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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

How to fix the root cause of hitting your golf shots fat

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Of all the shots golfers fear, hitting the ball FAT has to be right up at the top of the list. At least it heads the list of commonly hit poor shots (let’s leave the shank and the whiff out for now). After fat, I’d list topping, followed by slicing and then hooking. They are all round-killers, although the order of the list is an individual thing based on ability. Professionals despise a hook, but club golfers by and large fear FAT. Why?

First of all, it’s embarrassing. Secondly, it goes nowhere — at least compared to thin — and it can be physically painful! So to avoid this dreaded miss, golfers do any number of things (consciously or subconsciously) to avoid it. The pattern develops very early in one’s golf life. It does not take very many fat shots for golfers to realize that they need to do something differently. But rather than correct the problem with the correct move(s), golfers often correct a fault with a fault.

Shortening the radius (chicken-winging), raising the swing center, early lower-body extension, holding on through impact (saving it), running the upper body ahead of the golf ball and even coming over the top are all ways of avoiding fat shots. No matter how many drills I may offer for correcting any of those mistakes, none will work if the root cause of fat is not addressed.

So what causes fat? We have to start with posture. Some players simply do not have enough room to deliver the golf club on a good plane from inside to inside. Next on the list of causes is a wide, early cast of the club head. This move is invariably followed by a break down in the lead arm, holding on for dear life into impact, or any of the others…

“Swaying” (getting the swing center too far off the golf ball) is another cause of fat, as well as falling to the rear foot or “reversing the weight.” Both of these moves can cause one to bottom out well behind the ball. Finally, an excessive inside-out swing path (usually the fault of those who hook the ball) also causes an early bottom or fat shot, particularly if the release is even remotely early. 

Here are 4 things to try if you’re hitting fat shots

  1. Better Posture: Bend forward from the hips so that arms hang from the shoulders and directly over the tips of the toes, knees slightly flexed over the shoelaces, seat out for balance and chin off the chest!
  2. Maintaining the Angles: Casting, the natural urge to throw the clubhead at the golf ball, is a very difficult habit to break if one is not trained from the start. The real correction is maintaining the angle of the trail wrist (lag) a little longer so that the downswing is considerably more narrow than the backswing. But as I said, if you have been playing for some time, this is risky business. Talk to your instructor before working on this!
  3. Maintaining the Swing Center Over the Golf Ball: In your backswing, focus on keeping your sternum more directly over the golf ball (turning in a barrel, as Ernest Jones recommended). For many, this may feel like a “reverse pivot,” but if you are actually swaying off the ball it’s not likely you will suddenly get stuck with too much weight on your lead foot.
  4. Setting Up a Little More Open: If your swing direction is too much in-to-out, you may need to align your body more open (or feel that way). You could also work with a teaching aid that helps you feel the golf club is being swung more out in front of you and more left (for right-handers) coming through — something as simple as a head cover inside the golf ball. You’ll hit the headcover if you are stuck too far inside coming down.

The point is that most players do what they have to do to avoid their disastrous result. Slicers swing way left, players who fight a hook swing inside out and anybody who has ever laid sod over the golf ball will find a way to avoid doing it again. This, in my opinion, is the evolution of most swing faults, and trying to correct a fault with a fault almost never ends up well.

Get with an instructor, get some good videos (and perhaps even some radar numbers) to see what you are actually doing. Then work on the real corrections, not ones that will cause more trouble.

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Right Knee Bend: The Difference Between PGA Tour Players and Amateurs

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The knees play an especially important role in the golf swing, helping to transfer the forces golfers generate through our connection with the ground. When we look closer at the right knee bend in the golf swing, we’re able to get a better sense of how PGA Tour players generate power compared to most amateur golfers.

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How to eliminate the double cross: Vertical plane, gear effect and impact location

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One of the biggest issues teachers see on the lesson tee is an out-to-in golf swing from a player who is trying to fade the ball, only to look up and see the deadly double cross! This gear effect assisted toe hook is one of the most frustrating things about trying to move the ball from left to right for the right-handed golfer. In this article, I want to show you what this looks like with Trackman and give you a few ways in which you can eliminate this from your game.

Below is the address position of a golfer I teach here in Punta Mita; his handicap ranges between scratch and 2, depending on how much he’s playing, but his miss is a double cross when he’s struggling.

Now let’s examine his impact position:

Observations

  • You see a pull-hooking ball flight
  • The hands are significantly higher at impact than they were at address
  • If you look at the clubhead closely you can see it is wide open post impact due to a toe hit (which we’ll see more of in a second)
  • The face to path is 0.5 which means with a perfectly centered hit, this ball would have moved very slightly from the left to the right
  • However, we see a shot that has a very high negative spin axis -13.7 showing a shot that is moving right to left

Now let’s look at impact location via Trackman:

As we can see here, the impact of the shot above was obviously on the toe and this is the reason why the double-cross occurred. Now the question remains is “why did he hit the ball off of the toe?”

This is what I see from people who swing a touch too much from out-to-in and try to hit fades: a standing up of the body and a lifting of the hands raising the Vertical Swing Plane and Dynamic Lie of the club at impact. From address, let’s assume his lie angle was 45 degrees (for simplicity) and now at impact you can see his Dynamic Lie is 51 degrees. Simply put, he’s standing up the shaft during impact…when this happens you will tend to pull the heel off the ground at impact and this exposes the toe of the club, hence the toe hits and the gear effect toe hook.

Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution? In my opinion it’s a three stage process:

  1. Don’t swing as much from out-to-in so you won’t stand up as much during impact
  2. A better swing plane will help you to remain in your posture and lower the hands a touch more through impact
  3. Move the weights in your driver to promote a slight fade bias

Obviously the key here is to make better swings, but remember to use technology to your advantage and understand why these type of things happen!

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