessions until about 2011. The golfers who used them prior to that time mainly used them as fitting tools to help them choose the right club head, shaft, etc.

From what I’ve been told by my contacts on Tour, Tiger Woods did not use a radar launch monitor for practice purposes until late 2010. Thus, I would establish a timeline of anything before 2010 as “pre-radar” and everything from 2010 on as “post-radar.”

Driving Effectiveness

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I agree with Chamblee’s sentiments that golfers are becoming too focused on distance in place of accuracy, because my statistical research shows that the “bomb-and-gouge” strategy is not an optimal way to play golf — it tends to cost golfers some strokes.

With that said, a conservative strategy like the one Woods likes to use (choosing to hit 3 wood or 5 wood/2 iron off the tee whenever possible) is not an optimal strategy either. However, the data indicates that it is not a launch monitor issue.

When looking at how effectively a player on Tour drives the ball, I use an algorithm based on the historical data of the PGA Tour that factors in:

  • Distance
  • Fairway Percentage
  • Average Distance to the Edge of the Fairway (on shots that miss the fairway)
  • Fairway Bunker Percentage
  • Missed Fairway – Other Percentage

The Tour has distance and fairway percentage measurements dating back to 1980. However, the others do not date back as far. Here are some charts of the Tour averages in these particular metrics.

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With these three metrics, I only made a chart that goes to 2009 (pre-radar), because it is very clear that Tour players were hitting it much farther and becoming more inaccurate off the tee well before radar launch monitors became popular to use for practice and instructional purposes.

I have excluded the Average Distance to the Edge of the Fairway metric because it only dates back to 2007 and the sample size is not large enough to make a valid “pre-radar” vs. “post-radar” comparison. However, we do see something very interesting when we look at the Tour average for Missed Fairway – Other Percentage. These are tee shots that do not find the fairway or the rough or the fairway bunker.

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As we can see, the Tour average dropped dramatically at the end of the “pre-radar” era. It has risen slightly since the “post-radar” era, but it is still well below previous years averages.

The data shows that Chamblee’s claims that golfers are too focused on distance and neglect accuracy and precision off the tee does have merit. However, it also suggests that radar launch monitors are not a problem.

The Tour has seen a dramatic increase in distance and a decrease in accuracy and precision off the tee well before radar launch monitors became popular for use. I believe that the decline in accuracy on Tour has more to do with the fallacy that the “bomb-and-gouge” strategy is superior.

There is other data that suggests that more Tour courses are being designed to favor distance over accuracy. This is also being shown in the charts I have presented where golfers are hitting less fairways, yet their Missed Fairway – Other percentage has mysteriously dramatically declined.

IRON PLAY

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Chamblee’s claim about golf radar systems being detrimental because they promote two different golf swings has to do with the attack angles that golf radar systems promote. With the irons, golfers must have a downward attack angle so they can make contact with the ball first, then take a divot. But since the ball is teed up with the driver, golfers can have a downward, upward or a flat (0-degrees) angle of attack

An upward or positive angle of attack is usually rewarded with extra distance, however, as it tends to allow golfers to launch the ball higher with less spin — a key component of longer drives (see the chart above). Thus, if the golfer hits the driver with an upward attack angle and his irons with a downward attack angle, that is having “two different swings.”

An obvious flaw in Chamblee’s claim is that according to Trackman, the average attack angle with the driver on Tour is 1.3 degrees down, or negative 1.3 degrees. Thus, Tour players on average are still using “one swing” to hit their clubs. However, I wanted to see what the Tour averages were for shot proximity to the cup during the years.

I examine this by breaking down approach shots into three different zones.

  • Birdie Zone (75-125 yards)
  • Safe Zone (125-175 yards)
  • Danger Zone (175-225 yards)

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As we can see, the Tour average has hardly changed on approach shots the past few years. For the most part, the averages have been within one foot from year to year. Thus, there is no evidence to Chamblee’s claim that golf radar’s recommendation for having two different swings is causing golfers on Tour to hit their irons worse.

Lastly, I very much doubt that radar launch monitors are “ruining golf.” While I do not have hard data with regards to this matter, I would estimate that less than 1 percent of the golfing population has ever utilized a radar launch monitor for practice and/or lessons.

We could hypothesize many other factors that are causing golfers to hit the ball farther, but with less accurately and with less precision. Perhaps it is the altering of course design? Perhaps it is a change into more of a “bomb-and-gouge” philosophy? Maybe the Tour players are getting bigger and more athletic (allowing them to generate more clubhead speed), but they are having difficulty learning how to harness that power?

Whatever the problem may be, I find Chamblee’s most recent criticism toward this piece of technology to be without merit.

About

Richie Hunt is a statistician whose clients include PGA Tour players, their caddies and instructors in order to more accurately assess their games. He is also the author of the recently published e-book, 2014 Pro Golf Synopsis; the Moneyball Approach to the Game of Golf. He can be reached at ProGolfSynopsis@yahoo.com or on Twitter @Richie3Jack.

GolfWRX Writer of the Month: March 2014

Purchase 2014 Pro Golf Synopsis E-book for $10


120 Comments

  1. James

    September 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

    My two cents is that all this technology has helped minimally. Why? Average handicap is still staying the same is why. Doesn’t matter how well the club fits you, or how good the ball is, or anything else like that, if you can’t hit the damn ball well to begin with. If your swing sucks, your swing sucks whether you have a good fitting club or an ill fitting club. Meaning if you can’t hit the ball consistently but 10% of the time you still won’t be able to hit it any more consistently with a radar fitted club. At the Professional level, it would make much more difference given their skill and talent level but at the amateur level not so much.

  2. mike hogi

    September 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    As a golf instructor I suggest one swing with different ball positions. But to use the info gained from the ball flight machine as to the distance each club is hit is beneficial [IMO] to every golfer, as it gives you an informed idea as to which club is necessary to carry the obstacles presented by the golf course.[Petie3]I suggest have the loft and lie of your clubs adjusted as opposed to obtaining new or different clubs. there are several benefits to this, 1 It is cheaper to have your club bent. 2 You get more confident and comfortable with clubs you have experience hitting. Just use the mute button for Chamblee, he does say some strange and entertaining things though.

  3. Iain Gold

    September 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    That is a stupid think to say, especialy considering he should know what he is talking about. A swing moves down and out and up and in so you change your address position and not realy your swing to hit your driver on the upswing.
    Also why should knowing exactly what your club and ball are doing be bad for golf!

  4. Tripp Powell

    September 6, 2013 at 10:16 am

    brandel is an idiot. It does not promote 2 different swings. If you dont adjust at address for the 2 different AoA then you will have to make 2 different swings.. look at Hogans setup/ball position example at the end of the 5 lessons book, his setup adjustments throughout the bag promotes one single swing.. this is what radar golf instructors teach.. chamblee just didnt do it like that so it must be wrong, since he is soo good.

  5. Dave

    September 5, 2013 at 9:38 am

    It doesn’t take long watching Brandel to know that Chamblee must be French for irrelevant.

  6. LARRY SHERER

    September 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I think everything added up it is the ball that is the biggest difference. I know I saw John Daly when he was in his prime using a ball that would stay round off his driver but would also be 25, 30 feet past the pins before they would stop, where the shorter hitters used the pure balata ball that would stop on a dime. Now we have balls you can hit as hard as possible it still stays round and stops on a dime.

  7. petie3

    September 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    If I have a bagfull of irons and I hit the 6-iron 15 feet to the right I get a new 6-iron. This gets critical with the wedges but it’s the same swing. If my sandwedge can’t hit down the line with a good swing I’ll use another one (I’ve gone through a lot of sandwedges).

  8. bsbgolf

    September 1, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Chamblee is full of himself-period. I think we can all agree he harbors complete hatred for everything TW because after the 2000 season this one PGA tour event winner discovered his golf career was over.

    I’m a 15 handicap golfer and I’ve used FlightScope with my golf coach for a two simple reasons, efficiency and distance control. I don’t depend completely on the hardware to judge my swing, but it does help understand the subtle differences in making changes and how they effect the ball flight and distance through knowing the launch angle, angle of attack, ball spin, etc.

  9. birly-shirly

    September 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Seems like cross-purposes here. Chamblee’s argument seems to be that chasing optimal launch and spin numbers leads to a deterioration in driving ability.

    But the numbers quoted in the article are tour averages, and suggest (in that the tour average AoA with driver is still downward) that tour players, AS A WHOLE, are not making the mistake that Chamblee claims that Tiger and other Trackman users are making.

    It follows that TM usage hasn’t “ruined” golf yet – but I don’t see that Chamblee is proven wrong, either in terms of what TM has meant for Tiger’s driving, or the direction in which golf coaching may be headed.

    • Richie Hunt

      September 2, 2013 at 9:52 am

      I think Brandel’s comments were geared towards Tiger. But, he did say that Trackman was ‘killing golf.’ It is either ‘killing golf’ or it isn’t. There is no evidence that it is killing the game. So using the argument that it is not *yet* killing it is a weak argument in my opinion.

      As far as Tiger goes, part of the issue with that claim is that Tiger hits down with the driver according to Sean Foley. So he’s not actually employing ’2 different swings.’

      The only way to really determine Trackman’s effect on golfers is to get a sample of Tour players that use Trackman regularly. Pinpoint when they started using it. Then look at before and after results.

      Still, Chamblee’s point was that it was ruining the game and that’s absolutely not true. As for Tiger, he may have a point…although we should factor in age and injury in there as well. But, he doesn’t have a point with users like Justin Rose and Jason Dufner, both of whom have greatly improved their ballstriking metrics since going to Trackman.

  10. Steve

    September 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    “The people in the past we all consider great golfers, Neslon, Hogan, Trevino, Nicklaus, Palmer, Vardon, Ouimet, yada yada on and on did not need a device to teach them how to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes.”

    Seriously, can we stop with dumb crap like this? Everyone knows none of them used trackman or anything like it. It’s not because they “didn’t need it” or didn’t want to, it’s because it wasn’t available to them. If they had trackman in their days, you can bet that the heavy majority would have used it too.

  11. GHo23

    August 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Whew, lots of posts, didn’t have time to read tem all so I hope I don’t repeat something already said.
    I wish they would do something with the ball. It is the only sport that does not require everybody use the same ball. Yes, they are all the same size, but you can tailor your ball flight, spin rate, etc.
    make everybody play exactly the same ball.
    I miss seeing guys like Trevino, chi chi, that had some imagination. Not many guys out there like that anymore.

  12. joker2

    August 31, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    There is golf and there is the PGA tour (along w/other pro tours).
    People seem to forget that

  13. Mickey Harris

    August 30, 2013 at 10:30 am

    This is so misleading. Radar isn’t the problem! It’s the philosophies of drivers, balls, and some of the teaching and work that has been done with this information! All the radar provides is information to the golfer/instructor. What they choose to do with that information is completely subjective and they will pay the consequences. HOW CAN MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING RUIN GOLF! I am a PGA professional that teaches with a flightscope and my philosophy has made more golfers more accurate. Weather your golf is hitting up or down, you can figure it out! The 2 swing crap Chamblee is spouting is just uninformed and a rather shallow finding. The ‘optimal fitting’ numbers provided by radar manufacturers should be used as guide lines for optimal DISTANCE. If that’s all you are using, then you are mislead. Trackman and Flightscope are doing an outstanding job. It’s the hands that work with them that are struggling to find it. As for the drivers and balls the guys on tour are using, they are completely different from what 99% can get there hands on but if they are even remotely trending in the direction of ‘off the rack stuff’ it’s no wonder they are all spraying it. Stuff has gotten lighter and longer and that isn’t the greatest combination for accuracy.

  14. Andrew Cooper

    August 30, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Trackman has helped us understand why the ball does what it does. Every coach should have a working knowledge of what Trackman has proved about ball flight. That said it’s important to remember it is only a tool and, like video analysis, that it has to be used sensibly, not obsessively. Golf, playing and teaching, will always be more art than science. Likewise, finding clubs will always be as much about looks and feel, as it is about raw numbers. All really good players will have a feel for what equipment they’ll be able to trust on the course in competitive situations, and it may not be the same as the clubs that they can smash furthest down a range or into a net.

    • Bob

      August 31, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      What exactly has trackman done that is “new?”

      • Andrew Cooper

        September 4, 2013 at 10:24 am

        Yes there were others pre- Trackman who realised the ball flight laws as taught by the PGA were wrong, but it was Trackman that really proved this conclusively.

        • Bob

          September 7, 2013 at 8:22 am

          Thanks. I didn’t need a Trackman to conclusively prove anything and neither did any other “good player” who could see the ball “fly” out of wet grass or watch the ball “balloon upwards” because of too much spin. Same goes for “ball flight laws.” If the swing path and face angle in my brain didn’t coincide with the ball flight, then I just made the adjustment with my swing until they did. I reread your original post and it sums up what my personal (8 times) experience on trickman was like. All of the drivers that produced the optimal launch numbers didn’t work in competition. The only driver that worked was a driver that I used a controlled swing that kept the ball in play with decent distance and matched up to the rest of my clubs.

          • Andrew Cooper

            September 8, 2013 at 4:47 am

            Agreed Bob. Golfers would be better going with what they like the look of, feels good, gives a flight they like, can shape, and something they’ve confidence with. Use the eyes, watch the ball-that’s the ultimate feedback. Trackman, can suck golfers into chasing an extra few yards, both in lessons and fitting. Those extra few yards are largely meaningless to how they’ll score.

  15. mortyjeff

    August 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Likely not the launch monitor killing golf, rather it is the publicly traded manufacturers trying to put clubs that are commercially available to the recreational golfer in the hands of pros. Whether it is the 460cc driver head, latest replication of the circa 1970s Wilson Reflex iron and vibration dampening shafts/grips… the launch monitors are now crucial tool to give players the needed feedback in the absence of feel and the audible click of solid ball strikes on persimmon head woods and muscle back irons.

  16. Randall

    August 29, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Is Shawn Foley a 50 year old hipster? Sad

    • Nick

      September 4, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Seriously man. I came here to comment on those fugly glasses in the cover photo.

  17. Alex

    August 29, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    When you post your figures/analysis, would you please include the number of data points that went into producing them? Would make it easier to realize what is a real trend and what is noise.

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • Richie Hunt

      August 30, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      I’m not sure what exactly you mean by that. I stated that the ‘Zone’ data was based on the average proximity to the cup. As far as the size for each year, it varies on Tour. Usually about 185 to 190 players, but there were some years where the number of players that statistically qualified was as much as 202 players. With the latest rules and qualifiers, you’ll generally see this around 185-190 players per year.

  18. chris weidl

    August 29, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I think you guys are all overthinking this subject.
    Brandel’s point was simple, trackman and other devices are causing golfers to focus on the golfswing and not on playing golf. The people in the past we all consider great golfers, Neslon, Hogan, Trevino, Nicklaus, Palmer, Vardon, Ouimet, yada yada on and on did not need a device to teach them how to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes. The modern golfer focusing on his swing statistics is not betting better at getting the ball in the hole. He is getting better at his swing numbers. If the radar technology was making better golfers why are the accuracy statistics that Rich put together not showing better accuracy? Those accuracy statistics are basically static. So where is the improvement that these devices provide? The point of golf is least strokes to hole the ball. Shot distance, shot height, shot curvature are not the point of golf. The modern trackman golfer with all his advances in physical training, statistical analysis, psychologists, equipment is no better than Byron Nelson.

    • Richie Hunt

      August 29, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      I think you have missed some of the key points here. If you look at the metrics, the scoring averages on Tour have gone down slightly over the years. However, I don’t think it’s useful to look at because there are too many other possible factors. Studies have shown that the modern greens and modern golf balls allow more putts to be made. The driver has changed to be much more forgiving, players are much better athletes, etc. So the steady improvement in Tour scoring average could be due to a various parts of the game.

      In short, the only real way to determine its effect is to get a sample of players that went to using launch monitors and determine when they started to use them and what the difference in their ballstriking performance was.

      • Bob Pegram

        December 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm

        On the other hand, courses are much longer. With the scoring averages going down slightly even with longer courses, the level of shot-making is much higher. How much of that is due to equipment versus skill is debatable.

        Flightscope and Trackman give immediate, EXACT, feedback to a golfer. That allows him to work on an adjustment and know how he is doing on each swing. It tells him how the change should feel because he can see which swings are closer to the ideal swing for him. That is something no golf teacher can communicate. It lets the golfer make adjustments after each swing. I have seen a golfer go from an ingrained outside-in swing path to an inside-out swing path in less than a half hour using Flightscope. He was then shown how to square up the face by turning the right forearm over the left (right-handed). He then had a slight draw – the ideal. His reaction was usually something along the lines of, “I have never hit a shot like that before.” The improvement was immediate. All that was needed then was practice to make the change permanent. An ocassional checkup with Flightscope or Trackman is needed during the “making permanent” period to make sure he is still swing properly until it becomes ingrained.

    • Paladin

      August 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      Do you really think most pros are thinking about their Trackman results? If they were they would not be able to swing. The reality is they groove their mechanics on the practice ground and are using their swings on the course to hit the ball to the target as opposed to mechanical thoughts.

    • Bob

      August 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      I totally agree!

    • Bob

      September 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      I totally agree! You haven’t fallen into the “technology trap.”

  19. Dave

    August 29, 2013 at 3:37 am

    Is there anything to be said for the correlation between a 5% increase in average distance (273 to 288 yds) from ’00 to ’09 and a 5% decline in accuracy during the same period? It’s apparently a 1 to 1 ratio… I think launch monitors seem to shorten the learning curve and potentially take away the development of “feel” oriented players. It seems like the differences between swings has become smaller and smaller over the past couple of decades. The champions tour is beginning to lose the last generation of totally self-made players. They’re part of the transitional phase where players started working with swing coaches and diversity in styles began to diminish. Now you can hardly tell most of the top pros apart based on individual swing styles. This is due to technology and fitness, both geared to create the most efficient and consistent move possible. As prize money has increased, so has the pro golfer’s entourage, swing coach, psychologist, state of the art launch monitor, and so on. Personally, I like the technology, but wish we’d see more variation and creativity in swing styles – more Bubba Watsons and less Hunter Mahans. They both have their allure, but it’s exciting to watch someone who figured out a way to do something differently, and still very successfully, than everyone else…

  20. Bob

    August 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Chamblee is absolutely right. He won on tour, played the tour and has extensively analyzed the tour. He is so far more educated about golf than trackman and all the trackman advocates who have fallen into the “technology trap,” that there is no comparison when it comes down to expressing an intelligent opinion. I have said it all along since attending a trackman seminar and being on a trackman about 8 times. “You can’t teach the average golfer to hit “down” on his irons and then expect him to hit “up” on his driver. It won’t work and hasn’t worked since golf was invented about 150 years ago.” This is why the “players” on the PGA Tour hit “down” on their drivers. To spend 30k on a trackman and then make golfers worse by telling them to hit “up” on their drivers does in fact “ruin” their games. When a teaching pro invests 30k in a trackman he immediately becomes a “slave” to trackman and is forced to mass market lessons and equipment sales. This is the “technology trap.” He no longer has his students best interest in mind, only what “trackman” has in mind, which is selling more trackman launch monitors and getting more people to attend the trackman “university.”

    • Richie Hunt

      August 29, 2013 at 8:59 am

      How is Chamblee correct? The data does not suggest that he is correct. The Tour also still averages a -1.3* downward attack angle with the driver. And how much of the golfing population uses a Trackman? I believe it is less than 1%.

      Then you have Tour players like Justin Rose and Jason Dufner, both having won 2 of the majors this year, that use Trackman. Grant Waite is an instructor who uses Trackman and he won on Tour as well. Those are golfers that are quite knowledgeable about the game that use Trackman and feel it has bettered their game and instruction. They are just as qualified (if not more qualified) than Chamblee based on their playing careers.

      • Bob

        August 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm

        Waite, Rose, Dufner all fall into the same category, “technology trap.” They feel that they are at a competitive disadvantage if they don’t use it. I have nothing but respect for their opinions for the same reason as Chamblee but it would be a long stretch to give trackman credit for their success. A good example would be the promotion that Trackman had with Justin Rose and Sean Foley using trackman prior to the British Open resulting with Rose missing the cut. Are you going to blame trackman for him missing the cut?

        I agree that only 1% of golfers actually use trackman but the “buzz” on hitting up on the driver carries past the actual sessions and influences the general golfing public in a negative way. Trackman is nothing more than an expensive gadget that is very limited in its usefulness and creates more “paralysis by analysis” at all levels, tour players included. If all PGA Tour players have equal access to trackman, then why do some win and some finish last. It certainly isn’t because of trackman. Trackman can’t read the greens, can’t judge the wind, temperature or humidity. It can’t judge the players emotional state. It can’t judge the lie of the ball. It can’t help the player make intelligent decisions like a good caddie can. For every player that trackman may “help” there are countless others that it hurts. In the hands of a knowledgable instructor there may be some minor help but only because of the knowledable instructor who can evaluate the emotional and physical with his knowing eye.

        • Richie Hunt

          August 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm

          The thing about Rose and Dufner is that their ballstriking metrics have improved since they started utilizing Trackman. Of course, it also helped that they changed instructors (Foley and Chuck Cook), both of whom use Trackman in teaching their students. Rose went from a very average driver and pretty good iron player to one of the best drivers of the ball on Tour and a great iron player. Dufner had major issues with his ballstriking and is now one of the premier drivers of the ball and a good-to-great iron player.

          Lastly, not all players use Trackman for their own personal reasons. I know some of the clients I have never use Trackman or a FlightScope. They are just not interested.

    • Paladin

      August 29, 2013 at 11:03 am

      It’s also worth noting Sean Foley along with a lot of better educated teaching pros (better educated than yourself) advocate hitting down, which destroys the straw man yourself and Chamblee attempt to create before you two can burn it down. What I see is someone so afraid of facts because those facts can upset their apple cart of conventional instruction, which is the same apple cart that advocated hitting up with the driver and down with irons. The irony of that has to be noted,

      You are just scared because you would rather parrot the same mantras over having to learn and adjust. Your response says far more about you than it could possibly say about Trackman.

      • Bob

        August 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm

        I’m not scared, just honest based on personal experience. If you can’t handle honesty and need a trackman to make up for your own lack of knowledge you have fallen into the “technology trap.”

        The trackman rep said to hit “up” on your driver at the seminar I attended. I heartily disagree and so must all the tour pros who hit down on their drivers as well as their irons.

        “If you need a 30k ball flight monitor to tell if you hit a good shot, you’ve got a problem.” Peter Kostis quote.

        • Bob Pegram

          December 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm

          You are assuming a golfer won’t look at the results of any swing change to see if it has improved his shotmaking. Any golfer of even average ability WILL look at the results. For many golfers hitting up on the driver (by moving the ball to the left in the stance) increases consistency, distance, etc. For some it doesn’t. For the ones where it doesn’t, they are smart enough to use whatever works the best for them.

          Even a few touring pros hit down on the driver. Many do better hitting up on the driver. The factor not being discussed here is that, assuming the swing is like a slanted hula hoop, when the driver is coming up past the bottom of the swing, it is also coming back towards the golfer a little. He has to adjust for that by eith changing his driver swing path to more inside-out or closing his stance a little. When hitting down on irons, the opposite is true. The clubhead is going down before it reaches the bottom of the swing. It is still going away from the body slightly. That is why the traditional stance opens as the golfer moves from woods to shorter and shorter irons. That automatically adjusts the swing path to slightly outside-in compared to the target line. The other way to do it is to adjust the swing itself instead of adjusting the stance. Golfer should do whichever works best for them. I adjust my stance so I don’t have to adjust my swing. I am old school.

    • Jim H

      August 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

      Again its these wildly bold statements that I don’t get.

      Is there a epidemic of people complaining that their game is ruined because they went to a teaching pro using TM and told them to hit down on the ball? According to you and Brandel there sounds like there is.

      According to you, EVERY SINGLE teaching pro that uses TM is now a “slave” to TM and is teaching the wrong information only to boost sales? That is a very bold statement and a ridiculous one at that.

      • Bob

        August 29, 2013 at 8:36 pm

        The problem is not that the trackman pro told them to hit down it is because they told them to hit up.

        If you spend 30k for a trackman then you have to give a boatload of lessons to get your money back. If you don’t like the term “slave” then try debt.

  21. Joe Caruso

    August 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Finally well said maybe the players are bigger a lot stronger and workout hard. Tpi has changed things a lot not a machine.

  22. Sean

    August 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I think we are making the game too complicated. We get so caught up in the numbers we lose sight of the “game”. Mr. Woods played his best golf without the benefit of all the “data”. Jack Nicklaus did fairly well too.

    • Paladin

      August 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      I disagree, we finally have a breakthrough on the swing that can separate a lot of reality from fiction in the swing that can make teaching easier, and lower handicaps. What really offends people is that Trackman is producing real data people are using to change the old conventional swing model into a new one. Woods did have the video camera. Did that make the game more complicated? If anything Trackman has made the video easier to interpret. Trackman has made the swing simpler to understand.

  23. John

    August 28, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong but the funny thing is even with the low spin balls that Nicklaus has been complaining about for 20 years that are supposed to be reducing side spin and enhancing distance and accuracy?? And they get even less accurate as the years go on? I have read opinions from guys like Brad Hughes about club designs and inclined strikes being the bigger issue. Maybe Hughes has a point? Maybe its the inconsistency in the modern swings as opposed to the flatter swings of the earlier pros?

  24. Luke

    August 28, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    What also appears to have been overlooked is the change in equipment regulations in order to reign in players, such as the changes in grooves, MOI etc… That would be a considerable factor in how players have changed methods in order to progress.

  25. Jason

    August 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Rich,
    During the PGA Championship multicast one of the channels had Bobby Clampett with another commentator watching Phil on the range I believe. Bobby was commenting on the topic of upward angle of attack with the driver and how it is contrast to the rest of the bag which rewards downward angle of attack. Bobby being old school of course favors a one swing methodology whereby the driver should be teed low and hit with a slightly downward attack angle. He then went on to say for the most part modern manufactures don’t design drivers for this setup but there are now a few out there that have gone that direction. I myself have a flat downswing plane and fare much better with the driver if the ball is teed low. The best “somewhat modern” driver I have found which rewards my swing is the original Cleveland Hibore. The rest of the Hibore iterations cater to the upward angle in my opinion. My question is do you (or anyone else reading this)know which drivers Bobby might be referring too. I’m not looking for any particular product endorsement I just would like to try them to see if I can gain a few yards with more modern technology. I don’t want a swing change to adapt to new drivers I want a driver COG that fits my swing. I emailed Bobby’s website but got no response.

    • Richie Hunt

      August 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      I have no idea. I would imagine it is the driver with a low CoG. Although there are some real fallacies about driver design these days as pointed out by fellow GolfWRX contributor, Tom Wishon. Like the idea that the ‘hot spot’ on the driver is up near the crown. The only ‘hot spot’ is where the CoG is located. Golfers that hit more towards the crown and ‘gain distance’ usually do it because they are playing with a driver with too low of a loft. There’s more loft towards the crown and the vertical gear effect will reduce the spin on those high on the face hits. Thus, higher launch and low spin.

      Personally, my work with Tour clients shows that there are 2 types of players that ‘lose their driving.’

      1. The player that struggles with their accuracy and tries to flight the ball lower with a steeper attack angle. They end up steepening the attack angle more and more to provide quick relief to their problems. But in the end, they wind up hitting it much shorter off the tee and become more inaccurate and imprecise.

      2. The player that hits too far upward on the ball with the driver. This is not nearly as common and #1. But, this player usually is trying to gain distance but starts hitting it too high for their swing and the ball does not spin enough. Tour fairways are much firmer than your local club’s fairways. And this often causes these types of players to start missing some fairways that they would normally hit as the ball rolls thru the fairway and into the rough. There is also the problem with having to alter their aim if they are hitting upward on the ball.

      That’s why I generally feel that Tour players can benefit more from a relatively ‘flat’ strike. Something around -1* down to +1* up. Anything steeper or more upward than that has often presented problems for Tour players.

      • Paul Byrne

        August 31, 2013 at 9:17 am

        Your comment wrt the benefit of a relatively ‘flat’ strike (for a driver) has merit. A steeper or a more upward strike requires a greater compensation to swing direction (to the left or to the right of the target) to maintain the club path on the intended target. It’s probably easier for the player if both his clubface and swing direction are aligned on the same target throughout the swing.

        The modern driver is designed to produce a lower spin rate to help maximise distance. However, when shaping shots, ideally a higher spin rate is needed to keep the ball moving on the desired curve. If the spin rate is too low, the ball will not maintain the desired curve and a weak shot will result.

        This is likely to be a key factor why those who prefer to shape their tee shots may have difficulty in consistently producing accurate shots.

        A further challenge for the player with the driver is to obtain the correct divergence between swing direction and face angle for the size of curve needed. Unfortunately, this will always be a ‘moving target’ given the significant variability of spin rate due to vertical gear effect, and the effect this has on the spin axis.

        As the design of the modern driver continues to evolve to favour the big hitters, the more difficult it will be to shape shots with any degree of accuracy consistently. I think the time is not too far off when players will switch from their stock fades and draws to the straight shot and reserve their shot shaping for their irons.

  26. David

    August 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Isn’t it very, Very basic swing teaching that you swing up as a result of having the ball forward in your stance? Therefore there is only one swing, not two.

    Or rather in the authors thoughts: there are 13 swings, as ball position changes from front to back, and hence steepness does too.

    Also….. I never saw a ball that had 50-60 yards of roll. Come play somewhere realistic and show me that.

    • Richie Hunt

      August 28, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      One can have a ball position further back and hit up on it. Conversely, one can move the ball position further up and hit down on it. And they can change it from varying degrees. There’s a YouTube video of an instructor illustrating this point. He moves the ball back in his stance and Trackman reads a much shallower angle of attack, then he moves the ball up in his stance and is actually producing a steeper attack angle.

      Generally, changing ball position helps alter the attack angle, but there are other factors involved in it as well. The radar launch monitors have also shown that golfers will not have the same attack angle with each club. The attack angle gets progressively steeper with the shorter clubs. Even if the golfer keeps the ball position in the same exact place.

      • Bob

        August 30, 2013 at 7:07 am

        Your reply simply means that golfers can alter their swings from one swing to another which is why being inconsistent is a universal complaint.

        Your statement that shorter irons have a steeper angle of attack is correct but giving credit to launch monitors for information that was and is common knowledge long before they came on the scene is simply false. These kind of false statements given innocuously is one big reason why golfers and teachers get sucked into the “technology trap.”

      • Bob Pegram

        December 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm

        Hitting up on a ball that is back in the stance and then hitting down on a ball that is forward in the stance takes a change in swing timing (when the wrists uncock). It takes more skill to do that than letting the ball position dictate angle of attack. Hitting up by putting the ball forward in the stance and hitting down by moving it back is much easier, especially for an occasional golfer who has limited time for practice.
        Flightscope and Trackman give immediate feedback so the golfer can see what he is doing. Flightscope even gives shaft behavior as well which is good to see if there is problem with the club specs.

  27. Greg

    August 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I would also hypothesise that when the pros had square grooves they didn’t care if they hit it in the rough because they could still spin it from a crappy lie. That would account for the accuracy stat over that period. Nowadays they need to hit fairways to get the same result and still be relatively long to be competitive.

    • Richie Hunt

      August 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm

      All the data shows that the banning on U-Grooves has not had ANY effect on any performance metric from tee-to-green.

  28. joe sixpack

    August 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I’m not impressed by this.

    A couple points:

    -Your definition of the pre/post-launch monitor era divide of 2010 is arbitrary and inaccurate. I agree that few tour pros owned trackmans pre-2010, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t swinging up on drivers to optimize launch pre-2010. I first hit on a trackman in 2007 and my fitter explained optimum launch conditions to me then. If he knew how to optimize driver launch by swinging with a positive attack angle, you can bet that every single tour pro knew that data too.

    -You didn’t explain very clearly what “Missed Fairway – Other” is. It’s not in the fairway, rough, or fairway bunker. So it’s in a hazard or OB, or what else? And why did that stat fall off a cliff in 2008? You didn’t even posit a guess. What does this stat have to do with launch monitors or driving distance? If 2010 is the pre-post radar divide, why did this shift happen in 2008. ??? If this doesn’t help explain your thesis, why include it?

    -You said that “An obvious flaw in Chamblee’s claim is that according to Trackman, the average attack angle with the driver on Tour is 1.3 degrees down, or negative 1.3 degrees. Thus, Tour players on average are still using “one swing” to hit their clubs.” I disagree with that. Tour pros aren’t hitting a sand wedge with a -1.3 degree attack angle. The data that would tell you whether tour pros have changed their driver swings over time would be a time series (or at worst 2 points in time) of the attack angle of driver swings. If anyone has that, it’s trackman, and I haven’t seen it. Looking only at driving distance data, it’s impossible to know how much of the increase in distance is attributable to a change in attack angle and how much is attributable to changes in technology (ball, clubs, shafts, etc.). But I would guess that the average attack angle for a driver swing on tour has gone up since 2002. Just a guess, but I doubt that tour pros have ignored the evidence that positive attack angles lead to greater distances all these years and the growth in distance is purely due to technology.

    Do you have a degree in statistics?

    • Richie Hunt

      August 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      I have a degree in Applied Mathematics.

      1. I can see some of your point on Trackman with fitting conditions, but Trackman was not even popular by 2010 and was practically non-existent in the US until 2007. Still, we see a *dramatic* jump in distance and a huge drop in fairway percentage from 2002-2006. From reading statements made by Tiger and Phil over the years we know there was a ‘bomb-n-gouge’ mentality on Tour and neither were using Trackman at the time. Phil posed it as ‘Vijay Singh was bombing it past everybody with little regard to the fairway, so we didn’t want to get passed by’ (I’m paraphrasing). I also believe that at about that time the OEM’s started to go to a longer, lighter driver shafts.

      2. I think I explained ‘Missed Fairway -Other’ pretty well. If it’s not a fairway, fairway bunker or rough, what else can it be? As far as to why it went down? That’s another issue entirely. Perhaps they were designing courses differently. Perhaps golfers were flying hazards.

      3. I stated pretty clearly with regards to what Chamblee’s ‘two swings’ argument is. Hitting up with the driver and down with the irons. So hitting -1.3 degrees down with the driver is hitting down and thus it is ‘one swing.’ If you want to argue that then you are telling me that Chamblee’s ‘desired swing mechanics’ mean that every one of the older golfers…pre-launch monitor days….had *exactly* the same attack angle with each club. That’s not even close to being true.

  29. O'Doyle Rules

    August 28, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I think it would be more interesting to analyze the progression of missed fairways vs. the “bigger is better” driver change. I am pretty sure it was around the 02-05 range when the 460cc drivers starting coming out.

    In my opinion it has something to do with the difference in the driver compared to the rest of the clubs in the bag. Back in the day the 1, 3, and 5 woods were all very similar in size and profile, just different lofts.

  30. RAMforged

    August 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

    This would be a much more interesting discussion if people weren’t so focused on the messenger – the vitriol for Brandel Chamblee is clouding what could be an interesting and productive debate.

    He’s not saying that pros shouldn’t use Trackman or Flightscope to dial in their equipment or to know their exact distances. He’s saying that spending all of their time on the range training themselves to swing with “optimal launch conditions” instead of learing to hit different shots on the golf course isn’t productive.

    I wish Jack Nicklaus had said this – maybe then we could have discussed it rationally.

    • benseattle

      September 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      The above paragraph is the most recent winner of “Most Cogent Post of the Day.” Well said.

  31. Flano

    August 28, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Enough with all the Brandel bashing. He is way off base most of the time, but it beats the cumbia, soft analysis/pat-on-the-back that Joe Tour Pro (Charlie Rymer and Tripp Isenhour) provide. I like the dynamic between Brandel and Frank as well. If you take away Brandel you are left with cookie-cutter analysis and no one with the gonads to call out players.

    • Larry Power

      August 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      There would still be Johnny Miller but I agree with your point that it would be pretty boring on The Golf Channel without Brandel.

    • benseattle

      September 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      :Cumbia.”

      Is that the same thing as Kumbaya?

      Spelling aside, I completely agree with you on Chamblee. Opinionated, authoritative and well-informed. Even his off-the mark shots (“radar ruining golf,” “fire Foley”) are worth the price of admission. The large number of haters here are probably the same people who would complain that Golf Channel is “boring” because the in-studio Tour pros are all buddies who won’t criticize each other. What the haters don’t realize is that Brandel there PRECISELY to get their dander up.

  32. Callaway X Hot

    August 28, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I would like to see some of these stats relating to when the new “hot” golf balls began being used. I would think that had a lot more affect on the stats than launch monitors.

  33. Jaacob Bowden

    August 28, 2013 at 5:34 am

    For those who missed it, this is Brandel’s post on Facebook that is being referred to by the article:

    “How I think science is changing the way golf is taught and played. Optimum launch numbers (track man and its disciples) are based on length, not accuracy, because no one knows the optimum numbers for accuracy, (they are different for every player, I suspect)but if one looks at the best player when he was playing his best and compare his numbers to before he was obsessed with Track Man to now,one can see the decay in and in my opinion the reason for his inconsistent ball striking compared to when he was at his best.. not just “the best”

    The Av.Launch angle/spin rate
    for
    Woods 2007-2009 9.01/3,028
    Woods 2010-2013 10.60/2,386
    High launch,low spin,track man induced #s are killing golf, in my opinion.

    Why is it killing golf?

    Many reasons, it’s made tour players overly captivated by distance which in turn makes them hang back and hit up which makes them more inconsistent and makes them need two swings. One for the driver and one for the irons. Which no one is good enough to have, not even Tiger Woods. Hence why he can’t hit a driver.

    As players are bewitched by track man numbers they become more dependent on that machine and a coach and less on their intuition and the flight of the ball. More technical, less situational. Which makes golf more boring to me and tedious to watch and play.

    Track Man is like an x ray machine in the hands of laymen.

    That is just for starters.”

    • Alex

      August 28, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Doesn’t foley teach to hit down on the driver for amateurs??

      http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-instruction/2012-02/sean-foley-down-driver

    • Jim H

      August 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Brandels FB post is such a crazy statement I dont know where to begin.

      “the best player….before he was obsessed with trackman” – So you think Tiger is “obsessed” with TM? What possible evidence do you have on that? Do we see him on the range hitting one then heading to the monitor over and over? Cmon man.

      “its made Tour players overly captivated by distance” – Again what evidence do you have on this? The statistics given above show the decline on fairways hit from 69 to 63%. For 14 fairways that is a total number of 1 fairway. To me, that doesn’t show a complete epidemic of wildness off the tee.

      “Which makes golf more boring to me and tedious to watch and play” – Really because you are a golf announcer so that is a little troubling.

      This is just a wildly irresponsible statement.

      • benseattle

        September 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm

        <>

        Sorry, pal, but just because YOU don’t see video of TW on a launch monitor doesn’t mean he doesn’t use one. Many times we’ve seen the Nike guys talk of how exactly Woody is to fit with a golf ball. If he doesn’t have one at home (probably a full-on world-class set-up is my guess) you can bet they’ve got one at the Medalist whenever Tiger feels he needs a tweak. (That Covert driver he put in the bag at the PGA didn’t come off the Golf Galaxy rack, did it?)

        My guess is that Brandel has a MUCH GREATER handle on what the pro’s are doing than wish-I-could-break-90 amateurs in the hinterlands.

    • Damon

      August 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      That is the biggest crock I’ve ever heard. Trackman is a diagnostic tool and the majority of professionals who personally own and use them do so as a fitting tool. I teach on a Trackman and get players better infinitely quicker than if I didn’t because I get a complete picture of what I can’t see. Science is science… If hitting up produces more distance and its ruining golf swings, why is the tour average still down? All Trackman does is show a player how they are swinging, it’s up to the player and their coach to learn how to change path and face to create the desired flight. If a player understands ball flight law he/she doesn’t need a Trackman to make adjustments because all they need to do is look at where the starts its direction and where it goes from there. The whole angle of attack argument isn’t nearly as big of a deal as is being led to believe.

  34. zach

    August 28, 2013 at 4:49 am

    i dont get it. all these figures and numbers complicate the game further. Jack, trevino, palmer, player and all the greats never needed such things.

    • Paladin

      August 29, 2013 at 10:46 am

      You really think they wouldn’t have used Trackman along with other modern advances? I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn if you believe that.

  35. Mateo

    August 28, 2013 at 3:00 am

    If you don’t think “radars” (which is a moronic way to refer to launch monitors and flight scopes) improve anyone’s game (pro or amateur) you are as ignorant and dumb as BC.
    Finding the optimum launch and spin off of any club face in your bag not only maximizes distance but also IMPROVES accuracy.
    BC puts his foot in his mouth daily. Why should this be any different.

    Thanks BC. Now stfu and stop hating on technology and tiger. BC has got to go! Wise up golf Channel.

  36. JohnG

    August 28, 2013 at 2:23 am

    I would be interested to know the stats of the average score of world number one – world number 50 over the years. Rightly or wrongly it feels at the start of each tournament so many more guys have a chance at winning.

    IMO this would be good evidence to suggest that the data from video/radar and other tech is helping not hindering the game.

  37. chris loskie

    August 28, 2013 at 2:10 am

    brandel also said at the begining of the year that the major courses didn’t set up well for tiger.. Then when tiger started to win all of a sudden tiger was brandels fav in every tourney.Tiger would start out hot and brandel would ride his balls… Tiger would have a average round and brandel would say Tiger is totally lost… lol

    • Alex

      August 28, 2013 at 10:09 am

      @chris.. you got id dead on..Brandel is an absolute tool..one round tiger doesn’t post a good number he goes on saying how he should fire Sean when he scores well he’s on top of his game… Get off the golf channel

  38. Paul

    August 28, 2013 at 12:43 am

    i play on a sim when its cold, and take lessons on a flightscope. I knocked 5 off my handicap when it was to cold to play. Also had all my carry distances to within a 3-5 yard average, and that’s something that most amateurs don’t know. people need to know carries, and a lot don’t. flightscope can nail those down for a guy in 15 minutes.

    • Will o'the Glen

      August 28, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Paul, if you are not playing, on a course, you are not “knocking 5 off your handicap” – you are getting better at a video game. Launch monitors are a valuable tool, but golf is a game of weather, turf conditions, uneven lies, etc. Simulators and indoor practice sessions can help, that’s true – but they will only take you so far.

      • paul

        August 31, 2013 at 5:21 pm

        Whoah there. Last season i played to a +25. In the spring i broke 90 every round. That’s 5 or more. On the sim i was shooting low 80s, obviously i didn’t count that.

      • benseattle

        September 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm

        Willie, you need to re-read Paul’s post. He didn’t stop going to the golf course…. he only used the simulator to dial in distances when it was cold. You don’t lower your handicap indoors; you do it playing multiple rounds of improved golf. Paul did just that and using the knowledge acquired indoors helped him do that. Hardly what I would call “ruining the game.”

  39. RAMforged

    August 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Eh, I kind of agree with Brandel even though it would be impossible to provide empirical evidence as proof. I think that his point is *not* that no one should use a launch monitor, but that hours spent grooving an optimized-launch-condition swing with a Trackman on the range would be better spent on the course learning to hit different shots. Instead of learning to carry their 7-iron exactly 173 yards, they should be on the course learning to draw it into a back left pin position, or knocking down mid irons in windy conditions.

    Maybe if these guys spent more time playing money matches against each other we’d see less of the “fading down the stretch” that is becoming prevalent and more guys charging at the leaders. JMHO

  40. Tom Duckworth

    August 27, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Wow so now it’s wrong if you take lessons or read books or study the golf swing! Just walk up to the ball and start swinging. Pros are just like the rest of us they want to hit the ball far as far as they can. It might just be the ball that’s to blame for more missed fairways.

  41. james

    August 27, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Sean Foley with that quasi-hipster getup is ruining golf.

  42. purkjason

    August 27, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    ok … all those stats gave me a headache. Call me old school but I hate all this technology. Isn’t golf supposed to be a game that is relaxing and just plain fun for us all. I don’t understand why anyone needs a swing coach, or any technical device to help them. Like Arnie said, “Swing Your Own Swing.” If people had more common sense they would quickly realize what works and what doesn’t for them. Common sense tells me a slower, more controlled swing creates better results. Stand up tall, keep your eye on the ball, don’t grip so tight, etc. etc. Golf is a simple game so everyone needs to stop making it sound and look so difficult. All professionals want everyone of us to all have the same robotic swing …why. I bet if everyone would play one round where you didn’t keep score and just was happy to be alive, outside enjoying the weather, away from work, and just had a positive attitude for 4 hrs. straight you’d have the best round of your life. And I’m not a fool who falls for marketing hype and scams either … all the equipment is pretty maxed out with distance so everyone needs to just stop buying all this new crap and just put the correct shafts in your clubs and have a great time. Every single person I golfed with this year had stiff and extra stiff shafts in their clubs … come on, your not on the tour. I bet 90% of all male golfers should use a Regular Flex Shaft. And every amateur should just use a soft compression 2 piece ball like the Wilson Staff Duo. I see too many golfers who shoot in the 90′s and 100′s using Mizuno Blades etc. and they wonder why they never get better. Common sense , or a lack of it these days is what’s wrong with golf and golfers in general. Bottom Line. Stop taking golf so seriously and just have fun out there everyone ! …. sorry for the rant but it’s just a GAME :)

    • Mateo

      August 28, 2013 at 3:15 am

      You are way too old school. Ability level does not determine shaft flex.
      Yes golf should be fun but it sounds like its a little too fun for you.
      At the end of the day………. Us golfers are trying to achieve our golfing potential and have fun while doing it. You sound like that guy that has old equipment and swears its just as good as the new stuff. And even if you shot 85 instead of your usual 91 with the latest and greatest……. You wouldn’t buy it because you are cheap or stubborn. Or maybe both.
      The way you put it…….. We should all use regular shafts because we are not on tour. FYI. 90%?!?!?! Really?!?!?! 90%?!?!,! Of all make golfers should use regular shafts???????
      I’ve got 15 years of lesson and fitting experience that says you are WAY off.
      Now go get on a launch monitor and get some new sticks.

      • purkjason

        August 28, 2013 at 11:00 am

        Mateo … for your information I own a Callaway X Hot Driver 9.5 re shafted with an Apollo Shadow FL Shaft, A very nice 2012 Model set of Yonex Irons, my 52, 56, and 60 wedges are Mizuno MP T-11′s, My 3 wood is a Adams Speedline LP, my hybrid is a Adams V3, my putter is a Odyssey D.A.R.T. so if I need new clubs so does everyone else. And the only reason I have what I have is because my SON plays golf so I gave him mine. And I have a relative who got me really good deals on this equipment I have because he is a professional fitter for lame ass Nike Golf. And I’ve been playing golf since 1990 and I’m a 4 Handicap so when do you wanna play me ? I’ve never taken a lesson or used a launch monitor because I have common sense.

        • purkjason

          August 28, 2013 at 11:05 am

          And also Mateo I can shoot a 76 whether I use a set of Ping Eye 2′s or my new Yonex Irons. I just chose Yonex because of the graphite shafts due to my hand and elbow issues. And I’m only 38 yrs. old not super old school as you think I am. The indian not the arrow.

    • Richie Hunt

      August 28, 2013 at 8:54 am

      I think there is a bit too much ‘playing golf swing’ instead of ‘playing golf’ on the course. I don’t remember seeing golfers like Nicklaus or Hogan or Miller rehearsing specific positions or movements in their practice swing and I think we get a bit too worried about mechanics and have not enough focus on the target and ball flight we want to deliver to the target.

      However, shaft flex has nothing to do with handicap. It has to do with how the person swings and the bend profile of the shaft.

    • Bob

      September 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      I totally agree!

    • Cody

      September 19, 2013 at 1:36 am

      It is this ideas like these and the, “swing my swing” crowd that are the cause of the average golfer never improving. how do you think (with the exception of Bubba) all the tour pros got there? Coaches. Thats how.

  43. PING Maroon 6

    August 27, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Last time I played a round of golf I know I made multiple types of swings and didn’t ruin the game.

  44. PING Maroon 6

    August 27, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Chamblee is missing it once again. The game of golf is played on the golf course and not on the launch monitor or a simulator. Golf is still played in variable weather conditions with variable course conditions and no two lies on a golf course are ever the same. There are too many other variables in golf to specifically pick out one item that is “ruining the game”.

    The launch monitor is a TOOL and uses hard data to scientifically determine certain aspects of a golf swing that were previously impossible to pinpoint. Cheers to those who have access to and choose to utilize the technology. Perhaps Brandel should change his argument to the use of mobile phones are ruining the telephone booth business.

  45. RJ

    August 27, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    What an excellent piece of writing! Thank you for putting so succinctly and with excellent data.

    But perhaps ti drive the nail in the coffin of Mr Chamblee’s argument, perhaps you could also somehow gather a chart for dispersion?

  46. Speedster

    August 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    BC should change his name to “BS”, Brandel Shamblee, the guy knows just enough about the golf swing to get himself in trouble. He is like a car driver who can drive but can’t change his own oil if his life depended on it. I don’t question his knowledge about the history of the game, or his playing credentials, but come on… Trackman ruining the game of golf? All his comments about the golf swing are whipped up over a 3 minute commercial break and he is constantly recants and contradicts his own statements. One day he says Tiger has it all figured out and when Tiger plays poorly he blames mechanics. When you are swinging at 120+ MPH, shouldn’t it stand to reason that if Tiger is just a little off,his drives are going to be off as well? Why not just tell it as it is, golf is not perfect game and sometimes a good swing can produce a mediocre result. Even a CNC milling machine is not 100% accurate all the time.

    That said, I do enjoy his bold statement about how Tiger should fire Sean Foley. For many, it may seem offensive or the fact that BS is trying to work in his usual shock factor propaganda. (IMO I feel Foley is the best coach for tiger, for that matter he might be #1 coach in the world.) HOWEVER, fact remains, Tiger in 2010 revamped his philosophical approach to his swing. His goal was simple, win Major(s). It has been over 3 yrs and even though he has been close, it is time to change. He doesn’t need an overhaul, but as a team Tiger and Sean have failed, and since you can’t fire yourself, Tiger has no other choice but to fire Sean. Shaq and Kobe were the best 2 players in the league, but they weren’t going to win again with each other, so one had to stay and one had to go.

    I guess I just pulled Shamblee on myself or not…

    • JaMarcus

      August 28, 2013 at 12:55 am

      It is not time to fire Foley yet, 2014 will be the telling year. I do not know you’re skill level, nor if you have ever played at a high level of golf and then changed your mechanics. I am currently going through a mechanical change coming off of playing to a scratch hdcp and I have questioned myself on many occasions on whether I made the right decision. Closing in on my 2nd year and I am finally back to shooting in the 70′s on a consistent basis, and the occasional par breaking round. Let me tell, ya boy what a journey it’s been. I went through a stretch of 8 months of not breaking 80 and even firing a couple rounds in triple digits, so I can empathize with Tiger’s journey. Based on calculations of my development and using mathematical formulas gauging the amount of swings (estimates) that I have needed to achieve my top skill level, and the amount of swings it has taken to change and surpass my top skill level, against what I have speculated that it would take Tiger to become comfortable in his changes and surpass his old level of play; I have concluded 2014 to be the telling year. 2014 will be the year that will tell us whether the decision to change his mechanics was the right decision. If his mechanics are not completely subconscious in 2014, then they more than likely never will be. That it is my 2 cents, and I look forward to seeing how well Tiger plays in 2014.

  47. Jeff

    August 27, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    It bothers me that it took a full page of well-articulated analysis to disprove an assertion of a buffoon. This is why media sensationalism is bad. Regardless, I like the stats shown. Neat article.

  48. Saleamua

    August 27, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Really good use of and analysis of data to test someone’s drivel–I wouldn’t call Chambermaid’s comment to be theory because that would be an insult to rigorous analysis.

    Well, at least we know that Brandi? Bambi? is not biased. His pro game was ruined (short as it was anyway) well before launch monitors became more widespread.

  49. Mat

    August 27, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    If a tool to get better is “ruining” the game, we should get rid of lessons, too. They do the same thing, if less efficiently. Also, metal-woods. Definitely out.

    I think he should dog food it and play hickory shafts.

  50. Big_5_Hole

    August 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    If Chamblee is against it, I’m 100% for it. Bring on the Launch Monitors, with any luck they drive Chamblee out of golf forever.

  51. Courtney

    August 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I don’t know – this seems to be a case of starting with a conclusion, then shaping the evidence to support that conclusion. Launch monitors aren’t used only for drivers – they are a tool that has been fine tuned over the years to measure and compare all sorts of data – not just distance, launch angle, and spin rate. They are used on all clubs to help optimize already refined swings.

    The fact that a lot of these guys are hitting 3 and 5 woods, and irons off of tees instead of the biggest, longest club in the bag should be a clue that it isn’t the launch monitor that is the problem – it is the club. The modern driver is designed to be gripped and ripped – not controlled. The big hitters are hitting 3 wood over 300 yards, usually under control. Mickelson had a club designed for him that is more similar in shape and size to the old persimmon drivers that he can hit like the rest of the clubs in his bag.

    Where I do agree with this idea is the over-use by us hacks who can’t swing the same way twice in a row. Past the point of measuring distances and height, it’s more important for us double digit handicap types to learn a good, repeatable, controllable swing than it is to try to “optimize” our equipment.

    Great point on the width of PGA Tour fairways, BL !

    • Richie Hunt

      August 27, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Before I did the research, I knew that Brandel’s claims about the driving portion of his argument were misguided because I knew the data already…driving distance went well up and fairway percentage went down. However, I did not know about the iron play data and I thought Brandel made a possible point (which was later found to be false). And I disagree with your argument on the 3-woods being hit over 300 yards with control. My research shows that it’s just not happening.

      • Leftright

        August 30, 2013 at 8:01 am

        I agree Richie. That British Open skewed everyone idea of distance and some haven’t forgot it. Yea, Phil hit that club over 300 at Turnberry but Schwartzl also drove a 448 yard par 4. That tournament was great but also very different in terms of yardages the ball was hit. I personally would like to see more of that type of golf.

      • Beachcomber

        September 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm

        There aren’t two different swings being taught by folks like GW/JM. But subtle changes in ball position (forward) and tee height (higher) are simple changes that can be made to help gain a positive AoA with the driver. All other parts of the swing pattern remain the same between the iron and driver among those in the know.

        If there are two different swings being taught, then the golfer should run from the instructor.

    • steph

      August 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      yesss! smart comment.
      But the whole discussion is a little weird to begin with.
      monitor = data = more information.
      more info should be a good thing in general.
      are we miss using it? probably not, maybe sometimes.
      sometimes people shout ” in the hole!!” so…
      Now we know that the earth is not flat, it’a a good thing.

  52. Dave

    August 27, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I think your last point is probably key with harnessing the power. I would like to see how the fairways hit percent fluctuate with different swing speed levels.

    Very nice article, great read. Thanks for sharing.

  53. Gareth Jones

    August 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Seems ruining means different things to different people.

    Rich’s analysis shows it hasn’t changed much at tour data level, but it is ruining commentary. We now know that a lot of things commentators say are/were dead wrong, before radar we assumed they were true as they were “experts”

    Great article, seems some think of radar in the way some people were regarded as witches years ago

    Burn them!!!! Burn the radar!!!!

    ;)

    • Chris

      August 28, 2013 at 11:39 am

      I think the biggest change attributing to driver accuracy drop off has to do with the 460cc head size and the increase in shaft length. Look at Phil when playing the majors – he doesn’t even carry a driver. He chooses to hit a 3-metal for accuracy; smaller head and shorter shaft. Tiger does the same thing. When he needs to hit a fairway he is not hitting driver.

  54. cdvilla

    August 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I agree with BL. This is a bit of a chicken/egg argument. Golf Tech in all aspects have gotten better and the pros were destroying all of the records (namely Tiger.) Now the course designers and tournament directors are fighting back in terms of layout and setup. I don’t subscribe to Chamblee’s claim that radars are “ruining” golf. Golf is played for BIG MONEY and players are doing what they can to get any kind of edge.

  55. Omar Mjhd

    August 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Is it just me or is Chamblee “on the offensive” much too often, and often about subjects that no one is talking about. He’s gotten more and more annoying over the past year with his rants

    • Marcus

      August 27, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Brandel is almost always negative about everything except Phil and Jack Nicklaus. He obviously hates Tiger…he pulls statements like this radar systems out of the air with no facts to back him up…and he has a rather pompous air about him that I find unappealing to watch.

      I think he and Paul Azinger should both move to the Fox Network and do golf part-time and conservative political commentary the rest of the time. :)

      • Brian

        August 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        I think the political and network commentary needs to be addressed elsewhere. That is like saying move Mike Ritz to MSNBC because nobody will watch them. On the flipside, this article really is rather pointless. I guess they were really bored that day. There is always Tiger Woods on the PS3 on those days!

      • Blanco

        August 28, 2013 at 5:48 pm

        Don’t forget Hogan– I hear he keeps a lock of Hogan’s hair in his pocket, wrapped in silk chiffon. That’s where he gets the righteous inspiration to strike furious vengeance upon Tiger, Rory, Foley, and now radar. The man’s a beastly gentile.

    • Brian

      August 28, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Chamblee is a turd. he’s become the “Skip Bayless” of the golf channel. always complaining about something. his views generally arent good for the game…a game which they are trying to promote to youth as fun. (which it is)

    • Leftright

      August 30, 2013 at 7:56 am

      Chamblee has been around long enough he thinks he is “the man” now. He actually thinks people care about what he says. When I tune to TGC if he is on, which is way to often for me, I find another channel. I can’t actually believe this guy ever played decent golf but he was on the tour for awhile. He’s probably trying to reconstruct a self-image of Johnny Miller but he is unable to.

  56. BL

    August 27, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    What’s not taken into account is the average fairway size over time. As a way to combat longer drives, fairways have gotten tighter.

    • cjhl79

      August 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

      EXACTLY! The stats in this article are meaningless unless you take into account all the changes to golf courses over the last 10-20 years.

      • benseattle

        September 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm

        When it comes to blowing smoke, these two previous posters are due for a house call from the NYPD. Fairways are narrower today than in years past? Says you. You provide no data, no empirical evidence to this clam and no worthy hearsay. (A couple of quotes from Tour pro’s who have been out there for the past 20 years, for example.) I have heard nothing indicating that your claim is true. Players are using irons or fairway woods of the tee today either because they hit the ball farther than others did in years past or they simply can’t control the big stick. Think: TW.

        As to Chamblee’s claims of there being “two swings” resulting from use of the launch monitor are false, this assertion by author Brian Hunt only mentions that the “average” negative downswing is 1.3 degrees. Okay, that’s the average but it’s certainly not everybody. I’m guessing that many hit slightly down with the driver while a number (Bubba?) will hit decidedly UP. All this data is interesting but Chamblee — usually insightful in his analysis — should back up his critique with more than mere opinion. Talk to actual golfers (“On The Range”) and simply ASK a few professionals: “Are you hitting down on your irons and trying to hit up on your driver?”

        Rich Hunt’s article may require more hard data to be completely accurate (“Fairway Tour Width: 1970-2013″) but at least it’s not made up of complete guesses. The kind offered by Brandel Chamblee and a few Golfwrx posters.

        • John

          September 4, 2013 at 8:04 pm

          Bubba hits down…

          • Jim

            September 14, 2013 at 8:59 am

            Bubba advised weekend golfers to hit up with the driver to get extra distance.
            Many different swings are advised: “clock” swings for different distances with wedges and full follow through versus abbreviated follow thru for sand trap shots. Of course Furyk’s swing is different from everybody’s. At this point what difference does it make! Lay on the ground and swing it level if that floats your boat.

    • MJ Martin

      August 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      It is a shame you give credence to a blow hard like Chamble. He’s like Trump, a full head of hair and nothing under it.

      • Jack

        August 30, 2013 at 7:11 am

        I was going to say, the drivers at 2002-3 were the best. But I guess fairway width matters! I don’t know, whether Trump has anything under his hair, he’s helluva richer than any of us (I think it’s safe to say).

      • Jack Nash

        September 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm

        You’re bang on. The game has passed Chumplee by. He gets over a mill. Spouting crap at GC. Just wish he’d zip it already. He was a below avg. golfer when he played but from all accounts an above avg. partner. He’s getting very stale. Has he picked Tiger to win this week yet?

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