Many Things Aid in Aligning Ball Flight

Peter Harris

Peter Harris

Ideal driver ball flight is similar to squirting water out of a hose. Based on the water pressure, we raise the launch angle of the hose so the water carryies the farthest distance. Launch it too high, and the water goes straight up and straight down and we get wet. Not high enough, and we won’t reach the garden and we’ll have nothing to eat.

The ballistics of ball flight are made up of ball speed, launch angle and spin rate. These launch conditions are true whether Tom Brady is throwing a football, David Ortiz is hitting a home run or you are driving a golf ball. Everyone digs the long ball, right?

Ball speed is how fast the golf ball leaves the club face at impact. Launch angle is the angle the golf ball leaves the face in relation to the ground, and spin rate is backspin which provides lift to keep the ball in the air.

All of us have our own ideal launch conditions based on the ball speed we produce. The majority of golfers benefit from a higher launching golf ball with a low spin rate or what looks like a high line drive. The ball gets up in the air quickly (the launch angle) and, with the right amount of backspin, flattens out to create a penetrating flight that produces maximum distance.

Golfers who smash the ball long distances have a ton of ball speed that creates their distance; they rely on reducing spin to optimize distance. Too much backspin creates too much lift and the ball balloons too high in the air, sacrificing distance for these players.

Golfers with low ball speed rely on launching the ball higher because their ball is not moving very fast and won’t have enough spin to create lift to keep it in the air.

The recipe is cooked up with the right combination of model, loft, shaft type, shaft flex, shaft length and ball type based on your swing characteristics. What are your launch conditions? Do you have the right ingredients in your driver? Get tested, and let the big dog eat.

Peter Harris is director of golf at the Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon. His column will appear regularly on the VALLEY NEWS recreation page during the playing season.