For golfers who have a chronic fade/slice or draw/hook misdirection tendency, the specification of the face angle of the driver, woods and hybrids is the most effective accuracy improvement factor in fitting.
The face angle can also be a remedial fitting specification for golfers who repeatedly pull or push the ball too, although a key reason for a pull or push tendency is an incorrect fit of the total weight and or swingweight to the golfer. Being fit for the proper length is also very important to accuracy improvement with the driver/woods/hybrids, but when it comes to an immediate reduction in a fade/slice, draw/hook misdirection tendency, face angle is No. 1.
As an aside before continuing the face angle fitting discussion, it is common for good golfers and players who hit the ball straight to criticize fitting golfers with a remedial face angle as being a “band aid,” as if the incorporation of a more open or closed face angle in the fitting is a bad thing to do for the golfer. No question, in a perfect world, all golfers who slice or hook the ball would take lessons, adapt to the swing change, and become straight hitters of the ball to then use a square face angle.
Sorry, but that’s not the way it is for a huge percentage of golfers. Some years back, Golf Digest published a cover story in which they stated that more than 70 percent of all golfers sliced the ball to some degree. It is a fact that learning the swing characteristics to hit the ball consistently straight is an athletic move that a whole lot of golfers simply do not have the ability to do. For them to continue to enjoy the game as much as possible, having a properly fit face angle in their driver and woods is critical.
In addition, TrackMan research has proven that face angle is responsible for 80-to-85 percent of the starting direction of a shot. This too supports the decision to make fitting the face angle a very important part of fitting for improving shot accuracy with not just the driver, but the fairway woods and hybrids as well.
But let’s get back to the topic of how face angle is properly fit to the golfer. In the fitting process, the clubfitter has to evaluate the following points.
Knowing the face angle of the golfer’s current driver/woods/hybrids and knowing the average misdirection amount with the current clubs is KEY to determining the golfer’s best face angle specs. You can’t determine the best face angle without knowing the current face angle on the golfer’s driver/woods that is contributing with the swing tendencies to create the golfer’s misdirection tendency.
Based on a driver carry distance of 200 yards, a 1-degree change in the face angle from the golfer’s current face angle will reduce the misdirection tendency on average by 4 to 5 yards. Based on a driver carry distance of 250 yards, a 1-degree change in the face angle from the golfer’s current face angle will reduce the misdirection tendency on average by 6 to 7 yards. This fact is the club fitter’s primary guideline for determining the best face angle for the golfer.
For example, let’s say over the course of 10 shots with the driver, the golfer displays a 15-to-35 yard range in his slice, with most of them being in the area of a 20-yard slice. With this, let’s say the golfer has a clubhead speed that carries the ball on average 200 yards with the driver. And finally, after measuring the face angle of the golfer’s current driver to be square, the clubfitter now knows he should start the golfer’s test club work with a driver with a 3-degree hook face angle to begin to see how this change will affect his average slice tendency.
Keep in mind, the goal of face angle fitting is NOT to enable the golfer to hit the ball straight. The goal is to REDUCE the misdirection tendency so the golfer can keep the ball much more in play than before. Good clubfitters also know that because driver length has a very strong effect on accuracy, a balance between a shorter driver length with a face angle change that may not be as extreme as indicated by the golfer’s amount of misdirection shot tendency is often the way to reduce a slice or hook.
With these points in mind, it becomes easy for the good clubfitter to identify what new face angle will bring about a visible improvement in accuracy for the golfer with the driver, woods and hybrids to reduce the misdirection tendency and keep the ball much more in play.
If the golfer needs a specific face angle for accuracy improvement, he should never consider playing with an adjustable hosel driver. All adjustable hosel drivers require the golfer to hold the face square to the target line to achieve the loft change from the adjustable hosel sleeve. While it is possible to adjust the hosel sleeve and then SOLE the driver to achieve a face angle change, when doing this it is just not possible to also end up with each golfer’s best fit driver loft at the same time, concurrent with the proper face angle.
- What length should your clubs be?
- What lofts should your clubs be?
- Face angle is crucial for a proper fitting
- The best way to fit lie angle
- How to choose the right club head design
- Tom Wishon’s keys to set makeup
- Getting the right size grip, time after time
- What shaft weight should you play?
- What swing weight should your clubs be?
- What shaft flex should I use?
This story is part of a 10-part series from Tom Wishon on professional club fitting.
Club Junkie: Wilson Staff wedge and Bushnell Wingman review
It’s a short one this week, but I’m reviewing the new-er Wilson Staff Model wedge and the Bushnell Wingman GPS and speaker. The Staff Model is a solid forged wedge that offers good feel, spin, and turf interaction for a slightly lower price. The Bushnell Wingman is a golf GPS and a bluetooth speaker in one. It has a TON of golf stuff built into it, but can also be used off the course to listen to your favorite tracks!
The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better putter
I began my golf industry career in the putter category as an ad agency account executive. The first new account I landed was Ray Cook putters, which in the 1960s and 1970s had experienced much success and earned quite a following in the pro ranks with the likes of Billy Casper, Bruce Crampton, Dave Stockton, Nancy Lopez, and many others.
Being naturally curious and “techy”, I was always drawn to the back end of the operation, figuring the more I knew about how and why putters worked, the better marketer I would become.
As I became more and more interested and knowledgeable about how putters worked, I also became somewhat obsessed by the study of the great practitioners of the “art” of putting. I read every book on putting I could find dating back to the early 1900s, and made a study of the techniques employed by the best putters on tour … but also those in the ranks of the recreational golfers I have observed. And I can tell you that some of the best putters I have seen come from both groups.
I should admit my father and brother were both excellent putters of the ball, but my own passion was for the ball-striking and shot-making side of the game. To be honest, I didn’t really like putting, much preferring to bang thousands of balls from my shag bag into the ninth fairway of that little 9-hole golf course that was my world growing up.
So, it shouldn’t surprise you that my putting was always the weakest part of my game–neglect will do that, right? I have struggled with the yips and sub-standard putting most of my golf life, which is rather strange, considering I have designed over a hundred putters and penned a full-length manuscript called “The Natural Approach to Better Putting”. I have never pursued publishing it, but should probably do so, as a recent return to that manuscript has proven very helpful to me.
You see, I have set a goal for myself to shoot my age this year at 69. [I saw a quote the other day that went, “it’s funny being the same age as ‘old people”, and I can totally relate.] To achieve that goal, I am simply going to have to become a better putter of the ball, so I have made that a mission. And it started by returning to my manuscript and buying a simple putting mat to facilitate daily work on my technique and stroke mechanics.
I began my putting overhaul at home by simply paying close attention to my own technique as I stroked putts “my way”. What I learned was that my grip was too tight and not fundamentally sound. That causes my right (master) hand being overactive, which in turn tends to make my stroke much too quick and right-hand dominated (borderline yippy). I also noticed that my shoulders tended to be open to the target line, so those poor fundamentals lead to these errors:
- A poor grip prevents the putter from traveling on a simple, natural arc back and through.
- The grip being too tight causes a quick, jerky stroke, which leads to “the yips”.
- Open (or closed) shoulders cannot pivot parallel to the target line – only across the line. So, that explains an overwhelming dominance of misses to the left.
With these fundamental flaws identified, the fix was rather academic. I’ve always compared a round of golf to painting the inside of the house, in that the closer you get to finishing, the slower and more careful you work.
The last step in painting is the trim, and a painter uses a smaller more precise brush and works very slowly and with great precision. Kind of like wedge play and putting …
In addition to the house painter, think of surgeons, computer technicians, fine artists…any activity that requires feel and precision demands a light touch on the tools and a careful and s-l-o-w action. Putting is no different.
So, now I’m working on repetition. Stroking 5-10 putts at a time throughout each day and evening, with acute focus on shoulder alignment, hand position and grip pressure, and making a very slow and rhythmic back-and-through “stroke”, not a “hit” of the ball. And my progress is coming very quickly.
I know I can’t fix everyone’s putting with this one article, but if you are not putting as well as you think you should, my bet is that one or more of these three basic fundamentals is the foundation of your problems–grip/grip pressure, shoulder alignment and pace of the stroke. And the good news is that they can all be fixed rather quickly with only a bit of practice, which you can do at home with a $50 putting mat if you don’t have putter-friendly carpet.
I’m working on grooving my putting technique at home, so that on the course all I have to think about is making the putt. Every great putter I’ve known, observed, or talked with said the same thing—all you should be thinking about is your target line and speed. Your technique has to be second-nature and sound.
And you can perfect that at home.
Ways to Win: Match Play Madness – Bracket busting Horschel
March Madness is in full swing and was on full display at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club. If your bracket had just a single top 20 seed making the weekend and the final 16, then you are either lying or have the 2021 Sports Almanac.
Normally, Ways to Win would focus on strokes gained and how the winners separated themselves from the pack, but match play is different. Match play does not necessarily highlight the player who plays the best over the course of a week, but it is certainly an entertaining way to crown a champion. The Dell Technologies Match Play is unique in that 64 players start the week in pods of three players. The pods battle in one-on-one match play from Wednesday to Friday to determine a single champion per pod. Those 16 champions then make a bracket that battles it out in a single-elimination battle to the finish in match play format.
PGA Tour players are all great, and, on any given day, can go extremely low. The challenge of a traditional stroke play tournament is that the players aren’t typically allowed to have an off day. One poor scoring day can eliminate their chance of winning, as every shot counts. Match play is a little different. Not every shot counts. If you lose a hole by one or by 10, it’s still just a single hole. One down. This typically allows players to play more aggressively, but also it allows players that aren’t on their “A games” to get a lucky match up and still advance. This was particularly apparent in the pod pairings.
A fun exercise is to look at the best score that lost a match as well as the worst score that won a match over the first three days.
Worst Score to Win or Tie a Match
The worst score to not lose a match was +3 and happened in round 2. It was shot by two different players. Will Zalatoris tied Tony Finau shooting three-over and Scottie Scheffler tied Andy Sullivan by also shooting +3. Tony Finau and Sullivan and lower rounds in stroke play, but in match play, it doesn’t matter. The score of +3 was only good enough to beat two players in the entire field that day, but it was good enough for a tie for those two players. Obviously, that tie was particularly valuable for Scheffler who was able to advance from the pods making it all the way to the final.
In match play, how your competitor plays is just as important as how you play. The worst score to actually win a match for the week was +1. Matt Kuchar, JT Poston, Xander Shauffele, and Bubba Watson all won a match with an over-par score. For perspective, of the 192 rounds played in pods, only 36 total rounds were over par. To win a round while shooting over par is extremely lucky. Getting the right match on the right day matters and was a big part of why Kuchar and Watson were able to advance to the weekend.
Best Score to Lose or Tie a Match
Imagine shooting 8 under and losing a match. Brian Harman was -8 on the 17 holes he finished against Patrick Cantlay and lost the match on the final hole. His 8-under would have been enough to beat every other player (except maybe Garcia) on that first day. However, he played Cantlay and lost. Luckily, Harman was still able to play well on the other days and advance to the bracket play, but his opening match results had to be frustrating. Talk about running into a buzzsaw.
There were many matches where -5 was not enough to win the match. Brutal.
Best Score to Lose a Pod
Now, the pod play included three matches, so a player might run into a buzzsaw on a given day, but you still had two other matches and opportunities to advance. However, in some cases, the whole pod might have played well and cost someone an opportunity at bracket play.
The award for “best golf to not advance” goes to Cantlay. He was -14 on the holes he played and got clipped by the play of Harman. That pod shot -53 in total and was the best overall pod by 13 strokes! Cantlay drew the short straw this week. He would have handily won any of the other 15 pods.
Worst Score to Win a Pod
For every loser, there has to be a winner. So, who played the worst golf and still advanced to the weekend? That award goes to Erik van Rooyen and Tommy Fleetwood, who managed to win their pods at just two under par. I hope Patrick Cantlay doesn’t see this!
Honorable mention goes to our two finalists, Scheffler, who won his pod at -3; and Horschel, who won his pod at -5. It’s difficult to argue that our winners played the best golf. It seems more that they drew the best grouping on their path to the championship. Who needs strokes gained?!
In fact, the final match only offered a single birdie and it was a 40-foot chip-in from Horschel. It was not exactly fireworks on the difficult Texas spring day.
Got your own match coming up? V1 Game can help you prepare and improve with its advanced analytics and Strokes Gained stats so you aren’t reliant on an off day to advance. Try the new Friends Mode and you can even play side by side with your buddy to get a full statistical breakdown of each other’s rounds.
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