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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

33 Comments

33 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?

    • Tom F. Stickney II

      Jun 3, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Not of any consequence

      • sid

        Jun 5, 2018 at 12:13 am

        Snotty response… snotty stinkney… (_o_)

      • Badger

        Feb 5, 2019 at 4:10 pm

        What’s the actual heights of Tees in the Ground without the Golf Ball-
        Normal, Low and High?

  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

Walters: Avoid these 3 big chipping mistakes!

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Chipping causes nightmares for so many amateur golfers. This s mainly due to three core mistakes. In this video, I talk about what those mistakes are, and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

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The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 1

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

 

Back pain is by far the most common complaint among regular golfers. It is estimated that up to 35 percent of amateur golfers endure lower back injuries. And in our experience working with tour players, the prevalence is even higher in the professional ranks! 

Back pain can affect our ball striking and short game, diminish our enjoyment of the game, or even stop us playing altogether. It can make us feel anxious about playing (and making the pain worse) and just generally disappointed with current performance falling way short of our expectations. 

There is certainly no shortage of information on the topic of back pain, and with myriad back pain products and supplement options available, confusion about the best path to pain-free golf is one of the main reasons we don’t actually do anything effective to alleviate our suffering! 

We aim to present in this article an easy-to-digest explanation of the common causes of back pain, alongside some simple and practical ways to address the underlying issues. 

The recommendations we make in this article are generic in nature but effective in many of the low back pain cases we have worked with. However, pain can be complex and very specific to the individual. You should seek the personalized advice of a medical or exercise professional before undertaking any form of remedial exercise.

Reason 1 – Lack of mobility in 2 key areas

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected. 

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Area 1 – Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercises – Hip Mobility

Foam roll glutes, you can also use a spiky ball

90 90 hip mobility drills, fantastic for taking the hips through that all important internal rotation range

90 90 Glute Stretch – great for tight glutes / hips

Area 2 – Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

Foam rolling mid / upper back

 

Cat / Camel – working the T-Spine through flexion and extension

 

Reach backs – working that all important T-Spine rotation

Reason 2 – Alignment and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right and back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and/or below.

For example, if we have short/tight/overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knee to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain. This would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance

Reason 3 – Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).

 

The 3 major spinal curves – 1-Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures. 

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

Fortunately, re-establishing good posture is really simple and you can combine the information and exercises featured in the videos below with the mobility exercises featured in the Reason 1 section above. The equipment used in the videos is the GravityFit TPro – a favorite of ours for teaching and training posture with both elite and recreational players.

 

In the next installment of this article, we will cover reasons 4, 5 and 6 why golfers suffer from back pain – 4) Warming Up (or lack thereof!), 5) Core Strength and 6) Swing Faults.

 

If you would like to see how either Nick or Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais – marnusmarais.com

Nick Randall – golffitpro.net

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