High Launch, Low Spin = Distance

High Launch, Low Spin = Distance

Do you want to pick up some serious carry yardage with your drives? Of course you do – read on.

A couple of years ago, one of my most viral blog post related to how I managed to pick up 55 yards of carry distance with my driver, simply by changing how the ball launches and spins in the air. This article will delve into the act of launching the ball higher.

Trackman longest drives

 

By launching the ball high with low spin, I was able to create 310 yards of distance with just 107 mph of clubhead speed.

We know (from testing) that a ball that launches close to 17 degrees, and with little spin (usually less than what most amateurs create) will give our golf ball big carry distances and still have some roll – as well as a boring trajectory through any wind.

However, we also know that many amateurs launch the golf ball much too low.

A club will typically launch around 60-70% of the dynamic loft of the club (it’s a little more complicated than that, taking into account friction, angle of attack etc.). This means that we regularly see players with 10 degree drivers launching the ball at 6-7 degrees. This is nowhere near enough for huge booming drives.

low-launch

When a ball is hit with a negative angle of ascent (red arrow) and has a loft at impact (green), the ball will launch around 70% between the two. This can make a 10 degree driver launch lower than 7 degrees – not optimal.

But there is a way to get closer to that 17 degree mark – and it doesn’t involve using a 25 degree driver (which would spin the ball way too much anyway). In fact, my own driver is 8.5 degrees and I can get it to go close to the 17 degree launch angle.

How do I do it?

 

Strike Point

We could strike high on the face, in the middle of the face, or low on the face.

The vast majority of amateurs I see on my lesson tee are striking the bottom half of the face. The loft of the club varies along the clubface due to something called ‘roll’ (the club is not uniformly flat); the loft above the sweet spot can be 4 or so degrees more than the loft at below the sweetspot (depending on the amount of roll and the severity of the strike).

scholls

If we look at my strikes from a test I conducted (which produced high launching and low spinning drives), we can see that the marks are actually quite high on the face. Most people are quite surprised when I show them.

driver face

 

When we strike slightly above the sweetspot, the club also deflects backwards, further increasing the launch angle of the ball, as well as reducing backspin. This is a terrific combination for distance – helping us achieve the high-launching-low-spinning unicorn.

You will need a higher tee to produce strikes like this – which is why you see the long-drive champions using massive tees during competitions. I myself use a 4inch tee, and I use every last millimeter of it.

 

 

Increasing Dynamic Loft and Angle of Attack

One way that manufacturers have used to good effect recently is to increase the loft of your driver. Many of the newer clubs have printed lofts on the bottom, but with adjustable hosels which can change/increase the actual loft.

The issue with this is that it increases the difference between the loft at impact and the angle of attack – or spin loft. This helps us to launch the ball higher, but often at the expense of increased spin rates – not good for penetrating drives that roll out.

increased-spin-loft

Manufacturers have increased dynamic loft (green) helping the ball launch higher, but at the expense of a large spin loft (blue area).

I have found that by getting a player to hit up on the ball more (increasing angle of attack), it changes both dynamic loft and angle of attack in conjunction with one another – resulting in higher ball launches but maintained or even reduced ball spin.

reduced-spin-loft

This is a great combination.

We achieve an increase in angle of attack (and increased dynamic loft) by changing our low-point position. This is a topic discussed in depth in The strike Plan – as well as how to change where you hit on the clubface. If you want to find out more, check out the link below by clicking on the picture.

Strike plan enter

12 Comments

  • Mike

    If you hit the ball far enough forward for the club to be going up, don’t you also risk the path going to the left due to biomechanic necesity. Wouldn’t that create greater risk of a slice.

    • admin

      Not necessarily, it depends how you get the low point behind. I shift my swing direction to the right, which has the effect of putting low point farther behind the ball (hitting more on the up) while maintaining path numbers (swing direction and path are different). You are, however, correct that simply putting the ball further forwards and making the same swing will shift path (and face) more left.

  • Peter

    Hi Adam, great blog article (like always). But I don´t understand the second last picture. The last one is clear hitting up “reduced spin loft”, but on the other picture before the shaft is not leaning forward (it is travelling upwards) but the club head is hitting “down” on the ball. How could that be, is it a result of the club shaft (dynamic loft)?

    • admin

      Whether a shaft is leaning forwards or not at impact is not always an indication of whether we are hitting up or not. Also, due to the shaft deflection through impact, hardly any club has actual shaft lean during impact (at least not the bottom of the shaft near the head).

  • martin

    do these same rules apply to hitting hybrids,and irons,

    • admin

      Yes, although we also have to strike the ball effectively (which may require a different angle of attack when the ball is resting on the turf). Also, we may need more spin with other clubs, as control is prioritized over maximizing distance.

  • Patrick

    Have a 10.5 driver…ball forward if left heel…3 3/4″ tees…and driver head adjusted to 12.5*….strikes are mid/high face for good spin and launch….my problem is according to the TM chart…it seems with my 10.5 head increased to 12.5 closes the face 4*. In an effort to maximize my launch angle…. This combined with the ball position caused me to have pulls and pull hooks as my misses. At address with it adjusted to 12.5* the shaft was so far forward of the head at address I couldn’t stand it and when swinging it…i had to adjust a lot to my path just to hit the ball straight. It started to affect my fairway woods and iron play as well causing hooks. When I adjusted the driver back square at 10.5*…looks nice at address..it set up nice and square….ball goes where I want it…just launches too low. My swing speed is 105mph….I see pros using the M2 with 10.5 and swinging a lot faster than me….I’m going to get a different driver with more static loft without adjustment being made because I honestly feel it affected my swing plane/path too much in order to get more launch. But at 12.5* when I hit it…I would hit some nice bomb with beautiful ball flight. a thought for others who may be struggling with their driver. Get more loft….it’s your friend…but be weary of increasing adjustable drivers so much as it will affect face angle and shaft tilt and it really changes how the club looks at address

    • admin

      Good point Patrick. However, when we simply increase the loft and keep everything else the same, we increase the spin rate, which doesn’t fit in with our “high launch, low spin” idea. To get an increase in dynamic loft while keeping spin low, we have to change angle of attack. For example, my driver is 8.5 degrees static loft, but I launch the ball close to 16 degrees (the loft I present at impact is close to 20 degrees). However, I also hit up on the ball 5-10 degrees, allowing that high-launch, low-spin combo and maxing out distance. I explain a lot of this with videos, visuals and drills in The Strike Plan series.

      • Dan

        Hi Adam,

        So are you saying with this comment to Patrick, that you can’t hit up and get low spin with a high loft driver?

        Regards
        Dan

        • admin

          Hi Dan – the loft of the driver is irrelevant to the ball. The ball only knows dynamic loft – which is what you present. This will be a combination of the club loft and technical things such as shaft lean, face orientation etc. For example, I could turn a 20 deg hybrid into a 5 degree hybrid by leaning the shaft forwards 15 degrees at impact.

          The spin will be hugely influenced by spin-loft, which is the diff between the angle of attack and the dynamic loft.

          A lot of info in the above comment. Take time to read and understand it. I also go through it all in depth and with great visuals in my program, Next Level Golf

  • Jerry jacobson

    If I have a slow swing 80 mph will this help me get 20 more yds
    Thanks

    • admin

      Hi Jerry – this works even better at slower speeds. Higher speed players can get away with lower ball flights as they are already creating enough distance. But if you hit it less than 280, you will see even more benefits as a % of ball flight.

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