Saturday, February 7, 2009

Smash Factor, Putting, Planning Your Rounds, and Sergio type lag

As many of you know, I've become increasingly interested in the Trackman Launch Monitor. Recently, Brian Manzella went over Trackman's newsletter about 'Smash Factor' (

Here's some quick notes from it.

1. Smash Factor is Ball Speed / Clubhead Speed.

2. Ball Speed has the biggest correlation to distance. Clubhead speed has a pretty high correlation to ball speed. The reason why so many golfers and clubfitters have looked at clubhead speed over the years is usually it translates to more ball speed. But more clubhead speed does not always mean more distance. Balls speed does equate to distance (or lack thereof).

3. One of the reasons why clubhead speed does not always equate to distance is due to the reason why Trackman looks at 'Smash Factor.' Hitting the ball more square on the face will increase the golfer's 'Smash Factor' and increase their clubhead speed. As the Trackman newsletter puts it:

Let me give you an example. With a club speed of 100 mph and a smash factor of 1.40, the ball speed is 140 mph. But if the golfer could obtain a smash factor of 1.48 with a more controlled swing having a lower club speed of 98 mph, the ball speed would be increased to 145 mph – i.e. an additional 5 mph ball speed by swinging slower. Since 1 more mph ball speed (all other things equal) will generate 2 more yards carry, an extra 10 yards is added to the drive in this case by swinging with more control! Further, the more controlled swing will most likely have a very positive effect on dispersion.
Ever have one of those swings where you really swing easy and absolutely kill it? That's because you're hitting it so square off the clubface and creating an optimal 'smash factor' compared to swinging harder and not hitting it as far.

4. Optimal 'smash factor' changes with each club. With the driver it's about 1.50, but you're more likely to get it in the 1.48 area if you're a great golfer. It gets lower with the shorter the club.

So if you're really worried about clubhead speed, don't least for now. Learn how to hit the ball as square as you can on the clubface and master that first. Then try to find ways to increase clubhead speed while still being able to hit the ball dead square off the clubface.


A lot of PM's are asking for putting help (although I shouldn't be the one asking given how I've putted recently). As always, I suggest getting the LPAS training aid (pic below)

What I've learned is that 'D-Plane' is alive and well in putting too. Meaning that the golf ball's general direction in putting is almost exclusively influenced by the angle of the putter head at impact. Putting stroke path isn't *that* important as most people make it out to be. However, I do believe that the path can easily influence the angle of the putterhead at impact.

Anyway, with the LPAS you really attack a big part of the problem and that's aim bias. It can also show if you have too much forward shaft lean at address which de-lofts the putter head.

Now remember what David Orr's studies show:

Golfers with Right aim bias = tend to adjust their putter stroke PATH in order to compensate for their right aim bias.
Meaning, if you aim right of the target, you're likely to have a putter stroke path that goes left (or cuts across the ball) so you can get the ball back working at the target.

Golfers with a Left Aim Bias = tend to manipulate the putterhead ANGLE in order to compensate for the left aim bias.

Meaning, if you aim left of the target the tendency is to open the putterhead at impact so you can get the ball working at the target.

I honestly believe that anybody who takes the game seriously should have some sort of laser device for their putting.


Been getting some PM's on how I would go about planning rounds for tournaments.

Well, this is something I am by far not the expert on and I really wish somebody would come up with a video or a book that shows how the pros plan their rounds. Maybe David Orr will come up with that sometime in the future.

Anyway, when I think of planning rounds I think of Jim McLean's '8 Step Swing' book where he talks about asking an old football coach at West Point (IIRC) how do his teams stay motivated when they are facing competition that is far superior to him. He said the coach replied that they are not so much concerned about the final score, but more worried about winning the preparation battle. The coach felt that if they beat the other team in the preparation part of the game, then they did everything they could to win the game. I think this is a good thought to have in any endeavor.

The first thing I would suggest is getting an Exelys Breakmaster (pictured above) or one of those big, putting green levels. I prefer the Breakmaster because it gives a digital readout of the amount of slope. Now, I don't get technical when it comes to the readout of the slope, but if I know that a certain part of the green slopes about 3.0 degrees and another part slopes less than 1.0 degrees, that lets me know what type of break I'm looking at (3.0 is very high, 1.0 is rather marginal). So yes, map out the greens in a practice round. After awhile you'll become quite good and quick at doing it and the notes are a cinch. There's some other things I'm looking into about mapping out greens with AimPoint technology, but once I fully understand those things I'll pass it along here on the blog.

I also make sure to check the main yardage for the hole. If it's a short par 4, I'll check the 100 yard marker. If it's a longer hole I may check the 150 or 200 yard marker. Even if you have a GPS system (which I suggest getting), the yardage may just play longer or shorter than it says due to elevation, wind flow, etc. For instance, the Atlanta Braves used to play at Fulton County Stadium and then 'moved' to Turner Field which really consisted of just tearing down Fulton County Stadium and building Turner field about a good hundred yards away. When they designed Turner Field they wanted to make it more of a pitchers park and the architects and engineers heavily studied how the wind and other factors flowed through in that area. So the Braves went from having one of the most hitter friendly ballparks to having one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks, in large part to just changing the direction of the ballpark. That's why checking yardages is very important.

In fact, a good example was a junior tournament that I won way back when I was about 16 years old. On the 18th hole, I was playing relatively well but one of the playing partners was beating me by 1 stroke. I drove my ball into the left woods and he hit his drive down the middle of the fairway about 160 yards away. All I could do was chip out and I chipped it to about 165 yards. From my practice round I knew that the shot actually played a good 175 yards even though there was no wind and it was a flat shot. I knocked it to about 12 feet. My playing partner didn't recognize that and hit it well, but was short of the green. I made my putt, he chipped on and missed and we went into a playoff and I won the playoff. Nothing drives me more nuts than misclubbing.

I also take practice rounds pretty seriously, but without focusing on the score. So when I get up to hit the tee shot, I take it just like I would in the tournament. However, if I hit a bad shot, I'll tee it up again until I hit a good one. A lot of times, holes just don't fit your eye. So what you want to do if you're not hitting the tee shot well is to fiddle around with target lines that finally do work for you and make note of it for the tournament. Also, if there's possible pitfalls on a hole (like a false front), I'll hit shots from that pitfall just in case. You can never be 'too prepared.'

Lastly, I'm just trying to figure out what the architect was thinking when they designed the hole. Most holes usually allow for a certain way to hit a shot off the tee (i.e. left-to-right, right-to-left). The first hole on one of courses I play allows for a right-to-left shot off the tee. However, the fairway slopes to the right. So while there's plenty of room over there on the right side, the architect designed the hole so that if you hit it to the right side you have a longer shot into the green and also have to hit it over the water that is right of the green. Furthermore, the ball is very likely to be well below your feet over on the right side. The left side is a flatter lie with a shorter shot to the green and the water isn't as big of a factor. However, you flirt with a fairway bunker and O.B on the left side. For me, I aim left center of the fairway and play for a fade. If it goes straight I should be in excellent shape. If it fades too much, I'll be safe with a long shot into the green. If it is a slight fade then I'll be in solid shape.

Those are just some basics into planning your round.

Creating Sergio-esque Lag

I've seen some posts around the Web wondering how guys like Sergio create all of that lag. Well, for starters...they all have a great, great pivot action in their swing.

In 'The Golfing Machine' terms Sergio is said to 'float load' the club and have 'maximum trigger delay.'

Float loading is simply increasing the wristcock on the downswing compared to the amount of wristcock on the backswing. It's a very, very effective way to swing the club.

The way Sergio does it is he has very, very little wristcock on the backswing along with incredible width on the backswing.

I believe that *for the MOST part*, the swing follows Newton's law of 'for every action there is an equal, but opposite reaction.' So when somebody like Sergio has minimal wristcock on the backswing, the 'reaction' is to have maximum wristcock on the downswing.

That's why I hate Leadbetter's method of cocking the wrists early in the takeaway. The 'reaction' to that is to uncock the wrists in the downswing which is casting the club. And you wonder why so many people read Golf Digest and struggle with the game.

As for the maximum trigger delay, I think that's mostly a function of a great pivot combined with the golfer grasping the concept of not actively trying to hit the ball with their arms and hands and instead letting the pivot do the work.

I think that a golfer can float load the club without nearly as much lag as Sergio has and still hit the ball extremely well. However, I think that trying to actively create the lag that Sergio has is a bad idea and it should happen rather naturally. But, float loading the club is a good idea. Just let the amount of lag happen naturally.

Anyway, here's a great Brian Manzella video on float loading the club.



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