Connect with us

Instruction

Increasing ball flight awareness

Published

on

There is plenty of content out there explaining ball flight laws and why golf balls do as they do when struck. The problem is, many golfers still don’t understand them, so they spend valuable practice time less than effectively.

As a coach, I know the best thing is to book a program (not just swing lessons!) with your professional and make big changes where you are involved in the learning process. That way, you can start to discover and understand your own game. However, for the other 90 percent of the time, when you are golfing solo, you need to be able to understand the how and why of your ball flight. As Tiger’s instructor Sean Foley said recently, his goal is to allow the player to move away from being reliant on him as a coach. That’s going to be difficult to do without an understanding of the flight of your golf ball.

In this article, I will give some facts of impact and ball flight and explain how to analyze what you do. You may need to read this a few times over, so I suggest you don’t try to memorize it right away. This is not a test! Instead, use this as a benchmark to change your awareness. For ease of understanding, everything written is for a right-handed golfer. Don’t feel bad, lefties — you’ve got a lot going for you. Fewer people try to offer you swing advice on the range, and all you have to do is just flip my info around for it to make perfect sense.

First, you need to know that the flight of the golf ball is determined by four factors, which I’ll go into more detail about below:

  1. Club face orientation
  2. Club head direction
  3. Speed
  4. Point of contact

Club face orientation

Club face impactDepending on the club used and club head speed, the club face direction at impact (left/right/straight) has been shown to give between 60 to 95 percent of the ball’s starting direction. This also is the case with the club face’s dynamic loft (loft on the face at impact). Here, the ball launch angle is again, mostly influenced by the club face, rather than the angle of attack.

Easy tip: Although it’s not 100 percent accurate, in simple terms, club face = launch! When practicing, push an alignment stick into the ground 10 yards away from the ball, hit a shot and you can easily see the starting direction and therefore deduce the club face aim at impact.

Club head direction

Impact is very fast; as quick as 0.0004 seconds! Definitely not long enough to sense the club face position and try to correct it whilst the ball is on the face. The curve on a ball is predominantly due to the difference between the club face at impact and the direction of the swing path.

Easy tip: Imagine hitting a tennis shot or kicking a football…if the path is to the right of the face, the ball curves left. If the path is to the left of the face, the ball curves right.

Speed

Increased speed leads to higher spin rates, exaggeration of any tilting of the spin axis, more curvature, longer distances and higher shots. I am sure you all see young juniors at your course who never miss a fairway because they swing so slow. It does get a bit harder to hit it so straight with some extra speed for sure, but it is definitely possible with some extra understanding.

Easy tip: A good way to build some control with your swing and have some fun: Make some full swings but hit shots with 20 percent effort (great for working on swing changes) and then do the same at 95 percent and see how you get on before finding your best compromise between of distance and control. For you juniors out there…hit it hard and work on control afterward. Believe me, you will thank me later on when you have the control and the distance.

Contact Point

You know what I said about face and path? Well, just to confuse you, there is one more, very important factor: contact/impact point of club and ball in comparison to the center of gravity of the club. Many golfers strike the ball from the sweet spot much less often than they think and this influences ball flight hugely. A shot contacted off center on the face (due to something called horizontal gear effect) imparts spin on the ball which can exaggerate or reduce curvature. A toe shot increases curve to the left (or reduces curve to the right) and a heel shot increases curve to the right (or reduces curve to the left). Due to vertical gear effect, shots hit lower on the face tend to launch lower and have increased spin; contact high on the face leads to higher launch and reduced spin.

Easy tip: Check your contact point habits often, by simply using a whiteboard marker on the face.

My challenge to you: Next time you are on the range try to hit lots of different shots with differing heights, curves and launches. Use some of these tips to alter your face and path to affect ball flight and be more in control of your game. Focus on the result of the shots, not the technique that goes into it. Get some help from a coach who can help you with your exploration. Have fun and let me know how it goes!

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Andy is currently coaching in Shanghai, China. He is a UKPGA member and graduate of the AGMS degree at the University of Birmingham. Andy has coached in more than 30 countries and traveled to work with many of the best minds in golf to constantly improve his coaching. His No. 1 desire is to help golfers reach their dreams, and to enjoy the process! Website: andygriffithsgolf.com Online Lessons: swingfix.golfchannel.com/instructors/andy-griffiths Twitter: twitter.com/andygriffiths1 Facebook: facebook.com/andygriffithsgolf

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Andy Griffiths

    Feb 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Mark: Yeah, that is exactly what I meant. This awareness of current habits and associating feeling with visible contact point is very important.
    Great to hear and thanks for the feedback, I find very often that players improve quickly when they know what and why they are changing something! All my social media links are in profile, would be great to hear how you get on! Good luck.

  2. 3Puttnomore

    Feb 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Can you explain about using the white board marker to check contact points… Do you mean record the observable contact point?
    Great article!… I THRIVE when the reasons for things are explained to me. When I understand what’s going on behind the scenes and have it in my head, it’s much easier for me to know where I’ve gone wrong… or right!
    Too much snow on the ground to try this stuff outside, but I’ll head to my local dome for some fun.
    Again, thanks!
    Mark Rice
    Brampton, Ont.
    Canada

  3. Ben Alberstadt

    Jan 31, 2013 at 9:51 am

    “For you juniors out there…hit it hard and work on control afterward. Believe me, you will thank me later on when you have the control and the distance.” Classic, Nicklaus-esque tip. Nice breakdown of the components of ball flight, Mr. Griffiths.

    @trackman: Great video. Thanks for the link!

  4. Andy Griffiths

    Jan 31, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Thanks guys for the comments and good luck with your golf. Would be great to hear on here/twitter/facebook how you are going!

    Paul: Launch monitors show that horizontal gear effect is definitely alive and well with irons too. The figures in terms of effect on spin axis tilt is definitely less than seen with woods but definitely will lead to draws, or reduce rightward curve.

    Troy: It sounds like he definitely did; for me and my coaching, ball flight is vital! It is possible for divots to be misleading to where the true path is so just be a bit wary.

  5. Troy Vayanos

    Jan 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Good stuff Andy,

    The first question my golf coach asked me was what was my normal ball flight. I guess he knew what he has doing!

    Watching the direction of the divots can also be beneficial as well.

    Cheers

  6. Paul Byrne

    Jan 30, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Hi Andy,

    Excellent article.

    Be good if you could clarify how an off-centre hit affects woods and irons differently.

    With woods hge will cause a toe hit to curve to the left. With irons there is hardly any hge, if any at all. A toe hit will cause ball to start further to right due to clockwise twisting or rotation of clubhead.

    Cheers
    Paul

    • Trackman

      Jan 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      It is a phenomena called gear effect. Reference the video previously attached.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instruction

Davies: The Trail Elbow In The Downswing

Published

on

In this video, I discuss the role of the trail elbow in the downswing. I also share some great drills to help golfers deliver the trail elbow correctly, which will help improve distance and contact.

Your Reaction?
  • 15
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP1
  • OB0
  • SHANK7

Continue Reading

Instruction

The 3 different levels of golf practice

Published

on

“I would have practiced as hard, but I would have made my practice more meaningful. I would have worked more on my short game and putting. I would’ve done a lot more drills to make the practice more meaningful, and I would’ve added pressure to the practice as much as possible.” — Lee Westwood

Now here’s the rub. Practice is not monolithic! I approach practice as having three different, distinctive and separate curriculum and criteria.

  • Level 1: Basic
  • Level 2: Advanced
  • Level 3: Extreme

Basic Practice (Level 1) by definition is “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.” Basically, it’s doing the same thing over and over again to get better at it. My favorite skill that requires practice is the 76-yard “flighted wedge.” I do it, and I recommend it be done at every range practice session. Additionally, I identify and then practice as many different “skills” that are required to hit different golf shots. I have found that a non-pressurized environment is the best way to practice in a basic model.

It goes without saying that golf is not played in a pressure-free environment, so basic practice doesn’t help us play golf. The prime objective of Level 2 Practice (Advanced Training) is to take what you do in Basic Practice to the golf course.

First, create on-course situations that require you to hit the shots you have practiced. There should be rewards for demonstrations of competence, and there should be consequences for demonstrations of incompetence

“When you practice, try to find a situation to fit the shot you’re trying to practice.” — Ben Hogan

For example, a major problem is the unevenness of the lies you will encounter during play as opposed to the lies you used for your drills. From marginal to extreme, lies are difficult to replicate on the practice tee. So, play a round of golf and move the ball into the most undesirable lie that is very close to where you are.

Another example would be duplicating the creativity that is sometimes required during actual play. The prime example of that would be the sensation of “being in-between clubs.” I would suggest that you play an occasional round of golf using only half of your clubs. Take two wedges instead of four. Take only the “odd” or “even” numbered irons. Look at not taking the driver, or not taking all of your fairway clubs. I have not taken my putter, which forced me putt with my sand wedge!

A third example would be to play a round of golf and deliberately miss every green in regulation. Should your ball accidentally finish on the green in regulation just move it off into the rough, a bunker or whatever else could use the extra attention. You can create games where your opponent moves your ball off the green into something that would be advantageous to him.

Level 2 Practice is conducted on the practice ground as well as on the course. What I do and recommend is to take each of the shots, skills and drills used in Level 1 and add some accountability to the range experience. I have my students and clients use a “Practice Book” to schedule activities and to keep track of improvement.

Author Note: I will send you a sample practice book page that many of my players actually use. Request it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Please be advised that Level 2 Practice can feature games, wagering or other forms of friendly competitions because they should only activate the lesser emotions of irritation, annoyance, anticipation, anxiousness, joy, pleasure and disappointment. Dealing with these feelings in practice will help you recognize and deal with the minor stresses experienced by most recreational golfers.

Stress is the major cause of “CHOKING.”

Stress, by definition “is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress can ruin our ability to perform when we experience the major emotions such as fear, anger, shame, humiliation, euphoria, ridicule, betrayal, doubt and/or disbelief.

Level 3 Practice (Extreme Preparation) is on-course training sessions best suited for very serious competitive golfers. The more a player is able to compete in a simulated or controlled environment that accurately replicates the actual “pressures” that produce the kind of stresses that can effect performance, the better the player will perform when stressed in actual tournaments or events. Please be advised that Extreme Practice DOES NOT feature games, gambling or “friendly” competitions. They don’t control the conditions of play sufficiently to replicate the type of pressure that would induce “stress.”

“Simulation, which  is a technique (not a technology) to replace and amplify real experiences with guided ones, often “immersive” in nature, that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion.” For many years now, the medical profession has used simulations to train doctors, the military has used simulations to prepare troops for the realities of the battlefield and aviation has used simulators to train pilots. Simulating has the added benefits of being cost and time effective while producing verifiable results.

If it’s possible for airlines to replicate every possible scenario that a pilot could experience in the cockpit by using simulations, then why isn’t it possible to replicate situations, and subsequent emotional responses, that a competitive golfer could experience on the golf course? Let me give you an example of what I mean.

“I got nervous all the time, as nervous as the next guy. It’s just that I caught myself before it became destructive.” Jack Nicklaus

Recent events at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play gives us some evidence of the destructiveness of uncontrolled emotions. Justin Thomas said that he couldn’t get the thought out of his mind of becoming the No. 1-ranked player in the world should he defeat Bubba Watson in the semi-finals, which he failed to do.

“I haven’t had such a hard time not thinking about something so much,” Thomas said. “And that really sucked. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.”

Then there was Ian Poulter being told that with his win over Louis Oosthuizen he had earned a spot in this years’ Masters tournament only to be told 10 minutes before his next match that he had not actually secured the coveted invitation. With elation, joy and satisfaction jerked away and replaced with disappointment, and possibly anger, the Englishman went out and got whipped by Kevin Kisner 8 & 6!

I concede that Justin Thomas’ and Ian Poulter’s situations were so unique that simulation-based practice and preparation techniques may not have been available to them, but now they both must know that their performance was effected negatively by mental stresses. And with that knowledge they may want to get tougher mentally. Level 3 Practice does that!

Not all that long ago, I was approached by a PGA Tour veteran for some on-course, one-on-one training. He was experiencing severe “choking” in pressurized short-game situations. So I took him out on the course and we replicated the exact shots he had problems with in the past. He demonstrated that he could perform each and every shot in a stress-free environment. We went into a “low-stress” training environment and his performance began to suffer. Then, at his urging to get “real,” we went into a “high-stress” practice mode and he melted down. Without going into details, he became so angry that not only couldn’t he hit golf shots, he tried to run me down with the golf cart as he retreated to the safety of his car.

Now, that’s not the end of the story. A few hours later, after some soul searching, he apologized for his lack of self-control and acknowledged that he had recognized the early signs of stress growing internally as we worked. We went back out onto the course and got back to work.

Your Reaction?
  • 103
  • LEGIT11
  • WOW6
  • LOL1
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP3
  • OB2
  • SHANK14

Continue Reading

Instruction

Winning Ways: Here’s what it takes to become a winner in Junior Girls golf

Published

on

Every competitive golfer strives to win, and I want to help them achieve their goals. Recently, I wrote a story highlighting the statistics behind winning in junior boys golf, and how they can do it more often. Now, we set out to examine the data on winning in junior girls golf, and provide ways they can improve. The data is based on an analysis of tournament results from all events during the 2017 year from the Junior Tour of Northern California. We then asked stats guru, Peter Sanders, Founder of ShotByShot.com, to provide the stats related to the winning scoring numbers that we found. Finally, we discuss ways that juniors can practice building skills and work towards becoming tournament winners.

The Winning Scores

In 2017 the Junior Tour of Northern California held 26 tournaments with 850+ members. According to our data collection based on information available on the website, the average girl’s tournament course measured 6145 yards. The average winning score for girls was 146 (36 holes), or 73 per round. Ten of the 22 tournaments where won with scores of 144 or better and the low 36 holes total was a whopping 133! In the data collection we also collected the average 10th place scores girls. The average 10th place score for girls was 159 or 79.5.

The Winning Stats

We provided the numbers to statistics expert Peter Sanders. Peter’s company has been providing Strokes Gained analysis for golfers for the last 29 years. Peter is the founder of ShotByShot.com, a website that provides golfers at all levels with Strokes Gained analysis, pinpoints specific strengths and weaknesses and highlights improvement priorities. Since the launch of ShotByShot.com in 2005, Peter has collected over 317,000 rounds. Accordingly, Peter has agreed to share the numbers, below, for a typical female player who averages 73. There are two important points to consider when reviewing these statistics:

  1. In order to have a complete picture of the puzzle that is golf, one must consider the ERRORS, or lack thereof, that play such an important role in scoring at every level. Even the 650+ PGA Tour stats ignore these important miscues. Shot By Shot has included them in their analysis from the beginning and they are highlighted in the infographics below.
  2. The data provided represents only tournament rounds. As such it will primarily represent the high school and college programs that use ShotbyShot.com

Infographics Created by Alexis Bennett

The Winning Preparation

Junior girls are encouraged to use these stats as a benchmark against their own performance to determine where they might need to improve against the “typical 73 player.” After identifying gaps in their game, they can then create practice plans to help improve. For example, a junior might notice they have more 3-putts than the model. To improve, they could work put more time into practice, as well as playing games on the golf course like draw-back and 2-putt.

  • Drawback is a game where after your first putt, you draw the second putt one putter length away from the hole. This often changes a shorter putt (> 2 feet) to a putt of between 3.5 – 5 feet. This putts significantly more pressure on your putting.
  • You may also play Two-Putt, a game where when you reach the green, you (or your playing competitor) tosses the ball away from the hole. You must 2-putt from that spot to move to the next hole (even if it takes a couple attempts!).

Others reading this article might find that they don’t hit enough greens. Improving this area will require more consistent strikes, which may require further technical development and block practice, as well as working on the golf course. To start, I would recommend that every junior implement the yardage rule. The yardage rule works like this; figure out the distance to the very back of the green. For example, this number may be 157. Then figure out what club ALWAYS flies 157, which might be 6-iron. Then choose 7-iron for the shot. This way your best shot will not fly the green, your average shot will likely be in the middle of the green and your less-than-perfect shot will hopefully end up on the front of the green.

During practice rounds, play competitive games with yourself to sharpen your ability to hit greens. For example, if you normally hit 7 greens per round, in practice your goal might be 9. You would track your results over a month and then see your progress.

Beyond building individual skills, like hitting greens or working on putting, junior golfers need times to play competitive rounds on their home golf courses. Ideally, these rounds are played against other people with similar skills and done under tournament like conditions with consequences (loser buys winner a coke or cleans their golf clubs). Playing hundreds of rounds at your home golf course under these conditions gives you a unique opportunity to sharpen your game, learn your tendencies and build skills such as endurance and mental toughness. Most importantly, it teaches you to win and shoot under par!

Please also keep in mind building these skills may take months (or even years). In my own personal experience, when I set out to improve my birdies per round, it took nearly 4 months and 75+ rounds and significant practice to begin to see a change. Depending on your schedule and access to resources like a golf course and instructor, some changes might take a year or more. Regardless, don’t ever worry; building a solid foundation in golf will always lead to rewards!

Your Reaction?
  • 48
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW1
  • LOL0
  • IDHT1
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending