With the weekend warrior in mind we created Bump and Run, a weekly Q&A with some of the game's top instructors. Each Friday, a teaching professional will occupy this space and answer questions directed at improving your game. This week – making a return appearance – it's Kevin Walker, President & CEO of FuZion Golf and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers.
President & CEO, FuZion Golf, Jupiter, FL
- Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers
- 2004 Horton Smith Award (contribution to education), New England PGA
- 1995 Colorado PGA Section Teacher of the Year
Notable Students (past and present): Brad Faxon, Tom Kite, Gary Hallberg, Mark Wiebe
Last week's Bump and Run, 'The Real Reason Why You Slice,' drew so much comments and debate on the site that we decided to bring Kevin back to talk more about path and face angles, ball flight laws, Trackman, and what causes that dreaded banana ball.
'The starting direction [of the ball] is really important,' says Walker. 'People really don't look at that enough, and the starting direction is determined by the clubface.
'The old ball flight laws will tell you that the path determines the starting direction of the ball, and the face relative to the path determines the curve of the ball. The truth of it is, the face determines the starting direction of the ball and the path relative to the face determines the curve of the ball. In some ways the laws are correct but they’re a little bit backwards. What they always thought was that the path determines where the ball begins its flight, and it doesn’t. It’s 85 percent face. '
To submit a question to Walker or one of our teachers, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and check back every Friday to see if your question got answered.
Do you have any data to support your theory that the face, not the path, is what determines the ball's starting direction?
I’ll give you a hard number, right off Trackman. If your path is seven degrees from the inside, and your face is one degree closed to the target – not the path, that would be eight degrees closed to the target – the ball starts dead on the target line; it does not start off to the right where the path is.
It’s true that face relative to path determines curve, but the thing you have to understand is if you want to hit a draw, what side of the target does the ball need to start on? It has to start to the right, and if that’s the case, then the face needs to be open to the target. If the face is closed to the target, the ball will start either on the target line or left of the target line.Last week you mentioned the '50 percent rule,' which basically says if the clubface is two degrees open (to the target) at impact, and the path is four degrees from the inside (to the target line), the face is two degrees closed to the path. As a result, the ball will start slightly to the right of the target and turn back toward the target. Are there any exceptions to this rule?
The one time these numbers definitely don’t hold up is when you have off-center hits. I was working with Dean Wilson at the Players Championship last May, and his path was was four degrees from the inside and his face two degrees open, so the ball should have started to the right and turned back to the left; however, it kind of hung out to the right and stayed there. Every time his ball flight didn't match the numbers, we asked him where he hit the ball on the face. If he hit it on the heel, the gear effect would make the ball turn back to the right. If he hit it on the toe, it would make the ball turn back to the left.
Can you explain what the gear effect is?
I can’t give you the scientific definition, but I can tell you there’s bulge and roll on the face, so if you hit the ball toward the toe of the driver, because it’s a curved face, the gear effect will make the ball spin back to the left. It will start to the right, but spin back to the left.
We received a lot of comments about club-fitting after last week's Bump and Run. Can a fairly good player buy any club off the rack and still perform well with it?
Yes, but he’s going to have to adjust his swing from one club to the next, because it’s not going to match the rest of his set. What we try to do at FuZion Golf is get every club to have the same apex (high point) to its trajectory, whether it’s a sand wedge, 5-iron or driver. Of course, the apex is going to occur (closer or far away to you) relative to what club you’re hitting, but if your set is matched correctly in terms of weight and flex, then it will help control the spin rate.
If you go in and buy clubs incrementally, then they’re probably not going to match. Can a player go out and adjust and hit good shots with each individual club? Yes, but the point is why should you have to adjust to every club.Are you better off getting golf lessons first, or getting fit for new clubs?
They should go together, and that’s one of the foundations of FuZion Golf. We’re really the first high-end fitting and building company to tell you that you need to take lessons while you’re working on your equipment. We're developmental fitters.
I you go in first for a fitting then they're going to do a corrective fit, fitting equipment around your swing flaws. Once you get your new clubs, the only time you're going to be rewarded is if you make a flawed swing that the set was fit to. If you make an improved swing, you’re actually going to hit worse shots.
Developmental fitting is knowing not only what you’re doing in your swing right now, but what you’re trying to do in your golf swing. For instance, if you went in for a fitting and you were a steep, over-the-top, outside-in player, a corrective fitter would typically put you into equipment that’s anywhere from a half-inch to an inch over in length, and two to four degrees upright in lie angle because it makes up for the over-the-top move. What we would do is go in the other direction. Instead of going over-length and more upright, we’d build you a 6-iron that is under-length and flatter, and say go practice with it for a week to 10 days and come back to us. Your golf swing will absolutely change, because you'll start to adjust more to the club and shallow out your angle of approach.One of our readers writes in that he's stuggling to get much air under his drives. His irons seem to flight out just fine, but his drives are very low in trajectory. He uses a 10.5 degree driver. Any thoughts?
Obviously, ball position and tee height will have a bearing on it, but you also have to look at the shaft profile. If you have a shaft that’s too heavy, too stiff, or both, what will happen is you’ll launch the ball lower with less spin on it. Your average weekend golfer needs some spin to get the ball up in the air. Angle of approach is also very important: If you’re real steep coming into the ball, you’re going to be trapping it. Make sure your ball position is forward in your stance, and get the sensation of hitting balls that are going high and out to the right, swinging from the inside and up to the right.
Another reader writes in with a slicing problem. He hits a slight draw (about three yards right to left) with every club except his driver, which he slices on a continual basis. Is there an explanation for this?
My bet is if we specked out his equipment his driver is going to have a completely different shaft profile than the rest of his clubs. If his driver shaft is too soft, then he’s not going to be able to square the face up consistently relative to the rest of his clubs. If he’s hitting a nice, little soft driver with his 3-wood all the way to his wedges, and he gets out his driver and all of a sudden it’s a different ball flight, my bet is the driver is not a good match to the rest of his set.
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