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John Renslow: Improving your swing

By John Renslow | Special to The Union

Failure to launch. For those in the golf industry, there is a common conversation about the money spent on equipment versus the money spent on golf lessons.

A percentage of players will spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on equipment, yet often do not spend anything on improving their swing or dialing in their new products.

Shaft flex, for instance, is the most important component. If the shaft does not flex as it should for one’s golf swing, it will become more difficult to nigh impossible to play well.

Two dramatic examples would be a fishing pole and a piece a lumber.

Imagine trying to hit a golf ball with the shaft flex of a fishing pole or virtually no flex, such as a 2-by-4. Of course, we don’t experience these extremes when we hit balls, but a version of this exists with every swing.

Shafts that are too flexible will tend to cause a pull or hook, and shafts that are not flexible enough will tend to send the ball lower and to the right of the target (for right-handed players).

Generally speaking, the amount of shaft flex is determined by one’s club head speed during the swing. There are other factors, but we’ll leave that alone for today.

The next component in achieving maximum distance and improved accuracy is known as launch angle. This is the angle at which the ball is sent off the club face. More than one factor goes into this result. Many people will simply think that this is the loft of the face. However, shaft flex and swing style also have a significant effect on launch.

We hear about launch on televised events, but this usually is delivered without an explanation. In addition to club head speed, two primary distance factors are launch angle and spin rate. The next consideration is the determination of launch angle relative to swing speed. Relatively slower swing speeds hit the ball further with a relatively higher launch angle and a higher spin rate.

Briefly, here are a few categories. For one with a swing speed of 80 mph, we would like to see a launch angle of 14 degrees and a 3,000 rpm spin rate. At 90 mph, the launch angle goes down to 12 to 13 degrees and a 2,700 rpm spin rate. Up at 100 mph, we can go as low as 10 degrees and our spin rate can be down around 2,300 rpm.

It reminds me of an answer attributed to Jack Nicklaus. As the story goes, someone questioned Jack about the height of the ball, the distance from the ground, when it was on the tee. To which he replied, “Air has less resistance than dirt.”

Here’s the thing. At Get Into Golf, one purpose is to provide the knowledge to help you play better. If a player is purchasing equipment that is not quite correct, it might be counterproductive. We want your money to be well spent.

Ideally, go to your local course and set up some time with your local PGA professional to evaluate your swing. The two of you can then make the best decision for your game.

For you DIY folks, invest in a launch monitor. As with most things, you get what you pay for, yet there are many affordable options from app-based monitors as well as stand-alone versions.

We’ll go into the various types and their price next week. Have fun on the course everybody!

John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses

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