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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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Lesson of the Day: Understand cause and effect to make permanent swing changes

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In our “Lesson of the Day” video series with V1 Sports, we match a different GolfWRX member with a different V1 Sports instructor. It’s extremely important to both V1 Sports and GolfWRX to help golfers improve their games and shoot lower scores, and there’s no better way to do that than getting lessons. While we not only want to provide free lessons to select GolfWRX members, we want to encourage and inspire golfers to seek professional instruction. For instructions on how to submit your own video for a chance at getting a free lesson from a V1 Sports instructor as part of our Lesson of the Day series, CLICK HERE.

This week, V1 Pro Dan Marvosh looks at WRX Member Matt Chappellie’s swing.

About the pro

Dan Marvosh is a PGA Professional as well as TPI Certified instructor based at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, CA. In addition to providing a TPI physical screen to understand your body’s movement patterns he also uses the advancement of technology to accurately measure all of the key components that go into making you a better player. These tools include V1 Pro software for analyzing your golf swing, Flightscope launch monitors as well as a brand new wrist sensor called Hackmotion. In addition to in person coaching and programming, Dan offers his students the ability to learn from anywhere in the world via his golf academy.

Lesson context

My first impression of Matt was that he has an athletic setup and likely plays regularly, but like many of you, definitely will benefit from understanding the core cause and effect of why his inconsistencies in ball striking occur. Matt has a very weak grip, evidenced by the “v” of the trail hand pointing in front of his sternum. Players with weak grips generally get the club face fairly open in the back swing and thus have to react accordingly on the down swing to match up the open club face. While most high-handicap players usually react to an open face by swinging left or “over-the-top” to square that open face, Matt has a better players match up where he combines his weak grip with pressure towards his toes at address which cause him to stand up (to maintain balance) in the back swing.

As Matt makes his transition, you’ll notice he continues to early extend (note the loss of tush line) which for him does get his swing direction to the right, however in doing so he will have a significant loss of forward shaft lean and most importantly, face control. In short, standing up in the downswing reduces your ability to create ground force which encourages torso and hip rotation. If you watch Matt’s video, you will be able to understand the connection more clearly. Notice that when the shaft is parallel to the ground in the downswing (Golf Machine aficionados call this p6) the club face is still fairly open (hence why just working on rotation will not work), however just past impact the face has rolled significantly closed, further showing the effect on not utilizing the ground properly to stabilize the face.

In conclusion, like many swings it is often easy to notice the symptoms of Matt’s flawed pattern, however understanding the core cause and thus effect allows permanent change to be more possible and for a lot of my players that starts with the club face. Here are the key steps for Matt to take in order to allow permanent change to show up on the course — where it matters most!

Steps to improvement

  1. Create a stronger grip at setup- the checkpoint for Matt is to have the “v” of the trail hand to line up more with his trail forearm. Most of you will also benefit from being able to see two knuckles of the top hand from address given its effect on controlling the tendency of an open club face.
  2. Feel like pressure at address in the feet is more in the mid foot as opposed to towards the toes.
  3. Work an early extension drill (in the video) to create body awareness and new rotational feels with more ideal pressure shifts (Whenever doing a drill, start off slow and work your way up to speed and take advantage of your smart phone to measure your progress – feel and real are often two extremely different things. Finally, dedicate a portion of your practice to practice swings at 90% speed that incorporate portions of the change you are making and try to match those swings on a ball, this is ultimately the swing you want to take to the course because it has athleticism and incorporates your new pattern)
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How-to Series: How to move your hips on the backswing

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Lucas Wald How To Series: How to move your hips on the backswing

This is the first installment in our How To Series — follow this plan to master the movements of the hips on the backswing!


Watch the series introduction here

This new series is all about helping you improve your golf swing quickly. We’re going to break the swing down into its component parts and give you specific practice direction — master these key elements of the swing and you’ll see improvement fast!

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How “long arms” at the top of the backswing can help you hit the ball farther

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One of the hardest things to do as we get older is to make a big shoulder turn with extended arms at the top. It’s the swing of a younger golfer! However, every one of us can add width at the top so we can hit it farther, but few know how to actually do so. In this article, I will use MySwing 3D Motion Analysis to help you understand how beneficial long arms are at the top.

As you examine the swing of this particular player, you will notice that the lead arm is “soft” and the hands are close to this player’s head at the top. This is the classic narrow armswing to the top that most older players employ. And as we all know this position leaves yardage in the bag!

Now let’s look at the data so we can see what is actually happening…

At the top you can see that the shoulders have turned 100 degrees which is more than enough, but the arms look jammed and narrow at the top. Why?

The answer lies within the actions of the rear arm, the lead arm is only REACTING to the over-bending of the rear elbow. As you can see at the top the rear elbow is bent 60 degrees. In a perfect world, when the rear elbow is at 90 degrees (a right angle) or more, the lead arm will be mostly straight — depending on how you’re built.

Something to note…in this position the hands are just past the chest and the shoulders have turned almost 90 degrees. However, when this player finished his backswing, he added 30 more degrees of rear elbow bend and only 11 more degrees of shoulder turn! What this means is that for the last quarter of the backswing, all this player did is allow the hands to basically collapse to the top of the backswing. This move is less than efficient and will cause major issues in your downswing sequencing, as well as, your transitional action.

As stated when your trail elbow stays at 90 degrees or wider in route to the top, you will have a much straighter lead arm.

One last thing to note when comparing these two players is that this player two had a shorter backswing length but a BIGGER shoulder turn with WIDER arms at the top, giving this player a short compact motion that resembles Adam Scott — which seems to work for he and Butch!

Therefore, the thing to remember is that if your lead arm is soft at the top and your arms look crowded at the top, then you must fix the over-bending of the rear elbow on the backswing. And if you have wider arms you will have a more solid “package” to become a ballstriking machine!

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