Canadian Fade - Play, Practice, Enjoy

You May Not Be As Far From A Good Golf Swing As You Think

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for a golfer to show up for a lesson and tell me that they want to start all over from the beginning.  This player has become so frustrated with the state of their golf game that they feel the best approach is to pack it all in and start from scratch.  Golfers don't get to this point quickly, it doesn't happen after just one bad shot or a couple of rounds, it is usually the end point after a considerable amount of time of struggle and failed attempts at getting things back on track by trying a multitude of tips passed on to them by their playing partners, golf articles or YouTube videos.

Identifying The Problem

This is where things first go wrong.  Golfers struggle to correctly identify what went wrong with an undesired golf shot, they have difficulty picking out exactly what caused the outcome.

Example / Hit It Fat or Chunk It

Following a chunked/fat shot a golfer will often blame the undesired result on a variety of common misconceptions.

  • I lifted my head
  • I swung too fast
  • I took my eye off it
  • Insert your own favourite here...

  • If you think that one of the above was the cause of your chunked shot then all we can assume is that on your next swing your fix is going to be to correct that perceived error.  So, on your next shot your focus is most likely going to be to ...

  • Keep your head down
  • Slow down your swing
  • Stare at the ball harder

  • While there may be a correlation between Lifting Your Head and Chunking a Shot (the word "may" should be in bold caps here) there is no direct connection.   At best you are just hoping that Keeping Your Head Down will fix the real problem.

    Think Closer To The Golf Ball

    Often the most direct and successful correction is to think of what must have happened at the moment of impact.  With our example of a chunked/fat shot if we boil it down to the moment of impact then what we know for sure is that the Low Point of our Swing Arc was in the wrong place.  When we chunk a shot it was either because our Low Point happened too early or that our Low Point was too deep.  Instead of thinking about what we may have done wrong with our technique, lifted my head, swung too hard etc.., we can now focus on making a correction that we know has a direct connection to a better outcome.  Change my Low Point.

    Being accurate with your Low Point takes precision and missing by even just an inch or two can have a substantial effect on the outcome of your shot.  Picture your club striking the turf two inches behind the golf ball, all the grass and dirt that gets trapped between the club face and the ball does not allow for solid contact resulting in a shot that loses considerable distance and does not feel very good.  The result of this shot was not because you made some horrific swing it was just because you missed your low point,  and not by very much actually.

    Two Similar Swings Two Very Different Results

    In the video below I walk through two very similar swings and show how even the smallest difference can have dramatic results on the outcome of the shot.

    What's The Takeaway

    During your round of golf you are going to experience all levels of success with your golf shots, maybe as dramatic as shown in the above video, maybe not. When you have inconsistency in the quality of your shots don't be so quick to think that you have a technique problem and go down a path of trying to fix something in your swing. Your "problem" could be one of precision which can be improved while leaving your current technique alone. The "mistake" in the swing from the video was that the Low Point was too high so my club only barely clipped the top of the golf ball, the technique of the swing was capable of hitting a quality shot of about 160 yards which would have happened had that ball be on a tee, if I was in a fairway with the ball above my feet or if I would have simply gotten the club lower. The swing itself was absolutely fine and while it did not produce a desired result in this scenario it is not a motion I want to fix.

    How To Improve Your LowPoint Control

    The first video below shows the moment of impact of a well struck shot. The lowest point of the swing happens at or just after club impact with the golf ball.  I use baby powder to help with my intent and focus, my thoughts are on brushing the powder with my club not so much on hitting the ball.  The green tape a few inches behind the ball serves as a source of feedback in case I miss with the low point, if my low point is too early I will hit the green tape.

    Here's The Drill: Brush The Powder

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    How Far Do You Hit The Golf Ball?


    Finding out your distances used to be a difficult task.  Golfers will have a general idea how far they hit each club through their experiences on the golf course but unfortunately these estimated distances were unreliable and .... I'm going to hurt a few people here ... often overstated.

    In a previous article I wrote about a study that shows that the majority of golfer's approach shots end up short of their target and that how through the simple adjustment of taking an extra club players will see their scores come down.  How can you take advantage of this "low hanging fruit" in order to lower your scores this coming golf season?  Well, the first thing you need to do is get an accurate assessment on how far you currently hit your ball.  As mentioned in the opening paragraph most players overestimate how far they hit it but not to worry we also overestimate how far others hit it.  Below is an interesting chart containing the average Driver Distance for various groups of golfers broken down by age and handicap.  Keep in mind the distances are total distance (carry + roll).  

    As a general assumption that will get you close enough you can think of roll as been about 20% of carry.  As an example if we look at the 10 to 20 handicap group with a Median Total Distance of 215 yards we can guess that carry would be roughly 175 yards.

    Category  Median Driver Distance 
     Handicap under 5  250.93 yards
     Handicap 5 - 10  231.04 yards
     Handicap 10 - 20  215.65 yards
     Handicap 20 - 30  195.93 yards
     Handicap > 30  177.49 yards
     Age 20 - 30  238.68
     Age 31 - 40  231.21
     Age 41 - 50  220.52
     Age 51 - 60  211.93
     Age over 60  196.40

    Knowing your distances regardless of what they are is an important step in improving the way you play a round of golf, it is a vital piece in course management.

    If you are interested in finding out your current distances schedule an hour with me using the GC Quad Foresight which provides accurate measurement of ball and club data.  Not only will you learn how far you hit it but we will also be able to see what adjustments you can make in order to add yardage to your game.

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    Do You Know Your Carry Distance?

    Do You Need To Go With One More Club?

    The picture below speaks volumes.  The image shows the dispersion of shots from 160 yards for the Average Male Amateur (AMA) golfer.  For definition purposes the AMA is described as a player with a handicap of 14 or 15, there is no age range for this player.  The dispersion chart was created by Trackman from information taken from over 10,000 golfers completing the Trackman Combine.   The green balls indicate shots that have hit an average sized green the red balls are ones that have missed the green.  It is easy to see how the majority of balls missing the target have come up short, between 10 and 30 yards short in fact.

    Let's make a quick assumption here for the purpose of our "extra club" theory.  Let's say that by taking an extra club for example using a 5 iron instead of a 6 iron the golfer would hit their shot 10 yards further.  I've adjusted the image to help up picture how different the dispersion graph would look if that were the case.   You can see that a number of the green balls, shots that would have landed on the green get knocked out of the top of the ring (off the green) because with the additional 10 yards they would now miss the green long but the number of shots that get moved up into the ring (on the green) that would have come up short when using less club more then make up for the few that are now long.


    Mark Broadie author of the book "Every Shot Counts" is widely considered the guru of golf metrics and his analysis of statistics from over 10 years and 100,000 golfers shows among other things that distance from the hole on approach shots is a key determining factor on what a player's score is going to be on a given hole.  The addition of 10 yards onto an approach shot results in a larger percentage of shots actually hitting the green as opposed to coming up short with the added bonus of more shots ending up closer to the hole.  You can easily see how your scores would come down if on 3 or 4 holes per round you were leaving yourself with a 30 foot putt as opposed to still having to pitch onto the green not to mention for the balls that did miss the green short you now have a shorter pitch shot which should mean that you pitch it closer to the hole and in turn lower how many putts it takes to get the ball into the hole.

    This is "Low Hanging Fruit" indeed.  No swing changes, no lessons, no strength and flexibility exercises simply lower scores by just taking an extra club.  Most of us have heard the advise before of taking an extra club and swinging easy but until it is presented in a way that paints a clear picture of just what benefits listening to that advise can yield we often ignore it.

    So, this leads us back to answering the question asked in this blog title.  Do you know your carry distances for your irons?  Are you guessing or do you know that those numbers are accurate?  Be sure to make time to find out your yardages so you can put into practice better course management and better club selection during your round in order to shoot lower scores.


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