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Lower for control? High to let it fly? How teeing height REALLY affects your drives

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The one thing we all know is that optimal launch characteristics and the proper impact point are the keys to hitting consistent and longer drives. What the Trackman has taught us about these two factors has created a revolution in the way of more forgiving club designs and drivers with different centers of gravity.

However, in the quest for better “numbers” people often forget the simplest of solutions in lieu of working on something more complex. I guess it’s human nature to think that “it just can’t be that simple!”

For this article, I will hit a series of 10 drives using my normal tee height. Then I will tee the ball lower and higher than my “normal” heights and you will instantly see the differences. We will look at three correlations: impact bias and location, ball height and landing angle, angle of attack and carry distance. It’s here that you will find the “best” tee height for your game and fundamentals.

Impact Bias and Location (NOTE: Were Only focusing on Impact Height)

Normal Tee Height— As you compare the three impact photos you can see on the impact height is better with my “normal” tee height and I believe that this is related 100% to the look that you are more comfortable with. It seems that tee height can influence impact location but usually your best chance for more centered impact is to use the one that’s most comfortable for you.

Lower Tee Height— When you tee the ball ultra-low, you can see that obviously it will influence the ball to be hit lower on the face and this is proven by the impact location photo. We once thought teeing the ball lower would be better in the wind. This is refuted by this impact photo: hitting the ball lower on the face will cause the ball to spin more, and this is proven by the data.

Higher Tee Height— What is most interesting is that teeing the ball ultra-high does not tend to influence the impact height as much as you would think. Yes, I do feel that this tee height might give the player the feeling of more “room” for the driver head to come through the impact zone. I wish it was cut and dry that to control the impact position on the face you only need to change the tee height but that is not the case. However, I feel that it might mentally make a difference and sometimes that’s all you need.

Ball Height and Landing Angle

Normal Tee Height — With the normal tee height, we can see that the height average was 79 feet with a landing angle of 32.7, which is pretty good, but both are still a touch lower than optimal.

Lower Tee Height— The lower tee height provided a very flat launch at 61 feet and much flatter landing angle at 28.4 degrees. If your fairways are harder, then something between the normal tee height and the super low tee height might work better, but be careful not to hit the ball too low on the face and spin it too much!

Higher Tee Height— It’s funny, seeing the balls I hit with this tee height, that looked SO high were actually closer to the Tour Averages! They were only 92 feet in the air and landed around 38 degrees, which for me is awesome. The key here is keeping the spin low while you tee it higher, and my average of 2500 is right where it needs to be for what I’m looking for.

Angle of Attack and Carry Distance

Normal Tee Height — My AOA with my normal tee height was 4.2 and the carry was 248.4 here at sea level. The carry would be better if my impact was less on the toe overall.

Lower Tee Height— The AOA was flatter at 1.8 degrees with the lower tee height by a few degrees. We can see that teeing the ball lower will cause you to have some issues if you already have an AOA that is too shallow. The carry was 10 yards shorter than the normal tee height which is to be expected. As stated, if the fairways are hard this isn’t a bad way to play.

Higher Tee Height— On the high tee height, we see that the AOA went up slightly to 5.0 and the carry went up as well by 10 yards. Remember that if you have wet conditions you want the ball to stay in the air longer and this tee height could influence you to make that different motion. A higher tee height can also help the struggling downward AOA player a touch as well but be careful with this as well too much of anything can get you in trouble.

Conclusions

So now that we have examined tee height and drivers, we can see that it helps with certain issues and does not make much difference with other things. Take your time to understand your issues with Trackman and from there you can make better and more educated decisions when it comes to your best and most optimal tee height!

Normal Tee Height

Low Tee Height

High Tee Height

 

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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

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. shawn

    Jun 5, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Total Failure…. that’s the result of this article because the author refuses to engage in reasonable discussion to answer valid questions. GWX should not post any of his articles because Stickney does not respect golfer’s questions. He’s done it before. #fail

  2. sid

    Jun 5, 2018 at 12:12 am

    4 days later and Stinkney refuses to respond to legitimate questions. He dumps on forum then cuts and runs to Mehico… wotta woose!

  3. larrybud

    Jun 4, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    “high tee height” is pretty meaningless if you’re still going to hit it low on the face. Hit it above the equator and that carry distance will go way up.

  4. HDTVMAN

    Jun 4, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    What length tees are you using for your normal height?

  5. S

    Jun 4, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Here’s the quick answer for those dont want to waste time looking at this confusing article: 2-3 positive AOA and right on the center or maybe 1/8-1/4 inch higher on the face (depending on the weight distribution on the clubhead’s bottom).

    • Kyle

      Jun 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      How about using heavier CofG backweight as low as possible and hitting up 2-3º, as well as higher on the face to take advantage of Vertical Gear Effect (per Ping)? Is that what you are suggesting as optimal? Thanks.

      • S

        Jun 5, 2018 at 2:16 am

        Sort of. Nothing fancy. Little higher on the face if the weight is on the far back away from the face and vice versa, just for the right spin number. Now factoring into the loft, the swing speed, and individual skills, us mortals can only try NOT to hit lower on the face nor with any negative AOA. You will definitely feel it in your hands when you hit it with the right combo dialed in. You won’t need the Trackman numbers to tell you.

  6. steve

    Jun 4, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    So many good questions… and so few detailed answers. It seems Stinckney likes the publicity but is avoiding accountability on this free forum provided by the good folks at GolfWRX.

    • steve

      Jun 4, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      Furthermore, when Stinckney, who is a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world, avoids responding to questions that casts doubt on his professionality.

  7. Bob Edgar

    Jun 4, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    Tom,
    Why wasn’t the contact point higher on the driver face with the higher tee height?

    Bob

  8. Tim F

    Jun 3, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    The numbers have me confused. You state: “They were only 92 feet in the air and landed around 38 degrees, which for me is awesome. The key here is keeping the spin low while you tee it higher, and my average of 2500 is right where it needs to be for what I’m looking for.”

    When I look at the screen cap of the higher tee height numbers, they show a 105 height and spin of 2836. I don’t see the numbers of 92 feet, 38 degrees or 2500 spin anywhere. What am I missing?

  9. Kyle

    Jun 3, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Tom… all of the impact concentration points are at or slightly below the geometric center of the driver face and towards the toe. If you had hit the ball above the geometric center and taken advantage of “Vertical Gear Effect” would you have better results? Ping was touting VGE many years ago for optimal results on their drivers.

  10. Brett Weir

    Jun 3, 2018 at 11:15 am

    For me, I just want to tee the ball high enough so it impacts dead center on the face. I don’t want to hit the ball slightly higher above the center, and definitely not lower.

  11. larry

    Jun 3, 2018 at 9:15 am

    horrible

  12. J Zilla

    Jun 2, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    So was there any difference in dispersion?

  13. SK

    Jun 2, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks for the screen data on the tee height drives. Please tell us which driver you were using, it’s face loft and position of weights if any. Also the shaft and specs as well as ball. This would provide a full context to your testing. Thanks again.

    • Tom F. Stickney II

      Jun 3, 2018 at 10:08 am

      Taylor Made M3. Stock x shaft 8.5 degree stock weight settings for simplicity

      • SK

        Jun 3, 2018 at 8:25 pm

        Back-calculating 151 mph ball speed divided by 1.48 smash factor gives you a 102 mph clubhead speed. Based on your AoA numbers how did you arrive at an 8.5º face loft driver as optimal? Thanks.

  14. Dan Freshley

    Jun 2, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Valuable information for sure Tom. So, here is my question, which I believe is critical to understanding and utilizing the data for maximum effectiveness- what exactly is your “Normal?” Would that be ball equator to top of crown of the driver?
    I am a TM Tech Rep and see a significant amount, maybe 60%+ of players that tee the ball WAAAY to high to be effective with their AOA and, when lowered to a more normal height, we see those players smash factor and spin improve significantly when we lower the ball height to no more than about 2/3 above the crown .
    Thanks for the feedback-

    • SK

      Jun 2, 2018 at 4:12 pm

      How about correlating driver face loft to clubhead speed? I see golfers with 90 mph driver head speeds buying a macho 9.5º driver and then teeing it higher to get higher ball trajectories. They should use 12º loft drivers and teeing lower for optimal results. Agree?

      • Tom F. Stickney II

        Jun 3, 2018 at 10:09 am

        Depends on their AOA

        • SK

          Jun 4, 2018 at 4:46 pm

          Dan, as a TM Tech Rep, do you correlate driver face loft to clubhead speed or AOA as Tom alludes to? Would you recommend to some in the “60+% of players” to increase their face loft, or alter their AOA if they swing at <90 mph? Thanks.

    • Tom F. Stickney II

      Jun 2, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Email me your number and we’ll chat.

      Tom.stickney@puntamita.com

      • craig

        Jun 3, 2018 at 1:04 am

        Answer the questions on the WRX forum so everybody can benefit from your replies. Having private discussions is not only disrespectful it’s unprofessional.

        • Tom F. Stickney II

          Jun 3, 2018 at 10:05 am

          For your information we’ll be discussing TM business since I’m on their staff. Get your facts straight

          • craig

            Jun 3, 2018 at 8:32 pm

            Okay discuss TM ‘business’ privately but openly respond to Dan’s valid question about ball equator to driver crown. That can’t be ‘private’.

        • James T

          Jun 3, 2018 at 12:52 pm

          Craig… there are certain secrets to long driving and tee height that just can’t be shared in a forum on the internet. You’re on the outside looking in. 🙂

          • sid

            Jun 5, 2018 at 12:15 am

            Stinkney is a fraud and should be dumped by Trackman for disgraceful performance.

    • larrybud

      Jun 4, 2018 at 9:20 pm

      Dan, when a player tees it too high, what are you seeing as being a negative effect? Are they hitting off the crown?

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Instruction

3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand

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One of the most infuriating things in golf is to land in a bunker that has too much sand, or sand with the consistency of a truckload of talcum power. Now, I am not picking on the Superintendents; they do have to add new sand from time-to-time, so no hate mail please! It’s my fault for hitting it in the bunker in the first place, and bunkers are supposed to be hazards; I know that.

The one thing we will assume for this article is that even though we are in soft sand, we will have a good lie, not a plugged or semi-plugged one. We are in a bunker that just has a bunch of sand, or it’s soft and fluffy sand. Everyone asks me what the secret is to handling these types of conditions and I’m here to help you get better.

1) Get a wedge with the correct bounce

Let’s consider that you play the same golf course every weekend, or that you mostly play on courses that have the same type of playing conditions mostly. When you have this luxury, you should have wedges that fit the conditions you tend to play. So, if you have a low bounce wedge with a sharp flange and you’re playing from bunkers with lots of sand, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Why alter your swing if the wedge you have can help you? Use a high bounce wedge (9-12 degrees of bounce) for soft sand, and a low bounce wedge (6-8 degrees) for firm sand.

2) Control your Angle of Attack 

As with most things in golf, there are always things that you must pay attention to in order for you to have the odds in your favor. Simple things such as paying attention to the lie you have can help you save shots in the rough. In bunkers, you cannot test the surface, however, you can use your feet to feel the density of the sand. Pay attention to what you feel in the balls of your feet. If you feel a ton of sand below you, then you know you will have to alter your angle of attack if you want any chance to get out of the bunker successfully.

So what do I mean by this?

The setting of your wrists has a very dynamic effect on how much the wedge digs in or skids through the sand (assuming you have an open face). When there is a surplus of sand, you will find that a steeper attack caused by the maximum cocking of your wrists makes it much easier for the wedge to work too vertical and dig too deep. When you dig too deep, you will lose control of the ball as there is too much sand between the blade and the ball — it will not spin as much and won’t have the distance control you normally have.

The secret to playing from softer sand is a longer and wider bunker swing with much less wrist-set than you would use on your stock bunker shot. This action stops the club from digging too deep and makes it easier for you to keep moving through the ball and achieving the distance you need.

3) Keep your pivot moving

It’s nearly impossible to keep the rotation of your shoulders going when you take too much sand at impact, and the ball comes up short in that situation every time. When you take less sand, you will have a much easier time keeping your pivot moving. This is the final key to good soft-sand bunker play.

You have made your longer and more shallow backswing and are returning to the ball not quite as steeply as you normally do which is good… now the only thing left to do is keep your rear shoulder rotating through impact and beyond. This action helps you to make a fuller finish, and one that does not lose too much speed when the club impacts the sand. If you dig too deep, you cannot keep the rear shoulder moving and your shots will consistently come up short.

So if you are in a bunker with new sand, or an abundance of sand, remember to change your bounce, adjust your angle of attack, and keep your pivot moving to have a fighting chance.

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Instruction

WATCH: How to stop “flipping” through impact

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Are you flipping through impact? In this video, I share a great drill that will help you put better pressure on the golf ball at impact. By delivering the sweet spot correctly, you’ll create a better flight and get more distance from your shots immediately.

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The Wagon Wheel Drill

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For many golfers, the ability to hit shots golf ball to the target is a difficult task, especially when you take into account the rough, trees or hazards lining the hole. In this video, I share “The Wagon Wheel Drill,” a simple idea of how to practice intentionally hitting the ball left, right and on target.

Practice this and you will soon be hitting the target more often.

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