Thank You and Merry Christmas!

Thank you so much for your support and readership in 2013 and I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Without you my passion would be pointless....

Holiday Gift Certificate Specials:

  • Series of Five Lessons (Pay for 5 and get 1 FREE)
  • Series of Ten Lessons (Pay for 10 and get 2 FREE)
  • Members receive $10 off a One Hour Lesson
  • Non-members receive $20 off a One Hour Lesson
  • Great Offers for Wedge and TrackMan Group Sessions starting at $75 in the New Year too!

The member lesson rate is $120 per hour and the non-member lesson rate is $175 per hour. Payments can be made via PayPal.

Please contact arice(at)berkeleyhallclub.com for further details.

I am also very excited to release what is the culmination of almost three years of research and testing . The Wedge Project is an in depth video that explains what is important to being able to hit consistently crisp, zippy wedge shots. Please trust me on this one - I know I have been promising this video for some time now - it will be worth the wait and every penny you spend on it!

Here is a little of what you can expect...

I anticipate the cost to be in the $14 range and it will be available via download from my website. The video will be somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes in length and will include numerous drills and a clear explanation of what really is important when you have a wedge in your hand.

Please be patient with the release of this video as I would much the final product be a little late and great than early and mediocre. I know you're going to love it, simply because what I share WORKS!

I am looking forward to an exciting 2014 as I spend my first full year at Berkeley Hall in a long time. I hope we can all get to spend some time together on the lesson tee or online in the upcoming year.  Thank you for everything!

#wedgeproject

My Day with Chuck Cook and Stan Utley

Utley, Cook and Rice I was recently invited to present at the Illinois PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit alongside Stan Utley and Chuck Cook. Besides it being a tremendous privilege for me the day was both educational and entertaining. I thought it would be beneficial to relay a few of the nuggets they shared during the course of the day.

Chuck Cook

The theme of Chuck's presentation revolved around what he teaches and why. His themes were:

  • a flat or bowed lead wrist
  • a straight plane line (similar to the "one-plane" look, but with the elbows staying in front of the chest like Jason Dufner)
  • lag is a major power source - use it, don't lose it!

A few important ideas he shared with the group were:

  • There has never been a swing method that has lasted
  • If the face is shut you need to outrun it with something
  • The weight moves where the hips are pointing
  • I don't like a lot of hip drive
  • Both feet should be flat on the ground at impact with irons
  • To make any golfer better, take their weakest element and turn it into a strength
  • Let juniors smash the ball with all they've got until they stop growing - then work on technique

Here is a swing by Jason Dufner, one of Chuck premier students - this swing seems to epitomize so much of what Chuck stressed as he spoke about the swing...

Jason Dufner

Stan Utley

As you may well know Stan's teaching focuses primarily on the shortgame and putting. Here are some of the important principles Stan shared in his presentation:

  • Putt with dead strength - he described "dead strength" as being similar to dropping your limp arm against your side
  • Let the putter drop and crash into the ball - I love saying it that way!
  • An important point in both chipping and putting is to put pressure on the ball
  • He is an advocate of wristy putting with soft, loose elbows
  • Where you strike the ball on the face vertically with the putter is very important
  • Finish the putting stroke with the putter low and the right shoulder high
  • Have the handle travel more slowly so the clubhead can travel faster

I really enjoyed so much of what Stan had to say as he seemed to be a proponent of so much of what I preach in both the shortgame and putting.

It was great to listen to these exemplary teachers, but the highlight of my day was being able to present my teaching approach to the Illinois PGA membership. Thanks to Nick Papadakes and all the staff at Olympia Fields CC for a very cool experience and I look forward to my next opportunity...

Country Music and a Recipe for Success...

Zac Brown Band I recently attended a two day Southern Ground Music and Food Festival in Charleston, SC put on by the Zac Brown Band. Now you may be asking - "What does this have to do with golf or my game?" Stay with me here, because as you will see, there is so much you can learn from successful entities in other industries.

I came away from the event inspired about what I needed to do to move forward and how I can do a better job for my students. Here is what I learned:

HARD WORK

In 2013 ZBB will have been on tour from early January through late October. Once the tour is done they will be recording a new album - talk about getting down to it!  They always seem to be stretching their abilities by experimenting with new or different genres of music. Lesson -  persistently work hard at being the best you possibly can be - every minute of every day!

SUPPORT and EXPERTISE

ZBB is made up of a motley group of supremely gifted artists where each member is exceptionally talented in one or multiple areas. It truly is a case of the sum of the parts is greater than each individual part. Each band member beautifully complements what the others do. Lesson - specialize, but also surround yourself with experts in each field. Don't be afraid to ask for help in areas you might be weak in.

PROFESSIONALISM

The band strives to go above and beyond what one would expect - even above what one would expect from a world class act like they are. Their sets are immaculately planned and nothing seems to be "thrown together".  Lesson - be over-prepared! Let your students see that you are ready and excited to help them achieve their goals.

SHARING and MENTORING

ZBB is always open to lending a helping hand to young up and coming bands. The Festival I attended was evidence of this in that most of earlier acts were younger bands being supported by ZBB. They will also often invite artists, both young and old, to perform on stage with them. This is in addition to their album titled "You Get What You Give"! Lesson - go out of your way to help younger teachers and golfers. It costs you nothing!

GRATITUDE

I have been fortunate to see the band perform a few times now and they are always very thankful for all the people who allow them to be successful at what they do.  Lesson - always let your clientele know how thankful you are for their support and business.

Zac Brown Gives Thanks

You might think I'm crazy (and there's a good chance you're right!) but I took all that from a concert put on by an exceptional country music band! What can you take from this information? And how can it benefit what you do in golf?

#southerngroundfestival

 

 

Get a Grip...On the Ball!

Grip the Road... What do racing tires have in common with wedge play in golf? Read on because there might be a lot more to this than you might think.

It's all about traction or friction, or more simply put - grip. The more the tires grip the road, the faster the driver can go and the more our clubface grips the ball, the lower the flight and the more the ball spins. Let's look at how these tires work and see if we can draw a few parallels to how the specialized clubface on our wedges interact with the golf ball....

On a dry, sunny day day a race car will have tires that are wide, soft and completely grooveless. The tires are wide and grooveless in order to get as much rubber in contact with the road. Any grooves simply decrease the amount of traction the tire exerts on the road. They are softer than normal tires to increase traction. In rainy conditions the drivers will switch to tires with grooves (as seen above). The grooves on the tires channel water away from the road and thus allow the flat portion of the tire to grip the road cleanly. Grooves reduce the amount of rubber in contact with the road, thus reducing traction.

Grip the Ball...

Club manufacturers now make their top tier wedges with a milled, legally grooved clubface. The milling on the clubface represents the softness of the racing tire as it allows the cover of the ball to settle into the mini grooves, even on these partial shots, and friction is increased. Our clubface needs grooves because we encounter many different lies during a round of golf. Many of those lies dictate that matter (grass/moisture) will be trapped between the face and the ball, greatly reducing friction. Grooves are not on the clubface for spin, but primarily as a channel to keep matter from being caught between the face and ball thus decreasing grip.  Race car drivers have the luxury of changing tires for rainy conditions, while golfers do not have the luxury of changing their clubface for a variety of lies.

If we hit all our pitch or partial wedge shots off a tee using a premium ball and there was no way any grass or moisture could interrupt friction I actually believe a non-grooved, yet milled clubface would actually spin the ball as much or slightly more than the current grooved clubface designs. Good luck trying to convince your playing partners to go for that idea, but isn't it helpful to know how the clubface is really designed to interact with the cover of the ball?

A milled clubface will increase friction in a similar fashion that softer racing tires will, but those milling lines also wear out like a softer tire does. If you are a competitive golfer have a practice set and a tournament set of wedges. This way you'll always have that lower, spinning wedge shot when it matters most....

Ultimate Spin Wedge Shootout | Andrew Rice Golf

Hitting Draws and Smash Factor

Bobby Locke There has been a fair amount of banter online recently regarding various topics and I thought it would help both of us if I jotted down a few thoughts:

Hitting Draws

A functional draw is one that finishes at the target - something many of us strive for. In order to hit functional draws you need a clubpath that is traveling outward (in to out) and a clubface that is angled slightly closed relative to the clubpath, yet open to the target (assuming center contact). 

It is possible to hit both functional draws, ones that finish at the target, and bad draws, ones that move away from the target, with a clubface that is open, square and closed to the target at impact. You can even hit good and bad draws with the appropriate clubpath, but I believe an outward moving clubpath is integral to hitting functional draws. And here's why...

I am yet to teach a golfer who fades the ball that consistently swings from in to out!

Clubpath is king and clubface is queen - I might get the desired shot shape with clubface, but I cannot get the desired result without clubpath. It is simply not possible to hit a functional draw with a clubpath that travels from out to in (assuming center contact). It is clearly not the only thing, but in my opinion it is the most important thing.

I am well aware there are many different ways to achieve this and whether as a coach or golfer you upgrade the clubface first or the clubpath first is entirely up to you. After all it's all about results no?

Smash Factor

Many golfers and TrackMan users are under the impression that smash factor indicates how well a ball was hit, or how centered the strike was - this is not necessarily the case. A high smash factor purely indicates high ball speed relative to club speed. Here is the simplified formula:

Smash Factor (Simple)

It is quite possible to have  a smash factor with irons that is too high. Golfers who play from a closed face position and who tend to flight the ball low will often have a higher smash factor than golfers who flight the ball appropriately. This does not mean the low ball hitters are striking it better, it just means they are generating too much linear ball speed off of a particular club.

It is important for golfers to understand that ball type and condition, dynamic loft, clubhead mass, attack angle, CoR and of course quality of strike go into determining the smash factor for any given shot.

The objective with the driver should be 1.50 or higher, but with the shorter clubs a higher smash just might not necessarily better. Go for solid hits and ball flight over smash factor any day!

A Note to Golf Coaches: 

I have made more than my fair share of mistakes in life. From these mistakes I have learned and improved as a coach and a person. One of the many valuable lessons I have learned from making mistakes is to never deride, belittle or insult another golf coach. It does nothing to enhance your image or reputation and you will never look better while attempting to make someone else look worse. Be wise when addressing other coaches and the methods they employ - you'll be better off for it.

Pitching Truths

Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker

As many of you may be aware I have done a tremendous amount of research on pitching the last few years. My research continues and I wanted to share a few important truths regarding this often misunderstood stroke:

  • Great pitchers generally take very little divot, flight the ball low and create high spin rates
  • Lower trajectory shots are substantially easier to gauge than higher ones
  • When struck correctly lower trajectory shots will have more spin than higher lofted ones
  • Most golfers perform better when pitching with their second most lofted club (SW vs LW)
  • There are two controllable ways to stop a golf ball - high spin rate and a steep land angle
  • Thin shots have more spin than you might think
  • The quality of the clubface to ball interaction (friction) is primary in generating spin
  • The quality of the lie plays a big role in determining the clubface to ball interaction
  • The optimal lie for amazing pitches is a fairly tight, downgrain lie
  • Any moisture that gets between the face and ball will decrease friction and thus increase launch angle and reduce spin
  • Sand between the face and the ball will increase friction and thus lower launch angle and increase spin
  • When practicing it is important to keep a wet towel handy to clean the face after every few shots - don't use a tee
  • Older clubs with worn down grooves will never spin the ball as much as a fresh wedge (all else being equal)
  • Premium golf balls flight better and spin more than inexpensive golf balls
  • The optimal technique is based almost entirely around managing the club to ground interaction or angle of attack
  • Controlling what the handle does through impact is vital in managing the angle of attack
  • A club path that tracks from from in to out will most often lead to cleaner strikes and thus lower trajectory and more spin
  • Where a golfer seeks to add loft they also add effective bounce. Here the grind/shape of the sole, will play a bigger role
  • For stock. and thus lower flighted shots the bounce plays less of a role than you might imagine

I have found there to be a multitude of different, and somewhat unusual techniques that work well for certain individuals. My objective has been to find a pitching technique that works best for the majority of golfers. I have found a technique that fits the bill and I am able to explain it simply and vividly.

More reading:

Wedges and Water | Andrew Rice Golf

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part I | Andrew Rice Golf

The Science Behind Superb Wedges: Part II | Andrew Rice Golf

Ultimate Spin Wedge Shootout | Andrew Rice Golf

Please note that I will be producing a video on pitching that will be for available on my website in the Fall. I had previously indicated it would be available in the Summer, but I want to make sure I have the best product available for you, thus the delay. The video will explain all my findings including what I have found to be the optimal pitching technique...stay tuned!

Justin Rose - 2013 US Open Champion

The Champion Wow - what a brutal test of golf and mental toughness that was! Merion more than held her own and I hope the USGA brings this event back to Philadelphia soon. Congrats to Justin Rose on his first major championship and tough luck to Phil Mickelson who has now finished as a runner up on six occasions in the US Open Championship.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching these golfers deal with the challenge of an incredibly difficult golf course. But I think I enjoyed watching this swing from the practice tee at Merion a little more...

Any thoughts? Whose swing would you like to emulate?

Cannot wait for Muirfield and the Open Championship next month.

Shot Patterns with Irons

ironshotpattern Here is an interesting little nugget I have been noticing quite a bit lately. The above screen shot indicates a typical shot pattern for a right hander when hitting a short to mid iron. I'm sure many of you have noticed how those pulls that feel so good tend to go further. As you might imagine this is not unique to your game and the image above clearly shows how shots to the left tend to travel further than shots to the right. What can we learn from this? Right handed golfers can afford to be slightly more aggressive when pins that are located in either the front right or back left of greens and should shy away from front left and back right pins.

How about the challenge that the short 12th at Augusta (below) presents to right handed competitors? The greens is a mere 9 yards deep between the bunkers. The hard part is that due to the angle at which the green sits, a slight pull is long and a slight push is short and wet. With a 150 yard shot and the pin in the center of the green the above golfer has hit the green only twice in ten tries - two pars, four bogeys and four doubles!

The 12th at Augusta National

This might have a little something to do with why the Masters has seen an influx of left handed champions in recent years - Weir, Mickelson and Bubba. I would also much rather fade my driver than try to hit draws on all those hook tee shots - so much easier to control...

Coming soon - the follow up article to this one explaining typical shot patterns with the driver. A hint, it's not what you might think...

Swingbyte vs TrackMan

swingbytevstrackman I was recently contacted by Swingbyte and asked to test their device to see how the data it generated held up against data generated by TrackMan. Please remember this is not a contest and I am not saying that TrackMan is perfect (I'm not sure there is such a thing), but I do believe TrackMan is the benchmark when it comes to reporting club and ball data in golf and I was interested to see how a $150 swing aid held up.

Swingbyte is a swing analyzing device that attaches to your club just below the grip and sends data to a mobile phone or tablet via Bluetooth. With a price point of $150 it provides a tremendous amount of data and sifting through the information on the App might be a little confusing at first, but with patience you will eventually find what you're looking for.

Having used TrackMan for a long time one of the notable things I've found with passionate golfers is that the direction the clubhead is travelling through impact (attack angle and club path) is generally quite consistent. When testing/comparing other devices to TrackMan, whenever I see a dramatic change from one swing to the next in either attack angle or club path numbers a red flag goes up. With the Swingbyte I hit pitching wedges, 7 irons and drivers and I primarily keyed in on club speed, attack angle, club path and face angle. Here are my ratings out of a possible 5 stars:

swingbyte

Club Speed:

If you purchased the device to simply know your club speed you are ahead of the game. It is important to enter detailed specs from each club into the App, but once you've got that done the feedback is surprisingly accurate. All the numbers I saw were within 4 mph of where TrackMan reported. (4.5 out of 5)

Attack Angle:

It is important to know that TrackMan and Swingbyte report attack angle from slightly different portions of the swing and thus differences should be expected, however I thought the device did a fairly accurate job most of the time. With the irons I felt the numbers indicated were close enough to "actual" in order to be actionable. It did seem that attack angles with the driver were a little too ascending. Their were also a few crazy numbers reported, but as you use the device more you'll easily be able to recognize any outliers. (3.5 out of 5)

Club Path:

These numbers were a long way from what TrackMan was reporting and I would not put too much into this particular parameter.  For example with the driver TrackMan reported my average club path on multiple shots was 0.2 degrees out to in, while Swingbyte indicated that every swing I made was from in to out with a range of 1.7 degrees to 13.6 degrees from in to out. (1 out of 5)

Face Angle:

Even with TrackMan I seldom give much credence to the reported face angle as it is too easily influenced by off center hits and I most often use the reported number to determine where the ball was struck on the face. The original Swingbyte reports face angle at impact relative to where it was aligned at address. Assuming you have aligned the device on the club correctly, start with a square clubface and no twisting occurs, you might get an actionable reading - otherwise, I'd move on. (1 out of 5)

The problem Swingbyte has faced is that it could not latch onto a target - it only registered where the device was aligned at address. This means that any data regarding club path and face angle is based around where the device was aimed at address. The Swingbyte 2 addresses this issue. Founder and CEO, Alex Pedenko had the following to say:

You can now point your iPad and it will know what your target is and figure out all the numbers based on that. So now you have true, accurate numbers about what you did, not just in general but relative to the target line, relative to where you want it to go.

I am hoping that these upgrades will make this already useful device even better. While the device is not perfect (what is?) and should not replace quality coaching I feel that with a few practice sessions any golfer can start to gain a better understanding of what they need to do in order to make progress.

Ultimate Spin Wedge Shootout

The Line Up We should all be looking to spin the ball around the greens. Which of the current crop of wedges will give us the best chance to do that? If you have read any of my previous research on wedges you will know that friction between the face and the ball plays a huge role, not only in generating spin, but also in lowering trajectory - both vitally important for control.

Milled Face

The most important part of the clubface of any wedge is not the grooves, but the texturing of the flat areas between the grooves. Keep in mind that the primary purpose of grooves is to channel "matter" away from being caught between the flat areas and the ball - they are not in place to create spin. When you look carefully at the flat areas between the grooves of your wedge you should see some fine milling which looks like corduroy to me. Most club manufacturers will mill the clubface of their premium wedges and it makes a massive difference to the control and ball flight.

The idea behind the test was to see which wedge generated the better grip between face and ball. I had four very new 58 degree wedges available for the test:

  • Titleist Vokey SM4 with a DG Spinner shaft - conforming grooves with standard mill pattern on face
  • Ping Gorge Tour with a DG Spinner shaft - conforming "gorge" grooves with standard mill pattern on face
  • Callaway X Series Jaws CC with a stock steel shaft - additional conforming grooves with no apparent milling on face
  • TaylorMade ATV with a KBS shaft - conforming grooves with two-way mill pattern on face

You may notice that the wedges had differing shafts - I obviously would have preferred to have had all the clubs built to the exact same specs, but that was not feasible for this test. Apologies to all Cleveland Golf fans - would love to have had a Cleveland wedge in the mix, but did not have a new version. I had four golf professionals each hit four shots with each wedge. All shots were hit off a mat in order to limit friction being interrupted by matter being caught between face and ball. Titleist ProV1 golf balls were used and each shot had to land somewhere between 40 and 60 yards (ideally at 50 yards). The clubface was cleaned often even though it never appeared to need it. The "normalize" feature on TrackMan was off.

Here are the results:

TaylorMade ATV 58

 

Titleist Vokey SM4 58

 

Ping Gorge Tour 58

 

Callaway X Series Jaws CC 58

  • ATV 7365 rpm average
  • Vokey 7210 rpm average
  • Gorge 7193 rpm average
  • Jaws 7163 rpm average

As you can see the ATV wedge led the way in generating the highest spin of the four - albeit by a slender 2%. If I was a betting man I would have bet the ATV would generate the most spin as I have always loved the two-way milling treatment on the face. I would also have placed the Jaws wedge at the bottom of the pack, as no matter how many groove edges come in contact with the ball, there is way more flat surface area contacting the ball and it should be milled.

If you do take one thing from this research let it be the following: A fresh wedge with a clean, milled clubface will allow you to generate more spin and a lower trajectory - both important factors in controlling your golf ball around the greens. 

Thanks to Zack, Mark, Rick and Joe for your help with this article!

2013 Masters - Anybody Excited Yet?

Every golfer you know has thought about the Masters and Augusta National this week - more than once! What a great week to be a golfer. The excitement and thrill of 2013's first major is here and I cannot wait for Thursday.

Masters talk invariably circles around to who you like this week. Who is your man? If I had to pick three golfers, one a favorite, another as a contender and another as an underdog - I would go with Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and KJ Choi. I love the way Rory and KJ competed last week and I believe that with their history here this could be their week.

Here is the television guide for the week from geoffshackelford.com

Here is a list of all the Masters gear you cannot live without from Devil Ball Golf

Here is an article detailing Augusta National's new hospitality venue Berckmans Place where apparently Condoleeza Rice, as a new member, was greeting patrons on Monday.

Here are the complete odds for every player in the field from golfodds.com.  How about Rory vs. Tiger? Will Phil finish in the top 10? Will Tim Clark beat Freddie Couples?

If there was one player that I wish was competing this week it would be Seve Ballesteros. My favorite golfer growing up, I remember crying when he three putted the 10th green in a playoff with Mize and Norman and had to make the lonely haul up the hill to the clubhouse while the other two golfers continued on.

That's really what the Masters is all about - the memories! Who can forget Bubba's escape from the Magnolia's, Phil's jump on 18, Jack chasing the ball in on 17 - even the honorary starters on Thursday morning. What will remember from the 2013 edition? Whatever it is I know it's going to be very, very good. Enjoy.

Orlando PGA Show 2013

I have just returned from the 2013 PGA Show in Orlando and as per usual it has fired me up for the upcoming year. I'm not sure what happens, but I am always motivated and excited to get down to providing a better, more informed product for my students by the time I leave.

This year was my best show for education and networking purposes. I attended my second TrackMan University workshop where TrackMan founder Fredrik Tuxen shared some invaluable knowledge. Here I also met Jeff Ritter, Terry Rowles, Martin Chuck and Josh Zander - already great teachers looking to broaden their knowledge base with TrackMan data.

I also attended the very first (of many I believe!) Facebook Golf Teaching Professionals Live Forum on Wednesday night. Talk about a loaded room - there were 150 of the brightest and most cutting edge minds in the game in attendance. From fitting to fitness, from old school to cutting edge and from scientist to psychologist, they were all there. The evening made for great theater and was very well moderated by Nick Chertock, Chris Como and Michael Michaelides.

On Thursday the actual show got started and I spoke to and met some extremely smart people. They included, but were not limited to: Brian Manzella, Joseph Mayo, Kirk Oguri, Tim Cutshall, Tom Patri, Lorin Anderson and Mike Shannon. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all these folks and their expertise in their field is second to none.

On Thursday night I attended my first TweetUp. Ten years ago I would never have thought I would go to a strange place to meet up with strange people I had only met and conversed with online, but here I was hanging out with a large group of extremely talented instructors and I had a blast. If you do not currently use Twitter I would encourage you to get going and once you do hit me up for who to follow. I have learned so much from my affiliation with these teachers through Twitter this year! Thanks to Sara Dickson and Mike Fay for setting this up - I wish I could have stayed longer.

All in all I felt like a learned more than I ever have at the PGA Show and I am inspired to go out and do more research and do a better job for my students than ever before. I am really looking forward to a fantastic 2013 - stay tuned....

TrackMan vs Flightscope

My good friends Tim and Simon Cooke from GolfPrep on Hilton Head Island recently brought their new Flightscope X2 out to Berkeley Hall. Our objective was to learn more about the numbers that TrackMan and Flightscope are putting out and we wanted to get a sense of how well one machine performed relative to the other.

I have pondered the best way in which to convey my findings and have finally committed to just simply jotting down my thoughts. My intent is certainly not to create controversy or confrontation - these are simply my own honest impressions from the day. Please also keep in mind that I am a TrackMan owner and supporter and no matter how I attempt to remove my bias I doubt whether I am able to remove all of it...

  • Prior to the test I had been having trouble with my TM unit giving unusual spin numbers every 30-40 shots, something it had never done before. As a result I had contacted TM support and was informed that I more than likely had a bad USB cable. I was also informed that the classic indicator of a bad cable would be a "double" or "half" spin. Sure enough during the test TM gave out three spin numbers from the 60 shots we hit that were right around double what the FS reported. I have since replaced the cable and have yet to see a spin rate that seems odd.
  • As you peruse the following thoughts keep in mind that good players , which all three of the test subjects were,  are very good at controlling the direction the clubhead travels (angle of attack and club path) from shot to shot. The direction may not be ideal, but better players are consistent with clubhead direction. That means that dramatic changes in either of those categories, along with sizable changes from shot to shot in club speed, were going to draw my attention and raise a red flag.
  • Since running the tests I have spoken to many "in the biz" people about radar interference. It was mentioned that the machines, when set up side by side as we had them, will occasionally give corrupted data due to the influence of the outside radar. I have not run enough tests to ascertain if this is or is not the case, but during the testing the FS seemed to give a few numbers that were incorrect and this could be due to the TM being directly alongside the unit. The TM did not do anything different to what it normally does as it seemed to be unaffected by the additional radar.
  • If a shot off turf has a decent size divot TM will only provide ball data and no club data, whereas FS reported both ball and club data for just about every shot hit off the ground. On the occasions that FS reported club data and TM did not the numbers did not look correct - meaning the attack angle and/or club path seemed to be too far from what the subject would normally generate. We hit numerous 50 yard pitch shots and TM did not offer any club data while FS reported for most of these shots. The problem was that the club path was said to be almost 15 degrees from in to out along with a spin rate of 14,000 rpm - just not happening! I actually preferred that TM did not provide club data as I would rather have no information than have to explain away improper information. That being said I would love a radar that provided correct club data on all shots.
  • With both units unplugged and PC's powered down the TM (2:05) was aligned and ready to roll in about half the time of the FS (4:16). I was told that with an iPad the FS can be aligned and operational in far less time.
  • We noticed that both machines reported different Swing Plane numbers when they were moved (flipped positions) relative to the same golfer. I have tested this before and the changes in data are due to the hardware in the TM II. Each machine appeared to provide better data when the golfer is hitting shots aligned with the center of the unit - something that was not possible when running two machines.
  • We tested the ability of each unit to report gear effect, by logging the point of contact on certain drives and then comparing each units Face to Path and Spin Axis numbers. The TM reported gear effect as I would have anticipated and most of the time FS reported along similar lines. However the first shot we examined, a big heel hit, was actually reported by FS as being a slight toe side hit. TM reported a Face to Path of -9.3 and a Spin Axis of -5.4 while FS reported a Face to Path of -2.2 and a Spin Axis of -11.0
  • I was amazed at how closely aligned the Spin Rate numbers were for each machine. Unless there were dramatic differences the spin rates were almost always within 100 rpm's.
  • There seemed to be quite a few instances during the testing where the attack angles were not even in the same ball park. I had nothing to help me determine which machine was correct, other than the aforementioned fact that better players tend to be very consistent, and all too often it was FS reporting wide ranges of variation from the player.

Keep in mind that my intent is merely to report what I observed and not to offend anybody or any entity.  I could tell that Tim and Simon were a little concerned with the results and they went home and performed additional tests. I am happy to report that the FS performed much better without the influence of additional radar and when shots are hit from the center of the unit. Tim's follow up comment to me was:

I believe that side by side testing, although seeming to be a good idea, does not work.  Clearly there was some radar interference at work as the inconsistent numbers were not reproduced in stand alone tests.  Maybe the only way you can really compare the units is with extreme high speed cameras with the units working independently of one another.

I would have to agree with Tim's sentiments and I have started to make plans to have each unit test the same golfer on the same day, but without the potential interference of outside radar.

You know I'll report back on that one....

Anchors Away!

While I am sure you have read most of what has been written on the USGA and R&A proposed ban on anchored putting I wanted to briefly share my take with you:

Professional Golf

I'm sure the primary objective of the two governing bodies was to eliminate anchoring from the major tours and I emphatically agree. I think the best golfers should be capable of freely swinging the club with their hands and arms.

Bifurcation and Growing the Game

Bifurcation means the splitting of a main body into two parts - and that's exactly what needs to be done with the rules of golf. There may be another sport, but I cannot think of one  where the 'amateur' body governs the 'professional' body. From college football to baseball, there are different rules for the pros than the amateurs and that's the way it should be. The governing bodies should be growing the game and this ruling is going to eliminate so many ailing golfers from competing at any level or even playing the game. In 2016 there are going to be thousands of golfers who will turn down an invitation to their Member-Guest event due to the fact that they are simply incapable of putting the ball. I've seen golfers who twitch anchored putters - never mind a putter that's not attached - in 2016 they're out of golf! Come up with a ruling for professional golf and USGA/R&A events and let the rest of us just enjoy the game.

Loopholes

If you thought you had seen some strange putters and putting styles, you ain't seen nothing yet! As with anything, golfers who simply cannot putt will find ways to the job done in unique and quirky ways by the time 2016 rolls around. Ever seen anyone putt with both arms wrapped around the putter twice?

I like the idea of changing the ruling for the big guys, but don't punish everybody in order to achieve your goal...

The End.

What to Get the Golfer on Your List...

From my family to yours I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Thank you so much for your support and readership throughout the year. Starting today and running through Christmas day I will be offering the following packages on lessons at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton, SC:

  • Purchase six thirty minute lessons for $360 - that's $60 each and the regular price is $75
  • Purchase six one hour lessons for $630 - that's $105 each and the regular price is $150
  • A one hour TrackMan Driver fitting and evaluation is $100
  • All lessons packages include a TrackMan assessment, high speed Casio camera analysis and a V1 video lesson emailed to your inbox
  • These lesson packages are perfect for the crazed golfer in your family and are all available as Gift Certificates (valid for one year from original date of purchase)
  • All Gift Certificates come inside a signed complimentary copy of my book It's All About Impact
  • If you cannot decide which package your golfer might enjoy I also have Gift Certificates for $100, $200 and $300
  • To purchase or discuss a package please contact me at (843)247-4688 or email me at andrew(at)andrewricegolf.com

Junior Group Sessions

During the month of February I will be offering junior group sessions at Berkeley Hall. Each session set is comprised of 4 lessons and there will be 6 different times during the month to choose from. Lesson times will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 4pm and Saturdays at 10am. The cost for a set (4) of Junior Sessions is $100 per child. Each session is limited to 6 golfers and no golfers over the age of 10 please. (Inquire regarding older golfers)

Have you a blessed holiday season and I sincerely hope I can continue to help you progress in this great game!

2012 'Shocking' Ryder Cup Review

Wow! What a great a great Ryder Cup and an amazing Sunday of golf. A truly stunning result and certainly one of my top five most memorable golf broadcasts. I wanted to share of few of my impressions from the week. Here goes:

  • Ian Poulter: I have always enjoyed Ian's 'confidence' - some might call it arrogance, but I've never seen it that way and I have also thought him to be a top player and competitor. Everything I believed about Ian James Poulter has now been tripled! He, (virtually) single-handedly, won the cup for Europe with his five closing birdies on Saturday. Those five holes and that win for Europe allowed them to hang on to a glimmer of hope for Sunday and without that glimmer they don't get the job done. He now owns the best all time Ryder Cup record for players who have played in at least 15 matches - that says something about IJP.
  • Phil Mickelson: While I have never been a fan of Phil, this weekend I finally packed up my things and climbed on his bandwagon. One of the coolest things I witnessed all week was Phil clapping for Justin Rose when he hit a good shot or holed a long putt. He played with fire, he played beautifully, and above all else he was a true gentleman.
  • Keegan Bradley: This guy is for real. He has tremendous heart and just like Poulter, has the make up to be a fantastic competitor for many years to come in the Ryder Cup. I did not get the benefit to the sideways look at putts and the twitchy, start stop pre-shot routine has got to go. I was glad I had the golf recorded so I could fast forward while he got ready to hit a shot....
  • Jose Maria Olazabal: It was great for Ollie to get the win and it was obvious on his face how often he thought of his friend and mentor Seve Ballesteros. Seve truly was the 13th amn and I believe his influence played a laregr than appreciated role in the European victory. I enjoyed JMO's post victory quote: "All men die, but not all men live. Today you made me feel alive again!"
  • Should Davis Love III get the blame? Completely ridiculous! If one putt or chip goes in for the US squad on Sunday the result is completely flipped and he's a hero.
  • Bubba on the 1st tee: Perhaps one of my favorite moments of the event! I got chills the first time I saw it and I hope (believe) he has started a trend in the matches that will continue for a long time. You saw him do it first! Great stuff.

  • Giving putts and conceding matches: Francesco Molinari was instructed in the 18th fairway to win the hole by Ollie. In my view there is a difference in retaining the Cup and winning the Cup. Same celebration and 'same' outcome, but winning is always better. I honestly don't think I would have given TW his putt either....
  • Spirit of the matches: This Ryder Cup was contended by two excellent teams where many of the players seemed to be in form. The matches were great theater and the players conducted themselves in a classy fashion. I did not see anything that I thought to be underhanded.
  • Sour grapes: The European team is sour when they lose and their fans claim gamesmanship and unsporting conduct when they lose (see Brookline '99). The US team and their fans are no different (see Medinah '12). Nobody enjoys losing - it's human nature and I'm okay with that.
  • Top players on each team: For the Euro squad it must be Poulter who also gets Man of the Ryder Cup in my books. On Saturday afternoon he loaded up the whole event on his back and said watch this...A nod must also go to Rory McIlroy who played some incredible golf and carried the 'World No. 1' flag beautifully. For the Americans there were a few superstars: Jason Dufner, who just continues to get better; Keegan Bradley who fired up Phil and played liked a man possessed; and Phil, who not only played with passion again, but owned the 'classy moment' of the week. Dustin Johnson also quietly went 3-0.
  • Duds: For the Euro team G-Mac and Westwood performed below expectations and for the US it can only be TW and Stricker who earned a measly half point out of 8 opportunities.
  • Was this a 'miracle' comeback? No, not really. If you run the odds on a team coming back from a 10-6 deficit going in to Sunday you come out with a 19% chance. Even though it's only happened once before, not a miracle at all.
  • Don't count your chickens: Here's an interesting piece written by ESPN's Gene Wojchiechowski on Saturday evening. Gene has been taking a beating for this one.....

In total I absolutely loved the event and it once again proves that the game of golf is in good shape. There are more than enough great players and characters to carry the game without Tiger being what he once was.

When You Play: Watch or No Watch?

1watch
1watch

Can playing with a watch on help or hurt your game? Now, other than having quick access to the time to see how late you are getting home the results of this test are a no brainer - leave your watch in the bag!

2watch
2watch

Our fitness trainer at Berkeley Hall, Derek Lemire, was down hitting a few drivers and I thought he'd make for a good subject. Derek is dangerous off a 6 handicap and has improved dramatically the last few years.

For the test I asked Derek to hit shots without a watch, with a single three ounce watch and just for kicks with two three ounce watches. He hit three shots in each condition, I would delete data for the worst shot of the three and then we repeated. The Trackman results were very interesting:

No Watch

  • Club Speed 94.6mph
  • Ball Speed 143.3mph
  • Carry distance 227.6yds
  • Total distance259.8yds

One  Watch (3 oz.)

  • Club Speed 93.5mph
  • Ball Speed 142.8mph
  • Carry distance 222.5yds
  • Total distance 249.7yds

Two Watches (6 oz.)

  • Club Speed 92.6mph
  • Ball Speed 141.2mph
  • Carry distance 218.2yds
  • Total distance 244.5yds

As you can tell there was a noticeable difference between each example and while I understand no golfer would wear two watches a Rolex or watch with a heavy steel band can easily weigh up to 6 ounces. A 3oz watch or bracelet on your wrist can rob you of as much as tenyards per tee shot.

Moral of the story: unless you are hitting the ball too far at the moment leave your watch in the bag - it can only slow you down.

Rules question: If a golfer felt like they had too much club on a par three would they be able to put their watch on, hit the shot and then remove it again? I'd love to hear from the rules gurus out there on this one....

Driver Test: Old vs. New

My wife encouraged me to clean out the garage the other day and I happened upon an old driver I used in college. I still remember how cool this driver was - it was the latest and greatest and even had a titanium shaft! When was the last time you saw one of those? Just for kicks I placed it up alongside my current Titleist driver and was shocked at the massive difference between the two - the older club looked smaller than my current three wood! How could I have possibly played well with this mini club? This got me thinking about a TrackMan test.

For the record the smaller club was a TaylorMade Burner Plus 9.5 degree with a titanium X flex shaft and my current club is a Titleist D3 8.5 with a Motore F3 70 gram graphite S flex shaft. There is a fairly substantial 1.5 inch difference even though both clubs were standard length in their day. I am not sure about the weight or the true frequency/flex of each club as I did not have the appropriate equipment to check those measurements.

For the TrackMan test I hit 12 shots with each club and deleted the data for the two worst shots. I noted that the attack angle, club path, swing direction and plane were very similar from club to club.

The primary differences seemed to be:

  • Club speed 99.7mph vs 101.8mph - I believed that this difference would be greater due to the large difference in length of shafts.
  • Ball Speed 145.7mph vs 152.4mph - I put this down to the fact that the smaller head led to more off-center hits and thus a decreased average ball speed and smash factor.
  • Point of contact - there was a noticeable tendency for me to strike the bigger club in the heel. This led to more shots missed to the right due to gear effect and an increase in the spin rate 2455rpm vs 2895rpm.
  • Height - even though the smaller club launched the ball slightly higher the apex height was lower due to less spin and ball speed.
  • Carry and total distance - the smaller club carried the ball almost 17yards shorter, but with less spin and a flatter land angle rolled further to only finish just over 10 yards short of the bigger club.
  • Dispersion - the smaller club had more shots finish further from the center line due to a much smaller clubface and substantially lower MOI.

Here are the TrackMan generated dispersion charts (yellow is the smaller club) and averages:

(click to enlarge)

I was amazed at how small the difference between the two drivers, total distance wise, there was. Going in to the test I would have thought that there would be a 15 yard difference at least. I expected the smaller club to spin the ball less and lower the apex which it did, but I was truly amazed at how little distance I lost with it. I did notice a much greater tendency to hit the ball outside the sweet spot with the smaller club and that led to some fairly aggressive gear effect draws and fades.

Driving is not my strong suit and I am always looking to keep the ball in play off the tee. Armed with this new knowledge I am going to try a shorter shaft in my current driver head and see what that does for my fairways hit statistic. I also plan on practicing with the older club - I think it is vital in improving ball striking to practice with smaller headed clubs.

I also think this test might also illustrate that the majority of the distance gains we see on the PGATour today are not equipment based, but primarily due to the ball.....your thoughts?