Sunday, February 28, 2010

Understanding the Unorthodox Swings - Part 2

In Part 2 I will look at perhaps the golfer with perhaps the most unorthodox swing of them all, Jim Furyk.

While Furyk's swing is very unorthodox in its own right, I find his double overlap grip even more unorthodox.

In TGM terms, Furyke uses a reverse loop shift, taking the club very upward and vertical and then shifting to the elbow plane.

What I find neat about Furyk's swing is that in the transition he immediately drops the club almost perfectly on the inclined plane of his downswing.

Some will call this as 'laying off' or 'dropping in the slot.' I do think there is some dropping of the club initially in the startdown for Furyk. Then from there he just pivots well thru impact. Look at all that saved right arm at impact.

One of the things I think you will see with these unorthodox looking swings is most of them have plenty of right arm at impact and post impact. I think that it usually means that their swing is very pivot driven and that allows them to control the clubface and path which would probably be very inconsistent if the 'ran out of right arm' and relied more on their arms instead of their pivot and hands to swing the club.

In fact, I believe PGA Pro and Manzella Certified Instructor, Kevin Shields, has mentioned that Furyk has the best clubhead dimensions thru impact of anybody on Tour according to Trackman.

I think it's beneficial to look and study at Furyk's swing because it shows that there's so many imaginable ways to swing a golf club effectively and how his incredible pivot is that allows him to hit the ball so well.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blades vs. Game Improvement Irons Article

Here's an article that Australian and PGA Tour player Bradley Hughes posted over at the Advanced Ballstriking Forum. Thought it would be interesting to share.

Click the articles to enlarge them:

I would say that the sample size is a bit small for this to be a legitimately valid study and some other flaws that may hurt the study (particularly trying different blade irons vs. different GI irons).

But I still think it's a good ballpark estimate of what happens. The thing that it shows me that is important:

1. Mis-hits with GI's will tend to go longer.
2. Mis-hits with blades will tend to go straighter and have a much tighter dispersion.

Lastly, there's a big risk reward with the GI irons. I think there's a chance that if you mis-hit a GI iron you can still wind up hitting the occasional exceptional shot. However, if you mis-hit a GI iron you also risk hitting the shot that is far worse than mis-hitting a blade iron.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Dustin Johnson Swing

Here's Dustin Johnson and his thoughts on his swing. I know he's becoming a very popular golfer.

Lots of Lag Erickson's Advanced Ball Striking principles here. I think he's got a great future.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Another Trackman Reading - Version 3.0

A couple more Trackman readings. These are a couple of swings with a 7-iron.

Club Speed = 89.4
Attack Angle = -2.1

Attack angle is a little shallow compared to the PGA Tour standard (-4). This means the golfer needs to have a Horizontal Swing Plane of -1* left in order to zero out the path.

Horiz. Swing Plane = 0.2

HSP is pretty much square, needed to be more at -1* to 'zero out' the path. But this should still provide a decent path.

Club Path = 2.0

Okay, so the path is a bit 'inside-to-out' by 2*

Face Angle = -1.2

Face angle is a little closed. So we got -1.2* face angle and +2.0 Club Path. Ball will draw...probably start out at the target and then draw a little left of the target.

Horiz. Angle = 0.2

Like I predicted, initial direction is right at the target.

Spin Axis = -2.0

Draw spin. So the ball should wind up a little bit left of the target.

Side = -4.3

So the ball would wind up 4.3 yards left of the target. If the golfer has the right distance, they are left with about a 13 foot putt. Not a bad result but I think they would like a shot a little more at the target with a 7-iron.

Here's a 2nd Trackman reading.

Attack Angle = -2.6
Horiz. Swing Plane = 0.0

Even though this golfer will not zero out their path, their attack angle and HSP are consistent. This shows a consistent plane and good low point control. That's good.

Club Path = 1.4
Face Angle = -0.2

Just about a dead square to the target face angle and a clubpath slightly inside-to-out. Should be a great shot with a very small draw to the target.

Horiz. Angle = 0.2

Start out right at the target

Spin Axis = -2.0

More draw than I would have expected. May have caught this shot slightly off the toe.

Side = 2.8L

A shot that goes 2.8 yards left of thet arget. Still a very good shot.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vintage Irons Suggestions - Part III

In this look at suggesting vintage irons I will take a look into the Wilson Staff line. As far as vintage irons go, Wilson Staff is probably the last company still going somewhat strong with their irons as their high profile player is Padraig Harrington.

I was asked about forgings and a test done awhile ago where they did a 'blind test' having golfers hit forged and cast irons and see if they could tell the difference and they wound up not being able to tell the difference.

Awhile ago Scratch Golf CEO, Ari Techner, stated that the issue with that test is that they used the same type of steel. However, most forged irons are made from a different type of steel and Scratch Golf has the patent on the softest steel in the golf equipment industry.

I think Mizuno makes a really soft feeling iron, but the other forged irons (excluding Scratch and Miura) have a noticeably less softer feel IMO. That being said, the vintage irons tend to have a softer feel like the Mizuno's. My guess is that they probably used a softer steel and there were probably no real patents and OEM's just used the best steel that they could find and afford to use.

Unlike MacGregor, Wilson Staff had a very steady line of quality clubs. Come the 1980's they tried to get into the cast and Game Improvement irons and didn't really succeed. But now they are sticking more to the forged line of clubs.

WS has 4 lines of irons that are some of my all time favorites.

1959 Dynapower

I've seen these and swung these clubs. The clubface is very 'short' and probably have less grooves than your normal blade. I've heard that these are very heavy, getting into the E-0 range swingweight. When I swung them they felt heavy, but I thought they were probably about a D-5 swingweight or so.

1969 Dynapower

These irons start to look more like today's irons and I'm sure that many of today's irons are modeled after these irons. Very round heads.

1971 Buttonbacks

These may be my favorites of the Wilson Staff line of clubs. (bottom iron)

These irons have a bit more of a squared edge and feel as good as it gets when hit flush.

1981 Tour Blade

The Tour blade has a smaller sole on the club, more like 1960's Hogan irons. Really great club if you can get it in good condition.

Next up, Spalding irons


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Swing Update 2.22.10

Here's some updated swings. One is with my Hogan IPT 2-iron (which is about a D-5 swingweight) and the other is with a wooden laminated Hogan driver.

I'm basically still working on getting on the elbow plane (aka the 4:30 line) and along with my flatter lie angles my downswing has almost naturally flattened out. There's still a lot of things to work on, but as far as the elbow plane I think I'm getting there.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Understanding the Unorthodox Swings - Part 1

One of the things that appeals to me about Lag Erickson's ( teachings and philosophies is that he was smart enough to study and take video of good ballstrikers with unorthodox swings and see what they had in common.

I think looking at the all-time great swings and great ballstrikers is important because it can show the many different ways to execute a very mechanically sound golf swing and create various levels of dynamics in that swing as well.

However, I think it's important to look at those 'quirky' swings of guys who do strike the ball well and then see what common themes there are in those swings that allow them to hit the ball so well.

Let's take at perhaps the original great ballstriker with an unorthodox swing, Lee Trevino.

According to Trevino, he suffered from a hook and eventually 'hanged on for dear life' with the clubface so he wouldn't hit that hook.

He had the philosophy of 'aim left, swing right, walk straight.'

I think the 'hanging on for dear life' created an angled hinge in Trevino's swing and I think that was important for him because he probably had a horizontal hinge motion and just couldn't control the clubface nearly as well.

I also think that aiming left benefited him greatly as well. Trevino felt like he was swinging right, but with his body aimed so far to the left, he was probably still moving the Swing Plane left enought to stay on plane in the downswing.

Trevino also is one of those great ballstrikers that was accused of being short off the tee, but the data I have shows that he was usually about average in length off the tee during his years on the PGA Tour.

Trevino came down on the elbow plane, with pitch elbow and a snap release. His backswing to downswing was more or less an outside move that motioned to the inside.

He also had about as much shaft lean as any great golfer in the history of the game, which is a big reason why he was able to take such big divots.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

3Jack's Top 10 Swings of All Time - #1

When you think of the all time great swing, it all goes back to one man in Ben Hogan.

For better or for worse, all golf instructions winds up pointing back to Hogan or referencing him in such high regard. TGM stresses swing individuality, but any TGM'er can rave about Hogan's swing. S&T likes to reference him. He's the golfer that SliceFixer (aka Geoff Jones) has based his instruction on. Lag Erickson's ABS holds him as the gold standard of swings and MORAD uses him (and Sam Snead) as a primary swing model.

People die to get uncovered footage of him or pictures and put them into YouTube and they are still talking about his supposed 'secret' till this day.

As a testament to Hogan's ballstriker, in the top 10 in the US Open 15 years in a row. And he won it 5 times.

He's a particularly fascinating case because he was more or less a talented journeyman pro who couldn't get rid of his hook to take him over the top. Then when he was bound and determined to rid himself of the hook, he did and his career and ballstriking his mid-30's. Then when he got into a horrible car accident, his swing just continued to get better and better.

And while I still consider Moe Norman they greatest 'pure ballstriker' ever, I certainly wouldn't take offense to Hogan being called the greatest ballstriker ever (I don't think Moe would've minded either).

The other misconception was that Hogan was 'short' off the tee. There was a scientific study that said that Hogan's clubhead speed after he discovered 'the secret', but pre-accident would be at an estimate 122 mph with the driver. The other issue was that Hogan was seen mostly by people after the car accident which basically crushed his entire left side and he was starting to get into his 40's.

Anyway, what can we learn from Hogan?

Well, like other swings in the top 10 I would say a ton of things. But I would like to point to Hogan's right arm. In TGM, Homer Kelley talks a lot about golfers not wanting to run out of right arm at impact. That is, you want plenty of right arm bend at impact. I don't think anybody did it better than Hogan.

And he 'saved' that right arm well past impact as well.

With that much 'saving' of the right arm it almost guarantees a very pivot driven, on plane downswing. And it's not a big mystery as to why Hogan was so good.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

2009 PGA Tour Total Ballstriking Rankings

I did a ballstriking statistical analysis for the 2009 season. This analysis consists of looking at total driving, GIR and proximity to the hole. Here's the results.

1. Jason Bohn
2. Heath Slocum
3. David Toms
4. Jay Williamson
5. Robert Allenby
6. Greg Owen
7. Joe Durant
8. John Senden
9. Kenny Perry
10. D.J. Trahan
11. Patrick Sheehan
12. Hunter Mahan
13. Tiger Woods
14. Zach Johnson
15. Michael Allen
16. Tommy Armour III
17. Tim Clark
18. Kirk Triplett
19. Kris Blanks
20. Chad Campbell
21. Jeff Maggert
22. Justin Leonard
23. Robert Garrigus
24. Steve Stricker
25. Boo Weekley
26. Chris Stroud
27. Steve Marino
28. Jason Dufner
29. Tom Lehman
30. Charles Warren
31. Scott Verplank
32. Lucas Glover
33. Briny Baird
34. Troy Matteson
35. Steve Elkington
36. Sean O'Hair
37. Will MacKenzie
38. Alex Cejka
39. Bo Van Pelt
40. Scott Sterling
41. Jonathan Byrd
42. Ernie Els
43. Sergio Garcia
44. Darron Stiles
45. Stephen Ames
46. Fred Couples
47. Bryce Molder
48. Kevin Stadler
49. Matt Weibring
50. Ted Purdy
51. Billy Mayfair
52. Jim Furyk
53. Marc Leishman
54. Chez Reavie
55. Mark Wilson
56. J.J. Henry
57. Nicholas Thompson
58. Ben Crane
59. Davis Love III
60. Vijay Singh
61. Bill Haas
62. Bill Lunde
63. Nick O'Hern
64. Glen Day
65. Kevin Streelman
66. Colt Knost
67. Charley Hoffman
68. John Merrick
69. Dustin Johnson
70. Ryan Moore
71. Jason Gore
72. Harrison Frazar
73. Rich Beem
74. Camilo Villegas
75. Justin Rose
76. Bob Heintz
77. D.A. Points
78. Ricky Barnes
79. Rod Pampling
80. Jeff Klauk
81. Casey Wittenberg
82. Y.E. Yang
83. Mathew Goggin
84. Martin Laird
85. Kent Jones
86. Brandt Snedeker
87. Nick Watney
88. Bob Estes
89. Tag Ridings
90. Vaughn Taylor
91. Bart Bryant
92. K.J. Choi
93. Brian Gay
94. Steve Flesch
95. Scott McCarron
96. Charlie Wi
97. Matt Kuchar
98. Chris Riley
99. Rocco Mediate
100. Cameron Beckman
101. Woody Austin
102. Kevin Sutherland
103. Chris DiMarco
104. Jerry Kelly
105. Peter Tomasulo
106. Ryan Palmer
107. Matt Jones
108. John Mallinger
109. Charles Howell III
110. Dean Wilson
111. Johnson Wagner
112. Brian Davis
113. Michael Letzig
114. Steve Lowery
115. John Rollins
116. Rick Price
117. Scott Piercy
118. Brendon de Jonge
119. Kevin Na
120. Spencer Levin
121. Jason Day
122. Todd Hamilton
123. Angel Cabrera
124. Jeff Quinney
125. Paul Goydos
126. Stewart Cink
127. Lee Janzen
128. Gary Woodland
129. Brett Quigley
130. Tim Petrovic
131. Mark Brooks
132. Corey Pavin
133. Mike Weir
134. Richard S. Johnson
135. Rory Sabbatini
136. Bubba Watson
137. Retief Goosen
138. Adam Scott
139. Mark Calcavecchia
140. Jarrod Lyle
141. Luke Donald
142. Cliff Kresge
143. Aron Price
144. Pat Perez
145. Ken Duke
146. Peter Lonard
147. Greg Chalmers
148. George McNeill
149. James Nitties
150. Tom Pernice, Jr.
151. Phil Mickelson
152. Daniel Chopra
153. Ian Poulter
154. Geoff Ogilvy
155. Webb Simpson
156. Brian Vranesh
157. Stuart Appleby
158. Andres Romero
159. Anthony Kim
160. Leif Olson
161. Tim Herron
162. Jimmy Walker
163. Fredrik Jacobson
164. Greg Kraft
165. J.B. Holmes
166. Brian Bateman
167. Brad Adamonis
168. Matt Bettencourt
169. Ben Curtis
170. Joe Ogilvie
171. Marc Turnesa
172. Padraig Harrington
173. Carl Pettersson
174. David Mathis
175. Jeff Overton
176. David Duval
177. Nathan Green
178. Brendon Todd
179. Aaron Baddeley
180. Ryuji Imada
181. Derek Fathauer
182. Eric Axley
183. Parker McLachlin
184. Brad Faxon

Couldn't get anything on Jason Bohn's swing, but here's a look at Heath Slocum's swing, who is taught by TGM AI Mark Blackburn.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Some More Help With Irons

There has been some talk over at Lag Erickson's forum as to whether or not vintage blade irons are better than modern blade irons. Lag's thoughts are along the lines that all of the truly great rounds of golf wound up being done with vintage blades. When Johnny Miller won the '73 US Open at Oakmont, he had the US Open's lowest round ever at what is considered by many the toughest course in the world. He hit 18 greens (and I believe he only missed 1 fairway) and his average length birdie putt was 10 feet long. And he did it with some 1950's Tommy Armour Silver Scot blades made by MacGregor.

But do Vintage Blades out perform modern blades or is it the other way around?

First, don't get me wrong in that I think there are some really good blade irons out there. I've hit the Mizuno MP-68's and the Cobra MB's and both are very nice. The same with the Miura blades. I have yet to hit the Scratch Golf irons, but I've heard nothing but rave reviews about them as well.

So, what are the differences in today's blades? Well I asked Tom Wishon about the differences in sweetspots and Center of Gravity (CG's) of vintage vs. modern blades and here was his reply:
It is true that old blades did typically end up with the center of gravity closer to the heel side of the face while more modern designs will have the CG more in the center of the face scoreline area. This is chiefly because back in the 60s and before that, few of the club companies really knew much about the center of gravity of a clubhead and did not know all that much about how to control its position.

By the 80s, more companies were becoming aware of the importance and control of the CG, so irons designed in this era are not typically going to show the CG being that much off center toward the heel. Some models in this era, yes, but not as many as you would see in the 60s and before that.

As to the vertical height of the CG, the only way you would see an early blade design with a lower CG than today's blades is if the old blade was designed with a shorter blade height and/or a more narrow sole. Yes, you did see a few more blades of the 60s and before that did have both a little shorter blade height, so in these specific cases, the CG could be a little lower. However, because there were more old blade designs with a little more narrow sole than you see today, that would have negated somewhat the lower CG that comes along with a shorter blade height.

So at the end of the day, from my yrs of experience in design and club analysis, I would say that old blades definitely had more tendency for the CG to be on the heel side of the center of the face, but the vertical CG positions would not tend to be lower than blades of today.
It's important to note what Wishon says here, especially 'As to the vertical height of the CG, the only way you would see an early blade design with a lower CG than today's blades is if the old blade was designed with a shorter blade height and/or a more narrow sole.'

Basically Wishon is saying that most vintage blades had a higher Center of Gravity, except for the blades that had a shorter clubhead height. The 1959 Wilson Staff Dynapowers are a great example of a clubhead that is very 'short.'

So, which can outperform the other?

I think the big thing the modern blades have going for them is distance. If they can go longer than a golfer can use less club and effectively be a bit more accurate.

However, I'm not sold on that always being true. In high school when clubfitting was still a bit archaic, one of my friends wanted to get fitted for irons and the clubfitter would fit irons solely by lengthening the shafts with shaft extensions.

He wound up going with shafts that were +1 1/4" longer than standard and was hitting his 7-iron about 30 yards further, but he certainly was not as accurate or as consistent. Thankfully, he quickly junked those extensions.

But that's part of the issue with modern clubs, even blades. You can hit them further because the shafts are longer (my Hogan IPT's are -1/2" shorter than standard) and the lofts are much stronger. I plan on making a 'test run' on getting one set of my vintage irons re-chromed, re-shafted, re-grooved, etc. and will put in standard length shafts and have standard lofts, but I believe in the end I will be able to hit them just as far and as accurate as modern blades.

So why would I want to do that if in the end I get the same performance?

Well, it costs cheaper.

If I want a new set (4-PW) of MP-68's...I'm looking at about $800. A new set of Miura's are about $1,100. Same with Scratch Golf unless I go with their Tour Custom line which is $2,500.

Plus, I don't get the razor sharp leading edges, unless I go with Scratch Golf's Tour Custom line.

However, if I were to buy some vintage irons and get them totally rebuilt thru The Iron Factory ( I would probably be out about $500 when all is said and done.

One of the things I'm experimenting with is Lag's protocol for flattening the lie angles and making the clubs heavier.

I have the lie angles 4* flat, but they are actually playing 5* flat because the shafts are -1/2" shorter (for every 1/2", that is 1* of lie angle).

This is an interesting concept because not only does it force the golfer to swing flatter but it takes the misses left and particularly the OTT miss left and long, out of the equation.

This is interesting because as Lag mentioned, if you look at course designs most of them are geared towards either jail or a very unlikely up and down. Here's a look at the number of holes where a golfer doesn't want to miss left at the courses I play at:

Windermere = 14 (out of 18)
OAC = 12
Hamilton Mill = 11
Traditions = 11
Eagle Watch = 13

I also added lead tape to my irons to make the clubs heavier. Unfortunately my IPT's were actually at C9 swingweights. I got some questions on how I lead tape them and here's the basic instructions:

- Get some *high density* lead tape. It weighs more and is easier to measure.

- 1" of High Density Lead Tape = 1 gram

- 2 grams = approximately 1 swing weight.

- Put the lead tape around where bottom 4th and 5th grooves are.

For me I just cut myself a 2" strip of lead tape (which equates to about 1 swingweight point). So for my C9 swingweights that I was trying to make D5 that required six 2" strips of lead tape.

However, you also have to be careful about the grip. The heavier the club is up by the grip, the lighter the swingweight will be. I think my IPT's were probably D-1 swingweights, but since I use grips that are +1/32" over standard, the grip may have made the swingweight lighter.

One of the reasons why I'm interested in the Iron Factory is that the owner Jim Kronus uses a special type of plating that supposedly can *add* or take off weight on the clubhead, so you can create a heavier or lighter swingweight naturally, without being forced to use lead tape or drill holes to take weight off. But every great player has used lead tape at least once in their life.

Either way, I think at the very least having blades as practice irons is a good thing and the game is filled with legends that used only blade style irons. I can certainly understand the preference for vintage blades, but I can also understand the love for modern blades. You just need to make sure that the specs are precise.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another Sample Trackman Reading - Version 2.0

Another sample Trackman, this time with Manzella Academy instructor Kevin Shields.

The numbers:

91.2 mph clubhead speed
55.7 Vertical Swing Plane
-3.0 attack angle
-0.5 clubface angle

Kevin is one of the better non-touring professionals in the country and as you can see, he controls the clubface pretty well. He comes down on the turned shoulder plane with a 6-iron and thus his VSP is 55.7 degrees. If he wanted to move to the elbow plane, he would probably have to get in the area of 45-50 degrees.

With his clubface almost dead square (-0.5*), he's got a shot at hitting this dead straight at the target with a flush strike. His attack ange is -3.0*, so he will need a Horizontal Swing Plane of about -1.5 (left) or will need to 'release/swing left' by about -1.5* to hit it dead straight.

-4.4* Horizontal Swing plane
-2.4* Club Path

Kevin's HSP is actually -4.4* instead of -1.5*. This means his clubpath is going -2.4* left.

So, we get a face of -0.5* and a path of -2.4*, the ball should start slightly left and fade slightly back towards the target.

1.36 Smash Factor

Smash Factor = Ball Speed / Clubhead Speed.

The higher the smash factor, the more 'flush' the golfer struck the ball. The PGA Tour average with a 6-iron is 1.38. Kevin is at 1.36 which is still very good but maybe an indication he didn't quite catch it all.

-0.9 Horizontal Launch

As you can see by the ball flight as well as we predicted from reading the numbers, the ball started out slightly to the left.

0.0 Spin Axis

Ball had 'straight' spin. The numbers tell us that it should fade. According to Kevin, he caught this very slightly off the toe. Since the ball should've had fade spin and the smash factor was slightly less than optimal, it makes perfect sense that Kevin caught this slightly off the toe.

This is one of the beauties of Trackman as Brian Manzella pointed out on his 'interview' on his Web site ( It's very easy to mis-hit a shot and have even a slight mis-hit. This can fool the golfer into thinking some things that are actually not true.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Denny Alberts' Video

Blog follower and 3Jack Message Board Member gmbtempe is now working with instructor Denny Alberts and is having instant success doing so. Here's a video intro to Alberts' teaching.

Alberts' approach to the swing is similar to the way the S&T instructors approach to the swing. He had certain components to the swing and a golfer can choose to go with all of the components or just select a few. To a degree, his backswing is patterned after Jack Kuykendall's new 'elbow-to-elbow' swing.

Alberts is now a member of the 3Jack Message Board


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Head Dipping with Wayne DeFrancesco

An analysis of 'head dipping' with Wayne DeFrancesco.


Monday, February 15, 2010

3Jack Goes Old School Again Version 3.0

I am looking to bend my 1963 Hogan IPT's flatter and wanted to get a backup set of Hogan's just in case something went wrong. I also wanted to try some persimmon drivers for practice and wound up getting a great deal for $100 total. These are some 1967 Hogan Percussion irons with woods.

I also bought some high density lead tape and plan to get my IPT's at a D-5 to D-6 swing weight. I was told the following:

1" of Lead Tape = 1 gram
2 grams = 1 swingweight point


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Sample Trackman Reading

If anybody has any Trackman reports that they want analyzed, they can feel free to post them in the 'Trackman' thread in the Golf Swing folder on my forum OR post it in the 'Help With My Swing' folder on the forum.

Here's a video of a golfer using Trackman.

There's many things to love about Trackman, but this video displays much of it, particularly its ease of use. It's about the size of a small suitcase and you can bring it right out on the range with your laptop and start using it. You can also use it for indoors hitting into a net, but being able to use a portable, accurate launch monitor outdoors is what golfer's have been looking out for quite some time.

Let's take a look at the numbers:

88.6 mph clubhead speed
-2.1 Attack Angle
-2.6 Clubface Angle

Average LPGA clubhead speed with the driver is 94 mph. This golfer is under that. Also note that the average LPGA attack angle with the driver is +3, this golfer hits downward -2.1*. The LPGA hits up on the ball with the driver to help optimize their distance as they usually lack the clubhead speed to hit it far.

However, I would probably try to get this golfer to shallow out the attack angle only a little bit as I would continue to develop their swing before I considered hitting up on the ball. The big reason being is that with an upward attack angle the golfer will need to swing out to the right in order to hit it straight. I think there's a good way to do that, mainly by getting your address position more closed instead of regular LPGA golfer who swings well out to the right with a square stance which can cause some swing compensations IMO. Plus, as this golfer develops their swing, their clubhead speed may greatly develop as well.

The clubface angle would trouble me as well as the PGA Tour quality golfers usually keep their clubface in the -1 to +1 degree range. -2.6 is outside of that spectrum and the only way the golfer gets the ball back to the target is with a fade.

To properly hit that fade she'll need a Horizontal Swing Plane (aka 'swing left') of about -3 to -4*. If she had a square face and wanted to 'zero out' her path, she would need to swing left by about -2*.

-2.0* Horizontal Swing Plane

Attack angle was -2.1* and the HSP is -2.0*. With a driver that will 'zero out' the clubhead path into the golf ball.

-0.2* Club Path

As expected with the Attack Angle (-2.1) and the HSP (-2.0*), the clubpath gets 'zeroed out.'

This *should* create a pull draw (-2.6* face angle, -0.2* club path).

49.3* Vertical Swing Plane

Here's where Trackman doesn't realy help John Erickson's Advanced Ball Striking much. One of the fundamentals of ABS is getting on the '4:30 line' (elbow plane) on the downswing and while this VSP is somewhat flat, it doesn't tell us if we are on the 4:30 line or not. Now, one could get a camera and check to see when they are on the 4:30 line and then measure that VSP angle. However the VSP should change and get more upright as the clubs get shorter.

9.2* Vertical Launch
-2.3* Horizontal Launch

Ball went a bit low (vertical launch should be about 10-14* with a driver) and started -2.3* left which we expected with the clubface angle at -2.6* closed.

8.2 Spin Axis

The instructor notes that with the spin axis the golfer must have hit the ball off the heel. A positive number spin axis means the ball is spinning to the right or has a slice spin to it. A negative number means a hook spin.

This golfer had a -2.6* face angle and a -0.2* path. Which should result in a pull draw. Instead the spin axis is going the opposite way which gives the indication the golfer hit this off the heel.

15.1 yards Max Height

Very low height, should be more towards 25 yards. This low height is partly due to low clubhead speed, a hit off the heel and some other factors as well.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

3Jack's Top 10 Swings of All-Time - #2

My #2 swing of all time belongs to Sam Snead.

It seems on the internet that Snead has lost some steam in his claim to the greatest ballstriker ever. But when I was growing up playing junior golf I was always told that the main great ballstrikers were Snead, Hogan and Knudson. Trevino was usualy left off that list and considered as the greatest 'shotmaker' ever. Looking back now I would consider Trevino one of the great ballstrikers and Hogan aso a great 'shotmaker' (as well as Moe Norman - who I didn't know about until the early 90's). The other golfers like Grant Waite and Mac O'Grady were introduced.

Anyway Snead was beloved by many older golfers that I looked up to and had watched him play in part because he was tremendously long off the tee and made it look easy.

In fact, Mac O'Grady has told students that his 'model swing' is about 80% Snead and 20% Hogan as well as rating Hogan's swing a '99' on a scale up to 100.

Fellow pro Gardner Dickinson once wrote that he never saw shots (windows) hit from a golfer like Snead and even Hogan couldn't compare. Furthermore, the one guy it was reported that Hogan admittedly 'feared' was Snead.

When I think of Snead I usually harken back to an old TV special in black and white where they follow Snead playing a round of golf by himself. He made it look quite easy the entire round of golf and on one par-5 he went for in two and wound up in the creek, he calmly hit out of the creek to about 5-feet and made the putt for birdie.

Snead had a very long swing which was propelled by his big shoulder turn. He then double shifted down to the elbow plane releasing the clubhead very late with a snap release. Because he had such a big pivoting action and a snap release he was able to maximize his clubhead speed and make it look relatively easy doing so.

What can we learn from Sam's swing?

Well for starters, I think the length of the backswing is overblown in its importance to striking the ball well. It's generally thought that there's no way one can consistently control the ball with a long backswing. Not only did Snead have an extra long backswing, but Hogan's swing wasy always quite long...even after his car accident.

I think length of the backswing in large part is reliant on the golfer's ability to turn their shoulders. Snead had around 130 degrees of shoulder turn, so his backswing should be ong. Whereas somebody with about 90 degrees of shoulder turn should have a shorter swing than Snead. However, I don't see a lot of instances where a golfer should try to reduce their backswing shoulder turn.

It's also important to note Snead's impeccable footwork. Here's what Snead once said about footwork:

'Footwork is more important than most golfers realize. It's the foundation for your balance. I used to work on my footwork fundamentals by practicing barefoot in our backyard. When you swing barefoot, you experience the feeling of your feet anchoring or "rooting" you to the ground. At address, you feel as if your toes are almost up in the air and free. Your weight is established on the balls of your feet and somewhat back toward your heels--never out on the toes.' - Snead


Vintage Iron Suggestions - Part II

In part II of my Vintage Iron Suggestions I look at the MacGregor line of irons. I don't think any company has produced more lines or sets of irons than MacGregor. In fact, there was a time when an average amateur, if they were willing to pony up the dough, could make a trip to the MacGregor plant in Albany, GA and get clubs grinded specifically for them and even have lunch with the company's CEO. Those days are long gone, but Scratch Golf ( offers that level of customization and service with their Tour Custom line of irons.

However, that's part of the problem with suggesting vintage MacGregor irons, there's a lot of customized jobs out there. Also there was a point when Nicklaus had to go to the company and tell them that their clubs were poorly made and designed and threaten to leave because he had his signature on them. The company turned around their level of product tremendously after Nicklaus read them the riot act, but it's still difficult to figure out if a set of irons were during the low point of the company. Also, MacGregor made quite a bit of irons that were more or less mass produced for department stores and such. There's a book of pretty much all of the MacGregor irons ever made, but I have yet to get my hands on it.

I would highly suggest any of the MacGregor Tommy Armour line of irons.

I think there is a 915, 945, and 985 line of Tommy Armour MacGregors. The 945 line I believe was the most popular of the Tour pros. I believe Johnny Miller used the 945's in the 70's (the 945's were actually made in 1953) and later signed a large deal with another equipment company and started using their irons but regretted it and went back to the Tommy Armours and just played his new endorser's woods.

The MacGregor MT85 Colokroms are excellent as well.

A golfing buddy of mine had a set of the Colokrom's in his basement and they felt extremely good and set up really nice as well.

Another nice looking set is the MT RMT2

However, you may have to get over the shading on the clubface.

The MT Blades may be my favorite MacGregors of them all.

You might want to be careful when getting these MT blades because there is your basic sole MT blades and then there is a 'step sole' MT blades and you may not like the 'step sole.'

The Muirfield line of irons was usually excellent.

If you want an extremely small clubhead, I would suggest the Muirfield irons with the '20th Anniversary' stamped on the back of them.

However, I prefer the MacGregor VIP line, but only the type of irons that look like this:

There's a few different sets that look like that, some will have the 'Nicklaus' stamp on them and some will have a 'MacGregor' stamp on the back and then there's the famous 'Curtis Strange' stamp as well.

Of course, there are the Toney Penna VIP's which are superb.



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fishing and Golf by Shawn Clement

Recently on the message board we have been talking about taking the 'thrust' out of the right arm out of the golf swing and unbending the right wrist at impact. Here's a video that Shawn Clement made about fishing and golf that somewhat illustrates the point.

If you look at when Clement 'casts the lure' his right arm is still bent at the elbow and right wrist unbends as he casts the lure out to the pond.

Here's a couple of looks at Ben Hogan.

As you can see Hogan has a very bent right arm at impact and then it stays bent (but to a lesser degree, but still more than your average golfer) well past impact.

One of the things experienced golfers have guarded against over the years is casting the golf club. But I think what has happened is that because of that fear of casting the club, they wind up throwing (thrusting) the right arm and try to keep the right wrist with it's maximum bend at impact.

Instead, I think a better and more efficient way is pivot on the downswing, unbend the right wrist and keep the right arm bent in and thru impact.

On the downswing, everybody's main objective is to get the clubhead to the ball. I think there's different ways golfers do it.

'Casters' = No or little pivot on the downswing causing them to throw the right arm and unbend the right wrist to get to the ball. The also usually do not have much axis tilt.

'Thrusters' = Frozen right wrist, some pivot, axis tilt varies, and they thrust the right arm to get the clubhead to the ball. The right arm is usually bent at impact, but not nearly as much as Hogan and they usually use a CF release (releasing out to the right).

Here's a good pic demonstrating a CP release (releasing left, left pic) and CF release (releasing out to the right, right pic).

John Erickson calls the CP release (hitting) and CF release (swinging), but that can be confusing for golfers who understand TGM. So I will tentatively call the CF release (thrusters) unless I see somebody that I think thrusts and uses a CP release.

Thrusters are not all bad. Moe Norman was certainly a thruster in my book. I think in order for him to hit it dead straight like he did he had fabulous face control and a shallow attack angle.

'Savers' - Right Wrist unbends, plenty of pivot action to and thru the ball, arms are very inactive thru the impact interval. They more or less:

1. Drop the arms on the startdown a bit while pivoting.
2. Get plenty of axis tilt.
3. 'Cast' the club by unbending the right wrist and keep pivoting.
4. Have a lot of right arm bend at impact.

Very tough to 'flip' with a lot of right arm bend at impact. I call them 'savers' because when a golfer has a straight right arm at impact or close to a straight arm, it's often referred to as 'running out of right arm.' If they have plenty of right arm bend and keep it thru impact, then they have 'saved the right arm.'


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vintage Irons Suggestions - Part I

I've received some questions about what type of vintage irons that golfers should go after, so I wanted to put this in a blog so people can refer to it for help. First, I suggest that if you're going after some vintage irons, make sure that they are forged irons. Cast irons probably became popular in the mid-80s and most of them had a tremendous amount of offset and you can only bend cast so much. Clubfitters are usually averse to bending irons much either way, but the reality is that you can bend the forged irons a ton and not every worry about them snapping.

Also, check to see what type of shafts are in the vintage irons. You'll probably want to change your shafts if you become serious about using vintage irons outside of practice. But I would stay away from the aluminum shafts which were prevalent back then because they are very light and have a poor feel to them.

I've also been asked about shafts that were 'pinned' in some vintage irons. Back in the 60's and earlier, Hogan company would put a 'pin' in the hosel of the shafts to keep the shafts from falling out. Some golfers think that it made Hogan's irons 'special' but the reality is that back then the epoxy was not very good at keeping the shafts in place, so Hogan went a step further and just pinned them so the shafts wouldn't fall out. I spoke to Jim Kronus at the Iron Factory about the process of re-shafting pinned irons and he said it's quite easy as they just re-shaft like they normally do with modern epoxy and weld the pin hole shut and all he charges is $1 extra per club to do that.

I highly recommend the Iron Factory for their work. Not only do they do tremendous work (Shawn Clement recommends them as well), but their chroming process is such that they can add weight or take off weight with their re-chroming. Almost any other re-chroming process takes some weight off the clubhead.

Lastly, I will only be recommending blade, muscle back irons. Although the forged cavity back design hasn't been around that long, I think for the purposes of trying to improve your swing, motor skills and hand-eye's best to go with blade style irons.

In Part I, we will look at the Hogan company irons.

As you may already know, I currently carry a set of 1963 Hogan IPT (Improved Power Thrust) blades that I like quite a bit. I think the Hogan forgings are excellent and better than most of the other forgings of other OEM clubs outside of probably Mizuno. I believe that Hogan designed the irons personally until the '63 IPT's cam out. I am pretty certain that the last line of irons that Hogan personally designed were the 1962 Power Thrusts.

As I've explained before with the line of Hogan irons from the 60's, you'll find that they look somewhat like today's blades and then from the 8-PW the clubhead becomes very round. But I actually like the way those short irons perform. They also have very sharp leading edges, longer hosels and are about 1/2" shorter than today's irons.

I really dig most of the Hogan irons from the 60's, but my favorites are probably the Bounce Sole 1+ irons.

The 70's was an excellent decade of clubmaking for Hogan's company. Just some real gems here. You should also see some slightly longer shafted irons as well, about +1/4" longer which is about the length of today's standard length muscleback irons.

It's tough for me to choose a best one from this decade, but I really like the 1972 Hogan Apex. You can tell those are the 1972 as the back stamping has 'Apex' on top.

I get a lot of questions on the Apex II line, which is an excellent line. I've spoken to a few Hogan irons afficianados and they believe that the Apex II irons are the softest of all Hogan forgings. There's a 'white cameo' and a 'black cameo' and from what I've been told is that the 'white cameo' was, at the time, meant for the higher skilled golfer. Why that was I have no idea.

Hogan irons in the 80's tried to be more 'user friendly' and it was probably the downfall of the company as 'user friendly' irons were mastered by Ping until Callaway came along. However, they made some gems in the Hogan Apex 'Redline' irons.

I vividly recall the Redlines being the skilled golfer's club of choice when it came to blade style irons. There's also the Hogan Apex PC, which is supposed to be a very difficult club to hit.

I get some questions about the 'Medallion' line of irons. I have hit both the '78 and '82 Medallion irons, but I preferred the '82 Medallions.

Then there's always the 1983 Hogan Personal irons. Those were a re-make of the 1958 Precision irons.

The Personal irons design was a precursor to the Mizuno MP-29's which were wildly popular. The problem with the Personal irons is that a used set goes for about $750 and you can find some new sets, but they go for about $1,200.

In the 90's Hogan still went the Game Improvement irons path, but still the company was able to produce a few more good muscleback irons.

The Hogan company I believe moved their forging house from Ft. Worth to Virginia and then moved back to Ft. Worth and then back to Virginia. The general consensus is you want the Ft. Worth made clubs. Hogan made an FT model which looks very similar to the '88 Redlines, but it will say 'FORGED' on the back stamping and say 'Fort Worth' on the hosel.

I would say that the best of the 90's musclebacks are:

- Hogan FT (pic above)
- Hogan Grind (back stamp says 'GRIND')
- Hogan Channelback (pic below)

After that, the '99 Apex's are pretty good, but they don't have that feel that the Ft. Worth forgings had.

The 21st century Hogan's pretty much saw the company die out as Callaway had taken over and could not re-create the old magic of Hogan irons.



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trackman PGA & LPGA Tour Averages

Interesting stats provided by Trackman in their latest newsletter. First, here's what each abbreviation means:

ClSd = Clubhead Speed
BlSd = Ball Speed
AoA = Attack Angle
VLa = Vertical Launch Angle
Spin = Spin Rate
MH = Maximum Height of Ball
Carry = Carry of ball in yards

Here's the PGA Tour Averages for 2009


Here's the LPGA Tour averages for 2009:


Some noticeably differences here besides clubhead speed and ball speed. Particularly the Attack angle where the LPGA is much more shallow on the Attack Ange. The average AoA for the PGA Tour with the driver is -1.3 compared to the LPGA's +3.0. With a 7-iron it's -4.3 on the PGA and -2.3 on the LPGA.

This creates a higher vertical launch angle for the LPGA, but a lower maximum height (due to a much lower clubhead speed). I'd be curious to see if the higher clubhead speed LPGA Tour members also have a steeper attack angle.

I have heard of the theory that every club is supposed to reach the same maximum height, but these stats show that to be untrue.


Monday, February 8, 2010

3Jack's Top 10 Swings of All Time - #3

My #3 golf swing of all time belongs to the golfer that I believe was the greatest pure ballstriker ever, Moe Norman.

Many misintrepret my statement and then throw up the question of 'if Moe was such a great ballstriker, then why did he never make it on the PGA Tour?'

The main reason being was that Moe had a severe anxiety about being in public at the time. Furthermore, he was a horrendous putter. In fact, he was a golfer who didn't read the green and look at his putts. He just got up there and hit the putt as he liked to say 'miss 'em quick.' In fact, in a Golf Magazine article Moe stated that he and George Knudson would often play rounds of golf for money where no putting was involved. They'd give out say $20 for a fairway, $20 for a green then $100 for a 'poley' and then they would pick the ball up off the green and go to the next hole.

Tough to make it on the PGA Tour in any era when your putting is like that.

Also, people don't realize that back before the Nationwide Tour and the Hooters Tour (and the Hooters Tour is not a way to make money as a touring professional), golfers either had to be beyond phenomenal with shooting low scores or they had to be really good, but get some good financial backing. Otherwise, they would find themselves on the Canadian Tour.

But as far as ballstriking goes, Moe's ballstriking in his prime was ever bit as good as Hogan's and Snead's and Trevino's, but I don't think anybody could ever hit it as dead straight on command as often as Moe could. Moe could also work the ball on command and when he wasn't an overweight golfer in his 60's, he hit the ball quite far, particularly for his age.

So, what can we learn from Moe?

Certainly there are many things, but for starters it's amazing to think how many people view Moe's swing as 'unorthodox', but outside of the setup the swing looks pretty much normal. So just a look at a swing in normal motion really doesn't show what the swing is actually made of.

But another thing we can learn from is something we had discussed on the message board. There's been a bit of discussion on my thoughts of the backswing and working on the backswing in practice. I actually don't have a problem with working on the backswing if it calls for it, but I think most golfers almost exclusively work on the backswing and neglect the downswing when they are on the range.

However, if you're going to work on the backswing, most golfers are more concerned about the swing plane on the backswing and not the clubface. I also find that most golfers, outside of beginners, struggle with a very closed clubface in the backswing. But in Moe's swing at P4, it's dead square.

I still believe that the game is mostly about who can consistently control the clubface the best at impact and Moe had that in spades.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Update On Understanding 'Swinging Left'

Part of my blog is to discover new things, admit when I was wrong on things in the past and to come up with new ways to explain things that I've been working on.

One term we have been working constantly with is 'swinging left' and why is it important and such. We've also been working on Trackman definitions and how to get the optimal numbers for hitting it dead straight. Along with understanding the differences between 'swinging left' properly and making that dreaded, cutting across 'over the top' move. I think that lately I have come up with ways to better decipher what all of this means and why it is important. And a special thanks goes to NYC Lagster and Brian Manzella for helping me understand this better.

Why is swinging left important?

Because it allows the golfer to stay on plane 'past impact.' Here's a great video of NYC Lagster on a swing plane. Notice at the end he purposedly throws the club and even though he's swinging his hands to the left, his club goes right down at the target.

But take a look at the swing plane training aid. In order to stay on that plane post impact, the golfer HAS to swing to the left quite a bit.

Here's a photo sequence of mine before I started on working on 'swinging left.' (click the pic to enlarge)

If you look at the last photo of me from the DTL view in the upper right hand corner, you can see the clubshaft 'exiting' almost to the right of my left shoulder. If we were to photoshop a swing plane training aid, my clubshaft would be WELL off and above the swing plane training aid.

In fact if you ever get a chance to get on one of these swing plane training aids or the Explanar training aid, take a swing with it and chances are it will feel very odd in the follow thru as to how far left you have to swing to stay on plane. And here's the key thing...the 'swing left' is really a POST IMPACT FEELING & MOVE.

Here's a Manzella video showing what 'swinging left' looks like.

I think that's where most people get confused with 'swinging left', it's a POST impact move. Lag Erickson (www.advanced refers to it as 'releasing left' which I think is a better description.

Also, note that in Trackman, when they measure 'horizontal swing plane', that is measuring where the clubhead's direction POST impact. In other words, it's measuring if the golfer moved the clubhead to the left, right or square to the target POST impact.

Now, there is no definitive right or wrong when it comes to how a golfer releases a clubhead, but it certainly has a major effect on impact. But I will get to that in a bit.

Of course, with this information the question some of you are probably asking is:

'WHY do we care about 'swinging left' or measuring the horizontal swing plane or 'staying on plane post impact' when the ball has already been struck?'

The reason being is that the CORRELATION between the horizontal swing (the direction of the club post impact) is direct with the club path PRE impact and INTO impact.

Note: There are some other factors that determine the club path pre-impact and into impact, but I will get those in a bit.

In other words, if that clubhead is going out to the right POST impact, then it will certainly be going out to the right just before impact. If you swing the clubhead to the left the *proper* amount POST impact, you can create a square path right before impact. And of course, if you go too far left post impact, then you will create a clubhead that will be going left PRE impact.

In Trackman terms this is called 'Club Path' or sometimes called 'True Path' or 'Dynamic Path.'

So in the terms of Trackman it would look like this:

Horizontal Swing Plane = Direction of the clubhead post impact.

Club Path = Direction of the clubhead just into impact.

Here's another thing. Club Path (clubhead direction into impact) is what matters when it comes to the ball flight. But we can improve our Club Path or get it where we want by controlling our horizontal swing plane.

THIS is what Manzella is talking about. He wants you to 'swing left' POST impact a proper amount in order to create a Club Path of 0* coming INTO impact.

SliceFixer wants you to have the hands moving 'low and left' in order to create a proper amount of horizontal swing plane so you can create a 0* club path coming INTO impact (SliceFixer isn't that scientific, but that's basically what he's doing...which is good).

Lag Erickson is doing the same.

But like I've said, it's *how* they get their students to do is a whole different story.

So, what is the difference between that ugly, dreaded over the top move and properly 'swinging left.'

On Trackman you would see a HSP (horizontal swing plane) going so far left that the Club path coming INTO the ball would be going dead left as well when the dreaded over the top move is made. Conversely, with properly swinging left, you would see something like a -3* HSP (swinging clubhead 3* LEFT POST impact), but a club path of around 0* (square club path INTO impact).

I believe what seperates the dreaded over the top golfers and the properly swinging left is usually the pivot. The dreaded OTT golfers throw their arms and hands at the ball with little or no pivot and that causes them to get that club going too far left. Proper 'swing left' golfers start pivoting early on in the downswing and use their hands properly and don't get too 'armsy' in their swing.


IF you are trying to hit it dead straight and at the target, you need to have clubhead going in a proper direction POST impact in order get a 0* clubpath going INTO impact.

But how much and what direction the clubhead moves POST impact in order to 'zero out' the path INTO impact is dependent upon:

1. Attack Angle
2. Vertical Swing Plane

Attack Angle is measured from the FACE ON view. This is the angle that the clubhead goes to the ball, be it downward or upward. On Trackman, the number will likely range from anywhere to -6 (downward) to +5 (upward). Very few golfers hit upward and those who do, almost exclusively do it with the driver. You *can* hit up with irons, but you will not be compressing the ball properly.

The PGA Tour Averages for attack angle are as follows:

Driver = -1*
3-iron = -3*
7-iron = -4*
PW = -5*

The steeper downward the attack angle, the more the golfer will have to 'swing left' in order to 'stay on plane post impact' and create a 0* club path INTO impact.

The shallower the plane, or with an upward hit, the golfer needs to swing more to the RIGHT post impact to 'stay on plane post impact' and create a 0* club path into impact.

Why do you swing more left on a steeper attack angle and more right on a shallower attack angle? Because the 'low point' is being moved around.

If you have a shallower attack angle the low point moves further BACK in your stance. That also changes your plane. A good way to see how that is would be to get on one of those swing plane training aids. Now, move our body a bit up further to the left and swing the club on the plane. You will see that in order to 'stay on plane POST impact' you don't need to swing as far left as you used to.

THE GENERAL RULE OF THUMB is that *if* you want a path INTO impact of 0* with an IRON, the HSP has to be about 1/2 of the Attack Angle.

So, if you hit an 8-iron with a -5* attack angle. The GENERAL rule of thumb is that you'll need to have a HSP of about -2.5* in order to create a club path of 0*.

With a DRIVER, the GENERAL rule of thumb is that the HSP needs to about *match* the Attack angle. So if you have a -1* attack angle with the driver, then in order to 'stay on plane post impact' and 'zero out your club path", you will also need an HSP of -1*.


VSP (Vertical Swing Plane) is measured from the DTL view. This is pretty much what the golfer swinging down on the 'elbow plane' or the 'turned shoulder plane' is being measured. A golfer swing on the elbow plane on the downswing will have a flatter VSP angle than a golfer swinging down on the turned shoulder plane.

The flatter the VSP, the more to the left the golfer will need to swing post impact.

The more upright the VSP, the more right the golfer will need to swing post impact.

Since you cannot usually move those swing plane aids, just imagine if you flattened out the angle of the swing plane aid. That would mean you would need to swing the club left (to swing it flatter) to stay on plane post impact. Conversely, if you made the swing plane aid more upright, you would need to swing more right (to swing more upright) to stay on plane post impact.

While the 'general rule of thumb' is that you need to have an HSP that is 1/2 of the Attack Angle in order to 'zero out' the club path, that is based on a VSP of 60*. Most VSP's are in the range of 55-65*.

So, if you have an attack angle of -5* with a 6-iron and you have a VSP of 60*, in order to create a Club Path of 0*, then your HSP must be -2.5*.

However, if your attack angle is -5* with a 6-iron and you have a VSP of 55* (flatter than 60*), you need to have an HSP of something less than -2.5* (more left of 2.5* left) in order to create a club path of 0*.

Let's say the same thing, except the VSP is 65*. Then you need to create an HSP of -2.5 (more right of 2.5* left) in order to create a 0* club path.

Here's a couple of sample Trackman numbers, both with 6-irons:

Attack angle = -0.8
Vert swing plane = 62.7

So the VSP is a little more upright of 60* and the Attack Angle is -0.8*. That means the golfer needs to release th club POST impact about -0.4 or more toward 0.0* in order to create a club path of 0*

Horiz swing plane = 2.9

This golfer actually released the clubhead 2.9* to the right of the target.

Club Path = 3.3

This created a clubhead that was going out to the right 3.3* as it came INTO the ball.

Face angle = 2.0

Face angle is 2.0* to the right of the target (Open Face) but the clubpath is more inside-to-out of the face angle, so a slight push draw.

Spin axis = -3.4

Negative Spin Axis means ball's spin axis is to the left or a
draw/hook spin. Which is what we expected.

Side yards = 0.1 R

Ball wound up 0.1 yards to the right of the target. Just like expected...slight push draw that goes back to the targe

Attack angle = -4.7
Vert swing plane = 54.2

The VSP is flatter than 60* and the Attack Angle is -4.7*. So in order to 'zero out the path', the golfer needs to swing somewhat more left than -2.35* POST impact.

Horiz swing plane = 2.0

This golfer actually swung the clubhead 2* POST impact. This will move the Club Path out to the right.

Club Path = 5.4

Like we expected. Coming INTO the ball, the clubhead was going in a direction of 5.4* to the right.

Face angle = 2.4

Face angle is open by 2.4* and Club path is more out to the right (5.4*) than the face angle. Should be another push draw, but probably with more draw spin.

Spin axis = -2.0

Draw spin of 2*, but not as much as suspected. May have caught the ball slightly off the heel, reducing the draw spin a tad.

Side yards = 2.5 R

Ball wound up 2.5 yards right of the target. It started out slightly more out to the right and drew back slightly, which was more or less expected.


You don't HAVE TO zero out the path. If you can hit the ball consistently with a draw (or a fade), go for it. The problem I think teachers like Manzella and Rob Noel are seeing is that golfers are swinging very far out to the right. Like a golfer may have -4* attack angle and a VSP of 60*, but then wind up having a HSP of +5* (5* out to the right) or a plethora of other numbers that are hardly optimal.

Plus, as I've's much easier to retain a FLW at impact when you start to learn how to properly 'swing left' and my cranium does not move so much back and away from the target on the downswing.

I hope that clears up some confusion.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Square Groove Rule Indicative Of Golf's Problems

I've been asked a few times by different blog readers about my thoughts on the USGA's groove rule.

I think it's one of the most ridiculous, haphazard rulings in the history of all sports.

First, I believe that the rule is in place due to the influence of golfers like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus who have been outspoken about the grooves. Let me get this straight, I have a tremendous amount of respect for both of these great men, but I do not agree with their sentiments on the rules. I can understand their line of thinking, but the grooves are not the problem.

In fact, as far as scores and handicaps actually being lowered, equipment isn't an issue. Why? Because the average golfer's handicap really hasn't reduced in the last 80 years!

Again, don't get me wrong. I think there needs to be regulations on certain things like the golf ball and the drivers because they are making good courses either obsolete or having to re-design and they lose their beautry often times when they are ridiculously stretched to odd lengths.

Secondly, the PGA Tour and other tours have been set up to become a game of bomber vs. bomber which I find much less interesting than a bomber vs. short but accurate player vs. jack of all trades, master of none, etc.

And I can see where the frustration of many of the older golfers sits in as they see the winner of a tournament hit less than half their fairways and just badly miss on too many drives. But because they are so long they are often left with such a short iron into the green it really doesn't matter if they missed badly or even worse...they miss so badly but are so long that they 'over-shoot' the trouble. Johnny Miller once made a great observation that Tiger plays great on courses where opposing fairways run parallel to each other because he can miss the fairway so bad and find himself on a fairway for a different hole and all he needs to do is hit the ball a little higher over some trees.

These problems can be solved by thickening the rough, creating more OB stakes so a golfer can't come in from another fairway and making sure that driver technology and golf ball technology doesn't get the ball flying any further than it is today.

Not getting rid of square grooves.

And the entire Mickelson v McCarron issue is just as ridiculous. Mickelson thinks he's getting an advantage by hitting a 20 year old, poorly designed wedge and McCarron, who seemingly is the only person on Tour who cannot go on eBay, thinks the same thing as well.

Oh yeah, what Phil is doing is perfectly legal as well.

But to me, this signifies a bit why the handicaps of golfers have not dropped in the past 80 years. The Secret In The Dirt crew of Sevam1 and Steve Elkington hope to figure why the handicaps have not dropped this year.

The SITD's thought is to go back in time and hit equipment that those golfers had to hit and basically see what golfers like Henry Cotton had to go thru in order to figure out how to hit the golf ball well.

I think it's a pretty sharp idea.

My current feelings on why the handicap hasn't improved over the past 80 years follows this type of logic.

A. Golf and Driver = Longer in distance

B. To Counter, Courses Became Longer

This is important to note because if we were to just say that we are not any better than we were 80 years ago, it would be erroneous because you can bet that if we were playing 6,000 yard courses with modern equipment, it would be a cakewalk for us. Instead, the courses are entirely longer and that helps offset the extra length we've gained with the drivers and the ball.

C. Irons Designed to hit the ball longer

Irons have much stronger lofts, lower COG, bigger sweetspots so they are more forgiving, upright lie angles to take away the slice move.

However, I THINK THIS IS A BIG PART OF THE PROBLEM. I can't knock the modern driver because research shows that you will put yourself in a much better position to score lower with today's modern driver vs. the vintage persimmon or even the metal drivers.

However, we have gotten into the mode of making irons so easy to hit and so easy to hit them far, golfer's are not properly testing their motor skills as well as they should and they become very sloppy with their precision in their swing.

Can't generate clubhead speed? Throw in an ultra-light club.

Can't keep the ball flight from ballooning? Go with stronger lofts.

Can't stop mis-hitting the irons? Go with a bigger clubface.

Can't stop slicing? More upright lies and more offset will do the trick.

I had a teacher ask me more about this and he thought that the modern irons were 'playing for your misses instead of playing for your good strikes.'

My response is that usually good teachers in their lessons try to 'take away the reward' when a student makes a compensatory move in their swing that is in place because of a flaw they have mechanically.

The modern day, over-sized, offset, lighter, more upright lie irons just reward golfers for their compensations and flaws that they have in their swing. If you're in a competitive round of golf, I probably wouldn't suggest anything easier than a 'players' cavity back set of irons. But if you're practicing, you should really buy some vintage blades cheap off of eBay so you can stop rewarding yourself for flaws and compensations in your swing. I think it's very difficult for teachers to stop letting their students 'reward' themselves when the equipment is trying to accomplish the exact opposite goal.

D. 'Target Golf' aka 'Carry Golf'

'Target Golf' is a name given to Pete Dye's course designs that are prevalent today. I think it's a poor way to describe it because every golf course is 'target golf' in one form or another. But Dye's designs are more what I call 'carry golf.' It wants you to hit the target almost exclusively thru the carry of the golf ball. This is in stark contrast to even 30 years ago when courses were designed to allow for more roll, particularly landing shots short of the green and then seeing them land onto the green. I was estimating this, but the old school type of courses would have about 12 holes on average that allowed golfers to roll the ball onto the green. Today's courses probably average about 8 holes where the ball can roll onto the green.

This has meant things like island greens. It used to be a novel concept back in the 80's, now probably 1/3rd of the courses have either an island green or a green that is almost entirely surrounded by water.

A lot of this is done to make courses more pretty and believe it or not, I really don't have a problem with 'carry golf.' However, I think it makes the game harder for the general golfing public.

E. Greens are far better

David Orr ( did a study on putting and one of the many things he found out was that golfers, ranging from PGA Tour pros to the 30 handicapper, improved their putting on average 20% going from a muni type green to a Tour quality green (Pinehurst).

Simply put, smoother greens are easier to putt on, even if they are much faster. In fact, Mark Sweeney of AimPoint Golf states this clearly. You will make more putts on faster greens, period.

So, what's the synopsis of why handicaps have stayed the same in the past 80 years?

1. Ball traveled further
2. Caused courses to expand to offset that, which kept handicaps the same.
3. Iron designs became worse, causing golfers to be longer, but more inaccurate and inconsistent with their irons.
4. Courses became more 'carry golf' oriented, making them harder for golfers in general.
5. Greens became easier to putt on.

And all of that pretty much evened out.

But, it's my belief that if golfers can get back into hitting much better designed irons, at least when they practice, the scores would improve.

And while putting has improved because greens are much better today...I believe putting should be MUCH better than it already is.

Unfortunately, we have golfers who think that they wil putt better by spending $300 on the latest Scotty Cameron while they still do not know how to read greens or they do not aim that new $300 putter very accurately.

The entire groove rule fiasco symbolizes the handicaps not lowering over the past 80 years because golfers have often gone after simple 'quick fixes' from an equipment standpoint that actually hurt their game and all of these changes the game has scene over the years has been due to the driver and the golf ball.