THE DYNAMICS OF BALL STRIKING AND HOW THE WHOLE SHOW FITS TOGETHER
What do great ball strikers all do?
Great ball strikers use the whole club. They do not sacrifice pressure for speed. Think of a beginner in golf, their focus as a beginner is on making contact with the ball using the club head. Whilst holding onto the club they fling the club head at the ball. In dynamic terms there is a short sharp acceleration way before impact, this provides enough momentum for the club to reach the ball and make contact. The sound is ‘clicky’ because the club head is decelerating at contact and is therefore deflected by the mass of the golf ball.
Now switch to the accomplished ball striker, that distinctive thud, the dull thwack of a compressed golf ball. The one you hear on the range at a tour event. What creates this evolved contact?
NOTE this is not a how to guide. With the right clubs from the right location all people would evolve this strike as long as they avoid modern golf coaching. My mate Ayers explains here:
As golfers evolve they learn how to use the WHOLE club. They steadily accelerate the whole club through the shaft of the club. They maintain acceleration for the longest possible time up to impact. This maximizes the pressure imparted on the ball and minimizes the deflection of the club head at contact. The shaft stays taught and under load.
Pressure trumps speed. Great ball strikers learn by feel how to maximize speed with out losing pressure; too much emphasis on speed will surely destroy pressure and compression.
How a golfer interacts with their clubs….
Weight (over all and swing weight/MOI)
Shaft flex and bend profile
These are the critical factors that allow a golfer to learn and maximize the skill of great ball striking. In later blogs or maybe later in this blog I will go into detail on each of those points but the most important thing to get across now is this. In 99% of modern club fittings these factors are not considered relative to the golfers dynamic move and ability to compress the golf ball. The game is taught even at the highest level with complete and utter separation between the equipment ‘expert’ and the coach. I have witnessed players at tour events with equipment that blocks them from maximizing compression on the golf ball let alone the recreational golfers I see every day.
Golf equipment in today’s game is sold on distance. The assumption that all golfers want more distance. The over simplified marketable message is that speed is the only factor and hey presto golfers are buying clubs which are stopping them from learning the core skills required to play this game. Yes stopping them, completely stopping them.
A critical factor and hugely over looked in the majority of club fittings. Its important to remember here and any weight added or taken away from a golf club is multiplied when the club is swung. A golfer may not discern a 2 gram change in head weight when picking the club up or even waggling the club but when the club is swung the shift in weight become far more significant.
What we have discovered over the years is that every golfer has a ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to clubs dynamic weight which we measure by MOI as opposed to swing weight. The more weight we can add to the club head the better the energy transfer from club to ball (more mass). However too much weight and the golfer starts to lose speed and we notice their consistency of contact drops off very rapidly. Its very straight forward to find this sweet spot for full shots, we simply make a base six iron with the correct shaft, length and lie angle and then using lead tape slowly add weight whilst monitoring ball speed and strike pattern. We see the same thing with all golfers, as the weight is being added their ball striking improves steadily until we go slightly over optimum where it drops off very quickly. We simply back up slightly from the point where the speed and quality of strike drops off and we have a blue print club to work from. By matching the MOI of this club for the majority of clubs in the set we ensure every club is absolutely on this sweet spot. If we matched the clubs to the swing weight of this club all the irons shorter than the six iron would be under the optimum and all the irons longer would be over the optimum and over the edge where the ball striking is very adversely effected.
Note: There is much more to say on MOI vs swing weight, there will be a separate blog on this later.
In conclusion the correct MOI will maximize the golfers potential to create impact pressure and good contact.