There has been a lot of information documented about how to hit the ball further by increasing club head speed. From exercise programs, warm up routines, lighter shafts and aerodynamic heads. The list is endless.
An often overlooked aspect of increasing distance is how the club head is delivered to the ball. Small changes in the relationship between club face, club path, dynamic loft and impact location have a substantial effect on the ball speed and subsequent distance.
Let’s go through the Trackman data of a recent student who increased his carry distance by 17m with a 6 iron by swinging the club 1mph slower.
This is the data of one of the “before” swings:
In summary the club head is being delivered down to the ball excessively, (-8 degrees) this is quite steep for a 6 iron. Tour average is around 4.2 degrees. The club head is also being delivered to the left by 4.9 degrees and the face is open to the target by 3 degrees and open to the path by 7.9 degrees. (4.9+3=7.9)
There are a number of factors contributing to the low ball speed but the most significant are:
- 1. The openness of club face to club path. The more open the face is to the path the poorer the energy transfer is to the ball and the greater the potential for increased friction. The increased friction can add spin and severely reduce ball speed and carry distance.
- 2. The steepness of the angle of attack. An excessively steep angle of attack means the energy or speed of the club head can’t be transferred efficiently to the ball.
So the task was set to improve the delivery of the club head. The two major goals in terms of club head delivery were:
Goal 1: Shallow the angle of attack by 50%
Goal 2: Reduce the open face to path to less than 2 degrees
To improve the delivery the major change implemented was the setup. The setup would be considered by most golf coaches to be “too neutral.” The lower half is positioned too far to the right and the upper body too far to the left. This setup makes the pivot of the body difficult to perform and can cause a downswing where the upper body initiates the downswing instead of the lower body. (most biomechanical studies show that the lower body initiates the downswing phase in good players) This has a large effect on the subsequent angle of attack and club path which can be excessively down and to the left.
The improvement within this session was substantial. The club delivery was significantly better. The angle of attack is now considerably shallower (-1.7 degrees vs -8.0 degrees) the club path is now slightly to the right (1.8 degrees vs -4.9)
The face to path relationship is now much better. The face is now slightly closed to the path causing a slight draw shape. The ball speed has increased by 7 mph and the carry distance has increased by 17 metres from 129m to 146m.
This is case study of how we use the Trackman data to improve someone’s golf swing. Trackman is a great validation tool and is excellent for almost “real time” feedback.