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The Quest for 300: It Starts with Your Clubs (Part 3)

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So far in this series I have discussed the prerequisites for hitting a true 300-yard drive. This means hitting it 300-plus yards without the aid of wind, elevation, a sprinkler head or a cartpath.

It is true that only a small segment of golfers who read this are capable of this feat. Heck, many golfers would love to hit their drivers 250 yards once in a while. I understand the struggles of those golfers, and aim to help every one of them hit their drivers as far as they can, even it that distance is much less than 300 yards.

One of the most talked about aspects of driving a golf ball long and straight is the club that is used. Since this article is published on GolfWRX, I feel very confident assuming that my readers are using drivers that are six years old or less. If you are playing something older than this, consider upgrading, because you’re really missing out on forgiveness.

Click here to read other articles written by Steve Pratt.

To maximize performance, a golfer needs a driver that fits their swing, not just an expensive or flashy one. It needs to create the correct launch and spin to have a landing angle between 36 and 39 degrees. If golfers see their tee shots “climb” in the air, and their shots don’t roll much when they land on a firm fairway, they probably have a landing angle of more than 45 degrees. If they hit low line drives, they likely have a landing angle under 30.

There are infinite combination of launch angles and spin rates that will produce the correct landing angle for a golfer’s course conditions. For example, golfers who play in the desert might get more total yards out of drives with a lower landing angle, while golfers who play in softer conditions might get more distance from drives that carry farther. The ideal launch, spin and landing angle will also vary by a golfer’s club head speed and angle of attack.

Let me give an example of wildly different launch and spin numbers that will produce an optimal landing angle. Some golfers might launch their drives at 6 degrees with 3600 rpms of backspin with a landing angle of 38 degrees. They might get similar results by launching their drivers at 16 degrees with 2200 rpms of backspin. It is a delicate balance, but the distance golfers gain from finding the ideal launch, spin and landing angle will be well worth it. For the golfers who I have fitted, the average gain has been 33 yards.

Here are a couple of tips to help you find the right driver for your swing:

  • The loft stated on the bottom of the club can be misleading. Head design and shaft can change the actual spin loft of that driver by several degrees. Just because you’re a 9.5 in one brand doesn’t mean you will be in another brand — or next year’s model from the same brand.
  • Shaft choice can affect ball flight by affecting the overall spin loft of the club. This is why the “bend profile” and “tip stiffness” of a shaft can be so important. Knowing “cpms” may also come in handy, considering that a stiff shaft in one major brand can differ significantly from another.
  • A golfer’s angle of attack (AoA) will profoundly affect what driver will work best for them, so it is integral that they knows what their AoA is. Keep in mind that AoA does not affect spin rate. Trackman has discovered scientifically (and in practice) that hitting down by itself does not cause an increase in backspin.
  • User error will trump equipment changes by a large margin. Unless a golfer is a really good player (2 handicap or less), they will not see a meaningful differences in spin or ball flight by making small changes in shafts or heads. They’ve got to compare apples to apples, and the average golfer hits a lot of oranges. Even small mishits will result in gear effects that will easily overcome a minor change in equipment.

For example, I’ve seen golfers go from 4000 rpms of spin to 2000 in a half hour without changing gear. They merely worked to hit the ball more solidly and squarely. It would be very difficult to simply change gear and get this much change, and much more expensive too!

While technique plays the biggest role in the efficiency of ball flight, a poorly fit driver can cost golfers as much as 60 yards. If golfers can understand what optimal ball flight looks like and decode what the target audience of a particular driver head or shaft is, they will be on their way to adding free distance off the tee. Their best bet is get on a FlightScope or Trackman with an experienced fitter and learn what they can do to hit it farther.

Coming next: I will talk about a simple training routine that can steadily increase your club head speed so that you can realize your distance goals.

The Quest For 300: How To Bomb Your Driver (Part 1)

The Quest For 300: How To Bomb Your Driver (Part 2)

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Steve Pratt teaches full-time at Lindero Country Club in Southern California using Trackman technology. Steve teaches the Mike Austin method of swinging which, using Kinesiology, unlocks the maximum power and accuracy possible from the human body. Steve's clients include many professional long drivers who routinely hit the ball over 400 yards. You can find Steve on the web at www.hititlonger.com, and @hititlonger on Twitter.com.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Steve Pratt

    May 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    @tmk – For 115 mph I like 2000-2300 spin a lot more than 1500. Even at 14 degrees launch I doubt that the ball is hanging up long enough. Can you share what you’re hitting to get that low spin?

    You may have overshot the mark here a bit. The penalty would be not being able to carry bunkers or doglegs on command, which is two advantages a long hit can gain. Of course, the built in hazard of going from, say a 9.0 to a 7.5 is the slight extra curve on a face error.

    • tmk

      May 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks Steve. The club I was fitted for that brought my spin down that low is an Adams speedline super LS in an 8.5 degree loft. Loved it on the launch monitor as it was getting me about 15 extra yards. But your prediction was correct. I was able to demo before buying, and, on the course this weekend, in soft conditions, the Adams generally was not quite as long as my gamer (Ping Rapture V2 with Fuji Rombax 6w06, x flex). Now, I’m at a total loss. Maybe just stick with my current gamer.

  2. tmk

    May 16, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Great article Steve. Quick question — I have a 115 swing speed and recently was fitted to a very low spinning head (slightly lower loft as well). With just this change, my spin dropped from 3000 to 1500. LA is around 14 degrees. All this seems good as I know I’ll get more distance on solid hits. However, I’m sure there is going to be some downside as well. Will I have less control in general? Will mis-hits be penalized more severely? Thanks in advance.

  3. Steve Pratt

    May 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    Hey Andy!

    A full set of data makes it really easy to give feedback.

    You would ideally want to launch it higher and land it steeper. You could either add loft, keeping the same swing…or you could change the swing direction from -4.8 to +4.8 by swinging significantly more to the right. This will dramatically increase your AoA and launch automatically.

    Of course the kicker is that you will have to square the face to the new path and not leave it open. Overall it appears you are losing about 15-16 yards here.

    • Andy

      May 17, 2013 at 4:14 am

      I’m continually working on getting more from the inside, but this has always been a weak point. I come from a steep swing that was from the outside with a big cast. Now (years later) that’s gone, but when I haven’t played for a while I slip back into that weak cast a little from the outside. The data above shows this clearly.

      Having hardly played in Jan-April (terrible winter here in the UK) it’s as bad as it gets right now and will improve over the summer as I get into comps, training and much more practice.

      But I need to get the swing speed up a LOT if I’m going to get the ball further out there. Right now 98 is an average with my best peaking at 101 / 102.

      I will definitely up the loft on the driver during the winter / wet conditions. But in the summer I’m going to be enjoying watching that ball roll out. 🙂

  4. Andy

    May 15, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Hi again Steve. Still enjoying the articles and especially looking forward to part-4.

    Looking at the Trackman data from the fitting session at TaylorMade Wentworth recently… Landing angle averaged at 32.5 (lowest 31.7, highest 35). Averaging 231 carry + 30 roll.

    I have regular sessions with my PGA Pro and suspect that extra strength / fitness is the key to raising club speed and therefore distance. I doubt that there are any easy fixes.

    Below is my Trackman data for the R1 TP driver with Rul 60 shaft.

    Att Ang — -1.8
    Club Path — -3.1
    Face to Path — 2.1
    Club Speed — 98.7
    Ball Speed — 146
    Launch Angle — 11.2
    Spin — 2553
    Carry — 231.6
    Total — 261.7
    Land Angle — 32.5
    Smash — 1.48
    Spin Ax — 5.3
    Spin Loft — 15.1
    Face Ang — -0.9
    Dyn Loft — 13
    Swing Dir — -4.8

    • Andy

      May 15, 2013 at 5:37 am

      It’s also worth adding that this data was taken with range balls. Although they were 100% compression the fitter stated there would be a small performance loss (up to 5%) over a premium ball.

      Weather was around 9 degrees Celsius and fairly calm. It didn’t rain during the fitting, but had done so earlier. I’m guessing they set the TrackMan to “concrete” ground settings to make you look better – lol.

      The driver was set to 10deg loft, draw bias (10g in the heel -1 in toe), face alignment left as standard.

  5. G

    May 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    You’re not helping manufacturers sell more gear if you’re telling people they can improve their spin rate just by changing their swing in a half-hour session!

    • Andy

      May 15, 2013 at 4:26 am

      We all know that working on our swing is far more important than any equipment. But that fact will never stop us buying more equipment anyway 🙂

  6. Steve Pratt

    May 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    @Niles – Yes chances are pretty good that you can pick up 25 or 30+ yards. From your information I would guess that you have high clubhead speed and a fairly severe negative AoA on the driver (-5 or more). It also sounds like your driver probably fits your current swing pretty well…if the smaller devices can be trusted.

    It would take some adjustments to your swing, but you would probably end up hitting your 3 wood as far as your driver.

    Your first step could be to check out the Trackman locator on their site, or just google it.

  7. Niles

    May 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I am a +1 and have a low launch angle (6 degrees or so and create 3300 rpms or so) I’ve never been on a Trackman rather smaller devices at demo days and simulators. I am as long or longer than most people I play with in competitive state and USGA events. I am often told I should hit it further than I do. I am located in Iowa and would love an accurate driver fitting. What are options in central Iowa?? Thanks!

  8. Steve Pratt

    May 13, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Trackman has shown conclusively that AoA has virtually no effect on spin rate. This is because the spin loft stays the same, no matter what the AoA is. You only change dynamic loft and launch angle by hitting down.

    • Tony Wright

      May 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Thanks for the reply Steve. So you are saying, as an example – say I am using a 9 degree loft driver, if I hit a drive with a -3 degree AofA and then another with a +3 AofA that the spin rates of the two shots will be the same? Or am I missing something here. Thanks again.

  9. Tony Wright

    May 12, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    I am enjoying this series of articles thanks Steve. I do have a question. You say AofA does not affect spin rate. That has not been my experience. Can you elaborate with details on why you said that thank you.

  10. nick

    May 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    very beneficial info regarding multiple options to achieve landing angle.

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Golf 101: How to play golf (with Jake Hutt)

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Yes, you read that right. We’re talking about how to play golf. We at GolfWRX pride ourselves in not only supplying info to the golf junkies out there but to also help along the new golfers that just want to get started.

No, we won’t be discussing “tour issue” head weights or “shallowing” the club in transition. This is a BASIC look into how to play golf—how a new golfer would walk to the first tee, for the first time, and have some fun. If you dig deep that is the spirit to GolfWRX.com as a whole. Enjoying the game.

I’ve brought in some help on this one: A coach who I think has whittled down the basics to their core. Jake Hutt., look him up on IG, it’s “golf for dummies” for basically every type of player out there. Jake, like George Gankas and some others, has what I would call the “voice of the new generation.” It’s the fun, laidback, non-traditional style that my kids will be learning from in years to come. So why not introduce him to the WRX community now?

More bio: Class A PGA Professional Jake Hutt teaches out of The Stanford University Golf Course and currently lives in San Carlos, California. He can be found on Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, and YouTube under @Jakehuttgolf.

We are doing this breakdown of how to play golf in a very simple way. Yes, people will chime in about what we missed and explained incorrectly but hey, it wouldn’t be a real post without it.

We will do a checklist of the basics: Posture, grip, and an ABC of the motion for a full swing, chip, and a putt.

How to play golf

Posture

Stand straight up, put your arms on your legs, and tilt forward until your fingertips touch just above your knee caps. Let your arms hang straight down from your shoulders. This will feel similar to the posture when shooting a free throw in basketball.

Grip

How would you pick up a suitcase with your left hand? Now replace the suitcase with a golf club. That’s how your left hand goes on the club. To figure out where to put the right hand get in you golf posture and clap your hands together. Now without moving your left shoulder and letting your right arm bend move your hands so they’re just to the right of your right pant pocket. The left arm should be parallel to the ground. Now look at the position of your hand. The palm will either face the ground, the horizon, or the sky. Where the palm points here is where the palm should face when holding a golf club.

Swing

All a golf swing is is throwing the club around your body without letting go of it. If you hear it swoosh, it’s a swing. Once you learn to swoosh the club the next step is learning to hit the middle. To train this spray foot powder on the your clubface and observe where impact is after your attempt to hit the ball. If the ball mark shows up on the toe of the club try and hit the opposite part of the clubface (the heel) on the next shot—repeat the same process for the opposite miss (mark shows up on heel of club). Over time, you’ll need less exaggeration to hit the middle of the clubface. With enough training, this skill will become learned and will require no conscious thought.

Chipping

Stand with your feet close together, the ball off your trail foot, and the handle off the left leg. Lift the heel of the club slightly off the ground so the handle of the club is more vertical. Now make a longer, faster feeling putting stroke. The ball should pop in the air land on the green and roll. The less lofted the club the lower the ball will go and the more it will run. The more lofted the club the higher the ball will launch and less it will roll.

Putting

The most important part of putting is hitting the middle of the clubface. The faster you swing the putter the further the ball rolls. The slower you swing the putter the shorter the ball rolls.

how to play golf putting

How to play golf: Putting. Hitting the center of the putter face is the most most important thing.

The ball starts where the putter face is pointing whether it be straight right or left. To get a feel for speed imagine the effort it would take to roll a ball to the hole. Use that feel to create a putting stroke. Putting greens are not flat the ball will curve left or right. To help figure out which way a green rolls stand halfway between the ball and hole. Ask yourself which foot has more pressure on it. If you feel more pressure on your left foot the putt will break left and more pressure on the right foot means the putt will break right. If the putt breaks right the putter face should point left of the hole at impact. If the putt breaks left the putter face should point somewhere right of the hole at impact.

We’ll be back with more of this entry-level discussion of how to play golf. Let us know in the comments if there are any areas you’d like Jake to dive into!

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Clement: The best video for beginner golfers ever

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One of the deep expertise we have is knowing what side you need to be swinging from to enjoy your best golf. Sometimes it’s both sides like me! So many professionals on tour are including left-handed swings (for the right-handed player) in their warm-up routines and practice routines as a great way to create muscle confusion. Our fabulous kinesiologist, Munashe Masawi, confirms this through his studies and personal training for his grueling sport of football.

But there is always one side that fires better, feels smoother, and has the potential for a lot more than the other for many golfers. Which one are you?

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Clement: Important video on grip! (dare we say “historic!”)

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We so much love being historically correct! Back when I started teaching 35 years ago, when I looked at what the top 5 coaches were teaching, I knew I had to forge my own way. Not only did it not make sense anatomically, it did not make any sense neurologically either! Fast forward to today and we talk about ground forces and how to let the hips turn in the backswing and grip? WHOA, DID THEY MISS THE BOAT THERE!!

This video really takes the cake and REMOVES ALL QUESTIONS AND DOUBT ABOUT GRIP; where to hold it, grip pressure and IN OUR OPINION, THE FIRST TIME IT HAS BEEN REVEALED IN IT’S FULL ANATOMICAL FUNCTIONALITY.

This will end all debates about the “weak grip vs strong grip” argument!

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