About That "Sweet Spot"
There are two major selling points that seem to be common to nearly every golf club. One, look how far it goes. And two, look at how big the sweet spot is. I talk often enough about the distance emphasis that I believe is ruining the game, not just in general, but for too many golfers. But today, let's talk about what makes a golf club forgiving, and dissect that notion of a "sweet spot".
It's indisputable that moving mass away from the center of impact on a golf club will allow that club to reduce the amount of twisting and energy loss on off-center hits. That's why we saw the invention of perimeter-weighted irons 40 years ago, the introduction of metal woods in the 1980s, oversized metal woods a few years later, then titanium heads that were even larger, to the current limit of 460 ccs that nearly all drivers push.
But another indisputable fact is that each golf club has a single "sweet spot" that delivers the optimum transfer of energy to a golf ball. And that spot is small. Very small. As you make impact away from that spot, you will experience a less efficient transfer of energy. This is simple physics that cannot be denied or argued. But how much energy loss are we talking? I've been told over and over that a 1/2" miss on a modern driver will cost the typical golfer as much as 7-9% in yardage delivered. A 3/4" miss increases that to 12-15% loss. Think about that. If your very best drives...those few that are tagged right on the sweet spot...go 250 yards, then your 1/2" misses are costing you 15-20 yards!
All of us have experienced it, but not often enough. You catch a drive "just right" and it rockets out there...15-20 yards past where your typical drive goes on that hole. Wow. What a feeling! "I really caught that one". Well, you didn't just miraculously make a much better golf swing than usual. You didn't just generate 10% more clubhead speed than you normally do. What happened is that you just connected with the ball on that single, very small, perfect sweet spot that every driver has. So what if you focused your energy and money on learning how to do that more often, rather than thinking you can "buy" more clubhead speed? Or that some magic elixir is out there in the driver rack somewhere?
Here's something to try the next time you go out. Swing your driver at about 85% of your normal swing speed. It won't actually go down by more than 3-4%, but you'll feel much more in control. And you'll find that elusive little sweet spot more frequently. And your drives will be longer than ever.
And here's an interesting illustration of the negative side of what happens when we make drivers so big. Take a standard hammer and two large nails. Drive one into a board like you normally would, and the drive the other holding the hammer so you are hitting the nail with the side of the head. Same hammer. Same amount of mass. But watch how much more efficient the hammer is when the mass is concentrated right behind the percussion point, rather than spread out on either side.
And that's your golf physics lesson for today.
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[ comments ]
For all the good my driver is I might as well use the other end of it
Karl Spakler says:
Thanks, Mr. Wedge Guy. This is exactly what I've been saying! In my opinion, it's more important for a person to be fitted to their driver. A properly fitted driver (especially those bought within the last five years) will help a person find that sweet spot more than maxing out their credit cards year after year, looking for that new magic wand.
Really good reality check, we all know these facts but still think if we swing harder the ball will fly much further and are disappointed when it doesn't. It is a hard habit to break.
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