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Ball Flight, Spin Part 2
This past week I was out at our club doing some research on launch angles and spin rates. My “Iron Byron” was our first assistant golf professional Joe Mitchell, who is one of the most consistent ball strikers I’ve seen. Joe has a reputation for being laser straight with every club, from driver to wedges, and is one of the best putters I’ve watched. The only “flaw” in Joe’s game, which he admits, is that he is not nearly as long as the young guns he competes against when the Hooters and Adams Tour events come to town.

After we had finished up the round of research on various makes and models of short irons and wedges, Joe had a couple of drivers he wanted to test to see if he could eke a few extra yards out of his tee shots. Watching him hit golf balls is kind of boring actually, because they all look alike. As we went from driver to driver, there really wasn’t much visual difference in the ball flight pattern, but then the Foresight Sports GC2 launch monitor came into play.

It’s generally accepted that optimum distance with a driver is going to be at a launch angle of 13-16 degrees with spin rates in the 2000-2200 range. Very few golfers outside the tour elite can match these numbers, so most golfers do not get the maximum distance out of their clubhead speed. I saw a video the other day of Keeghan Bradley working with his swing coach just before the PGA Championship, where he was using the same Foresight GC2 launch monitor to gauge his driver swing results. Essentially he was “practicing to the numbers”, working to hit those launch angle / spin rate results that he knew would produce the best drives. This is but another way the tour player has applied technology to their games to hit these bomb drives.

Anyway, back to our research. Joe hit a number of drives with both drivers, and then a few with mine, and all were about perfect in launch angle – 13-15 degrees. But we kept seeing spin rates of 3500-3900 rpms, which is way more than you’d like for a driver. He tweaked his takeaway and worked to keep the head moving flatter through the impact zone, but we really didn’t see much change in the numbers. Then I suggested that he back off about 10% in his applied swing speed and see what happened . . .

His spin number dropped from 35-3900 to 26-2800 rpms, launch angles did not change, ball speed off the clubhead did not change more than one mph or so, but distance improved by almost ten yards! So, the mere act of backing off a bit from “full power” actually improved his driving distance, and there’s no question that even Joe is going to hit the driver straighter if he’d not trying to “max out” on every swing.

We duplicated the test a number of times, Joe hitting drives at full power then backing off a bit. And the results were the same every time – the “controlled” swing produced about 1,000 rpms less spin and greater distance than did the full out swings.

So, while you may not have a GC2 launch monitor available, you can do your own version of this test. Take a dozen or so balls that you play, mark half of them, and go out on the course when it’s not busy. Hit six drives with your “full power” swing, and then six more with a swing that feels like 85-90% of that. Then walk or drive down and see what the two patterns look like.

And then chime back in here with your results. Let’s see if we can’t build a body of real golfer test material right here, OK?
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
ramore says:
I realy like to read things kile this it realy helps thanks
8/19/11
 
Waylander says:
I wish I could tell the difference between a 100% swing and a 85-90% swing...?
8/20/11
 
worldmac42 says:
I totally agree with that theory. I'm still trying to consistently swing at 80%, anymore and I'm playing from the next fairway to the right. lol.
8/21/11
 
BirdieBill46 says:
swing easy hit it far?
8/23/11
 
[ post comment ]
Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

Click here to learn more about Terry.
 
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