Journey to the Worlds 2012
Here’s another quick video of one of my training sessions as I prepare for the Worlds.
One of the keys to competing well is knowing your clubs. It’s the same whether it’s for the World Long Drive Championship or a weekend nassau.
I’m fortunate to have John Greenwood helping me. Not only is he building my clubs, but he is customizing them to fit my swing. I have the added benefit of practicing with the use of his launch monitor. The launch monitor shows club head speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rates, and a host of other ball-flight information. That means I can really be scientific about the results. It’s not just guess work.
When I change equipment, it’s because there is an increase in performance. And we have the hard numbers to back that up. The new “No Brainer” from Steve Almo at Geek Golf improved my ball speed by 4 to 6 mph, which translates to 6 to 10 yards. That may not sound like much, but when you are competing at the extreme edge of distance, even a 1-yard improvement can make a huge difference. I won the WLDC by a mere 29 inches.
The other thing that is nice about having a launch monitor behind me when I am practicing is that I can experiment with different adjustments and then compare results – again without guesswork.
One of the adjustments I made was to move the ball back in my stance about an inch. The new No Brainer club head is a little heavier than the DotComThis club I used last year, and I think that is making the club come into the impact zone and release a little earlier. I do know that my results improved when I moved the ball back.
The second adjustment I made was my grip position on the club. I tried choking up an inch, then two inches from my normal grip position, and measured the results. I also tried moving my hands way to the end of the grip. What I found was that choking up an inch didn’t make a statistically significant difference in distance. But my dispersal pattern tightened – in other words, I hit the grid more often by choking up an inch. When I choked up two inches, there was a noticeable drop in ball speed.
On the other hand, when I put my hands all the way at the end of the grip, so that the butt end of the grip was almost inside my left palm, I had a 1 to 3 mph increase in swing speed and ball speed. But my dispersal pattern was terrible. I couldn’t hit the grid, and the misses were both left and right. So the trade-off in extra ball speed was not worth it in terms of number of balls hitting the grid. And since there is some element of luck involved in how the ball bounces out when it lands, I’d rather hit more balls in the grid and rely on a good bounce, than try to get an extra 1 to 4 yards at the cost of accuracy.
I’m just about done with driver club testing and configuration. John will build me a couple more drivers so that I have a practice club, as well as gamers I can take with me to the tee box. We’ll build one club with a lower loft for situations when I am hitting into the wind, and another club with a higher loft for times when I am hitting downwind.
So now my practice shifts away from club testing, and will focus on a combination of both technique work and simulated competition. I’ll be posting more updates as I go.
See you down the fairway!
PGA Professional and World Long Drive Champion
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