I was watching the US Open practice ground and saw a number of players using one of the new technologies no longer just reserved for equipment manufactures — the launch monitor.
These devices use some sophisticated technology radar that allows you to measure the speed, launch angle and spin rate of the golf ball as it leaves the clubface.
This helps determine the correct loft and make-up of a driver as well as the correct ball for your game. It can be the quickest way for you to gain yards without changing your swing.
See Bubba Watson’s stats when he hits his driver. Amazing. Maximizing your driver distance is truly a matter of science. But what do all those numbers on the launch monitor screen mean? You can have all the clubhead speed in the world, but if your ball speed isn’t in proportion with your clubhead speed, you are wasting energy and losing yards. The optimum number is a 1:1.5 ratio between clubhead speed and ball speed, called smash factor.
In other words, at 100 mph of clubhead speed, a solid blow will send the ball at 150 mph off the face. The lower the ratio, the poorer the strike. Most tour pros come in just above 1.47.
The second number that is important is launch angle, which is measured in degrees. We’ve heard a lot about how the pros are trying to launch the ball as high as possible with very little spin. But the key here is that there is an optimum launch angle for your ball speed and spin rate, and that is critical. Bubba gets incredibly high launch and low spin, which is the magic combination!
So what does that all mean? It means that you need to get on a ball flight monitor and see what your key numbers are. The improvement can be as much as 50 yards!
It does not mean you can cut a dog leg at Pinehurst like Bubba, but it is amazing potential improvement. I have the latest flightscope and use it to coach and for club fit. It is a revolution in understanding the game.
Paul Adams is the PGA Director of Instruction at Tucker’s Point Club, Flightscope Certified Professional, Certified Golf Fitness TPI Level II, and Certified Club Fitter.