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The three things that need to correlate for more driving distance

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By now, each of you has heard that if you want to drive the ball farther you must increase your driver’s loft to increase carry distance. And I know what happened to most of you when you went out to the range the next time and tried it. You added loft, teed the ball higher, put the ball more forward in your stance and smacked that ball WAY up into the air expecting 50 more yards!

But what happened from this point forward is something you didn’t expect — the ball did indeed fly higher and it did carry a touch farther than before, but it landed dead with absolutely no roll. So even though you hit the ball higher, your overall distance output was lower than before. What gives?

What people tend to forget is that there are three things you must correlate in order to hit the ball farther:

  1. Impact point on the club face
  2. Dynamic loft at impact
  3. Descent angle upon landing

Impact Point

If you hit the ball on the incorrect portion of the face, you can decrease launch and increase spin. That causes the ball to continue to land with little forward momentum. For the best launch conditions, you MUST hit the ball above the center of the club. If you hit the ball low in the face, regardless if it’s a centered hit or not, you will decrease your launch angle and increase your spin rate.

Use Dr. Scholl’s Odor X spray to audit your impact point with your driver. This will help you to increase your launch without increasing your spin rate.

Photo 01
Low impact equals low launch and high spin

Photo 02
For increased launch with LOWER spin, you must hit the ball above the center-line of the driver. I know these hits are on the toe, but they were my first and second swings of the day!

Dynamic Loft

Most golfers have also heard that they must have “club-head lag” so they can hit the ball farther. If a golfer’s club head lags behind them and the shaft is forward leaning to the extreme, then they will turn a 10-degree driver into a 6-degree driver adding distance, they think. This is 100 percent untrue!

While golfers must have solid impact alignments and control of the club’s actual loft at impact, too much lag or too little lag is a bad thing. I would strive to create an impact when your left arm (for a right-handed golfer) and club shaft are in-line with one another the instant the ball leaves the club head for best results as it pertains to your dynamic loft at impact.

Photo 03
In efforts to create the proper dynamic loft at impact, control the “in-line” relationship between the club shaft and the left arm instantly after impact!

Descent Angle

Pay attention as this is the key to more roll upon landing. Yes, golfers must hit the ball higher into the air for more carry distance, but in order for the ball to roll out when it hits the ground golfers should have the ball landing at about a 40-to-45 degree angle so it has the ability to run along the ground when it lands. Sadly, when most people hit the ball higher they also increase their descent angle as well, and this causes the ball to land dead with no roll.

Photo 04
Flat shots with no height rely on ROLL for increased distance!

Photo 05
The key is to hit the ball higher coupled WITH a descent angle below 45 degrees for additional roll when the ball lands!

So what’s the solution?

I would highly recommend you find a club-fitter or teacher in your area with a Trackman or FlightScope who can correlate these three factors so you can hit the ball farther than ever before. It’s just hard to manage dynamic loft and descent angle without a launch monitor. Believe me, if you do this, you will thank me.

Read More Tom Stickney II : What Flightscope and Trackman can tell you (and me)

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. GolferX

    Feb 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Tom, do your numbers work for sweepers? Because I tend to hit under the ball when I tee it high. I hit a 20 year old Big Bertha 10 degree, tried the newer 460’s larger head, don’t like them.

    • Tom Stickney

      Feb 7, 2014 at 1:41 am

      Hitting “under” the ball when it’s higher indicates a plane issue…tee it high and come in more shallow and you’ll be set!

  2. Jim Benjamin

    Feb 5, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    What can a player do to learn to hit higher on the clubface to achieve the optimum strike? Is it just focus or is there a reliable method?

  3. Chris Burke

    Feb 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    The big thing that affects distance is angle of attack. see BubbaWatson who has a different angle of attack then Charles Howell 3rd Bubba Watson can use a seven and a half degree driver .Where Charles Howell uses a 10 and a half 11

  4. bryan

    Feb 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I don’t get the descent angle comment. The angle of descent is an effect, not a cause. The cause is a combination of spin and speed.

    No one can optimize their descent angle. The descent angle is optimized when people optimize their spin, launch angle, for their speed.

    Am I crazy?

    • Tom Stickney

      Feb 3, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      You are mostly correct but impact point can alter your angle of descent as can the ball you play.

  5. Ponjo

    Feb 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Tom. I recently seen a teacher for a lesson using my Nike Covert 10.5 degree driver. These are my figures based on your screen shots above from trackman.

    Thoughts would be appreciated please

    DL. H. C. T. LA
    14.8. 49. 187. 228. 24.6
    13.1. 46. 193. 235. 23.1
    16.8. 64. 201. 234. 30.2
    18.7. 78. 207. 234. 34.6
    17.6. 65. 198. 233. 30.o
    14.0. 52. 199. 237. 25.5

    • Tom Stickney

      Feb 3, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Looks like the 18.7 one is best. What’s the spin rate on that shot?

  6. mark

    Feb 3, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Two different clubs?

  7. DK

    Feb 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Tom,
    For clarification: high launch isn’t the enemy, spin is. You can launch it high with spin at or below 2000 rpm and descent angle will be decently shallow…

    Find yourself a very low spinning driver head and you’ve found a winner!

    • Xreb

      Feb 3, 2014 at 7:50 am

      Too low spin will result in the ball falling out of the sky reducing carry if you do not have sufficient club head speed. Blanket statements such as these tend to confuse people….

      • Tom Stickney

        Feb 3, 2014 at 10:04 am

        Agree, but we can’t discuss every nuance in a quick tip article.

    • Tom Stickney

      Feb 3, 2014 at 10:07 am

      How is high launch bad? Don’t understand your statement. There isn’t a low spinning head that can recover from a low hit in the face due to vertical gear effect. Sure these heads can help but vertical impact point is the key.

  8. Sean

    Feb 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I am just really impressed with your ability with your first 2 swings of the day to hit the ball on the face of the club to show 2 different shot shaps for the example’s that you did.
    Golf Clap ))(( awsome

    • Tom Stickney

      Feb 3, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Thx. Slow motion swings do wonders. 🙂

  9. Martin Chuck

    Feb 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Tom, great job! Keep up good work.

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