I encourage my students to attend PGA, LPGA, Champions Tour, Web Tour and top-level amateur events to see what the best players demonstrate up close. Tour events offer golfers a chance to observe the traits and ball flights of top players in a competitive environment. Players at this level are doing tried and tested methods of ball striking, and this is why I ask my players to note the similarities in top golfers' games.
When players return after their field trip to the course, they usually have the same observation: Top players hit their drivers high and their wedges low. This is usually different from their own games and quite a shock. Many golfers think driving a ball with a low, flat trajectory runs more for greater distance, and wedges need to fly sky-high to drop down on the flag.
Better players drive the ball high for longer carry yardages, and allow the ball to run once it lands. They also hit their wedges low to control distance and allow for maximum control on greens. Here's why better players launch their drivers and trap their wedges.
High Launch, Low Spin
High launch, low spin is the formula for a driver. Tour players launch their driver about 16-18 degrees off the club face and spin the ball between 2,500 and 3,100 RPM. This creates a high, arching ball flight that carries far.
Most amateurs tee the ball low and hit down on their driver, which launches the ball low with too much spin. To play like the pros, tee your driver high and play the ball position forward in your stance to hit up on the ball. Your launch angle will rise, and your carry distance will increase. If the ball is spinning too much, strengthen your grip and turn the club closed for reduced spin rate.
Low Launch, High Spin
Low launch, high spin is the wedge formula. Tour players launch their wedges at half the loft on their club face (a 56-degree wedge launches at 28 degrees, for example). Why? Think of a bean bag toss game -- it's easy to hit the target with a flat-trajectory toss, not a high-trajectory one. Wedges are the same.
A lower flight makes distance control easier. How do you achieve this shot? By hitting down with a club face that isn't lofted, players can trap the ball between the turf and club face. This reduced loft increases the friction between the ball and wedge face surface, increasing spin rate.
This effect launches the ball low and stops the ball immediately on greens. To achieve this, turn the wedge closed in your grip and play the ball to the back of your stance. Then, lean on your lead leg and hit down through impact. You ball flight will lower, and the ball will spin to a quick stop on the green.
Practice these launch angles, and you'll look more like the top players in the game, too.
Send your golf game questions to Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit PressBoxOnline.com for tips. Listen to Joe on the radio by tuning in to the "Better Golf" show on 105.7 The Fan, at 6 p.m. Sundays.