The New Rules

Tom Stickney, PGA, outlines the new rules for ballflight

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Photo location: The Promontory Club in Park City, Utah

Hitting down on the golf ball doesn't create more spin! In fact, it can do just the opposite as many amatuers also lean the shaft forward as they hit down, thus reducing spin. Huh? Hear me out. Spin on the golf ball comes through the many different factors, but Trackman has found the easiest way for us to understand how to control it. This is deemed by what we now refer to as "spinloft". Spinloft is measured through the difference between your angle of attack and the loft you deliver at impact. Trackman shows that the greater the spinloft the more the ball will spin, but only up to a certain point, which coincidentally is where I see mistakes being made. Golfers assume the trick for more spin is in a steeper angle of attack and a high loft angle. In spinloft theory, that may seem like it would work. But it doesn't. The reason is simple. You need more friction between the ball and the clubface. If you have too much spinloft you actually lose friction, and the ball rolls off the face with minimal spin. But if you dial in less loft and a shallower angle of attack, you actually can increase the friction between the ball and clubface and increase your spin.

I know, it seems counterintuitive to actually reduce your spinloft for more spin, but the added friction you get from a lower spinloft makes up for it and creates more spin. And by the way, divots are still okay (I'm making one here) when hitting wedges. It's just that you don't have to make a huge divot to create big spin!

How much is too much? I wish I had the magic formula for all players, but since we all swing at different speeds, with different angles of attack, spinlofts and so on, it's difficult to try and quantify the ideal loft/path angle for everyone. This means the best way to practice fine-tuning your spinloft is to go back to trial and error, and experiment with different amounts of shaft lean at impact. Ideally, a shallower path is better than a steep one, and moderate forward shaft lean is better than too little. The image left? I'm leaning too the shaft to much.

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