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Importance of Trajectory Control
If you've read this column for very long, you know that I'm a huge fan of Mr. Ben Hogan. I grew up with his books, "Power Golf" and
"Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf." I consider most of what Mr. Hogan wrote to be the gospel truth, and every time I re-read these books, in whole or in part, I seem to learn something new that I can use to improve my golf skills and/or understanding.

One of the most impactful things Mr. Hogan taught was the importance of trajectory control. "If you don't know on what path the ball is going to fly," he opined, "you don't know how far it's going to go." No truer words about managing distances have ever been written. And if you watch better players practice and play, they work very hard to hit shots on exactly the right trajectory so that they can control how far the ball flies.

I also believe distance control is one of the key elements — if not THE key element – to solid play and performance with the high-loft scoring clubs. For this discussion, we'll be talking about all your clubs over 40 degrees of loft, which typically will include your 9-iron and "P-club", and all your wedges. The challenge for all of us is to find a way to hit those clubs on a lower, more boring and controllable trajectory. What is most common with the development of the modern power game is that we swing them too hard, and get these soaring, ballooning trajectories, which leaves us wondering just how far our shots will go most of the time.

Well, that's not entirely your fault. Hear me out.

All other things being equal, the trajectory of a shot is the result of the relationship of the built-in loft of the club, and the distribution of the mass on the club. At very low clubhead speeds, the loft is the major determinant of the ball flight. A blade or cavity-back 9-iron will launch the ball almost identically on a 20 foot pitch shot. But, as clubhead speed increases to half-shot speed, and on to full shot speed, the positioning of the mass becomes increasingly more influential on ball flight. A blade 9-iron will not launch the ball nearly as high as a low CG, perimeter weighted 9-iron. Simple physics actually.

In the wedge category, we've seen very little evolution of the placement of the majority of mass — it's been concentrated along the sole since the sand wedge was invented in the 1930s. This made it an effective bunker club, and a wonderful tool for short pitch shots around the greens. But in "Power Golf", Mr. Hogan said his "maximum" range with a sand wedge was "40 yards". Wow. One of the longest hitters of his era ... a guy who could hit driver 300 yards ... would not try to hit a sand wedge over 40 yards.

Why do you think that was????
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
shadow sqd says:
II believe that Mr.hogan had in mind that he could control the trajectory ,and, the back spin for the shorter shots.
The trajectory for approach ,and,pitching wedges would be the same trajactory he would have used for the sand wedge.
For further than forty yards other variables would come into effect. Wind, grain of the green, hardness or the green .
The trajectory for each wedge would be the same, the only difference would be the distance.
I I would wager that the swing speed for different wedges would be close to the same . The trajectory would be the same,
back spin the same , with the same result for the different distances.
Learn one swing ,and, it would be good for all approaches. Shadow Sqd
11/1/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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