Most Popular Myths in Golf Exposed

Golfer’s Guide Instruction by Andrew Rice

Andrew RiceIt has been an enlightening experience using TrackMan in almost every lesson for a year now. There are so many widespread philosophies us golfers have heard so many times, we simply accept them to be truth. TrackMan says hold on a minute! Here are a few examples that come to mind:

You’ve got to release the club through impact

The collision between club and ball lasts less than 1/2000th of a second. It simply is not possible to release or consciously alter the face angle during that very narrow time frame. The face is what it is by the time impact happens. For example, in this year’s Masters, by the time Bubba Watson teed it up, his ball had not been on his clubface in competition for even one second! The only element that can alter the face during impact is an off-center hit and that’s far from conscious.

Draws must be hit with a closed clubface

Draws are really good if they start to the right (for righties), agreed?  TrackMan shows the clubface is responsible for the launch direction of the ball. For a good draw, the face should be pointed to the right of the target with the club path being further to the right. When that, along with a centered hit occurs, voila -- we have a lovely push draw!  This also dispels the myth that the ball launches in the direction of the swing path. Clubface equals launch.

That drive had tons of sidespin

The vast majority of balls that are hit in the air have backspin. If a golf ball has backspin, it can’t also have sidespin. Think about it: Two types of spin on one ball at the same time? So what makes it curve? TrackMan shows that all shots that curve do so due to backspin on an axis that is tilted either left or right. Curve is purely caused by backspin that is tilted to one side or another.

My divots point left so I must be over the top

Because divots ideally occur after the collision between face and ball, the club path has a window of opportunity to start arcing back inside the target line. I have seen everything from push fades, to hooks, to push draws from leftward pointing divots. Divots do not tell us as much as we think, because they do not (and should not) occur at the moment of impact.

That ball faded . I must have cut across it

A very important factor in determining shot shape is not only the clubface relative to the club path, but where the ball is struck on the face relative to the sweet spot. For regular golfers, off-center hits occur on more than half the shots hit. Balls hit off the toe of a club will always have a tendency to draw or fade/slice less. Balls hit off the heel will always fade or draw/hook less. Even one dimple on either side of the sweet spot will make a difference. This means it is possible to swing for a draw and hit/strike for a fade.

My instructor showed me my swing path on video

Ehh … no! Trust me on this one. What you see on video is a two-dimensional version of a three-dimensional event. You would have to be aware of your attack angle, and that’s not possible with video. On video you will see the direction you are swinging in relation to the target, but there is no way to know your club path (which is what creates a good portion of ball flight).

Hitting down creates more backspin

Spin is created by many factors, but a steeply descending blow on its own will not alter the spin rate. When a golfer hits down aggressively they also reduce the loft on the clubface. A lesser lofted face will do nothing to increase backspin.

Draws are much longer and spin less than fades

This is a good one!  With everything else kept the same, a ball that spins on a left-leaning axis has no reason to go further than a ball with a right-leaning spin axis. Now, keep in mind, it’s very difficult to keep everything the same (thus draws tend to be longer), but in a controlled environment both shots go the same distance. Just be aware that a properly struck fade will most often go just as far as its draw-side counterpart.

 And while it’s not a myth, even though PGA Tour golfers average out with a downward attack angle on the driver, TrackMan has more than done its share to prove how maximum efficiency and distance can be achieved by hitting up on the ball with the driver. Thanks for reading and feel free to share your newfound knowledge with your foursome.

Andrew Rice is the director of instruction at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton. He is one of only 11 TrackMan Masters in the world. He can be contacted at andrew@andrewricegolf.com. For more from Andrew visit his website at www.andrewricegolf.com

 

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