Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ball Flight Laws and Ball Flight Lies

One of the topics brought up on the forum was the importance of Trackman and is it overused. Or in other words, if you know what causes the ball to fly, why would you really need a Trackman?

As some posters put it, the ball flight will ‘lie’ to the golfer.


Because according to Trackman, an iron shot hit 170 yards and that misses the sweetspot by one dimple will cause the ball to fly off line by 2 yards either way. Meaning that if all things being equal (no wind, golf ball in good shape, etc) and the ball is struck with a 0.0* face and a 0.0* path, if you hit it 1 measly dimple off the sweetspot towards the heel, the ball will fade about 2 yards off line. And off the toe it will draw 2 yards off line. With a driver hit 250 yards long, the ball 1 measly dimple off the sweetspot will fly off line by 10 yards.

Again, that’s just one measly dimple.

And the issue is that nobody can tell if they missed the sweetspot by 1 measly dimple or 2-3 measly dimples off the sweetspot. So you could have a 0* path and face and the ball could miss a few yards left of the target and you might assume that you had a closed face at impact or a path that is a bit inside-to-out…..but the reality is that you took a great swing and you missed it ever so slightly in this game where the margin for error is ridiculously small.

I also think the ability to measure the attack angle is a key measurement that Trackman provides. For starters, I think it’s big for drivers if one can understand how to not hit too far down on the ball and still hit the ball consistently and fairly straight. This is one of the processes that I think Tiger Woods is going thru right now as his attack angle with his driver is being measured at -3* in the Hank Haney days. It’s my contention that his attack angle is becoming more shallow with the driver and that’s why we are starting to see him ‘regain’ his old power off the tee as he continues to work with 3Jack Top 50 Instructor, Sean Foley.

PGA Tour player Kevin Streelman suffered from the ‘hitting down too steep’ affliction as he was measured with a -5* attack angle with his driver when he started working with Trackman. One year later after working with Trackman, his attack angle with the driver got down to -1* and he started hitting the ball 40 yards further and more accurately.

The problem with looking at the ball flight is that it’s often hard to figure out just how steep one hit down on the golf ball. I’ve hit plenty of drivers with a nice trajectory where one swing had me hitting down on the ball and the other hand me hitting up on the ball. But the swing where I was hitting down on the ball winds up creating much spin on the ball and the distance winds up going well shorter than the swing with an upward attack angle.

At the level of a PGA Tour player, they should certainly want access to Trackman for constant help with their swing and staying on top of optimizing their driver. In windier conditions they could use Trackman to figure out what trajectory they want and have the Tour van get them the driver they need.

For the average amateur who is serious about the game, they don’t need as much access to Trackman, but it’s still a very helpful tool to use from time to time.


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