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Are you a candidate for a driving iron?

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A few weeks ago I wrote an article comparing the performance of my 5 wood, hybrid and 3 iron on Trackman to better understand the pros and cons of each club.

It wasn’t that hard to guess that the 5 wood flew higher, carried farther and landed softer than the rest. What was very eye-opening to me was the lack of height my 3 iron produced. It flew much lower than the PGA Tour Average, and its lower flight is the sole reason why I no longer carry a 3 iron. It comes out too flat and runs when it hits the ground, and that’s not a good trajectory for hitting shots into a green. That’s also why my hybrid has been so valuable to me. Like my 5 wood, it flies higher and lands softer.

While I know that hitting long irons into the greens is not optimal, what about using one primarily off the tee? Also, what about golfers who play in windy conditions? Are they better off with a long iron?

Since this is British Open week, I thought it would be a good idea to examine these questions for my readers on GolfWRX.

The wind is known to be a factor in the UK and many other places like Texas and Oklahoma, so the high-flying shots I hit with a hybrid and 5 wood are probably not the best option if you play golf in those conditions. So if you cannot use your fairway woods and hybrids into the wind with success, what should you do?

The answer is to employ a “driving iron,” a club that is nothing new to most golfers. Their updated designs, however, have made these clubs super easy to hit unlike the driving irons of the past. If you keep up with new golf equipment releases like most GolfWRXers do, you’ll notice that several companies have released new driving irons and I think they can make a big difference in certain goflers’ games.

First, a little background. Driving irons are bulked-up players irons that are designed to hit the ball higher and farther than standard 1, 2 or 3 irons. Their trajectory will be lower than most similarly lofted fairway woods and hybrids, however, their lower launch angles and landing angles lead to a huge amount of roll. That’s perfect for windy conditions and fast, firm fairways.

The latest driving iron to be released is TaylorMade’s new UDI, which stands for “Ultimate Driving Iron,” and the company was kind enough to send me a 1 iron and 2 iron ahead of time so I could test them on Trackman and explain why a driving iron may or may not be a good fit for your game.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about TaylorMade’s UDI in our Official Testing Thread.

For this test, I will be using a UDI 1 iron that measures 16 degrees as well as a UDI 2 iron that measures 18 degrees. Both clubs are built to standard length (39.75 inches in the 1 iron, 39.25 inches in the 2 iron) and have Oban’s Kiyoshi Purple 100-gram hybrid shaft in stiff (04) flex.

The first 10 shots with each club were hit off a tee. I hit the next 10 shots with each club off the ground hitting “stingers,” low-trajectory shots that simulate the shots many pros will be hitting off the tee when necessary this week.

An important note: The roll data in the Trackman screenshots below is calculated using the average amount of roll on PGA Tour fairways that Trackman has gathered since 2003.

Here’s what the data says.

UDI 2 iron hit from a small tee

Driving Iron 1

  • The clubhead speeds were between 93.7 mph and 95.1 mph giving me carry distances that ranged from 225.4 to 239.9 yards.
  • The average height was 87 feet in the air with an average spin rate of 5151 rpm.
  • As you can see, the landing angles are still flat enough for some run out even at this height. The average 35.2-degree landing angle created an average roll of 22.8 yards.
  • What is nice to see is that the height is up, the spin is manageable and yet the landing angles are still pretty flat. That means we are not losing any distance when the ball is teed up

UDI 2 iron “stinger” from the ground

Driving Iron 2

  • The club head speed for the two different shots (full swing from a tee and stinger from the ground) is basically the same. I averaged 1.3 mph more club head speed hitting “stingers,” so that gave me a touch more ball speed on shots I hit solid.
  • The spin rate dropped from 5151 rpm to 4990 rpm on these stinger shots off the ground, which gave me a feeling of more compression (or a lower spin loft) due to the decreased dynamic loft.
  • The average dynamic loft for the “normal” shot was 16.7 degrees while the stinger was 12.1 degrees.
  • These balls almost carried the same distance, but when you chart the landing angle you can see that the stinger landed at 29.7 degrees. That’s 5.5 degrees less than shots of the tee, which gave me more roll.
  • If we take out shot No. 6, which was a mis-hit that spun too much, the average total distance increased to 257.8 yards. That shows that lower, more driving shots hit with less spin will tend to chase forward more with these clubs than stock shots.

UDI 1 iron hit from a small tee

Driving iron 4

  • The club head speed went up with the 1 iron due to its 0.5-inch length, but not by much. I averaged 96.5 mph compared to 94.5 mph and 95.8 mph with the 2 iron.
  • The spin rate dropped slightly to 4467 rpm with the 1 iron, but the height went up slightly to 90 feet.
  • The carry ranged from 228.4 yards to 253.5 yards. As you can see, there were a few “jumpers” that carried 250 yards, but that isn’t much farther than the 241-yard average.
  • The landing angles are once again around 35 degrees, which gives us a nice amount of roll out even with the higher trajectory.
  • As the swing speed increases and loft lowers, you will tend to see some added side-to-side dispersion. What’s nice is that none of these shots are off the planet. That’s a testament to the forgiveness built into these clubs.
  • In regard to the carry distances being a touch volatile at 25.1 yards, I did hit one funky shot at 228.4 yards. Taking that one out would give us a carry dispersion of only 18 yards. That’s not bad with a 1 iron.

TMAG UDI 1 iron “stinger” from the ground

Driving Iron 5

  • As we lower dynamic loft, the height of the shot will decrease. That requires a higher ball speed in order to carry the ball as far. The average dynamic loft on the stock 1-iron shot was 15.9 degrees, while the average dynamic loft of the 1 iron stinger was only 10.1 degrees with a relatively minor ball speed increase of 2.3 mph. That’s why the ball did not carry as far with the 1 iron stinger shot as it did with the stock shot.
  • When you drop the spin and lower the dynamic loft, you will tend to lose height (90 feet with the stock 1 iron shot, 55 feet with the 1 iron stinger), but you can make up for this in roll if the conditions are right through the lower landing angle. In this case, the 1 iron stinger’s average landing angle was 26.4 degrees, about 9-degrees lower than the stock 1 iron shot.
  • The roll out for the stock 1 iron shot was 24.3 yards, but the stinger gave me 36 yards of roll. So if you’re trying to avoid the wind and use firm fairways to chase the ball forward you have your club (a UDI 1 iron) and your shot type (a stinger).
  • I did hit one stinger that was a rocket. It carried 245.7 and gave me a total distance of 275.7, which says if you can catch these irons just right they will really, really GO!

Let’s summarize

Driving iron 7

  • You will see very little clubhead speed differences between the two clubs because they are not that much different in length.
  • The technology built into the driving irons of today — a little more offset, “Speed Pockets,” thin faces and low center of gravities, etc. — are a must to make these clubs much easier to hit than you’d think they would be. This is the reason that today’s driving irons are a great choice for the better player who plays in conditions that warrant such a club.
  • The UDI 2 iron was a comfortable 230 carry for me at altitude while the UDI 1 iron gave me 240 yards of carry. As you look into your own game, you must figure out where this club fits into your set. Sometimes a club that carries 230 yards and rolls to 250 yards is the ticket, while other times a club that carries 240 yards and rolls to 260 yards is better. Monitor your gaps to choose the right club.
  • I did hit a few shots with the UDI out of the rough, but if you don’t have at least an average lie you will see flatter than normal trajectories from these driving irons.
  • When hit from a “jumper” lie, these clubs are like magic. They go high and far with the feeling of more control just like an iron.
  • You must practice hitting the stinger shot with these clubs. If you do not have the ability to decrease your dynamic loft and hit a low runner, you are missing a key shot that these irons can add to your game.

Finally, and maybe most importantly for the readers looking to buy a driving iron, don’t let your ego become a part of your loft decision. Some golfers will get better numbers with a UDI 3 iron (20 degrees) than they will a UDI 1 iron or 2 iron and that’s great. Buy the club that will help your game the most, not what will look the coolest in your bag.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about TaylorMade’s UDI in our Official Testing Thread.

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Tom F. Stickney II, is a specialist in Biomechanics for Golf, Physiology, and 3d Motion Analysis. He has a degree in Exercise and Fitness and has been a Director of Instruction for almost 30 years at resorts and clubs such as- The Four Seasons Punta Mita, BIGHORN Golf Club, The Club at Cordillera, The Promontory Club, and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. His past and present instructional awards include the following: Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, Golf Digest Top 50 International Instructor, Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor, Best in State (Florida, Colorado, and California,) Top 20 Teachers Under 40, Best Young Teachers and many more. Tom is a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 25 people in the world. Tom is TPI Certified- Level 1, Golf Level 2, Level 2- Power, and Level 2- Fitness and believes that you cannot reach your maximum potential as a player with out some focus on your physiology. You can reach him at [email protected] and he welcomes any questions you may have.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Pingback: Best Driving Irons In 2020 (Updated Buyers Guide)

  2. Pingback: Top 10 Best Golf Driving Irons Reviews in 2021

  3. Lowell

    Jul 27, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    To me it all depends on how you attack the ball. Hybrids and long irons still require a bit of downward contact which will be different from say your 3 wood or 5 wood. I loved my udi 2 and 3 but realized that my 3 iron was just as good as the 3 udi and my Sldr hybrid allowed for me to lift up or down if needed which I often do depending on the length of the course I am playing. Now I rotate between carrying a hybrid at all to carrying an extra wedge. The udi driving irons are real easy to hit and with the lower center of gravity have an easier time getting the ball up higher. Just like anything else, it’s the individual players taste and I highly recommend testing out the driving irons or go to the bst and probably can grab one in the !70 dollar range. If you love hitting the longer irons of your bag then the driving irons are your preferred clubs. If you don’t carry more than a 5 iron. I suggest possibly trying a hybrid which offers a thicker sole or ultimately grabbing a 7 and 5 wood instead.

  4. Kieran O'Leary

    Jul 22, 2014 at 7:19 am

    A review versus a standard 2-iron would also be appreciated. I see McIlroy went with the prototype Nike driving iron, where Tiger stayed with his VRS 2-iron. It’d be interesting to see the distance/flight differences. I currently have an MP63 3-iron as well as a 3-iron bent to 18 degrees a half inch longer than my other 3. Never liked the look of the new Mizuno driving irons though, but would still like to see what, if anything i’m missing out on… And would i be better off investigating getting a proper one

  5. Bill

    Jul 21, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Always had trouble hitting hybrids, more so off the tee than the turf. Snap hooks and a ballooning ballflight. Went on a recommendation and purchased the Mizuno MP-H4 3 iron with a DG X100 soft stepped shaft. It is easily the my best performing club in the bag, and my favorite club in the bag. Most par 5s are reachable in two and with the confidence of hitting an iron rather than 3 wood. For anyone looking for a (mostly) forgiving driving iron option, give the MP-H4 a try. Very versatile club, and workable whether off the tee or off the turf.

  6. Tom

    Jul 21, 2014 at 11:38 am

    There are already a lot of driving irons on the market so if you want one you do not necessarily have to get TM’s new one. I had a Cleveland LDI 15 degree in my bag for the longest time to replace my 3 wood because not only could I hit it lower than the wood, I could also hit it higher if I wanted and I could control it much better. There are also many other driving irons by all the other manufactures.

    • tom stickney

      Jul 21, 2014 at 11:22 pm

      There are many others as stated early in the article; however, if you have not tried the new batch you might be missing the boat on mishits

  7. Matt

    Jul 20, 2014 at 2:12 am

    Not sure if I love “jumpers” off the face. Nothing a good player hates more than inconsistent distance control with a club meant to find fairways and/or lay up short of hazards.

    Catching a 275yd jumper is no good when you need 265 to stay short of a 270-275 yard hazard is no good.

    • tom stickney

      Jul 21, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      Agree, but for most this is never an issue…the udi didn’t jump too much in my opinion

  8. Rich

    Jul 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Nice article Tom, but again, someone calling it the British Open. People need to get this right. It’s The Open. Where have you ever see it written or called the British Open? It is the oldest major in golf and people can’t even get the name right. Sorry but c’mon.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jul 20, 2014 at 12:50 am

      Just semantics my man….

      • Rich

        Jul 20, 2014 at 4:00 am

        Really? So close enough is good enough. Typical.

        • Jeff

          Feb 7, 2015 at 8:33 pm

          wow Rich , good job sweating the small stuff in life.. Hope you got tissues close by..

  9. Ken

    Jul 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I hit my driver 290 and my 5 iron 200 but can’t hit my hybrid. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Really? Hitting tour distances with everything else just fine though. Well done.

    Wake me up when reality hits in!!

    • tom stickney

      Jul 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Ken…not quite following your post, sir.

      • Micah

        Jul 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        I think he was trying to reply to:
        Adam B.
        July 15, 2014 at 9:29 pm

  10. Gryphon14

    Jul 16, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks for the article, Tom. Time and manufacturer-permitting, it would be great to see test data and thoughts around the entire range of driving irons on the market. It’s certainly an area of the Equipment Universe that sees less coverage.

  11. Jake

    Jul 16, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Just received this from TM support: “The 2 and 1 UDI are going to be 18 and 16 degree lofts. They are going to have a higher trajectory than the Rocketbladez Tour irons. The UDI will be a longer 2 iron than the Rocketbladez Tour. It is built with driver DNA.

  12. Mike J

    Jul 16, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Great review. How would you compare the UDI to older, but still similar driving irons like the Airmuscle? I am currently gaming the 2+3 airmuscles, but do have some trouble hitting them consistently off the turf. I use them almost solely from the tee as I currently don’t play a driver due to bad inconsistency.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jul 16, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Thx! I have not tested other driving irons as of yet but hope to do so at some point.

  13. evan

    Jul 16, 2014 at 12:51 am

    I love these inflated distances as if they are real world data. Was this at the Grand Canyon?

    • Tom Stickney

      Jul 16, 2014 at 12:57 am

      NOT inflated at all sir. Please remember that I’m at 7500 feet here in park city not at sea level.

      • Charles

        Jul 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        Last year I played at Los Cerros Golf Club in Quito, Ecuador 9350 ft. Almost impossible to breath but very rewarding on driving the ball. More than 300 yds!!! At sea level I struggle to reach 250. I was imagining Jamie Sadlowski playing there.

  14. Adam B.

    Jul 15, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Tom,

    I having trouble figuring out where I would put one of these in my bag. My distances are as follows:

    Driver: 290
    3 wood (15)- 250
    Hybrid (20)- 230
    4 Iron- 212
    5 Iron- 200

    I struggle to hit my hybrid so I would like to add a driving iron. Do you have a recommendation as to what I could take out and what loft?

    • tom stickney

      Jul 16, 2014 at 12:40 am

      You might want to try the 18 degree udi 2 iron…you’d have a gap between your 4 and your 2 and you’d have to work around it…experiment

      • Adam B.

        Jul 16, 2014 at 1:08 am

        Would you take out the hybrid or 3 wood? I feel like I would hit the UDI 2 iron just as far as my 3 wood. Wouldn’t it be better to go with the UDI 1 and just take out my 3 wood?

        • CodenameDuchess

          Jul 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

          You said you struggled with the hybrid why would you remove your 3 wood? You need to find a club that flies 230ish so you can kick the troubling hybrid out of the bag.

          Check out the MP-H4 long irons. They make a 2 & 3 that are basically driving irons. Ping, Titleist & Callaway all make driving irons too. Find the one that you hit 225-230 and you’re gold.

  15. Pingback: Are you a candidate for a driving iron? | Spacetimeandi.com

  16. Jsjones

    Jul 15, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I find it difficult to use any hybrid for some reason. My ball striking isn’t bad with any other club except the hybrid. I tend to love these low lofted 3 irons as I carry a Speedblade as my DI now, with a flighted PX shaft. Do you think shaft selection (graphite vs steel) plays a role in this?

    • Tom Stickney

      Jul 15, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Could be. Not sure without seeing your motion. If suggest a fitting to be sure.

    • Gryphon14

      Jul 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      I have similar challenges. The current range of hybrids such as the RBZ Stage 2 Tour and similar items from the large manufacturers look like pseudo-woods. I’ve never had good luck with fairway metals, be they from Adams or Exotics. The hybrids aren’t helpful to me either and I think it’s largely about the “optics”. Something you may explore (if only because I found it helpful), is returning to more of a “true” hybrid. From a purely optics perspective, something like the Adams DHY Proto strike me as less bulky and more in keeping with the notion of a what a hybrid should be: something between an iron and a fairway metal. In contrast, most of what passes for a hybrid now appears to lean heavily toward actually being a fairway metal, albeit somewhat more compact, and has less resemblance to an iron with each passing product release.

  17. Dave

    Jul 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Just this morning I took a Callaway FT 2 iron to test it against my Callaway X-Hot pro 2 hybrid. Also as expected the 2 hybrid went higher, farther, and stopped faster than the 2 iron. I am apparently not a candidate for a driving iron.

    • Tom Stickney

      Jul 15, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Testing is always a good idea before you play.

  18. MHendon

    Jul 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    So Tom I’m looking at these and thinking they’re probably great of the Tee or a nice flat perfect lie in the fairway, but much like a regular long Iron not so good from the ruff or a sever down hill or side hill lie. Am I right, because I find it hard to believe anything can really out perform my Adams Idea pro A12 20 degree and Adams Idea pro Black 22 degree from less than perfect lies?

    • Tom Stickney

      Jul 15, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      They are better off the tee/fairway giving you more control over your trajectory but most people are better off with hybrids if they don’t play in super windy conditions.

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: Short game tempo

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One of my favorite things to do is observe golfers closely, watching how they go about things from well before the shot to the execution of the swing or stroke. Guess the golf course has become kind of like going to the lab, in a way.

One thing I notice much too often is how “quick” most golfers are around the greens. It starts with grabbing a club or two from the cart and quickly getting to their ball. Then a few short jabs at a practice swing and usually a less-than-stellar result at a recovery.

Why?

If you are going to spend a morning or afternoon on the course, why hurry around the greens? I tend to be a fast player and despise five-hour rounds, but don’t fault anyone for taking a few seconds extra to get “right” with their recovery shot. You can still play “ready golf” and not short yourself in the close attention to execution. But let me get back to the specific topic.

Maybe it’s aggravated by this rush, but most golfers I observe have a short game tempo that is too quick. Chips, pitches and recoveries are precision swings at less than full power, so they require a tempo that is slower than you might think to accommodate that precision. They are outside the “norm” of a golf swing, so give yourself several practice swings to get a feel for the tempo and power that needs to be applied to the shot at hand.

I also think this quick tempo is a result of the old adage “accelerate through the ball.” We’ve all had that pounded into our brains since we started playing, but my contention is that it is darn hard not to accelerate . . . it’s a natural order of the swing. But to mentally focus on that idea tends to produce a short, choppy swing, with no rhythm or precision. So, here’s a practice drill for you.

  1. Go to your practice range, the local ball field, schoolyard or anywhere you can safely hit golf balls 20-30 yards or less.
  2. Pick a target only 30-50 feet away and hit your normal pitch, observing the trajectory.
  3. Then try to hit each successive ball no further, but using a longer, more flowing, fluid swing motion than the one before. That means you’ll make the downswing slower and slower each time, as you are moving the club further and further back each time.

My bet is that somewhere in there you will find a swing length and tempo where that short pitch shot becomes much easier to hit, with better loft and spin, than your normal method.

The key to this is to move the club with the back and through rotation of your body core, not just your arms and hands. This allows you to control tempo and applied power with the big muscles, for more consistency.

Try this and share with all of us if it doesn’t open your eyes to a different way of short game success.

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The Wedge Guy: The core cause of bad shots

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You are cruising through a round of golf, hitting it pretty good and then you somehow just hit an absolutely terrible shot? This isn’t a problem unique to recreational golfers trying to break 80, 90, or 100 — even the best tour professionals occasionally hit a shot that is just amazingly horrible, given their advanced skill levels.

It happens to all of us — some more frequently than others — but I’m convinced the cause is the same. I call it “getting sloppy.”

So, what do I mean by that?

Well, there was a USGA advertising campaign a while back feature Arnold Palmer, with the slogan “Swing Your Swing.” There’s a lot of truth to that advice, as we all have a swing that has — either frequently or occasionally – produced outstanding golf shots. While there is no substitute for solid mechanics and technique, I’ve always believed that if you have ever hit a truly nice golf shot, then your swing has the capacity to repeat that result more frequently than you experience.

The big question is: “Why can’t I do that more often?”

And the answer is: Because you don’t approach every shot with the same care and caution that you exhibit when your best shots are executed.

To strike a golf ball perfectly, the moon and stars have to be aligned, regardless of what your swing looks like. Your set-up position must be right. Your posture and alignment have to be spot-on. Ball position has to be precisely perfect. To get those things correct takes focused attention to each detail. But the good news is that doing so only takes a few seconds of your time before each shot.

But I know from my own experience, the big “disrupter” is not having your mind right before you begin your swing. And that affects all of these pre-shot fundamentals as well as the physical execution of your swing.
Did you begin your pre-shot approach with a vivid picture of the shot you are trying to hit? Is your mind cleared from what might have happened on the last shot or the last hole? Are you free from the stress of this crazy game, where previous bad shots cause us to tighten up and not have our mind free and ready for the next shot? All those things affect your ability to get things right before you start your swing . . . and get in the way of “swinging your swing.”

So, now that I’ve outlined the problem, what’s the solution?

Let me offer you some ideas that you might incorporate into your own routine for every shot, so that you can get more positive results from whatever golf swing skills you might have.

Clear your mind. Whatever has happened in the round of golf to this point is history. Forget it. This next shot is all that matters. So, clear that history of prior shots and sharpen your focus to the shot at hand.

Be precise in your fundamentals. Set-up, posture, alignment and ball position are crucial to delivering your best swing. Pay special attention to all of these basics for EVERY shot you hit, from drives to putts.

Take Dead Aim. That was maybe the most repeated and sage advice from Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book”. And it may be the most valuable advice ever. Poor alignment and aim sets the stage for bad shots, as “your swing” cannot be executed if you are pointed incorrectly.

See it, feel it, trust it. Another piece of great advice from the book and movie, “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days In Utopia”, by Dr. David Cook. Your body has to have a clear picture of the shot you want to execute in order to produce the sequence of movements to do that.

Check your grip pressure and GO. The stress of golf too often causes us to grip the club too tightly. And that is a swing killer. Right before you begin your swing, focus your mind on your grip pressure to make sure it isn’t tighter than your normal pressure.

It’s highly advisable to make these five steps central to your pre-shot routine, but especially so if you get into a bad stretch of shots. You can change things when that happens, but it just takes a little work to get back to the basics.

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Stickney: To stack or not to stack at impact?

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As you look at the impact positions of the best players in the world, you will find many different “looks” with respect to their body and club positions. Some of these impact positions might even appear unique, but don’t be fooled. They all have one thing in common: preserving the players’ balance throughout the impact interval! In fact, if you are not in-balance, then you will lose power, consistency, and have trouble controlling your launch dynamics from shot to shot.

This balance is a necessary key to playing well and one area that can be easily understood with a few graphics shown on GEARS 3D. As you examine the photo in the featured image, you can see a few things:

  • The player on the left has “fallen” backwards through impact slightly moving his head out of the circle established at address
  • The player on the right is more stacked at impact — meaning that his chest, zipper and hands are all in the same place at the same time (within reason)
  • The player on the left has reached this same position in the swing with different segments of the body reaching the ball at different times
  • There will be a difference of impact shaft lean between the two players due to one player reaching impact “together” and the other shoving his hands more forward as he falls back
  • The player on the right is more “connected” through impact…won’t be the longest hitter but will be able to find the ball in the fairway more often
  • The player on the left is putting more pressure on the rear portion of the lower back which could have a potential for injury if he’s not careful

Now, obviously there are pro and cons to both positions. Overall, if you want to be consistent and in-balance more often that not, I would suggest you try your best to focus on being “stacked” when you hit the ball.

Let’s dive in a touch deeper to show you what happens physiologically on 3D when you fall back through impact and I think it will really drive the point home.

  • At address notice the Vertical Spine Number 96.2, this is showing us where the spine is positioned at address
  • You can see the head is in the center of the bubble

  • On the way to the top of the swing you can see that the spine has moved “away” from the target laterally a slight bit to 98 degrees
  • The head has dropped downward and has also moved laterally as well- more lean over the right leg to the top

Now here is where the problem comes in…as you work your way to the top, it’s ok of your head moves a touch laterally but in transition if it stays “back” while your hips run out from under you then you will begin to fall backwards on the way to your belt-high delivery position.

  • We can see at the delivery position that the spine has continued to fall backwards as the hips rotate out from under the upperbody
  • When this happens the hands will begin to push forward- dragging the handle into the impact zone
  • Whenever you have too much spin out and fall back the hands move forward to accommodate this motion and this reduces your Angle of Attack and decreases your dynamic loft at impact
  • This will cause balls to be hit on the decent of the club’s arc and reduce loft making shots come out lower than normal with a higher spin rate and that means shorter drives

Now let’s examine impact…

  • The player on the left has reached impact in a more disconnected fashion versus the player on the right as you compare the two
  • The player on the right has a shaft lean at impact that is less than a degree (.75) while the player on the left has a much more noticeable forward lean of the shaft thereby reducing dynamic loft at impact

  • The player on the left’s spine has moved from 96.2 to 112.9, a difference of 16.7 degrees while the player on the right has only moved back a few degrees. We know this because his head has stayed in the bubble we charted at address
  • The hips have run out from under the player on the left in the downswing and this causes the head to fall back more, the hands to push forward more, and the impact alignments of the club to be too much down with very little dynamic loft (as also shown in the photo below)

Whenever the hips turn out from under the upper body then you will tend to have a “falling back effect of the spine and a pushing forward of the hands” through impact.  Notice how the hips are radically more open on the player on the right versus the left- 27.91 versus 42.42 degrees.

So, now that we can see what happens when the hips spin out, you fall back, and you fail to be “stacked” at impact let’s show you a simple way you can do this at home to alleviate this issue.

  

  • A great drill to focus on being more stacked at impact is to make slow motion swings with the feeling that the upper portion of your arms stay glued to your chest
  • These shots will be full swings but only 20% of your total power because the goal here is connection which allows everything to reach impact together and in-balance
  • The second thought as you make these swings is to pay attention to your head, if you can focus on allowing it to stay “over the top of the ball” at impact you will find that it will stay put a touch more so than normal. Now this is not exactly how it works but it’s a good feeling nonetheless
  • Once you get the feeling at 20% speed work your way up to 50% speed and repeat the process. If you can do it here then you are ready to move up to full swings at top speed

Finally, don’t forget that every golfer’s hips will be open at impact and everyone’s head will fall back a touch — this is fine. Just don’t over-do it! Fix this and enjoy finding the ball in the fairway more often than not.

Questions or comments? [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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