Ivan Morris' Golf Column
Most people shy away from working on their golf games and they still think there is some 'magic secret' that will give them some extra distance. Everybody wants to hit the ball 'just a little bit further.'
If I was able to charge a euro for every time I was asked the distance question, I would never have to buy another lotto ticket.
Well, the good news is they CAN buy some distance but only if they invest in visiting a qualified, expert club fitter. But, truthfully, building up extra swing speed is the only way of gaining distance.
Here are my three tips to help you hit longer drives.
1. To hit the ball further, hit it higher! That means increasing the angle of attack or hitting 'up' on the ball. One way to see if you are hitting 'up' is to place an empty 1/2L water bottle a few inches in front of your ball, if your driver goes over the bottle you're hitting up. If not, make some practice swings and you'll learn the feel of an 'up' swing soon enough.
2. Hit the ball in the sweet spot - much harder to achieve than missing a bottle! And, it may require a lot of practice. The big advantage of hitting the ball in the sweet spot is that the ball will fly straighter as well as further.
Spray a little talc powder on the clubface and check after every strike which part of the face made contact with the ball.
Hit, look, make whatever adjustment is necessary and repeat. Easier said than done but it is guaranteed to achieve the right results.
3. Speed Sticks - to increase one's swing speed, try swinging lighter and heavier clubs alternately both right handed and left handed.
You won't be long working up a sweat, losing some weight and gaining some distance (again, guaranteed.) Technology revolves mostly around one club - the driver.
The driver seems to have become more 'user friendly' with every new launch (almost.) You'd be a fool not to take advantage. I'm not saying fairway metals, iron sets, wedges and putters shouldn't be custom fitted.
Of course, they should! But, there is no need to change all of one's equipment, apart from the driver every year or two (as I have tended to do - to my cost and I don't mean in solely in financial terms.)
It is hugely important when you buy a driver to make sure the way the shaft, face angle and weighting of the head work for you at the optimum level.
But do not overlook that a driver with 2010 face technology and the 'perfect' shaft and weighting has as much chance of performing as a 2016 driver - why? Because the COR (coefficient of restitution) is fixed!
Therefore, it is bogus for manufacturers to promise their latest is better IF what you already have is the perfect club for you. Golf clubs are as individual as golfers themselves.
A 7-years old driver may well suit you best; a 5-years old one may suit someone else best. The likelihood is that you have never owned the perfect driver. Isn't it time you found out?
To make matters more complicated if you take a whole bunch of stock shafts from any one manufacturer (let alone different ones) and put them on a frequency machine, some shafts will oscillate straight back and forth - they are the good shafts.
Some will oscillate in circular or oval patterns - those are the shafts to be avoided. Don't even bother to test those ones! Manufacturers (and fitters) have very little control over the shafts supplied to them.
Even the most expensive shafts should be frequency tested before being put on a club head.
Manufacturers always have to give the impression of their newest product being technically superior. Stop and think! Manufacturers are in business to make money. Their main focus is on how to reduce costs and improve margins.
It is as true about golf shafts as it is about almost any product you care to mention. Once a technological goal has been achieved, the next goal is to achieve the same result cheaper and with a better profit margin. That's business and it does not guarantee a better product even allowing for scientific progress!
If you are like me and enjoy having a newish set of weapons in the bag, be realistic and accept that what you buy today may not be as good as what you had last week.
That is why I'm such a fan of Trackman technology. It helps me to source new equipment that will have the same (or better) performance than what I am replacing. If changing a club that has served me well - I try to make sure the new clubs have the same measurements data.
In other words, I buy the same technology; it just looks shinier and appears slightly different.
I have wasted a lot of time, money and good golfing years chasing the Holy Grail of 'perfect equipment.'
Modern Trackman Technology is fantastic and golf clubs really can be made to suit you and me but only if we use the technology properly by testing, testing, testing and sticking with what we know suits us, once we have found it.