Let the club do the work? I don’t think so.

I have never been a fan of  the phrase “Let the club do the work”.  Let’s try something to test my theory:  Go to the range and place a ball on the ground.  Then place a 7 iron on the ground next to the ball.  Now watch what happens.  Go ahead….let the club do the work.  Still waiting?  Amazingly the club does nothing until you pick it up and swing it.  I know this is a ridiculous example, but hopefully I made my point.  If you want to hit the ball up in the air and with distance, you have to swing the club with a lot of speed.

In all my years of teaching, I have rarely seen anyone generate too much clubhead speed.  I have seen people turn their hips too fast or fire their hands too quickly at the top of the swing, but rarely do I tell anyone to slow their club speed down.  To hit the ball far, you need to swing the club close to your maximum speed.  The pros on the PGA or LPGA Tour are probably swinging at 90-95 percent of their maximum speed.  It looks easy because they are so efficient and in perfect balance.  The average swing speed on the PGA tour is around 110 miles per hour with a driver.  That is not swinging easy or “letting the club do the work”.

When your swing is off and your impact position is out of alignment, you will have mis-hits.  If you swing slower, your miss-hits won’t go as far and therefore won’t go as far off-line.  This is only a band-aid at best and will do nothing to get you back on track and closer to your potential.  I have a case study that I want to share with you and it involves a minor swing flaw and swinging too easy.

I was working with Jeff the other day at the Cricket Club.  He is a smooth swinging lefty and he told me that he was hitting his driver well, but he lost some distance with his irons.   I put him on Trackman and saw that he was hitting his 7 iron only about 110 yards on average.

Here is a picture at impact and the numbers for the first few shots that Jeff hit.

Jeff S Impact Jeff S start stats

After looking at the TM numbers, the biggest thing that stands out is the Attack Angle of -8.3.  With a 7 iron, that is very steep.  An Attack Angle of  -4 to -5 is common for good players with excellent impact conditions.  Jeff is moving in front of the ball a little bit which is causing the ball to be struck with a more descending blow.  It would be the equivalent of moving the ball back in your stance 2 or 3 inches.

The low Launch Angle, Carry Distance, and Trajectory will all go up if he stays centered and keeps his head still.   He focused on making a better turn on his backswing and made a few swings while I held his head still.  The next 6 shots were recorded on Trackman.

Jeff S head still stats
As you can see a few things changed right away.  Attack Angle shallowed out to -4.9, Carry went up 9 yards, Launch Angle went up to 14 degrees, and Trajectory (Height) went up about 7 feet.  Pretty good change after 6 swings!  Once Jeff was comfortable with the change (which didn’t take long), I discussed that to hit the ball farther he will have to swing faster.  We worked on this for a few swings and then recorded the next 5 or 6 shots.  The transformation was AMAZING!

Jeff S faster stats
What a change from the start of the lesson.  All of the numbers are better and his shots were much higher, longer, and straighter.  Club speed only went up 6.4 mph, but because he was hitting it more solidly and launching it better, he picked up over 30 yards of Carry and the Height of his shots almost doubled.  Jeff really felt like he was swinging hard at the end, but he was still in balance.  We now have a great baseline number that he needs to be at.  I know Jeff has a little more in the reserve tank and can get it up to over 80 mph, we just need to keep working on it.  Below you will see a massive difference in the Trajectory and Carry Distance.  Start – White, Head still – Yellow, Faster – Purple.

Jeff S Trajectory
In conclusion,  when things get off track a little bit and you find yourself hitting it shorter, it is most likely because you have developed a swing flaw and are compensating by slowing down your swing speed.  The thought of “letting the club do the work” can actually help with your mis-hits (they won’t go so far off line), but it will not help you in the long-run.  Get your swing back on track and work the club faster through the ball.  Don’t let the club do the work for you.  It’s just not that good without your help.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Let the club do the work? I don’t think so.

  1. I am interested I’m lessons this winter.

    Duby

    Sent from my iPhone….rdj

  2. Kai

    Dear Mark Anderson,

    That was extremely helpful. I was actually also in the same situation as Jeff. I was hitting the ball a lot shorter. I will definitely take a look at that in my practice. I also found that clearing the hips too early can also lessen the distance in the swing. It gives the club face fleeting contact with the ball with most energy lost before-hand. Tell me if I’m wrong.

    Sincerely,
    Kai Fujimoto

    • Kai,

      You are totally correct. The hips are certainly a power source in the swing, but you can definitely turn them too early in the swing. This can cause your contact and your distance to suffer. Keeping everything in sync is a huge part of consistent ball-striking.

      Mark

  3. cp

    Great article – lots of awesome information and well presented!

    cp

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