New Season, New Goals

This game is crazy. Incredible shots are sometimes followed by the most awful shots imaginable. But it seems every round has a reason to come back. Maybe it’s a great finishing drive. Or maybe the worst front nine turns into the best back nine and you salvage a round. Or maybe you see one of your friends hit the shot of their life.

This game is crazy. Incredible shots are sometimes followed by the most awful shots imaginable. But it seems every round has a reason to come back. Maybe it’s a great finishing drive. Or maybe the worst front nine turns into the best back nine and you salvage a round. Or maybe you see one of your friends hit the shot of their life.

Things are finally warming up in the northeast. My course opened yesterday, and I’m playing on Saturday.  I’ve been looking forward to this all winter, especially this winter. This was the most brutal winter in recent memory.

Anyway, I’ve decided I want to keep it simple this season so for now I have just 2 goals. I’m sure this will evolve throughout the season but it’s a place to start.

1) Learn AimPoint Express.

I especially like the express part. No more taking too long to read a putt. You get some you fell the slope, maybe in more than 1 spot, depending on the putt. Pick your number. Line it up and hit it. Seems much easier than looking at the hole from every angle, walking around, or relying on someone else’s read. It should be quick and accurate from what I’ve seen. Now to put it in play and see how it really goes.

2) Fix my driving.

I feel like I’ve said this every year for the past, well every year since I got back into golf. I feel like I’ve figured something out. And that I’ll actually be able to release the club.

So there are my goals. We’ll see on Saturday how things start to shape up. Being the first round of the season I can’t be expecting awesome results. Will take some time to get the rust out.

BTW and just show how much rust is out there take a look at these stats from a recent trip to Golfsmith.

Way off line with driver
First hitting session at Golfsmith this season

Play well and good luck.

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.

Mission Lower Driver Spin Off to a Rocky Start

The mission has begun…and it got off to a rocky start.  The day’s practice was off.  Ever felt like you’d never played golf before, it was sort of like that.  My irons were solid, my driver felt like a foreign implement in my hand.

It was frustrating, but I did get my initial launch monitor spin rates.  They ranged from 2400, to 4200, but most of them were right around 2800.  Like I said, it was a weird day of practice.

I was pretty frustrated so I did some more work in the evening and figured some things out.  It came down to some basics, posture, take away, and clearing the hips.  Correcting these 3 made a huge difference and let me get through the shots more efficiently.

Looking forward to taking these corrections out for a spin tomorrow.

New Mission: Lower Driver Spin Rate

One of the weakest areas of my game has been my driver. I’ve always been very good with my irons. A steep swing allows me to create crisp iron shots with a descending blow. Unfortunately, this steep swing, really makes driving the ball difficult.

One of the weakest areas of my game has been my driver.  I’ve always been very good with my irons.  A steep swing allows me to create crisp iron shots with a descending blow.  Unfortunately, this steep swing, really makes driving the ball difficult.  I tend to generate a lot of back spin which hurts my accuracy and length.  As a result I’ve been fitted into driver combinations that are meant to really reduce spin.

My recent fittings have shown my spin to be in roughly between 2800 on good swings, and 3200 on my poor swings.  My mission is to get this down to a paltry 2200.  A Bridgestone Ball Fitting made some recommendations based on my numbers:  105-107 Swing speed, launch 11.8.  It recommended 2200 rpm as my ideal backspin to optimize carry and total distance.  This means I need to reduce my backspin roughly 1000 rpm give or take a few.

First things first, I need to confirm my current spin rate. I’ve started to make some changes but I think it’s important to get an accurate assessment of where I stand.  I’m sure this won’t be an easy mission, but I think it will be one well worth the effort.