I was teaching a PGA Tour professional the other day and while we were hitting drivers on the Trackman, I sprayed the face with Dr. Sholl’s Odor X in efforts to see the impact point on the club face. Just as I was doing this another student came into the learning center and asked me a question and while I was answering, the Tour pro continued to hit balls — around 10 or so until we could resume our work. Now that we could focus our efforts again, I wanted to reapply the spray to the face so that I could focus on his impact location.
As I walked over to wipe the face this is what I saw:
After 10-or-more shots, the impact location was VERY consistent and it led me to thinking… What did other handicap level impacts look like after just five shots?
So what does this all mean from an observation standpoint?
- The higher the handicap, the more random the impact location in general.
- Radical horizontal off-center impact locations invoke gear effect, making shot curvature prediction impossible.
- Extreme vertical off-center impact locations cause excessively high and excessively low spin rates, making driver distance vary dramatically.
- Higher-handicap players tend to have swing plane issues, causing impact to be too high toward the crown of the club, leading to a the pop-up.
- Mid-handicap players tend to have pivot issues that cause them to hit too much up on the ball, thus hitting shots that are topped, flat, or very low.
- As handicap levels go down, players tend to find the center of the face more often.
- As mid-handicap players move down to into the lower-teen handicap levels there tends to be a consistent impact location toward the toe or heel.
- At the single-digit handicap levels, centered impact isn’t that big of a problem and gear effect is very minimal.
- As the handicap lowers closer to zero, vertical impact location becomes increasingly important.
- Tour players can easily control their vertical impact location to launch the ball with more or less spin depending on what type of shot they desire.