Golf Tips: Understanding Ball Flight with Trackman

Ball flight laws have changed significantly during the past fifteen years. While TrackMan and scientific research have taught us specifics on how the ball flies, there are still many people who believe in debatable ball flight laws. Nevertheless, TrackMan has proven that there are certain concepts and golf tips that every golfer must understand. During the next four weeks, I plan to describe each of the following concepts in extreme detail.

Along with interning for the NCCGA, I am working for my swing coach, Terry Rowles this summer on his YouTube Channel to film and upload swings of famous players throughout the summer. After attending the US Open last month, I gathered about 150 videos of tour pros that I plan to post throughout the summer. Before summer’s end I will also be attending the Wyndham Championship before going back to school at the end of August. While working for Terry, I have been fortunate to learn about TrackMan, AMM3D and the body-swing connection. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with you guys starting with my first post below.

1. Maximizing Distance with the Driver

When hitting the driver, it is important to have the optimal launch angle and spin rate for your particular ball speed. Hitting up on the ball with your driver increases the launch angle, while lowering the spin rate, which is ideal for long drives!

2. Spin Loft

Spin Loft is something that most golfers have never heard of. Nevertheless, it is extremely important. By changing their spin loft, golfers can effortlessly generate more spin or more distance. Essentially, the spin loft measurement measures the numerical difference between the angle of attack and the dynamic loft at impact. If there is a large discrepancy between the two numbers, more spin is created. If the difference between the two values is smaller, the ball compresses more and the ball goes farther! This is why it is best to hit a driver with a positive angle of attack, while having as little loft on the club as possible.

3. Angle of attack vs. Club Path

When I first heard that I needed to stop hitting down on the ball so much to get rid of my vicious hook, I was in shock. I did not understand how hitting down on the ball made me push or hook the ball. Understanding why, however, has changed the way I play the game. For now, I will push you to think about why this is.

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4. The Straight Shot

Assuming that there are no external influences, there are three ways to hit a straight shot at the target. The first and most reliable way is to hit the ball with a path going directly towards the target, and a clubface that is also pointed directly at the target. If the ball is struck on the center of the face, the ball will go straight. If you hit the ball with an in-to-out swing path, a closed face and strike the ball on the heel the ball can go straight. Lastly, a golfer can hit the ball straight by swinging with an out-to-in path, an open face, and hitting the ball on the toe. For the last two examples, the variables must balance out perfectly to make the ball go straight.

**Source: Trackman’s 10 Fundamentals

Major Myths and Misconceptions

1.  The ball starts where on the line of the swing path

2.  Always set-up with your clubface aiming at the target

3.  Hitting down on the ball makes the ball go up

The Truth

1. The club head actually has an 85% influence on where the ball starts with a driver and a 75% influence on where the ball starts with an iron. Thus, the ball starts where the clubface is pointed.

2. It is rarely good to have your face square to the target at impact. Since most golfers do not have a club path that goes directly at the target, a face square to the target usually produces offline shot. I will discuss this more in future articles.

3. Usually, when people hit down on the ball, they subconsciously decrease the loft of the golf club. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to hit a ball thin while hitting down on the ball, and possible to hit the ball fat with the handle in front of the clubface. In order to make the ball go up, it is important to have as much loft on the club as possible. Therefore, I recommend a shallow angle of attack.

I would like to extend a special thanks to Terry Rowles, the owner of the San Francisco Golf Performance Center for helping me write this article.

Please check out the collection of golf swings that Terry Rowles and I have on YouTube.

Twitter Handle: @david_perell