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Analyzing golfers’ “favorite” shots on Trackman

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In a previous article, I showed you how the face and path interact in order to produce curvature on a golf ball. In this article we will examine the numerical data from the Trackman while I hit a few of our “favorite” shots!

The only thing I want you to focus on here is the relationship between the face and the path. When the face and the path diverge, curvature is created. The new rules of ball flight tell us that the ball starts in the direction of the face and curves away from the path. You will see these factors demonstrated below.

In the shot diagrams below: the blue line represents the path, the red arrow represents the face angle at impact, the purple line is the curvature of the golf ball, and the straight right line is your target line.

One note: Please assume that I have hit the ball in the center of the blade on each shot; thus there is no vertical or horizontal gear effect acting upon the ball the might skew the spin axis number a touch.

The Push Draw

ThePushDraw

  • The path is 4.9 degrees from the inside
  • The face is 2.1 degrees to the right of the target
  • When the face is left of the path (-5.6 degrees) but right of the target (2.1 degrees) the ball will begin the right of the target and curve back towards the target
  • Draws are hit with an OPEN face so the ball begins to the right

The Pull Fade

ThePullFade

  • The path is -3.5 degrees from out to in
  • The face is -2.2 degrees left of the target
  • Whenever the face is right (1.2 degrees) of the path (-3.5 degrees) with the face being left of the target (-2.2 degrees) the ball will begin left of the target and curve back to the right
  • Fades are hit with a CLOSED face so the ball begins to the left of the target

The Push

ThePush

  • Sometimes when hitting a fade people will “hold on” to the face too much through impact and this causes the ball to begin too far right of the target and curve further away from it
  • To numerically see this, you can see that the face is 11.8 degrees to the right of the target which is 13 degrees right of the path…the bigger the face to path relationship the bigger the curve in a perfect world
  • When the face is right of the target the ball will begin too far to the right…to begin the ball left of the target you would need a face that is left of the target but right of the path

The Pull

ThePull

  • As we all know, committing to hitting a draw is tough under pressure thus allowing the club to naturally release left of the path can be an issue
  • It is impossible to time the “release” of the club in the 1/10,000 of a second during impact; however, the over-emphasis of releasing the club can move the face too far left of the target and path
  • The path is from the inside at 4.5 degrees while the face is -8.5 degrees left of the target which is -13.0 degrees left of the path…thus the ball starts way left and hooks even further left
  • The key to learn here is that the face “releases” left of the path but NOT left of the target

The Double Cross Left

TheDoubleCrossLeft

  • Sometimes when hitting a fade you can get a touch handsy and pull the ball, “double-crossing” as it’s called.  When this happens the ball begins left of your target and never moves back to the right
  • As you can see the path is -9.8 degrees from out to in but instead of the face angle being RIGHT of the path, it is currently -3.6 degrees left of the path creating a pull hook
  • As stated the ball begins in the direction of the face and curves away from the path and if you turn the face left of the path then the ball will never come back

The Over the Top Slice

OverTheTopSlice

  • I’ve saved the best and most common of our favorite shots for last…the over the top slice!!!!
  • Here you can see that the path is -9.4 degrees from out to in yet the face is 1.3 degrees right of the target which gives us a 10.8 degree difference between the face and the path
  • Whenever the face is right of the path with a centered hit the ball will fall to from left to right
  • Anytime you swing left your mind knows that the target is right of your path thus you will tend to “hold on” to the blade in efforts to move the ball back towards the target…this puts the face right of the target and well right of the path and this will cause the big slice we all hate

Hopefully with these few sample shots you now understand now HOW these shots are created with centered impacts. As always, when we add in gear effect from toe and heel hits it can render the face to path numbers irrelevant as they can actually counteract one another. This is the reason why using face spray to audit your impact location can help you better chart your impact point, face, path, and spin axis number in the end.

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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. Rich

    Aug 27, 2014 at 12:27 am

    I don’t understand what you mean by a draw is hit with an open face. As to my knowledge the way to hit a push draw is to have the face between the original target and path. But the more the path is right the more closed the face is? Just curious as to what you mean by an open face.

    • chase

      Aug 28, 2014 at 9:48 am

      its open to the target line yet closed to the club path if that helps

  2. Brian

    Aug 22, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Would love to see the numbers for the “snap hook” and “pull hook”

    • tom stickney

      Aug 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Snaphook would be path way left of target…face further left of path. The pull hook is shown above under the term “pull.”

  3. Pingback: Analyzing golfers’ “favorite” shots on Trackman | Spacetimeandi.com

  4. Jeff

    Aug 18, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    I was wonder if you were working on shots for a tournament what would you do in your practice to make them predictable and reliable. Would you hit a push draw and then a pull fade changing the path more than the club face for curvature of the ball or would you hit a push fade and draw so that both club paths were more similar and it was the club face angle that is changing more? I need to get tournament ready in two months for the next season in Palm Springs and I get different answers depending on which local pro I talk to.

    • Tom Stickney

      Aug 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      I’d practice my stock shot until it moved too much the hit the opposite one for a bit. Come see me in pd this winter. I’m at bighorn. Back in late October

  5. hidraw

    Aug 18, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    The push draw is my go to….and pretty much my only. Hard part about this is it creates a fairly shallow angle of attack and my miss is normally thin….good news is that thin is straight and helps keep my scores in line with a lower handicap golfer. However, there is nothing better than a solid strike with a nice divot in front of the ball. Any advice to address? Thanks!

  6. ILMHoosier

    Aug 18, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Very nice article Tom. Just out of curiosity what club were you hitting?

    • Tom Stickney

      Aug 18, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      6 iron I believe. Early am, swinging easy

  7. Dakota

    Aug 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I have worked at Dick’s for around the last year seeing the numbers on the launch monitor has really helped to understand a lot about the golf swing.

    • Tom Stickney

      Aug 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Numbers help as long as you focus on the feeling you have to achieve them.

  8. Philip

    Aug 18, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    I like the descriptions with the numbers. This seems to be something I can wrap my head around. Until now I kinda knew what I was trying to do, but not with the confidence to pull it off.

    Much appreciated.

    • Tom Stickney

      Aug 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Thx. I thought it would be cool to show both as well.

  9. NaborsX

    Aug 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Great info. Nice to see the swing feel in actual numbers. It’s always hard to get someone to understand the whole “swing right to go left” mentality.

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Instruction

More stroke-saving advice for seniors: Love thy hybrid

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Continuing our series for seniors, this is a topic I’ve written about before but it is so important to our senior games, it is worth revisiting.

Some of you may be aware of the “24/38 rule.” It deals with the idea that most golfers lose consistency with an iron that is less than 24 degrees of loft and over 38 inches long. That USED TO BE a 3-iron. And I always thought even that was marginal—a 3-iron for a middle handicap players has always been a bit “iffy.”

Then came the “juicing era” when manufacturers started making golf clubs with much less loft and some added length. Now, that “24/38” rule applies to 5-irons! The cavity back era gave way to some great innovations, particularly forgiveness, but it also introduced stronger lofts and added some length. For example, today’s 6-iron, on average is 31 degrees and 37.5-38.o inches. The point is this: Many golfers do not have sufficient speed to hit 5-irons, maybe even 6-irons, from the fairway!

This goes for golf in general, but in senior golf, it is even more important to remember!

What to do? Voila! The invention of HYBRIDS! We have to understand one simple golf impact principle:  Getting the golf ball airborne from the turf requires speed. If we lack that speed, we need clubs with a different construction. The HYBRIDS are built to help launch the golf ball. Basically, it works like this: when the center of gravity is further from the hitting area (face), it is easier to launch the golf ball. On an iron that CG is directly behind the ball. In a hybrid, it is moved back, so the ball can be launched higher. There are other factors, but basically, that’s it.

My personal recommendation is as follows

  • If your driver clubhead speed in under 85 MPH, your iron set might go 7-PW
  • Driver speed 85-90 MPH, your iron set might be 6-PW
  • Driver speed 90-100, your iron set might be 5-PW
  • Driver speed over 100, you can choose the set make-up with which you are comfortable

As this piece is largely for seniors, I’m assuming most of you are in one of the first two categories. If so, your game may be suffering from your set make-up. The most common swing issue I see in seniors is “hang back” or the inability to get weight through at impact. This is often the result of a club shaft too stiff, OR clubs too difficult to launch—example, a 3-iron. Please DO NOT beat yourself up! Use equipment that is easier to hit and particularly easier to launch.

The question invariably arises, what about fairway woods of similar loft?  They are fine if you do not mind the added length. The great thing about hybrids is they are only slightly longer than similarly lofted irons. My advice is to seniors is to get with a pro, get on a launch monitor, find your speed and launch conditions and go from there.

Note: I am NOT a fitter, and I DO NOT sell clubs of any kind. But I do know, as a teacher, that hybrids should be in most seniors’ bags.

 

Want more help with your swing? I have an on-line swing analysis service. If you are interested in a “look” here it is.

 

 

 

 

 

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Clement: Long and short bunker shots

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It happens to all of us where: We get short-sided and need to put a shot together to save the furniture. The short bunker shot can really be a challenge if you do not have the right task to perform it and can result in you wasting a shot in the bunker or letting the shot get away from you because you don’t want to leave that delicate shot in the bunker.

And of course, so many of you are afraid to put a full swing on a longer bunker shot because of the dreaded skull over the green!

We have the easy solutions to all of the above right here and the other videos I have, which are great complements to this one including an oldie but goodieand this one with Chantal, my yoga teacher.

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The Big Shift: How to master pressure and the golf transition using prior sports training

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If you’re an #AverageJoeGolfer, work a day job, and don’t spend countless hours practicing, you might be interested in knowing that sports you played growing up, and even beer league softball skills, can be used to help you play better golf. We’re sure you’ve heard hockey players tend to hit the ball a mile, make the “best golfers”, while pitchers and quarterbacks have solid games, but baseball/softball hitters struggle with consistency. Did you know that a killer tennis backhand might help your golf game if you play from the opposite side? Dancers are way ahead of other athletes making a switch to golf because they understand that centeredness creates power and consistency much more efficiently than shifting all around, unnecessary swaying, or “happy feet.”

Lurking beneath fat shots, worm burners, and occasional shanks, are skillsets and motions you can pull from the old memory bank to apply on the golf course. Yes, you heard us right; your high school letterman jacket can finally be put to good use and help you improve your move. You just need to understand some simple adjustments different sports athletes need to make to be successful golfers.

In golf, shifting from your trailside into your lead side is what we’ll call the TRANSITION. Old School teachers refer to this motion, or shift, as “Foot Work”, New-Fangled-Techno-Jargon-Packed-Instruction uses “Ground Pressure/Force” to refer to the same concept. Don’t worry about the nomenclature; just know, as many GolfWRXers already do, that you must get your weight to your lead side if you want any chance at making solid and consistent contact. TRANSITION might be THE toughest motion in golf to master.

The good news for you is that TRANSITION happens in all other sports but in slightly different ways, depending on the sport. Golfers can more quickly learn TRANSITION, and speed up their swing learning process by understanding how prior sport experience can be applied to the golf swing.

[The basics of a solid golf move are; 1) you should have a SETUP that is centered and balanced, 2) you move your weight/pressure into your trail side during the TAKEAWAY and BACKSWING, 3) TRANSITION moves your weight/pressure back into your lead side, and 4) you FINISH with the club smashing the ball down the fairway. Okay, it’s not quite as easy as I make it sound, but hopefully our discussion today can relieve some stress when it comes time for you to start training your game.]

Baseball/Softball Hitters

Hitting coaches don’t like their hitters playing golf during the season, that’s a fact. The TRANSITIONS are too different, and if they play too much golf, they can lose the ability to hit off-speed pitches because their swing can become too upright. Golf requires an orbital hand path (around an angled plane) with an upright-stacked finish, while hitting requires batters to have a straight-line (more horizontal) hand path and to “stay back or on top of” the ball.

Now we apologize for the lack of intricate knowledge and terminology around hitting a baseball, we only played up through high school. What we know for sure is that guys/gals who have played a lot of ball growing up, and who aren’t pitchers struggle with golf’s TRANSITION. Hitters tend to hang back and do a poor job of transferring weight properly. When they get the timing right, they can make contact, but consistency is a struggle with fat shots and scooping being the biggest issues that come to mind.

So how can you use your star baseball/softball hitting skills with some adjustments for golf? Load, Stride, Swing is what all-good hitters do, in that order. Hitters’ issues revolve around the Stride, when it comes to golf. They just don’t get into their lead sides fast enough. As a golfer, hitters can still take the same approach, with one big adjustment; move more pressure to your lead side during your stride, AND move it sooner. We’ve had plenty of ‘a ha’ moments when we put Hitters on balance boards or have them repeat step drills hundreds of times; “oh, that’s what I need to do”…BINGO…Pound Town, Baby!

Softball/Baseball Pitchers, Quarterbacks, & Kickers

There’s a reason that kickers, pitchers, and quarterbacks are constantly ranked as the top athlete golfers and it’s not because they have a ton of downtime between starts and play a lot of golf. Their ‘day jobs’ throwing/kicking motions have a much greater impact on how they approach sending a golf ball down the fairway. It’s apparent that each of these sports TRAINS and INGRAINS golf’s TRANSITION motion very well. They tend to load properly into their trailside while staying centered (TAKEAWAY/BACKSWING), and they transfer pressure into their lead side, thus creating effortless speed and power. Now there are nuances for how to make adjustments for golf, but the feeling of a pitching or kicking motion is a great training move for golf.

If this was your sport growing up, how can you improve your consistency? Work on staying centered and minimizing “happy feet” because golf is not a sport where you want to move too much or get past your lead side.


Dance

My wife was captain of her high school dance team, has practiced ballet since she was in junior high, and is our resident expert on Ground Pressure forces relating to dance. She has such a firm grasp on these forces that she is able to transfer her prior sports skill to play golf once or twice a year and still hit the ball past me and shoot in the low 100s; what can I say, she has a good coach. More importantly, she understands that staying centered and a proper TRANSITION, just like in Dance, are requirements that create stability, speed, and consistent motions for golf. Christo Garcia is a great example of a Ballerina turned scratch golfer who uses the movement of a plié (below left) to power his Hogan-esque golf move. There is no possible way Misty Copeland would be able to powerfully propel herself into the air without a proper TRANSITION (right).

Being centered is critical to consistently hitting the golf ball. So, in the same way that dancers stay centered and shift their weight/pressure to propel themselves through the air, they can stay on the ground and instead create a golf swing. Dancers tend to struggle with the timing of the hands and arms in the golf swing. We train them a little differently by training their timing just like a dance routine; 1 and 2 and 3 and…. Dancers learn small motions independently and stack each micro-movement on top of one another, with proper timing, to create a dance move (golf swing) more like musicians learn, but that article is for another time.

Hockey

Hockey is a great example of the golf TRANSITION because it mimics golf’s motions almost perfectly. Even a subtlety like the direction in which the feet apply pressure is the same in Hockey as in Golf, but that’s getting in the weeds a bit. Hockey players load up on their trailside, and then perform the TRANSITION well; they shift into their lead sides and then rotate into the puck with the puck getting in the way of the stick…this is the golf swing, just on skates and ice…my ankles hurt just writing that.

If you played hockey growing up, you have the skillsets for a proper golf TRANSITION, and you’ll improve much faster if you spend your time training a full FINISH which involves staying centered and balanced.

Now we didn’t get into nuances of each and every sport, but we tried to cover most popular athletic motions we thought you might have experience in in the following table. The key for your Big Shift, is using what you’ve already learned in other sports and understanding how you might need to change existing and known motions to adapt them to golf. If you played another sport, and are struggling, it doesn’t mean you need to give up golf because your motion is flawed…you just need to know how to train aspects of your golf move a little differently than someone who comes from a different sport might.

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