Updated: Jul 21, 2021
I personally enjoy teaching golf with technology. Don't get me wrong, it isn't for everyone however it truly helps me diagnose my clients properly. I remember about 20 years ago when I started teaching golf. 2D video was the latest and greatest thing back then. I remember my first teaching gig at Fiddlesticks driving range in Tempe, AZ. We use to record a clients swing on the range with a camcorder using a Hi8 tape. We would then transfer the tape from the camera to a Hi8 player that would descramble the images through 5 different machines and ultimately into the computer. Believe it or not it was state of the art back then.
Now days we have unbeatable video quality from our phones. We also have amazing technology when it comes to launch monitors. I personally own a Trackman and prefer it over its competitors however they are all good. I would like to share a recent experience I had with a client.
This gentleman came to me from a referral. He was in town for a few weeks and wanted to take a golf lesson. I interviewed him as I always do first thing. He explained to me that he had been pulling several shots left with his irons and slicing his driver to the right. This is a common ball flight for most amateurs. I observed him hitting several 7 irons and then watched a few drivers. I recorded some swings with my phone and measured about 10 shots on my trackman.
The below image shows a single shot during the warm up.
I refer to this post as the big three because that is exactly what I refer to the above circled numbers. To me these are the most important numbers you can look at on a launch monitor as they affect the overall ball flight the most. It is like baking a cake. If you want the cake sweeter, you must add more sugar.
In this case my client, as I stated earlier, was hitting several pulls to the left with short irons and slices to the right with his driver. The "big 3" numbers above fit that explanation to a tee.
Club Face - The club face angle is a measurement in degrees for how much right or left the face is pointing at impact. The face angle determines the balls starting direction. In this particular example, the face was 7.4 degrees pointing to the left in relation to the target. You can see the ball started left of the target.
Club Path- The club path is a measurement for how much right or left the sweet spot of the club is moving in relation to the target at impact. I like to refer to this number as the curve number. It actually is how the face is aligned to the path that determines the curve of a golf shot but in most cases a player who has a negative or left path will be a fader or a slicer of the golf ball. If you want to draw the ball from right to left you have to have a path that is positive or the the right, for a right handed golfer.
Angle of Attack- The angle of attack is one of the most important numbers that is the least talked about in my opinion. This number refers to how much up or down the club head is moving in relation to the ground at impact. For example, on this particular shot the AOA was negative 7.8 degrees. In other words, the club head was moving this many degrees into the ground at the point of contact. For his club head speed, this angle of attack is too drastic. My client had been complaining of wrist soreness and this is undoubtedly why. The AOA also affects the path. The higher a negative number, the more the path will move to the right and vice versa. For these reasons, this is one of the most important numbers to understand when giving a golf lesson.
After one very simple setup adjustment, in which I had my client drop his right foot back so he could assume a "closed" stance, I captured more data with my Trackman. The results were much more like I wanted to see them, especially since my client asked me to help him hit a straight shot. Like baking a cake we had to decrease the dosage of path left to more neutral. We also need to get that club face aligned straighter to the target so the ball would start on a better line. In my experience, if you have a path that is extreme in one direction, right or left, it will be very difficult to manage the club face. I was confident that when we adjusted my clients path, the face would start to fall in line. I was also confident that his AOA would "shallow" a bit since he was so over the top.
You can clearly see the difference in the numbers and how they affect the overall ball flight. Oh and he hit the below shot roughly 10 yards farther in the air. The only thing we changed was alignment. We went from a open stance to a more square to slightly closed stance.
When I was just getting going as a teacher I felt I had to change everything around with a client. Over the past 20 years I have learned that simplicity is usually the best option. Don't get me wrong, at times we need major overhauls if we want to improve but in this man's case, it was a simple setup adjustment.