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There's much more to learning this game than hitting it long and straight.







        Probable Golf Instruction


July 2014

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Click on any of the following Newsletter topics or just scroll down the page:

More Distance with Bounce & Roll

Driving Range Practice & Distance

High & Low Trajectory Difference

Cool Mornings -- Hot Afternoons

Maximum Height Same for All Clubs

New Social Golfer Foursome Pairings Solved


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More Distance with Bounce & Roll

A golfer is telling you about how far they hit the ball (might be a friend or someone you're playing with). Chances are, they have an exaggerated perception of how far they hit the ball, especially with the Driver. Why is that?

It's not that they are being untruthful. They probably did hit a drive over 300 yards, but what were the conditions, and how often do they hit such drives? Many golfers tend to think of "average" as their best or average of the best shots.

And, the weather conditions were probably dry, hot and perhaps they were even playing downwind & downhill; all optimum conditions for hitting the ball a long ways.

The topic I'm going to expand on here is the increased distance golfers get becaue of bounce and roll. The bounce and roll distance is very dependent on long term weather conditions and trajectory.

When the ball bounces on a grass surface, it loses kinetic energy. Partly, this is due to the deformation of the grass and the soil and partly due to friction between the ball and the grass. As the ball bounces, it loses height and forward motion. The extremes would be a ball landing on a very soft, soggy fairway and plugging (thus stopping immediately on impact), and a ball landing onto airport tarmack (very smooth and hard), in which case it would bounce many times and roll a very large distance.

So, how far the ball bounces and rolls depends on the firmness of the fairway as well as the slope of the fairway. Diagram (a) below depicts a ball landing on a level, firm surface, resulting in a low bounce. The two forces exerted by the ground on the ball are (1) a ground force upwards and (2) a friction force backwards.

Note: There is also a dependency on the backspin of the ball. Since backspin with a Driver is quite low, the bounce and roll isn't affected greatly by backspin on firm fairways.

Diagram (b) depicts the ball landing on a softer surface that deforms on impact. The upward ground force is now acting upwards and backwards while the friction force acts slightly downwards and backwards. The two result in a higher bounce and less forward motion. But the effect of a much higher bounce results in a much higher forward distance.

Diagram (c) shows a typical bounce by a ball hit by a Driver at three different speeds.The first bounce is much higher and longer than the second bounce. The ball may bounce only 3, 4 or 5 times before it just rolls along the fairway. The number of bounces depends on the firmness and slope of the ground where the ball hits.

Diagram (c)

The top diagram above is for a low trajectory Driver hit by a low swing speed golfer. The bottom diagram above is for a higher trajectory Driver hit by a fast swing speed golfer. Golfers with high swing speeds hit the ball higher and thus their balls land on steeper trajectories and higher speeds, therefore the ground force exerted is greater and the ball loses more speed. This is why higher swing speed, longer hitting golfers' drives have less bounce and roll distance. Most of their distance is due to carry. The opposite is true for lower swing speed, shorter hitting golfers.

The above pattern makes sense if you think of hitting a chip shot or a 1/4 swing 3-iron. Both of these shots would carry a short distance but then roll a much larger distance. This result is due to the small angle of impact and the low speed (lower speed thus less of a force between the ball and the ground).

So, how far the ball bounces and rolls is strongly dependent upon the firmness and the slope of the landing position (and even on the firmness and slope of the following bounce positions). One could hit two almost identical Drives that land a foot apart but have very different bounce and roll distances because of the difference in slope and firmness of the fairway where the ball lands.

Now, if you tend to hit the ball quite low, you'll experience more consistent bounce and roll distances. If you hit high tee shots, then your bounce and roll will be more dependent upon where the ball lands. And, low ball hitters also experience bounce and roll distances that are a larger percentage of their carry distance than high ball hitters. Thus, the low ball hitters realize a larger gain in distance when the fairways get firm.

To take advantage of bounce and roll, one can apply the following:

1. When fairways are firm, hit a club from the tee that hits low. Choosing a Driver over a 3-wood or hybrid (with higher lofts) will give you greater bounce and roll, although with less loft, hooks and slices are more exaggerated. When fairways are soft, hit the ball higher.

2. Try to land the ball on parts of the fairway that slope away from the tee. When hitting a tee shot uphill, it might be better to land the ball short of an area where there is a steep slope, as opposed to landing the ball into the steep slope, and getting very little bounce and roll.

3. If you are able, on holes where the fairway slopes left or right, hit a tee shot that curves with the slope of the fairway. For example, if the fairway slopes right to left, you would hit the ball with a right to left curve starting the ball up the right side of the fairway. In effect, when the ball lands, its landing on a downward slope. Likewise, a more controlled shot would be hitting the ball so it curves left to right. When the ball lands, its landing onto an upward slope so won't roll as far.

Driving Range Practice & Distance

When hitting balls at a Driving Range, it's important not to get too fixated on distance. Some of the balls may have been hit thousands of times, thus will not fly off the club as fast as the regular ball you play on the golf course (and they usually have a worn dimple pattern). Plus, range balls typically are of low quality and come off the face with less backspin than the regular ball you play on the course. Leave identifying how far you hit each club to the golf course where you are hitting regular golf balls.

What's more important when practicing is your club speed. You want to practice constant club speed because that is the major determiner of how far you hit each club. As well, you want the ball to have a consistent trajectory (launch angle). To monitor your club speed, you can practice with a golf launch monitor such as a Trackman or Flightscope (very expensive), or there are other less expensive radar devices such as the Swing Speed Radar, which I use and promote.


Swing Speed Radar

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You'll find you have slightly different club speeds for each club. The key is to swing a club with speeds that don't fluctuate too much. For instance, when I was practicing my swing yesterday with an 8-iron, my swing speed fluctuated between about 74 mph to 76 mph. I even had a few speeds of 80 mph when I focused on clearing my hips quickly and keeping my left wrist flat. So I discovered something I could do to increase my club speed which I'll continue to practice. Hopefully, this will increase my "average" club speed and not affect my "range" of club speeds. It would be nice to increase my average club speed to say 78 mph, but if it also resulted in a range of 75 to 80 mph, that wouldn't be good because I'd have some distance control problems.

High and Low Trajectory Difference

One of the things that the best players practice is trajectory control and consistency. Hitting shot after shot so that they reach the same peak height. You'll recall from my last newsletter that for most golfers, the maximum height for each club is about the same: your 4-iron flies as high as your 9-iron. The 9-iron "appears" to fly higher because it reaches its maximum height soon and at a closer distance to the golfer.

Now, when you hitting balls, it's unlikely that the trajectories with any one club are consistent, even when you are hitting the ball well. For instance, say you are hitting 7-irons. You might be hitting the ball very solidly but some of the shots "seem" to fly signficantly higher than others, especially those that start right of your intended target (for a right swinger).

Those significantly higher shots are likely not that much higher at all. It's all a matter of your perspective again. Recall that a shot that appears to be higher is due to a steeper launch angle.

So lets say you're hitting 5-irons with an average launch angle of 15 degrees. You hit 4 in a row, solidly, and on almost the exact same trajectory at your target. Then, you hit one about 10 yards right of target (assuming you are a right swinger with a push) and it has a higher trajectory that "appears" to be significantly higher. A very plausible launch angle for such a shot is 17 degrees which is only 2 degrees higher.

But again, it's about perspective and comparison. Although your 17 deg shot is only 2 deg higher, relatively speaking, its 13% steeper (2/15 = 0.13). A 13% increase in launch angles "appears" to be a 13% increase in height, but in reality, it's not.

Below are the trajectories for an average PGA Tour 6-iron when it with a square clubface, a 2 degree open and a 2 degree closed clubface. Note that at 100 yards, the square face 6-iron ball is at an incline angle of 14 degrees while the 2 degree open ball is at 16 degrees, 2 degrees steeper (an increase of 14%). The golf ball heights, however, are 27 yards and 32 yards, respectively.



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Cool Mornings -- Hot Afternoons

Now that summer is here, we can have some major temperature changes between morning and afternoon, especiallyif you find your self in a desert like region. Temperatures can be 50 to 60 degrees at dawn and then 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit by afternoon. Hotter temperatures mean the ball will fly farther (and roll farther) compared to the cool mornings. So, make sure you adjust by at least 1/2 club with your irons.

You can use my Golf Club Distance Temperature Calculator to calculate the exact effects.


Trajectory Height Same for All Clubs

Would you believe that you hit your Driver as high as your full pitching wedge? Doesn't it seem like you hit your wedge much higher? It's all perception.

In fact, you hit each club in your bag (with a full swing) about the same maximum height. Why is this? And why does it appear that you hit your short irons so much higher than your longer clubs?

Take a look at the PGA Tour Average Statistics below. Observe how the maximum height for each club is about the same. The LPGA Tour Average heights have a similar pattern except the heights are less.



It all has to do with what you are observing. What's very different between your Driver and full wedge is the launch angle. The full wedge trajectory has a much greater launch angle. Therefore, the ball climbs to its maximum height in a much short distance. The Driver trajectory climbs gradually. Once the ball is at its peak, it's a long ways away, and therefore it appears to be low.

It's much like a distant mountain. It appears to not be very high because it is a long ways away and low on the horizon. But, from experience, your know it is high. Likewise other objects at a distance such as trees and buildings appear very low on the horizon, but you know there are actually high.

A golf ball launched by a short iron like a wedge climbs very quickly, thus it is very high relative to the horizon. You need to be looking more upwards, at a greater angle, to follow its flight than the flight of the Driver. The angle at which you need to look up is greater.


Look at the trajectory graph below. The 3 trajectories are average PGA Tour trajectories as determined by Trackman. The various values such as maximum height, carry distance, launch angle, etc are consistent with the Trackman data above.

Take a look at the trajectory graph below of just the 5-iron and 9-iron trajectories. The trajectory that carries 200 yards is an average 5-iron trajectory for a PGA Tour player. I've marked on each trajectory the angle above the horizon as seen by the golfer during each second of flight.


So, after 1 second, the 9-iron is higher but has travelled less distance (because the ball is not moving as fast as when struck with a 5-iron). Thus, the angle you need to look up at is significantly greater: 20 degrees for the 9-iron and 13 degrees for the 5-iron.

At the 2 second point, the 9-iron angle is about the same, but by 3 seconds, the angle is less at about 13 degrees so it appears that the ball is now falling, while in fact, it's at its maximum height. The 5-iron ball can be seen at 14 degrees, just before it reach maximum height.

Note that between 2 and 4 seconds, the 9-iron angle changes as 20-18-13 while the 5-iron changes as 15-14-11. The 9-iron angle changes more quickly. The 5-iron angle is more steady. The Driver angle, in comparison, is even more steady, hardly changing at all, thus the ball appears to just hang there in flight.

So, there you have it. Another "golf myth" revealed for what it really is. So, next time you hit the high full wedge shot, remember, it's not any higher than your other clubs, it just appears to be because of your perspective of the angle of the ball above the horizon.

Other than curiosity and the need to know, how helpful is this fact of trajectory height for your different clubs. Well, consider choosing a club to hit over a tree. You can hit over the same height tree with a 5-iron as a 9-iron; you just need to be further back with a 5-iron. Knowing where your peak trajectory is for you various clubs is really important when you're trying to clear trees. I'll have more on this in my next newsletter.

Disclaimer: Now, the maximum height for your clubs might not be as clustered as those of the average PGA Tour player. You might actually some of your irons higher due to your swing. PGA Tour players hit their irons with a descending blow (club is moving downwards at impact). You might "scoop" your irons more, releasing your wrists more quickly and increasing the loft of the club. Plus, let's face it, your launch angles (and therefore peak heights) are probably not very consistent. One shot goes high, then low, then really high, .......

If you have access to a club monitor (like a Trackman or Flightscope), see if you can get a profile done of your trajectories. What are your launch angles? maximum heights? etc.



Loft, Launch Angle and Driver Length


Other than club head speed (which is a consequence of your swing), the distance you hit a Driver depends on:

*the amount of trampoline effect due ot the flexible face
*the loft angle of the face
*the location of the center of gravity

What's important is your combination of launch angle, backspin and ball speed. Lower ball speeds will go farther if launched at higher angles than high ball speed. Even many professionals are switching to higher loft Drivers which now are able to launch the ball with lower backspin than before.

I really encourage you to stay away from the long shaft Drivers. Longer shafts will enable most golfers to have higher clubhead speed, but at the same time there will be a change in launch angle and a greater number of mishits. So, when you hit one off the sweet spot, the ball will go farther, but, you'll hit less balls off the sweetspot and end up in the rough (trees and water) more often.

Fellow Canadian Don Irving publish his study last year called, "Driver Test Study," for his Masters Degree. He tested a full range of handicap golfers and found very few benefited from the longer Driver. If you'd like to read the study, email me, and I'll send you a copy.

If you play with a long Driver, please let me know if you find it beneficial to your game.

Below is a table from research done by Tom Wishon, golf clubmaker guru. Note that there is no significant distance gained by using a longer Driver, regardless of handicap group. This would be due to the fact that even if the golfer were able to increase clubhead speed, the golfer would hit the sweetspot less often, and thus lose any distance gained by increased clubspeed. But, there is a signficant amount of increase in lateral dispersion (hitting the ball right or left of the center of the fairway).

Driver Length (in)
Average Distance (yds)
Average Lateral Dispersion (yds)
24 - 36










18 - 23










12 - 17










6 - 11










0 - 5











Another good example of this is single length golf clubs. I play a set of single length irons, with every club being the same length as a standard 7-iron. I hit all of these clubs about the same distance as a regulation set of irons, that vary in length. By far the most significant determinant of distance with irons is the loft of the club. And, the single length clubs are also all the same weight, thus they all feel exactly the same to swing.


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The slope of the green is the single biggest factor in how much your putt will break on the way to the hole, but the fact is:   most golfers have a hard time reading break.

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Golf Balls & Temperature -- Learn how temperature affects the distance a golf ball carries. Widgets





To learn more about Intermediate Focus Golf, CLICK HERE


Stages of the Golf Swing

Review the different important stages of the golf swing. Are you getting into the proper positions?. Click on the links below.

Lesson #1: Golf Grip -- The Connection

Lesson #2: Golf Stance & Set-up -- The Foundation

Lesson #3: Golf Swing Plane -- The Swing Slot

Lesson #4: Golf Swing Weight Transfer -- The Athletic Move

Lesson #5: Golf Swing BackSwing -- The Takeaway & Coil

Lesson #6: Golf Swing DownSwing -- Maintain Angles & Transition Period

Lesson #7: Tempo Timing Rhythm -- Backswing/Downswing Ratio


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1. Go to my Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. There's a link to it on my pages from the left hand menu near the top of the page, just below the Search icon. It's called "FAQs." You then click on the graphic icon and you'll be taken to my database page. For your convenience, here it is:
FAQI've answered hundreds of questions over the past 6 years and have created a fairly large database. You can search it out. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, submit a question and I'll answer it.2. On all of my web pages, there is a search feature in the top left section, right underneath my LOGO. Just place your search keywords in the search box, select "This Site" below it, and then press "Search." What will come up is a Google search of the pages on my site with relevance. You can also search the entire internet by selecting "Web" instead.
Go to my main page now: Home or just check the top left menu of this page. 3. Also, directly under the Google Search area, you'll find a pop down menu called "Your Topic." Select the topic of interest and press "Go."I would suggest you bookmark my main page and/or your specific areas of interest so that you can find them easily in the future. On each page at the very top, there is a link you can click on:
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A list of resources that have been used to produce this newsletter can be found on my web site here.

Hope I provided some useful ways for you to become better prepared for you best golf season ever.

Ken Tannar

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