Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Thoughts on Release Styles and Miss Biases

Here's a Q&A with Gabe Writer and Kelvin Miyahira:

One of the key questions they discuss is with the drive-hold release which makes it very difficult to miss towards the pull-side of the golfer. 

I think that this is an interesting concept as I have been exploring the '1-way miss' for a the past 5 years.  The statistics on Tour show that there is a bit of a fallacy with regards to the '1-way miss' as Tour players tend to miss fairways right or left more closer to 50% than most people imagine.  In fact, Jordan Spieth (pictured above) currently has a 54.3% rightward miss bias.  What I have found is that the leading players on Tour with regards to my Driving Effectiveness metric tend to have a miss bias that is within 55/45 ratio and it does not matter whether they are missing left or right.

Players with a miss bias outside that 55/45 ratio tend to not drive the ball as effectively.  My feeling is that if you're missing at say, 65% shots to the left, you have a problem shot that you cannot control on demand.  And given the amount of doglegs and the general design of golf holes, you have to be able to miss in the correct spots when you do miss a fairway.


After reading that information I started to believe that good golf was more about a 1-way curve of the ball.  This would produce greater control and predictability.  But, after years of watching Tour players hit balls and my own experience getting more into a drive-hold release, I have started to revise my thinking as far as curvature and 'miss bias.'  Part of which I plan to explore more in 2016 and put in the 2016 Pro Golf Synopsis.

My revised thinking agrees more with Kelvin, the drive hold release players on Tour tend to hit it very straight or they miss right.  They may hit a draw (i.e. Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy), but they don't miss left very often.  And if they do, it's usually off a toe-hook.  I think the 18th hole at Sawgrass really showed the power of the drive-hold release as drive-hold release players didn't have to worry about missing left in the water and could hit it long enough to where the fairway gets a bit wider:

Rickie Fowler, who drove it spectacularly on 18, has implemented more of a drive-hold release style since working with Butch Harmon and I don't believe it's a coincidence that he played that hole so well off the tee en route to his victory.

Unfortunately, we are still in the infancy stages of understanding things like rate of closure. But, I think it's pretty obvious that having a stable club head and club face thru impact, as seen in the drive-hold release, is something that we've seen so many great ballstrikers utilize.  I think the stable club head release allows golfers to not miss left while still being able to draw the ball if needed.  While the other styles of release, like the flip-roll, under-flip, knife edge, etc. employ too much club face rotation and in turn, the greater likelihood of missing too far left or too far right.  The more the club head will rotate in a release, there's just more variance in where the clubface is pointing at impact.

One of the straightest drivers of the ball I've seen is my friend, Victor Rodriguez, who qualified for the Final Stage of the Re-Max Long Drive competition last year:

So, it's certainly not about 'straight = short.'  It's about controlling the face thru stabilizing the face and the speed may or may not come along with it.


Where this revelation came about for me is over time my swing has developed into more of a drive-hold release. 

I had noticed over the past couple of years that the tee shots that give me the most issues are on dogleg lefts and when the wind is blowing to the right.  My natural ball flight is more of a fade, although I can hit a draw.

Lately, since my release has improved and the face is more stable, I have noticed that I can simply aim left on a dogleg left and not have to worry about missing too far to the left.  If I hit it straight, it will end up just in the left corner or still find the fairway.  If I don't hit it straight, I will just hit a fade right down the middle.  But the chances of me over-drawing it are slim and none, even if I'm set up to hit a draw.

And this helps in preventing me from missing right because if I can't afford to miss right, I can just aim left enough to avoid the right side altogether. 


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