How To Get The Optimal Launch Angle
Every golfer wants the same thing, more distance off the tee. If you hit your driver 250 yards, you want to reach 275. If you’re already able to smash it 300 yards, you still want to go further and hang with the pros. This is why we want to help you learn how to bomb your ball down the fairway further than ever while cutting down your strokes. Here’s what we’ll be covering:
- How does launch work?
- The impact of the swing speed
- Ball flight trajectory
How does launch work?
First off, there is a bit of science behind the ideal drive. The general thinking is that 45-degree is the ideal angle to launch an object to generate the maximum distance. However, this is usually the launch angle of a pitching wedge, which certainly doesn’t carry the ball as far as a driver.
The big difference when it comes to hitting a golf ball is spin. If you’ve never heard that before, it is the backspin rotation of the ball moving against the wind helping it get in the air. This is partly why your driver has such a low loft angle. The contact of a driver creates an enormous amount of spin on the ball which causes it to rise quickly (it also helps that you’re hitting up on it).
The impact of the swing speed
While the spin will certainly help keep your ball in the air, it is of the utmost importance to try to launch the ball as high as possible if you tend to have a slower swing speed. If your swing speed sits anywhere below 105 mph, we suggest you try to get the highest launch angle possible off the tee.
Companies like TaylorMade had these golfers in mind when they created models like the Aeroburner HL driver, designed to help slow hitters get their ball in the air while maximizing distance.
As always, you’re aiming for the middle of the face when striking the ball, and elevating your tee won’t help you much as you’ll likely miss your target on the clubface. Slow hitters should go with a high loft driver in order to achieve their ideal ball flight.
Here’s what we usually recommend to slow swingers in terms of launch angle:
- If your swing sits in, or below, the 80 mph range, we suggest the high loft drivers (13 degrees +) like the Aeroburner HL;
- In the 90 mph range, you're probably looking at something a little lower than 13 degrees. Most 10.5 degrees adjustable drivers will go up to 12 degrees, which is exactly the range for you;
- Same goes for the 100 mph hitters. You can also opt for the lower lofted adjustable drivers. Their range will often sit between 7 and 9 degrees.
Once you’ve got the launch angle figured out, you’ll be able to explore your game and your drive further.
Ball Flight Trajectory
Although there is not one ideal ball flight, you should at least be able to hit your driver in a straight line with consistency before looking into anything fancy. But once you’ve mastered the basic trajectory, it’s time to look into the possible variations.
The fade and the draw are the most important patterns aside from the straight shot. Depending on the circumstances and the shape of the course, the ideal ball flight will change from tee to tee, but both trajectories will prove useful in due time.
Setting up for the draw:
- Slightly close your clubface by aiming it to the left of the target;
- Move your back foot backward by an inch or two, slightly shutting your body’s angle to the target and allowing your arms to clear your hips more easily in the downswing.
The angle created by your feet needs to be more pronounced than the closed angle of the clubface. Lastly, make sure to swing along the line created by your feet to complete the draw.
Setting up for the fade:
- Aim the clubface slightly to the right of the target;
- Open up your stance by moving back your lead foot by an inch or two.
This setup will leave you with both an open stance and an open clubface. Once again, swing along the line created by your feet to complete the fade.
As for lefties, simply switch the sides on the instructions above to help your ball trajectory.
You also have to deal with incoming wind on occasions. If this is ever the case, you’ll want to hit down on your ball and try to generate as much roll as possible. Hitting up in the wind will only cause you to lose yardage, which is why you’ll want to keep the ball low.
Hitting fades, draws, and stingers are always a fun feat for a golfer. However, it cannot come at the cost of yardage off the tee, which is why you need to figure out your ideal launch angle before doing anything else. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll get to think about more elaborate options off the tee.
Until next time,
The Golf Avenue team
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