I wanted to say that I send out my thoughts and condolences to Erica Blasberg's family and friends.
Today I wanted to talk about persimmon drivers vs. modern day oversized titanium drivers.
Over at the ABS forum (www.advancedballstriking.com), John Erickson tends to be of the thought that the modern drivers ruin golfer's games. I think the general line of logic is that because they are so easy to hit, the golfer starts to become less precise with their swing and thus their ballstriking becomes less precise.
The problem with that line of thought IMO is that the results are far better with the modern day driver than they are with persimmon.
The greater results are just too difficult to ignore with titanium drivers. However, one of the things I always noticed with the change to titanium is that many golfers really didn't adapt that well to it. I had a few friends that were considered long ball hitters in the persimmon age and just a few years into the titanium age (with them changing over to titanium) they more or less became middle of the pack golfers in length.
This baffled me for years because the clubhead speed was staying the same, if not improving and they were longer off the tee, but the mystery as to why shorter golfers started to keep up with or even surpass them was still there. But it wasn't until I bought a persimmon driver recently and with my knowledge of D-Plane that I started to put a few things together towards this mystery.
So, let's think here for a second. What are factors to distance?
Okay...the obvious ones:
- Ball Speed
- Clubhead Speed
- Centerness of hit
- Spin Rate
I believed the persimmon drivers had higher spin rates, but again they were higher spin rates for everybody so it doesn't explain why some people went from being long hitters to middle of the pack hitters.
Of course, there's the launch angle and the landing angle. Basically finding the 'optimal driver' is one where you hit it high with a low spin rate and a landing angle (the ball's landing angle) that is between 40-45* so you don't hit a ball too high. Here's a sample driver fitting on Trackman trying to find the optimal driver fit for a golfer.
One of the things that Trackman prescribes is to have an upward attack angle with the driver. Now, I don't necessarily prescribe that. I believe a golfer should find the attack angle that they can be most consistent with. However, I do believe golfers can have a very upward attack angle or shallow out their attack angle and hit it longer and just as accurate and as consistent.
However, one of the things you'll find with the persimmon driver is that it's very difficult to hit up on the driver and hit the ball with any consistency. In fact, the misses when trying to hit up on the ball are disastrous. The sky ball certainly comes into effect and what I noticed was the toe ball that turns into a nose dive hook is really problematic.
To me, that's why many of the long hitters in the persimmon era were not so long in the titanium era, it became easier for the shorter hitters to gain length by shallowing out their attack angle because the fear of the mis-hit just isn't there anymore.
I still recommend practicing with a persimmon driver from time to time. I do believe there were some great drivers of the golf ball in the persimmon era who hit slightly up on the ball with the driver. And that's pretty amazing when you think of the precision it took to do that. And if you can replicate that as well, you'll be much more precise with the modern day driver.