Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Golf Swing Key Concepts - Part IX

Just wanted to welcome new follower David Bratley to the blog.

In the previous parts of the Key Concepts series, we talked about hitting the ball first, then taking a divot. We also talked the alignments needed to create this consistent dynamics between the club, the ball and the ground.

In this part I want to discuss 'compression.' What is compression? Well lets take a look at this excellent definition from poster Jaridyard over at John Graham's Forum:
Compression is the deforming of the golf ball with the clubhead during the impact interval.

Maximum compression can be achieved by reducing the difference between attack angle and loft (ie A driver creates greater compression than a wedge). Compression is further maximized by minimizing the difference between path and face angle, minimal glancing blow.
Here's a video of a golf ball being compressed with a driver.

To clear some of the other stuff Jaridyard stated, attack angle is the downward or upward angle the clubhead comes toward the ball at impact. The average attack angle for a PGA Tour player is -1*. Let's say the average loft on a PGA Tour driver is 9*, that's a difference of 10*.

The average 7-iron attack angle for a PGA Tour player is -4*. Let's say the average loft of a 7-iron is 34*, that's a difference of 38*. That's why the compression with a driver is greater than a 7-iron, the difference between attack angle and loft is less.

As far as minimizing the difference between clubface angle and clubpath, if my clubface angle is closed quite a bit, but my path is going out to the right quite a bit (inside-to-out), that will likely hurt my compression because I'm more likely to catch the ball of the toe of the clubface.

Here's the key concept between the way most golfers *think* and how good ballstrikers *think.*

Most golfers' goal when hitting a shot is more oriented towards getting the ball up in the air and hitting it relatively straight. Good ballstrikers think very differently. Their goal is more oriented towards compressing the golf ball and that will take care of not only getting the ball up into the air, but getting the right trajectory and usually keeps the ball relatively straight.



Greg Brown said...


When I am playing my best the ball is compressed by my irons as you state in the last paragraph. I play my best not because my face alignments are perfect, or the path, but the misses do not stray off line all that much and the side spin is more negotiable.

Rich H. said...

Homer Kelley discusses this a bit in TGM. Basically if you are not hitting the ball with your normal power, your accuracy is likely to suffer. So if you usually hit an 8-iron 150 yards but now you are struggling with accuracy and still hitting the ball on the sweetspot, but only hitting the 8-iron 140 yards, you should work on things (usually the geometry) in your swing to get the power back and the accuracy will follow.

But this key concept is more or less me noticing that the mentality between many mid-to-high handicappers I play with is vastly different from mine.

Unknown said...

Richie, can you expand on your comment "the mentality between many mid to high handicappers I play with is vastly different from mine". As a mid handicapper that wants to get better I would like to understand what a good player thinks about when they are playing and hitting a shot. What is your focus and does it change from day to day?

Rich H. said...

Jim - The difference is simple. My mentality when hitting a ball is to compress the golf ball. The rest will likely take of itself. The average golfer is more concerned with getting the ball up in the air and hitting it relatively straight. Compression is usually the least of their thoughts.