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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.