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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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The Wedge Guy: My top 5 practice tips



While there are many golfers who barely know where the practice (I don’t like calling it a “driving”) range is located, there are many who find it a place of adventure, discovery and fun. I’m in the latter group, which could be accented by the fact that I make my living in this industry. But then, I’ve always been a “ball beater,” since I was a kid, but now I approach my practice sessions with more purpose and excitement. There’s no question that practice is the key to improvement in anything, so today’s topic is on making practice as much fun as playing.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved the range, and always embrace the challenge of learning new ways to make a golf ball do what I would like it to do. So, today I’m sharing my “top 5” tips for making practice fun and productive.

  1. Have a mission/goal/objective. Whether it is a practice range session or practice time on the course, make sure you have a clearly defined objective…how else will you know how you’re doing? It might be to work on iron trajectory, or finding out why you’ve developed a push with your driver. Could be to learn how to hit a little softer lob shot or a knockdown pitch. But practice with a purpose …always.
  2. Don’t just “do”…observe.  There are two elements of learning something new.  The first is to figure out what it is you need to change. Then you work toward that solution. If your practice session is to address that push with the driver, hit a few shots to start out, and rather than try to fix it, make those first few your “lab rats”. Focus on what your swing is doing. Do you feel anything different? Check your alignment carefully, and your ball position. After each shot, step away and process what you think you felt during the swing.
  3. Make it real. To just rake ball after ball in front of you and pound away is marginally valuable at best. To make practice productive, step away from your hitting station after each shot, rake another ball to the hitting area, then approach the shot as if it was a real one on the course. Pick a target line from behind the ball, meticulously step into your set-up position, take your grip, process your one swing thought and hit it. Then evaluate how you did, based on the shot result and how it felt.
  4. Challenge yourself. One of my favorite on-course practice games is to spend a few minutes around each green after I’ve played the hole, tossing three balls into various positions in an area off the green. I don’t let myself go to the next tee until I put all three within three feet of the hole. If I don’t, I toss them to another area and do it again. You can do the same thing on the range. Define a challenge and a limited number of shots to achieve it.
  5. Don’t get in a groove. I was privileged enough to watch Harvey Penick give Tom Kite a golf lesson one day, and was struck by the fact that he would not let Tom hit more than five to six shots in a row with the same club. Tom would hit a few 5-irons, and Mr. Penick would say, “hit the 8”, then “hit the driver.” He changed it up so that Tom would not just find a groove. That paved the way for real learning, Mr. Penick told me.

My “bonus” tip addresses the difference between practicing on the course and keeping a real score. Don’t do both. A practice session is just that. On-course practice is hugely beneficial, and it’s best done by yourself, and at a casual pace. Playing three or four holes in an hour or so, taking time to hit real shots into and around the greens, will do more for your scoring skills than the same amount of range time.

So there you have my five practice tips. I’m sure I could come up with more, but then we always have more time, right?

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The Wedge Guy: Anyone can be a better wedge player by doing these simple things



As someone who has observed rank-and-file recreational golfers for most of my life – over 50 years of it, anyway – I have always been baffled by why so many mid- to high-handicap golfers throw away so many strokes in prime scoring range.

For this purpose, let’s define “prime scoring range” as the distance when you have something less than a full-swing wedge shot ahead of you. Depending on your strength profile, that could be as far as 70 to 80 yards or as close as 30 to 40 yards. But regardless of whether you are trying to break par or 100, your ability to get the ball on the green and close enough to the hole for a one-putt at least some of the time will likely be one of the biggest factors in determining your score for the day.

All too often, I observe golfers hit two or even three wedge shots from prime scoring range before they are on the green — and all too often I see short-range pitch shots leave the golfer with little to no chance of making the putt.

This makes no sense, as attaining a level of reasonable proficiency from short range is not a matter of strength profile at all. But it does take a commitment to learning how to make a repeating and reliable half-swing and doing that repeatedly and consistently absolutely requires you to learn the basic fundamentals of how the body has to move the club back and through the impact zone.

So, let’s get down to the basics to see if I can shed some light on these ultra-important scoring shots.

  • Your grip has to be correct. For the club to move back and through correctly, your grip on the club simply must be fundamentally sound. The club is held primarily in the last three fingers of the upper hand, and the middle two fingers of the lower hand. Period. The lower hand has to be “passive” to the upper hand, or the mini-swing will become a quick jab at the ball. For any shot, but particularly these short ones, that sound grip is essential for the club to move through impact properly and repeatedly.
  • Your posture has to be correct. This means your body is open to the target, feet closer together than even a three-quarter swing, and the ball positioned slightly back of center.
  • Your weight should be distributed about 70 percent on your lead foot and stay there through the mini-swing.
  • Your hands should be “low” in that your lead arm is hanging naturally from your shoulder, not extended out toward the ball and not too close to the body to allow a smooth turn away and through. Gripping down on the club is helpful, as it gets you “closer to your work.
  • This shot is hit with a good rotation of the body, not a “flip” or “jab” with the hands. Controlling these shots with your body core rotation and leading the swing with your body core and lead side will almost ensure proper contact. To hit crisp pitch shots, the hands have to lead the clubhead through impact.
  • A great drill for this is to grip your wedge with an alignment rod next to the grip and extending up past your torso. With this in place, you simply have to rotate your body core through the shot, as the rod will hit your lead side and prevent you from flipping the clubhead at the ball. It doesn’t take but a few practice swings with this drill to give you an “ah ha” moment about how wedge shots are played.
  • And finally, understand that YOU CANNOT HIT UP ON A GOLF BALL. The ball is sitting on the ground so the clubhead has to be moving down and through impact. I think one of the best ways to think of this is to remember this club is “a wedge.” So, your simple objective is to wedge the club between the ball and the ground. The loft of the wedge WILL make the ball go up, and the bounce of the sole of the wedge will prevent the club from digging.

So, why is mastering the simple pitch shot so important? Because my bet is that if you count up the strokes in your last round of golf, you’ll likely see that you left several shots out there by…

  • Either hitting another wedge shot or chip after having one of these mid-range pitch shots, or
  • You did not get the mid-range shot close enough to even have a chance at a makeable putt.

If you will spend even an hour on the range or course with that alignment rod and follow these tips, your scoring average will improve a ton, and getting better with these pitch shots will improve your overall ball striking as well.

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Clement: Don’t overlook this if you want to find the center of the face




It is just crazy how golfers are literally beside themselves when they are placed in a properly aligned set up! They feel they can’t swing or function! We take a dive into why this is and it has to do with how the eyes are set up in the human skull!

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