Friday, October 14, 2011
The Myth of Shot Dispersion
One thing I noticed after the FSGA Mid-Am was that there is a real myth behind tightly dispersing shots. I think it has to do with how one achieves it.
If you go to a PGA Tour event and head out to the range, you are bound to see a few golfers noticeably struggling on the range. Amazingly enough, they are able to put together respectable rounds. Some may miss the cut, some may actually get somewhere near contention.
I think that has intrigued me and I think most people chalk it up to 'good short game, course management and mental outlook.'
I actually there's more to it than that.
I remember back in 2009 when The Golf Channel held a special clinic featuring both Tiger Woods (injured at the time) and Anthony Kim, there was an interesting comment both guys made.
I'm paraphrasing them....whatever shot you show up on the range with that day, take that out onto the golf course. Don't try to change it.
Essentially, if your stock shot is a push-draw, but you show up to the range before a round hitting pull-fades...just play the pull-fade. Don't try to force yourself into hitting the push-draw.
Sounds simple enough.
But to take that a step further, I think to play on the level of a PGA Tour veteran, you need to, at the very least, hit one type of shot.
What I mean by that is if you primarily hit a fade, you should almost never hit a draw (unless the shot calls for it and you purposedly try to hit a draw). Conversely, if you hit draws...you should avoid fades.
I think where I got lackadaisical with this is that I was content with hitting a shot flush and hitting a fade and then hitting another shot flush and hitting a slight draw. Each shot would end up close to the pin, but I think there's a danger in doing that.
I believe that unless I purposedly intend to do otherwise, I want to play golf where...if I were hitting fades....my shots would go straigh or push or fade at the target or over fade right of the target. Same with if I'm hitting a draw (straight, pull, draw at target, over-draw left of target).
I think most low handicap golfers, when they are swinging well, will hit the ball relatively straight. Particularly with today's ball that curves less.
I think there's a great advantage to hitting the ball straight on command. I think that was why Moe Norman could separate his ballstriking from other great ballstrikers, Moe could always hit it straight on command. While nobody else is Moe Norman...I do feel that when good players are playing really well, they will hit stretches where they can hit a shot straight on command. But for the rest of the time, we need to hit one type of shot when we don't hit it straight.
I think the myth behind tightly dispersing shots is that we often are a bit too focused on the actual result...meaning, where the shots are with relation to the target. But, if we focused our intention on hitting it straight or having one type of curve on each shot...we would actually more tightly disperse our shots on average.
This is why I think the Tour pros can really struggle on the range and still post up a solid score. They might be struggling, but they are putting the same type of curvature on the golf ball.
Where I think this really helps is with avoiding what I call 'impeded shots.'
I say a shot is 'impeded' when your ball winds up:
- Fairway Bunker
- Deep Rough
If your ball is either going straight or has one type of curvature, you can pretty much avoid those things that 'impede' shots much more easily. And believe me, if you keep track of your rounds and the shot impeded each round, you will see your scores lower when you avoid impeded shots.
A good example was my FSGA Mid-Am qualifier at Shingle Creek. I only had 1 impeded shot the entire round, and that was on the 3rd hole, a par-4 where I tried to play smart and take a hybrid off the tee. I actually striped it, but it didn't carry enough and wound up in the rough. The rough wasn't deep, but combined with it being on a swale, I counted it as an impeded shot. And I still wound up hitting the green in regulation.
In the end, I hit the driver okay, hit the irons well, and putted mediocre...and shot (+2) 74 with 13 greens in regulation
I knew that day I simply was not going to miss left. I think I might have hit one shot with a draw the entire round. I used that to avoid impeded shots and that allowed me to more easily advance the ball towards the hole on each shot
But the key isn't so much that I had a 1-way miss...is that I was either hitting it straight, a push, fade or an over-fade.
I couldn't do that in the actual Mid-Am. I actually hit some great shots, but some would draw and some would fade. And when I had a difficult shot, I had nothing to rely on in order to avoid leaving myself with an impeded shot.
Of course, the question will be raised 'well, how does one develop a 1-curve shot?'
My feeling is that it has to do with clubface control.
While D-Plane tells us that the the ball's spin axis will be due to the clubhead path's relationship to the clubface, I think many golfers tend to think that in order to improve the amount of curvature or to develop a 1-way curve of the golf ball, they need to work on the path.
Let's say we hit 3 golf shots. And each shot the path is at 0* square to the target. But, the clubface is:
Shot 1: -3* closed
Shot 2: 0* square
Shot 3: +3* open
Each shot will produce a different curve:
Shot 1: Hook Spin
Shot 2: Straight
Shot 3: Slice spin
That's why I think PGA Tour players are...PGA Tour players. They can control their clubface in their swing better. And when they are struggling, they don't fight it on the course and just go with the curvature of the ball they are hitting and go about playing their round. And I believe that most of them, unless the purposedly do it, do not hit many shots that curve the opposite way that often. It's only after the round or in between tournaments that they tend to try to get the ball to fly like they prefer.
Think about all of the great golfers in the history of the game. Nicklaus...fade. Trevino...could always hit a fade. Billy Casper....draw. Kenny Perry....draw.
Being able to avoid the opposite of the way they typically curved the ball....even if they hit it flush, was more important to them than actually flushing a golf shot.