By: Joe Dier, Club fitter
Every golfer has a different trajectory. Knowing your ball flight is one of the quickest ways to improve. As a golfer you need to know your limitations.
The most common questions relating to trajectory are “can I hit the ball too high” and “how low is too low?” The answer for both of those questions can change from person to person. There are many different ways to flight the ball that are still effective. Someone like Rory McIlory launches the ball very high. On the flip side, a golfer like Cameron Champ launches the ball on the lower side. Both of these golfers hit the ball very far, but have a vastly different way of getting there.
As stated in the first paragraph, knowing your limitations is imperative to playing better golf. Building on top of the example in the previous paragraph, Rory and Cameron are going to attack a golf course differently. A golfer like Rory is going to be able to carry the ball over trees a lot easier than Cameron. So if a fairway dog legs @ 300 yards, Rory would have a much easier time cutting that corner and leaving himself with less distance into the hole. Conversely, someone who swings like Cameron Champ would have better success hitting a drive into a strong headwind while still getting the most out of his distance.
What causes these differences in ball flights? One of the main contributing factors to the amount of height you can put on the golf ball is your attack angle. The more you hit down on a golf ball (negative attack angle), the lower the ball will launch. Vice versa when looking at someone who hits up on the ball (positive attack angle). So, with this in mind, let’s go back to those two common questions we get as fitters.
It is impossible to answer if the ball goes “too high” or “too low” without knowing how the golfer swings. Once we see that, then we can determine if the ball is “too high” or “too low” for how you swing. This is known as “playable trajectory.”
We’ve already covered what causes the ball to launch high and low. Now lets talk about what we can do to make sure that no matter how you launch it, you can expect consistent results.
Someone who launches the ball higher will generally want to have less backspin on their ball. Adding spin on the golf ball is going to make it want to fight and rise against wind. Having backspin isn’t a bad thing, however when paired with a higher launch angle, you may lose out on potential distance because the ball will rise to its apex too quickly, and then proceed to fall out of the air.
Let’s now look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Someone that launches the ball lower is going to want to have more backspin on their ball. If a ball launches low and doesn’t have enough spin, the ball won’t have a chance to reach its peak apex and fall short of its max potential distance.
To make sure the ball has the optimal amount of spin for how you launch it, you are going to make sure you have the correct amount of loft on your clubs. Loft is the number one proponent when looking at how to gain or lose backspin. Someone who hits down on the ball is going to want more loft on their clubs, and vice versa when they hit up on it.
This is why being fit is so imperative. There is no single way to hit a golf ball. Whether you hit it high or low doesn’t matter. What does matter is making sure you have the right equipment in your hands so that you can confidently stand over the golf ball knowing that those clubs are designed specifically for you and how you swing.