Reducing Driver Spin

My recent experience with the SLDR, got me thinking about driver spin. Now obviously since the northeast is still wicked cold, I can’t really practice much yet, but I wanted to know from you, what are some of your best tips for reducing driver spin.

Golf ball on Tee
Photo by North Charleston via Flickr

My recent experience with the SLDR, got me thinking about driver spin.  Now obviously since the northeast is still wicked cold, I can’t really practice much yet, but I wanted to know from you, what are some of your best tips for reducing driver spin.

This is something I’ve been fighting with for the better part of my golf career.  I’ve gone with the lowest spinning driver and shaft combinations that I can find, and yet it still plagues.  I’ve got a golf coach voice in my head telling me to hit up on the ball (or at the very least level), and too not be “handsy”.

Do you have any good drills, swing thoughts, or visualizations that have helped you?  Let me know. See you on the range.

TaylorMade SLDR. Will lofting up work for me?

All across the country today, TaylorMade and Golfsmith have teamed up to provide golfers an opportunity to compare their current drivers to the TaylorMade’s flagship driver the SLDR. Their claim is that the low and forward CG promotes a high launch and low spin and fast ball speed. Certainly those things sound like they would make for some long driving. But will it work for me?

Loft up tshirt and hat

All across the country today, TaylorMade and Golfsmith have teamed up to provide golfers an opportunity to compare their current drivers to the TaylorMade’s flagship driver the SLDR.  Their claim is that the low and forward CG promotes a high launch and low spin and fast ball speed.  Certainly those things sound like they would make for some long driving. But will it work for me?

I wanted to see for myself whether they’re new driver performed for me, so I header to the closest Golfsmith with my trusty gamer.  My driver is a Ping G25 9.5 degrees with the Ping TFC 189 Tour X-Flex shaft.  When I’m swinging well I can bomb this thing.  For me a bomb is hitting out there 295 – 310, depending on course conditions.  But, that’s not my typical drive.  I would say my normal drives are from 250 to 270.

At Golfsmith I was led to the hitting bay where they took a look at my club, then brought out an SLDR at 12 degrees, stock shaft at X-Flex to match, assuring me that I should expect to see higher launches, lower spin, and longer carries.

I started warming up, and I wasn’t hitting anything too well. I went through a few rounds switching between both drivers before switching to an iron, just to get my tempo and rhythm more in sync.  Finally I was ready to do the real comparison.

Results

So did I hit it higher, with less spin and more ball speed? Not entirely.

Launch angle

Launch angle: Taylormade SLDR – 12.2, Ping G25 10.8.

TaylorMade wins the launch angle.

Spin

Spin: Taylormade SLDR – 3299, Ping G25 – 3044.

Ping wins the spin battle. Granted this is a high number regardless of which driver.  I really need to work on my swing to lower this. Some additional morsels of information.  Highest spin with SLDR was 4293 and lowest was 2384.  Highest with Ping was 3613 and lowest was 2499.  So even though one shot with the TM had lower spin than the lowest of the Ping it didn’t beat it by much, but that high spin shot was crazy high.  Again, I really need to work on my swing to lower my spin in general.

Finally, Ball Speed

Taylormade SLDR – 138.3, Ping G25 142.2.

Again not my best ball striking session but the Ping clearly beat the SLDR in terms of ball speed  Those 5 miles can make a big difference the total distance numbers bear that out.

Distance

The ping averaged 13 yards longer than the SLDR. The SLDR never came close.  The higher launch, combined with more spin. never made up for the ball speed difference for me.

Conclusion

Ping wins this round.  TaylorMade certainly is an innovative golf company.  That said, no one product can fit everybody.  This session was fairly short, and not as thorough as a real driver fitting, so with a little bit more attention and trying some different shaft combinations, results might have been very different.  However it’s certainly possible this is a great driver for you.  I would encourage you to get fitted with a PGA pro who will take the time to look at your swing characteristics and put together the combination that works best for you.  In the end I got a new t-shirt, a new TaylorMade hat, and some experience with the latest technology from TaylorMade.

Shaft upgrade delivers penetrating ball fight and consistency

Golf clubsLast week I had the shafts in my irons upgraded.  The reason that I had it done was because my swing had changed and the shafts were too weak in my irons.  I noticed this on especially well struck shots where the spin put on the ball would make the balloon so much that it lost a lot of distance for me.  The other reason was that the trajectories and carries were all over the place.

After being fitted by the Mizuno fitting system, it was determined that I should be using Dynamic Gold X100 shafts, but that the heads I have (Mizuno MP52) were fine for my swing. This was a big change, as I was being switched from Project X 5.0.  I could have stayed with Project X, according to the Mizuno fitting system if I had gone to a 6.5 flex, but according to them it was my third choice.  The choice that fit my swing best was DG X100.

I’m happy to report that the change is going well.  What I like best about the new shafts is that the they are much more predictable.  My distances are no longer all over the place, the ballooning has been eliminated, and the shots really fly much more true.

I have had to make some changes in the way I swing.  I’m not really changing my technique, I’m just adjusting to a new tempo.  With these shafts I can’t go after it the way I did.  In fact, I find that with these, if the swing feels about 80%, the results are amazing and consistent.  The ball flight is much straighter and consistent than anything I have had before.  The ball explodes off the face with a very different feeling from what I had before.  It just seems much more solid and the flight is penetrating, even into some significant wind.  Even though I’m changing my tempo a bit, the change feels excellent, and I believe it will help make me a better golfer.

Now, I’m not recommending that you go out and get Dynamic Gold X100 shafts.  I would recommend a good fitting.  Having equipment that fits you really makes a big difference.  There are so many options that even a well informed golfer has a hard time self fitting.  There are may different kinds of shafts, club heads, lie angles, and lengths.  The standard off the shelf equipment may not fit you, and may be hurting your game.  I know that I was putting so much spin on the ball that it was robbing me of distance.  See your local pro for a fitting.  It can really help your game.

Review: Trackman: The Game

On tour, PGA Tour players get to test equipment and practice with a trackman setup that gives them their launch conditions like club head speed, angle of attack, ballspeed etc.  Imagine being able to practice like a tour pro at your local range.  That and more is the promise of Trackman: The Game.

I feel that calling it Trackman: The Game, is a bit of a misnomer.  It is simply a great practice tool, although one of its best applications is the multiplayer games.  Above you can see my actual stats, ball flight and score for one short session of Trackman: The Game.  Click on each thumbnail to open a larger image.

How it works

The way it works is that you sign up for an account, typically at the driving range that has it.  In my case I went to the Tappan Golf Center in Tappan, NY.  You pay for a certain number of credits and that gives you an amount of time on the unit itself.  A touch screen at the driving range bay allows you to log in and start your session.  This screen provides all the vital information that you need as you begin using it and practicing.

The driving range has a number of trackman targets set up.  These are physical targets out on the range.  They were numbered 1-5 and were setup at various distances, typically in between club distances.  Target 1 was setup at 66 yards, target 2 at 94, target 3 at 115 etc.  This allows you to practice in a similar way to being on the golf course.  After all if you hit your 9 iron 135, how often will you have a shot that is exactly 135?  Probably not all that often. Partial irons are where you can really lower your scores.

Focused Practice

The best thing about that Trackman: The Game is focused practice at actual targets where you get actual distances to the pin.  Because you are hitting at actual targets and there is something on the line, even if it’s just your pride against a buddy, it gets you to focus in a similar way to being on the course.  Practicing this way I think can really lead to serious improvement.

Zen Chili Rating for Trackman: The Game

5 Zens out of 5

• Most effective driving range practice
• Provides an on course like atmosphere on the range
• Makes you feel like a tour pro

5 Chilis out of 5

• Easy to use user interface
• Fantastic online stat tracking
• Tracks virtually all statistics trackman is known for
• Easy to use and effective

To learn more about the rating system click here.

Games

You have a number of games that you can play.

18/18 – 18 holes in 18 minutes is the main game. Players hit 3 shots to each of the 5 TrackMan approach targets and finish up with 3 drives between the driving poles – now that’s a time efficient game of golf, not to mention a real test of skill!

18/18 Quick-Play allows players to randomly choose their shot sequence and targets. Players hit 18 shots at any of the five approach targets or any combination thereof – not including the driving zone. The game concludes once 18 shots have been played.

The 9 Shot Challenges focus players on a specific TrackMan target. Players hit 9 shots to a chosen target and their shot results are scored based on performance.

The 9 Drives Challenge is based on an imaginary fairway between the two white TrackMan driving poles. While the objective here is straight and long drives, being straight is rewarded more than being long!


Shot analysis and club comparison

In Single player mode you have the shot analysis and compare clubs options.  You can use this to get your launch statistics in order to get your distances with each club, figure out your gaps, and optimize your launch conditions.  I would imagine taking a demo driver and hitting it in comparison with my current driver to see the differences.  Although should not replace a true fitting session, it can provide a basis for comparison.

Online

Once you have completed your session you can go anywhere you have an internet connection and log into mytrackman.com.  There you can see the results of the games, club comparison and shot analysis, and take a detailed look at each and every shot.  This makes tracking your statistics a cinch.  The online component is phenomenal and for anyone who really wants to take a close look at their game, it is invaluable.  Your online account saves all of your sessions, so that you can see your improvement over time, or the effect that new clubs are having.

Conclusion

Trackman: The Game is the future of practice.  It makes the time spent at the driving range more focused and productive.  If you really want to improve your golf game, go and check it out.

Website: MyTrackman.com

TrackMan: A valuable teaching tool

Trackman

I had an opportunity to get on TrackMan today.  If you have not had the opportunity to try it I highly recommend it.  Sterling Farms, in Stamford CT will let you get on the TrackMan launch monitor for $110/hr.

What a great experience!  Trackman is much more advanced than I had thought based on what I’ve seen on the Golf Channel.  It is so much more than just getting your launch numbers.

I was really surprised at the amount of information that it generates, especially when you see the teaching modules for it.  Along with tracking the golf ball, it also tracks the clubhead through the impact zone.    The 3D club view is awesome and it was truly eye opening to see what the club was doing through impact in a way that video analysis just can’t do.

The teaching modules in TrackMan can show you things that you really can’t get in a regular teaching session because everything the instructor describes can be shown on the screen and in 3 dimensions.  In a short session I was able to make some huge improvements in my swing and ball compression.

You don’t need to reshaft to lower your spin rate

So an interesting thing happened the other day.  I popped into my local club builder because I had been thinking of switching out a shaft in a driver and I needed to a pick up a three wood that was going to go into Adams for repair.

We started talking about why I wanted to change the shaft in the driver and before I knew it I was on the launch monitor hitting some balls.

He looks at my swing and starts making some suggestions about releasing the club.  Lo and behold my spin rate drops from a high of 5000 (the average was closer to mid 3k), down to an all time low for me of 1758.  Same club and same shaft.   Wow!

On the launch monitor that equated to a baby draw (from a fade) and about 60 yards more distance.

I’ve started to practice this and I’ve finally figured out how to release the club.  The results from my home simulator are that my club head is coming into the ball much more square or even a degree or two closed, path from the inside, and club head speed is going up.  And it all results in some nice draws or pretty much dead straight shots.  Pretty good results so far.  I can’t wait to see how they translate on the course.

I was having trouble releasing because my left elbow wasn’t folding easily after impact.  Once I isolated that and concentrating on having that happen the release happened naturally.  It seems to really be giving me some nice pop.