Increase your smash factor for longer drives

Most golfers when they reach a certain age notice that their swing speed starts to diminish and as that starts to happen the ball does not travel as far.

If this is of concern to you there are different approaches you can take to try and improve your distance.

The first and most obvious is that you can try to increase your swing speed to bring it back up to where it once was.  Some golfers try to achieve this using strength building exercises and an increase in flexibility, two things we tend to lose as we get older.

The problem faced by many, however, is that due to a lifetime of accumulated injuries and ailments increasing one’s strength and flexibility many no longer be a viable option.

The good news is that there are other things you can do to increase the distance you hit the ball without swinging faster.  You can increase the efficiency of your swing in terms of energy transfer to the ball and increasing the ball speed as it leaves the club face.

Smash factor is a measurement of the efficiency of club to ball contact.

The speed of your golf swing is an important factor in terms of distance but how far the ball travels is determined by how fast the ball is moving when it leaves the club face.  Ball speed is not determined solely by the speed of your swing.

As a general rule the closer you hit the ball to the center of the face the more efficient the energy transfer will be.  As well, modern driver faces flex on contact with the ball and in order to take full advantage of the ‘trampoline effect’, contact with the center of the club face is crucial.  Off center hits can reduce ball speed and distance by as much as 20 percent.

If you do not have access to a launch monitor to measure your swing speed, ball speed, and smash factor,  here are some simple steps you can take to determine how solid your club to ball contact is.

  1. Spray some foot powder on your club face (Dr. Scholl’s works well) and hit a shot. This will provide instant feedback.  If your contact is towards the heel or toe or low or high off the face of the club, you can make an adjustment to bring contact closer to the middle of the face.  You may simply be able to mover a little closer to or further away from the ball or tee it a little higher or lower to improve the point of contact.
  1. Modern 460cc titanium drivers work best when you launch the ball high with low spin. If you tee the ball low and swing down on the ball like you would with an iron you will achieve high launch but you will also impart a lot of backspin on the ball which will result in a high balloon shot that climbs quickly but lacks distance.   Tee the ball a little higher which facilitates an upward or ascending blow.  This will help you to achieve the desired high launch but with much lower spin and will increase distance.
  2. If your tendency is to hit down on the ball with your driver, widen your stance a bit. A wider stance moves a little weight back in your stance and promotes an ascending clubhead at impact.

 

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Can’t Afford a Trackman

 

Over the past several years there have been a number of very sophisticated golf launch monitors introduced to the market.  The problem is that the high-end monitors such as Trackman, Flightscope and Foresight  are in the  $15,000 to $25,000 range.   They are not intended for the consumer market but rather are directed at golf pros and teaching facilities.

More recently though several companies have come up with launch monitors that target the every day golfer.  They  do many of the same things as they super expensive models at a more modest price.

Flightscope for example has come up with the “MEVO”.

The MEVO provides data in 5 categories, ball seed, club speed, launch angle, spin rate and carry.  There is an app that display the data on your cell phone of tablet.

 

Another option is the Ernest Sports ES14 Pro.

This unit offers a wide range of statistical information including club speed, launch angle, ball speed, smash factor, spin rate & distance. When combined with the free ES14 App, users have the ability to dig even deeper into their shot analysis with features such as audible feedback, club averages, and a skills challenge.

 

A third option the Voice Caddie SC300

This unit measures carry distance, smash factor, launch angle, apex and swing speed.   The unit itself has an excellent display and the results can also be displayed on your own personal device using an app.  

 

There are minor variations in terms of the data/feedback each of these units provides and whether the data is provided based on actual reading or computer algorithms.

The prices are very similar. All three are in the $600-$700 range.

I am not in a position to comment on the Mevo or the SC300 in terms of how they actually perform.

In terms of the Ernest Sports ES14 Pro I can as I purchased one recently.  One of the reasons I selected the ES14 is that it has both forward and rear looking radars which means that more of the data is based on actual readings as opposed to calculations based on algorithms.  The unit is very easy to set up, the free app works flawlessly and the data provided is very accurate.

I’m currently using the device to work on my launch angle and  spin rate, especially with the  driver, to optimise  distance.

Strategy for the older golfer

Golf is a game of constant striving for improvement.  In my almost daily visits to the local Golf Dome, I frequently walk down the hitting line and talk to golfers, primarily older golfers, and with very few exceptions when asked what they are ‘working on’,  the answers range from:  hitting it longer, hitting it straighter, hitting it more solidly, to getting more spin on the wedges.  They all have something in common, they are trying to improve some aspect of their game.

What does improvement look like for older golfers?

Distance  

Golfers are preoccupied with how far they hit the ball, especially off the tee with a driver.

There is no arguing that distance is an important aspect of the game.  In the minds of many (especially younger players) distance is the most important aspect of the game.

However, distance alone is not all you need if your goal is to lower your scores or  maintain your current scoring level.

As golfers get older, distance decreases more so for some than others.  The question then becomes, how do you maintain a level of play (your handicap) as you get older and the distance inevitably decreases?

Here are some suggestions.

Learn to hit it straighter

Let’s say for the sake of argument you are facing a long par 4, dogleg left.  For those of you who have played Bridges visualize the 6th hole.

Hole_6_15

In order to have a reasonable chance of hitting the green in regulation you will need to hit a drive either down the center or favouring the left side of the fairway just past the dogleg.  If you hit to the left you will either be in the trees or blocked out by the trees in terms of a clear shot at the green.  If you hit it to the right you may have a clear shot at the green but from 230 to 240 yards out.  If you hit it down the middle you may still have a 200 yard shot, but it is a clear shot into the green and you have a chance.

There are many situations we all face on the golf course where if we hit it straight we give ourselves a chance at par or bogey at worst, even on longer difficult holes.

Leave your approach shots in the right place

We hear this every week even on the PGA tour, ‘he (or she) missed it in the ‘right spot’.  If hitting the green in a particular situation is not realistic for you, make sure that your ‘miss’ is to a position where you set yourself up for a good approach shot.  If a green has bunkers on both sides (and you are not a great bunker player) leave your miss short, setting yourself up for a makeable chip and putt for par.  If there are severe slopes on one side of the green make sure your approach shot favours the side where there is a flat landing area.

Learn how to chip and putt

Drives and long approach shots require both distance and precision that may be a challenge for older golfers.  There is, however, no reason why the older golfer cannot learn to pitch, chip and putt like the pros.  It does not require strength and agility, it is something we can all learn.  Yet, when we watch amateurs like us practicing and getting ready to play what do we do?  We head to the driving range and hit drivers.

As our distance decreases with age our biggest return on investment (in terms of practice time) comes from improving our short game.

I’ve watched many older golfers and many who are in their early 80’s hit their drives around 200 yards down the middle, hit their approach shot just short of the green, and chip and one or 2 putt for par or bogie.  At the end of the day these players frequently shoot their age.  The reason, they are never in trouble.

Personal Experience

In October of 2006 I had an acute ascending aortic dissection while playing the 5th hole at the Wildewood Club.

Following 3 surgeries and excellent medical care I recovered and was out on the links on opening day the following year.  There was a difference however.  I had lost a tremendous amount of swing speed and 40-50 yards off the tee.

With  practice and exercise I was able to recover around 20 yards of that.  My handicap however soared and I realized I would need to learn to play a new game that was shorter and more precise.

I concentrated on my short game and within a year or so my handicap returned to its previous level and now more than 10 years later I’ve managed to maintain my handicap at the 2006 level, thanks to an improved short game.

 

New Videos page

I’ve finally got around to working on the blog again and started with the Videos Page by adding 4 videos.  They are all on the topic of ‘hitting the little ball first’ and offer good insights into why we tend to hit behind the ball and provide some excellent drills on how to address the issue.

So click on the Videos page on the top right of the home page and have a look.

Enjoy.

2019 Manitoba Championship Schedule

Golf Manitoba’s Championship schedule although not yet complete as been released indicated those events whose dates and location have been confirmed.

Date Event Venue
May 25 & 26 Match Play Championship Qualifier Portage G C
June 1 & 2
June 3 – 15
Match Play Championship
Minnewasta
Breezy Bend
June 22 & 23 Women’s City & District Championship Carman G & C C
June 22 & 23 Bantam Championship Carman G & C C
July 2 – 4 Women’s Amateur Championship
Men’s Mid – Amateur Championship
Selkirk G & C C
July 6 & 7
July 8 & 9
Men’s Junior Championship Pine Ridge G C
Elmhurst G & C C
July 7
July 8 & 9
Women’s Junior Championship Pine Ridge G C
Elmhurst G & C C
July 29 – 31 Senior Championship Rossmere C C
 

 

Home Course Advantage

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In professional sports be it hockey, baseball, football or basket ball reference is often made to the importance of ‘home field advantage’.

Professional golf is somewhat different in that it is not a team sport (other than conditions such as the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup), it is largely an individual sport and no one player has a distinct home field advantage from week to week.

That got me to thinking about the importance of home course advantage in Leagues such as  the Central Senior Putter League.

I did a breakdown of the the number of times the home team won, lost or the matches were tied since 2016 when I became the League Statistician.  Here are the results as they relate to the home team:

Won Lost Tie
2016 63% 35% 2%
2017 63% 29% 8%
2018 71% 29% 0

*2018 after 5 weeks

I would appear that in this League at least, the home team does have a distinct advantage.

 

 

 

MGA and Golf Canada 2018 Competitive Schedule

2018 CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

Date Event Venue Information,
Pairings & Results
May 26 & 27 Match Play Championship Qualifier Winkler G C Info
May 29 Alternate Shot Championsip Southwood G & C C Info
June 2 & 3 
June 4, 7, 8, 9 & 10
Match Play Championship
Teulon G & C C
Pine Ridge G C
Info
June 15 – 17 Future Links, driven by Acura Prairie Championship Portage G C Info
June 18 OR
June 24
Men’s Amateur Championship Qualifier Bel Acres G & C C
Neepawa G & C C
Info
Info
June 23 & 24 Women’s City & District Championship St. Boniface G C Info
July 3 – 5 Women’s Amateur Championship Falcon Lake G C Info
July 3 – 5 Men’s Mid – Amateur Championship Falcon Lake G C Info
July 9 & 10*
July 12 & 13*
Men’s Junior Championship Breezy Bend C C
St. Charles C C
Info
July 10*
July 12 & 13*
Women’s Junior Championship Breezy Bend C C
St. Charles C C
Info
July 16 & 17
July 18 & 19
Nott Autocorp Men’s Amateur Championship Quarry Oaks
Glendale G & C C
Info
July 23 – 25 Men’s Senior Championship Carman G & C C Info
July 23 – 25 Women’s Senior Championship Carman G & C C Info
August 8 & 9 Bantam Championship The Players Course Info
August 11 & 12 Rural Championship Shilo C C Info
August 13 The Players Cup – Qualifer Pine Ridge Golf Club Info
August 21 Women’s Interclub A Championship Selkirk G & C C Info
August 24 Men’s Provincial Interclub Championship Minnewasta G & C C Info
August 27 Men’s Junior Interclub Championship Transcona G C Info
August 30 Women’s Interclub B Championship Transcona G C Info
September 7 Men’s Senior Interclub Championship Neepawa G & C C Info

*The Junior Boys Championship will be held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and the Junior Girls will be Tuesday, Thursday and Friday*

2018 GOLF CANADA CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

 
Date Event Venue
May 29 – June 1 Canadian University/College Championship Chilliwack G C, Chilliwack BC
June 15 – 17 Future Links driven by Acura Prairie Championship
Portage G C, Portage la Prairie MB
July 24 – 27 Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship Marine Drive G C, Vancouver BC
July 30 – August 2 Canadian Junior Boy’s Championship Medicine Hat G & C C, Medicine Hat AB
July 31 – August 3 Canadian Junior Girl’s Championship Beach Grove G C, Tsawwassen BC
August 6 – 9 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship Duncan Meadows G C &
Pheasant Glen Golf Resort, Duncan/Qualicum Beach BC
August 21 – 24 Canadian Men’s Mid – Amateur Championship Victoria G C, Victoria BC
August 28 – 30 Canadian Women’s Senior Championship Lookout Point C C, Fonthill ON
September 4 – 7 Canadian Men’s Senior Championship Gowan Brae G & C C, Bathurst NB