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How being honest with yourself can shave 5 strokes off your game

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Ask a room full of golf pros to agree on the longest-held misconception most golfers have, and there’s a good chance you would ultimately hear this: how far they truly hit the ball.

Unlike just a few years ago, though, affordable distance-measuring devices now allow many of us pros to back up these age-old claims with cold, hard (and often painful) facts. And while it can be humbling to stand before that Doppler device and be confronted with the truth about your distances (or lack thereof), there are good reasons we have those misconceptions and some game-changing benefits to discovering the truth.

First, the reasons.

  • Ask the average male golfer how far he drives it, and you invariably hear a number north of 220 yards. A 7 iron? “Oh, about 150.” There is a stigma attached to being a short-knocker, especially among men, and this subconsciously conflates our perceptions of how far we actually hit the ball. I’ll give you the true data in a moment, but if we want to improve, most of us need to come to terms with the fact that no one (other than ourselves) is confusing us with an escapee from the Re/Max World Long Drive Circuit.
  • Ask golfers how far they hit a given club, and most incorrectly include roll in that equation. That’s fine for tee shots, but it’s trouble for approach shots. Tour players don’t calculate roll into their approach shots: only how far they carry it. Approach clubs roll between 5 and 15 yards, and if you’re factoring that in you will be consistently short. Golf course architects know this, so consequently, where do you think they place the majority of the hazards? That’s right, short of the green.
  • Most golfers base their yardages with each club on a good shot — likely their best shot. Depending upon your handicap, though, chances are the percentage of time you actually hit that “best shot” are pretty close to the same percentage of chances a snow ball has of surviving you know where. We have a hard time intentionally playing for something less than our best, and better players often get most caught up in this trap because they have the hardest time accepting that they don’t always hit it perfect. Tour players know how far they carry each club on average, not that 1 in 10 outlier, and if you want to save strokes you should too.

Eric Jones, an actual Re/Max World Long Drive Champion, fellow PGA Professional, and friend of mine, has worked with a lot of average golfers using radar to chart how far they carry the ball. He then tested them by having them play rounds using their yardages as shown via radar to determine club selection. The stunning results of his testing is that the average golfer improved by more than 5 strokes per round. The real kicker? His tests were conducted with both men and women, and women suffered far less from the distance misconception. So if you’re the average red-blooded American male, your results will likely be even better. 

Here are the cold-hard facts.

More than 80 percent of male golfers swing the driver slower than 100 mph, and about 60 percent are slower than 95 mph. With optimal launch and spin rates, a drive hit with a 95-mph swing will carry almost 200 yards, quite a bit short of the aforementioned minimum most men admit to. This means that, at the very least, most male golfers out there are either misinformed, or just not being honest with themselves. And I’m being generous here, since we all know plenty of guys who claim to hit it 250, 275, or even 300. 

If you want to shave 5 strokes off your score today, figure out how far you really carry your clubs, on the average. To do that, you may need to pay your local pro a few bucks to spend an hour with you on their radar device. And while that may not sound as sexy as buying the latest and greatest driver on the market, it won’t cost as much, is a bigger game-changer, and you won’t have to spend near as much time explaining it to your wife next month when the club bill comes due. 

Let me know what you think. 

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Mike Dowd is the author of the new novel COMING HOME and the Lessons from the Golf Guru: Wit, Wisdom, Mind-Tricks & Mysticism for Golf and Life series. He has been Head PGA Professional at Oakdale Golf & CC in Oakdale, California since 2001, and is serving his third term on the NCPGA Board of Directors and Chairs the Growth of the Game Committee. Mike has introduced thousands of people to the game and has coached players that have played golf collegiately at the University of Hawaii, San Francisco, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, University of the Pacific, C.S.U. Sacramento, C.S.U. Stanislaus, C.S.U. Chico, and Missouri Valley State, as men and women on the professional tours. Mike currently lives in Turlock, California with his wife and their two aspiring LPGA stars, where he serves on the Turlock Community Theatre Board, is the past Chairman of the Parks & Recreation Commission and is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock. In his spare time (what's that?) he enjoys playing golf with his girls, writing, music, fishing and following the foibles of the Sacramento Kings, the San Francisco 49ers, the San Francisco Giants, and, of course, the PGA Tour. You can find Mike at mikedowdgolf.com.

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Pingback: How being honest with yourself can shave 5 strokes off your game

  2. SunkTheBirdie

    Aug 23, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Being honest can shave 5 strokes off your game. But foot wedges, creative counting, generous mulligans, “Finding” the unfindable ball shaves 5-15 strokes !

  3. Dave

    Aug 22, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Very good Dale you got it . Even the smiz makes more sense than you. No disrespect to you smiz .

  4. Double Mocha Man

    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Knowing the distance you hit any given club is totally a chess game. You can’t determine it on the range… most use limited distance golf balls. If you determine it on the course on August 22nd (and 88 degrees) it will be different than on December 22nd (and the accompanying 38 degrees). Rain will take yardage off a ball. And wind… let’s not even talk about the wind and its variability. And if you determine your yardage with a Pro V1 golf ball but today you’re playing a Callaway Chrome Soft, now what? Binding clothing… that affects your distance. What if your muscles are tight today? So many variables, so few greens to hit.

    • larrybud

      Aug 22, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      You definitely need to chart these things out, but I agree that most golfers have an unrealistic view of their baseline distances. I tested my SS with just a shirt on, vs a jacket, and with driver it moved by as much a 5 mph.

      • Double Mocha Man

        Aug 22, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        Good point. Now try it in a Batman costume.

        • Stylo

          Aug 24, 2016 at 1:17 am

          How about doing it in the buff ?

        • Dead Fish

          Aug 29, 2016 at 2:43 pm

          I get max distance dressed as Pikachu and yelling PIKA during my backswing followed by a load CHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! at impact!

  5. matthew

    Aug 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    a swing speed of 95mph with optimal launch conditions will result in a carry of over 230 yards, not 200.

    • flint nunnelly

      Sep 7, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      No, no, if you would be honest, you realize 95 mph will never carry 230, my gosh how i wish it would!

  6. Chris

    Aug 21, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Course management is definitely worth a few shots on the card. That’s what we are really talking about. Know your distances, use your scoring clubs to do the damage and avoid your weaknesses.

    I use a range finder to check my distance on every hole. I play 9 and pitching wedge most accurately so I try my best to get in the 120 to 135 meter range whenever I can. this has made a huge difference in my game.

  7. KK

    Aug 20, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Dead presidents are the best motivation for honesty. When you have cash on the line and the other guy is on the green, you think long and hard about trying to hit a perfect 8 iron on a 145 yd uphill shot. As far as driver, the problem is that most golfers suck with the club and most off-the-rack drivers suck because they are too long and too spinny.

  8. Brent

    Aug 20, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Great article. Not only has the yardage honesty helped my scores but so has not cheating and forgetting to add a penalty every now and again. My scores used to be in the 80’s with cheating, but I realized that was stopping me from actually playing well. When I counted every strike and penalty I was around 105 on average. In one summer I’m back down to the mid to high 80’s, but honestly this time. The other thing that helped was checking out the LPGA stats on length. Those ladies swing around the same speed I do on average (93-95 driver), but of course hit it MUCH better. Many of them hit their 7 or even 6 iron as a 150 club and carry the driver 200-215. They still shoot in the 60’s and 70’s. We should stop being macho and start playing our own game!

    • mike dowd

      Aug 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Glad you liked it and great comments. Even guys at the top end of the yardage spectrum can benefit from this perspective. I’ve spent a lot of time with really good players on launch monitors and one thing I can tell all of you who think this is exclusively an average players’ or an old man’s problem is that it’s not. A lot of times it’s the testosterone-fueled egos of those who hit it the farthest who are the most self-deluded. The real point is that finding out how far you truly hit the ball can be a game-changer, and with the availability of so much affordable distance measuring technology out there today (much of which has been mentioned) there is no good reason we can’t. Unless of course we don’t really want to. 🙂

      • James

        May 13, 2018 at 9:27 pm

        This is an old thread that I stumbled across, but I do want to point out that you seem to have made either a mathematical or typographical error.

        You said:

        “With optimal launch and spin rates, a drive hit with a 95-mph swing will carry almost 200 yards…”

        According to Trackman’s optimizer numbers, optimal launch/spin with a 95mph swing will net a carry of 230 yards. Flightscope’s online trajectory optimizer yields a similar result. I am guessing you made a typo and meant to say “85” instead of “95”?

  9. Troy Vayanos

    Aug 20, 2016 at 3:05 am

    Great post Mike,

    Yes so true, I regularly play with guys that use clubs that they simply cannot reach the green with purely because of ego. If they would just put that aside and use the club they actually need I’m sure they would reduce their scores.

    Regards

  10. Dave

    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Sean you are the example of honesty . How many of us can say they were long on a hole not very many.

  11. Dave

    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Hey there youngster my index is 4.5 I’m 66 years old and all the old guys I play with are better or the same and I bet you every one of us old guys could kick your ass every day of the week. We all learnt over the years how far we hit it that’s why we play to what we play to. All you young guys have no idea how far 255 yards of carry is ????????????????????????

    • Dale Doback

      Aug 21, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      Sure we do, a 255 yard carry is 255 yards which is probably 200 yards further than you can still see your ball in the air.

      • Stylo

        Aug 24, 2016 at 1:19 am

        Come on, get your hand out of your pocket and stop feeling cocky.

        I have money on old mate Dave.

  12. Sean

    Aug 19, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    I have the opposite problem. I am very realistic about how far I hit each club and have a tendency to over club. Today for example, over clubbing cost me six strokes.

    • Scooter McGavin

      Aug 19, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      Was it 5 or 6 strokes, Sean? Get your story straight…

    • KK

      Aug 20, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      LOL. Not being honest about being too honest.

  13. Sean

    Aug 19, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I have the opposite problem. I am very realistic about the distances I hit each club. I have a tendency to over club, where in many cases it is much better to be short than long. Today, for example, I did it three times and it cost me five strokes.

  14. Jim H

    Aug 19, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I’ve played this great game for better than 50 years. Getting older and a health issue requiring surgery brought about my sudden inability to find the sweet spot on my Mizuno blades. So I shifted to a set of Game-Improvement Titleist AP1 irons. But even sadder, I found that my 150-yard club was no longer my trusted 7-iron, but a well-struck, firm 6-iron. Then I bought a set of Game Golf tags for my clubs and was shocked at what I was finding. My perceived distances, the ones I have relied on for over 20 years, were severely inflated. According to Game Golf, my drives average 218, instead of the 240 I was certain was my current average. Yes, I still clock one every once in awhile (273 two weeks ago, 279 last season) but I routinely realize I’m an old goat hitting 220-yard drives with a 83 MPH driver swing speed. I still play from the blues as I usually play with younger players, and have a short game that still allows me to score well. But I now hit 6-iron and sometimes even a 5-iron from 150. Instead of the sweet spot, I’m also hitting the club off the toe routinely, something I’ve never done before, and losing distance because of it. But I’m being honest with myself, and now hitting clubs that will get me there, regardless of the number on the bottom.

    • kolfpro

      Aug 20, 2016 at 2:04 am

      Nothing wrong with that! Sometimes we forget the game is about getting the ball in the hole with the least amount of strokes. You don’t put what club you hit on the scorecard. BTW, you could gain distance if you went to a lighter shaft.

    • flint nunnelly

      Sep 7, 2016 at 9:07 pm

      an 83 mph swing speed giving you 220 yard drives means you play on concrete. your carry isnt over 190 unless you live in colorado or something. I dont mean to be an ass but math doesent lie. neither do the launch moniters. to achieve 216 carry with my 95 mph swing, i had to grease the clubhead slightly.

  15. Philip

    Aug 19, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    So to recap – know your yardages based on average real course results … however, the group that needs to read this article will likely be the only group who does not, or reads it and assume it applies to everyone but themselves – then again, a lot of us do not live the dream so golf happens to be one of those areas one can indulge in fantasy. So why are you trying to take away people’s happiness :o) ???? They are not hurting anyone … let them dream!

  16. ben

    Aug 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    so i’m a 4.0 index, and everytime i’ve hit drivers or irons indoors on launch monitors, i’ve found those #s to be inflated. perhaps its b/c my home course is somewhat windy with inconsistent roll, but i find the launch monitors to be inflating, but that’s just me. that may because i swing more freely.

    for those of us that do swing 100+ mph w/ the driver (according to my launch monitor stats im in the 102-104 range, i hit a good drive downwind 285 and a good one into the wind about 260), how does this apply? i’ve been using the golfshot app to track fairways (and missing left vs right), greens, putts etc as well as for GPS w/ its programmed club recommendations, but as a digital data manager, i’m always thinking of more ways to improve my game.

    • Carl

      Aug 19, 2016 at 6:03 pm

      Ben, Wind is always going to make a difference that you will never get on a launch monitor. I think you need to look at your “carry” distance and not your overall distance which would include carry and roll. If you try and do this on the course you would need to know where the ball hits the fairway not where it ends up. Hope this helps.

      • Jack

        Aug 29, 2016 at 2:46 am

        Well you can always adjust the wind factor. But it’s not like when you are out on the real course you can measure the mph of the wind.

  17. kolfpro

    Aug 19, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    The ego is the main thing that keeps male golfers from improving. Most make the mistake thinking golf is a distance game. Unfortunately for most this will never change.

  18. Egor

    Aug 19, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    My opinion – radar is one thing, real course experience is another. When I’m on radar/trackman I swing for the fences knowing there is no penalty for a wild shot. That’s where I think on-course game recorders like Arccos and GameGolf are so useful because they track real situation distances and give you more information about your game than you’d ever care to have.

    I started using Arccos in October 2015 as a 13.5hdcp. I’ve logged >50 rounds- 18 and 9s – in Arccos since then and the information provided as well as some practice helped me reduce my hdcp to 11.2.

    Arccos gives me a “smart distance” and “smart range” on all my clubs – D = 220-254, 8i = 138-153. What helped the most was the Handicap breakdown which shows me that my driving and approach need work while my chipping (inside 50yds), sand, and putting are good or where they should be.

    I know it sounds like a sales pitch – I have no relationship with Arccos other than a customer service issue that they resolved 150% and even sent a strip of CR2032 batteries.

    • kolfpro

      Aug 19, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      I agree! This why I think range practice or indoor practice bays don’t give you your course distance. After you warm up with 20 or 30 ball your confidence, range of motion etc. has improved. Ultimately you want to bring this confidence to the course.

  19. Young golfer

    Aug 19, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I am tired of these articles catering to OLD men. I get it, golf is mostly played by OLD men but as someone who just turned 30, I PROMISE you I carry my driver well over 200 yards. Mishits probably carry 225 and good shots carry as much as 255. And I play with guys my age all the time that are LONGER off the tee than me as I don’t consider myself long.

    With that said and I play a lot of single golf too and get paired up with guys in their 50s and yes by the end of the round, I feel LONG off the tee. And I can definitely see that they think they hit it farther than they really do.

    My point is, this article needs a disclaimer : “if your older, you might not hit it as far as you think and could shave 5 strokes by being realistic about your yardages”

    • kolfpro

      Aug 19, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      I have seen many under 30 golfers with the same problem but I do agree it is more of an older than 30 problem. Slow swing speed can be from bad mechanics, flexibility, reflex, nervousness, tension or many other things that could span across many age groups. I would take the title of the article personally. If it doesn’t fit you then move on to the next article.

    • Nath

      Aug 19, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Yea, those 80% of golfers targeted in this article are having their afternnon nap, they not like s m and sizzle who are here day and night

  20. Tom

    Aug 19, 2016 at 11:36 am

    The second to last paragraph of this article is either purposefully wrong or someone made a mistake with the data. You say, “With optimal launch and spin rates, a drive hit with a 95-mph swing will carry almost 200 yards,” but facts don’t agree with this. Optimal launch conditions at 95-mph club head speed are 142.5 ball speed (based on a 1.5 smash factor), 2,772 RPM of backspin (from Trackman website assuming zero degree angle of attack), and 13.6 degrees launch angle (again from Trackman website assuming zero degree angle of attack). Entering those values in the Flightscope Trajectory Optimizer gives a carry of 238.4 yards, definitely better than “almost 200 yards.”

    • Mat

      Aug 19, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      Pffft. Facts. So truthy.

      I mean, why be honest about it. It’s just a wee article asking golfers to be honest with themselves…

    • Justin

      Aug 19, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      I was thinking the same thing myself…. if a “perfect” 95 MPH swing doesn’t even get you 200 yards of carry, then we are all doomed. There is no reason that a man from teens to even 60s (that isn’t physically limited) should be able to carry the ball at least 200 yards. While most people assume they just don’t have the strength required to hit the ball further, it’s really swing mechanics that play the biggest role in distance. If you are coming over the top with an outside to in swing path and hit the ball with an open face… sure, that shot is playable but you are losing tons of yardage that is eaten up by the shape and spin of the slice. I’ve said it time and again, and while I don’t have cold hard facts, I would bet at least 75% of golfers suffer from coming over the top at least slightly and most don’t even realize it. If you picture the back swing being mostly vertical and the downswing being mostly horizontal, you should have the right frame of mind to make a proper swing. I believe most people think of the downswing with more of a vertical element and that’s the exact wrong thing to concentrate on. In fact, the perfect downswing simply lets the hands drop into position while horizontal rotation does most of the work. A golf swing is a full body effort and most people focus way too much on the hands for full swing shots.

    • John

      Aug 19, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      Yes, I was curious about that myself, mostly because that IS my ss with a driver: 95mph. I figure my carry average is around 220, which, more or less, matches your optimal data. That’s not ego inflated bs, if anything I am the opposite. I hit my 7 iron, for instance, 140-145. So, I am thinking maybe it was supposed to read 85mph?

      • Jack

        Aug 29, 2016 at 2:52 am

        Carry average of 220 is actually very good. Factor in roll your drives are averaging near 250 and for most amateurs that is more than enough.

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On Spec: Interview with GOLFTEC VP of Instruction Nick Clearwater

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In this episode of On Spec brought to you by Golf Pride Grips, Ryan talks with GOLFTEC’s Vice President of Instruction Nick Clearwater about his history with golf, teaching, and how he and his team at GolfTec help golfers play better.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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From the GolfWRX Vault: The day I met Ben Hogan

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In addition to continuing to look forward to new content that will serve and engage our readership, we also want to showcase standout pieces that remain relevant from years past. In particular, articles with a club building or instruction focus continue to deliver value and convey useful information well after their publish dates.

We want to make sure that once an article falls off the front page as new content is covered it isn’t relegated to the back pages of our website.

We hope that you’ll appreciate and find value in this effort.

Industry veteran (and one heckuva writer) Tom Stites, who served as the Director of Product Development at Nike’s Oven, tells the story of how he landed a job as an engineer at the Ben Hogan Company and what his first meeting with Mr. Hogan was like.

Get a taste for Stites’ excellent piece from 2015 below.

Getting near my boy was the real reason I wanted to get to Texas, but the golf was a sweet attraction, too. With a perfect touch and timing, the Good Lord prompted the Hogan Company to advertise for a new product development engineer. On just the right day, I was changing flights at DFW and bought a copy of the Fort Worth paper. In the want ads I saw something like, ”Ben Hogan will pay you cash money to engineer and work on golf clubs.” So I applied.

My product development experience at Kohler got me the interview, but the Good Lord got me the job. It was truly a real miracle, because in 1986 I knew zero about club design and manufacturing. I was quickly made the boss of the model shop, and was to manage the master club maker Gene Sheeley and his incredible team of long-time club artisans.

Me as their boss? That was a joke.

I knew a few things about physics at that time, but these guys were the real deal in club design. I knew immediately that I was in over my head, so I went to Gene and professed my ignorance. I pleaded with him to teach me how to do the job right. At that, I guess he considered me harmless and over the next number of years he became my Yoda. His voice was even a bit like Yoda.

Read the full piece here.

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Why do Tour players prefer fades over draws from the tee box?

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There is a growing trend on the PGA Tour and other professional golf tours where some of the game’s best players favor a fade from the tee box. Amateur golfers often struggle with golf shots that slice away from their target. These shots can lead them out of play and have them eagerly chasing a more neutral or drawing shot shapes. Additionally, a large fraction of low handicap and professional golfers play a golf shot that draws repeatedly onto their target. These thoughts can leave you wondering why anyone would choose to play a fade rather than a draw with their driver.

The debate over whether players should fade or draw their golf shots has been intensely lobbied on either side. While this is highly player specific, each particular shot shape comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages. In order to discuss why elite golfers are choosing to play a fade and why you might as well, we must first explore how each shot shape is created and the unintended effects within each delivery combination. This article explores the ideas that lead some of the most outstanding players in the world to choose a fade as their go-to shot shape for their driver.

Before examining what makes each shot unique, golfers should be familiar with some common club fitting and golf swing terminology. Club path, clubface angle, impact location, spin-axis or axis tilt, and spin loft are all detailed below.

The curvature of a golf ball through the air is dependent on the backspin and sidespin of each shot. These spin rates are directly linked with each players golf swing and delivery characteristics. During every shot, each golfer will deliver the golf club back to the golf ball in a specific orientation. The relationship between the golf club face and the path of that club will determine much of how the golf ball will travel. A golf clubface that is closed to a club path will result in golf shots that either draw or hook. A clubface more open to the club’s path with create a shot that fades or slices. It is important that face angle measurements are taken in reference to the club path as terms like “out-to-in” or “in-to-out” can results in either of these two curvatures depending on face angle and impact location measurements.

Impact location should not be overlooked during this exchange and is a vital component of creating predictable golf shots that find the fairway and reach their maximum distances. As strikes move across the clubface of a driver gear effect begins to influence how the golf ball travels. In its simplest form, gear effect will help turn the golf ball back to the center of the golf club head. Impact locations in the heel will curve towards the middle and lead to golf shots with a more pronounced fading shape. Toe strikes lead to the opposite reaction and produce more draw or hook spin. Striking a golf ball from the upper half of the driver clubface produce higher launches and less spin, while strikes from the bottom create lower launches with higher backspin rates.

Spin-axis tilt or simply axis tilt is a result of the amalgamation of face angle, club path and strike locations. A golf shot will curve in the direction that its axis tilts during flight. Golfers familiar with launch monitors like Trackman and GCQuad, can reference axis tilt and spin-axis tilt measures for this measurement. Shots that curve to the left will have a leftward tilted axis, and shots to the right a rightward axis tilt. Golf shots tilting to the left and to the right are given names depending on which hand is dominant for that golfer. A draw or hook is a golf shot that curves in the air away from the golfers dominate hand. Right-handed players will see a golf ball hit with a draw spin from right to left in the air. Left-handed golfers see their draw shots spin from left to right. Fades and slices have the opposite shapes.

Spin loft is another critical component of creating and maintaining the flight of a golf ball. In concert with the spin-axis tilt of the golf ball, the spin loft influences the amount of backspin a golf ball possesses and will determine much of how stable that golf ball’s flight becomes. Golf shots hit with more backspin curve less violently than golf shots hit with too little spin especially in the wind. Spin loft is exemplified as golfers find themselves much more accurate with their wedges than their driver. More spin equals more stability, and this leads us to why professional players opt for their fade.

Modern drivers can be built to maximize the performance of each golfer on their best swings, but what about their misses? Golfers often lose confidence standing over their golf shots if they see the ball overdrawing or hooking too often. Overdraws and hooks create golf ball flight conditions that are unpredictable and lead to directional and distance detriments that can cause dropped shots and penalties. Because of this, elite right-handed players do not often like to see the golf ball going left from the tee box. By reducing their chances of hitting hooking tee shots, golfers often feel more freedom to swing the golf club freely and make smooth, powerful motions. This is never more evident than when watching Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson hit their drivers. While both players hit the golf ball both ways, their go-to shot from the tee is a left-to-right curving fade.

But wait, doesn’t a draw go further than a fade? While it is not inevitable that a draw will fly further or roll out more than a fade, the clubface and club path conditions needed at impact to produce each shape often lead to differences in spin rates and launch angles that affect distance. Less dynamic loft created by a closed clubface can lead to lower launch, less spin, and more distance. The drawback of these conditions is the reduced spin loft and decreased stability. So how much distance is worth losing to find more fairways? As we continue to see some of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour win tournaments and major championships distance is the premium.

Luckily, modern drivers and club fitting techniques have given players a perfect blend of distance and accuracy. By manipulating the center of gravity of each driver, golfers can create longer shots from their best strikes without giving up protection from their mishits. Pushing the weights more near the clubface of drivers has given players the ability to present more loft at impact without increasing backspin. The ability to swing freely and know that if you miss your intended strike pattern your shot will lose distance but not end up in the most dangerous hazards have given players better, more repeatable results.

While it can be advantageous for casual golfers and weekend players to chase as many yards as possible, players that routinely hit the golf ball beyond 300 yards can afford their misses to fall back if they will remain in play and give them a chance to find the green in two shots. More stability when things do not go as planned thanks to increased spin lofts and less violent curvature has allowed elite level golfers to perform consistently even under the most demanding situations and it is why we continue to see a growing number of players favor a fade from their tee shots.

 

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