Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Understanding Torques and Forces in the Golf Swing Video Review

Understanding Torques and Forces in the Golf Swing is a 2 hour video hosted by golf instructor Joe Mayo along with biomechanist, Dr. Sasho MacKenzie.

While this video discusses in detail the different torques and forces in the golf swing, much of which is done in scientific dialogue, it’s main focus is on examining the transition move in the golf swing. Not only does it look at the actual transition moves made between pro golfers versus high handicap amateurs, it provides a new and interesting look at the importance of the transition move.

While Mayo and Mackenzie do utilize a lot of scientific terminology in this video, they carefully explain the terminology so the viewer can come to understand the discussion. That is why I believe the video can be helpful to not only golf instructors, but for the average amateur as well. I can foresee some amateurs being a little confused on some points if they are very inexperienced golfers. But, there is a large network of instructors out on the internet that have either seen the video or have learned from Dr. MacKenzie over the past few years that can clear up that confusion. And with that being said, I think high handicap golfers that have played a lot of golf can understand almost all of the video.

Over the past few years I have encountered a lot of different teaching philosophies that claim to be based around scientific research. What I have discovered is that most of their teaching principles revolve around two parts of the swing:

1) The pivot
2) The arm swing

And these teachers that use scientific researchers are more or less using 1 particular scientific discipline to understand the pivot and the arm swing and abide by that scientific discipline to create what they believe will ‘optimize’ their swing. It’s basically using 1 particular scientific discipline as a ‘means to an end.’

For instance, my friend Chris Como and Dr. Young-Hoo Kwon are using biomechanics as a ‘means to an end’ in their teaching philosophy. Mac O’Grady with his researchers are using neuro-biology and the study of the Central Nervous System as their ‘means to an end.’ Kelvin Miyahira and his research is using anatomical science as its ‘means to an end.’

This creates a large debate because the pivot and the arm swing really comprises of the entire swing from the address position to the finish. And what may be optimal in biomechanics may be seen as flawed by anatomical experts which may be deemed as flawed by neuro-biology experts. And full disclosure, I still work on a Kelvin Miyahira/Lucas Wald swing mechanics.

The refreshing part of Understanding Torques and Forces in the Golf Swing is that it mainly examines a much smaller piece of the golf swing in the transition move. It does look at the corresponding path of the hands in the downswing, but that is far less of the focus. That creates less ‘room’ for debate because the movement being examined is much smaller.

Mayo and Dr. MacKenzie dissect the transition move thru physics (biomechanics is a subset of physics). The main subjects of the video include the Center of Mass, the Net Force, the torque and how the Center of Mass wants to ‘line up’ with the direction that the Net Force is going. While many of you don’t understand what I’m talking about, Mayo and MacKenzie judiciously take the viewer thru each of those aspects and make it fairly simple to understand.

I’m fairly certain that many teachers will feel that the subject is something that they knew/taught all along. And I tend to agree in the sense that teachers and golfers have, for nearly hundreds of years, tried to prevent an over the top move and ‘casting’ of the club in the downswing. What Mayo and MacKenzie have accomplished is a much more advanced understanding of why the over the top and casting happen and why the Tour players are able to prevent that from happening as well as the implications that go along with the over the top move which makes golfers less accurate, generate less speed, causes early extension and well as making golfers erroneously believe that they ‘didn’t keep their eye on the ball’ when they hit a horrendous golf shot or even swing and whiff.

Another excellent part of the video is how Mayo and MacKenzie explain the various ways so many Tour players effectively make the transition move in the swing from Sergio Garcia to somebody like Kevin Stadler

This allows the viewer to figure out how to make the transition move they need to make based on their backswing. The video also goes thru various troubleshooting answers to help the viewer diagnose their issues.

I have read Dr. MacKenzie’s work for over four years now. While I thought I understood his work from his paper on the subject and the use of pronating the left forearm in the downswing, I abandoned the move after struggling with hitting large hooks during tournaments. This video helped me understand where I was going wrong and how I misunderstood Dr. MacKenzie’s papers on the subject. Since I have been working on what I leaned from the video, I’ve gained about 1 club on my irons and I have gotten my club speed with my driver up to 117 mph on Trackman and shots that didn’t ‘fit my eye’ are now much easier to hit.

In the end, my current beliefs on the golf swing (which are always subject to change) is that instead of focusing on impact, the key parts of the swing to focus on are the transition and the release. The other stuff like the address position, backswing mechanics and pivot may or may not play into how we make our transition move and what type of release action we have in our swing.

After watching the video, my dad where paired with a younger married couple with the woman being a club champion at her club. Despite having a backswing move similar to a 20 handicapper and a release style of a 10 handicapper, she had the transition move of a LPGA player and it was easy to see why she was near a scratch handicap.

To me, the transition move more or less dictates whether the player will be able to competently strike a golf ball. And the release defines more of the characteristics of a competent golfer’s ballstriking. But, you can’t put a good release action on the ball if your transition move is poor.

With that, I highly recommend this video to instructors and golfers alike. In fact, I believe this video should be mandatory viewing for the PGA and any Pro Golf Management student. Mayo and MacKenzie go out of their way to not denounce any swing style or golf swing theory because the video is not about that. However, I strongly feel this video could help the golfing world take a major step in significantly reducing the average handicap of all golfers and make the swing easier to understand and provide competency of striking the ball to all golfers much more quickly.

The video is available at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/forcesandtorques for $24.95.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Comparing modern irons vs. the Ping Eye 2 with Fried Eggs Golf

Here’s an interesting video from Fried Eggs Golf testing a series of different Ping irons, from a blade style design to a player’s cavity back design to a game improvement and then comparing them to the old Ping Eye 2. All with 7-irons.

Two of the more interesting aspects of the video were:

1. How the launch angle and peak height metrics were almost the same for each of the modern clubs.

2. Obviously, the Ping Eye 2 going further than the players’s CB (i200’s) and just a bit shorter than the modern Game Improvement irons.

I would have thought that the Ping Eye 2 would go shorter due to the advancements in design, the possibility of the steel in the head softening over time and I would presume the higher lofts. Chances are the distance was helped by the more worn down grooves because the grooves being worn down are more likely to produce a higher launch and lower spin than fresh new grooves on the same club. In all likelihood, the Ping Eye 2 likely will still fly as far for this golfer as the modern i200’s if the grooves were new.


One of the things I wanted to examine with this is the possibility of the impact that finding irons that one can hit further would have on a golfer’s game. As we can see from the video, the lofts are much stronger on the player’s CB and game improvement irons.

Many golfers feel this is ‘cheating your distances’ because the game improvement iron has 4 degrees lower loft than the i-Blade model. Essentially, the thought is that the player who hits the Game Improvement 7-iron is only hitting the ball longer because the loft of the club is more like a 6-iron than the 7-iron for the iBlade.

Fair enough.

The other thing as noted in the video, is that the spin rate for the game improvement iron is significantly less, so you may have more difficulty holding the green.

However, I feel there is some short sighted logic in that regard. The big thing is that while the game improvement iron may spin less, you’re also using 1 less club. In this scenario, if you have a 170 yard shot, you may use a 7-iron with the iBlade model, but you’re going to use an 8-iron with the game improvement iron. And thus the extra spin you get from going to 1 shorter club may make up for the less spin the game improvement irons provide.


In order to test this out, I took the mean for each of the key ball metrics provided in the video:

- Ball Speed
- Launch Angle
- Spin Rate

Fried Eggs golf only provides the data for a 7-iron. So, what I did was take Trackman’s PGA Tour averages

I used this data to determine what the gap’s should roughly be for each club with regards to ball speed, launch angle and spin rate.

From there, I went onto FlightScope’s Trajectory Optimizer (http://flightscope.com/products/trajectory-optimizer/), I set the horizontal launch at 0 degrees (straight shot) and set the altitude at 100 feet and here’s the final numbers I came up with on the iBlade vs. the game improvement iron

The graph shows pretty clearly that the when you adjust for using 1 less club with the game improvement iron, the roll distance is almost exactly the same.  For example, the Game Improvement 6-iron is projected to roll 3.8 yards versus the i-Blade 5-iron which is projected to roll 4.0 yards.  In this scenario, the game improvement iron will travel a *total* of 1.7 yards futher, but actually roll -0.2 yards less.

Of course, there is a lot of assumptions going on here. Furthermore, I’m not saying that a golfer should go to a game improvement iron. But, there is some real value to finding a set of irons you can hit further.

The main one I point to is that hitting irons 1 club length longer is more likely to help you hit them straighter provided the shaft lengths are the same. For starters, you will be using a shorter shafted club which tends to be easier to control. Secondly, you’re likely to increase the Spin Loft with 1 less club (Dynamic Loft – Attack Angle = Spin Loft) and we know that the higher the spin loft, the less the ball’s spin axis will tilt which helps you to hit a straighter shot.

It’s still more important to be fit for the irons that you hit best overall and again, I think finding longer shafted irons that you hit longer is counterproductive. You also have to worry about the how well the weight of the club and the sole grind fits your swing. But, if you can find irons that check off all of those boxes, it could be very well worth getting over the look and feel of the irons for 1 extra club of distance.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Update on 3Jack Golf

I apologize to all of the readers for having not updated you on my status as I haven't updated the blog since last August.  Here's a bit of a rundown on my life.

1.  I was laid-off from my job over the past 6 years back in June and was called back to work 2 weeks from the date I was let go.  By then I had already looked for different jobs and found a new job that paid me substantially more in south Florida.  So for 5 weeks I was feverishly looking for jobs and then moving to south Florida and getting acclimated with the area and quite frankly the entire process would make my head spin.

2.  While working on 2016 Pro Golf Synopsis, I had the honor of providing statistical analysis on the Ryder Cup for The Golf Channel as well as doing statistical analytics for numerous Tour players, coaches and their caddies that took away time from being able to finish 2016 Pro Golf Synopsis.

3.  My mother unexpectedly passed away after Thanksgiving.  This has been a very trying time for myself and my family.  I was very close to my mom and she bought me my first Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract when I was 10 years old as well as driving me to the golf course and me and my friends to numerous golf tournaments when I was a junior golfer.  So as hard as it has been to lose my mother, the game of golf always reminds me of her.  That put off 2016 Pro Golf Synopsis.

4.  I then quit my job down in South Florida and relocated back to the central Florida area with a new job which again...took time away from finishing 2016 Pro Golf Synopsis.

Status on 2016 Pro Golf Synopsis - I hope to finish it by the end of February.  It will be an abbreviated version with all of the normal information and the player-by-player analysis.  However, I will only have 2 essays instead of the normal 3 or 4 essays.  I suspect the book will still be about 300+ pages long.  Due to the delay and 'less' information, I will be offering the book at the reduce price of $7.50.

Status on the Blog - I plan on getting the blog going starting tomorrow.  I will likely update it every Monday thru Thursday.  I will try to update on Friday, but there has been a downward trend in the amount of new content on the internet these days.

I plan on making the blog more of a video blog (vlog) come Summer of this year.  That will consist of putting content on my YouTube channel, Instagram and Periscope.  I am also looking into a weekly golf podcast, but that will likely not start until 2018.

Status on my own game - Before I moved to south Florida in July, I was arguably playing the best golf of my life.  I shot 65 on five different occasions from March to June (my lowest score ever is 64).  And I was logging in a lot of sub-70 rounds on 7,000+ yard courses.  I had gotten my club head speed up as high as 117 mph on Trackman and was averaging 114 mph.  

When I moved to south Florida, the transition meant far less time to work on my game and I became very inconsistent and had to work out the kinks which took me a couple of months.  I started to get my game back into decent shape in December, but a step below where it was back in June.  

The past couple of weeks I have been working on a couple of new pieces and I like where it is headed.  My results on 'good swings' are better than my previous 'good swings' which I think is critical when making changes to your swing.  I now have to get more reps in to work out those 3-4 bad swings per round.  

I hope to get some video of my swing here in the next couple of weeks and get a What's In The Bag post sometime this week.

I thank all of you for your following and those that have inquired about the status of the blog and all of the encouragement you have graciously given me.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at progolfsynopsis@yahoo.com