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Improving Golf Performance

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Ernest Sports launch monitors provide data to help you analyze every aspect of your golf game. Some of this data can look intimidating but understanding what these number mean can greatly improve your practicing, teaching or club fitting. You will find that a degree in physics is not necessary to comprehend these data points and understand what they tell you about your golf game.


Club Speed

The rate at which the club head is moving prior to impact. Club speed can also be thought of as potential distance, but other factors at impact can “steal” some of this potential energy from transferring to the ball, such as hitting the ball off center or having an open/closed club face.

Ball Speed

The rate at which the ball is traveling immediately after impact. Ball speed is the biggest factor in determining how far the ball travels. Although spin rate and launch angle also affect distance, the ball speed affects it the most. For example, a 1 mph increase on ball speed can increase a driver’s carry distance by 2 yds.

Smash Factor

The ratio between club speed and ball speed – literally ball speed divided by club speed. Smash factor is an indicator of how efficiently energy is transferred from the club head to the ball. There is an optimal smash factor for each club, ranging from a driver at 1.50 to a pitching wedge at 1.25.

Spin Rate

The rate of backwards rotation on the ball immediately after impact. Spin rate can have a big effect on the distance and maximum height of the golf ball. A higher spin rate on a drive can cause the ball to go higher than is optimal and not achieve maximum carry and roll.

Spin Axis

The tilt of the backspin on the ball. Spin axis can also be thought of by breaking it up into backspin and sidespin. A spin axis of a few degrees will add a draw or a fade to the golf shot, but a spin axis of more than ten degrees will cause a strong hook or slice.

Launch Angle

The angle between the ball path and the ground at launch. Launch angle is a key factor in determining the distance and height of the ball. Though a lower launch angle might result in a comparable total distance, it would not have as long of a carry distance.

Launch Direction

The angle between the target line and the ball path at launch. Most golf shots are slightly off of the intended target line, so a launch direction less than one degree is normal. A launch direction above five degrees would result in a shot substantially away from the intended target. When you combine launch direction with spin axis, you can really start to see the shape of the shot.

Maximum Height

The distance from the ball to the ground at the apex of the trajectory. Understanding ball height can help with shot selection in various weather conditions and can help avoid an obstacle like a tree branch.

Landing Angle

The angle between the ball flight and the ground immediately before the ball lands. Landing angle is an important piece of information when fitting drivers and practicing wedge work.

Carry Distance

The distance the ball travels between impact and first contact with the ground. Carry distance is an important statistic to know in order to avoid hazards or to select the proper club to reach the intended target. Just because you can hit a drive 250 yards total does not mean that you can carry a hazard that is 240 yards away.

Roll Distance

The distance between where the ball initially lands and where it stops. Roll distance on a driver is much farther than that of a wedge due to spin rate and landing angle differences.

Total Distance

The sum of carry distance and roll distance. Total distance is an important statistic to know when planning your course management strategy. Understanding that it might be better to club down so that you have a more comfortable approach shot can cut strokes off of your game.

Angle of Attack

The steepness of the club head path at impact. In general, irons will have a negative angle of attack considering a “ball first” hit. This means that the club head is still traveling downward at impact, and it has not started into the follow through. Swings with a driver are normally closer to a level angle of attack and are even positive for certain golfers, especially long drivers.

Dynamic Loft

The effective loft of the club face at impact. Dynamic loft is affected by the flex of the shaft, angle of attack, an open or closed clubface, hand positioning, and the area of impact on the club face. Static loft is the actual loft of the club face, so when you add in all of the other conditions of the golf swing, you get dynamic loft.

Spin Loft

The difference between dynamic loft and angle of attack. Spin loft is directly correlated with the amount of spin you are able to get on the ball. Many people think that hitting down on the ball will create more spin, but this is incorrect. When hitting down on the ball, the dynamic loft and angle of attack will actually offset which will not increase spin loft.

A low spin loft also means more compression on the ball, while a high spin loft means less compression. Most people think that smash factor is a measure of compression, but it is not. The two statistics are correlated, but spin loft is the determining factor.

Spin loft also affects how much impact the spin axis has on the flight of the ball. Drivers have a low spin loft, so spin axis has a greater effect on the curve of the ball flight of a drive than that of a wedge shot with the same spin axis. Once spin loft is above 45, the ball will actually slide along the club face, so it has a maximum value of 45.

Face Angle

The angle of the face of the club in relation to the target line at impact. Face Angle is the measurement of your club face being open or closed in relation to the target line at impact. A closed face will result in a draw or hook spin axis on the ball and an open face will result in a fade or slice.

Club Path

The angle between the target line and the direction of the club head at impact. Club Path is measured in reference to the geometric center of the club face. An in-to-out club path (positive number for right handed golfers) will result in a pushed shot while an out-to-in path (negative number for right handed golfers) will result in a pulled shot.

Face to Path

The difference between face angle and club path. This is the measurement that will show the curvature of the ball flight. Assuming a center hit shot, the ball should curve towards the club face measurement and start in the direction of the club path.

Hang Time

The time elapsed between club impact and impact with the ground. Generally, hang time is going to be about seven seconds for any full swing golf shot, whether it is a driver or a wedge.

If you have additional questions