So I had the first chance in a while yesterday to hit some balls, sort of. I had a dozen birdie balls and a grass field, and my swing speed radar.
I have been working on my swing for a good while, mainly addressing my last season's faults of inconsistent swing speed, slicing, and thin shots. I have flattened my swing plane, quickened it up and generally make a stronger release. I also paid attention to my right elbow and grip to make things more consistent.
As a result, I went from (what I thought was) mid-high 70s on my 5 iron to about mid to high 80s. Generally I found that swinging harder and more aggressively, coupled with good body action, gave me a better and more repeatable swing. I found that the advice suggesting smooth tempo and timing is great, but it doesn't mean slow tempo. So I got a more inside out swing, shallow angle of attack, and a respectable swing speed. I also got better at bottoming out right where I wanted, so I expected to be a lot better and more consistent when I hit balls, right?
Pity golf doesn't work like that.
From the first ball I hit, I started hitting big, weak pushes. Not a lot of curve at all, just about a 15 degree right in a straight line. A few were started on line and faded when I tried to compensate, but I couldn't hit a straight ball, and I usually play either a dead straight ball or a slight fade. When I hit one especially hard, trying to hook it as hard as I could, they usually went pretty straight and 11 million miles in the air, but I had to bow my wrist, change my grip, AND come as hard inside out as I could. I literally could not even hit a hook, which I can usually do on demand. Forget about a nice high push draw.
Now, on the plus side, I found that my swing speed radar does not read accurately unless you actually hit balls. It turns out that my 5 iron swing was comfortably in the mid 90s, with hard swings in the order of 104. Also, some satisfaction was gained by the fact that I broke every one of the birdieballs I brought; I hit them so hard that they all got cracked straight from top to bottom, eventually shattering. Though that cost me money, It tells me I have enough power. The temp was about 50*, so they weren't brittle.
So, the steel shafts in my irons are about 110 grams, with a very low kickpoint, and firm flex, recommended for 75-84 mph. Obviously, they are a slight bit weak for me, especially with an aggressive tempo. I bought the set of irons assuming that I would grow into them, since I had a hard time getting distance and I was borderline R flex at the time. When I got the radar and checked my SS, I used no target and just swung on a mat, so I thought they were still appropriate for me. That screwed me over big time, since I bought more clubs with the same shafts based on that SS reading. It reads about 10% lower than the actual speed, but using a ball or even small snowballs shows the proper reading. I also was told that soft shafts cause a high hook when overloaded, and so I thought going stiffer wouldn't be a good idea. It looks like I certainly need X in my woods, since my driver is between 110 and 125. But my iron shafts are probably borderline between an S300 sort of flex and X100. I think the fast tempo probably would work with the X, but I just want to know if this is the right move.
I know that the clubface is open to the target, clearly. There's no way I'm coming over the top, and there's no way I'm not releasing my wrists. It looks like I have an in to out path, plus an open clubface to my target, resulting in a straight push. When I swing very weakly, within 80MPH, it seems I can hit it pretty straight or hook it if I desire. When I intentionally cast the club and tried to hit a pull fade, I could get it to start straight; however, it would fade based on how hard I swung. But when I make a full swing, I'm hitting a very consistent bad shot and can't do much to bring it to target. These clubs have a lot of offset, I should be able to hit a damn hook if I try to!
I've studied my swing on video, should post it sometime in the spring, and it looks correct. Every fundamental I know of seems to be checked off, and I'm getting all the power I could hope for with a more consistent ability to hit my target.
By the way, there's nothing more frustrating than looking at the ball going 15 degrees right, then looking at the clubface and seeing a dead center ball mark and a perfect divot.
So, in conclusion, are my shafts bending like wet noodles, causing this push? My fairway wood, with a stiff prolaunch red, had less trouble; I broke the ball every time I tried it, but no push... I intend to buy a 7 iron with a true temper DG X100, and see if I can mitigate things a bit.