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How I hit drives 56 yards farther with one adjustment



This story was selected as one of the 15 best GolfWRX stories of 2015!

Did you know that the average golfer is losing a ton of distance, simply by not optimizing ball launch physics? Most golfers launch the ball either too low, with too much spin, or a combination of both — sapping their game of distance.

I teach at one of the biggest and best facilities in Europe, and am lucky to use Trackman. The average angle of attack I see with players hitting a driver is 5 degrees down on the ball.

What is angle of attack?

Angle of attack (AOA) relates to whether your club is coming down, level or up into the ball through impact. Combine this with the loft of the club, and it affects both our launch angle and our spin rate.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 3.31.26 PM

Image from “The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers”

The above picture shows what we call a positive angle of attack, where the club is moving upward toward the ball. I used TrackMan to to test different AOA’s and their effect on the distance the ball went. The results were startling.

Negative AOA

Using a typical swing of an amateur, I hit 10 shots with a 5-degree downward blow.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 3.31.42 PM

Click to enlarge the image.

The Red circle shows the AOA at -5.2 degrees. The blue circle shows the carry distance at 216.5 yards. Total distance was 257.7 yards.

Positive AOA

Next, I made a change in my set-up position and a small thought change (I will explain at the end of the article). This allowed me to make a 5-degree positive AOA, where the club is coming upwards into the ball through impact. Here are the results:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 3.31.59 PM

Click to enlarge the image.

In this picture, we see the AOA in the red circle (5.8 degrees upwards) and the carry distance jump to 262.4 yards. This happened despite slightly less swing speed. With this AOA, the launch angle basically doubled, and the spin rate dropped a little. Total distance was 288.6 yards – not bad for little a swing speed just barely more than 100 mph.

Extreme AOA

Next, I tried 10 shots with as much positive AOA as possible. I teed the ball as high as I could, and visualized the club moving upwards though impact. This AOA would be impossible for a lot of golfers to do because the body positions required to do it require a lot of flexibility and mobility. But, just for fun, here are the results:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 3.32.22 PM

Click to enlarge the image.

Here we see an insane AOA of 8.1 degrees up on the ball – this is in the long-drive competitor range. I even threw an 11.4 degree AOA for my last one.

Again, we see the spin rate drop slightly, and the launch angle shoot up past 16 degrees. This results in a massive 272.4 yards of carry distance – a 55.6 yard improvement, and an average of 295.5 yards total.

There are even a few shots more than 300 yards thrown in — with a swing speed of little over 100 mph, which is certainly attainable to a lot of golfers.

Keen eyes

Some of you may have noticed that the positive AOA also resulted in a better smash factor and slightly higher ball speed. However, when the results are adjusted for ball speed, the higher AOA still comes out tops.

How I did it

Mainly, the improvements in distance stemmed from an understanding of how I wanted the club to hit the ball, followed by a deep visualization of impact. If you can see what you want the club to do, you will be more likely able to do it.

However, for those of you who want more of a “how-to,” here are some things you can try:

  • Tilt your spine away from the target a bit more, so that your head is more behind the ball.
  • Your left shoulder should be much higher than your right shoulder at address.
  • Feel as if you swing a little more in-to-out. Even close your shoulders slightly at address. This will put the low point of your swing farther behind the ball, resulting in an upward AOA. Because of complex geometry (it’s called the D-Plane), your club will path will still be quite square, even though you feel like you are swinging the club head out to the right.
  • Feel as if your hands move upward through impact. Ideally, this is done by allowing your left shoulder to rise through impact, although some great ball strikers such as long-driver Jamie Sadlowski do it by allowing the left arm to bend slightly through impact.
  • Look at the underside of the ball as you impact it. This will keep your head back.

It is worth noting that as your AOA becomes more positive you will have to have a corresponding increase in tee height. That’s why long-drive champions tee it so high.

Word of Caution

A positive AOA is needed to maximize distance, but it is not the be-all, end-all of distance. There are more things to consider. I personally settle on around a +3 AOA, as this gives me a nice blend of distance and control. Ease into a more positive AOA and test to see if it is right for you. You don’t want to ruin your game at the expense of a few yards.

However, on that note, I actually hit the ball straighter and more consistently with a +3 AOA than I do with a -5 AOA.

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Adam is a golf coach and author of the bestselling book, "The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers." He currently teaches at Twin Lakes in Santa Barbara, California. Adam has spent many years researching motor learning theory, technique, psychology and skill acquisition. He aims to combine this knowledge he has acquired in order to improve the way golf is learned and potential is achieved. Adam's website is Visit his website for more information on how to take your game to the next level with the latest research.



  1. Dave

    Aug 2, 2022 at 11:22 pm

    I have not read this article much more than the title. Almost no one can change their swing using any of this advice. We are amateurs and trying to make our golf shots technical will never work! Focus on pre shot thoughts and not trying to change too much. The core of your body controls your swing. Do not let your arms do that for you. It might mean that you have to reduce your swing speed but making sure you hit the sweet spot is the only thing that matters.

  2. ParHunter

    Apr 24, 2015 at 11:09 am

    The book ‘The Practice manual – The Ultimate Guide for Golfers’ listed in Adam Young’s ‘CV’ got me interested as I always felt that my practice goes to waste and I am not really improving. I am only half way through the book but I’ve already found out why I am not improving (too much internal focus). Can’t wait to read the rest and apply some of that stuff to my practice.

    Would definitely recommend the book!

  3. bigdriver

    Apr 16, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    It would be very interesting if you adjusted you driver so kept a consistent launch angle, but altered your angle of attack. Since you are altering both variables, these numbers are not true. You may as well just say launching it at 14 degrees will give you 50+yards instead of launching it at 7 as you did with the -5 AOA. It would be a great updated article if you only tweaked the 1 AOA variable.

    • Adam Young

      Apr 21, 2015 at 1:27 am

      It’s a valid point Bigdriver.

      But we are looking at maxing out distance here. I agree that for the majority of folk, increasing driver loft will do a good enough job – but it also increases spin loft, hence lowering smash factor and increasing spin rate.

      There are two option. This one gives more distance

      • bigdriver

        Apr 28, 2015 at 3:58 pm

        I think everyone would agree optimizing your angle of attack improves the distance you will carry the ball with a driver. The same is true for your launch angle. The big question is how much farther do you carry the ball when your AOA is optimized vs a poor AOA w/ a higher lofted spinnier driver….launching at the same angle.

  4. dave boyd

    Apr 8, 2015 at 8:41 am

    this is a great article and the actual essence of the article is essentially numbers do not lie.
    Here are the numbers glean what you can, period…maybe the author should have simply put the charts up and said nothing.
    In any event I have sort of been down this road before but as time went by I lost this approach and was actually I am sure hitting down with my driver. Been out a couple of times since i read this and my driving seems to have improved although no extra 56 yards, maybe close to 15 or so. Fairways here are very soft so as they harden might see better results.
    A few times I have actually hit the very top of the ball and results in a very weird bouncing 75 yard drive. I guess that is from too much left shoulder height and or too far from the ball.

  5. Mad-Mex

    Mar 30, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Very nice article, in my humble opinion, it would be even better if backed by actual on course/driving range measurements. Not bashing you, just that am old school and rather see measurements vs digital estimates.

  6. Mike B.

    Mar 26, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Whenever I tee the ball higher I pop it up. How do you cure that?

    • Adam young

      Mar 27, 2015 at 12:24 am

      Popping balls is a sign you are hitting down too much. Anything which gets the lowest point of your swing farther behind the ball will result in a more upward hit, and a lower strike on the face (all other things being equal).

      So keep that head behind the ball

      • Mike B.

        Apr 7, 2015 at 9:43 pm

        I finally tried this tip today, and immediately started bombing most of my drives long and down the middle! I teed the ball off my left toe instead of my heel like I usually do, and wow it really helped. It even helped me hit my drives a lot straighter. I got a much higher ball flight, which I sorely needed. Thanks!

        • Adam Young

          Apr 21, 2015 at 1:31 am

          Hi Mike.

          As always, advice needs context and is not for everyone – but I am glad it really helped your game. Hopefully that will continue for you

  7. Al

    Mar 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    [Did you know that the average golfer is losing a ton of distance, simply by not optimizing ball launch physics?]

    No, I only read and heard it ~100 times this week, so far. Same with the premise I have to get my clubs fitted even though I can’t produce the ~same swing twice in a row, and I have to replace my grips every 40 rounds even though they’re still fine.

    • Justin

      Apr 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      We do get a LOT of information. I tend to give a lot, as well. As individuals, we need to realize not everything applies to everyone. What works for me may not work for you… but if you ever need it, it’s there. We just have to have our filters working, I suppose.

  8. Ron

    Mar 25, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    This tip is money……… far. I dont wanna get too excited but after two range sessions I “seem” to be hitting the ball further. One thing I know for sure is that Im hitting it out of the middle more and higher up the club face. Playing a round on Friday, the’ll be the true test. Thanks for the tip!

  9. Mitch

    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I agree with the numbers, I ain’t that good of a ball striker but I can get over 1.5 with my driver with relative ease. that said, I have read many sites and watched videos where you should intentionally hit the ball slightly high and towards the toe of the driver, albeit ever driver’s sweet spot could be slight different, but would you recommend this method of missing the sweet spot?

    • Adam young

      Mar 26, 2015 at 3:34 am

      If hitting slightly out of the toe produces higher ball speeds, it might be a viable option. The sweet spot is actually located more toe-side when your face is closed to the path (a complicated topic which I may do a post on one day), so it might not be a bad option.

  10. Mike Weill

    Mar 25, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I recently purchased a Callaway Razr Xtreme 11.5 deg driver, which has a low center of gravity. I previously had a Taylormade R9 then R11 9.5 degrees that I barely hit more than head high. The Callaway launches the ball high enough to get over an average Palm tree. I averaged 200 yds with the Taylormade’s and 220 yds with the Callaway. I am 70.
    I have to believe the author’s article is valid.
    (Last year at a Titleist ball fitting I averaged 85 mph head speed measured on Trackman.)

  11. dcorun

    Mar 25, 2015 at 10:39 am

    What about the 85-90 ss players because I’m 62 and will never see a swing speed of 100 again. Will changing the AoA to + help me/them gain distance also?

    • NH Golfer

      Mar 25, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      I am fortunate enough to own a Trackman even though I am neither an instructor nor a professional. Just a guy obsessed with golf. I have shared my Trackman with about 50 golfers. Almost all of them have hit down on the ball with their driver instead of up. If you have a PGA swing speed of 110-125 MPH, you can “get away with it”. For the rest of us, just look to the LPGA averages. They swing an average of about 95 MPH and hit UP on the ball about 5 degrees.

      You can get a MAX smash factor of 1.52 with a driver and a nice hybrid or fairway wood. More common with the driver.

      My research has shown that if you have a draw swing you can get a max of about 250 yards total (in normal conditions) with a 90 MPH swing. An 85 MPH swing with the proper contact and mechanics (hit up on the ball, etc.) will get you total roll out of about 235-238. Hope that helps.

      • Marc

        Mar 25, 2015 at 1:48 pm

        You can’t get a smash factor of 1.52. If Trackman spit that number out, it’s most likely a result in a mis-read either of the calculations for smash (clubspeed/ballspeed). Good info on smash here:

        That being said, a positive AoA is necessary to optimize launch conditions.

        • NH Golfer

          Mar 25, 2015 at 2:33 pm

          Appreciate the reply, but highly doubt Trackman would stake their reputation on providing false numbers. They have nothing to gain by showing numbers that are not achievable. They don’t sell clubs or balls. They don’t give away their Doppler Radar launch monitors to the pros that play on the PGA tour. The pro’s pay $25k for them like the rest of us. Trackman has only one goal. Provide the most accurate information necessary. Not sure why the two numbers don’t add up but those are my thoughts.

          • Regis

            Mar 25, 2015 at 10:21 pm

            Not to stick my neck in but a smash factor of over 1.50 is very difficult to achieve. As to Trackman -no question their product is one of the tops in the business. But it is well known that they need to be properly calibrated and like any electronic device they can give false readings. In fact more than one vendor has been accused of juicing his device so as to provide customers with inflated stats.

            • Adam young

              Mar 26, 2015 at 7:47 am

              Trackman measures the overall COM of the clubhead.

              The toe can be moving a different speed to the heel. Hence, trackman may measure a higher smash factor because smash is clubhead speed/ball speed.

              There is nothing fishy or incorrect about the stats, you just need to know how trackman calculates these things. But, even when adjusted for smash and ball speed, the higher AOA comes out more effective in terms of yardage/mph ball speed

  12. sgniwder99

    Mar 24, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Are you using an SLDR or similar type driver designed for super low spin? Because that negative angle of attack with spin numbers in the low 2000s is really surprising to me. Even though drivers don’t have grooves on the sweet spot, it seems like pounding down on the ball like that would produce more spin, even with a clean strike. I’m certainly no expert on that, but I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts.

    • Adam young

      Mar 25, 2015 at 3:47 am

      I wasn’t using a sldr. He new clubs will definitely help, as they increase launch and lower spin through increasing vertical gearing. Those clubs will help people get the desired launch conditions without need for a swing change.

      However, witht he cog further forward, horizontal gearing is also increased. So it’s just trade offs

  13. other paul

    Mar 24, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Going to need to get my aoa checked now. I launch around 10* with 155 ballspeed (swinging around 105). I carry 265-275 and roll into the 290s. Longest drive on a GC2 is 299.1. Gotta find 1 more yard.

    • Nocklaus

      Feb 11, 2016 at 12:15 am

      I too swing around 105, but I have never carried over 250 at any launch angle. But of course, that’s on the course, not with Trackman…

  14. marcus

    Mar 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Sounds just like the grocery store Golf Magazine cover articles. MyGolfSpy will replace WRX in 3…2…1

  15. Pingback: This Posting Should Be “Trackman Proves MCS” | WAX Golf

  16. Golfraven

    Mar 24, 2015 at 9:16 am

    mean bold not bikd

  17. Golfraven

    Mar 24, 2015 at 9:15 am

    50 yards longer is quite a bikd statement but you backed it up with good stats and also with good advise. I will take it to the range next time and try different setups and swing thoughts. Cheers

  18. Adam Young

    Mar 24, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Joe Golfer –
    Cheers for the comments – I will try to answer your questions.

    I didn’t use a simulator, but we tracked real balls using Trackman. As you know, this is top of the line radar technology that the top professionals use. Their calculations for roll are based on their endless testing and actual recording of data and results. I am not sure why I get less roll, but it will likely be something to do with the Landing angle.

    Smash factor – Trackman regularly reports higher smash factors than 1.5 for many reasons. It tracks the overall COG of the club, and the point of the face where the ball is contacted may be moving quicker that the whole COM. However, I ahve also adjusted for smash factor, and the positive AOA still trumps the negative for efficiency of distance/mph ball speed.

    Oh, and btw, I do hit every shot perfect 🙂 kind of in jest there, but I can regularly clock up 20 shots in a row with a smash factor of 1.5 or more.I would create a video, but that would be showing off. I have a trackman combine test score of 88.6, which is up there with Poulter and Rose and Jb Holmes, so I’m not a bad player.

    Trackman have also created a chart showing the maximum possible distances with certain swing speeds. I think 100mph topped out at just over 300 yards total, so this article just shows me reaching that potential. All of those were based on their physics calculations.

    Hope this answers any questions. You raised good points

    • NH Golfer

      Mar 25, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      88.6 on the Trackman Combine?! You are the man!

    • Please show off.

      Mar 25, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      Please show off, post a video of your smash factor swing, trackman stats.

  19. Joe Golfer

    Mar 24, 2015 at 1:51 am

    Seems odd that he usually gets about 40 yards of roll after the carry when he has a negative angle of attack, yet he usually gets about 25 yards (or less) of roll with the positive angle of attack.
    It seems like the positive angle of attack should produce more roll, as it is taking spin off the ball.
    The ball should also be coming down from a greater height, yet have a better angle of descent due to the + AoA and lower spin.
    This chart shows far less spin with the + angle of attack, yet the roll out is far less than the neg-AoA.
    The smash factors exceeding 1.50 on a regular basis also seem out of whack.
    I may be wrong, but I was of the understanding that one sees the 1.50 pretty much on perfect hits.
    Admittedly, the tester is a teaching professional, but even they don’t hit every shot perfectly (or better than perfectly).
    I also agree with several other commenters that one isn’t likely to see a 270 yard carry with a 101 mph swing. Maybe on his simulator, but I kind of doubt it on a real course.
    I’m not disputing the gist of the article.
    I concur that a positive AoA is far better than a negative one, and that it will increase your yardage.
    Even though the testing was done using Trackman, which is considered a quality instrument, it just seems like there are certain aspects of the article that don’t fit or need more explaining by the author.

    • Alex

      Mar 24, 2015 at 10:49 am

      Look at the difference in peak heights between the two methods. The (-)AOA method comes in really hot producing lots of roll similar to a long iron. The (+)AOA lands more softly despite having less spin, so there is less roll out. Judging roll is difficult, so a soft landing is easier to hit the fairway with.

      • Joe Golfer

        Mar 26, 2015 at 3:55 am

        @Marc, Thanks for that link to the Tutelman website. I’ve read stuff by him before, and he really knows his stuff. It can get a little complicated sometimes.
        NH Golfer should read that Tutelman link you included in your post.
        I suspect that Trackman (which has an excellent reputation) may be slightly off in measuring things as far as that Smash Factor.
        That Tutelman article just reinforces my opinion on the matter.
        I found it interesting that the best smash factor one could reasonably expect would be around 1.47.
        I’m not opposed to the gist of the article. A positive AoA is the way to go for longer distance.
        Other factors in this seem skewed as well, which I addressed in a separate post on this same thread.

      • Joe Golfer

        Mar 26, 2015 at 4:16 am

        @Alex. I don’t know if the higher peak height of the positive AoA would necessarily lead to a softer landing. If I hit a tee shot off of a significantly elevated tee box, I’ll get lots more roll. Obviously, that’s not exactly the same thing, but I think you know what I mean. You don’t get a moonball arc off an elevated tee box, and you don’t get one with a positive AoA (which would lead to that softer landing you mentioned).
        Just because the ball gets higher doesn’t mean the descent angle is steep, since today’s drivers and balls tend to flatten out the trajectory, especially with a professional hitting them such was the case in this test.
        Pros hit much higher shots than they used to. I’ve gone to pro tourneys, and I can recall the days when tee shots were relatively low. Now the height is just soaring compared to 25 years ago. Again, the higher trajectory doesn’t mean that the shot has a moonball arc to it. Those higher trajectories flatten out in mid air before losing steam, leading to an even better descent angle and further roll out. A higher peak trajectory may lead to even more roll out, and that’s what I would expect. The ball is having less backspin, so that leads to two things: 1. I would expect the drop angle to be not as steeply downward as a ball with more backspin 2. Having less backspin means the ball rolls further since it isn’t trying to check up sooner, so to speak (Yes, I know it doesn’t check up like a shot onto a green, I just didn’t know a better terminology to describe it).
        As for hitting the drive on a lower trajectory with the negative AoA, I don’t consider the analogy another commenter noted of it being like a skulled pitch over the green or hitting a ball thin as reasons why the ball runs further as an accurate analogy. We’re talking about well hit drives here, not bladed pitches. That is applicable with pitches, but doesn’t seem so to me with drives by this professional golfer. It’s apples and oranges.

    • NH Golfer

      Mar 25, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      The increased roll makes lots of sense. If you hit a ball with such an low launch, it will hit the ground a lot earlier and run like a scalded rabbit. Think of skulling a pitch over the green. The carry (time it is in the air) is less but the distance is longer than if you pitched properly. The same for hitting a ball thin. It won’t stay in the air long but it will go farther than you hoped when you (mis)hit it! A launch angle in the lower single digits with a driver is NOT good! If you are lucky the fairway is wide and dry so it can run to help offset the shot you created.

  20. Chris C

    Mar 24, 2015 at 12:09 am

    I tend to focus on launch angle when getting fitted. I realize that an inside to out swing combined with an ascending angle of attack is preferable to my woefull over the top outside in and 5 to 7 seven degree negative angle of attack. Alas, after some 55 plus year’s of golf, my swing has defied the best efforts of some very good instructors to change both my swing’s path or angle of attack. Hence, my focus on launch angle. For reasons I do not fully understand, my swing produces extremely consistent launch angles in the neighborhood of 16 to 17 degrees with spin rates in the neighborhood of 2300 to 2400 all while using a driver measured at 10.4 degrees. I have tried teeing it high and strove to alter at least my angle of attack. The resulting swings produced launch a glee in the neighborhood of 19 to 20 degrees and distances similar to my 6 iron. For fun, a local fitter had me try a driver with 8 degrees of loft. My interesting swing repeatedly produced drives with 14 degree launch angles and 2100 spin. This old dog might not be capable of learning new tricks.

  21. Robert

    Mar 23, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    I agree with Golfrnut. The driver with the first swing was a horrible fit for that swing. Just by having a proper fit would gain 20+ yards for that swing. Having a launch angle of 4-7 degrees is just flat out terrible. I know some people hit it too low and don’t know better, but that is beyond what some people are hitting the ball. They are at 8-12 degrees launch angle.

    • Adam Young

      Mar 24, 2015 at 8:05 am

      Hi Robert – yes, getting a club with more loft would have increased the launch angle and definitely picked up yardage. However, it would have also increased spin-loft, reduced smash and not created as much distance total as the adjustment made.

      This article is simply to explain how to top-out distances. Clubfitting can get you a long way without the need for a swing change.

  22. Golfrnut

    Mar 23, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    The 56 yard gain is heavily one-sided by the fact that the proper equipment was not used to fit the original swing. The distance gap should not have been that great if the equipment was properly fit to the original swing in the first place. There is a lot missing in the article that could have been improved with the old swing to shrink the distance gap and give the original swing much better distance results. There is a lot to be desired in terms of showing the true story of what is achievable and what is not when comparing those swings. Folks do not need to hit up do make distance gains or optimize distances for their respective swing speeds. Articles like this tend to create more problems than they fix.

    Not a fan of this one at all….

    • JT

      Mar 24, 2015 at 4:53 am

      The point of the article is to focus on a variable, notn overall fit maximization. I found it interesting, but like many others things I’m not going to manipulate for aoa on the course. Your point is not necessarily wrong about the fit, but it’s not the focus either. Food for thought.

      • Adam Young

        Mar 24, 2015 at 8:09 am

        JT, you are correct, as you are also Golfnut.

        We could also say that I could have taken the route of hitting the gym for 10 years and packing on muscle to swing it faster, or change swing mechanics to increase speed.

        But it wasn’t the point of the article. This was to see what kind of distances are achievable if launch and spin are closer to optimal, and how we can achieve that. A club fit will not achieve optimal. Combining the above info and club fit would, but you cannot be all encompassing in a 1000 word article.

        Also, I put a nice little disclaimer at the bottom stating that this is not the route to go for everyone.

        • Golfrnut

          Mar 24, 2015 at 12:09 pm

          Points well taken. The biggest issue I see this creating, is everyone trying to tee the ball way out in front, hanging back, etc…doing everything humanly possible to create this upward angle of attack for efficiency. With the article’s focus on gaining so much yardage, the vast majority here are going to think they are all inefficient and immediately start trying to go +5 or more up. Truth being told, depending on the speeds, one can pretty much max out at 0* or in the negatives and not see any real gains going positive. Those Trackman graphs are a bit misleading in that regard, so you cannot base “optimization” directly off of those. The article kind of projects itself like an infomercial with the magical cure to gaining yards. You have to remember, a good majority of golfers do not have a real understanding of what all the numbers mean. The one number they do understand is distance, but not all in the sum of what it takes to get there. This all coming from someone who is at a +2.5-4.0, and that is just my natural swing mechanics. I have never tried to change or alter that, that’s just what I have, and it’s consistent. People who are 0* or slightly negative are fine too, as you can get numbers that are right up to where those “charts” say. The article kind of claims that anyone who is not positive, is inefficient and leaves yards on the table, and that’s not true at all. Most are inefficient because they have a face contact problem, and not an AoA issue.

          • Adam Young

            Mar 24, 2015 at 5:06 pm

            Golfnut, you raise good points, all of which I have made myself before. Please remember that this is a 1000 word or less article. It’s tough to excite an audience enough to guarantee a read and at the same time relay every potential pitfall. But if you read the many thousands of words I have written elsewhere you will see that we share many of the same views.

            We could also claim that every article telling slicers how to draw the ball has the same issues. It is likely not the best route to golf improvement.

            But, for people looking to see what is possible, the article still stands true. You are not going to get maxed out numbers with a negative AOA.

  23. Martin

    Mar 23, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I had no idea it was that easy to drive the ball that far…duh

  24. Tony

    Mar 23, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Wat was that on? While i fully agree that by hitting + with the driver compared to – will definitely gain yardage, theres no way a 100mph swing is carrying the ball 270yds. Not possible unless a healthy wind in ur back. Good test though

    • Rich

      Mar 23, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      I don’t know if you’re right. Look at the launch and spin. Pretty good ball speed too. I think it’s possible. Good article, but not that easy to do for most golfers.

    • Jon

      Mar 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      105-110 mph you can with solid contact with good launch angle and low spin but not 100 or any less could you carry it that far. I agree with you but that not at 100 mph but he did say little over which if it reaches 105-107 with what I said then yes you can fly 270

    • larrybud

      Mar 23, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Flightscope optimizer says you can:

      I put in his first numbers (from the bottom chart) and it calculated carry at 265.5

      Not sure if his numbers are calculated or measured, however. Ball speed is way too high for his clubhead speed, as you can see smash factor is >1.50

      • Adam Young

        Mar 24, 2015 at 8:13 am

        Guys, this was done with Trackman. It wasn’t a simulator, or a guess, but a $25,000 dollar piece of doppler radar.

        Smash can be higher than 1.5 as trackman measures clubhead mass not the strike point on the face (which can be different and moving at different speeds. But, when adjusted for ball speed, the positive AOA still worked out more energy efficient in terms of yards per mph ball speed.

        • Dan Sueltz

          Mar 24, 2015 at 10:24 pm

          Having used Trackman since 2006, and fit thousands of golfers with attack angles from -9 to +11, I think this is a great article on changing just one variable and noting the extreme results that can be achieved. In a fitting, we still concentrate on proper launch angle and tightness of shot dispersion but show our golfer the dramatic difference a positive angle of attack can have on launch angle, spin and distance. I play with a guy that probably is lucky to have a 95 mph SS but hits 250-260 routinely because he has such a huge positive AoA and low spin. Everybody that plays with him thinks he is hitting a sky ball but when they end up 40 yards behind him they wonder how he did it. Pretty simple when you look at Adam’s numbers.

  25. Yessir

    Mar 23, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    So do you buy into the recent trend in more low forward CG based drivers in conjunction with a more positive AoA? Theoretically speaking more forward CG, more loft, and more positive AoA is the recipe for even longer drives, right?

  26. Ron burgundy

    Mar 23, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Enjoyable article. Very good tips. I’m a +2 that’s always searching for more yards. Another good tip is to sit an empty water bottle on its side out in front a foot or two while practicing. This will help you hit up or you’ll hit the water bottle. Empty if course!

    • Patricknorm

      Mar 25, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Good if not great tip. I’m not quite at your level, ( 5.5 factor) but I’m always working on carefully increasing my AoA. When I get tired I know my AoA is negative. Hence I occasionally hit a tee ball that goes sky high. Thanks for sharing.

      • Adam Young

        Apr 21, 2015 at 1:35 am

        Cheers Patricknorm. Yes, a negative AOA is strongly correlated with a skied shot. You can still sky the ball hitting on the up, but it is much more difficult to do and you would need a much bigger tee.

        Most people using the above advice may find they are hitting lower on the face if anything. I will address this in a future article

    • Adam Young

      Apr 21, 2015 at 1:33 am

      Good tip Ron – I have seen Andrew Rice do something similar with a box of balls in front.

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Wedge Guy: The top 7 short game mistakes



I’ve written hundreds of articles as “The Wedge Guy” and I’ve made it my life’s work to closely observe golfers and their short games. So, I thought I’d compile what I see into a list of what I believe are the most common mistakes golfers make around the greens that prevents them from optimizing their scoring. So here goes, not in any particular order:

  1. Tempo. Maybe the most common error I see is a tempo that is too quick and “jabby”. That probably comes from the misunderstood and overdone advice “accelerate through the ball.” I like to compare playing a golf hole to painting a room, and your short shots are your “trim brushes”. They determine how the finished work turns out, and a slower and more deliberate stroke delivers more precision as you get closer to the green and hole.
  2. Set Up/Posture. To hit good chips and pitches, you need to “get down”. Bend your knees a bit more and grip down on the club – it puts you closer to your work for better precision. Too many golfers I see stand up too tall and grip the club to the end.
  3. Grip Pressure. A very light grip on the club is essential to good touch and a proper release through the impact zone. Trust me, you cannot hold a golf club too lightly – your body won’t let you. Concentrate on your forearms; if you can feel any tenseness in the muscles in your forearms, you are holding on too tightly.
  4. Hand position. Watch the tour players hit short shots on TV. Their arms are hanging naturally so that their hands are very close to their upper thighs at address and through impact, but the club is not tilted up on its toe. Copy that and your short game will improve dramatically.
  5. Lack of Body/Core Rotation. When you are hitting short shots, the hands and arms have stay in front of the torso throughout the swing. If you don’t rotate your chest and shoulders back and through, you won’t develop good consistency in distance or contact.
  6. Club selection. Every pitch or chip is different, so don’t try to hit them all with the same club. I see two major errors here. Some golfers always grab the sand wedge when they miss a green. If you have lots of green to work with and don’t need that loft, a PW, 9-iron or even less will give you much better results. The other error is seen in those golfers who are “afraid” of their wedge and are trying to hit tough recoveries with 8- and 9-irons. That doesn’t work either. Go to your practice green and see what happens with different clubs, then take that knowledge to the course.
  7. Clubhead/grip relationship. This error falls into two categories. One is those golfers who forward press so much that they dramatically change the loft of the club. At address and impact the grip should be slightly ahead of the clubhead. I like to focus on the hands, rather than the club, and just think of my left hand leading my right through impact. Which brings me to the other error – allowing the clubhead to pass the hands through impact. If you let the clubhead do that, good shots just cannot happen. And that is caused by you trying to “hit” up on the ball, rather than swinging the entire club through impact.

So, there are my top 7. Obviously, there are others, but if you eliminate those, your short game will get better in a hurry.

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The Wedge Guy: Short game tempo



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.


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



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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