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Hi.  I have a question and wanted to see what you guys thought. 

Some background:

I'm not a particularly fast player (e.g., low to mid 150's ball speed with driver; low 120's ball speed with a traditional loft 6i.).  I used to take the club back flat, come over it initially, but jump to shallow it out.  I had a strong grip and I had days where a nice push draw was achievable; other days, it was military golf.  Nowadays, I play with a more neutral grip and have much less dynamic movement.  I more or less play with some forward shaft lean at address and feel like I hinge the toe up quickly toward my face (to get the club more upright instead of my flat takeaway) while trying to stay more "Kevin Kisner/Charley Hoffman still."  The downswing is just swing down and through the ball quickly, feeling the head of the club hit down on/cover/trap the ball and taking a nice divot like a club tracking down a hula hoop where the ball is collected on the way down.  I use a simulator, so I work hard on my start line as well.  I like to see a 0* azimuth/start line or there about to feel more control over the ball and I'll just adjust my aim for my draw.  I mostly hit the ball relatively straight or with a slight draw or if I heel it slightly, it'll fade a bit, but nothing disastrous.  I'm relatively comfortable hitting every club in my bag except driver.  I'm at a loss with driver.  It's so bad.  Last time I played, I had little clue where to look for the ball and with my eyes, it's hard to see the ball in the air.  That brings me to the issue:

I hit the ball pretty solid for my speed.  With driver, the problem appears to be figuring out the shape I want to play, the face angle I should have, and how I should aim.  First, I'm terrified of a draw with driver.  I'll hook it, push it, or maybe get the odd push draw I'm looking for.  I've gone the way of the fade.  I just feel like I can swing as fast as I want and not fear a disastrous shot and lose a ball.  I understand the ball flight laws and I know that the face should be closed to my intended target but open to my path and that face angle for the large part dictates start line.  I get that.  I also know that with the ball teed up off my front foot, that will allow me to swing up and left to get my path left to hit the fade.  For some reason, I feel like I swing faster when hitting a fade with driver.  It feels more natural to swing left and hit the cutter.  The problem is figuring out the optimal start line.  Like I said, with my approach shots, I like to get as close to 0* start line as I can, even with any curve--I just pick a tree or something to the right a little and let it draw back slightly.  But I really like trying to get as neutral/straight of a start line as I can--I feel more in control of the ball that way.  With a fade driver, I feel like I should toe the club in (somewhere around 7 to 8:30 on the clock) and swing more left.  This has given me great results--high flying, low spin fades that start left of straight and bend back toward 0*.  When I toe the club in relative to 0*, I feel like I can just let it rip.  It'll fade back but rarely over fades, if anything it might just hang there.  Right now, I have my driver set to 8*, draw setting on hosel, and weight in the heel as well.

The question:

Should I, 1) like with my approach shots, strive for a 0* start line and just adjust my aim or 2) strive for a start line of a few degrees left?  

The problem with #1 seems to be an issue with the ball flight laws.  If I keep my swing the same (swinging more left), then I feel like a face angle around 0* will result in what looks like a big push fade.  But I do like the idea of controlling my start line and having it more on straight like my approach shots.  However, with driver, I do not like the feeling of starting the ball straight because I feel like the ball will only go more to the right from there and I'll lose the ball.

The problem with #2 seems to be an issue of knowing how far left to start the ball.  For instance, during my last practice session I had start lines just a few degrees to the left (2-4* left) all the way up to 12* left.  The 12* left ball was a good ball, 157 mph ball speed, with just a tiny fade on it.  I guess a bit of a pull fade.  The best ball I hit was a 162 mph pull fade as well.  I admit, I like the pull fade feeling best.  I just feel like I get through the ball better and hit it more solidly.  However, it does make for a different swing and start line than all my other clubs in the bag.  Also, I wonder about aiming here.  Depending on how much left I start the ball, I may actually need to aim more RIGHT even though I'm playing a FADE due to the nature of the pull fade.

Thanks for any tips you might have.  I look forward to the responses.

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Do you know what your path is for the driver? If you are in to out, then a push may be best. My path is in to out (not sure on the degrees as I have not been to a launch monitor this year) and my miss is a hook. Working with Evolvr and Erik, they recommend playing the push start line. So if I open the face a bit to match the path, and align my body left of target, I get a nice high push draw or slide fade. 
 

It’s the alignment part I am still working on. I played with Bill and Jamieson and they helped me, but I need to really pay attention.

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So right now you align a bit right but relative to your body, the start line is 0°? If so you play a "straight draw" in my definitions of things.

No reason you can't play a straight fade or a pull-fade.

Why don't you just hit the ball with what feels like a square alignment and face and see what the numbers tell you? Post them here.

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Thanks @boogielicious and @iacas for the replies.  I usually practice at home, but I recently took the sim to the range so I could see the flight and the numbers together (granted, they're range balls...).  Here were my results:

Approach shots

Erik is right--I just play more or less a straight draw at 0* relative to my aim.  I just try to hit down through the ball, taking a nice divot with the face and path pretty close together for a bit of a straighter shot.  I’ll even take a tiny divot, or at the very least a good scrape, with fairway woods. 

Driver:

I went with the pull fade.  Boogie, the push with driver won't work for me because for some reason, I cannot line the face and path up like I can with the other clubs.  I don't know if it is a combination of the big head, long shaft, etc., but I just can't do it.  It may actually be a blessing because in my younger days I fought blocks and hooks with driver.

Erik, I aimed at a tree as my target at the end of the range as my 0*.  From there, I toed the driver in a few degrees left and then swung left a good amount.  The result was a nice pull fade back to that tree--ball started generally around 3-6* left and faded back.  It actually felt really, really good.  Felt like I could swing as fast as I wanted.  It was nice seeing the ball work back toward target.  However, I did hit 2 pulls that did not fade back, in fact, one pull drew, so I guess I need to make sure to keep the face where I point it and ensure the leftward path.

A couple of concerns going forward:

First, I'm not sure I'll like playing a pull fade on holes where trouble is on the left.  I may have to hit 3w (my straight draw) on those holes.  I just don't like the idea of laying back (again, I'm only a low to mid 150s ball speed guy with driver--highest is 162), but that probably beats risking a pull that doesn't fade!

Second, while the pull fade is amazing, I fear that I might be spinning the ball a bit too much (high 2k, borderline 3k) at my launch (as high as 18*).  Right now I'm playing a Callaway Epic Flash set to 8* with D setting on the hosel and the weight in the heel (even though I'm playing a pull fade).  I'd like to hit the ball a little bit lower and with less spin.  Maybe I could test out the Sub Zero version or something?

Thoughts?  Thanks!

on all approach shots, I just try to hit down through the ball, taking a nice divot with the face and path pretty close together for a bit of a straighter shot.  I’ll even take a tiny divot, or at the very least a good scrape, with fairway woods. 

Edited by ncates00

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9/26/20 Update:

I decided to go with @iacas's advice and try to start the ball more on 0* and just swing straighter (or even slightly to the right like every other club).  Why?  I loved the pull fade, but I felt I was chasing something and fighting my natural shape (a straight draw as Erik noted).  I walked 18 recently and shot a disappointing 83.  Too many re-tees and drops due to driver.  My approach play was quite good, but I didn't maximize my opportunities off the tee.

Here were a few shots from yesterday.  I pretty much did what Erik suggested: try to just hit the ball straight.  haha.  sounds simple enough.  These numbers are very similar to what I do with my other clubs.  At first, it just didn't feel like I could do it with a driver because the ball is on a tee, and that makes me feel like I'm swinging to the left.  But, it seemed to work well.  Really all I did was put the ball position off my front foot, forward shaft lean (I do this with every club; butt of club pointed at my left hip area), point the Callaway arrow at 0*, feel behind the ball, and swing like I normally do for the most part (maybe swing a little right what feels like to me so I don't hit a push fade).  The results were pretty good.  More or less just straight balls with minimal curve, like my other shots.  My ball speed was in the ball park, maybe a little slower than where I'd like to see it, but I'm not a particularly fast player.  My launch does look a bit high though; maybe I'm adding too much loft through the shot?  That could be lowering my ball speed a bit from what I like to see.

NOTE: I realize that GC2’s algorithm really likes low spin shots. It ain’t really carrying that far. Truth is, every single one of those shots is flying around 255-265 when you enter the data into flightscope's optimizer. It’s weird because I’ve looked into the algorithm stuff and noticed that it appears to occur only with clubs with less spin, e.g. driver and maybe a low spin 3w. It’s like once you get around 3k spin or less, GC2 overly rewards the carry number. With the other clubs, it’s pretty much spot on. For instance, I know with my 5i if I get my 127-130 mph ball speed range, it’ll fly 185-190.  It appears that once I grab my 5w or less, the numbers match up on the Gc2, flightscope projections, and what I see on course; I just have to remember that when I hit my driver or I catch a low spinner with my 3w that the results will not be as optimistic as the machine reads.

NOTE 2: If I should move this to my swing thread, let me know @boogielicious.

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Since we're already talking face angle and aim.... I've also noticed something with some drivers. When you set them on the ground they have an open face - I'm looking at you Ping and Taylormade... and Callaway although not as bad. I've had a problem with blocking my driver and once in a while really slicing it. I know what the slice problem is - wrist angle at the transition - I need to be real careful and not cup it - I have enough trouble getting this long club square at impact. So I took a driver lesson with a pro who had a GC Quad. I let him deal with the numbers - I didn't keep track of it. I just did what he told me to do: make sure the club face is square, keep my tempo where it is and swing easier. My swing plane was fine, he said. I've been working hard on it all summer. But he went over a few things with me about making sure the club face was actually aimed at my target at set up and not to the right of my target. Also he swapped the shaft in my driver from R to S. I feel like I have more control over the club head with the S. And after this lesson I hit 64% fairways with my driver compared to 14%. 

So I think my lesson was worth it. I need to trust my shot more. I was aiming a little left in case I blocked it, but I started hitting it straight down the left side of the fairway. I can hit it straight now with a little draw. Launch angle is about 12 degrees.

And note to @ncates00 the Sub Zero is awesome. I have the Mavrik Max. The pro put me in the Sub Zero during my lesson because it had the S shaft in it. As someone who doesn't hit the ball as far as you do and who is a lower spin player with drivers, I found the Epic Flash Sub Zero made the job of hitting a straight shot easy. 

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1 hour ago, DrvFrShow said:

the Sub Zero

Good call.  I actually switched to it recently!  I have it in the smoke XS shaft.

And, that's awesome that you're on the right track now.  I don't really get into the mechanics like wrist angle so much.  I feel like knowing the ball flight laws and using my gc2 has helped me more than my previous coach ever did.

1 hour ago, DrvFrShow said:

making sure the club face was actually aimed at my target at set up and not to the right of my target.

That's more or less what I went with--arrow/face pointed at 0* and then try to swing at 0* or a tad right.  That gives you the straight to straight draw ball, as shown on my gc2 readouts about.  Just be careful to ensure solid strike because if you mis-hit it, gear effect kicks in and all bets are off!

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I have this horrible tendency to cup my wrist. When I first learned back in the olden days, I would lose a dozen balls per round. My dad got tired of paying $12/dz (1968 dollars), so he finally got me a lesson and the first thing the pro did was stop me at the top of my back swing and change my wrist to a bowed position. Well that position kind of hurt, but I didn't slice anymore. 

So I have to be very conscious about that when I practice and when I'm playing. Like when i take a practice swing sometimes stop and check it to get the feel before I step in and take my shot. I don't have very good lateral flexibilty in my wrist and that's why I tended to cup. The flat wrist has cost me more than a few yards off the tee, but at least it's on the short grass. When I got the timing right with that wrist cup through impact, I could crush it. Unfortunately that didn't happen very often. Too much risk and not enough reward.

Now if they sold new spines, I'd be in business for a full 18 holes. You'd see my HC drop like a rock.

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